Apr 27, 2012

Four Soils Parable & OSAS

In the parable of the four soils, as given in the synoptic Gospels, Jesus categorizes all hearers of the Gospel with four different  kinds of soil. 

The wayside ground hearer of the word is one who hears the word but does not believe it, and is not saved by it.  The Bible is full of examples of these kinds of hearers.  Every example of someone hearing the Gospel and rejecting it is an example of this kind of Gospel hearer.

The shallow ground hearer is one who hears the word and initially receives it, even with temporary joy, but later, when the heat of persecution and trial come, he falls away.  Again, the New Testament is full of examples of this type.  All those apostates who initially profess faith in the Gospel and then depart from it, and die in that state, are examples of this kind of hearer. 

The thorny ground hearer is one who hears the word and also initially receives it, but later does not produce lasting fruit, does not persevere.  And, again, the New Testament is full of examples of this type.  All those like Demus, who go back into the world, and do not continue in fruit bearing, are examples of this kind of hearer.

The good ground hearer is one who, unlike the others, receives the word and brings forth fruit with patience (endurance or perseverence).  Again, the New Testament is full of examples of this kind of hearer. 

There is no disagreement that the wayside ground hearer was never saved.  There is likewise no disagreement that the good ground hearer was saved and never lost his salvation.  Thus, the debate focuses on the shallow ground and thorny ground hearers.  And, the question debated is this - "were these hearers ever truly saved and converted?" 

If it can be proved that the two cases of apostasy, typified in the shallow and thorny ground hearers, were never truly saved, and that all cases of apostasy in the New Testament fit one of these two kinds, then the proof of apostasy for those truly saved is overthrown.

How can we be sure that the wayside and thorny ground hearers were never truly saved?

First, because the shallow and thorny ground hearers receive the word with the wrong kind of heart (soil).  The only heart (soil) that is "good" and "honest" is the good ground hearer.  This in itself proves that those represented by the shallow and thorny ground hearers were never truly saved, unless one wants to affirm that people can be saved who receive the word with a heart that is not good and honest.  Who will affirm that?  The only hearer of the four who were truly saved by hearing and believing the word are those who are good ground hearers and none of them apostasize.  They all bring forth fruit with perseverence.  Those who teach that people can lose salvation must show how good ground hearers can fail to persevere and lose salvation.  But, this they cannot do.  All who receive the word with a good and honest heart persevere in fruit bearing and therefore none are lost.

All the supposed examples of professing Christians falling away are examples of shallow and thorny ground hearers, and none are examples of good ground hearers. 

John 10 & Eternal Security

I read with interest this morning an article at Arminian Perspectives titled - "Does Jesus Teach Unconditional Eternal Security in John 10:27-29?" (see here) in which the author sought to prove that these verses do not teach eternal security for the believer in Jesus. 

The writer makes the standard Arminian rebuttal by affirming that the security of the believer is conditional, rather than unconditional.  In other words, the believing and following of the sheep are the conditions of remaining saved.  The argument was then made that true believers and disciples may cease to be believers and disciples and thus not be finally saved. 
But, the writer failed to observe that the believing and following are not what make men sheep, but are what prove them to be so.  Believing and following are what sheep do because they are sheep, and not in order that they may become sheep. 
Besides, the "giving" of eternal life occurs when one becomes a believer and disciple.  It is not something that is given after death or at the day of judgment.  If I am a believer and disciple now, then Christ assures me that I have eternal life.  If one has eternal life, then certainly he has what cannot be lost.  If one could lose it, then it could hardly be called eternal life.  If Christ meant to convey the idea of a salvation and eternal life that was conditional, then he certainly would have not called it "eternal" life.  A life that is lost, or a life that dies, cannot be called eternal life.
Further, Jesus did not say - "some of my sheep continually hear my word and follow me," but "my sheep," all of them.  Thus, if all the sheep hear and follow, then how could it be said that some of them lost their eternal life? 
The idea of the passage is that once eternal life has been given, then it cannot be lost.  If eternal life can be lost once it has been given, then what guarantee is there that one will not be lost even after they have entered heaven?
Not only is the idea conveyed that no person can pluck them out of the Father's hand, but so can no thing do so.  This is what Paul taught in the end of Romans chapter 8 when he said that nothing will be able to separate the sheep from the love of Christ. 
Does not being in the hand of God protect from any and all danger?  Including sin and apostasy?
Whose responsibility is it to keep the sheep?  The sheep or the shepherd?  If it is the responsibility and duty of the shepherd to protect the sheep, and to secure them, then any destruction of the sheep would be the blame of the shepherd.  When a believer asks the Lord to save him from his sins, and the Lord agrees to do so, then he will certainly be saved or else the fault is with the Lord.  This is one reason why Paul said:
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  (Phil. 1: 6)
The shepherd of the sheep has a "rod" and a shepherd's "staff."  (Psa. 23: 4)  The staff has a crook for the purpose of pulling the sheep back when they begin to go astray.  I suggest that Jesus effectively uses his staff to prevent the sheep from leaving the fold and being destroyed by wolves.

Apr 22, 2012

Angels or the Trinity?

Was Elohim addressing angels when he said - "let us make man in our image, after our likeness"?  (Gen. 1: 26)  Deniers of the Trinity (or of any plurality in God) argue one of three ways on this passage.  Some deniers of the Trinity assert that angels were addressed by Elohim.  Some assert that Jesus Christ was addressed, but that he is not addressed as God but as the highest and first of all created beings.  Some assert that the use of the plural pronouns are instances of the "royal we." 

We have already seen how the plural of majesty argument is totally untenable and was no doubt an invention by certain Unitarian Jews to "explain away" the uses of the plural pronouns.  Dr. Gill gave sound reasons for rejecting both the Unitarian interpretation (that says that angels are addressed) as well as of the majestic plural interpretation.  Further evidence was also later given to explode the majestic plural thesis. 

We do agree with the Arians who affirm that Christ and the Father are denoted by the pronouns "us" and "our."  However, we do not believe that the Word/Son of God is a creature.

The view that affirms that angels are included in the plural pronouns 1) makes the angels into joint creators with Elohim and 2) makes man to have been made in the image of both angels and Elohim.  Who can believe it?  Is it not a biased interpretation?  Is it not eisegesis rather than exegesis? 

Since Elohim is plural and literally means "gods" (there are no capitals in the Hebrew), it is the most natural interpretation to see the plural pronouns "us" and "our" as referring to the persons united in the Elohim

All revelation since Elohim originally spoke in the creation of man only enlarges upon the nature of Elohim.  Later revelation fully demonstrates that Elohim is the Father, the Word (Son), and the Spirit.

Sometimes singular verbs and modifiers are used with Elohim, and this is to show us the oneness of Elohim.  There are not two Elohim, but one Elohim.  All the heathen Elohim are not real.  On the other hand, plural verbs and modifiers are also sometimes used with Elohim, and this in order to show us the plurality of Elohim.  There are distinct persons composing Elohim.  Elohim is a Tri-Unity, or Trinity.  He is a plural one.  Elohim has more than one face, more than one persona, more than one person.  The Trinitarian accepts both formulas and reconciles them.  God is three persons, but one divine being.

Just as we use the singular verb "is" and also the plural verb "are" when referring to the United States, so do the scriptures use both singular and plural verbs when referring to Elohim.  Historians say that most people, prior to the Civil War, said "the United States are," but that after the Civil War most people said "the United States is."  Both are correct.  When the singular verb is used, the focus is on the unity of the United States.  When the plural verb is used, the focus is on the plurality.

The assertion that Elohim uses the plural pronouns "us" and "our" as royalty uses the plural "we," in reference to their singular persons, has already been shown to be invalid, and that it was invented by strict Unitarian Jews and apostate Judaism against such Trinitarian proofs. 

It is granted that these divine plurals are couched within a larger number of singular pronouns. But the question must be asked - Why are such plurals used only here and there, in a few cases, if it is the normative rule to use the "royal we"?  But even in the use of the plural "we" by royalty and editors, there is reason for doing so, as we have seen.  Neither the king nor editors speak only for themselves, but for those for whom they speak.

Obviously, the plural pronouns refer to more than one person.  All the attempts to deny this most basic rule of grammar by the Unitarians have proven to be futile.  Further, these plural pronouns are used by Elohim personally and also by the narrator Moses. 

The words "let us" are deliberative of counsel.  Elohim does not say "let me."  It is not one person talking to himself but one person talking to other persons.  It is the Elohim talking and consulting with themselves. 

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion..."  (Gen. 1: 26)

The two hortative expressions—“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and “let them have dominion,” show that the persons denominated by the plural pronouns will be both the creators of man, and the grantors of authority to man. Those denominated by the plural pronouns are the creators and sovereigns of man.  They are his benefactors.

Further, those addressed are not called upon to be passive observers but to be active governing participants in the creation and destiny of man. 

Further, there is every reason to believe that those denoted by the plural pronouns are all equals, and that what is to be done is to be done jointly. 

That these words denote deliberation and decree is self evident. 

"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."  (Gen. 3: 22-24)

In these words Yahweh Elohim is still addressing the same persons who are included in the divine "us" and "our" of Genesis 1: 26.  "And the LORD God said," that is, said to himself, to the "us" and the "our."  It is a continuation of the divine deliberations begun in Genesis 1: 26.  The words in Genesis 1: 26 were uttered before man's creation, but the words above were uttered after man's transgression and fall.  It is obvious that Elohim's deliberations and decrees involve not only the creation of man but his government, judgement, and destiny. 

The Elohim counsel agreed first to 1) create man in their own likeness and 2) to give man his authority and dominion.  After the fall of man, this counsel, deliberation, and agreement by Elohim concerned the judgment of man for his sin and rebellion.  It is not scriptural to think that Elohim has been in constant counsel and eternal deliberations with angels about the fate of man and the world. 

"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?"  (Isa. 40: 12, 13)

Obviously Lord God did not take counsel with the angels but with himself alone.  The "us" and the "our" of Elohim cannot therefore include any created being, but refers to the divine being alone.  Angels, though they dwell in heaven, being a part of the "host of heaven," they are never called heaven's "counsellors."  God does not counsel with angels and men, nor any created beings, but only declares his counsel to them.  Let us notice these passages relative to the counsel of God.

"Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth."  (Job 37: 11, 12)

"The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."  (Psa. 33: 11)

"There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."  (Prov. 19: 21)
"And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it."  (Isa. 9: 17)

"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."  (Isa. 46: 10)

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."  (Acts 2: 23)

"For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."  (Acts 4: 28)

"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."  (Eph. 1: 11)

"...the immutability of his counsel..." (Heb. 6: 17)

Obviously the "counsel of the Lord" refer to God's self deliberation and to the decrees which issue forth from such counsel.  This counsel concerns "all things," especially of God's purpose in redemption through Christ.  Nowhere is this divine counsel ascribed to angels.  Notice these rhetorical questions and the answers they imply.

"For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?" (Rom. 11:34)

"For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?" (Jer. 23: 18)

But, if the view is correct that says Elohim is addressing angels in Genesis 1-3, then one would answer that the angels counseled the Lord and knew his mind.  They "stood in the counsel of the LORD," and they "heard his word." 

But, the only one who can be called a "counsellor" of Elohim is the Son of God, for the prophet says that Jesus Christ is named "Counsellor" (Isa. 9: 6).  He is not only so to men, but also so to the Father and Holy Spirit.  Certainly the Father took counsel with his Son and Spirit. 

"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?...But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"  (Heb. 1: 5, 13)

These verses make argument from silence.  God has never addressed angels in such a manner, is the premise of the argument of the Apostle.  God never addressed angels as his "only begotten Son" and never invited them to sit with him in counsel.  That place at the right hand of God, the place of a co-ruling counsellor, is reserved for the second person of the Trinity, not for angels.  Borrowing the language of the Apostle, we may well ask the Modalists - "where did God ever say to the angels, join me in counsel, creation, and sovereignty"?  Surely the angelic view of the plural pronouns of the Genesis creation story, if it were valid, could find supporting evidence in the rest of Scripture that shows that angels are joint creators and counsellors with Yahweh Elohim.

From the rest of Scripture we see that the only activity of the angels at the time of creation was to sing praise at the wonders of God, not join Him in His creative work.  (Job 38: 7)  Where do the Scriptures represent God addressing the angels as “us” and “our”?  Where do they say, “let us” do this or that divine work?  To which of the angels said he at any time - "let us create"? 

Genesis 1:27 – “So God (Elohim) created man in his own image...”
Genesis 9: 6 - "in the image of God (Elohim) made he man."

This is said by the narrator Moses.  Had Moses believed that the "us" and the "our" included angels, then he surely would have said so here.  He would have written - "so God and the angels created man in their own image."  "His own image" excludes angels.

There is also no mention in these passages of an image that is common to God and angels that served as the prototype for man.  If angels were co-creators with God, then surely Moses would have said - "So Elohim and the angels made man in their own image."  The angels are positively excluded from being part of the "us" and "our" of Elohim.  Notice the singular pronoun "his" and "he."  If the angels were included, "they" would have been used.   We have the same in these words of the Apostle - "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." (Col. 3: 10)

In the Genesis narrative it is clear that it is an attribute of God to "know good and evil."

"For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods (Elohim), knowing good and evil...And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever."  (Gen. 3: 5, 22)

"You shall be as Elohim."  The Serpent did not tempt Eve with her becoming an angel and with her acquiring the attributes of an angel.  LORD God says - "the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil."  Obviously the temptation involved lust for being what only God is, to possess wisdom and knowledge that only God has. 

Further, there is no mention of angels in the narrative except after the fall when Elohim placed Cherubim (plural for angelic beings) at the entrance to Eden and the Tree of Life.  Thus, to read angels into the story and make them part of the divine "us" and "our" is not derived from the narrative itself.  And, when angels (Cherubim) are finally mentioned, it is in the context of LORD God ordering them, not consulting with them. 

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."  (Gen. 3: 24)

If LORD God acted in concert with angels, then surely the angels would have also been involved in evicting man from Eden and would have been involved in the placing of the Cherubim and flaming sword.  But, notice that God works alone and angels are the servants of God, not his partners in government.  They are doing his bidding, not counseling him in his bidding. 

In fact, if we view the decrees of Elohim as eternal decrees, as we ought, then there were in fact no angels in existence when Elohim ordained and decreed.  Dr. Gill says that the words "and the LORD God said" may be interpreted as "now the LORD God had said."  Certainly he said the words prior to man's creation, for he says "let us make man." 

It is true that angels were made prior to man, according to Scripture.  But, when did God first make such a decision?  Was if after the creation of angels but before the creation of man?  At a specific point in time, or was it not in eternity, when there was no creature?  But, to so view the decree and judgment of God is detrimental to the angelic view of the divine pronouns.  If God said "let us make man" before there were any angels, then angels obviously cannot be part of the "us" and the "our." 

Of course, there are other passages where Elohim speaks in the plural.

"And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."  (Gen. 11: 5-9)

To whom was Yahweh speaking when the text says "and the LORD said"?  To whom is he declaring the affairs of earth?  To whom does he exhort to "behold" and "go to" and "let us go down"?   Is he addressing angels?  Are they his counsellors?  Again, the whole scene is one of divine deliberation and counsel.  Is God deliberating with himself, in the plurality of his persons, or with his angelic creatures?  The whole of the divine imperatives may be summed up as - "let us go down and change history."  It is reasonable that the same "us" that created man is the same "us" who now are seen active in the affairs of man. 

Further, the text says "so the LORD scattered them."  But, if the angels were part of the "us," then the text would say "so the LORD and the angels scattered them."  It was the "us" who "confounded their language" but it was "the LORD" (Yahweh - singular) who "scattered them."  Obviously "the Lord" is the "us."  Thus, God is one in the three persons.  God is a tri-unity, or Trinity.  The Scripture teaches us to believe in the unity of the plurality and in the plurality of the unity. 

The text says "let us confound their language...the LORD did there confound the language."  Clearly "the LORD" is the same as the Elohim, or the "us" of creation and providence. 

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."  (Isa. 6: 8)

From the New Testament we discover that both Son and Spirit were here with the Father and thus the proper use again of Deity saying "us" and "our."

Further, as we have already seen, the "watchers" and "holy ones" of Daniel chapter four refer to the Deity. 

It is true that the word "maker" and "creator" are sometimes used in the plural in Scripture (Job 35:10; Ps. 149:2; Eccl. 12:1; Isa.. 54:5), but this is not because angels are such, but because Elohim is one God in three persons. 

Consider further what is involved in affirming that God is addressing angels when he speaks in the Genesis creation and says "let us create man." 

First, knowledge of what "man" is must first be possessed.  When God says "let us create man" it is acknowledged that those addressed know what the noun "man" denotes.  If God were addressing the angels, then such language implies that they know something about the blueprint, as it were, for such a creation called "man."  Without such prior knowledge, those addressed would naturally think - "man?  What is a man?"  Thus, if angels were addressed, it can only be supposed that Elohim had previously consulted with them about what to create and why.  Also, why would God call upon the angels to create man if they did not have Godlike knowledge of the effects of such a creative work?  Also, why would God be calling upon angels to share the responsibility for creating man?

Further, the words "let us create man" involves saying "let us give man life," "let us give man being and immortality," "let us give man soul and spirit," "let us give man holiness and righteousness," "let us decide man's fortunes and destiny," "let us provide for his redemption," etc.  Whoever creates man takes credit and responsibility for man, and such can never be reckoned to angels.

Further, God is said to have "made man a little lower than the angels."  (Psa. 8: 5; Heb. 2: 7, 9)  Is God consulting and deciding with angels to make man a little lower than they?  I find that untenable.

Is it not true, according to the angelic view, that God could not have said, at the creation of the angels, "let us make angels...?"

Did God make angels in his own image and likeness?  The Scriptures do not specifically say, although there is no objection to affirming so.  But, even if angels are created in the image of God, why would he not use the same original image of himself, in the creation of men, as he did in the creation of angels?  Obviously, in the creating of angels in the image of God, no other being other than God was the original.  Why would the creation of man not be after the same manner? 

Further, men are never said, in Scripture, to be made in the image and likeness of angels.  If the angels were intended by the plural creative pronouns "us" and "our," then surely there would be other Scripture that would also say so.  But, uniformly, the Scripture says that men are made in the image of God, and of him alone.

In conclusion we can positively say:

1. Scripture does not ascribe creation to angels but only to Deity.
2. Scripture never affirms that men are made in the image and likeness of angels.
3. Scripture never affirms that God takes counsel from angels.

Apr 18, 2012

The Malak Yahweh

It is very clearly shown in the New Testament that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a person distinct from the person of the Father and Spirit, and who is himself God.  It has been shown how God is a united one, a composite unity, having one nature or divine essence or substance.  The three persons are "one" in every quality or attribute of divinity.  Though distinct persons, yet are they one in mind, heart, will, and understanding.  The kind of oneness that exists between the three persons of the Godhead is explained by Christ to be a composite oneness.

 Jesus prayed that believers all become "one," exactly as Jesus and his Father are "one."  (John 17)  Obviously being "one" does not mean being one person.  The oneness of believers, in their personal relations, reflects the oneness of the Trinity in their internal personal relations. 

Though more clearly seen in the New Testament, yet the distinct personhood of each member of "haElohim" is visible in the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament Christ was known as the Word and Wisdom of God.  He was also known as the "מַלְאָךְ יהוה" (mal'ak YHWH), "the messenger of Yahweh," or "the angel of the LORD", and he is mentioned 65 times and always in the singular number.

In studying the OT texts that reveal this sublime character it will be discovered how the Malak Yahweh is both seen as distinct from Yahweh and yet as Yahweh himself.  This was shown by the previous posting by Dr. Gill who proved such from Scripture.  These OT scriptures show that the Messiah would be the incarnation of the MalaK Yahweh, the "Angel of Yahweh's Presence," and the "Angel of the Covenant." 

The OT revelation about the Malak Yahweh is detrimental to the Modalist view that the Son of God is the same person as the Father.  The Malak Yahweh was God (Yahweh) but he was also a distinct person from Yahweh the Father.  Both Testaments show that the Father and Son are both God and yet distinct persons.  They are "one" but it is a united one.  The Hebrew word for "one" in the Shema ("hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one Lord") is "echad," not "yachid," and denotes a united one.  It is the same Hebrew word for "one" (echad) as used in the OT for two persons getting married and becoming "one."   

The OT Appearances of Malak Yahweh
The Angel of the Lord appears to Abraham
The Angel of the Lord appears to Jacob
The Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar
The Angel of the Lord appears to Moses
The Angel of the Lord appears to Israel
The Angel of the Lord appears to Baalim
The Angel of the Lord appears to Joshua
The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon
The Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah and wife
The Angel of the Lord appears to Elijah
The Angel of the Lord appears to David
The Angel of the Lord appears to Zechariah

In an Internet treatise title "Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Old Testament," by Anthony Rogers (see here), a five part series, Rogers shows clearly that the Malak Yahweh is the Logos, or Son of God, in his main pre-incarnate theophany or Christophany.  He clearly shows that the Malak Yahweh is distinct from Yahweh the Father and yet is himself Yahweh (the Son or Word).

Part One in the series concludes with these points, points which he fully proves.  I recommend all who are interested in this topic to read the entire work.

"Conclusion (Part I emphasis mine - SG)

At this point we can arrive at the following conclusions about the Angel of Yahweh:

1. The word Malak does not rule out His deity, for the word could just as well refer to a divine messenger as it can to one of the heavenly host (or even to a human messenger).

2. The phrase “the Angel of Yahweh” refers to a distinct and specific being and not to angels in general. The Angel of Yahweh exists in a class all of His own, i.e. He is unique.

3. The Angel of Yahweh spans the entire Old Testament period as seen in His appearances to Hagar, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah, Elijah, David and Zechariah.

4. The Angel of Yahweh is the central figure of the Old Testament, not only because He is frequently mentioned, but because of the role He plays in the lives of the patriarchs and the nation of Israel.

5. The Angel of Yahweh has many exalted titles, such as “the Angel of His presence”, “the Angel of Great Counsel”, “the Angel of the Covenant”, and “Wonderful”.

6. The Angel of Yahweh on various occasions, only a modicum of which have been explicitly referred to up to this point, refers to Himself or is referred to by others as God.

7. The Angel is likely the one in view every time a theophany occurs."

"Conclusion (Part II)

The pointed testimony of Hagar, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon and other Biblical figures, along with the inspired say-so of the Biblical authors and the self-testimony of the Angel, are more than sufficient to prove that the Bible teaches the Angel’s divine identity in no uncertain terms. If they are not sufficient to this end, then one must wonder how it would be possible to communicate such an idea at all. Of course the very fact that everyone understands what the present thesis aims to prove, namely that the Angel of Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is proof positive that people are engaging in cognitive dissonance if and when they refuse to acknowledge what the Biblical authors mean when they say the same thing."

Rogers concludes Part IIIa with a citation.

"After citing the Talmud and numerous rabbinic authorities on the fact that Yahweh is the proper name of God, and that the name applies to Him alone, M’Caul concludes thusly:

…when we combine the admissions of opponents with the plain words of Scripture, there can be no doubt of these two things, first, that the name Jehovah is the peculiar name of God; and, secondly, that God has claimed it for himself, because it has reference to that substance and essence peculiar to himself. Why, then, is it communicated to the angel of the Lord? There can be but one answer: because He partakes of that substance and essence which makes the communication of the name suitable; or, in other words, because the Angel of the Lord is very God. And this conclusion is confirmed."

In Part IIIb Rogers records:

"Objections Considered"

"In response to the above, two main objections have often been put forward by an assortment of unitarians: 1) the Malak Yahweh sometimes speaks of God in the third person and therefore cannot be God; and 2) according to the “principle of agency”, in certain situations one person can speak in the name or authority of another, i.e. a person who is sent can speak as if he is the one who sent him."

"Second, even if a distinction is intended on such occasions, as it will be shown in some passages (especially later ones) that it certainly is, in light of the Angel calling Himself God as well as being called God by others (both those within the narrative and the prophetic authors of those narratives), and speaking in the first person as well as the third person, then what we have here is evidence both for identifying the Angel as God and distinguishing Him from God, which is just to say, evidence for personal distinction within the Godhead, the very thing some people assume in advance cannot be found in the Old Testament. From the Christian perspective, neither aspect of the way the Angel speaks presents any difficulty. No theological artifice, construct or string of conjectures is necessary to make it harmonize with what the rest of the Bible teaches or Christians believe."

"As for the second objection, i.e. representatives can also speak in the first person, it also fails to present any serious challenge to the true deity of the Angel. We have already seen many significant reasons why the Angel of Yahweh cannot be reduced to the status of a non-divine representative of God, such as the fact that no mere representative would call Himself Yahweh or be called such by others, a fact that is true of the Malak Yahweh who does not shrink from making such claims and never eschews such positive attributions of deity to Himself, and He never identifies Himself to anyone as a mere representative. Furthermore, the Angel who declares Himself to be God, even Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel, speaks in the first person with such regularity that it is difficult to conceive of this as a normal way for a mere creature or representative to speak."


"There are many more reasons why the Angel’s declared divinity and first person speech cannot be written off on the basis of a “principle of agency”, as some call it, including, as we will see in the next installment, the fact that He is ascribed divine attributes, performs divine works, exercises divine prerogatives, as well as commands, is given, and receives divine worship, none of which can be said of a mere representative."

Rogers then concludes Part IIIb with these words - "To be continued..."   We look forward to the future installments!

Which is the Greater Sin?

Jesus spoke of the sin of Judas as being "the greater sin" when compared with the sin of Pilate.  (John 19: 11) 

In the debate over the nature of God and whether he is one or three persons, and over the person of Christ, whether he is God, and equal with God, each side in the debate tends to pronounce anathemas on the other sides.  Unitarians condemn to Hell Trinitarians, and Trinitarians condemn Unitarians to Hell.  Arians and Sebellians say that Trinitarians are guilty of polytheism and idolatry.  Trinitarians say that non-Trinitarians are dishonoring God and are guilty of blasphemy.

Let us, with these thoughts in mind, consider these words of Jesus:

"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:  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 5: 22, 23)

If Trinitarians give the same glory to "the Son" as they do to "the Father," how can they be condemned?  Is it not the teaching of all non-Trinitarians that "the Son" does not deserve the same glory, praise, adoration, and worship as does "God the Father"?  When Christ was born the Father addressed the angels and said - "And let all the angels of God worship him (the Son)."  (Heb. 1: 6)  Worship him how? to what degree?  Less than one worships "the Father"?  If so, does this not violate Jesus' words about honoring him equally with that of his Father?  Further, Jesus said that this was the will of "the Father," that all men should honor and worship "the Son" as they do him.  So, Trinitarians are only doing what Jesus commanded.  So, where is the sin?  It seems to me that the "greater sin" comes from failing to give the same honor, glory, and worship to "the Son" as that which is given to "the Father."

Anti-Trinitarians, such as Anthony Buzzard, will say that they do "worship" Jesus, but not as they worship the Father.  They say the kind of "worship" that they give to Christ is that which men, in scripture, have given to other men, to kings and lords.  But, their error is clear.  Jesus did not say that men should honor and worship him as they do other great created beings, but as they do the Father/Creator.  Jesus said - "you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."  (Matt. 4: 10)  If Jesus were not God, the Father would not say to angels and men - "worship and serve him."

Three Persons

Forty years ago this August my father baptized me "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" according to the instructions given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 28: 19.  I am satisfied with this baptism and never expect to be baptized again.  In that act I was expressing belief in the one known in Scripture as "the Father," and the one known as "the Son," and the one known as "the Holy Spirit."  I believed then as I do now, that "these three are one."  (I John 5: 7)

The baptism of Christ shows that the Father, Son, and Spirit are three distinct persons.  When Christ was baptized the Father spoke from heaven and the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. 

In the Great Commission Jesus authorized his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28: 19

“...baptizing them in the name of the (tou) Father and the (kai tou) Son and the (kai tou) Holy Spirit.”

The repetition of the article tou (“the”) before each noun, and the conjunction kai (“and”) joining the nouns, clearly denotes a distinction between all three divine persons named.  Such a rule of Greek grammar is similar to the Granville Sharp rule which says that the absence of the definite article before the second noun shows that the same person is under consideration by both nouns.  The presence of the definite article before the three nouns however shows that three distinct persons are being referred to. 

One Name or Three Names?

The emphasis of the Modalists and others on the singular form of “name” and the arguments made upon that fact are not valid or cogent. The use of the singular “name” is grammatically justified when more than one name is implied.

Of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” is a string of three genitive phrases modifying “name.” The prepositional phrase, “in the name,” is implied for both the Son and the Holy Spirit, so that the intended sense of the verse is, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and (in the name) of the Son, and (in the name) of the Holy Spirit.”  We see the same structure when God says - "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."  He does not mean that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the same person.  The statement should be read as - "I am the God of Abraham, (and the God of) Isaac, (and the God of) Jacob."  It is doubtful that Jesus had a single name in mind at all, but simply means the same thing as when we say, “Stop! In the name of the law.”

The Modalist reads the words of Christ as though they said - "baptizing them unto the name of Jesus which is the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit."  But, the name "Jesus" (Yeshuah) is never applied in Scripture to the Father or to the Spirit. 

"Jesus Only" Pentecostals and other Modalists argue that the New Testament refers to people being baptized "in the name of Jesus," but there are only four such passages (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5). These passages, however, do not use the same designation in each place (some say "Lord Jesus," others say "Jesus Christ").  This indicates that precise verbal formulas were not used in baptism but were simply descriptions by Luke of the announced authority for performing the rite. These four descriptions are not to be considered as a substitute for or contradiction to the divine command of the Lord Jesus Christ to baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).  "Jesus" (Yeshuah) is not the name of the Father and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is rather the name of "the Word" that was made flesh, or of the Son of the Father begotten in time in the virgin's womb. 

God has many names, and yet the scriptures always refer to God's "name" in the singular.  We never read of "the names of God."  In the Old Testament God was known as "Yahweh" ("Jehovah") and as "ehyeh asher ehyeh" ("I am that I am"), or simply as "ehyeh."   Further, the name Yahweh is applied to both the Father and to the "Angel of Yahweh" (Malak Yahweh) and it is the Malak Yahweh that appears in the burning bush and says "I am that I am."  Yahweh is always in the singular and is applicable to either Father, Son, or Spirit.  It is like the common family name or last name of a person. 

It is sometimes argued that the terms "Father," "Son," and "Spirit" are titles, not names.  But, in scripture the Greek word "onoma" is not so restricted, but includes both names and titles. 

"His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself...And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."  (Rev. 19: 12, 16)

Here Christ Jesus is said to have at least three names, two written and known, and one secret.  The two revealed names are Basileus Basileon ("kings king" or "king of kings") and Kurios Kurion ("lords lord" or "lord of lord"). 

"Jesus" also is another name of the incarnate Son of God.  Isaiah says that "he shall be called (named and titled as)  Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God ("El Gibbor"), The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  (9: 6)  He would also be called "Immanuel."   (Isa. 7: 14) 

"The Word" and "Son of God" has many names, though "Jesus" is the one most known and used. 

The Name of the Father

"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."  (Matt. 6: 9)

"Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."  (John 12: 28)

"Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are."  (John 17: 11)

"I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."  (John 5: 43)

The word "father" is itself a peculiar name of the first person in the holy Trinity.  In this he is distinct from the "son."  "The Father" is never called "the Son" in scripture and vice versa.

"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."  (Rev. 14: 1)

Who's name?  The name of the Father of Jesus, which is not the same as the name of Jesus. 

The word "Name" carries a number of different connotations. It sometimes means "authority," as in: "Stop in the name of the law." It can mean reputation, as in: "He has a good name."
Believers are baptized "unto" (eis) the name of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  But, this Trinitarian baptism is performed "in the name of Jesus," that is, by the authority of Jesus.

The Name of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was Ruach HaKodesh

"...and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me."  (Isa. 48: 16)  Thus, Isaiah could well say that he went "in the name of" the Spirit. 

The authority for John to baptize came "from heaven," or from the Father.  (Matt. 21: 25) 

"...he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."  (John 1: 33)

It was the Father who authorized John to baptize.  The authority for baptism after the resurrection of Christ comes from the Lord Jesus but does not exclude the authority of the Father and Spirit. Everything that Christ did was in the name of the Father.  Christian baptism is done by the authority of both Father and Son, as well as in the name of the Holy Spirit. 

Besides, if we take the terms "Father," "Son," and "Holy Spirit" as the names or titles ("onoma"), then there are obviously three names/titles. 

"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, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of (the name of) God the Father."  (Phil 2: 9-11)

Christ was given the name of "Jesus" in regard to his birth of the virgin.  Of course, the word "name" may here denote "reputation" and so mean - "God has given him a reputation..."  The text does not say - "God (the Father) has given him (Christ) his own name."  Clearly the Father who has given Jesus his name is distinct from Jesus.

Another passage of Scripture that clearly presents the Father, the Son (Word), and the Holy Spirit, not as three mere modes of a unipersonal deity, but rather as three distinct persons.

2 Corinthians 13:14

"The grace of the (tou) Lord Jesus Christ, and (kai) the love of the (tou) God, and (kai) the fellowship of the (tou) Holy Spirit be with you all."

Again, the presence of the definite article before each person shows that Paul is not viewing each named person as being the same person. 

In II John 9 John speaks of those who "abide in the doctrine" as having "both" the Father and the Son.  But, if the Father and the Son are the same person, then it would not be correct to speak of them "both." 

In Ephesians 2:18, Paul gives us the prayer formula:

"Through Him (Christ) we have both access by one Spirit unto the Father." 

To view the three named persons as being the same person would be nonsensical.   It makes no sense to read it after the manner of the Modalists - "through the role of Christ and by the role of the Spirit we have access unto the role of the Father."

Apr 13, 2012

Pros ton Theon

Sabellianism or Modalism

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν ὁ θεὸς = “and the Word was the God (the Father)"

Arianism (example = Jehovah's Witness)

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν θεὸς = “and the Word was a god

Trinitarianism (orthodox view)

καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος “and the Word was God (Deity)”

Presence and Absence of the Greek definite article

Why is the definite article included in the words "and the Word was with the God" and yet excluded from the words "and the word was God"?  Does the absence of the definite article in the latter words give license to the Arians to add the indefinite article "a"

The absence of the definite article in the last clause is detrimental to Modalism.  Had the Apostle John wanted to teach Modalism then he would have said "and the Word was the God."  The absence of the definite article in the last clause is intended to affirm that "the Logos" is deity, is "God ('theos')" by nature, or essentially, and calls attention to the special quality and character of God's being and person. 

"God" in the first clause clearly denotes the Father and should be interpreted as meaning - "and the Word was with the God (Father)."  "God" in the last clause, however, should be thought of as saying - "and the Word was God (Deity)." 

The absence of the definite article does not mean it is indefinite, as the Arians falsely think.  The Greek language did not make use of the indefinite article and so the indefinite article cannot be necessarily implied by the absence of the definite article.  Rather, the design of omitting the definite article was in order to affirm something about the quality or character of the person designated as "the Word." 

Pros ton theon

John's phrase "pros ton theon" ("with the God") conveys the idea of intimate love and fellowship between he who is "the Word" and he who is "the God (Father)."  John purposefully used the preposition "pros" when he writes - “and the Word was with [pros] God.” The preposition pros has various meanings depending on the context and the Greek syntax. However, when applied to individuals pros consistently involves the idea of intimate communion between two persons.

A reliable Internet site gives us these citations and comments (emphasis mine):

"A. T. Robertson correlates John 1:1 and in 2 Corinthians 5:8 "pros ton kurion" (“with the Lord”):

“It is the face-to-face converse with the Lord that Paul has in mind. Thus, pros expresses the intimate and special relationship that Christians will experience “at home with [pros] the Lord.” So John thus conceives the fellowship between the Logos and God.”

New Testament scholar Marvin Vincent points out:

"The preposition pros, which, with the accusative case, denotes motion towards, or direction, is also often used in the New Testament in the sense of with; and that not merely as being near or beside, but as a living union and communion; implying the active notion of intercourse...Thus John’s statement is that the divine Word not only abode with the Father from all eternity but was in the living, active relation of communion with Him."

Lenski similarly shows that pros in John 1:1b signified the inseparable communion that the distinct Person of the Word had with the Father:

The preposition pros, as distinct from, en, para, and sun, is of the greatest importance...The idea is that of presence and communion with a strong note of reciprocity. The Logos, then, is not an attribute inhering in God, or a power emanating from him, but a person in the presence of God and turned in loving, inseparable communion toward God, and God turned equally toward him. He was another and yet not other than God. This preposition pros sheds light on Gen. 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

In Romans 5:1, Paul teaches that the believer, having been justified from faith (ek pisteōs), presently and permanently has peace with God (pros ton theon). Notwithstanding the mass of biblical scholarship,17 Oneness teachers postulate a unitarian assumption denying the appropriate and natural meaning of pros in John 1:1b.18 However, the Oneness hermeneutic is flawed. Bernard and other Oneness teachers do not consider that when applied to persons, pros generally denotes (a) the intimate fellowship between them and (b) a distinction between them—every time. Nor do Oneness writers provide any New Testament examples to show the converse. Truly, the intended meaning of John 1:1b is removed by the Oneness unitarian conviction in which the Word was not pros ton theon."  (see here)

James White, Greek scholar, wrote (emphasis mine):

"The first verse itself must be examined to be understood. Transliterated into Greek the verse reads: En arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en ho logos. The verse breaks down into three clauses, each being vital to the whole. The first thing to notice is the fact that the imperfect form of eimi is used throughout the prologue in reference to the Logos. This tense, attached to the phrase "en arche" is timeless - i.e., as far back as one wishes to push the "beginning" the Word is already in existence. This is seen, for example, in the translation of the New English Bible which renders it, "When all things began, the Word already was." Today's English Version puts it, "Before the world was created, the Word already existed...." Hence, the first phrase clearly presents the eternality of the Word and hence his pre-existence.

The second phrase presents the inter-personal relationship of the Logos and God. The Greek phrase pros, translated "with," refers to the existence of communication and fellowship between the Logos and theos. The word was used to describe being "face to face" with another. Now, unless John had added the final phrase ("and the Word was God") there would have been a problem here, as the first phrase clearly presents the Logos as eternal, while the second demonstrates his distinct personality. This would create polytheism without the final phrase's emendation. At the same time, this second clause ends any chance of Sabellianism's success.

The final phrase, kai theos en ho logos, presents a syntactical arrangement in which the term theos is emphasized. At the same time, the sentence is copulative, and the presence of the article with logos simply sets it out as the subject of the sentence. Much has been said concerning the lack of the article with theos(8) but -that discussion is beyond the scope of this paper. Basically, the construction 1) avoids modalism (i.e., the Word is not said to be completely co-extensive with theos) and 2) teaches that the Word has the same nature as God (a point that Paul will reiterate in Philippians).

Verse 3 links the eternality of the Word with creatorship. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John here is intent on separating the Logos from the realm of the created - he started in the very first phrase by asserting his timeless existence and continues here by attributing to the Logos all of creation, an item that will reappear in Colossians. The only possible way to interpret these verses is to see the Logos as an eternal being who created all things.

The prologue continues by identifying the Logos with the person of Jesus Christ in 1:14. It is interesting to note that John very carefully differentiates between the Word in his absolute nature and all other things. When the eternal Word is in view, John uses en. When created things are being discussed (such as John in 1:6), the aorist egeneto is found. However, when we come to the time event of 1:14 (i.e., the incarnation), John switches from the timeless en to the aorist egeneto - the Word became flesh at a point in time in history.

Finally, in 1:18(9), John seals the case by calling Jesus the "only-begotten God," or, more accurately, the "unique God"(10) who reveals the Father, who "exegetes"(11) God to man.

These verses with which John begins his gospel are meant, in my opinion, to form an "interpretive window" through which the reader is meant to look at the words that follow. One must constantly keep the Logos in the back of the mind when interpreting the words and actions of Jesus.(12) Much of what Christ says must be understood in this light to even make much sense! His unique relationship with the Father is intelligible only in the light of his eternal preexistence with him.

Equally significant are Jesus' own "I am" sayings found in John 8:24, 8:58, 13:19 and 18:5-6. Though there is some discussion concerning the use of the phrase ego eimi in this absolute sense(13), these passages clearly show an intentional aspect to Christ's words relevant to his identity. In both 8:58 and 18:5-6, John takes pains to make sure the reader understands the impact of Christ's words on his hearers. In 13:19 we find an extremely close parallel to the LXX rendering of Isaiah 43:10, here applied to Christ by himself. One can hardly escape the significance of the Hebrew term ani hu as used by Isaiah, and its Greek translation as ego eimi. Since Christ purposefully utilized these phrases of himself, it is safe to say that he was claiming for himself the title of the "I Am" - the eternal one, YHWH."  (see here)

The Father is not the Son

The Apostle John began his gospel with these words:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was (the) God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

It is very clear from this passage that "The Word (Logos)" is a person.  The personal pronoun "him" is used twice in reference to him who is by title "the Word."  The very one who is "the Word" is identified by the Apostle John as being the Son of God.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.  And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."  (vs. 14-18)

 It seems strange to me that anyone can read these words and not see that "the Word" is that person who "was made flesh" and "dwelled among us," and who is "the only begotten of the Father" and "the only begotten Son," and who is clearly distinct from "the Father" who begat him. How can one be in the bosom of himself?  The "Word" or the "Son" is "in the bosom of the Father," and is clearly not the Father.  It would be as easy for me to claim to be my own father as for Jesus to claim to be his Father.

There are no scriptures where the Father and Son are ever said to be the same person.  The only possible exception are these words of Jesus:

"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.  Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."  (John 14: 7-10)

Is Jesus saying "I am my Father"?  Is he saying that he is the same person as the Father?  If he is, then the above words of the text would be truly a unique passage with none other like it in Scripture.  In fact, it would contradict every other statement, in the gospels, where Jesus personally distinguished himself from his Father. 

In fact, Jesus spoke of both he and his Father as being "two."  Even in that famous passage where Jesus says "I and my Father are one" (John 10: 30) there is the use of the plural verb "are."  Jesus did not say "I and my Father is one."  Thus, Jesus is saying, about himself and his Father, "we two are one."  It would be the same in meaning as when Jesus confirms that "two are one" in marriage. 
In John 5: 31-37 Jesus responds to charges that his witness of himself cannot be valid unless, by the law of God, there are two witnesses. In addition to his own testimony about himself, there is the added witness of "the Father."  (He also in several places spoke of the witness of the Spirit to his person and work)  Jesus said:
"If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true."  (vs. 31, 32) 

If Jesus was the Father, then he was indeed bearing witness of himself alone.  Jesus is a person but it requires, in the Torah, that "another" person to bear witness.  Jesus said:  "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men (persons) is true."  (John 8: 17)  Jesus is clearly saying that he and the Father are "two" persons and bear witness as persons.

This is all devastating, of course, to Modalism.  If Jesus and the Father are the same person, then Jesus' justification and defence, for meeting Torah witness standards, is not valid.  Modalists do not want to confess that Jesus (the Word and Son of God) is not the same person as the Father, do not want to think of them as being anything more than "one" in every sense possible, and therefore are opposed to admitting that they are "two" as well as "one."  But, as we have seen, the scriptures are clear.

Jesus explains what he means when he says "he who has seen me has seen the Father."  He says "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me."  Clearly he distinguishes his own person from the person of his Father.  Jesus even speaks of his Father, who is in him, in the third person.  So, it is a mistinterpretation of this unique passage to say that it proves that Jesus and the Father are the same person.  Rather, it clearly shows that they are not the same person.

So, how is the Father's person seen in the person of his Son?  Is it not because the Son is the "express image (likeness) of his (Father's) person (substance)"?  (Heb. 1: 3)  Christ mirrored the exact image of his Father.  The Son is like the Father and the Father is like the Son.  As we say in common speech - "like father, like son."  Further, Jesus clearly distinguished himself from the Father when he said "he who has seen me has seen the Father."  "Me" is clearly not the same person as "the Father."

Apr 11, 2012

The Modalist God

Is the Father, Word (Son), and Holy Spirit to be thought of as mere "expressions" of the one person God?  Is the Trinity a Trinity of "manifestations," "modes," and "roles" of the one person God?  Modalists are fond of using various words to denote what is meant by Father, Son, and Spirit, but they are opposed to the use of the word "person."  God is "three expressions."  God is "three modes" and "three roles."  However, it is not scripturally apropos for me to think of Father, Son, and Spirit as impersonal entities.  Under Modalistic paradigms, the "Father" is not God but simply one of the several "ways" in which God "appears."  Likewise, the "Son" and the "Spirit" are not God, but simply "reflections" of God. 

Many Modalists think that Father, Son, and Spirit are titles that do not denote persons, but simply "masks" that the one God wears at various times, like a primitive actor in theatre who plays various roles by wearing different clothes and masks.  But, these masks cannot be identified as being de facto the person (actor) himself.  In Modalism, the real actor's personality is hidden behind the various masks and roles.  In Modalism, not even the Father is a person, but is simply one of several ways that God reveals himself. 

It seems to me that Modalism makes God into a "transformer," one who "morphs" himself into various forms.  In Science Fiction, such as Star Wars and Star Trek, certain alien creatures had the ability to "morphe" or "transform" into various shapes and appearances.  Is this the way we are to conceive of the Father, Son, and Spirit?  Is God simply a "holographic image" as in Star Trek?  A "hologram"?  It seems to me that this is exactly the way God is pictured under the Modalist model of God. 

It is foolishness to read of the Father talking to the Son and think that it simply is the same actor talking to himself with different masks on his face.  It is foolishness to think that one holographic image of God can have fellowship with another holographic image of God. 

It is interesting how Paul says that Satan "transforms himself into an angel of light."  (II Cor. 11: 14)  Satan can take many forms, whether a serpent or angel.  He is a "shape shifter."  But, Modalists must say that God also, like Satan, "transforms himself" into Father, Son, and Spirit. 

It is a simple task to refute Modalism.  All one has to do is to show from scripture that the Father is a person and likewise are the Son and Spirit, and that they are clearly not the same person.

Jesus said:

"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."  (John 14: 23)

Clearly the Father is not Jesus.  This is proven by "my words" and "my Father," which shows that the one designated by "my" (Jesus) is not the same person as the Father.  It is also proven by the use of the plural personal pronouns "we" and "our." 

If Jesus and the Father are the same person, such language would make no sense.  If Jesus and the Father are but "expressions" of God, then Jesus and the Father, as persons, do not dwell in me, but only their "expressions."  How can one have fellowship with an holographic image of God?

Apr 10, 2012

Majestic Plural Concept Exploded

Yoel Natan, in his book "The Jewish Trinity", wrote:

The Majestic Plural Concept is at Odds with Unitarianism

The majestic plural concept suggests that the quality of majesty is somehow related to the concept of plurality. This association between majesty and plurality seems artificial and contrived. For the sake of argument, however, it is worthwhile to think the association is hypothetically valid. For instance, if the association between plurality and majesty were valid, the persons of the Trinity would necessarily be more majestic than the lone divine figure touted by majestic plural proponents.

The Majestic Plural is at Odds with the OT Use of the Plural for God

If the OT taught Unitarianism, one would expect that the singular Hebrew forms for God, El (Gen 14: 18) and Elo(w)ah (Deu 32: 15, 17; Hab 3: 03) would have been used throughout the OT. Furthermore, the singular form El would have been useful to counter the prevailing polytheistic notions.

Overall, the OT looks very Trinitarian. The singular forms El and Elo(w)ha are used mainly in poetic sections. As was noted above, there are 2,600 occurrences of the plural for Elohim in 2,247 OT verses. The singular for El, however, occurs 219 times in 212 verses, while the singular form Elo(w)ah occurs 58 times in 57 verses. (pg. 26)

"The Form HaElohim is Not Consistent With the Existence of the Majestic Plural Syntax"

The Hebrew definite article ha (the) prefix implies "all the...," but does not explicitly state "all the..." Massey gives the example that hayam (ha + yam) literally means "the people," but "all the people" is implied. The definite article "the" (ha) prefixed to Elohim (haElohim) suggests the Trinity: "(All) the Gods."

So when the article ha is prefixed to Elohim (or elohim), the form should be taken to mean:

--"(All) the Gods" when referring to the Trinity,

--"(All)the gods" when referring to false gods (Exo. 18: 11; Jug 10: 14; 2 Ch 2: 04; Jer 11: 12), and

--"(All) the judges" when referring to humans (Exo 21: 06; 22: 08-09; Jos 24: 01) (pg. 26)

"Gods (Elohim), they caused (plural verb) me to wander..." (Gen. 20: 13) (pg. 42)

"Gods (plural noun) have come (singular verb)...Who can deliver us from the hand (singular noun) of the mighty (plural adjective) Gods (plural noun)? they (plural noun) are the same (plural adjective) Gods (plural noun) who struck (plural verb) the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues (I Sa 4: 7,8). (Pg. 43)

The Bible in the original languages contains overwhelming evidence of the Trinity, and translations would too if the Hebrew and Aramaic plural collective nouns, plural verbs and plural modifiers were translated as plurals. This would constitute overwhelming evidence that Yahveh is the Trinity. However, due to the policy of translating nearly all plurals referring to Yahveh as singulars, many Trinitarian proofs are lost in translation.

Jacob said, "Gods (Elohim), they had revealed (plural verb) himself to him" at Bethel in Gen 28 (Gen 35: 7). Note that Jacob spoke of God as "they" (Gen 35: 7) right after the Father spoke of the Son in the third person:

Then God (the Father) said to Jacob, 'Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God (the Son), who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau' (Gen 35: 1). (pg. 53)

Apr 9, 2012

Problem for Unitarians

John Gill, as stated previously, said:

"...the word Elohim is sometimes in construction with a verb plural, as in (Gen. 20:13; Gen. 35:7; 2 Sam. 7:23) where Elohim, the gods, or divine persons, are said to cause Abraham to wander from his father's house; to appear to Jacob; and to go forth to redeem Israel: all which are personal actions: and likewise it is in construction with adjectives and participles plural, (Deut. 4:7, 5:26; Josh. 24:19; 2 Sam. 7:26, 27; Ps. 58:11, Prov. 30:3; Jer. 10:10) in which places Elohim, gods, or the divine persons, are said to be nigh to the people of Israel; to be living, holy, and to judge in the earth; characters which belong to persons; and now, as a learned man[3] well observes, "that however the construction of a noun plural with a verb singular, may render it doubtful to some whether these words express a plurality or not, yet certainly there can be no doubt in those places, where a verb or adjective plural are joined with the word Elohim''."

It is a serious problem for Unitarians to explain how plurality is as much ascribed to Deity as is unity, but it is no problem at all for Trinitarians.  Trinitarians believe that God is singular but they also believe that God is plural, just as the scriptures present.  Unitarians reject all plurality in God. 

The "plural of majesty" is the most common apologetic answer of Unitarians but is easily overthrown and shown to be an invention of Unitarians to deal with the plurality ascribed to God in scripture.

The fact is just as Gill has affirmed.  Not only are plural names and pronouns used in regard to God the subject, but also plural modifiers and verbs, and this fact is devastating to Unitarians.

Questions - Plural of Majesty

Those who deny the Trinity often argue that the plural names for God, and the use of plural pronouns and modifiers for Lord God, argue that the plural form is a use of the "royal we" or a way of expressing superlative majesty, or intensification.  But, these questions demonstrate the error of this argument by Unitarians.

1. If the plural is used simply to express majesty or superlative greatness, then why do we not see this as a rule in scripture when kings are addressed?

2. If the plural is used simply as a method of intensification or amplification, a way of expressing superlativeness, then why is this not universally done in scripture?

3. If "God" (elohim) expresses supremacy by simply being plural, then is it not redundant to use superlatives with Elohim, such as "great Elohim"? (Deut. 10: 17)  Why do the scriptures express superlativeness by use of modifier words such as "highest" and "greatest"?

4. Would it not be redundant to say that "God is God of gods" (ibid) or say that he is "Elohim of Elohim" if the plural "elohim" itself expressed superlativeness?

5. Why do the scriptures refer to heathen gods (elohim) in a majestic and superlative manner?

6. Why are plural verbs and adjectives ever used in scripture with Elohim when referring to Yahveh?

7. Why did the Biblical writers ever use the singular form for God (El or Elohah)? Was this speaking of God non-majestically or without superlativeness?