If you want to know what the first Christians believed about God and Jesus, check out The Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Bible. Most Christians think the most important thing to believe about Jesus is that he was and is God. In fact, since the fourth century the church has said that if a person does not believe Jesus is God, he or she is not a genuine Christian. But the book of Acts doesn’t say that.
For twenty-two years I believed in the church doctrine of the Trinity, thus that Jesus was and is God. Like most Christians, I believed it because my church taught it to me. But one day I was reading my Bible about something Jesus said about himself, in Matt. 24.36 and Mark 13.32, and I am convinced that God then gave me a eureka moment of enlightenment. It caused me to undertake a very biblically in-depth study that led to my change of mind about Jesus’ identity and my writing the 600-page book entitled The Restitution of Jesus Christ in which I cite 400+ scholars. In it I claim that according to the Bible, Jesus was everything the church has proclaimed about him except that he was and is not God.
When Christians form their theology, they woefully underrate the book of Acts. It contains twenty-two narratives in which the first Christians, all of whom were Jews, preached evangelistic messages about Jesus to nonbelievers. These early Christians were trying to convince people about how to have their sins forgiven and thus become a child of God, that is, a genuine Christian. They constantly distinguished between God and Jesus. They mostly said it was necessary to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior. And they constantly proclaimed that God raised Jesus from the dead. They never said Jesus is God.
The following is a list of all of these messages, or summaries of them, in the book of Acts in the NRSV:
- Peter said to Jews, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you … this man … you crucified and killed … But God raised him up, having freed him from death,… God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified…. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2.22-24, 36, 38).
- Peter said to Jews, “the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One … whom God raised from the dead…. Repent therefore and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3.13-15, 19).
- Jesus’ disciples “were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4.2)
- Peter said, “Rulers of the people and elders,… Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4.4, 10, 12).
- “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4.33).
- “Peter and the apostles answered,… ‘The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins’” (Acts 5.29-31).
- Stephen said to Jews as they killed him, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,… I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man [Jesus] standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7.51, 56).
- Some Samaritans “believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8.12).
- To the Ethiopian eunuch Philip “proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8.35).
- After Saul/Paul was converted “he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God’” (Acts 9.20).
- “Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah” (Acts 9.22).
- Peter said to the Cornelius household, “Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all…. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him…. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses,… everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10.36, 38-41, 43).
- Paul said to Jews concerning King David, “Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised;… the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him … condemning him…. But God raised him from the dead;… through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be set free by the law of Moses” (Acts 13.23, 27, 30, 38-39).
- The Philippian jailer asked his prisoners Paul and Silas, “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved’” (Acts 16.30-31).
- Paul “argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you’” (Acts 17.2-3).
- Paul to Greeks at Areopagus—“While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17.30-31).
- Apollos “powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus” (Acts 18.28).
- Paul “argued persuasively about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19.8).
- Paul said, “I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20.21).
- To King Agrippa Paul said he had preached everywhere that people “should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance… I stand here, testifying … that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people [the Jews] and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26.20, 22-23).
- At Rome people “came to him [Paul] at his lodging in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets” (Acts 28.23).
- The book of Acts ends by saying at Rome Paul “lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28.30-31)……………..
To see a list of titles of 130+ posts (2-3 pages) that are about Jesus not being God in the Bible, with a few about God not being a Trinity, at Kermit Zarley Blog click “Chistology” in the header bar. Most are condensations of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. See my website servetustheevangelical.com, which is all about this book, with reviews, etc. Learn about my books and purchase them at kermitzarley.com. I was a Trinitarian for 22 years before reading myself out of it in the Bible.