Did Jesus Think He Was God? – John 17:3

John 17:1-3 – Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Ut oh…looks like we have a personality conflict here.  Jesus, known by millions as God the Son, a co-equal member of the triune Godhead is speaking to the Father (see verse 1), another so called co-equal member of the trinity and calls Him the “only true God.”

Now if you ask me, that causes some problems for those holding the trinitarian perspective on God.  Jesus calls the Father the only true God, and then says that he was sent by this only true God, the Father. 

For those holding the unitarian perspective this would be easily understood as Jesus, the human Messiah, praying to the only true God, the/his Father without conflict or schizophrenic elements.

So if you are a trinitarian how could this verse make any sense?  I’m sure there are other places you might be tempted to go to prove Jesus is God, but try and stick to this passage alone for now, after all these words come from the mouth of Jesus himself. 

And for the unitarians out there?  Does this passage support your case?  Did Jesus think he was God?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.  I’d say the stakes were pretty high in a way too considering Jesus says that this is eternal life – us knowing the only true God (the Father) and Jesus Christ who (the only true God) has sent. 

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44 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by nick70 on June 1, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Victor,

    I find your comment saying: “I’m sure there are other places you might be tempted to go to prove Jesus is God, but try and stick to this passage alone for now, after all these words come from the mouth of Jesus himself” to be very interesting. Interesting because:

    1. It seems to wish to exclude evidence, and

    2. It appears to presuppose a greater significance to the ‘red letters’ (i.e. words of Jesus) than that of the rest of Scripture.

    Concerning #1, we realize that John 17:3 does not exist within a vacuum and it would be highly irresponsible to simply focus on one verse of Scripture without considering it in its immediate context (i.e. the chapter it appears in) and then its broader context (i.e. the book it appears in) and finally its overall context (i.e. the rest of the Bible).

    Concerning #2 I’d ask if you place more importance on the words of Christ as recorded by the Biblical writers over the words of the Biblical writers themselves?

    In response to you question of how this verse can make sense to a Trinitarian the answer is a very easy one. It makes sense because the Trinitarian position is that there is one and only one God who exists in three eternally distinct co-equal persons. Any one of these three persons is certainly deserving of the title ‘only true God.’ The share the one essence/nature of deity.

    Now, if we address this verse in its immediate context then we will notice that Jesus says that eternal life is predicated upon knowing both the Father and the Son. When we come to vs. 5 we see that the Son shared glory with the Father from all eternity. This is known because of the imperfect tense of the phrase ‘which I had’ (Gk. hēi eichon). The imperfect tense denotes a continuous action in the past, so it doesn’t matter how far back the mind wishes to conceive, the Son shared glory with the Father.

    When we examine the overall context of John’s Gospel then we see a constant theme of the Father and the Son working together to bring about salvation, especially in passages such as John 10:30 in which Jesus makes the argument that he is one with the Father in the context of bringing about the salvation of God’s sheep (and by extension nature/being). This is fitting with Jesus’ comments in John 17:3.

    And lastly, if we examine the overall context of the Bible then we come across Isaiah 48:11 in which Yahweh says that he will not give his glory to another–how do we reconcile such an apparent discrepancy with John 17:5? I propose that without a Trinitarian theology there can be no resolution to this.

    So in closing, we understand Jesus making a simple statement of fact in John 17:3. The Father is the only true God, but this does not exclude the Son from being one and the same true God (cf. 1Jo. 5:20) unless we wish to commit the fallacy of denying the antecedent and say that it does.

    Reply

  2. Nick, so glad you’re here and took the time to write.

    The reason I encouraged people to focus only on John 17:3 is not to exclude the rest of the Scriptures or try and elevate Jesus’ teaching over others as you asked, but instead for the simple purposes of dealing with one thing at a time. Often I feel that in discussions like this the initial questions get ignored and people move on to other areas they might have a better handle on or something. John 17:3 seems to be an important verse and I want to take the time to talk about it.

    To your second point that any member of the trinity can be called the “only true God” To say that anyone (in any context) could be called “the only” is a contradiction. The Yankees are the only good baseball team in the major leagues (I wish) excludes any others from being good. To say that one member of MLB is the only good team cannot include all members of MLB if we use a word like “only.” It should be the same when Jesus is speaking to the Father. For some reason though, all rules of language are or must be broken when we talk about the trinity – yet to know God is so critical?

    To call the Father the “only true God” means that Jesus if God also could not be the only true God (would that mean to make Jesus a God/God himself would make him a false God?).

    I don’t have an issue looking at John 17:3 on its own because believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, but not a member of a trinue co-equal Godhead doesn’t negate that Jesus himself said that the Father is the only true God.

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Reply

  3. Posted by JohnO on June 1, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    I agree with the “only” issue. Jesus denotes a Person (the Father) as “only”, exclusive, God. Therefore any designation of any other Person as God is not possible according to Jesus.

    As far as the glory that God will not share, Jesus states that we share in it too:

    The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; v22

    Therefore, God would still violate Is 48.11. Futhermore, Yahweh = the Father. Yahweh is a personal name, not a name of an essence. Therefore the Father doesn’t give his glory to any other person. Yet we see that indeed he does give his glory. This is much easier in a non-Trinitarian perspective to understand – because God’s glory is perfected in the fact that he is God – and *none* other is! Therefore the Person of the Father will not share deity with any other God!

    Reply

  4. Posted by nick70 on June 1, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Victor,

    I share your desire for the Yankees to be the ‘only’ good team in baseball =) But alas, they aren’t =(

    What we have here are two categories: 1. Being & 2. Person. If we fail to make this distinction then we run into all sorts of confusion. The reason that a particular Person of the Trinity can call another Person of the Trinity ‘the only true God’ without exluding themself from being the selfsame God is because the reference is to the category of ‘Being.’

    There is only one ‘Being’ that is God yet there are three ‘Persons’ that share this ‘Being’. So it’s not that the rules of language are to be broken, but there are necessary distinctions to be made when discussing the Trinity.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to people who were under the impression that the doctrine of the Trinity posited three Gods. Obviously this is not the case as monotheism is one of the foundations of Trinitarianism.

    Concerning your conclusion, you are correct. If Jesus was merely the Messiah and in no way God that would not negate his statement, but my point was that unless we want to deny the antecedent (which is logically fallacious) the statement doesn’t exclude Jesus from being ‘the only true God’ either.

    Reply

  5. Posted by JohnO on June 2, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Nick, the only problem with your assertion:

    What we have here are two categories: 1. Being & 2. Person

    Is that the Bible does not speak metaphysically, or about “being”. In the very least it emphatically affirms that the Being MAN cannot approach the Being GOD. Therefore the concept of GODMAN flies directly in the face of the Bible. We, as intellectually descendant Greeks think in the category of Being. But the Hebrews did not. The Bible clearly posits GOD not as Being, but as Classification. Yahweh states that there will be no other Persons that you classify as God – I am the only true Person to be classified as God. Even the thinkers during the Enlightenment thought this way. Leibniz and others stated that the classification of God belongs to the Person who is highest. There is none more powerful, more knowledgable, more loving, than God – that is what makes him God, not some sort of divine essence.

    Reply

  6. Posted by nick70 on June 2, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    John O,

    The concept of God-Man does anything but fly in the face of the Bible. The incarnation of the eternal Son certainly supports such a concept.

    We see in John’s prologue that the Word/Son has existed from all eternity (Jo. 1:1a), has existed with God from all eternity (Jo. 1:1b), and has been as to his nature God from all eternity (Jo. 1:1c). But at a point in time the Word/Son became flesh (Jo. 1:14). This same Word/Son was called the ‘unique God’ (Gk. monogenēs theos) who has made the Father known (Jo. 1:18).

    The early Christian hymn of Philippians 2:5-11 also expresses this concept telling us that Christ who exists in the form of God (Gk. en morphē theou huparchōn — note the present, active, participle) took upon himself the form of a servant (Gk. morphēn doulou labōn).

    The ‘being’ of deity was not altered by the addition of the ‘being’ of humanity. Nor do Trinitarians assert that Christ became God (as that is how I understand your assertion that “the Being MAN cannot approach the Being GOD”–perhaps I’m misunderstanding your position)

    Concerning your assertion that “The Bible clearly posits GOD not as Being, but as Classification” you are saying the same thing. For ‘God’ would be the ‘Classification’ of ‘Being’.

    Your underlying presupposition that Yahweh is one person forces you to say “Yahweh states that there will be no other Persons that you classify as God – I am the only true Person to be classified as God.” Yahweh makes no such statement and unless we assume Unitarianism we cannot conclude such.

    At best we can assume that Yahweh states that besides him there are no other beings (which can fit either the Trinitarian or Unitarian paradigm) that are God–there is nothing to preclude a multiplicity of persons in ‘Classification’ or ‘Being’ of God.

    Concerning God’s attributes as being that which makes God, God I would disagree. Those attributes are necessary extensions of who and what God is and they extend to man as well as we are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26), but it is in fact the ‘divine essence’ which separates God from man. It is the category or ‘Classification’ of deity which is in distinction from the ‘Classification’ of humanity.

    And I’d like to ask a question concerning love. If God is God because he is one Person who is more loving than any other person, who was it that God loved in eternity before the creation of the universe?

    Reply

  7. […] Unitarian-Trinitarian Dialogue Over the past two days I’ve been carrying on a dialogue with a couple of Unitarians at this address https://highergroundonline.wordpress.com/2007/05/23/did-jesus-think-he-was-god-john-173/ […]

    Reply

  8. Posted by JohnO on June 2, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    It is the category or ‘Classification’ of deity which is in distinction from the ‘Classification’ of humanity.

    I’d hoped you would bring this up. There is a classification Diety, and Humanity. I am a Human. You are a Human. We share in the essence of Humanity. There is not one Human, there are two Humans. If the Father is Diety, and the Son is Diety, they share in the essence of Diety – and there are TWO Diety. Are you really willing to say that the 6 billion humans on this earth are one human?

    At best we can assume that Yahweh states that besides him there are no other beings (which can fit either the Trinitarian or Unitarian paradigm) that are God

    I hope we can more than assume this – this is the first commandment! Thou shalt have no other Gods before me! ME is an expression of a Person. The Person talking is Yahweh. Yahweh is a Personal name. This is the God of Abraham, Issaac, Jacob, and Jesus – we call him Father. The Father says not to have any Gods besides him! Jesus affirms in Mk 12.28, when he quotes the Shema, and John 17.3 as we’ve been discussing. Surely if Jesus quotes and affirms the Jewish creed of who God is without one footnote that he is changing something – he must agree with the Jewish people about who God is!

    “the Being MAN cannot approach the Being GOD”–perhaps I’m misunderstanding your position)

    Yes, I meant that Man cannot literally approach God. The Temple shields men from God. God cannot habitate with Man (could not, and still cannot). God’s ways are higher than Man’s ways. God is right, Men are wrong. There is constantly and consistently a dichotomy presented in the Old Testament between Man and God – and so to say that God has come as a Man shatters the entire construct the OT has built.

    I hope we can tackle John 1 and Phil 2 on the blog as well, maybe not in this post (better to keep things focused). If you are in the Albany NY area, please attend our One God Conference next weekend. We have people coming from all over the country (too bad we couldn’t get our international friends to come), to talk about this issue.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Norm on June 3, 2007 at 8:50 am

    It is as I have found that in deuteronomy , where God says,” Hear O Israel”, He wants Israel to understand what he is about to say. Which is that ,”The Lord Your God IS ONE”. One in the hebrew language is a number, these numbers reflect a value to which an importance is signified. The value here is that God is Single , not any other . In another verse God says ,”I am God , I change not,” Why then would we as Humans presuppose that God split himself into three?

    Reply

  10. Posted by nick70 on June 4, 2007 at 1:39 am

    JohnO,

    No, I am not willing to say “that the 6 billion humans on this earth are one human”, nor is it comparable to what I have said, as I don’t believe we ‘share’ the ‘same’ essence/nature of humanity. Notice that you said that I am ‘a’ human and you are ‘a’ human. Within the ‘classification’ of humanity there are many humans, each of which has personality. But the Father is not ‘a’ deity and the Son is not ‘a’ deity because within the ‘classification’ of deity there is one deity, which has three personalities.

    But let’s for a moment suppose that all humans do actually ‘share’ the nature of humanity in the same manner that the persons of God share the nature of deity–that would still serve to prove that more than one ‘person’ can share ‘nature’. But your analogy would be akin to me saying that there are 3 Gods who are 1 God–this of course is not the Trinitarian position (Mormons do believe something very much like this though). My position is that there are 3 Persons who are 1 God. When the distinction is made the logic is sound.

    Concerning Yahweh being a personal name, I agree wholeheartedly although I would deny that it is the name of the Father alone. There is one name (Gk. to onoma) that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit share according to Matthew 28:19.

    As far as the Shema goes I’d note a few things (and this is directed to Norm as well).

    The confession is “Shema Yisrael Yahweh eloheinu Yahweh echad” (Deut. 6:4)

    ‘Echad’ can be translated as ‘alone’ which is seen in the NJPS Tanach, the NLT, and is also noted in the NIV. This fits the context of the Shema which doesn’t end at verse 4. The Shema is a three-part statement of faith, the first part being Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

    When read in context we see that it is not drawing attention to the fact that there is one God who is an absolute, indivisible unity, nor is it drawing attention to the fact that there is only one God in all of existence. The nature of God was simply not in view. It’s showing that Israel’s God was ALONE their God. Therefore there would be no reason for Jesus to footnote or change anything as he certainly affirmed that Yahweh was alone the God of Israel.

    Also, the word ‘echad’ while meaning ‘one’ can allow for diversity in unity in the same way that the English word ‘one’ can. We have to allow the context and usage to determine the definition. Since there is no ‘a priori’ reason to assume unitarianism we cannot demand that ‘echad’ here refers to one person–we can demand that it refers to Yahweh alone.

    Norm, In response to your question, we don’t presuppose that “God split himself into three”–on the contrary, we note an eternal ‘distinction’ of persons with absolutely no ‘division’ of substance/nature.

    JohnO, in reference to your comment that “to say that God has come as a Man shatters the entire construct the OT has built” I disagree. As I stated originally, we are not asserting any change in the nature of deity–simply an addition of the nature of humanity.

    Secondly, the OT presents many theophanies of Yahweh in which he presents himself to men as human. I’d note Genesis 18 as the most obvious example. Note that Yahweh APPEARED to Abraham and when Abraham lifted his eyes he saw three MEN (of whom two were angels, Gen. 19:1) STANDING beside him. He washed their FEET and offered them food which they ATE. The rest of the chapter records Yahweh’s conversation with Abraham. This was simply a precursor to the incarnation of the Son.

    I would love to discuss Philippians 2 and John 1 in another forum. Just name the time and place. And sadly I’m not in the Albany area, I’m way down here in Central NJ, but thanks for the invite! =)

    Reply

  11. Posted by JohnO on June 4, 2007 at 8:27 am

    Within the ‘classification’ of humanity there are many humans, each of which has personality. But the Father is not ‘a’ deity and the Son is not ‘a’ deity because within the ‘classification’ of deity there is one deity

    You’re simply changing the definition of “classification” when you change from Human, to God, to fit your presuppositions. To remain consistent the Father must be ‘a’ diety, and the Son must be a ‘diety’. Otherwise you’ve broken the rules of language and consistency to affirm your position via an argument from definition.

    Concerning Yahweh being a personal name, I agree wholeheartedly although I would deny that it is the name of the Father alone.

    Jesus was never called Yahweh. Therefore this is not his name. The Father, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, was repeatedly called Yahweh in the OT, and Father in the NT. Therefore Yahweh = Father. Furthermore why would a Personal name be associated with a Being, that is not a person (since God is not a Person, but a Being)? That makes no sense and is misleading and deceptive.

    As I stated originally, we are not asserting any change in the nature of deity–simply an addition of the nature of humanity.

    To *add* something to God is indeed changing it. Furthermore that addition of humanity specifically is at odds with the entire OT distinction between God and Man. Disagree all you want, but your position is still broken.

    Since there is no ‘a priori’ reason to assume unitarianism

    There is definitely a reason to assume unitarianism. The entire people of Israel were unitarianists during the Second Temple period in which Jesus lived. This is the context and culture from which Jesus and Christianity emerged. Of course it is the starting point! The burden of proof is on the Trinitarian position to show that the NT documents and entire change in the nature and essence of God that was previously understood and believed at the time. And Trinitarians have always failed (self-admittedly) at doing so. I have come to the conclusion it is because the NT simply does not support such a case!

    The Bible simply never talks about essence or the philosophical construct of Person’s sharing essence. Therefore I can reasonably assume to say Yahweh echad means: Yahweh is one, also said, There is no God besides Yahweh (The *first* commandment). The burden of proof is on you to say that the singular personal name Yahweh comprises three ‘P’ersons. Not to mention the thousands upon thousands of personal pronouns attributed to God. There is not one instance in the Bible of the word God meaning ‘triune’, or even plural (in which case you’d have to argue 3, not 2, 4, 5, of whatever other number we might like).

    My position is that there are 3 Persons who are 1 God

    Is Jesus fully God? (Yes) Is the Father fully God? (Yes) Is the Holy Spirit fully God? (Yes) – therefore you have 3 Gods who are 1 God. If Jesus as a Person is not God, cease to call him one. If Yahweh/Father as a Person is not God cease to call him one. If the Holy Spirit as a Person is not God cease to call him one. But Scripture plainly states that the Father is the only true God (Jhn 17.3), and that Yahweh is the only God (Deut 6.4, Ex 20.2-3)

    I the YAHWEH thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    Clearly YAHWEH, the Father, states that he is the God of Israel – and you will have NO other Gods before him.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Norm on June 4, 2007 at 8:36 am

    This debate on the validity of the persons of God is centuries old. The rift began around the end of the second century. It is understandable when looked at in perspective of that time. In greek thought anyone could be or become a god. Heroes of great battles were celebrated as gods. Both greek and especially the Roman emperors thought themselves as gods.You could go further back to the Pharoahs of Egypt and see that they also called themselves gods. So then this concept of man being a god was not uncommon at that time. Doesn’t it say in scripture that we are gods? By the time of the emperor Constantine, the rift in the church was no small matter. So much so that constantine himself decided to intervene,( though his motives were political as he was striving to reunite his empire). He then, claiming to embrace christianity, actively participated in this debate so much so that he influenced the final outcome of the vote. He even coined the phrase for being of the same substance( sorry I drew a blank on the greek word here,) after all he himself was a god wasn’t he? Any bishop who didn’t vote his way would be exiled. Strange how that a split decision went to almost a unanimous decision at that point. Three bishops were exiled of whom one Arius was the leading proponent against such doctrine. Now the interesting part Constantine, at the bequest of his wife, switched and Arius was recalled from exile and allowed to live in the palace, enjoying the benovelance of Constantine himself. So here is historical evidence that This Jesus was voted by man, to be God. Christians have since been drawn to either side of this conflicting view so much that at times they even killed each other over doctrin(s) of men. Who is right? God knows and when The Son of God ,The Lord from from Heaven returns, This Jesus who presently is seated at the right hand of God, will sift the wheat from the chaff, will say to those who say “Lord, Didn’t we do miracles, cast out devils, do many works in your name? and you know his reply .

    Reply

  13. Posted by JohnO on June 4, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Homeoousis (or however you transliterate that) is the word you were searching for. When Jesus Became God by Dr. Richard Rubenstein is a fantastic read of this whole process. After Nicaea the decision was reversed, reversed again (back to Nicaea), reversed under the next emperor, and reversed back again – all within 80 years. With bloodshed all over the place.

    Reply

  14. Posted by nick70 on June 4, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    JohnO,

    I’m a bit disappointed in this last reply because I feel that you have fallen back on standard Unitarian caricatures of what Trinitarianism is when I have taken the time to explain that these things are not so (e.g. the 3 gods are 1 god argument). I’ll respond point by point, numbering my responses to match your points.

    1. I have not changed the definition. The ‘classification’ is defined in Scripture. We read repeatedly that there is one and only one God (i.e. real God) in all of existence (Deut. 4:35, 6:4; Is. 43:10-11, 44:6, 8, 45:5-6, 14, 21-22, 46:9; Mal. 2:10; Mk. 12:32; Rom. 3:30; 1Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6; 1Tim. 2:5; Jam. 2:19).

    Scripture also shows us that there are many actual humans that exist. Again, I reject the caricature that ““that the 6 billion humans on this earth are one human” on the grounds that I am not arguing that 3 persons are 1 person or that 3 Gods are 1 God.

    2a. You claim that Yahweh is the name of the Father to which I agree and because of this Matthew 28:19 affirms that the Son and Holy Spirit possess this same name. A very solid argument can be presented from Philippians 2:10 that the name of Jesus that will cause all to bow is Yahweh. Also, Romans 10:13 applies the prophet Joel’s words that “whosoever shall call upon the name of Yahweh shall be saved,” directly to Jesus.

    2b. The name Yahweh is associated with a personal being. There is no separation of the persons from the nature of God–there is simply a distinction.

    3. Again, to add a human nature to the already existent eternal nature of deity is NOT to change the nature of deity. These two natures exist within one person without confusion or division. To simply keep re-asserting that there is a change in nature is not to prove that there is a change in nature. The burden of proof is on your to demonstrate how this is.

    And as can be demonstrated from the various theophanies, Yahweh has manifested himself to man in human form (Gen. 18, et. al.). The incarnation of God the Son is only this principle in permanence.

    4a. Again, there is no ‘a priori’ reason to assume Unitarianism. Your argument also assumes that revelation is not progressive, but we know from Scripture that it is. There were certain things revealed at a later time that were not known previously. It is my position that the Trinity is implicit in the OT but revealed in the NT being solidified with the incarnation of the Son.

    4b. The argument that second temple Judaism was ‘Unitarian’ fails to account for the cultic worship of Jesus. I’d recommend Larry Hurtado’s ‘Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity’ to see this demonstrated historically. This does show that the understanding had changed which is the nature of revelation.

    4c. To say that Trinitarians have “always failed” at showing the Trinity from the NT is basically a meaningless statement in that you are assuming the argument must meet your standards (which from what I can see are impossible to meet given your presuppositions) in order to meet the burden of proof.

    The fact is that the Trinitarian can show the Trinity from no less than 3 lines of logical reasoning. (a) Monotheism: There is only one eternal and immutable God that actually exists. (b) There are three distinct Persons all shown to be eternal, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (c) Each of the three Persons is identified as God (i.e. Deity).

    4d. I can also reasonable assume that Yahweh is one, one God, not one person. But again, the context of Deuteronomy 6:4 does not have the nature or persons of God in view–it is a declaration that Yahweh alone is the God of the Israelites as opposed to any of the other deities (i.e. idols) that their neighbors believed in.

    4e. Matthew 28:19 is sufficient to show that three persons share the one name. You have already asserted that the Father’s name is Yahweh (I agree)–the Son and the Holy Spirit have the same name.

    The Greek text uses the definite article ‘to’ meaning ‘the’ (showing this to be the only name in view) before the word ‘onoma’ which is the accusative singular noun meaning ‘name’. There is only one name that these three share.

    It then goes on to show a definite distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit by the use of the conjunction ‘kai’ between each person identified. The genitive case (case of possession) then becomes extremely significant in showing that it is these three persons that possess this one name.

    4f. I have never argued that the word ‘God’ ever meant ‘Triune’ or ‘plural’ so to raise this objection is to raise it against a position that is not mine.

    5a. Again, there is no logical contradiction in saying that 3 persons are 1 God. The law of non-contradiction states that something cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense. But here we have a different sense between 3 and 1. 3 refers to the persons and 1 to the being.

    They are not each ‘a’ God–they are each ‘the’ God as there is only one! To argue against tri-theism is a straw man argument since it isn’t my position (and at this point in the dialogue it is disappointing to see this come out).

    5b. As I mentioned in my original post, John 17:3 does not exist in a vacuum. John’s prologue especially affirms the deity of the Son and 1John 5:20 refers to the Son as the ‘true God.’

    6. You have merely assumed that only the Father was speaking when Yahweh spoke, but once again, there is no ‘a priori’ reason to assume unitarianism. If we allow Scripture to define who Yahweh is then we see multiple persons that share this name, speak, and act as Yahweh (e.g. Gen. 19:24).

    Reply

  15. Posted by nick70 on June 4, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Norm,

    I’m sorry to see that you believe the deity of Christ was something voted on centuries after the formation of the Christian Church (sounds very Da Vinci Code-ish). This is simply not the case. Exegesis of John’s prologue as well as any number of NT passages will show Jesus to be God.

    There is simply no explanation for the extreme devotion to Christ as manifested in prayer to him and the worship of him in the first century unless he was God (or at least thought to be God by his earliest devotees). I’d recommend to you as well the book I noted in my previous response ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ by Larry Hurtado.

    And I’d also suggest J.N.D. Kelly’s ‘Early Christian Doctrines’ to learn more about the council of Nicaea. You will find three groups represented there and it’s not as if the vote was almost even until Constantine pushed it in one direction. by the way, it was still a split decision in the end. 216 to 2!

    But please note that the council was convened in order to settle a dispute that arose concerning the Son’s relationship to the Father. Both sides agreed that Jesus was divine, but the Arians believed his divinity to be a lesser divinity than that of the Father because they believed that the Father alone was uncreated.

    You will also notice that Arianism was the new belief on the block which caused the controversy. The more ancient belief was that the Father and the Son shared the same substance. Arius’ theology was reactionary to the theology of his bishop Alexander of Alexandria–this has to count for something in the historicity of the belief portion of this debate.

    By the way, the word is Gk. homoousion; Lat. consubstantialem. But ecumenical councils aside, the Trinitarian position is firmly rooted in Scripture. I’d also recommend another book for a very complete overview of the Trinity–that is Robert Letham’s ‘The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship’–he traces the doctrine exactly as the title says, first through scripture, then through history, he comments on the varied theologies concerning it, and then shows its centrality to worship.

    Reply

  16. Posted by JohnO on June 4, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Unitarianism is presumed because the culture is Unitarian. Progressive revelation obviously happens. And it is my position that Jesus did not redefine who God is. Clearly the Jews know nothing of a Trinity. Jesus does not teach this doctrine of Trinity to them. He affirms the Jewish understanding of God (Mk 12.28).

    Mt 28.19 tells us nothing about any sharing of names. You’re reading far more than is warranted into this simple passage. Your theophany argument falls flat because of the concept of agency. Clearly in the OT the angels come as God’s messengers. They are addressed as God because they are his agents, not because they are God. This is clearly understood when a King sends a messenger. To insult the messenger is to insult the King. The King has empowered the messenger to negotiate on his behalf.

    You have merely assumed that only the Father was speaking when Yahweh spoke

    I have not assumed this. Yahweh is the name of the Father – not of Jesus. Furthermore Hebrews 1 says that the Son has NOT spoken until now!

    Yahweh is one, one God, not one person

    You keep flip-flopping. On the one hand you say Yahweh is the Father. Now you say Yahweh is not a Person. Please make a choice and stick with it, you can’t have both.

    To say that Trinitarians have “always failed” at showing the Trinity from the NT

    I put in there ‘self-admittedly’. Trinitarian authors have over and over admitted that the common proof-texts cited in favor of the Trinity actually do not support it at all.

    Again, to add a human nature to the already existent eternal nature of deity is NOT to change the nature of deity

    The burden of proof is on you actually. This makes no sense. 1 + 1 = 2. When you add one, to one, one changes and becomes two. When you add a chemical to another chemical a reaction occurs and a new chemical is formed. Adding X to Y ultimately changes Y. X+Y != Y. Otherwise X does not exist. The only way Y does not change is if X is not added to, but placed alongside of. For instance, if Jesus had two divided natures, one divine, and one human, but were not intermingled, then the divine nature would not be changed. However, this position has also been declared heresy.

    I don’t know where you’ve gotten your information concerning Nicea, but the Arian position was the majority position going in, not the new minority.

    The more ancient belief was that the Father and the Son shared the same substance

    – This “more ancient belief” did not even have a mode of expression UNTIL Nicea. Therefore you cannot state it is the more ancient belief if it cannot be expressed before 325.

    I have no problem with a high Christology, an exalted Lord Jesus, I give him praise for what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. I worship Jesus as my King and Messiah that will return to rule the world. But I will not rob Yahweh of what is rightly his, and his alone, worship as God.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Jeff on June 5, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    John O stated “I give him praise for what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. I worship Jesus as my King and Messiah that will return to rule the world. But I will not rob Yahweh of what is rightly his, and his alone, worship as God.

    How do you worship the Lord Jesus?
    How do you Worship Yahweh?

    What would be the differences?

    Reply

  18. Posted by JohnO on June 5, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Yahweh is God. I recognize him as the all sovereign, the creator. I give him praise as creator. I wait for his judgment to be poured out.

    Jesus is Messiah. He is the one God has designated to bring salvation and judgment to the Earth.

    Reply

  19. Posted by John Paul on June 5, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    How do you worship the Lord Jesus?
    How do you Worship Yahweh?

    What would be the differences?

    1 Chronicles 29:20 (King James Version)

    20And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king.

    we have this instance here where David to was worshiped at the same time as YHWH.

    I think in both cases, with Jesus as well as David you will give him the worthiness, respect, and reverence due them (def. of worship.) The same with YHWH. I (and John O) wouldn’t Give David or Jesus the respect due the Creator of heavens and earth, for sending and inspiring the prophets through the ages, for parting the Red sea, and delivering Israel out of the hands of they’re oppressors. For executing Judgment in the past, or for many of the other attributes that God alone deserves.

    I would worship Jesus as one would worship the king. Give all of the worthiness, respect, and reverence. You don’t use the kings name as a curse. You praise Jesus for his mighty works, and words, and love. You bow before the king. etc.

    One side point referring to the scripture I quoted above, The people worshiped David in this instance without
    1) Thinking David was God
    2) Rebuke from YHWH for worshiping a man.

    Reply

  20. John, since you said you worship Yahweh and your worship Jesus, I ask you how this is done.

    You didn’t answer my question. How do you show your worship of Yahweh and how do you show your worship of the son?

    Reply

  21. Posted by JohnO on June 5, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I explained this in the last post – why don’t you just tell us what you’re looking for? Just because Jesus isn’t God, doesn’t mean he is nothing. I recognize Yahweh as God, and treat him as such. He is the one from who all life came, it is his standard, his calling, his plan, his Gospel, his salvation. Jesus is the one whom God has chosen to speak through, and judge through.

    Reply

  22. Posted by Jeff on June 5, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    I thought my questions were pretty straight forward. Thanks for your time, JohnO.

    Reply

  23. Posted by nick70 on June 5, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    JohnO,

    This will be my last response in this particular thread as I feel that we have moved too far away from John 17:3 to continue and I don’t feel that it is fair to those interested in the specific question of how Trinitarians/Unitarians understand John 17:3.

    I would however like to propose something a little more formal such as a written debate that we can either conduct via email or possibly create a BLOG and conduct it in that manner. I have done both in the past and they have been successful.

    I’d suggest that we come up with an agreed upon thesis that is specific so that we don’t delve into related areas that could be debated on their own (as we have done here, e.g. Deity of Christ, Trinity, Hypostatic Union—all of which could be debated in their own right). Of course we would have to come to an agreement on the format (e.g. number of posts, word limits, cross exams, etc.) but I see no reason why we can’t accomplish this.

    Email me at: Prophetnick77@aol.com and let me know if you are up to it.

    Again I will number my responses to correspond to your points.

    1a. Unitarianism is assumed by Unitarians alone—obviously Trinitarians don’t presuppose Unitarianism. We all come to the Scriptures with presuppositions—the question we must ask is what data is necessary to support these presuppositions. To support Unitarianism we’d need to see one and only one person described as God, functioning as God, possessing the attributes of God, being worshipped as God, etc. and the Bible simply doesn’t provide this data. On the other hand the Bible does provide data that without a Trinitarian understanding is impossible to reconcile.

    1b. The claim that the Jews and Jesus knew nothing of the Trinity assumes that they must have had to (although I certainly reject the notion that Jesus knew nothing of the Trinity, especially upon the basis of a contextual reading of John 14-16)—but you admit progressive revelation so this point is moot.

    For example, Jews didn’t have a developed concept of the afterlife in Israel’s early history either, yet we find these things revealed more fully in the NT—would you argue that there was no afterlife based on this? The point is that we can’t reject a doctrine based on the beliefs (in this case alleged beliefs) of a people who had less information to work with.

    But even if your repeated claim that the Jews were Unitarian were proven true, it does not prove Unitarianism true. It’s entirely possible that their belief and practice was wrong. For example, it’s true that Israel at times forsook Yahweh and fell into rank idolatry and even polytheism but no one would argue that because the Jews worshipped idols such as Baal and Ashtaroth (e.g. Jud. 2:11-13) that idolatry was the true faith.

    I think the idea that Jewish belief or non-belief in something somehow determines its truthfulness is one that asserts tradition above Scripture and that is not a position that I’m willing to embrace. Traditionally Jews have denied that Jesus is the Messiah as evidenced in the NT and throughout every age of history since. Are we to reject Jesus as Messiah on that basis? If not then why not? If you appeal to Scripture over their misunderstanding then you have done what I have been doing. We have to allow the Scriptures to inform our traditions, not the other way around (but again, the NT supports the Trinity and the NT was composed by Jews).

    2a. I’m not reading anything into Matthew 28:19, I’ve simply exegeted the text based on what it does say. The text presents one name that three persons possess. It’s that simple.

    to onoma = sing. noun showing one name
    tou patros = gen. case (i.e. possessive) meaning ‘of the father’
    kai = conjunction connecting this noun with the next
    tou huios = gen. case (i.e. possessive) meaning ‘of the son’
    kai = conjunction connecting this noun with the next
    tou hagiou pneumatos = gen. case (i.e. possessive) meaning ‘of the holy spirit’

    You have said repeatedly that the Father’s name is ‘Yahweh’—What alternative understanding to this “simple passage” do you offer?

    2b. The theophany argument is strong especially concerning Genesis 18. Again, Yahweh himself is speaking to Abraham and he appears with 2 angels. I’d also point out that there is one ‘angel’ (Heb. malak, i.e. messenger) in particular that not only speaks FOR Yahweh (which is all that is necessary for a principle of agency), but speaks AS Yahweh, and is called Yahweh as well as God (see Gen. 16:7-13; 21:12-18; 22:11-18; 31:11-13; Ex. 3:1-22; 13:21-22 cf. 14:19-20; Num. 22:34-35 cf. 22:38 & 23:12; Jud. 2:1-4; 6:12-23; 13:3-23). See also the ‘commander of the army of Yahweh’ in Josh. 5 receiving worship.

    3a. The name Yahweh is applied to Jesus in Romans 10:13. Paul quotes Joel who was referring to Yahweh. John 12:38-41 interprets Isaiah 6:9-10 which is about Yahweh as referring to Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all apply Isaiah 40:3 where it is said to ‘prepare the way for Yahweh’ and ‘make straight a highway for God’ to the ministry of John the Baptist who came before Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27).

    3b. Hebrews 1:2 says that in these last days God has spoken by his Son, it does not say that the Son has never spoken until now.

    4. I have not “flip-flopped” at all. Allow me to document my consistency from my previous posts.

    #1 – “It makes sense because the Trinitarian position is that there is one and only one God who exists in three eternally distinct co-equal persons.”

    #2 – “There is only one ‘Being’ that is God yet there are three ‘Persons’ that share this ‘Being’.”

    #3 – “there is nothing to preclude a multiplicity of persons in ‘Classification’ or ‘Being’ of God.”

    #4 – “My position is that there are 3 Persons who are 1 God.”

    #5 – “Again, there is no logical contradiction in saying that 3 persons are 1 God… 3 refers to the persons and 1 to the being.”

    So no, Yahweh is not ‘one person’—Yahweh is ‘three persons’ just as I have said throughout.

    5. I don’t know which Trinitarian authors you are referring to but any who would suggest such certainly do not represent the whole of Trinitarians. And for the record, when you said “self-admittedly” I understood that to mean that you personally admitted that (perhaps at a time when you believed in the Trinity)—sorry for the misunderstanding.

    6a. Your analogies are faulty in that they are relatively dissimilar from what is being proposed. I don’t believe that there is any true analogy that could be drawn since the Incarnation of the Son is absolutely unique. But Philippians 2:6-8 makes my point in that Christ presently exists in the form of God after taking on the form of a servant. But even with the mathematical analogy (which is different from the chemistry analogy) your point fails. All we have to say is that 1 Nature + 1 Nature = 2 Natures which is a statement that I would be willing to make. Nothing says that N1 was changed by the addition of N2.

    6b. The two natures are not “intermingled”—they are united yet distinct. The Symbol of Chalcedon does a wonderful job of expressing this (although I prefer Phil. 2).

    6c. I re-read all of my previous posts and could not find a statement concerning majority or minority positions. I did say that there were 3 groups represented at the 1st Council of Nicaea, and I gave one reference for that, J.N.D. Kelly’s ‘Early Christian Doctrines’, to which I would add Phillip Schaff’s ‘History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3.’ I also said that Arianism was a reactionary theology which of course is true. Arius reacted to the teaching of his bishop Alexander.

    7a. I strongly disagree that the consubstantiality of the Father and Son had “no mode of expression UNTIL Nicea.” This is expressed in Scripture in passages such as John 10:30; Philippians 2:6; and Hebrews 1:3. I would also note that the term homoousion was not new either. Don’t be misled to believe that because a more precise definition was given to the doctrine at a later date in time in response to heretical attacks, that this somehow means the doctrine was not extant. If we only had Bishop Alexander to rely on then we can argue that he preached this doctrine for 10 years prior to the Council.

    7b. Revelation 5:13-14 presents the Lamb (i.e. the Messiah/Son) receiving the same worship as God—not some secondary inferior form of worship—but to offer worship (i.e. true worship) to anyone other than God is idolatry.

    And having read Jeff’s question, I would also like to know how you worship Jesus. If God demands worship in Spirit and in Truth, and you do not worship Jesus as God, then in what way do you worship him? What alternative is there to worshipping in spirit and truth besides a mere lip service?

    This should suffice for now and it is my sincere hope that we can take up a specific issue (and perhaps over time a few issues) in a more formal setting.

    Reply

  24. Posted by JohnO on June 6, 2007 at 9:59 am

    For example, Jews didn’t have a developed concept of the afterlife in Israel’s early history either,

    True, there were three essential views in the first century: No afterlife (Saducee), Bodily Resurrection (Pharisee), spiritual continuance (Hellenistic). Jesus clearly spoke under the bodily resurrection motif (he bodily resurrected Lazarus, and was bodily resurrected himself). Paul, a former Pharisee retained this Bodily Resurrection belief (1 Cor 15 clearly). I reject that when a person dies they go to heaven. I find no biblical support whatsoever. We have a resource page, and I’m in two videos on the subject: http://kingdomready.org/topics/death.php

    But even if your repeated claim that the Jews were Unitarian were proven true, it does not prove Unitarianism true. It’s entirely possible that their belief and practice was wrong.

    I find it absolutely amazing that you would challenge that Jews are Unitarian. Secondly, Jesus affirmed their understanding of God (Mk 12.28). Therefore Jesus agreed with what they understood about their Unitarian God.

    offer worship (i.e. true worship)

    Many people are worshipped in Scripture. Joseph is worshipped by his brothers in Genesis, and this is not worshipping Joseph as God. You would do well to check out BeDuhn, from Harvard, Truth In Translation on this issue, he devotes considerable time to it, and the faulty impression we have of ‘worship’. Again your comments regarding lipservice say that “if Jesus isn’t God, than he is nothing at all”, which is patently false. Yahweh is God, and Jesus is His Messiah.

    Unfortunately, with my absolutely crazy schedule, I couldn’t commit to a debate and do it fair justice, all my remarks here have been off the cuff. However, if you want a good talk on the subject, you should come up this weekend to the conference, only about 3-6 hours depending where you are in Jersey. In all seriousness I’d offer to pay your gas money for the trip up 🙂

    Reply

  25. Hmmm….How is it a problem for Jesus to refer to God the Father as “the only true God”? Is that not a true statement? The Father really is the one true God. The Son is equally the “one true God” as the Holy Spirit is equally the “one true God”. Logically, there is no contradiction for the second member of the Trinity to make a true statement about a co-equal member of the Trinity.

    Schizophrenic elements only appear if one presupposes the Modalistic model of the Trinity which is NOT the orthodox and Biblical doctrine taught in Scripture at all.

    Also there is the “trap” as it were to “stick to this passage alone”. Well, the fact is that the doctrine of the Trinity does not rest on one Scripture alone. It is sum teaching about the nature and person of God the FAther, about the person and nature of Jesus Christ and about the person and nature of the HOly Spirit. Now, that is not to say that I think this passage disproves the Trinity in any way! Far be it from doing that! Rather, there is clearly the distinction of the persons here between Jesus Christ, God the Son, and God the Father. I mean, for Jesus to refer to Himself as God’s son – historically and contextually speaking, is to make Himself equal with God and the Jews understood that and accused Him of blasphemy for it.

    So that this passage disproves the Trinity is hardly accurate at all. Rather it is clear that the distinctions of persons is made – at least for two members (God the Father and God the Son) and their co-equality with each other is implicit within the text.

    Reply

  26. Posted by John Paul on June 7, 2007 at 11:11 am

    The Father really is the one true God. The Son is equally the “one true God” as the Holy Spirit is equally the “one true God”.

    Logically, there is no contradiction for the second member of the Trinity to make a true statement about a co-equal member of the Trinity.

    As I see it your statement defies logic (something that alot of trinitarians admit “the trinity defies logic”
    First I would like to again define the word
    only:

    Dictionary.com

    –adverb
    1. without others or anything further; alone; solely; exclusively: This information is for your eyes only.
    2. no more than; merely; just: If it were only true! I cook only on weekends.
    3. as recently as: I read that article only yesterday.
    4. in the final outcome or decision: You will only regret your harsh words to me.
    –adjective
    5. being the single one or the relatively few of the kind: This is the only pencil I can find.
    6. having no sibling or no sibling of the same sex: an only child; an only son.
    7. single in superiority or distinction; unique; the best: the one and only Muhammad Ali.
    –conjunction
    8. but (introducing a single restriction, restraining circumstance, or the like): I would have gone, only you objected.
    9. Older Use. except; but: Only for him you would not be here

    I dont think that Jesus was saying you one of the only only true Gods.

    Now as to the Logic on the Statement:

    The statement “You, the only true God” when Jesus is without a doubt reffering to the father.

    I can now use a logic table
    The Father/ is the only/ True God
    If this is a true statement
    then this would have to be too

    Not the Father/ can only be/ a False God

    This can not be “logically” harmonized with your statements
    The son/ is the only / True God*
    Not the son/ can only be/ a False God

    The Holy Spirit/ is the only/ True God*
    Not the Holy Spirit/ can only be/ a False God

    *these statements are not found in scripture

    I mean, for Jesus to refer to Himself as God’s son – historically and contextually speaking, is to make Himself equal with God and the Jews understood that and accused Him of blasphemy for it.

    How is this so? Can you site presidence for this? Solomon was not equal to to David until David pernounced him as King. As a matter of fact, to be called the son of God explicitly means not God.

    Reply

  27. Posted by JohnO on June 7, 2007 at 11:29 am

    to be called the son of God explicitly means not God.

    That was said by Dr. Colin Brown of Fuller Theological Seminary. Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament. He is a Trinitarian. There goes that self-admittance thing I was talking about.

    Reply

  28. Posted by Jeff on June 7, 2007 at 11:40 am

    As I see it your statement defies logic (something that alot of trinitarians admit “the trinity defies logic”

    I wouldn’t state it as you say trinitarians admit. But, is God bound by logic, or does God, define logic?

    Reply

  29. Posted by Jeff on June 7, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    I understand you will not agree with this, but this article maybe of interest.

    Reply

  30. Posted by John Paul on June 7, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    God is not bound by logic, but he does speak truth. He cannot help to by Holy, Just and “abounding in loving kindness and truth” The statements:
    The son/ is the only / True God*
    Not the son/ can only be/ a False God
    and
    The Holy Spirit/ is the only/ True God*
    Not the Holy Spirit/ can only be/ a False God
    are false if the statements:

    The Father/ is the only/ True God
    Not the Father/ can only be/ a False God
    is true.

    unless you start redefining the words and their meanings.

    Reply

  31. Posted by John Paul on June 7, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    The context of that was referred to John 10:33 is this.

    In the last half of chapter 10 starting with verse 22
    Jesus is in Jerusalem celebrating Hanukah. The Jews (not just the religious leaders) asked Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the Christ (The anointed offspring of David that would come and establish Gods kingdom, ending Roman oppression and bless all the nations…)
    In Verses 25-26 He tells them that if they had but been paying attention to what he has said and done, they would realize that he had told them already that he is.

    In verses 27-28 He speaks of the people who have heard and believed and Followed him and the rewards that he will give them

    In verses 29 through 30 Jesus says

    My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

    If he didn’t say plainly that he was Christ Before he certainly said it then. He said that he was Given (something he didn’t have originally) the authority of judgment over these people, and may reward them. That when Jesus said they will not perish, that it might as well be God saying it. If you think that its capable of snatching them from my (Jesus’s) hand, your saying that its capable of snatching them from God.
    Jesus and God are singular in this purpose.

    Well Jesus has now just told them that whey where not of his flock and that to not be with Jesus is not to be with God so I suspect that they are very upset with this.

    So they took up stones and Jesus asks why they are stoning him. and they say you make yourself to be God.

    What does Jesus do at this point? Reveal himself to be God as the trinitarians suppose? Show them from the prophets that God has been triune all this time. Reason with them from the scriptures that He was YHWH?

    No in verses 34-36 he uses the Example of the Judges in the past how they have been given the authority of God and they themselves where called Gods, (elohiem.)
    A very appropriate example at that because Judgment was the topic on hand. And also the Judges were people/humans/mortals through whom the word of God came. So he is like the same think except more so.

    In 37 and 38 He reasserts the singleness of purpose that he has with the Father.

    If This was God here he practically denies it and deals with them craftily and deceitfully. Not the same God who is “Abounding in Loving-kindness and Truth” as he describes himself to Moses in Exodus 34. (Why oh why didn’t he describe himself as triune?)

    Reply

  32. Posted by Dustin on June 7, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Jesus clearly says that the Father is the only true God in John 17:3. He uses in the greek a singular pronoun, and since God created logic and language, we should adhere to it.

    If Jesus said that you (one person), the Father, are the monon alethenon theon, then why are we saying that 2 other supposed persons are the true God?

    Dustin

    Reply

  33. Posted by Sheila on June 15, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    I’ve been brought up to believe that Jesus is God, but now I’m not so sure. When someone is conditioned, if you will, in being taught a certain way to believe, I think for the most part, that person accepts what he or she was taught, until one day, they might see something for the first time in a different light, and this different light nuges them forward into searching even deeper for the truth. Unfortunately, there aren’t many church leaders that beleive this way. Even more dishearting, is the fact that one can’t even talk about this to many people. So when I have just happened to few your web-site, I thought that I would like to tell you what I’ve been encountering, in hopes to learn more from you. Without going into scripture at this time, I would like to say this, Jesus has never claimed to be God, but he has always said that he is the son of God. I’m sure many would like to say that he has claimed to be God, but when examining the scriptrues, one will not find Jesus saying, I am God, never will you find these words. Yes, you will find Jesus saying, I and the Father are one, but this is not the same as saying, I am God. The Father and Son are one in unity, they are one in mind.

    Sheila

    Reply

  34. Sheila,

    You are absolutely right. This subject is often the “sacred cow” of the church, the one thing that at all costs cannot be questioned. I know of quite a few people that were excommunicated from their churches because they stopped believing it. Further resources (including free audio files) can be found on our God is 1 not 3 website. Also, if you are interested we can send you a free book on the subject. Shoot me an email (sean@kingdomready.org).

    Reply

  35. Posted by Dustin Smith on June 16, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Sheila,

    Good to hear that you are searching for truth, which God seeks from all of His creation. Yes, check out the site that Sean just linked to and continue to search and ask questions. http://www.restorationfellowship.org may also be of some help.

    Dustin

    Reply

  36. Posted by Sheila on June 17, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Dustin,

    Thank you for your help. I will check into the web site you provided for me. I would appreciate you keeping in touch with me.

    THANK YOU AGAIN,
    SHEILA

    Reply

  37. Sean,

    I don’t know many (if any at all) believers in the deity of Christ who haven’t questioned it. I don’t think that fideism honors God and it certainly doesn’t fulfill the command to love God with all of our mind.

    I’m curious to know if you believe that excommunicating heretics is wrong? Would your congregation welcome into fellowship those who denied the uni-personality of the god you worship? If they stopped believing in the monistic unity of your god would your congregation allow them to remain? If so, is that really the Biblical thing to do?

    And if you could send me that free book I’d be more than happy to read it 😉

    Reply

  38. Sheila,

    You said:

    Jesus has never claimed to be God, but he has always said that he is the son of God. I’m sure many would like to say that he has claimed to be God, but when examining the scriptrues, one will not find Jesus saying, I am God, never will you find these words.

    You might be interested to know that Jesus also never claimed to be a man but he always said that he was the son of man.

    So I’m curious, since you can’t find the words “I am a man” (εγω ανθρωπος ειμι) coming from Jesus’ mouth anywhere in the New Testament, would you also conclude that Jesus was not a man?

    And just something for you to think about… would being “one in unity” and “one in mind” be something that pointed towards or away from being one in being?

    Nick

    Reply

  39. Posted by John Paul on June 18, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Sorry for not being around for a while, i have been busy, Nick i will address the questions you asked me in the above post soon, but I can answer this one quickly. The term son of man means man (human, descendent of Adam.) It always has in the scriptures that came before this time.

    Numbers 23:19, Job 25:6, Job 35:8, Psalm 8:4, Psalm 80:17,Psalm 144:3, Isaiah 51:12, Isaiah 56:2, Jeremiah 49:18, Jeremiah 49:33, Jeremiah 50:40, Jeremiah 51:43, all throughout Ezekiel, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 8:17, Micah 5:7

    All us the term son of man in reference to human beings. Son of man means to be a man. So there are many time that Jesus stated plainly that he is a man. Culturally and contextually, that what Son of man means. Nowhere did he state plainly, culturally or contextually that he was God.

    Reply

  40. I think to be the son of man means to be a man, but I also think that when Jesus used this phrase of himself (one of his favorites actually) he was drawing on the vision of Daniel 7:
    13-14 – “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
    Jesus, the son of man, the second Adam is given the dominion and authority over the nations, that which Adam lost. Jesus will rule the world and have dominion over it.
    (He also extends this to those who follow him – see http://www.highergroundonline.org/goodstuff/articles/overcomeandreign.pdf)
    Paul calls Jesus a man and puts a definete separation and distinction between God and Jesus.
    I Timothy 2: 5 – For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
    And that brings up back to subject of this post, the Father is the only true God, Jesus is the mediator between that God and us.

    Reply

  41. John Paul,

    I tend to agree with JohnO that Jesus’ use of the title Son of Man was a Messianic self-description (note that he always uses it with the definite article the) alluding to Daniel 7:13-14. Some argue that the title is one of deity (e.g. Gary Habermas; Timothy C. Tennent; William Lane Craig; etc.) and there is good evidence for this in the contexts in which Jesus refers to himself as this.

    But I think you missed the point of my question to Sheila. Her objection is common amongst those who deny the deity of Christ. They look for a specific phrase (in this case “I am God”) that appears nowhere in Scripture and then when it is not found conclude that the concept (or in this case declaration) is not there.

    I’ve spoken with many JWs and Muslims who raise this very same objection. So my point was that simply because Jesus never once says the exact words, “I am a man” doesn’t mean that he isn’t a man.

    But to say that he never stated plainly, culturally, or contextually that he was God is a definite misstatement. Jesus was nearly killed three times (Jo. 5:18; 8:59; 10:31-33) and he was convicted on the charge of blasphemy for making explicit claims to deity (Mk. 14:61 ff.).

    Reply

  42. Posted by John Paul on June 18, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Again, a quick post as it is late, ill try and talk more about this tomorrow. I have already addressed John 10:31 in this very thread and show that all there is to that verse is that he has been given the authority of God to judge. I wont repeat myself, just scroll up and read what I have had to say.
    in 8:59 we see a similar instance where he asserts his authority and the point was that Abraham was looking forward to the day when his seed would bless all the nations, fulfilled partially at the Death and resurrection, and also to be fulfilled when Abraham is resurrected to inherit the land that he was promised by God Hen Jesus comes to establish his kingdom here on earth.
    I dont see any claims to Deity in Mark 14:61. If you are referring to the words I am, there are other people who use that phrase that don’t get stoned for blasphemy. He was tried after admitting to being the christ. and for making himself to be king of the Jews.
    My eyes are closing now and im going to sleep. I hope o find time to continue this 2morrow.
    God Bless

    Reply

  43. For anyone interested, in light of the topic of John 8:58, you might find it helpful to listen to the following teaching:

    [audio src="http://www.highergroundonline.org/goodstuff/teachings/john8.mp3" /]

    (to download, right click and “save target as”).

    Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah throughout the chapter of John 8. The context really helps in this situation. Also, the same words that Jesus uses “ego eimi” which is translated “I am.” in John 8:58 are used by him numerous times in the chapter yet translated “I am he” or “I am the one.” Plus, in John 9:9, the formerly blind man, healed by Jesus uses this same phrase to identify who he is and yet nobody tried to stone him.

    It wasn’t that Jesus was invoking the divine name of God, but instead was claiming to be the promised one, the Messiah and the Jews who were listening to him didn’t like that one bit – especially since they thought he was a bastard –

    John 8:41b – “They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”

    Ouch…

    Reply

  44. […] O commenting on “Did Jesus Think He Was God? – John […]

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