Friday, September 27, 2019

Do you love God's child, the person who believes that Jesus is the Christ? Comments on 1 John 5:1


1 John 5 was especially significant for our family about a year and a half ago when I was coming to understand that God is One and that Jesus is His human Messiah. My wife points out the irony in the fact that while Trinitarians often go to the Gospel of John and the Epistle of 1 John for presumed evidences of the deity of Jesus, it was these two books that showed us that God is One person, and Jesus is God’s designated human Messiah (Christ).

1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whomever has been born of Him.”

How tragic that people who believe that Jesus is God condemn those who believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). They say that unless you believe that Jesus is God, you are “denying Christ”. What a strange twist of Scripture. The Scripture says that “anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) is born of God…”

This Scripture does NOT say you are born of God if you believe that Jesus is:
·         God
·         a God-Man
·         co-eternal (“pre-existing”) and co-equal to the God the Father
·         of the same substance as God, the Father.
·         one person of a trinity in a godhead.
·         God who dressed up in human flesh.
These are all human inventions.  We should not cling to human inventions (5:21) while abandoning God our Father’s revelation of Himself and His testimony that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). We don’t want to call God a liar (5:10) by twisting or distorting what God said, or by claiming God said something He didn’t say.

If believing that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) does not mean any of those things listed above, what does it mean?

Jesus” is the name of the human person, born in Bethlehem. It is not the name of a pre-existent person of an eternal godhead (Matt. 1:25, Luke 2:21).

This human Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). Many people seem to think that “Christ” is a title for deity. It most definitely is not. Christ/Messiah is never, never, ever God in the Bible. To make "Christ" a title of deity is a perversion of Scripture.

“Christ” (Hebrew, “Messiah") means “anointed”. Grammatically, the word is an adjective with a passive sense. One who is anointed has been acted upon by someone else. The one doing the anointing is not the anointed. In the Bible, God is the Anointer, and the one whom God has anointed is the Christ (the Messiah). The Anointer is not the Anointed.

To be anointed meant to be chosen by God for a specific role or task. The Persian king Cyrus was anointed by God as a Messiah/Christ for the role of restoring God’s people to their land (Isa. 45:1). Aaron and his descendants were anointed to serve God as priests (Exo. 28:31, 30:30). The descendants of David were selected, designated, that is, anointed by God (through human agents) to be king (1 Sam. 16:12, 1 Kings 1:34, cf. 1 Sam. 15:1, 2 Kings 9:3). This is the essence of what “Christ/Messiah” means: to be the God-chosen, designated, equipped, human priest and/or king. To believe that Jesus is the Christ means to believe that Jesus is the one anointed by God.

The Christ/Messiah in the Bible can’t be God, because it is God who chose and anointed the Christ.

In the Bible, Jesus is the Christ of God, never the Christ who is God.
·   “He (Jesus) said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.’” (Luke 9:20).
·   But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).

Son of God or God the Son?

This same human Jesus who is the Christ is the “Son of God” (1 John 5:5), a title which is parallel to and in many ways synonymous with “Messiah/Christ” (2 Sam. 7:14, Psa. 2:1-7, 1 Chron. 28:6). “Son of God” does not mean “God the Son”. There is no “God the Son” in the Bible. “God the Son” is an invention of the human mind.

Do you Love God’s child?

The person who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) is a child of God. If you love God, you will love the person, God’s child, who believes that Jesus is the Christ. If do not love that person, or reject that person, or call that person a heretic, the implication is that you do not love the Father (God). Because whoever loves God the Father loves God’s child (1 John 5:1).

Let me repeat that. If you reject as a heretic someone who believes that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah), the implication is that you do not love God, the Father of that person.

To love God’s child (the person who believes that Jesus is the Messiah) is a commandment from God (1 John 5:2-3; 3:23).

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Trinity in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy


Dear friend who believes in the “Deity of Christ”,

I was once like you. I took it on authority, and thought that the Bible presented Jesus as a God-man. I knew Jesus was a human, but I thought there were a handful of biblical verses that also showed that Jesus is God, a Second Person of a Godhead that took on flesh.

I now see that those handful of verses that I thought showed the deity of Jesus, don’t. To interpret those handful of Scriptures as evidence that Jesus is God does injustice to the Scriptures, and brings only confusion and contradiction. There are better ways to understand those handful of Scriptures.

In a previous post I suggested Trinitarian translations and notes from the Book of Genesis. Below are selected translations and notes for Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. More translations from the prophets and the New Testament, Lord willing, are forthcoming.

My translations and explanations are made tongue-in-cheek, although many of the comments are explanations I’ve heard from friends.

If Jesus is God, or if God is a Trinity, we should expect the Scriptures to read something like I’ve translated below.  I recommend comparing the translations below with real translations.

I do this to hopefully help people see the inconsistencies, contradictions and sometimes absurdities of the Trinitarian and deity of Christ interpretations.

God’s word is sharper than a two-edged sword. Blessings in Messiah Jesus, the firstborn from the dead.

Exodus 3:14 The Second Person of the Trinity** said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM, the Pre-incarnate 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Eternal God the Son." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.’”
**Literally, Elohim, plural. But in this case, this must only be the Second Person of the Trinity speaking because the 2nd Person, God the Son, later told us that He was the one who appeared to Moses in the burning bush when he said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM”. See below John 8:58.

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Before Abraham was born, I was the Eternal Second Person of the Trinity**who appeared to Moses in the burning bush.”***
**See above Exodus 3:14. We know that it was the Second Person of the Trinity that appeared to Moses in the burning bush, because Jesus said so. It would have been clearer if Jesus had said something like “I am a co-eternal person of the Trinity before anything was created”, and not just “before Abraham was I AM”. But still this is a clear claim to pre-existence as eternal God. There is no other way to understand Jesus’ statement. 

***True, Jesus didn’t say anything about the burning bush appearance to Moses here in John 8:58, but he said “I AM”, which in translated languages like English is an obvious reference to the burning bush incident. So we are justified in clarifying what Jesus meant in our translation.

Some might object and say that Jesus was only claiming to be one person of the whole Trinity that appeared to Moses in the burning bush. But that is impossible. Jesus said “I AM”. The Second Person of the Trinity would never claim to be the Trinity. Jesus never claimed to be God the Father, or God the Spirit. Those two are separate persons. He only claimed to be the Eternal God the Son. So, when he said “I AM” he was claiming to be only one person of the Godhead that appeared to Moses. Plus, God the Father and God the Spirit are never seen (Exo. 33:20), so this could only be the Second Person in the fire of the burning bush.


Exodus 20:1-3 And the Trinity** spoke all these words, saying, "I am Yahweh your Trinity**, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me.***
**Here Elohim must mean the Trinity. Since we already know that because Elohim is plural, Elohim means the Trinity (see Gen. 1:1). Well, at least in many cases Elohim means the Trinity (e.g., not in Genesis 1:26, Exo. 3:14, etc.). We must be honest and admit that every time the word Elohim (God) or LORD (Yahweh) occurs in the Old Testament, we have to decide if one, two or three persons is intended. We could just ignore the problem and always refer to Elohim (God) and Yahweh as one essence, entity or being, not one person, and use the singular “He”.

“Elohim/God” and “Yahweh” must refer to the Trinity in this verse because why wouldn’t all three persons have been involved in bringing Israel out of Egypt? We've already seen that Jesus, God the Son, told us that He appeared to Moses in the burning bush and told Moses He would bring His people out of Egypt. 

God the Father called Israel his firstborn son, so He must be involved (Exo. 4:22). We don't think God the Son would call Israel his firstborn son. It is a bit strange that God the Father would call Israel His firstborn son, since God the Father already had a Son, the Eternally Begotten God the Son. But let’s not get confused with the absurdities of our theology.

And, what would God the Spirit be doing if he wasn't helping bring Israel out of Egypt? So, Elohim Yahweh here in Exodus 20 giving the 10 commandments must be the Trinity.

***It would be wrong for one person of the Trinity to say proud-fully, “You shall have no other gods before me”, leaving out the other members of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit have eternally been co-equal and co-eternal, and with each other. One person of the Trinity would never try to exclude another person of the Trinity.  Only the Trinity entire, or, only the Trinity essence could say “You shall have no other gods before me (singular)”.

We will let these translations of Exodus suffice as examples of which person or persons of the Trinity is intended when Elohim and Yahweh are mentioned. Otherwise it might get a little confusing determining which member or members of the Trinity is intended with all the singular pronouns and verbs in what appears to be 96 occurrences of Elohim and 340 occurrences of Yahweh in the Book of Exodus.

Leviticus 1:1-2 The LORD (Yahweh, The Trinity)**called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD (Yahweh, The Trinity)**, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD (Yahweh, The Trinity).**
**Here the LORD (Yahweh) must be the Trinity, since one person of the Trinity would not call for worshipful sacrifices and exclude the other two members of the Trinity. This translation of Leviticus 1:1-2 serves as a good example of how we can determine which person or persons of the Trinity is intended when Elohim and Yahweh are mentioned in Leviticus. The multi-personed LORD (Yahweh/Yehovah יהוה) is mentioned some 209 times and Elohim some 40 times in Leviticus.

See in our note on Genesis 18:22 (previous blog post) concerning why Trinity Yahweh or Moses only gave clues that He, Trinity Yahweh was really three-in-one. The Israelites wouldn’t have been able to understand Yahweh’s three-in-one nature if it had just been spelled out so any first-grader could understand. God or Moses preferred to only give clues so insightful Gentiles could later discover this eternal truth.

Deuteronomy 4:35 (cf. 4:39)  To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD (Yahweh)** is three persons in one God (Elohim); there is no other*** besides the Trinity**** 

**Interpreting the LORD (Yahweh) as the Trinity may seem to be a contradiction with our interpretation of LORD (Yahweh) being only the Second Person of the Trinity in places like Genesis 18:13 and Exodus 3:14. But this problem dissolves when we understand, unconfusedly, that God’s personal name, Yahweh, can refer to any member of the Trinity, or to all the members of the Trinity, as we deem fit. Neither does this understanding contradict with the Bible’s clear declaration that Yahweh is one (see Deut. 6:4 below).

Our translation, “three persons in one” does not occur in the original text, but Yahweh/Moses must have meant this.

***Therefore, this must include all three members.
****Literally, “…no other besides him” but this must be a reference to the singular-entity Trinity. This can’t be referring to only one member of the Trinity, because the other two can’t be left out.


Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD (Yahweh) our God is three persons in one essence.

Another option: Hear, O Israel: The LORD (Yahweh) our God is one in complex unity.
Moses and the Israelites didn’t understand the whole picture presented in this verse. They were too primitive and would not have understood that Yahweh is tri-personal (well, sometimes). Later revelation shows that Yahweh is three persons, and that “one” here emphasizes Yahweh’s essence, not His person, since He is three persons. As one popular apologist likes to put it: “Don’t confuse the “whos” with the “what”. God (Yahweh) is three “whos” but only one “what”.

It is unfortunate that no biblical prophet or apostle ever bothered to explain the difference between the whos and what of Trinity Yahweh your God.

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, "The greatest commandment is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord your** God, the Lord is three persons in one essence."
Another option: Jesus answered, "The greatest commandment is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord your** God, the Lord is one in complex unity.”
**Literally “our God”, but Jesus, God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, could not have said that the Trinity is “our God”. Jesus can’t be his own God.

Perhaps this is only the human Jesus speaking, and not God the Son speaking. The human Jesus could say he has a God. Unfortunately, the Bible never differentiates between the human Jesus and the God Jesus, so we can only guess.

 Another possibility is that Jesus did say “Yahweh our God” and that here the LORD (Yahweh) means only the Father. But that would conflict with our interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:4 above. If Yahweh is only one person all the time, then our Trinitarian conception is false, and that can’t be.

Although Jesus did not take this opportunity to explain that God was really Three Persons, he must have meant that since he would have known how to correctly interpret Deuteronomy 6:4. Maybe Jesus thought that the Jews should have known by then that Yahweh God is Three Persons and that neither he nor any of his apostles afterwards should have to explain it.

“…you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God” (Jeremiah 23:36).

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Trinity and Deity of Christ in the Book of Genesis


Dear friend who believes in the “Deity of Christ”,

I was once like you. I took it on authority, and thought that the Bible presented Jesus as a God-man. I knew Jesus was a human, but I thought there were a handful of biblical verses that also showed that Jesus is God, a Second Person of a Godhead that took on flesh.

I now see that those handful of verses that I thought showed the deity of Jesus, don’t. To interpret those handful of Scriptures as evidence that Jesus is God does injustice to the Scriptures, and brings only confusion and contradiction. There are better ways to understand those handful of Scriptures.

Over the last year a number of biblical texts have been presented to me to show that Jesus is God, and that God is a Trinity. I have translated some of those biblical texts, starting with a few texts from the Book of Genesis, in the way that my Trinitarian (or Deity of Christ) friends are reading them.

In later articles I plan to post translations from other books of the Bible. My translations and explanations are made tongue-in-cheek, although many of the comments are explanations I’ve heard from friends. For instance, I'll use the title "God the Son", even though this never occurs in the Bible, because many friends use the title. I do this to hopefully help people see the inconsistencies, contradictions and sometimes absurdities of the Trinitarian and deity of Christ interpretations.

If Jesus is God, or if God is a Trinity, we should expect the Scriptures to read something like I’ve translated below.  I recommend comparing the translations below with real translations. God’s word is sharper than a two-edged sword. Blessings in Messiah Jesus, the firstborn from the dead.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning the Trinity** created the heavens and the earth.
The word for “God” in Hebrew, “Elohim”, is plural, so the Trinity is at least hinted at, if not outright presented here in Genesis 1:1 and in other occurrences of Elohim. The ancient Israelites only got a clue of the multiplicity of persons in Elohim. Later it would be shown that God is three persons. Neither Jesus nor anyone else in the New Testament explained that the plural Elohim means a multiplicity of persons (specifically three, the Trinity) but if we take into account all of Scripture - the Trinity is everywhere in the Bible.

Gen 1:26 And God the Father** said to God the Son and to God the Spirit, “Let us make man in our image”.
**There is almost no need to comment on this text since as almost every pastor knows, this verse is an obvious reference to the Trinity. There is one little problem because although we know that the plural Elohim is the Trinity (Gen. 1:1), we understand here that Elohim must be referring only to one member of the Trinity (apparently the First Person, God the Father).  But we can ignore the contradiction. The plural Elohim means the Trinity when we want it to mean the Trinity, but only one member of the Godhead when we want it to mean that.

 Since Elohim said, “Let us (plural) make”, He (the Father?) must be speaking to one or both of the other persons of the Trinity. That He spoke “to God the Son and to God the Spirit” is not in the original text, but this is what it means. It is a mystery that only God the Father thought of creating man in their image, and then proposed the idea to the other members of the Godhead, who didn’t seem to consider the idea originally. We can be thankful that God the Father suggested creating mankind, and that the other persons of the Trinity agreed, otherwise we wouldn't be here.

One other comment. It doesn't matter that the vast majority of Trinitarian academic scholars in our day think the plural "Elohim" and "Let us make man" have absolutely nothing to do with God being a tri-personal being. These Trinitarian scholars think there are better ways to understand "Elohim" and Genesis 1:26. But we don't care. We are sticking with this interpretation and will keep it in our translation.

Genesis 1:27 So the Trinity** created*** man in Its image. In the image of the Trinity They created him. Male and female They created them.
**Since one member of the Trinity was speaking to other members before creating man, Elohim here must be the Trinity again, unlike in the previous verse where Elohim was only God the Father. Elohim (the generic word for God) is a flexible term. We can interpret Elohim as singular or plural, changing from one verse to the next if needed.

***The singular verb “created” is problematic as are the thousands of other masculine singular verbs, pronouns and adjectives used with God (Elohim). Since God is three persons, it must be because God is one essence, not one person, that the ancient biblical languages used thousands of masculine singular verbs, pronouns and adjectives with Elohim. Since God is an essence we are justified in translating "created man in Its image".

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day the Trinity finished His** work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.
See comment on Gen. 1:27 above. Elohim here must be the Trinity since all three persons were involved in creation. All the verbs and pronouns relating to God (the Trinity) in this verse are masculine singular. Perhaps we should have been consistent with our translation of Genesis 1:27, “They, the Trinity made man in its image” since the singular-ness of God is an essence, not a person. But the plural pronoun (They) sounds polytheistic and the neuter "Its" sounds a bit impersonal, so, for the rest of the Bible we will use masculine singular pronouns (I, you [singular] and he/his) when referring to the Trinity, not forgetting that God is really three persons.

After all, just like we should call a boy "her" if that's what he/she wants, we should call God "Him", even though God the Trinity is really three persons.  

Genesis 18:1 And the Pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity** appeared to him (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre.
**This is the personal name of Israel’s God, Yahweh/Yehovah. The reference here can’t be to the First Person of the Trinity, because the First Person of the Trinity can’t be seen (Exodus 33:20). The Third Person of the Trinity is also unseen. The church “father” Justyn Martyr, ca AD 160, was the first commentator to suggest this is a pre-incarnate appearance of the Logos (“The Word” of John 1:1), a second “god”. Later church fathers clarified for us that this must be the Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal God the Son. 

For some reason the writers of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and the Book of Acts do not mention these important pre-existent appearances of the Eternal God the Son. Neither did the apostles Peter or Paul say anything about these pre-incarnate appearances of God the Son. Jesus only hinted at it in the Gospel of John. See later our translation of Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58 (forthcoming). The writer of the Book of Hebrews forgot about the pre-existent appearances of the Eternal God the Son (Hebrews 1:1).

Genesis 18:2-5 And he (Abraham) said, “Oh 2nd Person of the Trinity…let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under a tree…while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves…”
See above Gen. 18:1. Justin Martyr (ca. AD 160) tells us that this is a Pre-incarnate Logos appearing to Abraham. However, even Justin didn’t realize this was actually the Second Person of the Trinity.

Genesis 18:13 And Yahweh**, the Pre-Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?”
**Just like with Elohim, the generic title for God, it is not always easy to determine which person of the Trinity is intended by the name Yahweh (His name may have been pronounced Yehowah). But God’s personal name, Yahweh/Yehowah, also has flexibility in number. Yahweh must be here the singular Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal God the Son, since, as noted above in Gen. 18:1, the First Person cannot be seen by man. Other times the name Yahweh can refer to the First Person, or even to all three of the Trinity persons together (e.g., Genesis 2:4). See our comments (forthcoming) on Deuteronomy 6:4 which says that Yahweh is only one.

Genesis 18:22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity.
This translation is warranted to make it clear that Abraham was with the Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal God the Son, appearing as a man, but still pre-Incarnate. Moses was only given clues, and therefor only passed on those clues when he wrote Genesis. But now that we understand the clues, we can make it clear in translation. 

We aren’t sure why the Trinity only gave Moses clues. Maybe Moses was primitive and God the Trinity didn’t want to reveal everything about His Tri-personality so early. Moses would not have had the capacity to understand that there are really three persons of God. Or maybe Moses did know that God is a Trinity, but he didn’t want to spell it out in black and white because he knew the Israelites weren’t ready to understand. He only gave clues so that later people, especially Gentiles, would see those clues and understand.

“…you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God” (Jeremiah 23:36).

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Bible Tells me so. Jesus has a God



The Bible is clear that there is only one God
(Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29, Isaiah 44:24, John 17:3).

The Bible is also clear that the Lord Jesus Christ has a God.

The only God is Jesus Christ’s God, so Jesus Christ is not God.

I think most Christians understand that there is only one God. But it seems to me that fewer Christians know that Jesus Christ has a God. Here are a few Scriptures that show that Jesus Christ has a God.

Jesus said:
“…you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (John 8:40).

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34).

After his resurrection, Jesus said:
“…go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'” (John 20:17).

After his glorification and ascension to heaven to the right hand of God, Jesus said:

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2)

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name” (Revelation 3:12).

That’s four times in one verse that the glorified Jesus in heaven mentions “my God”.

The very first verse of the Book of Revelation mentions the God of Jesus:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John…”

So does Revelation 1:6
“…and (Jesus) made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father...”

The apostles Peter and Paul knew that Jesus has a God:

“…that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Peter 1:3).  

In addition to clear statements in the Bible that Jesus has a God, every single book of the New Testament differentiates between God and Jesus Christ (the Lord Messiah). This statement by the Apostle Peter is typical of the differentiation between God and Jesus: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst…” (Acts 2:22).


All of Paul’s 13 epistles start out with a differentiation between God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah):  “Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus the Messiah” (Romans 1:7, See also 1 Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Col. 1:2, 1 Thess. 1:1, 2 Thess. 1:2, 1 Tim. 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3). 

There seem to be two possible (but different) explanations by Trinitarians as to why Jesus has a God. 1) Only the human Jesus has a God, or 2) Within the “economy of the Trinity…God the Son calls God the Father ‘my God’”. But neither of these claims is biblical. The Bible never says anything about a difference between a "human Jesus and a divine Jesus". Neither does the Bible ever discuss relations of one member of the "Trinity godhead" to another. “God the Son” does not appear in the Bible.
The New Testament never speaks of a triune God. In the New Testament there is only one God, also known as the Father, the God of Jesus Christ.

Do we worship the God of Jesus Christ? “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

If Jesus pre-existed, he wasn’t a human, John 17:5


Many trinitarians believe that Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel of John 17:5 shows that Jesus pre-existed:
“and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made” (RSV).

As with any difficult biblical passage, we must consider the context of Jesus' statement in this prayer to God (the Father). Just two sentences before, as recorded in John 17:3, Jesus prayed to God: “Father (17:1) …this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus the Messiah whom you have sent.” In John 17:5, two sentences after Jesus said that the Father is the only true God, it would be very strange for Jesus to imply that he too, Jesus himself, is also God.

Father = God
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is directed to the “Father”. In the New Testament, Jesus’ Father is synonymous with “God”. When Jesus says, "Father", he means "God". Bringing presuppositions to the text, trinitarians look at this prayer and see “God the Son” making an appeal to God the Father to give back glory that he, “God the Son” had before in a pre-human existence. But this interpretation misunderstands the Fatherhood of God in the Bible. In the Bible the Fatherhood of God is a metaphor which describes the relation of God to mankind (Exo. 4:22, Isa. 63:16, Hos. 11:1, Matt. 5:45, 6:9, John 20:17). Biblically, the Fatherhood of God does not describe a metaphysical relation of one person of the “godhead” to another.

Also, the Bible does not describe the glory destined for the Messiah at the right hand of the Almighty God as something that the Messiah once had, that he gave up, and was given back. Rather, the exaltation and glory of Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament and then fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus said: "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25-26).  

Speaking of things that don’t yet exist, as though they exist

The trinitarian interpretation of John 17:5 fails to understand that both God, and God through His prophets, speak of predestined things (and people) as if they already exist. Note Jesus’s words in this same John 17 prayer just 15 verses later:

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:20-22).
  1. Here Jesus said he already had been given the glory intended for him. But his glory had not literally been given since Jesus had not yet died, been raised and exalted to the right hand of Almighty God (Luke 24:25-26). Jesus used past tense language in his prayer because he knew that God had promised the glory. The granting of the glory is as “good as done” so Jesus could speak of it as if it he already possessed it.
  2. And Jesus could also speak of glory that he had given to people that were not yet believers in him. Some of those people that Jesus already gave glory to did not even exist when Jesus spoke these words. Just as God gave to the Messiah glory before the Messiah literally existed, here Jesus speaks of glory he had given to people before they literally existed.
A basic principle of interpreting Scripture is to take the words in their historical and grammatical context. In this case we only need to listen to 15 more sentences in Jesus' prayer to get a better understanding of what Jesus meant in 17:5. In John 17:20-22 Jesus used again the language of “giving glory” and “having glory” before literal existence.

The glory that God planned for Messiah, Jesus spoke of in past tense, just as he spoke in past tense of the glory that he would give to future believers. Predestined things are spoken of as already existing because they are “as good as done” in God’s eyes.

Another way to say this is that in the Bible, a person can “have” something before they literally have it or even before they literally exist. Jesus said the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness sake have “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3, 10).  Even though these people weren’t in possession of the kingdom of heaven yet (they were poor and persecuted) they had it.

Paul said that believers in the One true God and His Messiah Jesus had salvation and a holy calling even before they existed. “(God) who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Messiah Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested…” (2 Timothy 1:9-10). For Paul, being “fully convinced that God is able to do what He promised” is saving faith (Romans 4:21).

Another example, Isaiah 53
Most Christians would agree that Isaiah 53 is Messianic, that is, in some way it tells us about the coming Messiah (John 12:37-38, 1 Pet. 2:24-25). Isaiah 53 was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Yet Isaiah 53 is all in past tense. “He grew up before him…he was despised and rejected by men…he has born our griefs…we deemed him stricken…he was wounded…Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all…” and on and on, all past tense. Did Yahweh lay on Jesus the iniquity of us all before 700 BC? Obviously not, but it is spoken of 700 years before it happened, as if it already happened.

Some call this language the “prophetic perfect tense” because the prophets’ words deal with something yet to come, but the words are spoken as if it already happened, already existed. If God predestines it, it is as good as done.

Another example, Abram
When Abram was old and childless, God said to him “I have made you the father of many nations”. Really? Abram, old and childless, was already the father of many nations? This is because God speaks of things that don’t yet exist as if they already exist (Romans 4:17).


More problems with the Trinitarian interpretation
Trinitarians create huge theological problems by saying that Jesus is recalling his own literal pre-existence and glory in John 17:5. Let’s be clear: Jesus makes no claim to deity in John 17:5, let alone to be a part of a three-personed godhead.  Neither did Jesus say he had glory with God from eternity past, only from before the world was, which is a strange way to describe a shared glory of two eternally existing godhead persons.

In trinitarian doctrine, “God the Son” did not give up his divine-nature when he took on human-nature at the incarnation, i.e, when he became “fully God and fully man”. The human-nature of Jesus did not have divine glory “before the world existed” so this must be the divine-nature of “God the Son” speaking in John 17:5.

But can “God the Son” be fully God without His glory?

  • If the Son gave up his glory, the Son is not God, since God can not give up His glory.
  • If the Son had glory with God, the Son is not God.
  • If the Son was asking God to give him (back) glory, the Son is not God.
The trinitarian interpretation of John 17:5 ends up being a tangled web of contradiction.

If trinitarians want to say that John 17:5 shows Jesus literally pre-existed, then they should be followers of AD 4th century Arius who believed that the Logos (Word), a lesser god or angel who pre-existed took on human nature. Anyone that had glory “with” God, then didn’t have glory “with” God, but then gets glory back again “with” God, is not God. Just like anyone who “goes to God” is not God.

A Warning
If Jesus pre-existed as God, he is not a human. He would be some other kind of creature, but not a human person. Trinitarian doctrine in the end leads to a denial of the humanity of Jesus.

Did Adam pre-exist other than in the plan and purpose of God? Did any other human being pre-exist other than in the plan and purpose of God? (Apparently Mormons believe that humans pre-existed, but this is unbiblical). If Jesus pre-existed literally, then he is not a human being, he is something else. He is not like you or me in what makes us essentially human. The dual-natured Jesus of the catholic creeds is a Clark Kent Superman, a science fiction, a fairy tale, a fantasy. If Jesus is God who took on flesh, he is not a human person and we don't have a sin offering (Romans 5:15, 17; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Cor. 5:21).

The Scriptures never come close to saying something like "that's the human Jesus”, but “that's the God Jesus". A dual-natured Jesus is philosophical speculation, a fantasy. The death of the human (not dual-natured) Jesus on the cross, the resurrection of the human Jesus from the dead, the exaltation of the human Jesus to the right hand of Almighty God in heaven, is not a fantasy.


For more information see here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Gehenna was not a continual burning fire in the Hinnom Valley

The word Gehenna is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew “Gei–Hinnom”, the “Valley of Hinnom” which defines Jerusalem’s western and southern sides. Although the “burning refuse” description is a favorite for tour guides and pastors, Gehenna has nothing to do with a continual burning of garbage in the Valley of Hinnom during the time of Jesus. This idea of continual garbage burning appears first from a medieval Jewish commentator, David Kimchi (ca. AD 1200), but it is wrong. Here is why:

1.       As mentioned above, there is no evidence in contemporaneous Second Temple Period sources (the time of Jesus) of a refuse fire constantly burning in the Hinnom Valley. The idea apparently originates from Rabbi David Kimchi’s commentary on Psalm 27:13 which dates to over 1000 years after Jesus (ca. AD 1200). Kimchi wrote: “Gehenna is a repugnant place, into which filth and cadavers are thrown, and in which fires perpetually burn in order to consume the filth and bones; on which account, by analogy, the judgment of the wicked is called ‘Gehenna.’”

Note however, that even Kimchi’s quote relates predominately to fire used for the elimination of “cadavers…filth and bones”. That is, whatever fire Kimchi had in mind was for the destruction or elimination, not conscious torment, of the human corpse. For a Jew, respectful burial is a necessary and high honor. Disposal by fire is dishonorable. Kimchi is commenting on those who will not “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13) as opposed to those who will.

2.       There is no archaeological evidence of a continually burning refuse fire from the 2nd Temple Period, or any other period, in the Hinnom Valley.

3.       Garbage that burns is a relatively recent phenomenon. One look in a modern trash can shows that our garbage sure would make a nice fire as it is made up mostly of paper and plastic. But it is almost all recent “junk”. Most garbage in the Second Temple Period would not have the same flammable character: broken pot shards, some food scraps, etc., and many of these items would be used secondarily, e.g., food scraps for animal feed and flammable objects for  controlled heating.

4.       Jerusalem receives an average of more than 20 inches of rainfall a year, and it all comes in a period of about four months (Dec-March). During these months the rain can come down in sheets for days at a time. Nothing outside would keep burning.

5.       During the long dry summer, if a fire started in the Hinnom Valley or anywhere else in the land of Israel, people would immediately put it out, as there would be a danger of a spreading brush fire. Southern California has a similar climate to Israel. Just as in California, there is a reason fires are not left burning.

6.       The Hinnom Valley defines the southern and western sides of the ancient city of Jerusalem. The prevailing westerly winds would push any acrid smoke from such a fire right into the city.

These seven reasons are enough to show that the “continual burning in the Hinnom Valley” as an illustration of “hell” is a myth. For a couple articles that agree, see here and here.

We need to look no further than the Bible for why Gai-Hinnom (Gehenna) came to be the perfect example of how God will judge and purge sin from this earth with a relatively quick, but devastating, judgment. The people of Israel were sacrificing their children by fire to a pagan god in this valley. This activity is the epitome of how far man can stray from God. God said – “I will destroy it…This sin will be stopped…I will make it a valley of slaughter…and their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the air” (Jeremiah 7:31-33, 19:4-7).

There may also be a connection to the last verse in the book of Isaiah (66:24), although this verse probably fits better the devastation of the Assyrian troops of Sennecharib by the angel of Yahweh (Isa. 37:36, "behold, they were all dead corpses"). In any case the decimation of the Assyrian army serves as another illustration of a quick devastating judgment of warfare or plague from Yahweh which leaves multiple dead bodies that require disposal by fire, where “their worm doesn’t die and their fire is not quenched”. Isaiah also had the perfect object lesson for Judeans. Don’t rebel against Yahweh. You’ll end up like them!


Monday, May 6, 2019

The Fatherhood of God: Biblical vs. Trinitarian understanding

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah" (Ephesians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:3).

To the biblical mind, the Fatherhood of God is metaphorical, representing God’s role as the giver of life, and all that is encapsulated in the father-child relationship: intimacy, concern, discipline, protection, care, representation, and not the least of which, inheritance. The son inherits the father’s property. In comparison, to the Hellenist or Greek mind the fatherhood of God is metaphysical, having to do with substance and essence. Dionysus, for instance, since he is the son of Zeus , is divine in essence. It was in this Hellenistic way that the church fathers of later centuries incorrectly interpreted the fatherhood of God in relation to Jesus. To the trinitarian, “God the Father” is a title used to differentiate between persons of the “godhead”. To the trinitarian mind, God the Father is not “God the Son” or “God the Spirit.” But this is not biblical. The biblical Fatherhood of God, the reason God is called the Father, is to describe the relationship of God to mankind.

Here's more description in a 4.5 minute video.