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Explaining the Trinity

Jay Hess
107 North Lakeside Dr.
Smithfield, NC 27577


Part 1

    Why attempt to understand the nature and role of Jesus?
    Definitions - Misunderstood labels
Initial challenges to the Trinity doctrine
    Why Did Jesus Never say 'I am God'?
    How Can Two (Or More) Persons Be One God?
    person composite nature
    Bride of Christ
    John 1:1
    nature or name
    How can God have a God?
A Simple Presentation Of The Trinity
Evidence for Jesus' Deity in the book of Hebrews (the first two chapters)

Part 2
Evidence for Jesus' Deity in John 5

Challenges to this
Hebrews 5:8 Jesus Learned (?) Obedience
John 1:1 The Word: With God Or Was God?
John 17:3 Only The Father Is The True God?
1 Corinthians 8:6 There Is But One God, The Father
1 Corinthians 8:6 "for Him . . . through Him"
Jesus Created or Uncreated?
The Person of the Holy Spirit


Occasionally the doctrine of the Trinity is described as a "mystery" and as "incomprehensible." To many thinking persons these terms imply that this doctrine must be illogical and contradictory. Yet any doctrine held by so many should be logical, easy to understand and to explain. Further, a doctrine considered fundamental to the Christian faith should not have to stand on a relative few verses with debatable vague implications. It should be clearer than that. We should be able to find extended passages that demonstrate the point or we should stop claiming it is a fundamental doctrine. If a doctrine is held with conviction, then adherents should be able to respond to scriptural challenges simply and logically without having repeatedly to resort to statements like "it is a mystery" or "God is beyond our comprehension." While there are clearly many things true of God that are beyond our comprehension - I still cannot conceive of what 'from eternity' means - but, at the very least, any doctrine that we confidently hold should not appear to be contradictory.

For example, how do we answer these series of questions:

  • First Corinthians 15:24-28 shows that after his reign, Christ will be eternally submissive to his Father. How does this fit into the Trinity doctrine?
  • First Corinthians 11:3 teaches that the "head" of Christ is God without any temporal qualification. Does this not imply that Christ is eternally submissive? Is that how we conceive of Jesus as being God?
  • Is Jesus the Most High God? Since Revelation 3:12 shows that the Father is the God of Jesus does this mean God has a God? How many Gods are there?
  • What about Hebrews 5:8, which implies that Jesus had to come to earth to learn obedience? Why would God have to learn anything? 
  • If God is three persons and if being all-knowing is an essential attribute of being God why does  Mark 13:32 (compare Matthew 24:36) say that only the Father knows the day and hour of the Great Tribulation but the Son and the Holy Spirit do not?
  • First Corinthians 8:6 seems to say that the Father is the one to call "God" while Jesus is distinguished as "Lord." Is this not a contrast between them? Does this not imply that only one of them, the Father, can rightfully be called "God"?
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 says that there is only ONE God so how can Jesus and his Father both be God?
  • In what sense is Jesus one with his Father (John 10:30)? Does not the Bible say that Jesus and his Father are two (John 8:17,18)?
  • If God can do anything, and Jesus is God, can Jesus do anything on his own initiative (John 5:19,30; 7:28; 8:28,42)?
  • How can Jesus be God and be with God at the same time (John 1:1)?
All these issues should fit into our model of understanding without having to push a square peg into a round hole.

I believe it is preferable that a doctrine be based on the most straightforward reading of a Biblical text without reading something into it. If the straight reading of a text seems difficult to reconcile with other texts, then this is not a sound reason to immediately assume it cannot mean what it says. Some effort should be made to understand all texts without having to allegorize any. If this sounds hard to do, just think of the following theological investigation as an 'experiment' where we will accept the texts for what they say and see if, in the end, we have something that is easy to understand or whether we have an incomprehensible mystery.

Most Biblical quotations are from the New American Standard (NAS), but other translations used are: New International Version (NIV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB).

Why attempt to understand the nature and role of Jesus?

I offer a few reasons for pursuing an understanding of what the Bible says on this subject.

Matthew 16:13-15
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Indirectly, through this scripture, Jesus asks all of us this question: "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus cares how you answer this.

Jesus' identity as well as his relationship with his Father is important. Twice in scripture the relationship between the Father and Son is given as the model for human relationships.

This verse uses the model of the headship of God (the Father) over Christ as a model for the relationship between husband and wife. To misunderstand one is to misunderstand the other.
1 Corinthians 11:3
"But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ."

The relationship between members of the church, the body of Christ, is modeled on the attitude of Christ towards his Father. If we do not understand what the relationship is, we cannot emulate it as we are told to.
Philippians 2:3,5,6
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped"

Paul chastised the Corinthian congregation for listening to some who taught a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3,4). We are not told in what way the teaching differed from the biblical Jesus but it was different from what they had received from Paul and they were accepting both kinds of teachings. 

Apparent contradictions about "God"

How many gods are there?

If you pick up the Bible and start reading it from the beginning you immediately read about 
  • God who created all that there is (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 40:28; 42:5,8 ; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 3:4; Revelation 4:11; 14:7; ). 
  • If you were reading the Bible (Old Testament) in Hebrew, you would also find that the Creator-God has a special Name, Yahweh ("Jehovah"). This name is used  more often than the term "God" (see the American Standard Version which is one of the few translations that renders the Hebrew name of God as an English name rather than as "LORD": Genesis 2:1,4; Genesis 12:8; 17:1; Exodus 3:15; 6:3; 20:7; Psalm 102:12,21,25; Psalm 83:18; Psalm 148:13; Isaiah 63:16; Jeremiah 10:10; Micah 4:5).

    Next you would read that there are 
  • others who are called "gods/Gods" (Genesis 35:2; Exodus 12:12; Exodus 32:1,4,8,31; Judges 16:23; Galatians 4:8)
  • (in the biblical languages the term "God/god" is not distinguished by uppercase or lowercase letters). The Bible indicates these other Gods/gods are not real but are idols without any connection to real entities, and would be considered to be  imaginary objects of worship. 

    But some Bible scholars say that the term "god/God" in the original language can refer to real entities
  • who are called "gods/Gods" in some real sense, either angels (because they are powerful spirit persons - 2 Corinthians 4:4; Psalm 8:5 / Hebrews 2:7) or humans (when they function as appointed representatives of God - Exodus 7:1; Psalm 82:1,6,7 / John 10:30-35).
  • This leads to the first challenge to understanding the Bible's references to "God":

    How do we harmonize the above verses (that suggest there are other real "gods/Gods") with these?
  • Yahweh is unique, 'there are no other Gods, there is only One' (Deuteronomy 4:35,39; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 32:12,39; Joel 2:27; Mark 12:32; John 5:44; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Timothy 1:17; James 2:19; Mark 12:29,32
  • 'there are no other gods like Yahweh' (Exodus 8:10; Deuteronomy 33:26; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20Psalm 113:5; Isaiah 46:9). 
  • The answer can be found in Bible verses that say 
    'among the other gods there are none like Yahweh' (Exodus 15:11; 1 Kings 8:23,60; 2 Chronicles 6:14; Psalm 89:6,7). 

    This suggests that the verses that state there are 'no other gods' mean that although there are others who can in a limited capacity be called "god" they are inferior and thus human language allows it to be said 'there is no God but one' because these 
    other "gods" cannot do what Yahweh alone can do (Deuteronomy 3:24; Psalm 86:8-10) for 
    Yahweh/God made all things (2 Kings 19:15,19; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 45:5-7,12,14,18,21,22; Jeremiah 10:6,7,10-12; Romans 4:17; Ephesians 3:9;) 
    and He did it all alone (Job 31:15; Isaiah 37:16; Isaiah 44:6-8,24; Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:24,26).

    Obviously an idol representing an imaginary god (1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 4:8) cannot do what Yahweh can do - like make the universe from nothing - but any other real "god" (such as angels) must be a lesser god who cannot do what Yahweh alone can do. So we have moved from the general statement 'there is no God but one' that appears to contradict other more detailed Bible verses to a more precise statement 'there is only one God who made all things' thus resolving this apparent contradiction. 

    So it would appear that the Bible teaches that there is only One God, who is uniquely identified by (primarily) two things: 
    (1) His Divine Name that is alone to be exalted above all others (Psalm 148:13)
    (2) He made the universe alone  (Job 31:15; Isaiah 37:16; Isaiah 44:6-8,24; Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:24,26;).

    This seems to explain all issues so far, except for one verse that could potentially have a conflicting thought: 

    How many universe Makers are there?
    "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; . . . .'  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him;  male and female He created them." - Genesis 1:26,27

    The One God speaks and refers to "Us" making man. Yet we saw above that only one God made man (Job 31:15; Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:24,26). Further, the "Us" has a single image or likeness (the Hebrew words for "image" and "likeness" are singular). Then the event is repeated but "Us" disappears and the text says  "God" made/created man in his own image (again, singular). 

    Does "Let Us make . . . " mean all of the "Us" had a significant role in the 'making'? Why is "Us" not mentioned in the second phrase, only "God" being stated? Is the term "Us" equivalent to "God"? Some proposed explanations are:

    1) The "Us" refers to one God who made all things but it does not mean 'us' as it does in common English. It is not plural but has some grand metaphorical meaning.
    2) The "Us" refers to one God who made all things, it is plural (as it is in English) but somehow refers to only one God. 
    3) The "Us" refers to "God" plus other observer(s) who make little or no contribution to the 'making' process. The reference to "Let Us make . . . " does not mean, as it does in English, that 'we' jointly made anything. Thus it is sufficient to simply say "God" did it, ignoring the other(s) who made no contribution to the 'making'.
    4) The "Us" refers to "God" plus at least one other 'Maker' who, for some unexplaned reason, is ignored in all other texts that describe the 'making' of man.Thus the idea that only one 'someone' made man is a misunderstanding of all the above mentioned texts. 

    None of the above explanations appears to be natural or obvious. If one prefers to reach conclusions through logic based on texts found entirely within Scripture, then chosing any of the above explanations will pose a challenge. So right from the start of reading the Bible it appears we have encountered a difficulty. But it gets even more difficult. 

    If we move on to the New Testament we encounter the gospel account of John which begins with phrases that echo the beginning of Genesis. Here we learn the identity of someone who could be included in "Us":

    John 1:1-3
    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
    The "Word," (identified in verse 14 as being Jesus) is said (twice!) to have been in the beginning with God and states that everything came into existence through the agency of him. So not only was he involved in making man, he made everything that has ever come into existence.

    Soon we also encounter this in John:

    John 5:18-23
    For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him."
    While it does not say here specifically that Jesus made all things, it says the Father shows him all the things that he does and the Son (Jesus) does everything the Father shows him and he does it the same way the Father does them, thus he makes himself equal with God. No wonder the Jews sought to kill him. 

    While it may have appeared to be a small issue to explain Genesis 1:26,27 this is a much more difficult task. There is no ambiguity that this Jesus was with God, watching what he does and duplicating all that he saw. How could God have been alone when making the universe and the only God who can do this?

    Other references that echo this are found in Hebrews 1:2,3,10-12 (with a quotation from  Psalm 102:12,15,21,24-27) and Colossians 1:15,16.

    It does not help to resolve this by claiming that Jesus was not a "god" when he was with God making the universe because, as we saw above, the Bible repeatedly states that there is no one, no anything, who can do what Yahweh, the Creator, alone can do. 

    Now to complicate matters, we find texts asserting that Jesus was, on rare occasions,  called "God/god" (Isaiah 9:6,7 / Luke 1:30-33; John 20:28 , also see the preamble in 1 Timothy 1:17 referring to the Only God who is King eternal, immortal and invisible and is to be honored forever while at the end of the book, in 6:14-16, is a parallel reference to Jesus as being the Only SovereignKing who alone is immortal, cannot be seen and is to to be honored forever).

    So now there is a new problem. The previous discussion made it clear that although there were other entities, either imagined or real, who could be called 'god' in some sense, these could not make the universe as the One God did, nor did they share in it. Even if these 'gods' are real, either angelic or demonic, they are vastly inferior to the One God who made the universe. However the above verses introduce us to a person who made the universe, is called 'God' in some sense, was with God when the universe was made, is honored like God is and is very much like God. How do we resolve this? 

    One might be tempted to say that the contradiction only arises when you include the New Testament, however even in the Old Testament book of Isaiah there appears to be a problem for the One God is identified in Isaiah 10:20,21 ('Mighty God'); 37:16; 44:24 yet there appears to be suggestions of a distinct person of the same stature in Isaiah 6:8 ("Us") and Isaiah 9:6 ("Mighty God").

    If Jesus were a god but not the same God as the true God (Jeremiah 10:10,11) then it would be wrong even to say the name of Jesus (Exodus 23:13) (Deuteronomy 11:16; 18:20; Judges 2:19; 2 Kings 17:35; )

    Various explanations


    The chart below explains in a graphical form five different theological viewpoints.  Each belief-system will say that Jesus is God but they differ in the details. The answers to three questions distinguish each group and those answers are displayed in the tree-graph below. The three questions are:
    1) The Father and Son, when counted, are how many Gods?
    2) The Father and Son are counted as having how many Minds?
    3) If they are two distinct Minds ('Persons'), what is the positional relationship between the Father and the Son?

    In each colored box below are two links, each leading to text further down into this article. One link leads to a summary "for" the view - giving the reasoning that supports the position - while the second link leads to a summary "against" the position. Under each of the five views the summary adds a comment regarding the Holy Spirit. 

    These five different belief-systems all hold that Jesus is in some sense 'God'. 
    They say the Father and Son are . . . 
    | |
    One God
     for   ------------  against 
    Two Gods
     for  -----------   against 
    and . . .
    | | | |
     having One Mind
     for  -----   against 
    composed of two Minds 
    (that is, two "Persons"), who are . . . 
     for  ------------   against 
      Father and Son are equal 
     for  -----------  against 
    Son is inferior 
     for  -----------  against 
    | | | | |
    equal in all prerogatives 
     for  ------------  against 
    unequal in some prerogatives 
     for  ----------   against 
    The Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is the Father and the Father is the Holy Spirit. There is only ONE God, one Mind, who relates to humans in one of three ways. This can be illustrated as a man who is a father, a son and a husband. The Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is NOT the Father and the Father is NOT the Holy Spirit so there are three distinct Minds. Yet these three distinct Minds constitute only ONE God. They are all equal in nature. None is above or subordinate to the other. The Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is NOT the Father and the Father is NOT the Holy Spirit so there are three distinct Minds. Yet these three distinct Minds constitute only ONE God. They are all equal in nature but the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternally (and voluntarily!) functionally subordinate to the Father. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each have the same essence. They are three Gods but the church's primary focus is on ONE God, Jesus. The Father is the Most High God while Jesus is a second, inferior and created God. The Holy Spirit is not a distinct Mind but rather is the Father's Power or Active Force.

    Definitions and misunderstood labels

    For clarity in the rest of this article it is essential to define how I use the term 'person'. By this I mean any entity that has intelligence and is capable of rational thought and making decisions (having "will"). If two entities each have distinct decision making processes they are necessarily distinct persons. A person can refer to self ("I") and others ("you").

    The label 'Trinity' is often associated with a variety of concepts regarding God and there are other doctrines, with other labels, proposing to describe the nature of God as taught in the Bible. As a result, some persons claim to believe in the Trinity doctrine and yet their understanding of it contradicts the historic definition. Others may describe a belief that sounds very close to the historic doctrine of the Trinity and yet were unaware that their theology could be considered Trinitarian. For this reason I need to list the various definitions that pervade the New Testament-based religions:

    The various beliefs can be generally categorized like this

    1. Trinitarian - The term 'God' refers to the nature that is shared among three distinct eternal persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Within this foundational view there are differing sub-views:
      • Some adherents would say that these three persons have always been equal in position and authority. (Egalitarian)
      • Others would say that the Son, the Word (Jesus), was temporarily in subjection to the Father while on earth.
      • Others believe the Son, beginning with his earthly incarnation, is eternally submissive (functional subordination).
      • Still others hold that the Son and the Holy Spirit are both eternally - from eternity to eternity - functionally subordinate to the Father. (Complementarian)
      All these views are usually labeled as representing the Trinity doctrine, so-called because the three persons ("Tri") are in unity, all having the nature of "God".
    2. The term 'God' refers to the one eternal person that manifests Himself to mankind in three different modes, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. An illustration might be that of one man who is viewed in three different ways, to one he is a father, to another a husband and to another a son. This view is often labeled as Modalism or Oneness.
    3. Others believe that the term 'God' refers only to the one eternal person known as the Father. The Son is not 'from eternity' like the Father. The Holy Spirit is generally regarded as some kind of a spiritual force or power, not a distinct person. These believers, sometimes called 'Arians' after the prominent third century teacher Arius, hold that the Son is a created angel that came to earth as God's representative to save mankind.
    4. Another view, not discussed in this article, are the 'Socinians' who hold that Jesus began his existence as a man whom God later promoted and exalted to heaven.
    In chart form:
    Concept: Modalism Egalitarian-Trinitarian Complementarian-Trinitarian Arian
    Is Jesus (i.e., the Word of John 1:1) Deity?  yes yes yes yes
    Is Jesus' heavenly Father Deity?  yes yes yes yes
    How many persons are signified by the Word and his Father? one two  two two
    How many Deities are signified by the Word and his Father? one one one two
    Is the Holy Spirit a person? yes yes yes no, rather a force that flows from the person of Father. 
    Is the Holy Spirit a person, distinct from the Father? no yes yes no
    How many persons are signified by the Word, the Father and the Holy Spirit? one three three two
    How many Deities are signified by the Word, the Father, and the Holy Spirit? one one one two
    Can the Word be properly identified as the "One God" of the Old Testament? yes yes yes no
    Does the Word have a functionally subordinate role in comparison to the Father? no no yes yes

    The following article presents the Complementarian-Trinitarian position as I understand it. I find that it fits with the majority of the Scriptures taking the most natural reading.

    A brief presentation

    Before proceeding to the details, here is a brief explanation of this view:

    The Trinitarian concept differs from the other views primarily in the idea that three persons can be (and must be!) understood to be only ONE God. This concept is roughly described by some as a "composite being". Composite beings are not unknown in Scripture (see below for a list) and one example is examined here: 

    Isaiah 43:10

    Note that while the term "servant" is singular, the reference "witnesses" is plural. So in one sense the referent is singular, and in another sense, plural. If one were to hold strictly to what it says here then one would day that God has only one servant but that servant is a composite being, composed of many witnesses.  In Isaiah 49:3-7; (compare 50:10) the term "servant" switches between two meanings, one reference to a composite being and another to a single person, the messenger chosen by God. Do we conclude that the messenger is himself the entire nation of Israel? No. Do we concluded that God has more than one servant? No.

    David was identified as God's servant (Isaiah 37:35; Psalm 89:20) and his son Solomon was God's servant (1 Kings 3:7). Does this mean that God had more than one servant? If we fold in the view of Isaiah 43:10 the answer is no. When Solomon refers to David, his father, as a servant (1 Kings 3:7), must we necessarily conclude that Solomon cannot also be called "servant"? No. Or must we conclude that Isaiah 43:10 conflicts with the Solomon calling David "servant"? Again, no. For if we view all servants of God throughout time as comprising the one composite "servant" of God, there is no contradiction. So while this does sound odd, that is part of the flexibility of human language that God has granted us.

    Even though the concept of a composite being is found in Scripture, why do some believe that this necessarily describes the nature of God? There are many scriptures that can be referenced but the basic reason is this:

    Scripture states that the "One God" of the Old Testament has some attributes that no other God has. We will also see that Scripture states that the Word, Jesus, has some of these same attributes. Most significant is that the One God is said to be the One Creator or Maker of the universe yet the Word also is ascribed this attribute.

    Isaiah 44:24 says God is the maker of all things, he made them by himself, all alone. Isaiah 44:6-8 has God repeatedly saying there is no God besides "Me", and asks if there is anyone like "Me" (also see Isaiah 45:5,6,14,18,21,22 and Psalm 86:8,10; 89:6,7; 113:5). Isaiah 46:9 repeats that there is no other God and answers the previous question by stating that there is no one like "Me". Psalm 102:12-27 describe the LORD, "my God", as being the one who made the heavens and the earth.

    As we now consider the supporting verses showing that Jesus has these attributes, we should address the Arian counter-claim that the Bible applies these prestigious attributes only in a representative sense, that is, when a speaker makes a prestigious claim he is in reality only speaking as a representative with his own identity being totally subsumed and transparent.  For example in Genesis 44:4-10 Joseph commands his house steward to speak a command in his name. In verse 10 the steward speaks just as if he were Joseph and refers to the command that all guilty persons were to become "my" slave (rather than 'my Lord's slave'). Some see a similar case of such representative speech in Genesis 22:15,16 where the angel of the LORD says "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, . . ."

    But as we will now see, the supporting  verses do not have a person speaking as a representative but rather these verses have third parties  applying these prestigious attributes directly to Jesus.

    Above we saw the claim that God made the heavens and the earth and no one else is even like him. Yet Psalm 102:25-27, referenced above, is quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12 and those same creative acts are applied to Jesus. To whom are these words of instruction written? To gentiles or pagans? No, to Jews, those persons most familiar with Isaiah. Note the context of Hebrews 1:2,3 where it again asserts that the Son (Jesus) made the universe but further teaches that he is the exact copy of "His" (Majesty's) nature. Since Isaiah (and Psalms) clearly state that there is no one else like the One God, the Only God, who made the universe alone, all by himself, would the Jewish audience conclude that these statements in Hebrews 1:2,3,10-12 contradict the Bible?  These claims are uniquely true for the God of the Old Testament yet they are ascribed to the Son, Jesus. 

    How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? These statements were not made in a representative sense so they cannot be used to resolve this.If we take the words as they are, and as being true, Jesus must be that One God who has no equal.  The Modalist response is to insist that the Word IS the Father, the Majesty. But as we saw in Hebrews 1:3, the Son cannot be the Majesty for he sits at the right hand of the Majesty. Thus we are left with the Trinitarian model, that just as Solomon and David were individually witnesses (of God) and simultaneously  in the one composite being, "my servant", the Son and the Majesty are two persons within in the composite One God. Each can be appropriately addressed as God (just as David and Solomon could each be addressed as "servant"), yet there are not two Gods (nor are there two servants), but only one.

    Challenges to understanding the Trinity doctrine

    Some objections to the Trinity doctrine are based on specific verses and those objections are more appropriately discussed towards the end of this article, after the  foundation for the Trinity is presented. However some hurdles to understanding the Trinity doctrine are based on an overview of Scripture as a whole or are conceptual difficulties. These objections need to be addressed now.

    Why Did Jesus Never say 'I Am God'?

    Objection:  If believing that Jesus is God is fundamental to Christianity, why did Jesus not teach this in a clear manner by simply saying 'I am God'?

    The answer becomes apparent when considering a parallel question. Most Christians would say a belief that Jesus is the "Christ" is a fundamental belief. Then why did he not say this directly and clearly by simply saying 'I am the Christ?' In examining Jesus' teachings we find that only rarely did he say things that sounded like an admission to being the Christ (John 4:25,26; Mark 14:61,62; Matthew 26:63-64; Luke 22:67-70) and he hesitated to say so openly (John 10:24, 25, 37, 38; Luke 22:67). When anyone did conclude that he was the Christ, he generally did not want those persons to tell others (Luke 4:41; Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 3:11-12; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21). Instead of identifying himself by plain statements, Jesus preferred letting his spiritual teachings and his works identify him (John 5:36; 14:10,11).

    But because most people had misconceptions about what to expect of the Christ, they did not accept him as such (John 7:27,40-43; 12:34; Luke 23:39). They were puzzled about who he was and not many believed him to be the Christ (John 1:41; 7:31,40,41; 11:26,27; Matthew 16:13-16; 27:17,22). Does this mean that it is logical to conclude that Jesus could not be the Christ simply because he did not specifically say he was the "Christ" and because only a few others said he was? No.

    So summarizing . . .

    Why did many Jews doubt Jesus was the Christ?

    • Jesus did not directly claim to be the Christ.
    • They misunderstood the implications of the title 'Christ', leading to false expectations.
    What are some reasons to conclude that Jesus was the Christ?
    • The claims made by Jesus imply that he was the Christ.
    • The works performed by Jesus imply that he was the Christ.
    • Persons close to Jesus professed him to be the Christ.
    I believe that the same situation exists regarding the belief that Jesus is 'God'.

    Today many doubt that Jesus is God because . . .

    • Jesus did not directly claim to be God.
    • They misunderstand the implications of the title 'God' leading to false expectations.
    But many today believe that Jesus is God because . . .
    • The claims made by Jesus imply that he was God.
    • The works performed by Jesus imply that he was God.
    • Persons close to Jesus professed him to be God

    How Can Two (Or More) Persons Be One God?

    Objection:  One plus one plus one makes three, not one. If the concept of the Trinity is truly taught in the Bible, then it should be understandable. But this idea of three persons being one God sounds incredible.
      Genesis 2: "24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."
    Jesus said:
      Mark 10 " 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh."
    The first human couple created by God had the same human nature but because one was the decision-maker and the other was to be in perfect subjection (1 Corinthians 11:3), they were one flesh (Genesis 2:24), even before they attempted to procreate. Further emphasizing their oneness Jesus added "they are no longer two." So it is NOT that they were primarily two and in some less significant way also considered to be "one". No, for Jesus emphasized that they were NOT to be regarded as "two" any longer.

    What is also significant is noting the name that God gave to his human creations. The man is called "man" (or "Adam" in Hebrew) in Genesis 2:7,20 but this is apparently more than just a reference to his nature since it served as a name (Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14). But the woman does not receive a distinctive name until Genesis 3:20 after she sins. Now note Genesis 5:1,2 where we learn that the woman had already been named at the time of her creation. 

      Genesis 5: " 1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man [Hebrew 'Adam'], He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and he blessed them and named them Man [Hebrew 'Adam'] in the day when they were created."
    This is not bad grammar. At the time God created the first two humans they were both, together, named "Man", which is  "Adam" in Hebrew. Thus, a singular name was used to address two persons. So although the name "Adam" signified one person (Genesis 2:20), the first human male, the name also signified the one human couple. This is the way it remained until the woman went off on her own, acted independently, and broke God's law. As long as the couple lived as one flesh, as God intended, they were jointly named "Adam." But at the moment that the woman made her own decisions as to what was right and wrong she was given her own distinctive name, "Eve". 

    Since Genesis 2:23,24 declares the couple to be one flesh prior to their procreation, their oneness is not dependent on marital relations. Verse 23 clarifies by stating that Eve was made from Adam and was of  the same flesh and bone. This is helpful in understanding why they are said to be one. Jesus adds in Mark 10:6 that their oneness had to do with the commitment of marriage between the two of them. As a couple they were to behave as one entity. If Eve had lived where she liked and made all her own decisions it is hard to see how they would still be "one flesh" as God had intended. For them to behave as one entity, there would necessarily be one and only one person handling the role of final decision-maker with the other person taking the role of being a cooperative helper.

    Further, although the woman was to be submissive, this does not mean she was inferior. She was not a monkey nor was she to be a separate independent human. She was to be honored just as her husband (Exodus 20:12). She had the same nature as her head, her husband. She was not more or less human than he. She was made from Adam's rib so must have had the same genetic nature. He was the male gender and she was the female gender of the same humanity yet each had a different role. They were distinct persons but they were not to be viewed as being separated, for they were "no longer two."

    The same concept of oneness is true for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are all Deity. They have the same essential attributes of immortality, the authority to judge and give life, are credited with making the universe, and their glory is one. Although the Son is submissive, he is to be honored just as much as the Father (John 5:23). However, they are all distinct persons. Generally we do not say they are 'separate' since the Father is always with the Son (John 8:29; 14:10; 16:32) except on one occasion when the Holy Father separated from the Son who bore all the sins of all mankind, living and dead (Matthew 27:46). When Yahweh, the One True God, spoke in the Old Testament, he usually spoke for "us," the three persons of the Trinity (Isaiah 6:1-10 Yahweh; John 12:36-43 Son; Acts 28:25-27 Holy Spirit). At times the name "Yahweh" distinguishes the Father from the Son (Psalm 110:1) but at other times Jesus has the name of Yahweh (John 17:6,11,12). Each person has a different role or function in the universe. One person, the Father, is the source of all authority and decisions, the Son is the perfect agent who carries out the one will better than any angel could, the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts.

    The above reasoning shows it is biblically possible for two (or more) distinct persons to be viewed as one entity.  So as an aid to discussing this further, when two or more persons behave as one person or they can be collectively perceived as one person we will call this unified entity a "composite being".

    Does the term "God" refer to a person, a composite being, a nature or all three?

    Objection:  The concept of a 'Composite Being' sounds fabricated and unbiblical. The biblical texts always portray "God" as a person, not as a conglomerate. The concept of a 'Composite Being' is foreign to the Bible.

    While the above illustration of Adam and Eve may not impress one as being a clear reference to a 'composite being' there are other biblical examples. 

    • The Bride of Christ
    The "Bride of Christ" is said to speak (Revelation 22:17) and to dress-up for the wedding (Revelation 19:7) of the Lamb, Jesus (John 3:28,29), yet she is in reality a city full of people (Revelation 21:2,9,14).  This Bride is composed of many disciples (Matthew 9:15,16; Mark 2:19,20; Luke 5:34,35) who can be referenced as if a single person. 

    The Corinthian congregation was included in that bride for Paul addressed them saying  (2 Corinthians 11:2):
       "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin."
    Here the Greek 'you' is plural while 'virgin' is singular. Although Paul was not a member of that congregation, and distinguished himself from them ("I . . . you"), yet he was not thereby excluding himself from being a member of the "virgin" or bride. However it is not appropriate to say Christ has many brides, for the Scriptures speak of only one bride. This illustrates how one person who is part of a composite being could also speak to another person (or persons) and address them as that composite being. This helps in understanding John 17:3 (commented on elsewhere in this article).

    >>>>>>>> Aquila and Priscilla: Acts 18: Aquila would say Priscilla was his bride. How many brides did Jesus have? One. Aquila was her head. So they were distinct with unequal roles, yet both within the One Bride. Aquila could say 'this is my bride yet we are both within the One Bride of Christ.

    • The Heavenly Woman
    The Heavenly woman described in Revelation 12:1,2,5 is variously understood but is often thought to refer to the nation of Israel (Genesis 37:9; Romans 9:3-5). This woman is portrayed as a person yet is a composite being.

    • The Body of Christ
    The Christian church is likened to the "body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12).

    • God's servant, the nation, the witnesses of God
    The nation of Israel is described as "Jacob", "Israel" or "servant", all singular references (Isaiah 41:8,9,14; Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 2:14). The nation is described with singular and plural terms in the same context (Isaiah 43:10,12).

    • The Northern and Southern Hebrew nations
    The nation of Israel split after the reign of Solomon's son into two nations, a northern and southern kingdom. They are portrayed as two women in Ezekiel chapter 23.

    • The Jewish nation and the Christian church.
    The Jewish nation is likened to the woman Hagar while the Christian church is likened to Sarah in Galatians 4:24-26

    • Satan / all demons
    In Matthew 12:24-26  Satan is spoken of as being both an individual spirit-person AND as the collective of all demons, the house of Satan (see also Luke 11:15-18, Mark 4:15, Romans 16:20 ; Mark 3:26; ).  Jesus was accused of using the power of Satan (the individual leader of all demons) against a specific demon who was a member of the house of Satan. In his response he used the phrase "Satan against Satan". In this phrase is a reference to a person, "Satan" alongside a reference to a composite being, also called "Satan", representing all spirit creatures who had rebelled against God.

    The concept of a composite being is not foreign to Scripture. God's people in the Old and New Testament are portrayed as composite beings, God's Woman and the Lamb's bride are manifested as composite beings and the Devil himself is referred to as a composite being.


    How can the term "God" take different meanings in the same sentence?

    Objection: The Trinitarian claim that the term "God" can have any one of three different meanings, even in a single Bible passage, sounds fabricated and inconsistent. How can "God" apply to a person, a 'composite being' and a 'nature'?

    From Genesis 3:20 it would seem that the woman was not called "Eve" until after their sin. Then from Genesis 5:1,2 we see the man and woman were both called "Man" until their sin. As the text says, they were one flesh. So, was the woman called "a Man?" No, she was not a man. So does the Bible imply that she was called "the Man?" No, she wa s certainly not THE man, her husband was THE man. But the text does say she was named "Man." Now consider this:

      'In the garden was the Woman, and the Woman was with the Man and the Woman was Man.'
    THis sentence is understandable if we view the first occurrence of 'Man' as referring to a specific person but the second occurrence of 'Man' as referring to their common nature (Genesis 5:2), rather than to a specific person.
      John 1 " 1 In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

     Likewise, John 1:1 is saying that in the beginning the Word was (already) with the person who is commonly referred to as "God", namely the Father, who holds the supreme authoritative position. The next portion of the verse adds that the Word had the essential nature of being God. This is not a mystery nor is it incomprehensible.

    Further note that the reference to Adam and Eve could not read:

      'In the garden was the Woman, and the Woman was with the Man and the Woman was a Man.'
    nor could it read ' . . . the Woman was the Man.'  For Eve was neither a male nor was she THE Man. But she 'was Man' because she had the nature of humanity. Likewise it would be incorrect to say 'the Word was a God' or say 'the Word was THE God'. The only proper statement is "the Word was God."

    Notice a similar reference to "man" in Hebrews 13:6:

    "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?"
    This is not a reference to some specific man, neither "a man" nor "the man" but rather to mankind in general. It could either be a singular reference or it could refer to a collection of humans. In a sense this is a reference to a composite being. Now substitute the term "God" for "man" in Hebrews 13:6 (compare 1 Samuel 22:3) and ask 'What will God do to me?' or  'What will God do for me?' Just as 'man' could refer to a man it could also refer to the collection of all humans, similarly the term "God" could refer to a single person or to a collective "God."

    The biblical references to "God" are used like a name, distinct from Jesus

    Objection:  If Jesus is "God" why do some verses contrast "God" as distinct from Jesus?
      John 1 " 1 In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."


    The biblical references to "God" sound more like a person than a composite Being

    Objection:  If Jesus is "God" why is there no direct unqualified reference to Jesus as being God as there is for the Father?

    Although the above illustration clarifies the concept of how two persons can be "one" in another sense what does this mean for the term "God"? Can we read the Bible and discern that the term "God" is used in all cases (or in the majority of cases) as a composite being? Or, since the basis for the above reasoning was centered around the concept of the one human nature that Adam and Eve shared, do we find that "God" usually refers to a nature? Or is the term "God" used in contexts that most naturally appear to describe a solitary person? Is there any consistency? If not, then does this imply that the Trinity doctrine is a unnecessarily contrived invention?

    If the term "God" primarily refers to the Trinity, a Composite Being and not a Person, why do most references to "God" sound like references to a person?
    (Matthew 4:4; 23:22)

    Often we find references to the term "God" being used like a name and occasionally in distinction to Jesus. For example in John 1:1 is a reference to the Son being with "God" and then being "God". How can the Son be with an entity and then BE that same entity? As mentioned above the answer is that in this verse, the first reference to "God" is to a person while the second reference  is to the nature of God. This is

    (Mark 10:18; 16:19; Luke 4:8,12; Luke 6:12; John 6:27; 8:40,42; 13:3; 14:1;Acts 2:24; 3:15; 10:38; Romans 1:8; Philippians 2:11; etc.) As in John 1:1 how can the Son be "God" and also be with "God"? Does this verse, as well as the others mentioned, show that "God" is distinguished from the Son? Does it seem odd to see a reference to an entity as if it were a singular being followed by a second reference with the same term meaning a composite being?

    Likewise, what about

    often and clearly, refers to the Father (Romans 1:7; 15:6; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 15:24; 2 Corinthians 1:2,3; Galatians 1:1,3,4; Ephesians 4:6; Philippians 4:20). But do we find references to "God" being used as a name or in direct address to Jesus? The few verses where Jesus is clearly called "God" are qualified references, that is, there is a qualifier as in "mighty" God (Isaiah 9:6) and "my" God (John 20:28).  There are a few verses where some translations render the term "God" as a direct address to Jesus (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:8), however not all Bible scholars agree. One that, in my opinion, most likely does apply to Jesus is Hebrews 1:8 (see more here).

    The debate regarding this verse is whether it is supposed to read

    "O God, your throne is forever"
    "God is your throne forever"
    Grammatically either rendering is supported by some scholars. But if you think about the meaning of the verse, which reading makes more sense? The context of this chapter of Hebrews contrasts the Son with the angels but shows the parallels with the Father. Is the point of this verse to say that the Son's throne is forever and that he can be called (as in Isaiah 9:6) or is the point to say that Almighty God is the throne on which the Son sits forever? If the correct rendering is "O God . . ." then this is a case where "God" is used of the Son in the same fashion as that used of the Father.

    But if Jesus is "God" why are there references that seem to make distinctions between God and Jesus? As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the relationship between Jesus and his Father can be likened to the relationship between Eve and Adam.

    Genesis 5:1,2 says

    "1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man (Hebrew "Adam"), He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man (Hebrew "Adam") in the day when they were created." (NIV)
    Who is meant by:
    1. generations of Adam Is this the generations of one man or of two humans?
    2. God created man Literally this reads "God created Adam". So does "Adam" refer to one man or two humans or a nature?
    3. He made him This is likely a reference to one person, the man.
    4. He created them This is a reference to two persons.
    5. named them Likewise this refers to two persons.
    6. named them Man The Hebrew word here for "Man" is "Adam". How can it be that both of "them" were named Adam?
    7. when they were created Two persons were created.

    The text here switches back and forth referring to creating a single person (1 and 3) and two persons (4, 5, 6, 7) and one reference that could be either (2). So when reading this one could conclude that Eve is not included in the reference to God making "him" yet Eve is included in the reference to God creating "them". The point is that in biblical language terms can in one

    All the references to Jesus being God are really only rare examples of a representative being viewed as the source.

    Objection:  Could the belief that Jesus is "God" in reality be a case of mistaken identity? Is it possible that Jesus is really only God's representative?

    It is possible to refer to a prophet and say "God has visited us" (Luke 7:16). This suggests that any reference to "God" could in reality be a reference to God's representative. So some might conclude that all references to Jesus as "God" are only made in the sense of Jesus being God's representative.  But, as we examine the evidence in the rest of the article you will notice that the reasoning is rarely based on just the use of the title "God", it is more based on the attributes attached to Jesus. No prophet, no angel had the attributes given to Jesus. Especially as you read the first 2 chapters in  Hebrews, notice how the reasoning clearly says "the Son does thus and so but no angel has ever done thus and so".  You would not find those kind of statements repeated if the Son were only an angelic representative. Yet if the Son did indeed have the attributes and nature of "God" then the Son would most certainly be the representative of God. So being God's representative does not determine the conclusion of whether Jesus does or does not have the nature of God.

    How can God have a God?

    Objection:  The Bible says 
  • Jesus is eternally submissive to his Father (1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:28; John 5:19,20; 15:10; Philippians 2:2-8
  • the Father is greater than Jesus (John 14:28; Acts 2:36). 
  • Jesus is said to have a God (Hebrews 1:9; Ephesians 1:17; John 20:17; Revelation 3:12). 

  • If Jesus is to be esteemed and honored as "God," and there is only ONE such God, how can it also be true that Jesus is submissive to God? Is God submissive to God? How is it that God is greater than God? How can it be said that God has a God over him? This all seems a logical impossibility and any supposed evidence for the Trinity must in reality be a misunderstanding of Scripture. 

    Recall our example of a marriage and how a couple is no longer to be viewed as two but only as one flesh (Mark 10:8,9). That would apply for Abraham and Sarah. They were one flesh, no longer two, yet Sarah called Abraham "my Lord" (Genesis 18:12; 1 Peter 3:6) yet was one flesh with that Lord. So the difference in rank has no bearing on their being one.

    Consider again the above illustration of Adam and Eve. Imagine that Adam and Eve had remained sinless and had a child named Cain. Suppose we could ask Cain 'Who is your boss (or head)?' Cain would probably reason that since Eve was in perfect submission and one flesh with Adam, both his parents were his boss. He would say 'My boss is Adam and Eve.' If we asked 'Then how many bosses do you have?' He would reason that since Adam and Eve were ONE flesh and no longer two, the authority was 'one', so he would say 'One boss.'

    We might object and ask Cain if because Adam and Eve were two persons, does this not mean there were two bosses, a 'big' boss and a 'little' boss? He then would answer 'No, for Adam and Eve were to be in perfect unity with perfect communication, acting as one entity with one decision-maker, one will. No, there was only one boss, the two persons together named "Adam" (or "Man"). They could not be two bosses for they were "no longer two." '

    Next suppose we asked Eve. 'Do you have a boss?' She would reason that since she was in perfect submission, and Adam was her head, she would say 'Yes' she had an earthly boss, Adam. Then how many human bosses are there in the Garden of Eden, one or two? The answer is 'one'. Yet if Eve is a boss and she has a boss over her, does this not mean one plus one are two bosses? No, as long as Eve was ONE flesh with her head, Adam and she was not acting on her own initiative there was only one boss. However if Eve were not ONE flesh with Adam, if she acted on her own initiative, then there would be two bosses and poor Cain would get confused about whom to obey.  So rather than viewing this as 'one boss plus one boss,' we should view it as 'one boss times one completely submissive boss' equals one boss.

    This explains why Jesus is eternally submissive to his Father as his head yet is still one with his Father (John 10:30). Just as Eve was a boss and yet also had a boss, Jesus is called God in Scripture (Isaiah 9:6; John 20:28) and yet he had a God. Likewise, just as Adam and Eve were one flesh and were to behave as one unit and thus there was only one boss in the garden, in heaven there is just one authority, one God.

    Note these references showing how recognized Bible scholars describe the submission of Jesus.

    • In Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul in Chapter 26 ("The Subordination of Christ") it says: "A subordinate is not a peer; a subordinate is not on an equal level of authority with his or her super-ordinate. The prefix sub- means "under" and super- means "over" or "above." When we speak of the subordination of Christ we must do so with great care. Our culture equates subordination with inequality. But in the Trinity all members are equal in nature, in honor, and in glory. All three members are eternal, self-existent; they partake of all aspects and attributes of deity. In God's plan of redemption, however, the Son voluntarily takes on a subordinate role to the Father. It is the Father who sends the Son into the world . . . As they are the same in glory, the Father and the Son are also of one will. . . . By submitting Himself to the perfect will of His Father, Jesus did for us what we were unwilling and unable to do for ourselves. . . . As the subordinate One, He saved a people who had been insubordinate. . . . Although Christ is equal to the Father in terms of His divine nature, He is subordinate to the Father in His role in redemption. Subordination does not mean 'inferior.' "
    • In Systematic Theology (by A. H. Strong, 1953 ed. p. 342) it says: "The subordination of the person of the Son to the person of the Father or in other words an order of personality, office, and operation which permits the Father to be officially first, the Son second, and the Spirit third, is perfectly consistent with equality. Priority is not necessarily superiority. The possibility of an order, which yet involves no inequality, may be illustrated by the relation between man and woman. In office man is first and woman second, but woman's soul is worth as much as man's: see 1 Cor. 11:3 . . . We frankly recognize an eternal subordination of Christ to the Father, but we maintain at the same time that this subordination is a subordination of order, office, and operation, not a subordination of essence."
    • Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:28, F. Godet says: "Subordination was therefore, according to him, in harmony with the essential relation of the Son to the Father, in His Divine and human existence."
    • H. A. W. Meyer, in his Commentary on the New Testament, says this about 1 Corinthians 11:3: "He to whom Christ is subordinate is God . . . where the dogmatic explanation resorted to, that Christ in His human nature only is meant . . . , is un-Pauline. Neither again, is his voluntary subjection referred to, but . . . the objective and, notwithstanding His essential equality with God (Philippians 2:6), necessary subordination of the Son to the Father in the divine economy of redemption."
    (Also see the paper "The Eternal Subordination of the Son: An Apologetic Against Evangelical Feminism" presented at the Evangelical Theological Society November 18, 1995 by Stephen D. Kovach.)

     A Simple Presentation Of The Trinity

    When explaining the Trinity to someone who rejects the concept, it is often helpful to first give a short and simple Biblical line of reasoning. This presentation hinges primarily on one scripture but a couple of others can be added for more support.

    Take a piece of paper and draw the illustration below. Write as title at the top "Everything that has ever existed . . .". Next, draw a line starting from the top, just below the title, to the bottom dividing it in half. On the left, slightly below the top, write: ". . . Those things that were brought into existence. . ." On the right, at the top, write: ". . . everything else . . . the things that have always existed." There are only two categories, every thing that has ever existed was either made or it was not made. Either it was brought into existence or it was always here.

    Next, on the left half, starting down below the second title, draw another line dividing it into half again. Thus you now have three columns or lists. At the top of the left-most list write the words ". . . through the agency of Jesus" and at the top of the middle list write ". . . not through the agency of Jesus." Logically the left side of ". . . Those things that were brought into existence. . ." can be broken into two categories: either the thing was made through Jesus or it was made but not through the agency of Jesus, that is, it was made apart from Jesus. There are no other categories, everything that has ever existed belongs on one of these three lists.

    Everything that has ever existed . . . 
    (can be put into 3 categories according to John 1:1-3) . . .
    Those things that were brought into existence . . .
    . . . everything else . . . 
    (the things that have always existed) 


    • God the Father 
    • Holy Spirit 
    • The Word <== ? 
    . . . through the agency of Jesus . . . or

    All Things . . . 

    • stars and planets 
    • angels 
    • humans 
    • living things
    • etc. 
    . . . not through the agency of Jesus

    Not even one thing
    (John 1:3)

    In which category does the Word, Jesus, belong?

    Next, turn to John 1:3 where John comments on two of the three lists. There John says:

      "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." NIV (Some scholars think this last phrase belongs with the next verse, but either way, the point will be the same.) Or

      "All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being." NRSV

    Let's examine the first phrase. "All things came into being through him"

    Sometimes in Scripture the word "all" does not mean all things that have ever existed, sometimes it means 'all the  things' understood in the immediate context of the discussion or all things but with some obvious exceptions. Here it might not be obvious what "all things" refers to but it would seem that it would exclude any thing that that any reader would naturally believe had always existed. The Jewish reader of the first century would immediately assume that the Creator was not one of those things that came into being, since he always existed (Psalm 90:2; 93:2). So we might expect further clarification from John as to the identity of "all things". 

    Now examine the next phrase: "without him not one thing came into being". This is essentially saying the same thing as the first phrase. In mathematics the study called "set theory" would say the first phrase describes the set of "all things" and that they came into existence through him - referring to the Word of John 1:1,2. What is implied is that the Word did not bring about his own existence so the Word is not one of the "all things". The second phrase speaks of the complement of the first set, namely, that of that same set of "all things" the subset of items that came into being "without him", that is, without the agency of the Word, has zero elements. They are mathematically equivalent. So why repeat the same point? It would appear that John wanted to emphasize the point and make clear that there was no overlooked exception to this nor was this imprecise casual speech. To further emphasize the point, if as some scholars believe, the next phrase ("that has been made") modifies the subject "all things", then even our initial assumption, that "all things" excludes uncreated things, is an unnecessary assumption, nothing is left to guesswork. John is saying that all uncreated things came into being through the agency of the Word.

    Another point of the phrase "without him not one thing came into being" is of interest. The Greek for "not one thing" is literally "not not" and is an emphatic "not". It means that no thing, not one thing, ZERO items are meant. In Greek the reference to "not one thing" is emphatic. It means zero, there are no exceptions. There are no objects in this category Again this emphasizes that the reader should not consider that there might be even one exception two what is said. Especially when you note that in the context it mentions God and the Word and "all things", so that if there were some unmentioned exception, it would have to be some thing outside of these and something obvious to the reader. 

    So could the Word be an exception to the doubly emphasized statement that not one thing came into existence apart from the Word's agency? Since this passage is primarily an exposition about the Word, it does not seem likely that the writer would leave such a significant issue out of the discussion as if it were obvious to the reader. There does not seem any room for an exception. It would be stretching it to say that John really meant "All things except those obvious things unmentioned here came into being through the Word, and without him not one thing came into being except of course the one unmentioned created thing. 

    Now compare this with our list .The first phrase ("All things came into being through him") in this verse addresses our left-most list. It shows that all things that were ever made (or "came into being"), came through Jesus and therefore should be listed on the first list. So write the words "All things" on this list. Then add as examples "stars and planets, angels, humans, living things, etc."

    This alone would imply that the second list, those things made apart from the agency of Jesus, is an empty list. But could there be an exception? Are there things that were made by the Father apart from any action of the Son?

    John next says "without him not one thing came into being." John is specifically addressing the category of those things that came into being (or were made) but without the agency of the Word. He comments that in this category there is "not one thing." So on your middle list write the words "not even one thing." Reaffirm the point by reading the three titles together: "Everything that has ever existed . . . those things that were brought into existence. . . (but) not through the agency of Jesus" and that according to John 1:3 this list contains "not even one thing."

    Now fill in the rest of the paper by deciding where to list "The Father." Since the Father has always existed, he is from eternity, list "the Father" on the right-most list. Next, decide where the Holy Spirit should be listed. Did Jesus bring the Holy Spirit into existence? Scripture says the Spirit was in the beginning with God (Genesis 1:1,2). So add the "Holy Spirit" to the right-most list.

    Now for the key concern. Decide where Jesus should be listed. Can he be on the first list of those things made by Jesus? Did Jesus make himself, did he bring himself into existence? No, that is logically impossible. So he cannot be on the left list. What about the middle list? Jesus cannot be added to the middle list for John 1:3 insists "not one thing" can be listed there. Therefore, the only place Jesus can be listed is on the right side as one of those things that has always existed!

    Name of God?
    Ha Adohn Exodus 23:17; 34:23

    One God, One Lord
    Psalm 50:1 (The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken)
    Isaiah 43:15 (I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.)
    Mark 12:29 (Jesus answered, "The foremost is, '(1) HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;)
    Mark 12:32
    Dt 4:35
    James 2:19

    2 Corinthians 3:18 (But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.) (And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect [1] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. )
    Joshua 22:22 (The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion, or if in an unfaithful act against the LORD do not save us this day!)
    2 Kings 19:15 (Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.)
    Nehemiah 9:6 (You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You. )

    Although this simple presentation does not fully prove that the Holy Spirit is a person, we must admit there are three items on the list of things that always existed. All three were involved in creation, including the Holy Spirit (Psalm 104:30). Yet Isaiah 44:24 and Malachi 2:10 say only ONE God made the universe, all by himself. Thus we have three entities, but ONE God.

    Now for a more in-depth explanation . . .

    Evidence for Jesus' Deity in the book of Hebrews

    Consider the situation of a first-century Jew who was curious about whom Jesus was and wanted a description of this new Christian religion in language that incorporates Jewish beliefs and heritage. Where could he go for that information? Primarily, in what ONE book of the Bible should he look? The answer is simple. He should read the book "to the Hebrews."

    Hebrews 1: . . .

      " 1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, . . ."
    The Hebrew Scriptures were revealed somewhat through angels but mostly through imperfect human agents. Now this verse introduces us to someone called the "Son." Who is he? Can he be described in terms already familiar to the Jewish believer? Will the Son be described as a human, a prophet, as an angel or what?
      " Hebrews 1:2 . . .whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world."
    This translation says the Son made the "world" but the word is plural in Greek. This emphasizes that he made everything that was ever made, as we saw in John 1:3.

    This would probably cause a devout Jew a little puzzlement. Was there anyone in the Hebrew scriptures revealed to have shared in making the universe? Who could this be? Angels, also called sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 29:1; 89:5-7), cannot do what God can do. They did not participate in making the universe. They were part of the creation:

    Deuteronomy 3 " 24 'My Lord Yahweh,' I said, 'now that you have begun to reveal your greatness and your power to your servant with works and mighty deeds no God in heaven or on earth can rival" (NJB)

    Psalm 86 " 8 among the gods there is none to compare with you, no great deeds to compare with yours. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds, you, God, and none other." (NJB)

    Malachi 2 " 10 . . . Has not one God created us? . . ."

    Isaiah 44 " 24 Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, he who formed you in the womb: I, Yahweh, have made all things, I alone spread out the heavens. When I hammered the earth into shape, who was with me?" (NJB)

    Isaiah 45 " 18 For thus says Yahweh, the Creator of the heavens - he is God, who shaped the earth and made it, who set it firm; he did not create it to be chaos, he formed it to be lived in: I am Yahweh, and there is no other. 21 . . . Who foretold this in the past, who revealed it long ago? Was it not I, Yahweh? There is no other god except me, no saving God, no Saviour except me! 22 Turn to me and you will be saved, all you ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no other." (NJB)

    So how many Gods made the universe? One or two? A Jew would answer "One! ,there is no other."

    Notice what Jesus' Jewish disciples believed. . .

    Acts 4 " 24 When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, 'Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them," (NRSV)

    Acts 17 " 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth . . ." (Compare Acts 10:36 where Jesus is "Lord of all.")

    Revelation 14 " 7 and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' "

    Only ONE God made the universe and He is to be glorified and worshiped because of it! Who is this? If God made the universe by himself and no other God can do what He can do, who is this Son that was used to make the universe? Is He to be glorified and worshiped too? Will the rest of the book to the Hebrews answer this? Will it name someone that has already been revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures as this Son that made the universe?

    Continuing with Hebrews 1: . . .

      " 3 And He is the radiance of His glory . . ."
    So this "Son" is the "radiance" of God's glory! This too is a puzzle. For the Hebrew Scriptures say:

    Isaiah 42 " 8 I am the LORD (Yahweh), that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. "

    Isaiah 48 " 11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. " (Compare Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38; John 16:14,15; 17:5; Revelation 5:13,14)

    So who is it that is the radiance of the glory of God himself? Is it really true that God would not share his glory with another? While in a sense God later gives some glory to Spirit-begotten Christians (John 17:22), here in Isaiah the glory belongs to God and no other.

    Consider another passage where Isaiah speaks of Yahweh's glory. While reading this, ask yourself "Are Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 true here? Is God's glory being shared with another God? How many glories are mentioned here?"

    Isaiah 6: " 1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, . . . 3 And one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.' . . . 5 Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts.' 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, Here am I. Send me!' 9 He said, Go, and tell this people: "Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand." 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." "

    Well, how many glories did you see? Did you see the glory of anyone else described here? Did you see more than one person mentioned? Did Yahweh share his glory with any of those persons? Now compare . . .

    John 12:36-43: " 36 'While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.' These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke [in Isaiah 53:1]: 'Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 [in Isaiah 6:10] 'He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.' 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."

    From the context it is clear that this is referring to Jesus, the Son of God, the one that many would not believe. Yet John quotes Isaiah 6:10 (in John 12:40) and then explains that Isaiah saw the glory of the Son of God! So how many glories did Isaiah see? Did Isaiah see two glories? The account said Isaiah "saw the Lord. . . . The whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah "heard the voice of the Lord (Yahweh), saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' There was only ONE glory mentioned, one voice, one speaker, one sender yet Isaiah would be going for "Us." (Note also that the Holy Spirit is credited with doing the speaking - see Acts 28:25-27.) So this glory was being shared by another! If this other person sharing God's glory was an angel or a second god, would that not contradict Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11? Then whose glory did Isaiah see - Jesus' or Yahweh's? Did he see the glory of one God or two? The only answer that fits the claims in Isaiah, John and Acts 28:25-27 is that Isaiah saw Yahweh and His glory and His voice, yet he was looking at the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thus the angels said "Holy, Holy, Holy, [three times] is the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts."

    continuing with Hebrews 1:3 . . .

      ". . . and the exact representation of His nature,"
    As a side reference, this thought is echoed in . . .

    Philippians 2:3,5,6,8 " 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 8 . . . He humbled Himself . . ." (Although translations differ over how the end of this verse should be translated they agree on the first part saying that Jesus, while in heaven, existed in God's form.)

    Parallel to Hebrews 1:3 this says Jesus had the "form" of God. If we could see Jesus in His heavenly form we would have to say he had the form of God, the exact representation of God's nature. Jesus looks just like God!

    But there is more that can be learned from this passage. Paul points to the relationship between Jesus and His Father and says that Jesus' attitude should be ours. He states that "although He existed in the form of God . . . He humbled Himself." The first phrase refers to Jesus' nature, His heavenly appearance. The second phrase refers to Jesus' position. Paul reasons that our Leader, Christ, had a nature deserving of stature but chose a position that was unexpected, a humble position that did not fit his "form." If the attitude that Jesus adopted was actually expected then Paul's whole reasoning looses its force. Paul's intent is to convince Christians to adopt an attitude that was not natural for them, one that was unexpected.

    For Paul's reasoning to be convincing and applicable, there must be a parallel situation between Jesus and His Father and between Christians in the congregation. The Christian reading this passage would have to see the extent of Jesus' humility in contrast to His relationship to His Father. The implication is that Jesus truly had the nature of His Father just as Christians all have the same basic human nature. And just as we might expect Jesus to maintain a position that fit his nature, humans usually behave in a manner fitting their view of being equal to each other. But Paul points out that Jesus did not grasp a position of equality to His Father, a position that we would reasonably expect Him to grasp based on his "form." Instead He willingly accepted a position of humility, below his nature. Likewise, Paul reasons that humans should do the same. Even though they are all equal in nature, they should each choose a position of humility in relation to others.

    In brief, Paul reasons that even though Jesus had a nature completely equal to God, he chose a relationship of submission. Likewise, Christians are all equal in basic human nature but they should all adopt the attitude of Jesus and be submissive to one another.

    Another verse comments on Jesus' form or appearance:

    John 14 " 9 Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, "Show us the Father?"' "

    Could this be saying that Jesus is the Father and God is really only one person? Then this would be strange since the first few verses of Hebrews says God spoke through the Son and made the universe through the Him. That makes a distinction between the Son and someone else.

    So we must conclude that the Son has God's appearance; he looks exactly like God even in his nature. But in the Jewish mind, who could look exactly like God? Do angels look like God? Is there another God that looks exactly like God? Here is another puzzle for the Hebrew who is trying to understand the Son in terms of the Hebrew Scriptures:

    Psalm 89 " 6 For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD (Yahweh)? Who is like the LORD (Yahweh) among the heavenly beings? 7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. 8 O LORD (Yahweh) God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD (Yahweh), and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. " (NIV) [What would a Jew that was familiar with this verse think of the account in Matthew 8:24-27 (Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)?]

    Note that this implies that the "heavenly beings" of verse six are the ones who are around him in verse seven. So even the angels that are around Yahweh can not compare with Him. Then WHO is the Son that is the radiance of God's glory and "the exact representation of His nature"?

    1 Kings 8: " 23 He said, 'O LORD (Yahweh), the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing loving kindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart' " (2 Chronicles 6:14 reads the same.)

    Isaiah 46: " 5 'To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike? 9 Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me."

    (Other verses that also say there is no God like Yahweh, are: Exodus 8:10; 9:14; 15:11; Deuteronomy 33:26; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 113:5; Isaiah 40:18,25; 44:6-8; Jeremiah 10:6; Micah 7:18.)

    Would a Jew familiar with these texts conclude that the Son, the one who is "the exact representation of His nature," must be an angel or a second and distinct God? No, for there is no other god or angel that can be compared to the One True God. Just who is this that is being describing here?

    continuing with Hebrews 1:3

      ". . . and upholds all things by the word of His power."
    Again, as we saw in verse two, the Son can do what God can. But who can do the works of God? WHO sustains the universe? Psalm 148 answers:

    Psalm 148 " 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD (Yahweh), For He commanded and they were created. 6 He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away. "

    Since Yahweh 'established the universe for ever and ever' and the Son "upholds all things", how can it be said that no one can compare with Yahweh? The only conclusion is that the Son is the same Deity as Yahweh. Just as Adam and Eve are the one human flesh, the one humanity, that produced Cain; Yahweh (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are the one Deity that created the universe.

    continuing with Hebrews 1:3 . . .

      ". . . When He had made purification of sins,"
    How would a first-century Jew react to this claim that the Son removed sins? The same situation occurred at Mark 2:1-12 (Luke 5:18-26) where Jesus showed he had the authority to forgive sins before his death (Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24). The Jews replied:
      (Mark 2:7) "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone? " or (Luke 5:21) "The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, 'Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?' "
    Their reaction to Jesus saying that someone, other than God, removed sin was blasphemy! So, would not a Hebrew, reading this book written to the Hebrews, conclude the same thing that only God can forgive sins? Or would he say, 'Of course, the Son must be a second God (or an angel), that made the universe, does everything God does, looks exactly like God, has the glory of God, has the power of God, sustains the universe and forgives sins'?

    and the rest of Hebrews 1:3 . . .

      "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"
    If the reader of Hebrews understands that the Son has the nature of the one true God, might he then conclude that the Son must also be the same person as the Father? Absolutely not, for the Son sits at His Father's right hand just as Psalm 110:1 says.

    Psalm 110:1 "The LORD (Yahweh) says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.' "

    That this verse is referring to the Father speaking to the Son can be seen in several verses (Matthew 26:64; Acts 2:34-36; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27; Ephesians 1:20,22; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). It appears that Hebrews 1:3 is a reference to Psalm 110:1 as well. If Yahweh is speaking to the Lord Jesus and tells Him that He, the Son, will sit at Yahweh's right hand, how can they both be the same person?

    Up to this point in Hebrews 1:3 the Son has been compared with God. Would you say that the comparisons show the Son to be different, somewhat similar or exactly like God? As we continue reading we will see how the Son is compared with angels. Will we find that the writer of Hebrews identifies the Son with some special angel revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures? No. From this point on we will see the Son contrasted with angels and shown to be VERY different. If the Son is to be identified with some Old Testament angel, then this is THE place to show it so that our Jewish reader of this book to the Hebrews will understand in familiar terms exactly who the Son is.

    Continuing with the thought of the Son being placed at the right hand of the Father . . .

      " Hebrews 1:4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they."
    This is echoed in . . . 1 Peter 3 " 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him."

    We learn from Hebrews 2:9,17 that the Son had to take on the nature of humans and become, temporarily, lower than angels. However, after his resurrection he was exalted to heaven, and received a position superior to that of angels (compare John 17:5). He received another superior name, the "only-begotten Son," which had its fullest meaning after his resurrection (Romans 1:3,4; Acts 13:33).

      " Hebrews 1:5 "For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee'? And again, 'I will be a Father to Him, And He shall be a Son to Me'?"
    There are two Old Testament references here, the first is from Psalm 2:7 (meant to apply to Jesus as at Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 5:5), and the second is from 2 Samuel 7:14 (initially referring to Solomon). These are not addressed to an angel and there is no Old Testament verse anywhere where God said to any angel 'You are my son, I have begotten you.' This verse is contrasting the Son from angels, not likening him to them.

    Does the fact that the Son is said to be "begotten" mean that he was born, brought into existence? Does the term "begotten" refer to some time in the past when the Son began his existence? No, for the day he was "begotten" was the day of his exaltation after his resurrection (Hebrews 5:5; Acts 13:33), the day he received His new role as High Priest and Redeemer.

      " Hebrews 1:6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.' "
    The Son is called the "firstborn" here. Does this not indicate, like the reference to being "begotten", that the Son had a literal heavenly birth and came into existence at some point? Is this not the primary meaning of the term "firstborn"? We can discover the meaning by examining how it is use elsewhere in the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 12:23 the title "firstborn" is in the plural form and is applied to all born-again Christians. Did all Christians begin their existence at the same time as the first things God created? No. The primary meaning of "firstborn" here emphasizes 'first in priority' rather than 'first in sequence'. Therefore it would be natural for "firstborn" at Hebrews 1:6 to refer to the day when the Son became "begotten" and exalted to the right hand of God, a place of primacy.

    Hebrews 1:6 is similar to Psalm 148:2 where the angels praise God. It could be considered a little like Daniel 7:14 where all people are to serve the "son of man" (meaning Jesus). It is possibly a quotation from Psalm 97:7, which is very close when viewed in the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated LXX, the Greek Old Testament used by early Christians and some Jews). However, it is closest to Deuteronomy 32:43 that reads (only in the LXX!):

      "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people."
    Reflect on this point: The Old Testament, either Psalm 97:7 (LXX) or Deuteronomy 32:43 (LXX), describes the angels giving homage to God. This is, of course, because God is the Creator and is higher than all His created angels. Yet in Hebrews 1:6 the writer quotes this same passage and applies it to the relationship between the angels and the Son. Again, this contrasts angels from the Son rather than comparing them as equal or even similar.

    Further, note the issue of propriety of rendering this homage to the Son. The Hebrew word that appears in Psalm 97:7 also appears in these two verses in Exodus:

    Exodus 20 (from the Ten Commandments): " 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD (Yahweh) your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me"

    Exodus 34 " 14-- for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD (Yahweh), whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God -- "

    How can this form of honor, which is not supposed to be given to any other God, be given to the Son? What is the point that the writer of Hebrews is trying to make? Here in Hebrews 1:6 he is writing to Jews and describing just who the Son is in terms of the Jewish Scriptures. He selects an Old Testament passage that describes the angels bowing to Yahweh. A Jew would, of course, know the Law and that it is wrong to give this to any other God. So what would a Jew conclude from reading this? Would he conclude: 'Since the Son appropriately receives worship from angels, he must be a second God'?

    Is Hebrews 1:6 the only place that shows Jesus receiving worship? No, the same Greek word that appears in Hebrews 1:6 also appears in Matthew 28:9 and Revelation 5:14; 14:7.

    Matthew 28 " 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him."

    Revelation 5 " 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, 'To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.' 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, 'Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped."

    Revelation 14 " 7 And he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' "

    In Revelation 5:13 we see every living creature giving "glory" to both the Father and the Son. Yet Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 say Yahweh will not share his glory with any other God. Is this a contradiction? If the Son is a distinct God from Yahweh, why is there no distinction made between what is being given to the One on the throne (the Father) and what is given to the Lamb (Jesus)? Also of interest, while every living creature is here giving these praises to both the Father and Son without distinction, the elders "worshiped." Who is being worshiped? Likewise the one who made the universe is worshiped in Revelation 14:7. But according to Hebrews 1:2,10-12 the Son made the universe.

    While it is true that "worship" (Greek: proskyneo) is biblically given to persons other than God (Revelation 3:9; and in the LXX: Exodus 18:7; 1 Kings 1:23) it is always given to someone in a higher position. Giving a relative honor to a patriarch or king would be appropriate for a subordinate. But giving such honor to someone that was a competitor with the True God would be wrong (Exodus 20:5).

    Likewise giving worship to someone that was a subordinate would be inappropriate. This would explain why it was wrong for John to give worship to an angel on two occasions (Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9). John was probably awestruck by his vision and felt compelled to worship the messenger but he needed to realize that angels are subordinates to those who are born-again (1 Corinthians 6:2,3). Because of John's adoption as a son of God (John 1:12) the only one he should worship is God.

    So what does this imply about Hebrews 1:6? That worship (proskyneo) can be properly given if the recipient is truly superior and is not a second God. So who can angels worship? The Old Testament verse that Hebrews 1:6 is taken from indicates that the object of their worship is God. Who can Christians worship? In Revelation 19:10 and 22:8,9 the angel answers that it is only God. But who did the disciples worship in Matthew 28:9? Jesus. Who did the elders worship prophetically in Revelation 5:13,14? The One on the throne and the Lamb (Jesus).

     they will then assert that only the One God receives latreuo. However, 
    see LXX (Rahlfs - Septuaginta)  at Daniel 7:13,14 - then compare Dan 6:26; 7:27 (English). 

    Continuing with Hebrews 1:7-9 . . .

      " 7 And of the angels He says, [Psalm 104:4] Who makes His angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.' 8 But of the Son He says, [Psalm 45:6,7] 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of his (or "your") kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.' "
    Again, here is another contrast between angels and the Son. Angels are described in verse 7 as public ministers but in verses 8 and 9 the Son is King. 

    Some translations, like the NAS quoted here, even refer to the Son as "O God."

    As a side note, some translations like the New Jerusalem Bible or the Revised Standard Version (in the footnote) render verse 8 differently. Instead of saying "Your throne, O God" or "O God, your throne . . . " they will read "God is your throne" or "Your throne is God". They do this for grammatical reasons. But the question becomes, if this reading is preferred over "O God, your throne . . ." what does it mean to say that "God is your throne"? Does that make any sense? Can we picture what that means? How does it fit into the flow of logic here in Hebrews with the numerous contrasts between the Son and the angels set against as many statements likening the Son to God? The flow of logic is much more evident with the two contrasting statements: "angels . . . ministers a flame of fire" as compared to "the Son . . . O God". It would seem that the reading "Your throne, O God, . . ." is preferable.

    Verse nine says that God is "your" God, that is, the Son's God. What does this imply? It shows that the Son is not the same person as the Father who anointed him and the Father is the head over the Son. The Biblical illustration that helps to understand this is to remember how Adam was the head over Eve even though they were "one flesh"?

    Does not the term "companions" in verse nine mean that the Son fellowshipped with a class of created beings and therefore must be one of them? No. This cannot be justified any more than saying that because God has intimate association with angels (see Psalm 89:6,7 quoted above) that therefore he is one of them. Likewise the similar statement in Psalm 97:9 where it  says God is exalted above all other Gods (probably referring to angels, see Psalm 8:5 & Hebrews 2:7,9) does not imply that His exaltation is a promotion from angelhood to Godhood.. Also note that the same Greek word for "companions" appears in Hebrews 6:4 where it discusses those humans who at one time had been companions with God's Holy Spirit but had fallen away. This certainly does not mean that those humans were from the same class of being as the Holy Spirit. So, no, this verse does not suggest that the Son is of the same class of being as his companions. (It is also interesting to consider how a person can have the Holy Spirit as a companion. If the Holy Spirit were not a person, how could one be a companion of the Spirit?)

      "Hebrews 1:10-12 And, 'You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; and they all will become old like a garment, 12 And like a mantle you will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not come to an end.' "
    What would a Jew conclude from this? Another puzzle. For this is a quotation from Psalm 102:25-27:

    Psalm 102 "1 Hear my prayer, O LORD (Yahweh)! And let my cry for help come to You. . . . 24 I say, 'O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. 25 Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.' "

    Here is a passage from the old testament addressed to Yahweh, "my God," and gives Him credit for making the universe. However, in the book of Hebrews, when the writer wants to describe to a Hebrew clearly who the Son is, does he choose passages that originally apply to angels or an archangel? No! He chooses passages addressed to Yahweh that describe actions understood to apply ONLY to Him (Isaiah 44:24) and then applies them to the Son! What will this Jew think when he reads further into the book of Hebrews . . .

    Hebrews 3 " 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God."

    So how will this Jew answer the question: 'According to this book, who constructed the universe?' Hebrews 1:2 says that the Son made all the worlds. Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes a verse addressed to Yahweh and applies it to the Son to show that the Son made all things. Next Hebrews 3:4 says God made all things. So what is the message here? The purpose of this part of Hebrews is to teach a Jew exactly who Jesus is. If Jesus were an angel why does this book not simply say that? Why does this book repeatedly take attributes that belong to God and apply them to the Son?

    One of the things constructed by God is mentioned at Genesis 1:26:

    " 26 Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; . . .' "

    Notice that there are at least two persons involved in this making of man and yet there is only ONE image. It does not say man was made in our 'images' or in our likenesses'. Is there any angel that even looks like God? Earlier we saw that the Bible clearly teaches that no angel looks like God. So was man made in the image of God alone or in the image of an angel too? In this text we have found the concept of several spiritual persons with only one image, one likeness, one nature, one essence.

    Continuing in Hebrews . . .

      " Hebrews 1:13-14 But to which of the angels has He ever said, [Psalm 110:1] 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet'? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?"
    Then another rhetorical question is asked, "to which of the angels has He ever said?" Again the answer is 'None'. Verse fourteen affirms this by showing that while the Son is at the right hand of God and his enemies will be a stool for his feet, ALL angels are just ministers (similar to Hebrews 1:7). If ALL angels are ministers and here contrasted with the Son, how could the Son be an angel?

    So to summarize so far, the Son is repeatedly shown to be different from angels (Hebrews 1:4,5,6,7,8,13,14) and at the same time is shown to be like God in the essential attributes (Hebrews 1:2,3,6,10-12). Will we find something in Hebrews chapter 2 that will identify this Son as an angel or archangel?

      " Hebrews 2:1-4 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."
    What is the point here? Since a Jew realizes that the Old Testament words spoken by angels are absolutely firm and reliable, then all the words spoken by the "Lord" (the Son) must be even stronger and we need to pay much closer attention to them. Here is another contrast between the words spoken by angels (or even an archangel) and the words spoken by the Lord Jesus.

    If the reader was still pondering whether the Son, sitting at the Father's right hand, waiting for the earth to be put at is feet (Hebrews 1:3,8,13; Psalm 110:1), was an angel or not, the next verse definitively answers that issue. For if the Son was some kind of an angel, then this would mean that one day the earth would be in subjection to that angel. But . . .

      " Hebrews 2:5 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking."
    So is there any way that the Son could be an angel or archangel? Is that what a first-century Hebrew would have concluded from reading all this?
      " Hebrews 2:6-9 But one has testified somewhere, [Psalm 8:4-6] saying, 'What is man, that you remember him? Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him? 7 You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of Your hands; 8 You have put all things in subjection under His feet.' For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. 9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone."
    This is a quote from Psalm 8:4-6 and explains that Jesus who, although temporarily made less than angels, is crowned with honor and glory. All things, including the earth will eventually be in subjection to him. But remember, the earth will NEVER be in subjection to an angel. Clearly the Son cannot be an angel.

    Who is this "Son"? If He cannot be an angel, is he a second God?

    Jesus is called "God" in . . .

    John 1 (narration by John) " 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him."

    John 20 " 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!' " (for a parallel see Psalm 35:23)

    Isaiah 9 " 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. " - Yahweh is also identified as "the Mighty God" in the next chapter of Isaiah 10:20,21.

    Does this mean there are two Gods? We have already seen a few verses in the Bible that clearly state that there is only one God that fully qualifies to be called "God" (see the quotations above: Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 45:21,22; Isaiah 46:9). Now consider a couple of similar verses in the New Testament:

    Mark 12 " 28-32 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, 'What commandment is the foremost of all?' 29 Jesus answered, 'The foremost is, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." 31 The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.' 32 The scribe said to Him, 'Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that "He is one, and there is no one else besides Him." ' "

    1 Timothy 1 " 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. "

    This verse, which opens 1 Timothy, is addressed to the ONLY God and describes him as the King, immortal and invisible. But then the book closes with this statement . . .

    1 Timothy 6 " 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time -- He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."

    So Paul opens his letter to Timothy describing the only God as King, as eternal, as immortal, as invisible, deserving honor and glory, and ending with "Amen". Then Paul closes his letter with a description of the ONLY Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one alone having immortality, who cannot be seen, deserving of honor and ending with "Amen." Elsewhere Jesus is identified as having these attributes (John 5:26; Revelation 19:16). How many Gods does Paul believe have these attributes?

    Other verses that affirm there is only one that truly qualifies to be "God" are: Deuteronomy 4:35,39; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 22:32 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 19:15,19; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 37:16,20; 45:5,14,18; Joel 2:27; and in the New Testament: John 5:44; Romans 3:30; 16:27; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 1:25.

    Nowhere in the Bible do we see the teaching that there are two Gods with similar attributes, both participating in making the universe. To the contrary, when the Bible speaks of the true God it repeatedly says there is only one God, there is no other God that can compare, He made the universe all by himself. Yet Hebrews chapter 1 does compare someone to God. This person is not an angel, is called "God" in Scripture, is NOT a second God and yet considers God to be his God.

    Some would try to resolve this by saying that there are many gods in Scripture. We saw a reference to such in Psalm 86:8. Does this mean that we have misunderstood the many verses that say there is only ONE God? Could Jesus be one of those other gods? If so then all those verses that say there is only ONE God must be explained. Then we would be left with the idea that Jesus is another God that has the same attributes as his Father. We would have two Gods that look alike and do the same things. Is there any scripture that says this? NO! Then how do we explain Psalm 86:8 (or Psalm 82:1,6; 2 Corinthians 4:4) that suggests that there are other gods?

    Galatians 4 " 8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods."

    So there are other gods but they are not by "nature" gods (see Galatians 2:15 and 2 Peter 1:4, which translate the same Greek word as "nature"). They are "gods" in name only. There is only ONE God that is by nature God. Now, based on all the scriptures that compare the Father with his Son (such as Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 2:6), would you say that the Son does or does not have the same nature and attributes as the Father?

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