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Who and What is God?


Eric V. Snow


God is personal, all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, loving spirit Being who created the material universe as something separate from Himself.  Jehovah is self-existent and is the God who is, who was, and who shall ever be (Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 13:8  God is composed of two spirit Beings at present (cf. I John 3:1-2; John 17:20-23; 10:30-39).  His love for humanity is practically demonstrated directly by His willingness, as Jesus, to die painfully on the cross to erase the sins of all people (John 3:16).  The Bible is the "Manufacturer's" instruction booklet telling human beings (the Creator's highest creation) how to live happily in this life and how to live forever in the next by revealing specifically how we should obey and have faith in Him.  The Bible reveals how God is reaching down to humanity to redeem from sin and spiritual ignorance and how we can be reconcile  d to our Creator, and thus have true meaning in this life by pleasing our Creator. 




When considering the biblical evidence overall, it’s clear that God is one but that more than one Being is God.  Both the Father and the Son are God (John 1:1), but they are one God, not two.  Christians aren’t polytheistic, although that’s the traditional criticism of Muslims and Jews about Christian theology about Jesus’ Deity.  


A number of texts clearly affirm that God is one.  For example, Deuteronomy 6:4 has what the Jews call “the shema.”  This passage, which every good Jew has memorized by heart in Hebrew, reads:  "Hear, O Israel!  The Lord [Jehovah] is our God, the Lord [Jehovah] is one."  Paul said in Galatians 3:20:   “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”   Likewise the brother of Jesus wrote in James 2:19:  “You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble.”  Paul noted that “since it is one God who will justify circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith” (Romans 3:30).  God proclaimed through one of the greatest Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 44:6-8):  “So says the LORD, the King of Israel, and His redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besides Me there is no God. . . . So you are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Yea, there is none.”   Elsewhere David proclaims (2 Samuel 7:22), “Therefore You are great, O LORD God. For there is none like You, neither is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”  One scribe correctly told Jesus (Mark 12:32).” Right, Teacher, according to truth You have spoken, that God is one, and there is no other besides Him.”  So Scripture clearly affirms that there is only one God.


But is that all that the Bible teaches?  Is God just one Person, as Jews and Muslims teach?  Although the Bible reveals that God is one, it also says that more than one person is God.  One of the most important texts in this regard is John 1:1:  Its opening verse affirms the Deity of Christ:  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Since in verse 14 "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," the Word undeniably was Jesus.  To evade this verse, Unitarians, who say that God is one Person only, have argued that the "Word" merely was a thought in the Father's mind, since verses 2-3 refer to the "Word" impersonally.  (For verse 2, the NASB literal marginal rendering is "This one.")  This argument is simply unpersuasive, since this "thought" is called "God," and because this "thought" was the Creator "itself" in verse 2:  "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."  Could a mere "thought" alone in the Father's mind create the universe by itself?


Now the word translated "one" in the Shema of Deut. 6:4 is "echod."  This word can mean composite unity, not an indivisible, solitary unity.  Genesis 2:24 uses the word "echod" thus:  "For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."  Here two separate individuals become "one."  Similarly, the giant cluster of grapes carried on a branch between two of the spies scouting out the Holy Land for Israel was "echod" (Num. 13:23).  Despite apparently having hundreds of grapes, the cluster still was called "one" or "single."  The Greek word for one, "heis," merely repeats the same story, since it can refer to composite unity as well.  For example, the analogy between the human body and the church makes "one" out of many (I Cor. 12:12):  "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ."  Similarly, many can be "one" in Phil. 2:2 (NKJV):  "fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."  The non-spurious part of I John 5:7 (ASV) makes three into one:  "For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one."  In light of this Scriptural evidence, it's wrong to insist the texts that affirm God's oneness must mean God is one single Person (center of consciousness).


Clearly, the Old Testament refers to God as both the "Creator" and "Creators," as the "Maker" and "Makers."  A Unitarian, who believes God is just one Person, could accuse a Binitarian, who believes God is made made up two Persons who are One God, of "a mathematical impossibility."   However, Hebrew agrees with the latter's viewpoint by implicitly portraying God as "one," but that "one" is defined in a way that allows for a multiplicity of Beings (re:  Gen. 3:22, "like ONE of US.")  Because a whole major doctrine might not be fully revealed in one place in the Bible since its bits and pieces may be scattered about within it, Binitarian teaching isn't self-contradictory.  The Unitarian view has the burden of explaining away the many pieces that don't fit it, while the Binitarian view embraces the evidence that portrays God as one as well as the evidence favoring more than one Person being God.  Hence, the Binitarians aren't "making the exception the rule" or engaging in selective proof-texting, but they are formulating a doctrine that explains ALL of the evidence, anomalous facts to Unitarianism included, not just a good part of it.




Does the Old Testament ever attribute to God a plurality of Persons?  Although Hebrew term for God, "elohim," is in the plural, it almost always takes singular verbs or pronouns.  But a few exceptions do arise (Isa. 6:8; Gen. 11:7).  Most strikingly there’s Gen. 1:26:  "Then God said, 'Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.'"  Those asserting monotheism requires God to be a single Person commonly employ two interpretive strategies to evade this text's implications.  One asserts that God spoke to the angels here.  But since Scripture never says the angels are creators, even assistant creators, this claim is totally unpersuasive.  Another approach maintains God here used the "plural of majesty," as Queen Victoria did in this statement traditionally attributed to her, "We are not amused."  Of course, the question then becomes why God almost never uses the plural of majesty, even when in Isaiah He is affirming His greatness compared to His creation and mankind, except in a very few, isolated cases.  (A serious scholarly investigation should be launched to see how and whether Israelite and other kings of a Semitic culture commonly used the plural of majesty, or whether it appeared in myths about false gods of the ancient Middle East).  But must ambiguity reign?  Notice Gen. 3:22:  "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil.'"  This construction can't be explained as a "plural of majesty" because "one" is set against "Us."  Despite being not the most straightforward interpretation, the claim God used the "plural of majesty" in Gen. 1:26 may not be able to be decisively refuted at the present state of knowledge.  But in light of Gen. 3:22, the view "Elohim" can't refer to a plurality of Persons in the Godhead wears exceedingly thin.


            Consider the cases where God uses plural pronouns when speaking, such as Genesis 1:26.  Belying the claim that this is a supposed "plural of majesty," the Jews anciently had trouble explaining this text.  In the Midrash Rabbah on Genesis, one rabbi made the following comments on it:


            Rabbi Samuel bar Naham in the name of Rabbi Jonathan said, that at the time when Moses wrote the Torah, writing a portion of it daily, when he came to this verse which says, 'And Elohim said, let us make man in our image after our likeness.'  Moses said, Master of the Universe, why do you give herewith an excuse to the sectarians [i.e., Christians], God answered Moses, You write and whoever wants to err let him err."


Obviously, if this text and those like it could be explained away as the plural of majesty, the rabbi(s) who wrote this passage could have easily disposed of this text's potential problems, since they certainly knew how Hebrew worked.




            According to Robert Morey, during the intense nineteenth-century debates between Unitarians and Trinitarians, the plural of majesty was revealed to be a hoax popularized by the famous Jewish scholar Gesenius.  Using the plural of majesty to explain this and other passages away commits the fundamental mistake of reading a modern monarchical convention back into Scriptures originally written millennia ago when this form of speech was unknown.  As the scholar Nassi notes, the plural of majesty was "a thing unknown to Moses and the prophets.  Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, David, and all the other kings throughout . . . (the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa) speak in the singular, and not as modern kings in the plural.  They do not say we, but I, command; as in Gen. xli. 41; Dan. iii 29; Ezra i. 2, etc."  Compounding their error, the Unitarians attempt to explain even the plural word "elohim" away as a form of the plural of majesty, forgetting that the use of the royal "we" is limited to direct discourse and commands, not narratives or descriptions.  Given this kind of evidence, citing the authority of Gesenius or Bullinger is simply not persuasive as any kind of real proof that the Hebrew really does use the plural of majesty.  The Unitarians and Arians should completely abandon this argument if they can't cite ancient Semitic literature in which kings used the plural of majesty.


            Consider the three other cases where the God of Israel used plural pronouns:  "Then I [Isaiah] heard the voice of the Lord [Adonai], saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?" (Isa. 6:8).  "And the Lord [Yahweh] said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. . . .  Come, let US go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech" (Gen. 11:6-7).  "Then the Lord [Yahweh] God said, 'Behold, the man has become like ONE of US, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:22).  To explain away such anomalous facts of Scripture, the Unitarian has to invent unconvincing ad hoc explanations, such as "the plural of majesty," "the angels were speaking or being spoken to," etc.  By contrast, the Binitarian's teaching, which maintains that God is one but more than one being is God, effortlessly glides over such passages while still comfortably fitting the many more places where God uses singular pronouns.


It has been said that the plural of majesty isn't a hoax because in the Quran (Koran) of Islam Allah extensively uses "We," not "I."  However, a gap of over 2000 years yawns between the time of Moses and the time of Muhammad, so something more ancient, and thus concurrent with the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures, is necessary to make this point stick.  Admittedly, as John Wheeler has observed in a letter written to me dated December 24, 1998, the use of the plural noun with a singular verb used in agreement appears elsewhere in the OT, such as Wisdom in some Proverbs, the Behemoth in Job, and "your teachers" in Isa. 30:20.  However, this still doesn't refute Morey's point about the plural of majesty (or, perhaps more precisely, the "royal we") being limited to direct discourse when spoken aloud.  The question remains about why such terms are sometimes plural in form, and sometimes aren't, when power or might is implied may not be, strictly speaking, a "plural of majesty" because no monarch (including God) is speaking directly when they appear.  Still, this issue remains, and constitutes one for further research:  Did ancient Semitic monarchs or gods use the "royal we" in historical records or myths?  The Unitarians are welcome to find any evidence available for their cause from the first or second millennia b.c.  After all, to use some deductive theology as Morey does, if a Unitarian had written the Bible, would he have used literally thousands of words with plural endings (such as “Elohim” and “Adonai”) to refer to God?  Wouldn’t such a Unitarian writer have eliminated any such plurals since it could have led to confusion about whether more than one Being is God?  Would such a Unitarian writer have allowed such texts as John 1:1 that call Jesus God to have escaped from his pen?


So the Bible teaches that one God created the world, but that more than one Person is God.  The true worshippers of God aren’t polytheistic.




A crucial defining part of the character of God is that He is the Creator, as Genesis 1:1 reveals:  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” 

Undeniably nature does reveal God’s nature in part, but it does so less clearly than the Bible does.  The creation does indeed give clues about the nature and essence of the Creator.  Notice this highly relevant text in Romans 1:20, which shows that the Bible directly confirms that the natural world reveals God’s attributes and essence:  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  For example, the immense size and complexity of the universe reveals how great God’s power is relative to humanity’s.  The universe may have 10 trillion to 15 trillion galaxies, which demonstrates God’s awesome power to create everything from nothing. 


Although it has been argued by philosophers that the creation is finite, and therefore, God’s almighty infinite power can’t be proven from a limited, finite amount of matter, this doesn’t reckon with the sheer size of the universe even as it is known by humanity’s highly limited scientific instruments, such as telescopes.  Any Being who could create something so immense and complex is so much more powerful than we human beings are that such philosophical quibbles hardly register.  We’re like Job when reasoning this way, who was full of powerful eloquence when complaining about God’s unfairness until God confronted him through His immense power.  Then he quickly folded (Job 40:1-9).  God doesn’t have to prove his infinite power through human, philosophical reasoning for us to understand how pathetically weak we are compared to Him should we actually directly encounter Him.


Furthermore, since God made the universe from nothing, that required an infinite amount of power to call matter out of a void via the Holy Spirit.  The Bible clearly teaches that God made the universe from nothing (Hebrews 11:3):  “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”  Even the earliest ancient Greek philosophers perceived the absurdity of claiming that something can come from nothing.  That’s because the basis of the law of cause and effect is “A being A over time.”  That is, what a thing DOES is based on what it IS.  Hence, a void on its own will never spontaneously generate matter.  For God to make something from nothing shows that He has infinite power since He has lived for all eternity and has always had such power at His command.




So let’s try to reason generally about certain aspects about how God’s nature are revealed through nature.  The basic aspect of this kind of reasoning is that what is more complex can’t be created spontaneously by random events as matter interacts with itself.  In order to prove this, it would be necessary to spend a fair amount of time criticizing the philosophical assumptions of the theory of evolution.  (I can explain more about that issue in a separate email if you wish).  The mere fact that many philosophers have retreated from asserting that enough time and matter would create life and intelligence by chance in one universe shows that they know the game is up. That is, knowing the kinds of detailed statistical calculations that can be deployed against purely mechanistic views of the origin of life, many agnostic and atheistic philosophers nowadays resort to claiming that there are an infinitive number of [unverifiable, unprovable] universes in existence in order to evade such problems.  A number of decades ago, before this reality had sunk in, the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov argued in an essay that life in the universe must be common by running an argument along these lines.  He crunched numbers that estimated the number possible planets that existed, the number with life on them relative to the number of stars in an average galaxy multiplied by the number of galaxies.  By contrast, consider how the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle and his partner blew apart the relevance of such arguments by calculating that the chance of getting the 2000 enzymes (organic catalysts that speed up chemical reactions) that a living cell must have before it can function as 10 raised to the 40,000 power, which is many, many, many orders of magnitude above the number of atoms in the observable universe from the most powerful telescopes.  There’s no way there can be enough “organic soup” to create life by chance even if the whole universe were an ocean of amino acids and protein molecules. 


Let’s focus on some specific aspects of how nature can reveal God’s nature.  For example, if the universe has intelligent life in it, it required a supreme Consciousness to create it.  A blind, dumb force couldn’t have done the job.  Hence, God has to be omniscient or nearly so to create the universe.  After all, a blind dumb force could not have created by chance the immense complexity of the universe nor put its natural laws in motion.  At least He has to have so much more knowledge than humanity has by comparison it would be like comparing an ocean’s amount of water to what’s kept in a thimble. 




This Supreme Power also has a moral, ethical sense because we human beings can’t avoid making moral judgments and claims of one kind of another.  Anyone who claims to be a relativist, who claims “all is relative” and that “there are no absolutes,” normally will give up such assertions when encountering injustice personally.  A woman who gets raped won’t claim that “maybe” the perpetrator wasn’t morally wrong.  Furthermore, such people will also surrender when confronted with applications of this principle to various mistreated minority groups:  Would any skeptical liberal, who supposedly upholds cultural relativism, deny statements like these?:  “Racism is immoral in all places at all times.”  “Rape is immoral in all places at all times.”  “Chinese foot-binding and India’s past practice of suttee are wrong in all places at all times.”  Anyone who isn’t a pathological psychotic will admit that certain actions are wrong all the time, not merely sometimes, depending on the circumstances.  This moral sense is implanted in humanity by God; it wasn’t created by brute matter and blind forces.  Therefore, despite the problem of evil’s existence, we can know that God has a sense of morality and love for His creation, even if we individually or as large groups may suffer from our own poor choices or those of others, past or present.




Let’s briefly focus on how atheists and agnostics will use the problem of evil, based on what they see occurring in the universe, to deny that God is good.  The inescapable dilemma skeptical evolutionists face in employing the problem of evil against the existence of God stems from where the origin of our sense of morality, of right and wrong, comes from.  As Cornelius Hunter, “Darwin’s God,” p. 18, expertly summarizes the problem (his emphasis):  The existence of evil seems to contradict God, but the existence of our deep moral sense seems to confirm God.”    For if we believe all is relative, that there are no absolutes, in a world without God, how can we condemn God for (say) allowing the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, or the Ukrainian terror famine?  We can’t judge God unless we believe we can derive some kind of system of moral absolutes separately by human reason without recourse to Him or religious revelation.  Cornelius Hunter in “Darwin’s God” (p. 154) also penetratingly exposes the evolutionists’ moral conundrum, after citing Richard Dawkins’ comment about the universe having no design, purpose, good or evil, “nothing but pointless indifference” thus:  “Since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use the problem of evil to justify atheism.  The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil—the very thing the materialist seems to deny.”  If we can’t derive natural moral law separately from God by human reason, if we can’t get an “ought” from an “is” without reference to religious revelation, we can’t condemn God for allowing evil, now can we?  If indeed all is relative, and one person’s good is another’s evil, such as for (say) female genital mutilation or Chinese foot binding, which traditional societies affirm(ed) but feminists condemn, on what basis can we criticize God for being a permissive libertarian about the actions resulting from His creatures’ freely chosen moral decisions?  If indeed there are no moral absolutes, the ideologies that led to gulags and concentration camps are just as ethical as the ideologies that eliminated them. Ironically, atheists and agnostics have to believe in evil in order to condemn God for unleashing it.  Hence, our innate moral sense, although it may manifest itself differently from culture to culture and person to person, constitutes intrinsic evidence for something beyond the material world.  Otherwise, a fist hitting someone’s face in the street is no more or less morally significant than two rocks hitting each other in the wilderness, since all are composed of atoms in motion coming in contact with each other.  True, various philosophical attempts to derive an “ought” from an “is” exist, such as the differing arguments of James Q. Wilson (“the moral sense” that has a psychological/mental/behavior origin in our human natures), C.S. Lewis (“the Tao” or way, of cross cultural ultimate similarities show traditional morality is a kind of irreducible primary), and Ayn Rand (“living entities intrinsically need certain values to sustain life”) show.  But unless atheists and agnostics discard their moral relativism, they can’t use the existence of evil to discard God. 


Paul’s speech on Mars’ Hill in Athens (Acts 17:22-31) reveals that He was willing to use natural theology to show that the Creator God has certain attributes and didn’t have others.  For example, Paul reasoned that the Creator doesn’t need anything from human beings since He is so much more powerful than we are and made anything that we can possibly give to Him (verse 25).  He isn’t to be represented by idols and graven images since even we human beings, His offspring, have a higher nature than such objects.  The divine nature (verse 29) can’t be represented by such objects of false, pagan worship.


So above I have briefly explained how certain attributes of God can be deduced from observations of the natural world.  We can know that God has so much more power, knowledge, and even goodness compared to human beings when we reason upon what we see in nature.  We also can know that God can’t be a blind, dumb force since the universe is immensely complex and has intelligent beings in it who were created by Him.  Random chance and mutations, even as winnowed out by the survival of the fittest, can’t create something more complex or intelligent from blind, dumb matter, when analyzed carefully through statistics.  




The God of the Bible, the Creator of everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:2-3) has a moral nature.  God isn’t a blind, brute force without self-consciousness.  He is utterly holy, pure, and righteous.  Now Scripture makes it clear that God can't sin.  Jesus, who is God (John 1:1-3, 14), didn't sin while living in the flesh on earth (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-15).  God can't lie (Titus 1:2; cf. Romans 3:4).  In God, there is no darkness, only light (I John 1:5-6).  Since God is holy (I Peter 1:16), righteous (Ex. 9:27), and perfect (Matt. 5:48), He will not sin.


But as Timothy Keller points out in his bestselling defense of Christianity, "The Reason for God," a lot of people aren't comfortable with the idea of a God who judges.  They like the idea of a God of "love."  But what do we mean by "love"?  Shouldn't love have standards?  If we love someone, like our children, don't we want them to do well and good in life, not badly and evil?  If God tolerated all sins people commit with indifference, and never judged or condemned anyone for anything they did, would He really love us then?  And, of course, if we morally judge and condemn God for morally judging and condemning others, what is our source of authority for doing so?  Suppose we're moral relativists who believe right and wrong is purely subjective, and changes across cultures arbitrarily.  If we may not judge anyone for doing anything "wrong," who are we to condemn God, who logically  is part of the class of "anyone"?  Theoretically, God may only be condemned by people who uphold moral absolutes, yet one of the main emotional and psychological reasons people become atheists is so they can free themselves from the moral absolutes commanded in Scripture (or by others in society).  If someone denies moral absolutes, they can't condemn God for condemning and punishing the Canaanites, including the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.


From a 21st century liberal humanitarian perspective, why was God so seemingly harsh on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah?  (Of course, as someone like Keller would observe, the values of 21st century humanitarianism are really derived from Christianity historically and theologically, not primarily from another source).  Here we have to reckon with how utterly holy and pure God is, and how He wants His people to believe and live the same way, to be as perfect as He is (Matt. 5:48).  In order to drive this point home emotionally to us humans, in Scripture God let Himself be repeatedly portrayed as the betrayed husband of an adulterous wife (Ezekiel 16:1-43; 23:1-49; Jer. 3:6-11).  If we ponder the emotions of that comparison carefully, we'll then understand much better why God would command  Because God doesn't reveal all His laws and His overall will all at once, the Bible is a book that records God's progressive revelation to humanity.  God doesn't reveal everything all at once, or people would reject it as too overwhelming, i.e., be "blinded by the light."  The famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant once said something like, "If the truth shall kill them, let them die."  Fortunately, God normally doesn't operate that way, at least prior to the Second Coming (Rev. 1:5-7) or all of us would already be dead! 




Let’s now turn to a related issue:  Is God a Trinity?  Is Jesus God?  Is the Holy Spirit a Person?  How many Persons are God?  To be clear, the Trinity isn’t a biblical teaching.  For example, many texts refer to the Holy Spirit impersonally.  The Holy Spirit has no separate consciousness separate from the Father and the Son.  Rather, the Holy Spirit is the power or force of God (Luke 1:35; I Cor. 2:4; Acts 1:8; compare Romans 15:13, 19, and Acts 6:5 with verse 8).


The Holy Spirit is never described as a personage in any of the heavenly scenes found in the Book of Revelation.  The seven spirits shouldn’t be seen as the third member of the Godhead of the Trinity teaching.  “The Holy Spirit” is never personified in any of the throne room scenes described in the Book of Revelation, which is one of the best arguments against its being a separate member of the Godhead.  Even if someone believes in that teaching, wouldn’t it be peculiar to imagine one member of the Godhead being seven separate “Spirits” (Revelation 4:6), right?  That’s a poor way to claim that the Holy Spirit has a presence in heaven as a consciously separate Divine entity from the Father and Son.  Furthermore, rarely is the Holy Spirit referred to in the introductions and conclusions to the letters where the writers mention the Father and the Son.  No songs, prayers or exclamations directed to the Spirit in the Bible, unlike the case for the Father and the Son. Furthermore, since the Holy Spirit was the means by which the Virgin Mary was impregnated, “He” would be the “Father” of Jesus instead of the Father, if “He” were a separate divine person (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:34-35).




However, the Trinitarians are right to affirm that Jesus is God.  Indeed, the ground for the process of atonement for the human race’s sins is based on Jesus being the Creator who took the penalty for violating God’s law in the place of sinning humanity.  Many, many texts could be cited that imply or prove outright that Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, 14; 5:18; 10:30-33; 8:58-59; 20:58; Mark 2:5-10; Matt. 14:33; Matt. 28:9, 17; Hebrews 1:6, 8; Rev. 7:10-11, 17; Eph. 3:9 (NKJV), I Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 1:8 (cf. Rev. 22:12-13; 2:17-18; 2:8; 21:6-7); Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; I Cor. 10:4, 9; Matt. 1:23; I John 5:20; Romans 9:5; I Timothy 3:16 (NKJV).  The plurality of the Godhead (i.e., two Beings at present) is taught in the Old Testament by Genesis 1:26; 3:22.  The “plural of majesty” explanation for these texts is bogus biblically, since the Bible’s kings never say “we,” like Queen Victoria did, but they say “I.”  The claim that Jesus isn’t God dies the death of a thousand cuts, as Arians keep trying to explain away each text in this barrage that I’ve fired off.  The Arians’ use of the Bible in trying to deny that Jesus is God reminds me of those scientists who try to defend the theoretical paradigm that they are emotionally invested in against falsification by constantly coming up with ad hoc secondary modifications and “explanations.”  It’s time to say that the Jews are wrong, that they shouldn’t be assumed to have interpreted the Old Testament correctly concerning the identity of God being one Person when they mistakenly rejected Jesus as the Messiah and Savior.  The Jews’ interpretation of the (Hebrew) Old Testament (which God used them to preserve) should be deemed no more reliable than the Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Greek New Testament (which God used their Eastern branch to preserve also).


Although some of the standard definitional attributes traditionally asserted to define "God" wouldn't have always fit Jesus, they do fit Him other times.  For example, consider the evidence for his omniscience, or knowing everything.  Although Jesus didn't know the day of His return, His disciples still said of Him the night before He died (John 16:30):  "Now we know that you know all things, and have no need for anyone to question you."  Similarly,  a Unitarian, who believes that God is only one person, may casually explain away such texts as John 1:48; 4:16-19 as proving no more than that Jesus was a prophet, but in the light of John 16:30 and His other high claims (such as John 14:6), some reconsideration is in order.  Similarly, He promised to future believers that He would be omnipresent in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:20):  "lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  How could He be with us now, scattered around the earth, unless He were everywhere?  He also promised:  "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst" (Matt. 18:20).  Again, how could this be done, unless He was omnipresent through the Spirit?  (II Cor. 3:17-18; Col. 1:27; II Cor. 13:5).  Jesus learned and grew (Heb. 5:8; Luke 2:52), i.e., was changeable.  Yet Jesus was also immutable (unchangeable) (Heb. 1:11-12; Heb. 13:8), just as the Eternal is (Ps. 102:26-27).  Despite his death, Jesus is now "the King of kings and Lord of lords [Rev. 19:16 17:14]; who alone possesses immortality" (II Tim. 6:16-17).  Of course, the Father is "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God" (I Tim. 1:17).  Just as Jesus "alone" having immortality doesn't prove the Father lacks it, neither does the Father being "the only God" prove Jesus isn't God.  Scripture reveals that God is Spirit (John 4:24).  Although Jesus was once in the flesh, as we are now, He is now a spirit being:  "The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (I Cor. 15:45).  Hence, even assuming the traditional definitions are universally applicable, if Jesus is now omniscient, omnipresent, immortal, immutable, and spirit, isn't it logical to deduce He is God?  Furthermore, since Jesus has seemingly mutually-exclusive attributes asserted of Him at different times, the Arian/Unitarian solution of denying Jesus is God doesn't really solve the problems involved.  Instead, it heightens them, because although their teaching adequately explains the attributes congruent with His humanity, those which fit Deity sometimes aren't.  Traditional orthodoxy's solution of asserting Jesus had two natures, one human, one divine, one limited, one unlimited, is more compatible with Scriptural evidence than Unitarianism's theory, even as it fundamentally ignores the necessary limits the flesh placed on His divine nature.




Let’s now consider the fundamental problem with Unitarian (Socinian) theology for the theory of redemption.  Suppose Jesus was not the Creator of humanity or the world, and had no preexistence.  How can the death of a mere man, a man who (despite being virgin born and sinless) was no greater than (say) the prophets Isaiah or Jeremiah, save us from our sins?  Herbert Armstrong's theory of the atonement (Mystery of the Ages, pp. 210-11) maintains that since Jesus was God and the actual Creator of all humans, His life was worth far more than all human lives combined.  God, being a consistent enforcer of His law, had condemned all humans to death for their sins, and couldn't arbitrarily cancel them without putting His sense of justice in question.  Consequently, to rescue mankind from its sins, only the life of Someone worth more than all our lives put together could pay the penalty of our sins while keeping His law intact.  But that price couldn't be paid, unless the Creator in all respects became also like the part of the Creation to be redeemed.  Jesus had to die, because only human death could pay the penalties for human sin.  Yet, He also had to be the Creator of humanity, since only then would His life would be worth more than all the other human beings who had ever lived.  Importantly, Jesus' sinlessness is a necessary but not sufficient condition for saving humanity, for that isn't enough by itself to do the job.  Ultimately, Unitarian theology undermines our appreciation for what Jesus did because the level of sacrifice He engaged in is almost infinitely lessened (cf. Rom. 5:7): No longer does the Almighty Jehovah who lived from all eternity and created the universe die for us, but rather just (perhaps) a virgin-born, sinless man who is just like ourselves otherwise.





            The Gospel of John poses more problems for Unitarian theology than any other book of the Bible.  Indeed, its theme can be summarized as describing Jesus Christ, the One who was fully God and fully man, and His teachings for those already converted.  In order to refute Gnostic teachings that denied Jesus came in the flesh, but just appeared to have a body of flesh and blood (II John 7; I John 4:2-3), John also emphasized Jesus' humanity.  Its opening verse affirms the Deity of Christ:  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Since in verse 14 "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," the Word undeniably was Jesus.  To evade this verse, Unitarians have argued that the "Word" merely was a thought in the Father's mind, since verses 2-3 refer to the "Word" impersonally.  (For verse 2, the NASB literal marginal rendering is "This one.")  This argument is simply unpersuasive, since this "thought" is called "God," and because this "thought" was the Creator "itself" in verse 2:  "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."  Could a mere "thought" alone in the Father's mind create the universe by itself?




            Jehovah's Witnesses tackle John 1:1 differently.  Importantly, they are Arians who deny Jesus was God but who (unlike Unitarians) do affirm His preexistence before the Holy Spirit impregnated the Virgin Mary.  They assert the last clause should be translated "and the Word was a god" (New World Translation).  To really prove this translation's dishonesty by examining the Greek grammar would consume much more space than is available here.  Such complicated issues like Colwell's rule appear, which states a "definite predicate nominative" never acquires an article ("the" or "a") when preceding the verb. Interested readers should turn to John M. Bowman's Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House, 1989) for a thorough refutation.  But consider this intuitive point:  Since John mentions the "Word" was in the beginning in the first clause before referring to the Father ("God") in the second, this by itself strongly implies His eternal preexistence.  Furthermore, John deliberately wrote a seemingly self-contradictory, equivocal, paradoxical statement, since the "Word" was with"God," yet the "Word" also was "God."  To say the Word was merely "a god," robs this poetic verse of its power.  Using a small "g," this translation makes a distinction possible only in few languages besides English.  (Ironically, many of the earliest Greek manuscripts are in all capitals!)  Furthermore, this mistranslation leads to polytheism, since Jesus is a "little god," the Father is a "big God," making 1 + 1 = 2!  Tersely yet poetically, John uses the word "God" in two different ways, first to refer to the Father, second to the Godhead or Divine Family generally, which includes Jesus as well as the Father.




            Another key verse showing Jesus is God is John 5:18:  "For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill [Jesus], because He not only was breaking the Sabbath [as they defined it], but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."  Jesus referred to the Father in such a familiar way (v. 17), unlike other Jews, they thought He was committing blasphemy.  Similarly, Jesus stated in John 10:30, "I and the Father are one."  For this remark, the Jews immediately (v. 31) picked "up stones again to stone Him."  Why?  "'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God" (v. 33).  At this point, if Jesus wasn't God, immediately He could have clarified His identity by issuing a simply plain denial right then.  Instead, side-stepping the accusation by quoting Psalms 82:6, He affirms He is the Son of God (v. 34). 

            As the Jews understood Jesus when He used this title, "the Son of God" implied divinity and not just Messiahship.  (Theoretically, one could claim to be the Messiah yet deny being God).  Taking on this title cost Jesus His life.  His crucifixion followed the supposed blasphemy of saying He was the Son of God (John 19:7; Luke 22:67-71; Matt. 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64).  After all, in John 10:30-34 and elsewhere, He got into trouble for calling God His Father, and for saying He had a special, close relationship with Him that all other humans didn't have, i.e., He was a special son of God, the "only begotten" (John 3:16; cf. His avoidance of "our Father" in John 20:17).




            Then consider John 8:58:  "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'"  Implying He was Jehovah, Jesus alluded to the burning bush incident, in which God stated "I am who I am" (Ex. 3:14).  To evade this verse's implications, Unitarians and Arians attempt to retranslate one or more words in it.  One option is to turn "was born" (NASB, lit. margin, "came into being") into a reference to the resurrection ("came to be") of Abraham.  Another claims "I am" should be translated "I was" or "I have been," in order to say Jesus merely asserted He lived before Abraham did. Again, the technicalisms of Greek grammar can't be pursued here, but the reader is referred to Bowman's work mentioned above.  But both of these alternate strategies totally fail before the implications of verse 59:  "Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him." Why did they want to stone Him?  For blasphemy!  If Jesus merely was announcing He lived or would be resurrected before Abraham did or would be, unbelieving Jews might have marked Him down as eccentric (re:  verse 56).  But certainly this was no offense worthy of death. 


            The context of John 8:58-59 concerns issues about Jesus' identity (see verses 12, 19, 24, 25, 28, 53).  The chapter ends by Jesus asserting that He is the Eternal, the uncreated Creator, by contrasting Abraham's coming into being with His eternal existence (cf. Ps. 90:2).  Later, during His arrest (John 18:5-8), Jesus' saying "I am" (the "He," is italicized, showing the translators added it) caused the crowd to draw back and fall to the ground.  Their response strongly implies Jesus was making a divine claim, not merely stating when He lived compared to Abraham.  By these statements, Jesus was likely also alluding to where the Eternal says "I am (He)" in Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, 46:4; 52:6.




            After His resurrection, Jesus confronted doubting Thomas, who replied in total astonishment, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).  Again, if Jesus wasn't God, this exclamation presented Him with the golden opportunity to correct Thomas' would-be misimpression.  But, of course, He did no such thing.  Thomas wasn't using a irreverent euphemism, something which may be common today but was virtually unknown in his culture.  Instead, remembering that Thomas' earlier devotion and service to Jesus shows he wouldn't casually throw around God's name in vain, in context his previous unbelief was overwhelmed, dazzled, and rebuked by the personal proof of Jesus' Deity by His resurrection from the dead.

            The Gospel of John is full of statements by Jesus which no Old Testament prophet would dare make about himself, but which came naturally to Him.  "'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me'" (John 14:6).  "'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies'" (John 11:25).  "'I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life'" (John 8:12).  "'I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins'" (John 8:24). "'He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day'" (John 6:54).  "'I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned'" (John 15:5-6).  "'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst'" (John 6:35).  "'All may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him'" (John 8:23).  Would have Daniel or Ezekiel even dream of uttering such thoughts in reference to themselves?




            Turning to further proofs of Jesus' Deity found in the other Gospels, consider Jesus' ability to forgive sins by His own authority.  While healing the paralytic, Jesus told him "your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5; cf. Luke 5:19).  Immediately, some of the scribes hearing Him questioned His apparent presumption:  "Why does this man speak that way?  He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7).  Despite knowing their thinking, Jesus proceeded to assert His authority to forgive sins (v. 10), without doing anything to correct their interpretation of His statement.  Remember, He wasn't forgiving sins committed against Himself, i.e., as an individual who had been wronged or offended, but was forgiving sins generically.




            Since only God is worthy of worship (Matt. 4:10), if Jesus was worshiped by anyone without Him rebuking him (cf. Rev. 22:8-9; Acts 10:25-26; 14:12-15), that would prove His Deity.  The Magi from the east "came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him" (Matt. 2:11).  Now, the standard Unitarian/Arian reply states that the Greek word translated "worshiped" here is ambiguous. It can refer to people paying their respects to a king or high authority figure by bowing down to them.  Hence, Jehovah's Witnesses, in their New World Translation, have "falling down, they did obeisance to it."  But is this alternative translation always persuasive, given the context of the situation in which Jesus was "worshiped"?  Consider when Jesus miraculously walked on water and controlled the weather by making the wind stop the moment He and Peter (who ran out on the water towards Him, only to sink) got back into their boat (Matt. 14:33):  "And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'You are certainly God's Son!'"  Having just so overawed them by demonstrating His powers over nature, as God has, was this mere "obeisance"?  That hardly seems likely.  Similarly, when the disciples first met Jesus after His resurrection (Matt. 28:9; cf. v. 17):  "They came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him."  Considering Thomas' exclamation when he first met the risen Christ, is it plausible to think after Jesus' stunning victory of life over death that the disciples merely bowed down to Him as if he were a human king, as if He were Henry VIII?             Hebrews 1:6 states the angels worshiped Christ:  "And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says:  'And let all the angels of God worship Him.'"  Since Jesus in the immediate context is being deliberately contrasted with the angels (v. 4-5, 7), is this mere "obeisance" to a Being that Jehovah's Witnesses identify also as Michael the Archangel?  Is Jesus then just a superior, but fellow, angel?  Notice then Heb. 1:8:  "But of the son He says, 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever'" Jehovah's Witnesses attempt to elude this verse by this alternative translation:  "God is your throne forever and ever" (NWT).  Although grammatically possible, is this sensible? How does God Himself become a "throne"?  If this (somehow) means Jesus derives His authority from God, then He is no different from the angels that this verse is supposed to be contrasting Him with.  Verse 10 cites from Ps. 102:25:  "And, 'Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands.'" Identifying Jesus as the Creator, the author of Hebrews plainly applies to Jesus the Psalmist's words about Yahweh (notice Ps. 102:18, 20, 22).  Since Jesus is Yahweh, He is surely worthy of the angels' worship!


            One interesting reference about Jesus receiving worship as God obliquely occurs in Revelation 7:10-11, 17:  "And they cry out with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their facesbefore the throne and worshiped God. . . . for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd."  Notice how God sits on the throne in v. 10, and receives worship, but v. 17 affirms Jesus sits on that throne Himself!  The worship that these great spirit beings gave to God on His throne can't possibly be downgraded to the kind of respect humans show when bowing to a king.  Although it's affirmed indirectly, these verses still remain strong evidence for Jesus receiving worship.





            Further evidence that Jesus is God comes from statements stating He was the Creator, a major defining attribute of God.  If Jesus was the Creator, it also proves His preexistence, which refutes Unitarianism if not Arianism.  "From the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9, NKJV).  "Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him" (I Cor. 8:6).  "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:3, NKJV).  "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities‑‑all things have been created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col. 1:16-17).  Logically, if Jesus made "ALL things," then He Himself couldn't be one of the "things" made! 




            At the beginning of Revelation appears a most intriguing text for the Deity of Christ. "'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'" (Rev. 1:8, NKJV).  "Alpha" is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, while "omega" is the last.  In red letter Bibles, these words will properly appear in red, since Rev. 22:12-13 shows Jesus spoke them:  "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  (See also Rev. 1:17-18; 2:8 for further evidence).  Could someone else besides Jehovah be "the first and the last"?  Note Isa. 44:6:  "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:  'I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.'"  (See also Isa. 41:4).  If the Eternal is the only God, could anyone besides Him be "the first and the last"?  The following text plainly identifies "God" and "the Alpha and the Omega" as one and the same (Rev. 21:6-7):  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. . . .  He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."




            Paul affirmed the Deity of Christ in Col. 2:9:  "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."  Trying to dodge this verse, Jehovah's Witnesses mistranslate it as "all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily" (NWT).  But the word translated "Deity" here is "theotetos," not "theiot."  Despite Thayer was a Unitarian himself, his Greek-English Lexicon (p. 288) denied this interpretation of "theot" (his emphasis):  "deity i.e. the state of being God, Godhead . . . theot [in Greek letters]. deity differs from theiot [in Greek letters].divinity, as essence differs from quality or attribute."  Since the verse mentions Christ as possessing "all the fullness of Deity," its immediate context completely destroys any attempt to translate this word as weakly affirming Jesus's divinity anyway.


            Expectantly awaiting Christ's return, Paul wrote (Titus 2:13):  "Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."  A similar expression appears in II Peter 1:1:  "by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ."  These translations are disputed--Jehovah's Witnesses are not alone with such renderings as "the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus" (NWT) and "of our God and [the] Savior Jesus Christ" (NWT).  The latter translations assert "God" and the "Savior" separately refer to the Father and Son, instead of combining the two expressions together to refer to the Son alone.  Does ambiguity reign?  In fact, a major problem arises against the New World Translation's rendering.  In the Greek, this grammatical construction connects the two nouns with the word "and" (kai) in between, while placing a definite article "the" before the first noun but not the second.  Bowman maintains that everytime this construction appears when using singular nouns and common ones denoting persons (brother, Savior, Lord, Son, Father, etc.), both nouns refer to just one person. Josh McDowell and Bart Larson (Jesus:  A Biblical Defense of His Deity (San Bernardino, CA:  Here's Life Publishers, 1983), p. 26) call this a "Granville Sharpe construction" because one article refers to both nouns inseparably.  Furthermore, at least for Titus 2:13, note that the context points to Christ's second coming‑‑Paul can't be referring to the Father's appearance!

            While describing God's dealings with Israel, Paul identifies Jesus as Jehovah in I Cor. 10:4, 9 (NKJV):  "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. . . .  nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents."  Jehovah's Witnesses attempt to evade the first text by translating the word for "was" as "meant" (NWT).  But the straightforward normal meaning of the Greek is "was," not "meant."  Only while laboring under the theological view that Jesus couldn't possibly be Yahweh could someone insist on translating/interpreting the Greek so unconventionally.  Similarly, Paul in Rom. 14:9-12 (NKJV) calls Christ "Lord of both the dead and the living," states, "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ," applies an Old Testament text about "the Lord" (the Eternal) to Him, and finishes, "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."  While discussing humans giving an account of themselves to God as their judge, Paul plainly equates Jesus, God, and Yahweh as one and the same!




             Does Matthew 1:23 show Jesus is God? "'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'"  The name Jesus received strongly implies His Deity, because God and the Jewish culture in Scripture often name people for what they are.  Hence, Moses was drawn out of the water as a baby, Abraham became the father of many nations, Jacob did supplant his brother for the birthright, Esau was hairy, Israel did strive with both God and men, Eve was the mother of all living, and Adam was the (first) man.  Although today in our culture parents rarely name their children to describe who and/or what their offspring are, the Bible reveals God and patriarchal culture operated differently.  Since Jesus was the God-Man who lived among humanity as a man while being God as well, "Immanuel" as a name fits perfectly.

            Since the Old Testament portrays the Messiah as being God, this means Jesus must be God (Isa. 9:6-7):  "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father [or "Father of Eternity"], Prince of Peace."  If the Unitarian replies the title "Mighty God" shouldn't be taken literally, then neither can the other three titles, which is unacceptable.  Does Jesus being "Mighty God" make Him into an inferior semi-divine being compared to the "Almighty God" who is the Father?   Isaiah's next chapter (verses 21-22) refutes this claim, for Yahweh is called "the mighty God."  The Old Testament also describes the Messiah as preexisting before the Virgin Mary became pregnant, even as eternally existing by one meaning of "olam" ("forever") (Micah 5:2; cf. Heb. 7:3):  "From you [Bethlehem] One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.  His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."  Furthermore, "They will look on Me [Yahweh] whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10).




            Although perhaps more disputable, other texts given a standard translation or interpretation say Jesus is God.  For example, I John 5:20 reads:  "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life."  The most natural reference for "This is the true God" is "His Son Jesus Christ."  Remember that John began his letter referring to Jesus as someone who could be touched "and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us" (I John 1:2).  If Jesus was "the eternal life" at the beginning of John's letter, presumably He still is the "eternal life" at its end! 


            Consider now Romans 9:5 (NKJV):  "of whom are the fathers and from who, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.  Amen."  Of course, this verse can easily be translated to avoid the reference to Jesus being God.  But the mere fact that's a perfectly possible meaning indicates how Paul, at least here, didn't strive to avoid grammatical constructions that could point to multiplicity within the Godhead‑‑a thought once unthinkable to any true Jew.  Acts 20:28 presents another example:  "The Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."  True, "Son" in brackets can be inserted to complete the thought after the word "blood."  But again, since the first translation is the simplest, it indicates Paul (who was speaking here) didn't strive to avoid language at all costs that potentially referred to Jesus as God, as possibly compromising monotheism (belief in one God).


            One controversial text is I Timothy 3:16 (NKJV):  "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:  'God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.'"  The alternative reading places "He who" for "God."  The dispute here concerns not translation as such, but the long-running debate between the Received/Byzantine text that underlies the KJV and NKJV, and the Critical/Alexandrine text that underlies most modern Bible translations.  "Theos," "God" appears in the Received text, while "os," "(He) who," surfaces in the Critical text (i.e., Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland).  Excepting for the spurious Trinitarian interpolation inserted into I John 5:7-8, the WCG traditionally maintained the Received text was normally the better of the two.  The space isn't available to explain the reasons why it's better to follow the vast majority (but later) manuscripts representing the Received text instead of the older (but many fewer) manuscripts upholding the Critical.  Skeptics questioning the reading of "God" for I Timothy 3:16 would find it worthwhile tracking down the English textual critic John Burgon's 76-page defense of it in The Revision Revised (A good general defense of the Received text can be found in David Otis Fuller, ed., Which Bible? (Grand Rapids, MI:  Grand Rapids International Publications, 1975)).




            Having presented above briefly the positive case for Jesus' Deity, it's necessary now to examine some of the objections raised against it.  The leading objection goes like this:  Since Scripture repeatedly says God is one or that only one God exists (Deut. 6:4; Gal. 3:20; James 2:19; I Cor. 8:4; Rom. 3:30; Isa. 44:6,8; Jude 25; II Sam. 7:22, I Kings 8:60; Deut. 4:35, 39; Mark 12:32), calling both Jesus and the Father "God" contradicts the rest of the Bible.  If Jesus is one God, and the Father another, that makes for two Gods‑‑which is absurd, and a total denial of traditional Jewish monotheism.  In reply, it's necessary to recall Gary Fakhoury's brilliant insight that we should define the word "one" as the Bible does, not as our a priori (before experience) human reasoning and speculations indicate (cf. "The Nature of God:  A Biblical Review," pp. 10-17).  As Herbert Armstrong always stated, let the Bible interpret itself. 


            Now the word translated "one" in the Shema of Deut. 6:4 is "echod."  This word can mean composite unity, not an indivisible, solitary unity.  Genesis 2:24 uses the word "echod" thus:  "For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."  Here two separate individuals become "one."  Similarly, the giant cluster of grapes carried on a branch between two of the spies scouting out the Holy Land for Israel was "echod" (Num. 13:23).  Despite apparently having hundreds of grapes, the cluster still was called "one" or "single."  The Greek word for one, "heis," merely repeats the same story, since it can refer to composite unity as well.  For example, the analogy between the human body and the church makes "one" out of many (I Cor. 12:12):  "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ."  Similarly, many can be "one" in Phil. 2:2 (NKJV):  "fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."  The non-spurious part of I John 5:7 (ASV) makes three into one:  "For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one."  In light of this Scriptural evidence, it's wrong to insist the texts that affirm God's oneness must mean God is one single Person (center of consciousness). 




            Does the Old Testament ever attribute to God a plurality of Persons?  Although Hebrew term for God, "elohim," is in the plural, it almost always takes singular verbs or pronouns.  But a few exceptions do arise (Isa. 6:8; Gen. 11:7), most notoriously Gen. 1:26: "Then God said, 'Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.'"  Those asserting monotheism requires God to be a single Person commonly employ two interpretive strategies to evade this text's implications.  One asserts that God spoke to the angels here.  But since Scripture never says the angels are creators, even assistant creators, this claim is totally unpersuasive.  Another approach maintains God here used the "plural of majesty," as Queen Victoria did in this statement attributed to her, "We are not amused."  Of course, the question then becomes why God almost never uses the plural of majesty, even when in Isaiah He is affirming His greatness compared to His creation and mankind, except in a very few, isolated cases.  (A serious scholarly investigation should be launched to see how and whether Israelite and other kings of a Semitic culture commonly used the plural of majesty, or whether it appeared in myths about false gods of the ancient Middle East).  But must ambiguity reign?  Notice Gen. 3:22:  "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil.'"  This construction can't be explained as a "plural of majesty" because "one" is set against "Us."  Despite being not the most straightforward interpretation, the claim God used the "plural of majesty" in Gen. 1:26 may not be able to be decisively refuted at the present state of knowledge. But in light of Gen. 3:22, the view "Elohim" can't refer to a plurality of Persons in the Godhead wears exceedingly thin.




            Arians and Unitarians like to trot out texts such as I Cor. 8:6 to prove Jesus is Lord but not God:  "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him."  So if there's only "one God, the Father," does this exclude Jesus?  But inverting this question is easy:  If Jesus is the only "Lord," does that mean the Father is never the "Lord"?  Yet Jesus Himself calls the Father "Lord" in Matt. 11:25:  "'I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and Earth."  Similarly, Jesus' citation of Ps. 110:1 plainly applies the name "Yahweh" to the Father, although He used the standard Jewish terminology of "the Lord" for the Tetragammaton (YHWH):  "For David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord . . . David therefore calls Him 'Lord,' and how is He his son?'" (Luke 20:42, 44). Plainly, as Vance Stinson observes in the CGI booklet Who, What Is God?, pp. 36-37, the word "God" has more than one meaning.  Often the word "God" refers to the Father in particular, as distinct from Jesus.  But other times, "God" refers to the divine Family or Godhead, to all Persons who are of the same eternal substance and essence, so itincludes Jesus and the Father together.  In this light, the use of both meanings of "God" in the one verse of John 1:1 is especially noteworthy, since the Word (Jesus) was with God and the Word was God.




            Another verse Arians seize upon to "prove" Christ was created appears in one of the letters to the churches, where Jesus is speaking (Rev. 3:14):  "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write:  The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God."  On its face, this verse is unclear:  Was Jesus "the Beginning of the creation of God," i.e., the first being made by the Father, or was Jesus "the Beginning of the creation of God" by starting the making of the universe?  The word translated "Beginning,"arche, has more than one meaning.  First of all, it can mean "ruler."  The NIV translates the key part of this verse as "the ruler of God's creation."  Second, arche can simply mean "origin," which merely confirms again Jesus as the Creator, as Moffatt brings out:  "theorigin of God's creation."  The TEV (GNB) has "the faithful and true witness, who is the origin of all that God has created."  Third, it's true‑‑this verse can mean Jesus was created first.     But this verse's very ambiguity leads us to state a basic principle of interpreting Scripture:  It's illegitimate to take one or a few verses to contradict the great weight of evidence going in the opposite direction.  It's much easier to take the relatively few verses that purportedly deny Jesus' Deity, and reconcile them with the many that affirm it directly or indirectly, clearly or somewhat arguably, than to exalt the few verses that supposedly deny it, then engage in all the great sweat and effort of constantly having to explain this, that, and more away.  Fundamentally, Jehovah's Witnesses and all Unitarians opted for the latter choice, which simply becomes unpersuasive since they're inevitably, almost constantly, on the defensive when facing knowledgeable opposition.  Their defenses take on the feel of scientists propping up an old paradigm under attack by constantly devising ad hoc "explanations" for numerous anomalous facts that contradict it.




            In order to deny Jesus is God, Arians and Unitarians commonly turn to John 14:28 as proof:  "Because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I."  But since Jesus was in the flesh when saying this, it's fundamentally unconvincing.  So long as Jesus was a human, He voluntarily limited His Divine prerogatives.  In a text that proves Jesus' preexistence, He asked the Father to restore "the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (John 17:5).  Notice He had it "with" the Father‑‑this can't be a reference to Jesus' existence being a mere thought in the Father's mind that He willed to do.  If the Unitarian interpretation was correct, that unactualized thought would have to have thesame glory Jesus possessed when really existing‑‑which is absurd.  Instead, He is askingto have back what He used to have, when He had in unlimited measure all the attributes of the Almighty Yahweh.  The pouring or emptying out (kenosis) of Jesus meant He choose to limit His divine prerogatives (Phil. 2:6-8).  For example, Jesus was not omniscient while He walked the earth, since He didn't know the day of His return (Matt. 24:36).  (Although here we (and HWA in the past) run into the theoretical theological problem of asserting Jesus was God when He lacked some of the defining attributes of God such as omnipotence while in the flesh, we should still call Jesus "God" then as well as "man" because Scripture does).  As for John 14:28 itself, consider what your reaction would be to someone you know telling you, "Well, God is greater than me."   You'd consider him or her unbearably pompous for stating the stunningly obvious.  Such a statement by Jesus implies the highness of His earlier claims about His relationship with the Father.


            Other texts about Jesus' relationship with the Father plainly show He was subordinate to Him:  "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (I Cor. 11:3).  "And when all things are subject to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:28).  In light of the other texts affirming Jesus' Deity, these Scriptures merely show Jesus had less authority than the Father‑‑that the Father was Jesus' "boss."  But just as men and women are both intrinsically equal in their ultimate spiritual destinies, despite within marriage husbands have authority over their wives (I Cor. 11:3), these texts don't prove Jesus' essence or substance differed from the Father's.




            Another text Arians and Unitarians appeal to is Col. 1:15, which calls Jesus "the first-born of all creation."  Does this mean Jesus was the first being created?  First, it's important to examine this term in its Old Testament, Jewish cultural context, not in light of our modern presuppositions.  Receiving a double portion as an inheritance, the firstborn son of a Jewish family was considered preeminent over his siblings (cf. Reuben in Gen. 49:3).  He, not his younger brothers, became the head of the family after his father's death. Hence, the term "firstborn" took on a connotation of authority and position of favor.  Job uses it metaphorically to refer to death (Job 18:13), and Isaiah to the poorest of the poor (Isa. 14:30).  Although Manasseh was the firstborn of Joseph's sons (Gen. 48:14-20), Ephraim gained the greater blessing from God through Jacob, so he is referred as the firstborn in Jer. 31:9:  "For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first-born."  Similarly, God calls the nation of Israel His "firstborn" (Ex. 4:22).  Furthermore, there's the possibility for an alternative translation for the Greek word translated "first-born," "prototokos," can mean "original bringer forth," according to the Roman Catholic scholar Erasmus (1466?-1536), although admittedly neither Thayer's nor Baur-Arndt-Gingrich confirms this meaning.


            Second, we in the Church of God should remember that Jesus was the first to be "born again" by eventually becoming a spirit being after His resurrection (I Cor. 15:44-45). Jesus was the "first-born from the dead" which gave Him "first place in everything" (Col. 1:18).  But we Christians at the resurrection are to be "born again" just as He was (Rom. 8:29):  "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren."  Although Jesus became the Son of God once the Virgin Mary became pregnant (not before, nor from all eternity--Heb. 1:5), He "was declared the Son of God with power by ['as a result of,' NASB margin] the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4).  John 3:6, 8 should be given a plain interpretation, not a metaphorical one:  "'That which is born of the flesh IS flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit. . . .  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so IS everyone who is born of the Spirit.'" 




            Much more Scriptural evidence in favor of Jesus being Jehovah, the Almighty God, could be presented.  Although a number of the texts discussed above can be evaded to one degree to another, and alternatively retranslated, reinterpreted, and/or dismissed as textual errors, still so often the main weight of the semi-ambiguous texts point to the Deity of Christ, over and above the clear ones.  Although the Trinitarians are wrong overall, their affirmation that Jesus is God is thoroughly correct.  Given the two basic choices the Council of Nicea faced in 325 A.D., the bishops who voted for Athanasius and against Arius were right.  (The original Nicene declaration merely asserted they believed "in the Holy Spirit," saying nothing about its nature).  Ultimately, it's much more persuasive to fit the Bible's jigsaw pieces together to declare "Jesus is God," rather than to twist and pound them into place to proclaim "Jesus isn't God." 




 Furthermore, the Trinity is wrong because the Bible teaches that God is a Family composed of the Father and Son at present.  God is in the process of reproducing Himself, since He made mankind after the “God kind” in Genesis 1:26-27.  We are made in His image, which is ultimately supposed to become a reality in character, if we live righteously as Jesus said so that we would be as the Father is (Matt. 5:48).  We are to become just as Jesus is, who is God (Eph. 4:13).  Christians are to become as one with Jesus and the Father (John 14:20-24) as Jesus is with the Father (John 10:30-34), which was a divine claim by Jesus.  The glory that Jesus had before the world was (John 17:5) is a characteristics that the glorified, resurrected saints will have as well (John 17:22; Romans 8:18; 9:23; Col. 1:27).  For a little while mankind is lower than God (compare Hebrews 2:7 with Psalm 8:5), but Jesus is bringing many sons to glory, which means that they will gain a divine characteristic (Hebrews 2:9-11).


Although it is true that God will not share His glory with another (false) god, He does share His glory with Christians after their resurrection, as explained below.


Presumably one of the key texts related to this issue is Isaiah 48:11:  “My glory I will not give to another.”  Here’s another one with the same thought (Isaiah 42:8:  “’I am the Lord [Jehovah], that is My name; I will not give my glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.”  So God will not share His transcendent majesty, ineffable beauty, and awesome power with false gods which are represented by idols. 


However, these texts in Isaiah don’t prove that only one Person is God. Notice that Jesus asked the night before His crucifixion to have back the glory that he had before the world was (John 17:5).  Furthermore, Jesus prayed to the Father about granting Christians “glory” (verse 22) as well.  Now, as this passage helps to show, “glory” is a defining attribute of God, as research using a concordance will help show.  Arians and Unitarians, who deny that Jesus is God, clearly do have major trouble with Jesus’ request earlier during this same prayer (verse 5) to be given back the glory He had with the Father before the world was.  This request proves His pre-existence and implies by itself that He was God before the world was created. 


So what should we think of Christians’ future status when they are promised to have glory also?  Verse 22 can’t be ducked by pointing out the past tense, which appears to be like a “prophetic perfect,” in which God’s prediction of the future was so certain it was stated in a past tense (cf. Isaiah 7:14; 9:5-6):  After all, these future Christians weren’t even yet Christians when Jesus prayed, but they had glory because God was totally certain He was going to give it to them.


Compare this prayer of Jesus in John 17 to John 14:20, which Jesus said earlier that night:  "In that day [after I'm resurrected] you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."  In the context of John 14, this refers to the Holy Spirit (verses 16-17), which Paul equates to the Lord elsewhere (II Cor. 3:17-18). 


What makes this passage (John 17:21-23) particularly striking is the marvelously high, ultimate destiny it promises to Christians.  Compare now this passage with John 10:30-34, in which Jesus asserts His complete unity with the Father, which the Jews consider blasphemous:  "'I and the Father are one.'  The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?'  The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'  Jesus answered them, 'Has it not been written in your Law, "I said, you are gods"'"  Now, if the Jews thought it was seemingly disrespectful to God for Jesus to say He was one with the Father, what about the wording of John 17:21, 23, as it describes Christians?  Doesn't it say future Christians will be fully at one with the Father and the Son?  So then, wouldn't Christians become just as Divine as the Son was then?  It's a stunning, seemingly incredibly presumptuous thought.  But when the Bible is used to interpret the Bible, it's hard to avoid the conclusion.  Furthermore, Jesus promised them glory in verse 22, which is a defining attribute of God, as implied in part by Jesus' own request earlier in this same prayer to have His glory back again (v. 5, see also v. 24).  The Eastern Orthodox church has a mystical teaching called "theosis," in which salvation is considered to be deification.  Texts like these show they aren't crazy to say such things, although they don't take this teaching ultimately literally.


            A passage that promises Christians future glory like Christ’s is Hebrews 2:6-11.  Verse 7 is even stronger in the original Hebrew of Ps. 8:5:  “Yet Thou has made him a littler lower than God [Elohim], and dost crown him with glory and majesty.”  So if, by this translation (the Greek can be translated two ways) when combined with the Hebrew original, we are “a little while lower than [Elohim, not merely just “the angels”],” what will we be when the “little while” ends?  Furthermore in verses 9-10, “Jesus, because of the suffering of death [was] crowned with glory and honor” is in the process of “bringing many sons to glory.”  The ultimate condition of salvation involves total unity with God in His Family (verse 11):  “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”  Verses 14, 17-18 then reveal that Jesus became like an average man. 


The case can be made that the theme statement of the New Testament is Ephesians 4:13:   “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).  Similarly, the purpose of God’s creating mankind is hinted at even in Genesis 1:26 during the creation:  “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them have rule . . . “  This could be called the thematic statement of the entire Bible.  In light of these texts, let’s briefly review some of the Biblical evidence favoring the teaching that men and women have ultimately divine potential.


When Jesus asserted that He and the Father were one, the Jews immediately interpreted that as a claim to Deity.  Because they saw His statement as blasphemy, they picked up stones again to stone Him (John 10:30-31).    He then noted that men were called “gods” in Psalm 82:6 as a way to parry their objections.  In this general light, consider then the words of Jesus’ prayer for His disciples present and future the night before His crucifixion (John 17:21-23, NASB):  “That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.  And the glory which Thou has given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.”  Now, if it was “blasphemy” for Jesus to proclaim His oneness with the Father, wouldn’t this prayer be even more blasphemous?   For it describes in detail the Father and Son’s future unity with Christian men and women. Can man become God?!?


At the time of the resurrection, our bodies will be raised in powerful glory:  “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (I Cor. 15:43).  As Paul explains, Adam was from the earth, but Jesus from heaven.  Then he reveals (verses 48-49):  “As is the earthy [man], so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.  And just as we have born the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”  Likewise, Christians are (Romans 8:29) “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.”  The Greek word translated “image” in such passages (“eikon”) doesn’t just refer to a superficial likeness, but refers to an underlying similarity, even identity, in essence and substance.   (See Hebrews 10:1, which compares “a shadow” with “the very form [eikona] of things.”)  After all, we today are of the same species, the same category that Adam was in.  Therefore, after the resurrection, we shall be of the same “species,” the same category of Being that Jesus is presently in.          


            Now Christians are supposed to become just like Jesus.  If Jesus is God (as per John 1:1, 14; 5:18, 8:58-59, 10:30, 33-34; 20:28; Col. 2:9), what is implied by such as text as Eph. 4:12-13?  “To the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”  If we’re ultimately fully like Christ, wouldn’t we fully be like God?  Likewise, by loving our enemies, we “are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). 


In this context, let’s consider how this teaching explains the problem of evil.  Why did God create humanity if we humans were going to sin and do evil things?  Here is a basic, bare-bones explanation to what’s a huge subject:  God is in the process of making beings like Himself (Matt. 5:48; John 17:20-24) who would have 100% free will but would choose to be 100% righteous.  Now, the habits of obedience and righteousness can't be created by fiat or instantaneous order.  Rather, the person who is separate from God has to choose to obey what is right and reject what is wrong on his or her own.  But every time a person does what is wrong, that will hurt him, others, and/or God.  But God has to allow us to have free will, because He wants His created beings to have free will like He does as part of His essence.  As part of the process of impressing how seriously He takes violations of His law, He sent His Son to die in terrible pain on the cross for the sins of others.  For if His forgiveness was easily granted and given without this terrible cost paid for it, then people often wouldn’t not take violations of His law seriously. 


So then, we have the great mystery of God dying for the sins of His creatures despite they were in the wrong, not Him.  God allows suffering in His creation, and then chooses voluntarily to suffer greatly Himself as a result of His allowing it into His creation.  Therefore, we know that God understands suffering (cf. Hebrews 4:14-15).  So although we may not know fully why God allows suffering and pain in His creation, we should trust Him in faith on the matter.  God's basic answer to Job was that he didn't know enough to judge Him.  Also, many people wouldn't trust God to have our interests at heart when telling us to not do X, just like they didn't trust their parents when they told them (say) doing drugs or getting drunk was bad for them.  Therefore, God chooses to prove it to humanity and the angels by hard, practical experience on this earth that shows His way is best, not Satan's.  After all, when the evil angels revolted against God, they never had experienced any pain or death, but they still mistrusted God for some reason, that He didn't love them fully.  So even though many awful things have happened historically in the world, we should trust God that He knows what He is doing.

            It’s truly astonishing what the truth of who and what God is.  The future deification of man is an amazing concept, but it really does appear in Scripture.  There’s a reason why even the Eastern Orthodox Church taught the “theosis” of mankind, although they remain good Trinitarians, based upon the teachings of the Bible. In this light, we should indeed see Genesis 1:26 as a kind of thematic text for the entire Bible and God’s plan for humanity:  “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’”  We should then go on to behave and live more like God does after becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4) since Christ is in us, “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) by the Holy Spirit God puts into us (II Cor. 3:17-18).  Let us praise and glorify God for His grace, love, and mercy!


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