Dialogue w Jehovah’s Witness on Christology & Trinitarianism (II)

Dialogue w Jehovah’s Witness on Christology & Trinitarianism (II) January 18, 2018

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Very in-depth discussion on whether Jesus is God or not.

PART TWO

GO TO PART ONE

GO TO PART THREE

GO TO PART FOUR

 

Worship of angels is condemned (Col 2:18), and angels refuse worship (Rev 19:10 and 22:8-9). Therefore, Jesus could not be an angel, let alone lower than an angel. This flat-out contradicts Scripture. He is contrasted with the angels in Hebrews 1:5, 7, 13. Angels can only worship God. Hence, Jesus is God.

Unfortunately you demonstrate further a priori assumptions here. For example, Col 2:18 specifically refers to a religious services (QRHSCEIA), something that we never found applied to Jesus in scripture.

It’s true that this particular word is not applied to Jesus.

The refusal of worship in Revelation is based on intent, not the actual act. If one intends to worship another in the sense that is due only to God, it is refused.

No one but God is ever said to be correctly worshiped in Scripture. Thus the angels in both Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9 say: “do it not . . . worship God.” The text doesn’t say John was trying to offer a worship only to God; it simply says “worship.” He already knows they are angels (see Rev 22:8). Your distinction is arbitrary and not a biblical one. Hence you have offered no proof for your view, and it is a groundless assertion. The “intent vs. act” dichotomy is irrelevant.

However, we find angels do in fact receive “worship.” In an homage, reverence, fawn and obeisance manner as one should to the Messiah, or one in ranking of respect. There are multiple Greek and Hebrew words for worship, and the type applied to Christ is PROSKUNEW, and it is in fact also applied to angels and men. Please note the differences in the two provided definitions, and how the words denote and carry differences within them, something which many translations fail to reflect.

We see this at Gen 19:1 in the LXX, for example.

It’s true that there are various forms of homage referred to in the Bible, which are lesser than adoration or worship of God. The Hebrew word here, shachah (Strong’s word #7812) can mean a number of things itself, including (according to Strong) “bow, crouch, fall down, humbly beseech, obeisance, reverence, make to stop, worship.” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament comments on its usage in this particular verse:

. . . to prostrate oneself before any one out of honour . . . Those who used this mode of salutation fell on their knees and touched the ground with the forehead . . . and this honour was not only shown to superiors, such as kings and princes, 2 Sam 9:8, but also to equals. (p. 813; gives as other examples: Gen 23:7, 37:7, 9, 42:6, 48:12)

Also, it is applied to “God and the king” at 1 Chronicles 29:20.

This is the same Hebrew word, shachah. Since it has the range of meanings described above, it presents no problem.

There are many examples of this, each time with no wrong intent.

Then why, if John knew he was with an angel (right intent), and “worshiped” them, did they tell him to worship only God?

Thus, we understand that the actual word PROSKUNEW (the worship applied to Jesus) is applied to many, but never is it considered wrong. We can make no theological import from this. Much has been written on this word and its biblical use.

Proskuneo (Strong’s word #4352) is used 22 times in the NT to refer to worship of the Father, five times of divine worship without specification, and 14 times in reference to worship of Jesus. The New World Translation renders proskuneo as “worship” when it applies to Jehovah, but as “obeisance” when it applies to Jesus Christ. Of course, there is no rationale for this.

I suspect that you would reply that the context “requires” this because Jesus is being worshiped, not Jehovah, and therefore it must be a lesser form of worship; hence the different English word used for the same Greek word. But that is begging the question. Nothing in the text suggests a difference. Only the Arian preconception that Jesus isn’t worshiped as God causes the “difference.” What is the trinitarian Biblical argument for the belief that Jesus is worshiped as God? There is a very compelling, unanswerable proof indeed:

Proskuneo is also explicitly defined, both in Revelation 4:10-11 and 7:11-12, since both passages define the worship of God by virtue of describing the words directed to God in praise and worship (“. . . worshipped God, saying . . .”). Every Greek word (eleven in all) applied to God the Father in this fashion in Revelation is applied to Jesus as well (eucharistia is used of Christ in Colossians). One word, ploutos, is applied to Jesus only in Revelation, and to the Father in Romans 11:33. There can be no stronger evidence that Jesus is to receive worship equally with His Father, thus making Him equal to the Father (Mt 4:10), and no less than fully God:

=============================================================
Greek English (KJV/NWT) Applied to the Father Applied to Jesus
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Pipto Fell down before Revelation 4:10, 7:11 Revelation 5:8
Eulogia Blessing 5:13, 7:12 5:12-13
Doxa Glory 4:9,11, 5:13, 7:12 5:12-13
Sophia Wisdom 7:12 5:12
Time Honour 4:9,11, 5:13, 7:12 5:12-13
Dunamis Power 4:11, 7:12 5:12
Kratos Power 5:13 5:13
Ischus Might / Strength 7:12 5:12
Axios Worthy 4:11 5:12
Lambano Receive 4:11 5:12
Ploutos Riches (Romans 11:33) Rev 5:12
Eucharistia Thanksgiving 4:9, 7:12 (Colossians 2:6-7)

====================================================================================

Furthermore, by strong implication, Revelation 7:11-12 can be said to apply equally to Jesus as well, since the “Lamb” is mentioned in the immediate context (7:10,17). Rev 7:11 states, “. . . fell before the throne . . . and worshipped God,” while Rev 7:17 informs us of, “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne . . .”

Moreover, there is strong indication in the Bible that the worship of Jesus should be of the same nature as the worship of God:

JOHN 5:23 That all {men} should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

*

JOHN 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Jesus didn’t correct Thomas and tell him not to do this. Quite the contrary: “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn 20:28). Believed what? Well, obviously, that Jesus is God (and that He was resurrected in the flesh — in context, since this was a post-Resurrection appearance)! If Thomas had made such a tremendous error, and Jesus was in fact, not God (as you believe), then why would Jesus not correct and rebuke him, just as the angels did when John tried to worship them?

I hope you are aware this word is applied to men in the Old Testament as well (LXX)…. And to look a word in the absolute sense as worship you are making noble men of old, FALSE WORSHIPERS.

Thus it makes perfect sense for the Father to call the Son God, as He does in Hebrews 1:8:

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

This is almost a direct quote from Psalm 45:6. It is addressing God (and can hardly be otherwise). But in the New Testament the Father is addressing the Son in this fashion; so the Son is obviously God if the Father says so! That’s not all. In 1:10, the Father calls Jesus “Lord” and says that He “laid the foundation of the earth.” That is a quote from Psalm 102:25, which was, of course, addressed to God. Now it is applied to Jesus by the Father Himself. Ergo: Jesus is God.

Actually, there is a lot more involved here. Originally, this passage was made in application to the Jewish King. That said though, the translation is an issue of significant question. For example, Robertson writes:

A Hebrew nuptial ode (epithalamium) for a king treated here as Messianic. It is not certain whether ho theos is here the vocative (address with the nominative form as in Joh_20:28 with the Messiah termed theos as is possible, Joh_1:18) or ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with estin (is) understood: “God is thy throne” or “Thy throne is God.” Either makes good sense. ” Now, we understand a number of grammatical possibilities. But let us further note what Vincent writes:

I retain the vocative, although the translation of the Hebrew is doubtful. The following renderings have been proposed: “thy throne (which is a throne) of God”: “thy throne is (a throne) of God”: “God is thy throne.”

What do we derive from this? Obviously Vincent holds the view of the text being vocative (thus calling the Son God) for theological reasons, but based on the Hebrew text this rendering he confesses to be “doubtful.” We thus must return to the view of either “God is thy throne” or “Thy throne is God” as the more likely views.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament states:

In order to avoid the addressing of the king with the word Elohim, Psa_45:6 has been interpreted, (1) “Thy throne of God is for ever and ever,”, – a rendering which is grammatically possible, and, if it were intended to be expressed, must have been expressed thus (Nagelsbach, §64, g);… Accordingly one might adopt the first mode of interpretation, which is also commended by the fact that the earthly throne of the theocratic king is actually called [Hebrew word which didn’t paste] in 1Ch_29:23.

Now, even though it goes against the actual grammar, if one were to take the Jewish King (and thus Jesus as well) to be called God, K&D; go on to explain the meaning of this:

He gives him this name, because in the transparent exterior of his fair humanity he sees the glory and holiness of God as having attained a salutary of merciful conspicuousness among men. At the same time, however, he guards this calling of the king by the name Elohim against being misapprehended by immediately distinguishing the God, who stands above him, from the divine king by the words “Elohim, thy God,”

I don’t want to spend time on translation issues (which are never-ending), so you can have the last word on this. There is plenty in the context that indicates the deity of Jesus, anyway.

Now an attempt not to become overly-technical on grammatics consideration of verse 1:9 is essential here. If Jesus truly is called God here in verse 1:8, we have an issue, because Jesus is spoken of as having “fellows/ or partners” Does God have fellows or partners?

Jehovah’s Witnesses think God had a partner named Jesus, who helped Him create the world.

Absolutely not, but Jesus was exalted to a superior position from certain ones that are termed his fellows/ partners.

Jesus has fellow men who are His partners in a sense. Hebrews 4:15, which you cited in another context, shows the beauty of this aspect, which is part of the Incarnation:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (cf. 5:2,8)

JOHN 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants . . . but I have called you friends …

There is also one that’s stated to be God over him. If he (Jesus) is God in 1:8 how can he have one that’s God over him in Verse 1:9? (Hebrews 1:9) “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with [the] oil of exultation more than your partners.”

Jesus was exalted from the position of being the suffering Messiah to His place as God the Son in heaven, with all glory and honor. That’s what all this means. The writers of the Old Testament didn’t fully understand that the Messiah was God. That was a developing understanding (as with all other doctrines). By the same token, the Father calls the Son “LORD” and the creator (Heb 1:10), whereas in the Old Testament God the Father is said to be the creator.

None of this presents any problem in a trinitarian view, but it is awful problematic for an Arian. The same thing occurs in Psalm 110:1: “The LORD said unto my Lord.” The next part of Psalms 110:1 is what is cited in Hebrews 1:13; therefore, the New Testament informs us that the Father called Jesus “Lord” because the OT passage is applied (in Heb 1:13) to Jesus, as addressed by God the Father. Jesus also applies the passage to Himself (Mt 22:44; cf. Mk 12:36, Lk 20:42-43).

Now, in dealing with Psalms 102 in the quotation here at Hebrews, we must consider that Psalms 45 was originally written to the Jewish King (generally considered to be Solomon). Now, if the quotation of Psalms 102 here would make Jesus God, the quotation of Psalms 45 would also make Jesus Solomon.

This is a highly interesting argument. You quote Psalm 45, which you say is written to the Hebrew king (this indeed seems to be the case, based on Ps 45:1). Then you use that as “evidence” that Psalm 102 was not directed towards God. I’ll grant that the effectiveness of Hebrews 1:8 depends at least partially on how it is translated. If the Father is truly addressing Jesus as “God,” then it seems decisive. If He isn’t, then it loses much force for my purpose. The application of OT passages in the NT is an extremely complicated matter — one we don’t have the space to address here. But the fact remains that the Father calls the Son “Lord” in Hebrews 1:10, and (by the strongest implication from the OT text cited) in 1:13.

In any event, the OT background of Heb 1:10, which cites Ps 102:25 is very clear. It starts out, “Hear my prayer, O LORD . . . ” It is clearly entirely directed towards God. Yet it is referred to Jesus in Hebrews, because 1:8 says “unto the Son he saith . . . ” and then it quotes Psalms 45 and 102. The first citation involves a somewhat ambiguous phrase. Fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that Psalm 102 was directed towards God. And it concerns one of those attributes which is unique to God: Creator, since only God is the Creator. He has no “chief agent” in creation, as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe:

ISAIAH 44:24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I {am} the Lord that maketh all {things}; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; [NWT: “I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?”]

MALACHI 2:10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? . . .

(NWT: “is it not one God that has created us?”)

JOB 9:2, 8 . . . how should man be just with God? . . . Which alone spreadeth out the heavens . . .

(NWT: “stretching out the heavens by himself”)

However, if we properly take it in the sense that Jesus filled the role of King, and thus in creation that Jesus filled the role of intermediate agent in creation (as is grammatically defined by Col 1:16), we properly understand the text. Again, this does not make Jesus God.

This doesn’t overcome my argument above in the least. Colossians 1:16-17 states:

For by him were all things created . . . all things were created by him and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.(in context, this refers to the Son — see 1:13)

I have no idea what you mean by “grammatically defined.” It could be that you refer to the addition of “other” in the New World Translation (“all [other] things”) — a word which is not in the Greek text. Of course, if one can add words to the Bible that aren’t there, at whim, then any number of verses would have a different meaning (one which the translator may prefer, but which is not there). The real text (one of the strongest for the deity of Jesus in the NT, along with Colossians 2:9) clearly states that Jesus is the Creator, period (as well as omnipotent and eternal), not the agent or assistant or vice-president to Jehovah-God.

[Replying to Isaiah 44:24 — see not far above]

Actually, a contextual examination shows that what is specifically spoken of, as being lacking are false gods, as is indicated starting in verse 9.

That won’t work, for the simple reason that it doesn’t overcome the force of God’s description of Himself as “alone” and “by myself” at creation. Those things stand alone. Your logic is as silly as the following:

Me: Beethoven wrote his 9th Symphony alone; by himself.

*

You: Ah, but he said that he wasn’t helped by the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, or Santa Claus, and doesn’t believe they exist. So how do we know he didn’t have another helper and chief agent when he composed the symphony, since he wrote about his disbelief in those three at around the same time he wrote his symphony?

The biblical position is that other gods do not exist at all. (Is 37:19, 1 Cor 8:5-6, Gal 4:8). This clashes with the Jehovah’s Witness belief in a god, Jesus, who helped Jehovah create. It just won’t fly, biblically.

We note that the angels were with God at the creation of the earth (Job 38:4,7).

Creation of the earth is different from the creation of the “heavens” and the universe. The earth came after those things. This is clear from Genesis 1:2, where the “earth was without form.” “Dry land” didn’t even appear until 1:9. It is reasonable to believe (though the Bible seems unclear) that the creation of angels was before that of man. In any event, they are not described as mini-Creators. Only God is the Creator. Jesus is the Creator. So Jesus is God.

Now specifically dealing with the expression “by myself,” does this somehow exclude Jesus if he is not God?

Yes, by any standard of the English language.

Not at all, if we understand the Hebrew actually used here. On this, the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament states:

“This ubiquitous preposition has cognates in Aramaic and Arabic, but is not found in Ugaritic. There the meaning “from” is found in the prepositions b and l. In form, the preposition is often attached to its noun with the noun assimilated and the next letter doubled (if it is not a laryngeal). When used with light pronoun endings it is usually reduplicated (e.g. mimmennî “from me”). . . with other verbs, it means out of, e.g. out of Egypt. It is used for material out of which something is made.”

I doubt that 90% or more of our readers could follow this gobbledygook. I would be among their number.

Thus, when he states “by himself” the phrase specifically denotes him being the only source of creation. This is entirely agreed on, as Jesus is grammatically shown to be the intermediate agent in creation (passive verb + DI’ AUTOU), but never the source (hUPO) of creation in the NT.

This is untrue as well. See my response in Section 20: “Use of ‘Father’ “.

***

The notion of a “chief agent” of creation, who helps God is contradicted by Deuteronomy 32:39:

See now that I, {even} I, {am} he, and {there is} no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither {is there any} that can deliver out of my hand. [NWT: “no gods together with me”]

Context is also essential and an examination finds that the application being attempted of this verse is out of context, as it has no bearing, for example, on angels being called gods (Psalms 8:5: compare Hebrew text with LXX, and quotation at Heb. 2:7). Rather, contextually this is about idol gods. For example, verse 21 of Deut 32 specifically references “their vain idols,” while expressions such as, “Where are their gods, The rock in whom they sought refuge,” place further emphasis on this being in relation to idols.

As with Isaiah 44:24, dealt with above, I don’t see how this can overcome the fact that God said no gods are with Him. This (it seems to me) would include both the fake idols and any alleged real gods — such as Jesus.

Nowhere does any Bible writer state in any single context that “There is only one God, and He exists in three Persons.” This is not an explicit Biblical teaching, as no Bible writer teaches it.

It’s true that it is not taught explicitly or whole in one verse. But it is firmly, solidly based on tons of exegetical evidence and simple deduction:

1. The Father is described as God in many ways.
2. The Son is described as God in many ways.
3. The Holy Spirit is described as God in many ways.
4. Yet the Bible teaches that there is one God (monotheism).
5. The Bible describes all three as Persons.
6. Therefore, we must believe in one God who subsists in three Persons.

Further though, as was mentioned, Psalms 8:5 clearly refers to angels as gods.

No; it says (in light of Hebrews 2:7, which cites it), that Jesus was made “lower than the angels.” It doesn’t say they are “gods.” Perhaps another verse does, in a lesser-sense of Elohim. But the difference between the views is that polytheism is repeatedly denied, and Jesus is referred to in every way that Jehovah is referred to. Nothing can be found which definitively rules out trinitarianism (unlike polytheism and the Jesus-as-First-Creation-and-Agent-of-Subsequent-Creation view).

***

What was meant by Jesus being made “a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7)? We saw that the preceding context stated in striking, amazing terminology over and over that Jesus is God. This seems to contradict that. But does it? No; in context we see that the meaning was Jesus’ death on the cross (because angels cannot die). This is spelled out explicitly in 2:9:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Actually, Jesus’ existence as lower than the angels was true for his entire life in human flesh. It was by making him lower than the angels, giving him mortality; he was lower than the angels.

That’s basically what I stated myself. But I don’t believe this makes Him less-than-God.

***

This is explained also in Philippians 2:5-8, where He is described as “equal with God” (2:5), but

. . . he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death . . . Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . .

Based on a KJV or KJV-type translation, you have significantly misconstrued the meaning of Phil 2:6. First, consider that in the KJV we find the italicized “it.” This is there because the word is added and has no basis in the Greek text.

Oh; like “other” in the NWT at Colossians 1:16, which is also not in the Greek text?

The Greek word used here is hARPAGMON, the accusative meaning to snatch away or violently seize. Now consider what happens when we “correct” the KJV translation, and use hARPAGMON actively. The meaning changes significantly:

KJV Original: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:Corrected Version: Who, being in the form of God, thought not to robbery to be equal with God:

We see here that there is a significant difference in meaning between the two, yet in the Corrected rendering, we do not add any words without basis in the text. Hence, we find the NASB correctly translated Phil 2:6 as follows:

Phi 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Thus, Jesus did not try to grasp for equality with God, it was not something he already had. How we can be certain this understanding is correct though? By simply going to verse 5.

Phi 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

We are here told to have the same attitude that Christ Jesus has. If Christ had equality with God, and simply did not view it as a crime to keep it, we should have the same! Yet, we know we are not to have this attitude. Rather, we are not to try and a grasp for equality with God, as Satan does in the desire of worship (Matthew 4:9).

Greek scholars disagree with you. The Greek word for form above is morphe (Strong’s word #3444). Vine states:

It includes the whole nature and essence of Deity, and is inseparable from them. (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1940; under “Form”)

Likewise, A.T. Robertson writes:

Morphe means the essential attributes as shown in the form . . . Here is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ. Of what did Christ empty himself? Not of his divine nature. That was impossible. He continued to be the Son of God . . . Undoubtedly Christ gave up his environment of glory. (Word Pictures in the NT, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1932, vol. 4 of 6, 444-445)

And Marvin Vincent:

v. 6: To say, then, that Christ was in the form of God, is to say that He existed as essentially one with God . . . it marked the being of Christ in the eternity before creation. As the form of God was identified with the being of God, so Christ, being in the form of God, was identified with the being, nature, and personality of God.This form, not being identical with the divine essence, but dependent upon it, and necessarily implying it. can be parted with or laid aside. Since Christ is one with God, and therefore pure being, absolute existence, He can ecist without the form. This form of God Christ laid aside in His incarnation.

v. 7: . . . a thing to be grasped . . . Christ, being, before His incarnation, in the form of God, did not regard His divine equality as a prize which was to be grasped at and retained at all hazards, but, on the contrary, laid aside the form of God, and took upon Himself the nature of man. The emphasis on this passage is upon Christ’s humiliation. The fact of His equality with God is stated as a background, in order to throw the circumstances of His incarnation into stronger relief. Hence the peculiar form of Paul’s statement. (WSN, vol. III, 431-432)

Jesus’ death, where he was in a sense made “lower than the angels” only temporarily, caused Him to be worshiped as God, since in the Old Testament, only God was worshiped and adored in the sense above:

. . . I am God, and there is none else . . . unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:22-23)

There is significant difference in between this verse in the OT and the account in Phil. 2:9-10. Whereas God of himself receives the bowing and confession in Isaiah, in Phil. 2 this is not the case with Christ. In verse 10 we find the word hINA plus the subjunctive KOMPH. This is defined as a Purpose-Result clause, lead into from verse 9.

We see here that it is only by the Father’s action, exalting Jesus, that verse 10 proves true. If the Father had not take such action, verse 10 would thus not be true, as verse 10 is simply the result of verse 9. So God always receives this, but Christ does not! The very fact that Christ does not receive this until he is exalted is significant in showing that he is not God, the statement in Isaiah has always been true of God, but not Christ.

Not at all, because of what had preceded this verse. Christ voluntarily emptied Himself when He took on flesh, but did not cease to be God, as Vincent, Vine, and Robertson all state with regard to morphe. So God the Father exalts Him after He fulfills His earthly mission. Jesus had given up His heavenly glory to become a man. Now He is getting it back.

***

At every turn we see that Jesus is regarded as God in Scripture, and believes Himself to be God. It’s inescapable. To not see it is like not seeing the sun on a clear day at high noon.

Only option 3 is possible. One could not be reality, because Jesus was have broken the Sabbath and thus been a sinner. As Lord of the Sabbath, this is impossibility. Two is not possible, because John wrote this under inspiration. We thus have to accept that this is the Jewish perspective on matters, else we have serious contradiction with Hebrews 2:7.

We have no such contradiction, as just shown. The contradiction is in the blasphemous belief that the Lord Jesus, God the Son, is a mere creature: a position impossible to reconcile with Scripture. It’s contradicted hundreds of times.

***

The fact that Jesus is never once called “God the Son” as you call him, but he is defined as part of creation. That is another matter in and of itself though.

I have to draw attention here to what’s going on below. Dave presents this argument fallacy, to then go and disprove what he assumes is the JW position and why, when he himself brought up the issue and doesn’t properly understand the JW perspective, which is shown by his response as well. He has already admitted in correspondence that he doesn’t understand the language, but he still attempts to use this line of defense, and it’s almost comical at this stage in the game. Please see below to watch Dave himself argue.

Colossians 1:15-17 is utilized for this purpose by Jehovah’s Witnesses only because “other” is added to the text (four times, before “things,” so as to reduce Jesus to a “thing” and thus a creature, with no justification in the text whatsoever — an error you have just been decrying in the KJV for adding the word “it”). Jesus is often described as eternal, as I show below. The other prooftext often used by Jehovah’s Witnesses involves the phrase “only begotten” (monogenes).

Monogenes was already discussed above. One should have some sort of personal grasp of the language to make such a defence. The grammar of the verse and the addition of other isn’t something unique to only the NWT as Dave would like to present this case. Reasoning From the Scriptures states regarding this:

The Greek word here rendered “all things” is pan’ta, an inflected form of pas. At Luke 13:2, RS renders this “all . . . other”; JB reads “any other”; NE says “anyone else.” (See also Luke 21:29 in NE and Philippians 2:21 in JB.)

This is something that is carried with in the connotation of the grammar into the target language. But to refrain from this becoming — as Dave would say — “gobbledygook” I will keep it short.

This Greek term (Strong’s word #3439) is applied to Jesus (God’s only-begotten son,” etc.) five times in the NT (Jn 1:1,14,18, 3:16,18, 1 John 4:9). Jehovah’s Witnesses, in opposition to all the Greek lexicons, hold that “begotten” means “created.”

ALL THE GREEK LEXICONS? Please Dave; I begin to lose respect for you when you try to talk so dogmatic on issues you are incorrect on. Either you’re grossly misinformed or you’re a liar. I would like to hold the to former, not the latter.

Strong’s:

monogene?s

mon-og-en-ace

From G3441 and G1096; only born, that is, sole: – only (begotten, child).

Webster/
Begotten
BEGOT’, BEGOT’TEN, pp. of get. Procreated; generated.

Edward Robinson’s Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament (1885, p. 471) gives the definition of mo·no·ge·nes’ as: “only born, only begotten, i.e. an only child.”

The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by W. Hickie (1956, p. 123) also gives: “only begotten

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by G. Kittel, states: “The mono- [mo·no-] does not denote the source but the nature of derivation. Hence monogenªV [mo·no·ge·nes’] means ‘of sole descent,

A.T. Robertson, the premier Greek scholar of his time, wrote about John 1:18:

The best old Greek manuscripts . . . read monogenes Theos (God only begotten) which is undoubtedly the true text. (Word Pictures in the NT, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1932, vol. 5 of 6, 17)

The New World Translation rendering, “only-begotten god,” is in opposition to all reputable translations. W.E. Vine is also very clear about the meaning of this text:

. . . does not imply a beginning of His Sonship . . . in the sense of unoriginated relationship . . . Christ . . . eternally is the Son. He, a Person, possesses every attribute of pure Godhood. (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1940; under “Only-Begotten”)

The literal meaning of monogenes is “unique; only member of a kind” (see lexicons by Liddell & Scott, Bauer, Arndt, & Gingrich, Thayer, Kittel, etc.). If God has a “unique” Son, that Son partakes of Godhood, just as a human son partakes of humanness.

Please check his cited references and you will see it’s far from the case he would like it to be, and I can only imagine he is quoting someone who is in error, or the dishonesty is amazing. I have read everyone he cites.

***

The Jews of Jesus time brought many false charges against him. Some said he had a demon (John 8:44), others said he was a glutton and an alcoholic (Matt 11:19), yes still others claimed he was in cahoots with Beelzebub (Mark 3:22). From the above cited text making a claim God is your father is in no way making yourself out equal with God. In (John 8:41) “YOU do the works of YOUR father.” They said to him: “We were not born from fornication; we have one Father, God.” The Jews also claim God is their father, so are they also gods?

The relevant distinction was between saying “my Father” and “our Father.” Jesus did the former, and that is one thing that was quite different. They did the latter. Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (one-volume translation and abridgement by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985; hereafter “TDNT”), states about “abba”:

A. In Judaism. This Aramaic word is a familiar term for “father”; it is also a title for rabbis and a proper name, but is almost never used for God.

*

B. In Christianity. Jesus probably used abba for God not only in Mk. 14:36 but also whenever the Gk. pater occurs. It denotes a childlike intimacy and trust, not disrespect. (pp. 1-2)

Jesus spoke Aramaic. The New Testament is a Greek translation of His words. He was using abba for God and referring to an intimate familiarity with Him that the Jews considered scandalous and blasphemous.

Not at all. Here is what “Jesus in His Jewish Context” by Geza Vermes states:

Much has been written about the significance of the
use by Jesus of the title abba, especially by Jeremias
and his followers. In the opinion of the late
professor from Gottingen, this ipsissima vox Jesu is
unparalleled in Jewish prayer. Compared with that of the
ancient Jews, who, as one of Jeremias’ pupils

explains, ‘maintained the dignity of God, in so far as
they addressed him as Father at all, by scrupulously
avoiding the particular form of the word used by
children’, it is the ‘chatter of a small child’.
Jeremias, that is to say, understood Jesus to have
addressed God as ‘Dad’ or ‘Daddy’, but apart from the
A PRIORI improbability and incongruousness of the
theory, there seems to be no linguistic support for
it. Young children speaking Aramaic addressed their
parents as abba or imma but it was not the only
context in which abba would be employed. By the time
of Jesus, the determined form of the noun, abba (=
‘the father’), signified also ‘my father’; ‘MY
father’, though still attested in Qumran and biblical
Aramaic, had largely disappeared as an idiom from the
Galilean dialect. Again, abba could be used in solemn,
far from childish, situations such as the fictional
altercation between the patriarchs Judah and Joseph
reported in the Palestinian Targum, when the furious
Judah threatens the governor of Egypt (his
unrecognized brother) saying: ‘I swear by the life of
the head of abba (= my father) as you swear by the
life of the head of Pharaoh, your master, that if I
draw my sword from the scabbard, I will not return it
there until the land of Egypt is filled with the
slain'” (pages 37-38).

Vermes also points out that there is evidence to believe abba was actually used in Jewish prayer, as early as the first century B.C.E.

Fair enough. Eminent Bible scholar James D.G. Dunn writes about this as well:

. . . as J. Jeremias has demonstrated with sufficient clarity, abba was the language of family intimacy: it was a word with which children, including tiny children, addressed their fathers — a word therefore of courtesy of respect, but also of warm intimacy and trust. Moreover, so far as our evidence goes, it was hardly used by Jesus’ contemporaries in their prayers if at all — presumably because it was too intimate, too lacking in reverence and awe before the exalted and holy One. Jewish prayers certainly spoke of God as father, but in a much more formal mode of address — God as Father of the nation — and without the directness and simplicity of Jesus’ prayers. (Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, London: SCM Press, 2nd edition, 1990, 187)

I should take this point to interject the point and common flaw among Trinitarian arguments. Within the deductive reasoning a Trinitarian will draw a parallel between something (in this case calling God your father) then quickly conclude that he’s God.

It is far more complex than that, as shown.

Creating this so-called Rule, if you will, that if this is applied to Jesus and also to God, they’re one and the same. The point of error enters when the same point is also applied to other men (clearly not gods), and their relationship to deity is shot down. Trinitarians should be forced to acknowledge this and offer a response or attempt an explanation.

I have offered (I think) a very reasonable explanation. Meanwhile, there is much more in the passage under consideration which indicates the deity of Jesus, that you overlooked:

My father is working still, and I am working. The connection of thought seems to be that the healing act was evidence of divine activity, which supersedes human regulations. There is no difference between the works of the Father and the works of Jesus. They are exactly similar in character. 18. The Jewish objectors recognized this as a claim to equality with God . . . 21As the Father raises the dead. In both the OT and rabbinical literature, this power is attributed to God. (EBC, 941)

The Son (because He is “one” with the Father: John 10:30) does everything the Father does: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (5:19). What more is needed? The great commentator Henry Alford, in his New Testament for English Readers: Volume Two: John to Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House: reprinted in 1983; hereafter: “ALF”) expounds the passage as follows, verifying my arguments:

The Jews understood His words to mean nothing short of peculiar personal Sonship, and thus equality of nature with God . . . All might in one sense, and the Jews did in a closer sense, call God their, or our, Father; but they at once said that the individual use of ‘MY FATHER’ by Jesus had a totally distinct, and in their view, a blasphemous, meaning . . . Thus we obtain from the adversaries of the faith a most important statement of one of its highest and holiest doctrines. (p. 506)

What exactly is the error in calling God his Father? We find that Jesus uses the expression PATHR MOU (Literally, Father of me), and yet even he Jews say hENA PATERA ECOMEN QEON (One Father we are having, God.) (John 8:41) From there, Jesus goes on to say, “If God were your Father, you would be equal to God”? No, rather, he states, “If God were your Father (PATHR hUMWN), you would have loved me” (John 8:42). See, simply calling God “PATHR MOU” does not make one God, literally equal to God, or guilty of any sin, as even the Jews claimed such!

The expression “my Father” and “our Father” are identical, other than one having a plural. If a person is alone speaking to a Satan worshipper, they would not say “God is our Father” as that would include that Satanist, which has the Devil as their Father, but they would say “God is my Father.”

Further, we as Christians are also said to be one with the Father, so this really is of no significance (John 17:21).

I’m content to let what I have stated above suffice.

***

The eminent Greek scholar, A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1932, hereafter “WPN”), Vol. 5, 83-84, concurs:

But also called God his own Father (alla kai patera idion elege ton theon). “His own” (idion) in a sense not true of others. That is precisely what Jesus meant by “My Father.” . . . if the Jews misunderstood Jesus on this point, it was open and easy for him to deny it and to clear up the misapprehension. This is precisely what he does not do. On the contrary Jesus gives a powerful apologetic in defence of his claim to equality with the Father (verses 19-47).

As easily seen though, the Jews even claim God to be their Father, and it is not a claim to equality. As was already shown, the expression “making yourself equal to your Father” was an expression that in rabbinic tradition denotes rebellion, not the actual possession of equality. This is truly a non-issue at this point.

Readers can judge that.

7) JOHN 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

See how the Father is giving something to the son, something the son didn’t already have. How is this possible if there is equality? Without evolving all kind of complex theories one has something the other does not always possess how can they be called equals?

It’s simply Hebrew idiom, expressing the Father’s will. But if the will of the Father is identical to the will of the Son (as the NT teaches: e.g., Mt 26:39, Jn 5:30, 6:38, 16:15, 23) then there is no problem. The fact remains that Jesus was eternal, and not a created being. There are many unanswerable proofs for that, as we shall see. If Jesus “has life in himself,” he did not have a beginning or origin, but always existed.

Again, you make a significant error. The will of Jesus is not the same as the Father, but rather, he always agrees to the Father’s will.

That’s the whole point: they always agree, because they are one (John 10:30). The fact that the Son agrees with the Father’s will does not make them two different Beings. They are two Divine Persons of the three who comprise the one Triune God.

This is clearly shown in your first referenced text of Matthew 26:39, where he states “not as I will, but as you will.” This statement clearly denotes two separate wills.

Not at all. It only denotes two Persons. If you assume beforehand that trinitarianism cannot be true, then you will distinguish between the Father and the Son and wrongly conclude that the Son is not equal to, and one with the Father. But this is unbiblical, as I have repeatedly shown.

With regards to Jesus having life in himself, you ignore the critical word “given.” Jesus is given life in himself; it is not by nature in him. Hence, we find in John 1:4 “What came to be in him was life.” It does not say “Life was eternally in him,” but that it “came to be” (GEGONEN) in him.

It’s a figure of speech, concerning logical relations between the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Son is also “begotten” by the Father (monogenes) but this doesn’t mean “created” (see my treatment of that issue in section 6). If a being has “life it itself,” then that being is eternal (see my comments in section 19).

8) JOHN 7:29 But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.

This is clearly showing is role as a representative from God, Back to example 2 if I make the claim I was send from the president of the United States, would any logical person who heard that, conclude I am the president? If someone sends you, you are not that someone.

This is another relatively weak prooftext, so I will pass.

9) JOHN 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am {he}, ye shall die in your sins.

Please see question 11 regarding ( I am ) as the divine title. Also this verse goes on to talk about who he is in verse 8:28 with titles as Son of man, never God the Son.

I’ll wait to comment later then.

10) JOHN 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am {he}, and {that} I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

This verse only goes to prove Jesus is not God. Does not the Father have all knowledge? And has he not eternally had such? If so, then Jesus, were he God, would have the same. Yet, Jesus says he was taught. So of everything he does know, at one time he lacked such knowledge.

Jesus has two natures. In His Divine Nature, He has all knowledge, but in His human nature, He could learn like all of us.

Yet scripture does not support this idea of two natures at all. Rather, scripture tells us that he existed in one form, emptied himself (so he no longer had) of that and took the from of man. This is clearly spelled out in Phil 2:6,7 and these two verses do not allow for a dual nature of Christ. They allow for one nature, that of a perfect man. Any further reading into scripture that he might have two is based on a priori assumption and directly contradicts Phil 2:7’s state that Christ “emptied himself.”

This has been previously dealt with also, in section 6.

 

Trinitarians believe, then, that such biblical passages refer to the subjection of the Son as Messiah to the Father. This is what the Christian Church has always taught. Jesus is still omniscient in His Divine Nature, as many passages show, e.g.,:

JOHN 21:17 . . . Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee . . .

*

COLOSSIANS 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

As we have already demonstrated, Jesus does not know everything in an unqualified sense, but here, in context, that he knew how Peter truly felt. For example, in Jude 1:5 he writes that they “know all things.” Does this mean that the ones Jude was writing had a divine nature then? By your use of John 21:17, we would have to say, YES. This, though, is a misuse of the verse. Thus, again going to the fact that we have demonstrated that Jesus does not know the time of the end, and he receives a revelation, we understand in context what this verse truly means.

In His human nature, He can learn things, and even be subjected to Mary and Joseph. But in His Divine Nature, He knows all things. See much material related to Jesus’ omniscience (a quality unique to God, of course), in my paper Jesus is God: Biblical Proofs.

Go to Part Three

Go to Part One

***

***

(originally 11-3-03)

Photo credit: Jesus Christ, extracted from the painting Christ And The Rich Young Ruler (1889) by Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1911) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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