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Asking_A_Question

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Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« on: July 13, 2013, 08:24:35 am »
Lately Jem has been suggesting that no evidence has been offered that the Bible teaches that Jesus is God.  I'm not sure how she could possibly think that, but this post addresses that issue.

Is Jesus God?
Introduction
   It will be important to go over some background material before we proceed to look at some of the biblical texts.  The plan is to cover definitions of monotheism, unitarianism, and Trinitarianism.
   First, monotheism is the view that only one God exists.  This view clearly does not conflict with either unitarianism or Trinitarianism.  Thus, biblical texts that support monotheism are actually texts that support Trinitarianism.
   Second, unitarianism is the view that God is only one person.  This view does conflict with Trinitarianism.  Therefore, biblical texts that support unitarianism would show Trinitarianism to be false.  Let’s see if the Old Testament teaches as such and whether the Jews at Jesus’ time believed unitarianism.  The most famous passage is Deut. 6.4, “Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH is one!” (NASB)  Now, this might seem unitarian under a certain reading, but that is to impose our own views upon it.  The fact of the matter is that the Jewish people weren’t thinking in those categories until after the rise of Christianity (we will see this later).  Nonetheless, let’s dig into the text to see what is meant.  If we drop down to Deut. 6.14-15, we see that the Israelites are told to not go after other gods and to serve YHWH alone as God.  Thus, the passage is affirming that YHWH alone is God at the most or that YHWH alone should be served at the least.  Thus, the passage only teaches monotheism or monolatry, neither of which conflict with Trinitarianism.
   Did the Jews at Jesus’ time believe in unitarianism?  This is met with a resounding no in the scholarly community. First, there is no precedent for it in the Old Testament.  Second, there is no precedent for it in the pseudepigrapha and apocrypha.  Third, we have good reasons to think they didn’t think as much.  For instance, here are a list of scholars who deny that the Jews were unitarian at the time of Christ: Richard Bauckham (Jesus and the God of Israel, 1-59), N.T. Wright (The New Testament and the People of God, 248-259), James D.G. Dunn (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: the New Testament Evidence, 148-149), and Larry W. Hurtado (Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, 29-53).  This is also confirmed by the Two Powers Heresy which was expounded upon by Alan Segal, a Jew (Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism).  Thus, there is no good reason to think that the Old Testament, apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, or the Jews at Jesus’ time believed in unitarianism.  That means that there is no objection on that basis to the Trinity.
   Lastly, I shall present a broad definition of the Trinity.  Roughly put, Trinitarianism is the belief that (1) only one God exists, (2) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all identified as God, and (3) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all exist co-eternally.  This is typically stated as “one essence (or substance or nature), three persons.”  Thus, texts that show that the Father and the Son are not the same person do not show that Trinitarianism is wrong. In fact, those texts actually support Trinitarianism.
   With all of those points in mind, we can now move on to some of the biblical evidence.  I will try to use the New World Translation (the Jehovah’s witness translation) as often as possible, but I will also work from the Greek.
   Finally, I want to say that the evidence that Jesus is God that is produced here only scratches the surface.  There are literally dozens upon dozens of passages that show that Jesus is God either directly or indirectly.  However, I am going to try and address all of the objections (or at least the major ones) so that those can be handled.  Enjoy.

Evidence that Jesus is God
Matthew 28.19
   "Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit," (NWT)  The context of this passage is after Jesus had bodily risen from the dead and He is commissioning the apostles to go and spread the good news.  Thus, the verse in question is one where Jesus Himself is speaking.  Now, the important point here is the fact that name is in the singular instead of being names.  What is a person’s name at that time in Judaism though?
   The name of a person signified who a person really is.  A person’s name signifies their being.  That is why certain people in the Old Testament get their name changed (Abram becomes Abraham) and others are assigned names based upon important events (Jacob at birth).  Thus, if a name signifies the very essence of a thing then the fact that name is singular instead of plural is extremely important.
   Thus, the name signifies the essence of a something and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all share that singular name.  Thus, this is a text that shows the Trinity to be correct since the three are one and the one is three.  The JW proposal is to read this as “in the name of the Father, Michael the archangel, and the active power of God.”  Such a reading is blasphemous though because God does not share His very essence with any angel.  Hence, the reading that shows the Trinity to be correct is the only viable option.

John 1.1
   The important part of John 1.1 is the last clause.  The first two clauses state, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…”  An important point here is that the word “God” has the Greek “τὸν θεόν” or, transliterated, “ton theon.”  That is, the second clause uses the word theos with the definite article.  Now, the Greek for the last clause is, “καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος” or, transliterated, “kai theos en ho logos.”  It is also important to note that the Logos is identified as Jesus in John 1.14 and on.  Nonetheless, to form this sort of sentence, there are various constructions.  Let’s list them and then go through them in Greek and English (I will use “the” if the definite article is used).
   1.  καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
        a.  and the God was the Word.
   2.  καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν ὁ θεὸς.
        a.  and the Word was the God.
   3.  καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
        a.  This is what John actually used so I will leave it untranslated.
        b.  This clause subsumes any clause which has θεὸς precede ἦν.
   4.  καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν θεὸς.
        a.  This is the same as above except it does not emphasize θεὸς since it is moved to the back.
   5.  καὶ θεὶὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
        a.  Here θεὸς is replaced with θεὶὸς.
        b.  And divine (in the sense of not being God) was the Word.
   6.  καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν θεὶὸς.
        a.  This is the same construction as (5) except ὁ λόγος and θεὶὸς are switched.
        b.  And the Word was divine (in the sense of not being God).
  Now, if John used (1) or (2), then he would be saying that “ὁ λόγος” and “ὁ θεὸς” are identical which would contradict the preceding clause.  Thus, (1) and (2) are not even options for John.  Further, if he wanted to explicitly say that the Word was divine but not God, then he could have used (5) or (6).  Thus, John does not want to say that “the Word” and “the God” are identical (by using (1) and (2)), nor does he apparently want to say that the Word is divine but not God (by using (5) or (6)).  Thus, we are left with (3) and (4).
  In Greek, words can be switched around to emphasize one word without changing the meaning of the sentence (this is shown by that simple maneuver between (1) and (2), (3) and (4), and (5) and (6)).  Further, when a definite article (“the”) is not used, then the word is expressing a quality or trait.  Thus, if John wanted to say that the Word was divine, but not God, then he could use (4) to do so.  However, John instead uses (3) to form his sentence which gives emphasis to θεὸς.  Therefore, (3) is the only way possible that John can say that the Word is actually God and this is the exact construction he uses.  Thus, (3), the way John actually constructs his sentence, should be translated something like, “and the Word had the same nature as God.”
  Hence, if John wanted to identify “the Word” with “the God” or say that the Word was divine but not God, then he had many ways to do so.  Instead, he does not take either of those paths and actually declares that the Word has the same nature as God.
  Let’s make one last note. The JWs claim that translating “theos” without the article as “god” instead of “God” is a rule.  Nonetheless, theos without the article is found in Luke 20.38, John 1.1, John 8.54, and Philippians 2.13.  However, in all of them except for John 1.1, they translate theos without the article as “God” instead of “god”, contrary to what they claim the rule demands. Hence, they break their rule more than they hold to it which isn't much of a rule!  In fact, the only time this so-called “rule” is followed is when theos is obviously used in reference to Jesus.

John 1.3
  As if that evidence was not enough, we can jump down to verse 3, “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” (NWT)  The “him” is referring back to the Word.  Thus, “all things came into existence through [the Word], and apart from [the Word] not even one thing came into existence.”  Now, if that is true and we allow scripture to speak for itself, then that means the Word did not come into existence.  If the Word did come into existence, then not all things came into existence through the Word since the Word cannot come into existence through Himself.  Hence, if we claim that the Word came into existence then we are claiming that John is lying. Thus, the Word is uncreated.  However, if the Word is uncreated then the Word is God because only God is uncreated.  Thus, verse 3 also shows us that the Word is God.

John 1.14
  “So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory…” (NWT)  Here it should be noted that I am breaking the verse up in order to first focus on this part and then focus on the latter part of verse 14 which has a similarity with verse 18.  I will do this in the objections part.
  The interesting point to note here is that we have the Word (see the previous exegesis on verses 1 and 3) becoming flesh.  Now, the word “resided” is literally “tabernacled” and here is where things get interesting.  Obviously, the tabernacle recalls Israel’s time in the wilderness when God would fill the tabernacle.  Further, the Greek word for tabernacle, ἐσκήνωσεν (transliterated, eskenosen), seems to derive from the word shekinah.  In Jewish thought, shekinah represented God’s glorious presence.  Thus, we have John describing the Word becoming flesh as God’s glorious presence with us.  Thus, the presence of the Word is the presence of God because the Word is God.

John 1.18
  Moreover, in verse 18 notice that we have something like “the only one, himself God,…” (NET), “the only begotten God” (NASB), or “the only-begotten god” (NWT).  The thing I want to focus on here is the use of the non-capitalized “g” in the New World Translation.  Here, it will be said that since theos does not have an article then the word should be translated as “god” instead of “God”.  They make this same argument for John 1.1, but we have seen that if John wanted to say it that way he could have, but he chose not to do so.  However, if that is the rule then the beginning of verse 18 should also be translated “god” instead of “God.”  In fact, both uses of theos in verse 18 do not have the article.  Thus, consistency demands one to translate both the same.  However, the NWT is not consistent so it translates the first theos as “God” since they know it is referring to the Father, but the second as “god” because they know it is referring to the Word (Jesus).  Doing so displays a prior commitment to a belief instead of letting the text speak for itself.

John 8.58
  “Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” (NWT)  Here it might be important to look at the Greek a little bit.  Thus, “before Abraham was [literal translation], ἐγὼ εἰμί (transliterated, ego eimi).”  Now, “ἐγὼ” simply means “I” and “εἰμί” means “to be.”  Any Jew would recognize the impact of saying “ἐγὼ εἰμί” (as is demonstrated by verse 59).  The impact of ἐγὼ εἰμί can be seen in two ways.
  First, the Jews obviously knew what Jesus meant because they tried to stone Him, but what did they know exactly.  The Old Testament is originally written in Hebrew, but about 200 years before Jesus’ time the Old Testament was translated into Greek so that people could actually read it.  The most famous of these translations is called the Septuagint.  The most interesting thing to note is how the Septuagint translated Exodus 3.14 which is where Moses asks God what His name is and God responds.  And how does the Septuagint translate God’s answer? ἐγώ εἰμι.  The Jews knew such a phrase was sacred if it was stand alone.  Clearly this is how the Jews understood Jesus’ answer and this is how He meant it.  Jesus’ claim of ἐγώ εἰμι is a claim to be God Himself.
  Second, ἐγώ εἰμι literally translates as “I am.”  Thus, John 8.58 renders “…before Abraham was, I am.”  However, if Jesus is actually created as JWs contend, then that is just horrible English (or Greek).  Jesus should have said, “before Abraham was, I was.”  In fact, if He had wanted to say that then it would have been rather easy.  Instead of “πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί”, He could have said “πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ γενέσθι.” He had just used the word he needed literally one word earlier.  If Jesus wanted to say that He was merely created before Abraham, then it was a rather simple statement to make.  Instead, He chooses to say “ἐγὼ εἰμί”, I am, which is improper if He is created and a claim that He is God.  Thus, John 8.58 also shows us that Jesus is God.

John 12.41
   “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him.” (NWT)  The immediate question is who the “him” is.  Verse 36 shows that the “him” is referring back to Jesus.  However, if that is not evidence, we also see from verse 42 that the “him” is Jesus.  Thus, we can insert Jesus name to understand the verse better, “Isaiah said these things because he [Isaiah] saw his [Jesus’] glory, and he [Isaiah] spoke about him [Jesus].”  The obvious question is what glory did Isaiah see?
   The obvious answer is the one that typically comes to one’s mind when they think about Isaiah.  This is found in Isaiah 6.1-4, “1In the year that King Uzziah died I, however, got to see [YHWH], sitting on a throne lofty and lifted up, and his skirts were filling the temple. 2Seraphs were standing above him. Each one had six wings. With two he kept his face covered, and with two he kept his feet covered, and with two he would fly about. 3And this one called to that one and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is [YHWH] of armies. The fullness of all the earth is his glory.’ 4And the pivots of the thresholds began to quiver at the voice of the one calling, and the house itself gradually filled with smoke.” (NWT)   Isaiah saw YHWH’s glory and He spoke about YHWH.  However, John tells us that He saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.  Thus, John is telling us that Jesus is YHWH.  However, if Jesus is YHWH then Jesus is God.  Thus, this text also shows us that Jesus is God.

John 20.28
   Here I am going to quote John 20.27-29 so we have a bit of context, “27Next he [Jesus] said to Thomas: ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop being unbelieving but become believing.’ 28In answer Thomas said to him: ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him: ‘Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see and yet believe.’ (NWT)  The important point is obviously verse 28 when Thomas says “my Lord and my God.”  The phrase literally is “the Lord of me and the God of me.”  It is interesting to note that both Lord and God have the definite article so that is not a question in this verse.  Now, there are three possible explanations for the phrase: (1) Thomas was referring to two people, (2) it was an exclamation and hence not accurate, or (3) the whole phrase is talking about Jesus.  Let’s go through these in that order.
   Option (1) is that “my Lord” refers to Jesus and “my God” refers to the Father.  However, this is wholly inadequate.  First, there is no indication that there are two people spoken about anywhere in the text. Second, the incident obviously is between only Jesus and Thomas as is shown by verse 27.  Third, verse 28 tells us that “Thomas said to him [Jesus]…”  Thus, the phrase is said to Jesus and not to two different people.  Thus, option (1) is not an adequate explanation.
   Option (2) is that Thomas blasphemed in saying “my God.”  However, this is weighed against by a number of reasons.  First, again, verse 28 tells us that the response is to Jesus which doesn’t make much sense if Thomas is blaspheming.  Second, Thomas was a pious Jew so blasphemy would not be a thinkable option for him.  Third, notice that Jesus does not rebuke Thomas for blaspheming which is what Jesus would have done if Thomas had blasphemed.  Moreover, Jesus actually commends Thomas for his faith in verse 29 which makes absolutely no sense if Thomas had just blasphemed.  Thus, option (2) is not viable either.
   Thus, the last option is (3).  However, (3) fits beautifully with the context. Again, the beginning of verse 28 shows us that Thomas is talking to Jesus which is exactly what option (3) says.  Moreover, option (3) says that Thomas was accurate in what he was saying which is demonstrated by Jesus commending Thomas for his faith.  Thus, we have a text that uses theos with the definite article and thus is translated as “God” even by the NWT and is unambiguously about Jesus.  Therefore, this text definitively shows that Jesus is God.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 12:09:38 pm by Asking_A_Question »

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2013, 08:24:58 am »
Philippians 2.6
   “6who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God” (NWT)
   Beginning in verse six, the “who” is talking about Jesus Christ as the preceding verse makes clear.  “God’s form” or “the form of God” shows a correspondence with reality.  Thus, this also indicates that Jesus is God.  Just as “form of a slave” in verse 7 means that Jesus was actually a slave in the sense that He was actually a man, so “form of God” means that Jesus was actually God.
Moreover, another important part of verse six is the second half which says, “gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God”  That translation is actually a mistranslation of the Greek as I shall show.  Although something along those lines is a popular translation, it is not the best.  In fact, Roy W. Hoover (a liberal Christian part of the Jesus seminar) wrote an article entitled The Harpagmos Enigma: A Philological Solution for the Harvard Theological Review in 1971.  He demonstrated that the phrase should be translated "...did not count equality with God as a thing to be exploited..."  Thus, Jesus would have equality with God which means Jesus is God (not the same person, the same Being).  N.T. Wright reinforced this view in "Harpagmos and the Meaning of Phil. 2.5-11."  In fact, Wright's article on the topic is considered a classic for its breadth and depth and can be found in The Climax of the Covenant (updated and entitled Jesus Christ Is Lord: Philippians 2.5-11).
   The only response to Hoover’s article has been an article by J.C. O’Neill entitled Hoover on Harpagmos Reviewed, with a Modest Proposal Concerning Philippians 2.6.  O’Neill tried to dispute Hoover’s reading of certain verses that supported Hoover’s translation but O’Neill’s alternative readings ended up being a distinction without a difference.  O’Neill’s ultimate suggestion is to insert a word into the verse that is found in no Greek manuscript anywhere.  Thus, the alternative proposal is based upon trying to claim differences where there are none and changing the biblical text with absolutely no textual critical grounds to do so.  Hence, Philippians 2.6 should be translated as “…did not count equality with God as a thing to be exploited…”  However, no other being has equality with God so that means that Jesus is God!

Philippians 2.10-11
   “10so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground,11and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (NWT)
  Phil. 2.10-11 is also an important point. It is obviously a reference back to Isa. 45.23.  Interestingly enough, that grouping of Isaiah is part of the most monotheistic passages in all of the OT and that specific text is talking about YHWH.  Thus, Paul is applying a YHWH text to Jesus and thus indicating His deity.  The fact that it is to the glory of the God the Father does not in any way change this point.  In fact, if Paul had not put that then he would have seemingly been playing Jesus and the Father off against one another.  Thus, by putting that clause Paul shows that a YHWH text can be applied to Jesus and that Jesus and the Father aren't separate gods.  It therefore follows that Phil. 2.10-11 shows that Jesus is God also.

Hebrews 1.10-12 and Psalm 102.25-26
   Here I think it is best to start in Psalm 102.25-26 and then go to Hebrews 1.10-12.  “25Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, And the heavens are the work of your hands. 26They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; And just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn.” (NWT)  If we look back to verse 24 we see that the “you” is referring back to the Psalmist’s God.  Further, that is used with reference to the divine name YHWH which is used in verse 22.  Thus, the Psalm is talking about YHWH God.  Further, who besides God laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens is the work of their hands?  Who besides YHWH does not perish?  Who besides YHWH God will replace the heavens and the earth?  No one.  Only He can do those things.  Only God can accomplish all of those tasks.  The Psalmist rightfully sees that hence why the Psalm is talking about YHWH God.
   And now let’s quote Hebrews 1.10-12, “And: ‘You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands.11They themselves will perish, but you yourself are to remain continually; and just like an outer garment they will all grow old,12and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as an outer garment; and they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will never run out.’” (NWT)  These verses are quoting Psalm 102.25-26.  Clearly they must be talking about God because we already saw that only God can do those things.  No other being, neither archangel nor human can have such things ascribed to them without the person saying those things about them committing blasphemy.  Thus, the “you” at the beginning of the verse must be talking about God.  We notice that verse 10 starts with an “and” which is referring backwards.  And when we go back to find the subject we stumble upon verse 8, “But with reference to the Son:…” (NWT)  The “you” is referring back to the Son.  The Son must then be God.  And the Son is Jesus of Nazareth.
   Hence, this verse also shows us that Jesus is God.

Objections to Jesus is God
Matthew 28.18
   “And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (NWT)  Here is it said that since authority had been given to Jesus that means He is not God.
   This interpretation misunderstands the nature of the incarnation though.  God the Son became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.  Thus, the Son was humbled and had to fulfill the law perfectly to be our sacrifice.  Hence, Jesus during His ministry and death did not exercise the authority that was rightfully His.  Instead, He had to demonstrate His authority by giving it up and living a perfect and humble life.  Therefore, after Jesus dies and is bodily raised the authority which is rightfully His is restored to Him because He had fulfilled His mission.  Thus, this verse poses no problem to the fact that Jesus is God.

John 1.14, etc.
   “…a glory such as belongs to an only‐begotten son from a father;…”  The objection here is based upon the fact that the Son is the “only-begotten.”  This phrase is also used in John 1.18 and 3.16.  It is said that if the Son is begotten then He had a beginning and thus cannot be God.  Here only-begotten is thought to signify that the Father specially created the Son and no other thing.  Before we dig into the verse, a quick note is in order.  In the controversy between people who believed in the Trinity and those who denied that Jesus is God (called Arians after Arius), this verse was used quite often.  However, the Arians recognized that if Jesus is begotten then a thing only begets another thing of the same substance so that would entail that Jesus is God.  Thus, those who denied that Jesus is God actually thought this verse showed that He is God based upon the phrase “only-begotten.”  Nonetheless, let’s dive into investigating the verse.
   The Greek word here is μονογενὴς (transliterated, monogenes—here I am using the word from 1.18 since it is the root).  The word can either mean only-begotten (as the JWs translate it and interpret it) or unique/one of a kind.  Thus, which way should the word be translated?  Well, if we jump over to Hebrews 11.17 we find the word used again.  Here the writer of Hebrews is talking about Abraham offering up his son (which is a reference back to Genesis 22).  The writer calls Isaac “monogene” (a conjugated form of monogenes).  However, is Isaac the only-begotten of Abraham?  Of course not!  Abraham also had Ishmael.  Thus, here the word cannot be translated as only-begotten which shows that is a deficient understanding of monogenes.  How about the translation as unique or one of a kind?  Clearly Isaac fits that translation since Isaac was Abraham’s unique or one of a kind son since the promise was to go through Isaac.  Thus, monogenes should be understood as unique or one of a kind.
   Hence, if monogenes should be understood in that way in Hebrews 11.17, it follows that that is the best way to understand the word in other contexts.  Thus, the whole argument from the word only-begotten collapses because it is based upon a misunderstanding of the Greek.  Hence, this objection is of no force whatsoever.

John 1.18
   “No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.” (NET)  (I chose this translation due to the considerations above.)  Sometimes an objection is leveled by this verse because it says “no one has ever seen God” yet people have obviously seen Jesus thus Jesus must not be God.
   However, that is based upon a misunderstanding of the verse at best.  The first part of the clause is obviously referring to God the Father, as even JWs recognize.  However, Jesus is not God the Father in the flesh, but God the Son in the flesh.  Thus, the verse says “no one has ever seen God the Father…” and that is no conflict whatsoever for those who believe in the Trinity. 

John 14.28
   “YOU heard that I said to YOU, I am going away and I am coming [back] to YOU. If YOU loved me, YOU would rejoice that I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.” (NWT)  The important part of this verse is the last clause, “because the Father is greater than I [Jesus] am.”  The JWs interpret this as showing that Jesus thus cannot be God because if Jesus were God then the Father could not be greater than Him.  However, clearly the Father is greater than Jesus according to this verse, so that means Jesus isn’t God.
   However, the fundamental problem with this is that it also misunderstands Trinitarian thought.  An important distinction is important here.  There are two ways to talk about the Trinity: ontologically and economically.  If we talk about the Trinity ontologically, this is to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equal with one another because they share the same essence of being God.  However, if we talk about the Trinity economically, this is to say that the three persons all have different roles.  For instance, only the Son takes on flesh while the Father and the Holy Spirit do not.  Thus, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equal in nature, but have different roles.
   With all of that in mind, the JW needs to show that Jesus is talking about the Father’s essence being greater than Jesus’ essence.  However, that is found nowhere in the verse.  Thus, this verse cannot distinguish if Jesus is talking about the Father’s essence or His role being greater than Jesus’.  Therefore, it follows that this verse fits perfectly with Trinitarian thought if we interpret it as talking about function.  Further, the fact that we have the preponderance of evidence that Jesus is God listed above entails that we should interpret this verse as saying that the Father has a superior role to Jesus.  That interpretation in no way weighs against the fact that Jesus is God.  Here an analogy might be important.
   In the bible, gender roles are taught.  Thus, while a man and a woman are equal in essence (neither one is superior to the other since they are both human and made in God’s image), then neither is greater than the other.  However, a man and a woman do have different roles to play in a marriage for instance so they are not functionally equivalent.  In fact, one can say that the man has a greater role functionally than the woman, but that does not entail that the man and the woman are not ontologically equivalent in greatness.  Thus, the symbol of marriage is actually a reflection of the Trinity.

John 17.3
   “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (NWT)  Typically a number of objections are leveled from this verse and they typically stem from a misunderstanding of the Trinity (hence why I defined it above).  Nonetheless, I shall go over them quickly just to clear away misconceptions.
   First, some context is in order.  John 17 is known as the high priestly prayer and it is the recording of a prayer of Jesus to God the Father.  Now, here it is sometimes objected that we believe that Jesus is praying to Himself which doesn’t make any sense.  However, that is a fundamental misunderstanding of Trinitarian thought.  We believe that the Father and the Son are not the same person.  In fact, the view that does believe that they are the same person is called modalism and it is an anti-Trinitarian belief that was condemned as heresy.  Thus, this objection holds no weight whatsoever.
   Second, it is sometimes said that the Son cannot be equal to the Father because Jesus is praying to the Father.  However, this is also based upon a misunderstanding.  Jesus is fully God and fully man in one person.  Thus, He still had to fulfill the Law perfectly in order to be our sacrifice and to do that He must glorify God fully.  Thus, His human nature had to pray to God and that in no way diminishes the fact that He also has a divine nature.  Thus, this objection is also based upon a misunderstanding.
   The last possible objection based upon this verse is that the Father is called “the only true God.”  However, we also believe that.  All Jesus is saying here is that other gods are false gods.  However, Jesus isn’t another god, but the same God, they are just separate persons.  Thus, this objection only makes sense against those who think that Jesus is a different god, but that is not what Trinitarians believe.
   With those three objections cleared up, this verse actually supports Trinitarian thought because it shows that the Father and the Son are different persons.  This is exactly what Trinitarians believe so the verse fits nicely.

Philippians 2.9
   “For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every [other] name,” (NWT)  Here it is said that since the Father exalted Jesus then that shows that Jesus did not deserve that position or name and thus Jesus isn’t God.
   Again, though, this is based upon a misunderstanding of the Greek word.  The word does not mean “exalt to a position that was not previously His” but “exalt to a position above anyone or anything else.”  Thus, it is not that Jesus was given a position, but that He has a position above everything else.  Hence, instead of working against Jesus as God, this verse actually shows us that Jesus is God.
   This same line of reasoning applies to the “name” Jesus is given.  Notice that the NWT inserts “other” when it is not actually in the text.  This is because the JWs recognize what name is meant.  To a Jewish person, only one name was above every name and that name is YHWH.  Thus, Jesus’ name is YHWH which means that Jesus is God.  Again, instead of working against the fact that Jesus is God, this text actually shows that Jesus is God.
   Therefore, instead of this text working against showing that Jesus is God, the text actually shows that Jesus is God in two different ways.

Colossians 1.15
   “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;” (NWT)  The “He” here is talking about Jesus which is shown if we refer back to verse 13.  Thus, it is typically said that this verse shows that Jesus is the firstborn of all creation which entails that He was created.  However, God isn’t created thus Jesus cannot be God.
   While that might sound all fine and dandy if that is all you are told, that in fact goes far beyond the evidence.  The Greek word is πρωτότοκος (transliterated as prototokos).  Now, the word can either signify the firstborn in time or preeminence.  Clearly if the first sense is meant, then the JWs interpretation is correct and this is a good objection.  However, if the second termis meant then the objection falls apart.  Thus, determining what is meant by this word is the important point.  However, how exactly can we do that?
   This can be done by getting a little context on the verse. Here I will quote Colossians 1.16-17 of the NWT, “16because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.17Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,”  Notice that the word “other” is inserted multiple times here.  The word does not appear in the Greek text and so the insertion is, at best, an interpretation.  However, we must note that verse 16 starts with “because.”  The “because” is obviously referring back to verse fifteen.
   Hence, Jesus is the firstborn of all creation “because” of something.  What is that something though?  Well the rest of verse 16 without the insertion of other says that “by means of him [Jesus] all things were created in the heavens and upon the earth…All things have been created through him [Jesus] and for him [Jesus].”  Thus, Jesus is before all created things which means that He is not created.  Thus, this shows us that the firstborn must be read as preeminence since Jesus is preeminent over all things because they came into being through Him.  Thus, the reading of firstborn as firstborn in time does not make sense of the verse.
   As if that wasn’t enough, this is further shown by verse 17 when we remove the insertion of “other” since it is not found in the actual text, “Also, he [Jesus] is before all things and by means of him all things were made to exist.”  This further reiterates that Jesus is not created and thus the word for firstborn cannot be read as firstborn in time.
   Lastly, it should be noted that verse 19 is also an indication that Jesus is God which shows that verse 15 cannot be read the way they want.  However, I am not going to press that point merely for brevity’s sake.

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2013, 08:25:16 am »
Revelation 3.12
  “‘The one that conquers—I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out [from it] anymore, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God, and that new name of mine.” (NWT)  It is said here that Jesus calls the Father “my God” which means that Jesus isn’t God.  Further, it is emphasized that Jesus had returned to heaven at this point.  Let’s see if this interpretation falls apart under scrutiny also.
  First, it should be noted as I noted before that Jesus is fully God and fully man.  Thus, as a Jewish man He did have to have faith in God and thus worship God.  Thus, the fact that He says “my God” only shows that He was a devout Jewish man, which was necessary for Him to be the sacrifice for our sins.  It then follows that the fact that Jesus says “my God” in reference to the Father in no way shows that Jesus is not God the Son.
  Further, the fact that Jesus had returned to heaven at this point does not matter either.  When He returned to heaven He did not all of the sudden lose His human nature.  Thus, this part of the verse is perfectly consistent with Trinitarian thought too.  The analysis of this verse also covers times when Paul says things like “the God and Father of Jesus.”
  Lastly, I think it is important to note that John apparently saw no conflict in these things nor did the early church fathers.  For instance, we saw above that John has multiple places where he shows that Jesus is God.  However, in John 20.17 we also see that John has Jesus calling the Father “my God.”  Thus, John apparently saw no conflict in these things and so we shouldn’t try to play John off against himself.  Further, the early church fathers didn’t see a conflict either.  For instance, Polycarp (69-155 AD) was said to be a disciple of John and in his letter to the Philippians he says, “Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,…and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead.” So he apparently saw no conflict between the two either.
   Thus, this objection does not stand up to scrutiny either.

Revelation 3.14
   “And to the angel of the congregation in Laodicea write: These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God,” (NWT)  This verse has Jesus as the speaker.  Thus, it is argued that Jesus is speaking and He calls Himself “the beginning of the creation by God.”  However, if He is the beginning of the creation by God then that means He is created which means He is not God.  So goes their exegesis.
   However, again, this is based upon a mistranslation of the Greek.  The Greek word for beginning is ἀρχὴ (transliterated, arche).  However, what does arche mean?  Well the word can either mean beginning, originator, or ruler.  Thus, on translation grounds alone, two-thirds of the translations do not weigh against the Trinity and only one-third does.  Hence, the burden of proof is on JWs to argue that it must be translated as beginning.
   However, in this context the phrase seems to hearken back to other writings of John, namely John 1.1-3.  There we saw that all things came into being through Jesus which John emphasizes by saying that not even one came into being apart from Jesus.  Thus, with that connection established it seems that originator is a good translation.  Nonetheless, ruler also fits because we see this found in other passages like Colossians 1 (covered above).  Therefore, both originator or ruler fit as a good translation of arche while “beginning” has no ground to stand on whatsoever except based upon already believing that Jesus is created.  However, if that is one’s reason for the translation then that is a poor job of translating because you are bring your own views into the text instead of letting the text speak for itself.
   Thus, Revelation 3.14 should be translated as Jesus saying “the originator of God’s creation.”  This translation is based upon solid hermeneutical principles and does not read one’s view into the text.  With that in mind, Revelation 3.14 is no objection whatsoever to the fact that Jesus is God.

Conclusion
   This survey only scratched the surface in the number of texts that show that Jesus is God.  However, I tried to cover all of the major objections.  Although the focus on each passage was somewhat in depth, I think it was worth the effort.  The conclusion of the matter is that we have 12 texts showing that Jesus is God.  Further, we looked at nine passages that are used as objections and found them all to be lacking.  Therefore, the only thing one can do in this situation if one wants to follow the Bible’s teaching is to accept that Jesus is God.  Soli Deo Gloria!

If you are looking for more information or for resources, feel free to PM me.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 09:25:06 am by Asking_A_Question »

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Bertuzzi

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2013, 01:45:09 pm »
Thank you for all the work put into this! Great read.

John 14:28
I personally like the comparison between the Trinity and the symbol of marriage. What functions are you referring to? That is, what greater function or responsibility does God the Father have that Jesus does not?
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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2013, 01:57:17 pm »
Thank you for all the work put into this! Great read.

John 14:28
I personally like the comparison between the Trinity and the symbol of marriage. What functions are you referring to? That is, what greater function or responsibility does God the Father have that Jesus does not?

Good, I'm glad someone enjoyed it.

Well in marriage there are obviously different roles for men and women.  The same is true with regards to preaching (although I don't want this thread to turn into a discussion on that topic).  With regard to the Trinity, only Jesus was humiliated in the incarnation and so there are different roles there.  It is the Holy Spirit which leads people to faith so there is a different role there.  The Son will have a different role than the Father once things are consummated (1 Cor. 15.28) so there are different roles there.  Things along those lines.

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Keith_

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2013, 04:35:43 pm »
AAQ, thanks.  Enjoyably in-depth analysis. 
-keith
Eccl.1:9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2013, 08:10:44 pm »
No problem. I'm glad. Just figured I would do some sharing as I studied New Testament Christology last semester pretty in depth.

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Jem

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2013, 08:22:05 pm »
Any source cited for your copy and paste here AAQ? Or is this all your own work?

Now, after all that, can you provide one scripture in which Jesus or his Father or even the holy spirit, directly attests to the fact that they are all part of a three in one godhead?

Where is one single statement from Jesus Christ saying that he is God Almighty?

Where does it say "God the Son" or "God the Holy Spirit"?

Can I also have a scripture that says that Jesus is "fully God and Fully man?

Thanks.  :)
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And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace" Psalm 37:11

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2013, 08:24:36 pm »
Any source cited for your copy and paste here AAQ? Or is this all your own work?

It's my own work.  I can cite sources by top notch scholars that agree with me if you want.

Quote
Now, after all that, can you provide one scripture in which Jesus or his Father or even the holy spirit, directly attests to the fact that they are all part of a three in one godhead?

I'm not sure what you are asking for here.  Maybe you should just engage the evidence that Jesus is God.

Quote
Where is one single statement from Jesus Christ saying that he is God Almighty?

Where does it say "God the Son" or "God the Holy Spirit"?

Can I also have a scripture that says that Jesus is "fully God and Fully man?

Thanks.  :)

Again, if you want to actually engage the evidence then that would be great.  I highlighted a number of verses that call Jesus God and others that show Him to be YHWH.  These childish responses don't engage the evidence at all.  Please read the post with an open mind and an open bible Jem.  I want you to come to know the truth.

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Jem

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2013, 09:42:36 pm »
Any source cited for your copy and paste here AAQ? Or is this all your own work?

It's my own work.  I can cite sources by top notch scholars that agree with me if you want.

Quote
Now, after all that, can you provide one scripture in which Jesus or his Father or even the holy spirit, directly attests to the fact that they are all part of a three in one godhead?

I'm not sure what you are asking for here.  Maybe you should just engage the evidence that Jesus is God.

Quote
Where is one single statement from Jesus Christ saying that he is God Almighty?

Where does it say "God the Son" or "God the Holy Spirit"?

Can I also have a scripture that says that Jesus is "fully God and Fully man?

Thanks.  :)

Again, if you want to actually engage the evidence then that would be great.  I highlighted a number of verses that call Jesus God and others that show Him to be YHWH.  These childish responses don't engage the evidence at all.  Please read the post with an open mind and an open bible Jem.  I want you to come to know the truth.

I have engaged with you all I am going to on this topic AAQ. Ad nauseum.

There is not one scripture that you have presented where you did not have to explain the trinity into it.

If you read any one of them without you inferring what you want to see, you would not find it explicitly stated.

Believe it if you wish.



"the meek ones themselves will possess the earth,
And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace" Psalm 37:11

Unless otherwise stated, all quoted material taken from WTBTS sources. jw.org

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2013, 09:44:20 pm »
You didn't read my posts at all did you Jem. I went through the verses and many of them can only understood by saying that Jesus is God. I know facts are getting in your way but choose the Bible over the JWs. The bible is a better choice, I promise!

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2013, 08:45:45 am »
Just in case this was missed.

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2013, 11:20:19 am »
Hey AAQ,
I'm off to church soon but will look at this properly tonight. I see Jem is giving her overly prescriptive not-realising-the-Bible-is-not-a-systematic-theology-usual-response again. Thanks for putting the work in.
For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2013, 11:51:51 am »
Sounds good lapwing. Yes, so far no one has actually engaged my exegesis as there is a JW in another thread who brings up texts I dealt with and doesn't say anything about my exegesis. It's quite sad. Let me know what you think whenever you get time to read it.

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Jem

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Re: Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2013, 04:36:28 pm »
Sounds good lapwing. Yes, so far no one has actually engaged my exegesis as there is a JW in another thread who brings up texts I dealt with and doesn't say anything about my exegesis. It's quite sad. Let me know what you think whenever you get time to read it.

Just for your information AAQ, I have not seen the other poster state that he is a JW. In fact his terminology tells me he is not.
Not all those who reject the trinity are JW's. There are others who accept the compelling evidence that is freely available. It is very hard to deny.
"the meek ones themselves will possess the earth,
And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace" Psalm 37:11

Unless otherwise stated, all quoted material taken from WTBTS sources. jw.org