Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Lord, and my God: Trinitarians get it wrong


Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

(to hear this teaching on a podcast click here)

To Trinitarians and those who believe in the “deity of Christ”, this verse is slam-dunk evidence that Jesus is God.

But is it? I believe the “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores and contradicts Jesus’s teaching in the Gospel of John. There is a much better way to understand Thomas’s words.

Which “God” did Thomas mean when he said “my God”?

If you think Thomas recognized a 2nd God-person in Jesus, or a God-essence, or a “God the Son incarnate” in Jesus, I think you are not listening to and contradicting what Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel. 

Jesus, in John’s Gospel, said that it is God, the Father that Thomas saw in Jesus.[1]

A Challenge
Let me challenge you to think how biblically foreign the Trinitarian claim really is. Trinitarianism claims that because Thomas saw the once dead, now resurrected, flesh-and-bone Jesus, “Thomas called Jesus his God.” Be honest with yourself. Put yourself in Thomas’s place in first century Jerusalem. If you saw and touched the dead-but-now-resurrected-man Jesus, would you think that Jesus was God, or would you think that God (known as the Father) had raised Jesus from the dead?

Some Ancient Near East and Greek religions believed in the death and resurrection of their god. Worshipers of Baal, for instance, claimed Baal was dead and came alive. But unlike pagans, biblical thinking Jews believed that the eternal God does not die, nor does he come back to life. Rather, the only God, Yehovah, the Father, promised to raise humans from the dead. This is one of the reasons why God is called “the Father” -- because He gives life to humans both in this age and in the age to come.

Contrary to the “deity of Christ” interpretation, Thomas did not fail to acknowledge the work of the Father, the One Eternal Life-Giving God, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Indeed, Thomas acknowledged the Father, seeing two “persons” involved in the resurrection of Jesus:
  1. my “Lord” is Jesus the Messiah, who suffered and died, but was raised from the dead.
  2. my “God” is the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

The Trinitarian “deity of Christ” interpretation of John 20:28 fails to see or acknowledge the Father who raised to life the dead Jesus.

Apostles’ Reaction to the Resurrection of Jesus:
“God raised him from the dead!”
 Not: “He is God!”
In all other places in the Bible where the apostles react to the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah from the dead, they do not react by declaring “This proves Jesus is God”. Rather, they react by declaring: “God (the Father) raised the Lord Jesus from the dead” (Acts 2:22-24, 2:36, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 13:30-37; Rom. 1:4, 10:9, Gal 1:1, 1 Pet. 1:21, etc.) There are over 30 references in the New Testament stating that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The reaction of the other apostles is evidence that Thomas is reacting in the same way. “This Jesus, God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

The apostles, including Thomas, saw their God at work in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

To emphasize, nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus’s resurrection interpreted by the apostles to show Jesus’s deity. Rather, the apostles interpret Jesus’s resurrection as an act of God (the Father) the Giver of Life, who designated Jesus as Lord Messiah/Christ, Son of God, savior, and judge (Acts 2:22-36, 3:15, 5:30-31, 13:23-40, 17:31, Rom.1:4, 10:9, Gal. 1:1, etc). The Father (God) is made known, revealed and represented by the resurrected Son (John 1:18).
Seeing God, but No one has seen God 
John 12:45 and John 1:18
Just days before he was crucified, Jesus shouted out in Jerusalem, “He who sees me sees Him who sent me” (John 12:44-45). The One who sent Jesus is God (the Father, John 3:16, 5:23, 20:21). When we see Jesus, we can see God (the Father) who sent him. There are two “persons” seen here. 1) Jesus who was sent by God, and 2) God the Father who sent Jesus.

But how could Jesus say “he who sees me sees Him who sent me” and “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 12:45, 14:9) when the same Gospel states “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18)?

Because John 1:18 uses “seen” literally and Jesus uses “seen” figuratively (John 10:6; 16:25, 29). The word “see” is often used in a figurative sense to mean “perceive, know, understand”, as we might say “I see what you mean.”

Jesus represents someone else, specifically, God the Father who sent him. We see God the Father in Jesus because Jesus perfectly represents God, and because God was behind the scenes and involved in everything that Jesus was and did.  When we see Jesus, we see, i.e., perceive God (the Father). When Thomas saw Jesus resurrected from the dead, he saw, i.e., understood that God (the Father) was working.

Compare Peter’s declaration in Acts 2:22:Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him…” The apostles literally saw Jesus perform miracles. But they “see” God (the Father) behind the scenes doing the miracles. To “see” God this way means in the figurative sense of “perceiving, knowing, understanding.”

Even before his death and resurrection Jesus could say that the apostles had seen the Father, because the Father was seen, i.e., known in the works that Jesus did (John 14:7-9).  By the works Jesus did the apostles could “know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10:38).

“No one has ever seen God; the unique Son, who is at the Father's side, he has made Him known.”
The resurrected Son of God, now in heaven at God’s right hand, made known God (the Father). The Father is figuratively “seen” in the totality of who Jesus was and is.

By claiming that Thomas literally saw God, the “deity of Christ” interpretation of Thomas’s words directly contradicts the Gospel of John’s statement that “no one has ever seen God”.

“Lord, show us the Father” 
(John 14:8, Not “Lord, show us God the Son”)

We ask again. When Thomas said “my Lord and my God”, which God did Thomas see?

Trinitarianism says that Thomas was seeing “God the Son incarnate” or maybe some God-ness or God-essence. Jesus said differently. Jesus said that Thomas would see “the Father” (God).


John 14
On the evening before Jesus’s crucifixion, Jesus told Thomas: “If you have known me, you also will know my Father. From now on you do know HIM and have seen HIM" (John 14:7).

Keep in mind that Jesus was speaking to Thomas. To know Jesus was to know and see the Father.  Thomas had actually already seen Him (the Father). Again, “seeing” is being used in the figurative sense of “understanding” and “knowing”.

To suggest that Thomas sees or knows a different God other than God the Father in the resurrected Jesus turns a deaf ear to Jesus’s teaching, and contradicts what Jesus told Thomas.

Then in the next verse, with Thomas undoubtedly still listening, Philip asked:
Lord, show us the Father (John 14:8).

Philip’s request, “Lord, show us the Father” involves two “persons”:
1) Lord -- is Jesus.
2) the Father -- is God.

Two “persons”, but only one of them is God. These are the same two “persons” that Thomas acknowledges and sees in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

“Lord, show us the Father”. We might wonder why Philip didn’t ask Jesus to show the apostles “God the Son”? Why didn’t Philip ask Jesus to show them the Trinity? Why would Philip only be interested in seeing the Father? Could it be that for Philip there was no such thing as “God the Son” or “God the Trinity”, and that for Philip, as for Jesus, Moses and Paul, there was “only one God, the Father” (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29-32; John 5:44, 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 1:17, 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5)?

Jesus replied to Philip, Thomas still listening:

“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who remains in me does HIS works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (14:9-11).

Could Jesus have made it any clearer? “The Father who remains in me does HIS works…”

Seeing and Believing
Philip wanted to see the Father. “Lord, show us the Father”. Jesus did show Philip and Thomas and all the apostles the Father. It is the Father that Jesus showed, and that Thomas saw.

Jesus stated over and over again that his words and works show that it is the Father working in and through Jesus (cf. Acts 2:22). “Deity of Christ” theologians ignore Jesus and instead create a fictitious “God the Son” that they see in Jesus. But “God the Son” was not working in or through Jesus. Neither Jesus nor anyone else in Scripture ever mention “God the Son”. To suggest that there is any other God-person in Jesus other than the Father simply ignores what Jesus told the apostles over and over again. Jesus said continually that the Father was working in and through him. Jesus said he would show the apostles the Father. Thomas saw (perceived) the Father.

Resurrection: “When you see me again, you will know that I am in my Father’
Jesus continued his discussion that same night with Thomas, Philip and the other apostles. Jesus said that it would particularly be in seeing him after his death and resurrection that they would know (see) that God the Father was at work in Jesus: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (14:19-20).

Thomas Finally Gets It, when you see Jesus, you see the Father
Some eight days after Jesus told Thomas and Philip that they would see the Father in him (eight days after Jesus was raised from the dead), Thomas saw and touched the once dead but now alive flesh-and-bone-human Jesus (Luke 24:39). Thomas finally knew (understood and believed) what Jesus was talking about. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus revealed the Father, the only God (John 17:3), the Giver of Life. Thomas saw (i.e., understood, knew) that the resurrection of Jesus was the work of God the Father, that the Father had given life to Jesus, that indeed the Father was in Jesus, the Father is known by the resurrected Jesus, the Father is declared in the resurrected Jesus, the Father is represented by the resurrected Jesus. Just like Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…” (John 14:11). Thomas finally did.

It is not a “second person of a godhead” to whom Thomas proclaims “my God!” If it was, Thomas still hadn’t learned what Jesus taught him. Jesus taught Thomas that when you see Jesus you see the Father, because the Father does His works through Jesus. If Thomas did not acknowledge the Father when he saw the resurrected Jesus, Thomas failed to listen to Jesus and failed to acknowledge or give credit to the God who raised Jesus from the dead.

My Lord, and my God
Thomas did not say to Jesus “YOU are my Lord and my God”. Compare Nathaniel’s words to Jesus when Nathaniel expressed that Jesus was both the King of Israel and the Son of God: “Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

Unlike Nathaniel’s declaration, Thomas’s declaration does not contain “you” at all, because Thomas understood that he was seeing another “person” at work in the resurrected Jesus, the Father. Thomas’s exclamation has two titles for two different “persons”: “My Lord” (Jesus) and “my God” (the Father) because Jesus has told Thomas - many times! - that “when you see me”, in this case resurrected from the dead, “you have seen the Father” (John 12:45, 14:19-20).

How many times did Jesus need to say in the Gospel of John that when we see him, we see the Father? “Deity of Christ” interpreters ignore the author of the Gospel John. “Deity of Christ” interpreters ignore Jesus.

Just as Jesus told Thomas would happen, Thomas saw his God, the Father, declared in and through the resurrected-from-the-dead Jesus.

Paging “God the Son”, “God the Son” where are You?
There is no “God the Son incarnate” in the Gospel of John or anywhere else in Scripture. “God the Son” is never credited with being the reason Jesus is who he is, or does what he does. Many Trinitarians claim that Jesus did what he did and said what he said “because Jesus is God.” But the Trinitarian claim is contrary to what the Bible says, especially in the Gospel of John. Jesus says in the Gospel of John:
  • The Father is “the only true God” (John 17:1, 3).
  • Jesus’s works are the Father’s works. The works were done by the Father (10:32, 10:37, 14:10, cf. Acts 2:22).
  • Jesus’s words are the Father’s words (8:48, 12:49-50, 14:10, cf. Deut. 18:18).
  • Jesus’s glory is from the Father (1:14, 8:54, 17:5).
  • Jesus has declared or made known the Father (1:18, 14:10-11).
  • If people knew Jesus, they would know the Father (8:19, 12:45, 14:7-11).
  • Because Jesus spoke the Father’s words, and because of the miraculous works Jesus did from the Father, people could “know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father" (10:38, 12:49, 14:10).

Again, there is never any indication of another divine person, a so-called “God the Son incarnate” at work or “in” Jesus. In the Gospel of John “God the Son incarnate” gets no credit for anything because he doesn’t exist. The Gospel of John makes it crystal clear that the God who is at work in Jesus is the Father. For Trinitarians to claim that Thomas was declaring that he saw some other God-person in the resurrected Jesus other than God (the Father) ignores a massive amount of Jesus’s teaching recorded in John’s Gospel.[2]

“Believe me”: The Resurrection or Deity?
The night before he was crucified, what did Jesus tell the apostles to believe? “Believe me that I am God”? Far from it. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…” (John 14:11).

When the other apostles told Thomas that they had seen the resurrected Jesus, Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus was alive (John 20:25), literally raised from the dead by God.

It was belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead - prime evidence that the Father is in Jesus - that Jesus commended. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 14:11, 20:29).

It is the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah that the apostles later preached, not the deity of Jesus (Acts 2:22; 1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2, 15:3-6, 12; 1 Pet. 1:21, etc.).

My God and Your God, My Father and Your Father: Context and John’s Purpose for Writing
Understanding that Thomas’s declaration “my God” refers to the Father fits the context of John chapter 20. Interpreting Thomas to be calling Jesus “my God” does not fit the context.
On the day of his resurrection, in words that John recorded only 11 verses prior to Thomas’s “my God” statement, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “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). Jesus has a God, who is the same God as the apostles’ God. Jesus’s and Thomas’s God is also known as the Father. Jesus said he is Thomas’s brother, not Thomas’s God. 
Those who want to claim that “Thomas called Jesus God” should explain from Scripture why God has a God, because the “deity of Christ” interpretation means that “God-Jesus” has a God. Also, if Thomas is brother to “God-Jesus”, does this mean that Thomas is (a) God? 
John tells us why he recorded the signs/miracles
Further, just two verses after John recorded Thomas’s declaration, John stated the reason why he recorded the signs that Jesus did. 
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31). 
John does not say that he recorded these signs so that we would believe that Jesus is God. Rather, John recorded the signs so that we might believe that Jesus is the “Christ/Messiah, the Son of God”. “Christ/Messiah” in the Bible is never a title for deity. Likewise, “Son of God” in the Bible is never a title for deity, but is the title for the human King of Israel (2 Sam. 7:14, Psa. 2:7, 89:26, John 1:49, 11:27). 
Do we believe John? Or do we ignore John and believe someone else who says that John wrote his book to tell us that Jesus is God? Why does Trinitarianism refuse to believe John when John tells us the reason he wrote? 
The context of John 20, including events and statements by the author of the Gospel of John immediately before and after Thomas’s declaration show that Thomas was declaring that Jesus is his Lord and the Father is his God. 
Lord and God, two different titles in the Gospel of John
The New Testament consistently uses the same titles that Thomas used to distinguish between God (the Father) and the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is not God. There are many, many biblical examples where the Lord Jesus Christ is differentiated from God. Here are a few:[3]
  • “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom (Eph. 1:17).
  • “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:3, cf. Ephesians 1:3, Rom. 15:6, 1 Pet. 1:3).
  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3).
  • “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36) 
God is always differentiated from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is always differentiated from God. The Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament has a God who raised him from the dead.  The God of the Lord Jesus is the only God, also known as the Father (John 17:1, 3; Rom. 15:6; Eph. 4:6). 
In the Gospel of John, God is never called Lord unless John quotes a passage directly from the Old Testament which has God’s personal name Yehovah יהוה. But this is rare, only three times in all the Gospel of John (1:23, 12:13, 38). Outside of those three quotes from the Old Testament, the Gospel of John never refers to God as Lord. On the other hand, Jesus is called Lord some 40 times in the Gospel of John, all used in the sense of an honorific title denoting authority, “Master, Sir”. Here are a few examples:
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?” (9:35-36).
 Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (11:27).
“A servant is not greater than his Lord” (13:16, 15:20).
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am” (13:13).
 “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they laid him” (20:2).
In the Gospel of John, Lord is an honorific title for humans, especially for Jesus.
In the Gospel of John (and in the New Testament), “God” refers only to Father. When Thomas said, “my God” he could only be referring to the one God, the Father, who Jesus said Thomas would see.
 Father, this is eternal life
In the Gospel of John, Jesus stated that receiving eternal life (life in the age to come, resurrection life) involved knowing two “persons”:
“Father…this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:1, 3). These are the same two “persons” that Thomas saw in the raised to eternal life Jesus. “My God” is the Father. “My Lord” is Jesus Christ. The Trinitarian interpretation of Thomas’s declaration ignores the Father, the only true God, the Giver-of-Life (John 1:13). 
Peter is Satan
If we apply the “deity of Christ” interpretation method of Thomas’s statement to another place in the Bible, then we can also interpret that the Apostle Peter is Satan. In Matthew 16:23 we read, “But he (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’”
Jesus directly called Peter, Satan, and “Peter did not deny being Satan!” Jesus’s words can be considered to have greater authority than Thomas’s words. So, to be consistent we must claim that Peter is Satan. This would logically lead to understanding that Peter is Satan incarnate, that Satan had two natures (spirit and human), that Peter was the serpent in the Garden of Eden who may have pre-existed creation! Jesus spoke directly and very plainly. He called Peter Satan, just as Thomas called Jesus God.[4] 
The truth is, Jesus recognized someone else involved in Peter’s thinking, just as Thomas recognized someone else involved in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 
Seeing God at work in Human Affairs
A major biblical theme is that humans should be able to recognize or see God at work in the deeds, sometimes miraculous, that God does on earth through human beings. The Israelites could know it was Yehovah who brought them out of Egypt by the miraculous deeds that Yehovah performed through Moses (Exo. 29:46, Deut. 4:35). 
The Canaanite Hivites saw what “Yehovah your God…did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan”. They saw Yehovah God in victories done through Moses and Joshua (Josh. 9:9-10).
 The Queen of Sheba could see that it was “Yehovah your God” who placed Solomon on the throne as king (2 Chron. 9:8). She didn’t fail to recognize Yehovah as the one responsible for Solomon’s greatness. 
When Jesus healed a lame man, “the crowds saw it, they were in awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” (Matt. 9:6-8). 
When Jesus raised to life a dead man, “they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’” (Luke 7:15-16). The people didn’t fail to recognize, glorify and credit God with the life-restoration miracle that had been performed through Jesus. 
When Jesus healed many in the Gentile district of Decapolis, “the crowd was in awe, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.” Again, these Gentiles were able to see the God of Israel at work in Jesus. 
In a statement that also involved victory over death, Paul recognized the work of God through Jesus: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). 
Failure to see Yehovah God at work in biblical events, particularly in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, is a kind of blindness (Isa. 6:9-10). 
Summary
Thomas’s statement in John 20:28 is touted as one of the chief evidences in the Bible for the “deity of Christ” and for the Trinity. But the “deity of Christ” interpretation gets it very wrong.

1.      The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores the biblical, Hebraic cultural background of Thomas’s declaration. Pagans may have believed in a deity resurrected from the dead, but biblically thinking Jews believed that God does not die, nor does He rise from the dead. Rather, God raises humans from the dead.

2.      The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores the reaction of all the other apostles to the resurrection of Jesus. The apostles never react to the resurrection of Jesus by declaring “Jesus is God”, but rather, “God raised Jesus from the dead”. The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores tens of other clear biblical statements that “God (the Father) raised Jesus from the dead.”

3.      The “deity of Christ” interpretation directly contradicts the Gospel of John’s statement that “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18). Our interpretation of Thomas’s declaration agrees that “no one has ever seen God.” The Father figuratively was “seen”, i.e., percieved in the totality of the life of Jesus, especially in his death and resurrection.

4.      The “deity of Christ” interpretation ignores the literary context of Thomas’s statement in the Gospel of John. Thomas initially doubted and eventually believed in the resurrection of Jesus, not the deity of Jesus. Further, not long before Thomas made his declaration, the resurrected Jesus declared “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Jesus’s God and Father are the same God and Father as the apostles. And then, only two verses after Thomas’s declaration, John gave the reason he recorded the sign miracles that Jesus did. That purpose was not to show that Jesus is God. The “deity of Christ” interpretation doesn’t accept the author of the Gospel of John’s own purpose statement.

5.      The “deity of Christ” interpretation fails to understand the consistent biblical theme that the one God (Yehovah, the Father) is perceived, seen and made known in His acts among humankind. “To you it was shown, that you might know that Yehovah is God; there is none other than Him (Deut. 4:35. Isa. 43:10).

6.      The “deity of Christ” interpretation mis-identifies the God in Jesus.  This is a serious error, since it ignores and contradicts what Jesus told Thomas, fails to see the One God (the Father) at work in Jesus, and fails to give credit to the One God (the Father) for raising the dead.

Trinitarianism claims it was “God the Son” in Jesus. But Jesus said that it was God the Father, the only God, who was in him (John 8:40, 10:38, 14:9-10, 17:3).

Should we believe Trinitarianism or Jesus? 
What else does Trinitarianism have wrong?
Since Trinitarianism mis-interprets and contradicts what the Bible says about Thomas’s declaration in John 20:28, we must wonder what other verses in John’s Gospel Trinitarianism has mis-construed. There is probably only one other verse that tops John 20:28 as a “deity of Christ” proof text. “What about John 1:1?” In a forthcoming article I plan to show that the Trinitarian and “deity of Christ” interpretations of John 1:1 fail miserably.
 For additional comments on John 20:28 see:
Check out the One God Report Podcast




[1] Some One God believers (“Biblical Unitarians”) have suggested that Thomas called Jesus “god” in the sense that other humans were sometimes called “god” or “gods” (e.g., Exo. 4:16, 7:1: Psa. 82:6). Or that Thomas was simply making an exclamation like “Oh my God”. But like the Trinitarian interpretation, these interpretations fail to take into account that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Gal. 1:1), and that Jesus said Thomas would see the Father in him (Jesus).

[2] To Jesus, “Father” meant God entire. Many Scriptures state that “the Father” is another title for God entire, not just one person of a multi-person god (Exo. 4:22, Isa. 63:16, 1 Chr. 29:10, Jer. 31:9, Mal. 2:10, John 20:17, 1 Cor. 8:6, Gal. 4:4, Eph. 4:6, James 1:17).  “Father” is a metaphorical title for God that emphasizes humankind’s relationship to God (John 1:13, 8:54, 20:17, Matt. 6:9, Rom. 1:7, 2 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 3:26, etc.). Calling God “Father” is not a metaphysical claim to deity (Is God our Father?). Since Jewish people tend not to use the personal name of God in conversation, “Father” was in many ways a very fitting way for Jesus and other Israelites to refer to the one God who gives life to all.

In the Bible, Son/s of God are created beings, especially humans, never deity. “Son of God” is a title that came to be almost synonymous with the title “King of Israel” and “Messiah” (2 Sam. 7:14; Psa. 2:7; 89:26; John 1:12-13, 1:49, 8:49, 8:54; 11:27).

[3] Contrary to some misinformed, overly zealous Trinitarian preaching, to be “Lord” does not mean you are God. Otherwise the upper house of the British parliament would be the House of Gods. Sometimes LORD/Lord in the Bible does mean God, but there are many lords/Lords in the Bible who are not God. “Jesus is Lord” is not a claim to deity (Act 2:36, Rom. 10:9).

The confusion over LORD/Lord/lord stems from the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. The title “Lord” kurios (“master, sir, prince, ruler”), an honorific title acknowledging authority, was substituted for God’s personal name, Yehovah יהוה.  English translations of the Old Testament usually indicate Yehovah’s personal name with all capitals LORD. But God’s name Yehovah is very different from the replacement title “Lord”. Yehovah/Yahweh is God’s personal name but the title Lord is adon in Hebrew and kurios in Greek).

Abigail distinguished between her Lord (David) and her God (LORD/Yehovah): “for the LORD will certainly make for my Lord an enduring house, because my Lord is fighting the battles of the LORD” (1 Sam. 25:28, Abigail called David “Lord” 14x in this chapter). In the Hebrew text there is no confusing Abigail’s LORD from her Lord, because they are two very different words. In the Greek text the words are exactly the same, and therefor confusing.

Sometimes God is called “Lord” in the New Testament, using the Greek practice of substituting the title kurios/Lord for Yehovah’s personal name. Context can most often determine if kurios/Lord in the New Testament means God, or the Lord Messiah, or some other lord. Lord/kurios in the Gospel of John refers to God only in OT quotations (see main text).

[4] Thanks to Kevin George for pointing out the Peter=Satan analogy.




5 comments:

Jammacbeth said...

Awesome Bill. What more needs to be said. Let God be true and every man a liar....the scripture has so declared and that abundantly clear. " if you have seen me you have seen the Father.."

Dr. Kuruvilla Cherian said...

Thomas' confession was: "My Lord AND My God", not "My Lord God". There's a great difference in what these two statements mean.

Martin Van Rijswijk said...

Thank you Bill. Having done a lot of reading around John 20.28, your use of John 14 where you cite the earlier conversation between Jesus, Thomas and Phillip as a reference point for Thomas' exclamation makes perfect sense. It is perhaps one of the clearer explanations I have encountered to explain this verse. Your blog has been most helpful. Thank you for this

B. Chandrasekhara Reddy, Guntur said...

Great explanation thank you

Unknown said...

Bill, I agree with the positive responses to your (not so recent now) podcast #9. This is the most clear and logical commentary on this verse, taken in context of the whole Gospel of John, that I have heard. I have listened several times and expect to return to it many more times. I am grateful also for the transcript you are posting.
I only wish it could be as ingrained in my memory and understanding as it is in yours. I am posting the link and intend to share the transcript with numerous of my Trinitarian friends, with prayer that they may be willing to consider it.