THE EARLY CHURCH ON CHRIST’S THOUSAND YEAR REIGN

In this post I will cite the writings of specific church fathers and theologians who viewed the seven days of the Genesis creation account as shadows of a greater spiritual reality. These Christians believed that the seven days pointed to seven thousand years of human years, where the risen Lord will descend on the start of the seventh day or seventh thousand year from the start or creation to resurrect believers and reign with them on the earth.

All emphasis shall be mine.

BARNABAS

Chapter 15. The false and the true Sabbath

Further, also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, And sanctify the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart. Exodus 20:8Deuteronomy 5:12 And He says in another placeIf my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them. Jeremiah 17:24-25 The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it. Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, He finished in six days. This implies that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifies, saying, Behold, today will be as a thousand years. Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. And He rested on the seventh day. This means: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Moreover, He says, You shall sanctify it with pure hands and a pure heart. If, therefore, any one can now sanctify the day which God has sanctified, except he is pure in heart in all things, we are deceived. Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness. Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves. Further, He says to them, Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure. Isaiah 1:13 You perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.

Chapter 16. The spiritual temple of God

Moreover, I will also tell you concerning the temple, how the wretched [Jews], wandering in error, trusted not in God Himself, but in the temple, as being the house of God. For almost after the manner of the Gentiles they worshipped Him in the temple. But learn how the Lord speaks, when abolishing it: Who has meted out heaven with a span, and the earth with his palm? Have not I? Isaiah 40:12 Thus says the Lord, Heaven is My throne, and the earth My footstool: what kind of house will you build to Me, or what is the place of My rest? Isaiah 66:1 You perceive that their hope is vain. Moreover, He again says, Behold, they who have cast down this temple, even they shall build it up again. It has so happened. For through their going to war, it was destroyed by their enemies; and now: they, as the servants of their enemies, shall rebuild it. Again, it was revealed that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were to be given up. For the Scripture says, And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of His pasture, and their sheep-fold and tower, to destruction. And it so happened as the Lord had spoken. Let us inquire, then, if there still is a temple of God. There is — where He himself declared He would make and finish it. For it is written, And it shall come to pass, when the week is completed, the temple of God shall be built in glory in the name of the Lord. Daniel 9:24-27Haggai 2:10 I find, therefore, that a temple does exist. Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak, as being indeed like a temple made with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a habitation of demons, through our doing such things as were opposed to [the will of] God. But it shall be built, you observe, in the name of the Lord, in order that the temple of the Lord may be built in glory. How? Learn [as follows]. Having received the forgiveness of sins, and placed our trust in the name of the Lord, we have become new creatures, formed again from the beginning. Wherefore in our habitation God truly dwells in us. How? His word of faith; His calling of promise; the wisdom of the statutes; the commands of the doctrine; He himself prophesying in us; He himself dwelling in us; opening to us who were enslaved by death the doors of the temple, that is, the mouth; and by giving us repentance introduced us into the incorruptible temple. He then, who wishes to be saved, looks not to man, but to Him who dwells in him, and speaks in him, amazed at never having either heard him utter such words with his mouth, nor himself having ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord. (Epistle of Barnabas)

HIPPOLYTUS

4. But that we may not leave our subject at this point undemonstrated, we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily, because they are a light to him. For as the times are noted from the foundation of the world, and reckoned from Adam, they set clearly before us the matter with which our inquiry deals. For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day on which God rested from all His works. For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they shall reign with Christ, when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse: for a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled. And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says: five are fallen; one is, that is, the sixth; the other is not yet come.

5. In mentioning the other, moreover, he specifies the seventh, in which there is rest. But some one may be ready to say, How will you prove to me that the Saviour was born in the year 5500? Learn that easily, O man; for the things that took place of old in the wilderness, under Moses, in the case of the tabernacle, were constituted types and emblems of spiritual mysteries, in order that, when the truth came in Christ in these last days, you might be able to perceive that these things were fulfilled. For He says to him, And you shall make the ark of imperishable wood, and shall overlay it with pure gold within and without; and you shall make the length of it two cubits and a half, and the breadth thereof one cubit and a half, and a cubit and a half the height; which measures, when summed up together, make five cubits and a half, so that the 5500 years might be signified thereby.

6. At that time, then, the Saviour appeared and showed His own body to the world, (born) of the Virgin, who was the ark overlaid with pure gold, with the Word within and the Holy Spirit without; so that the truth is demonstrated, and the ark made manifest. From the birth of Christ, then, we must reckon the 500 years that remain to make up the 6000, and thus the end shall be. And that the Saviour appeared in the world, bearing the imperishable ark, His own body, at a time which was the fifth and half, John declares: Now it was the sixth hour, he says, intimating by that, one-half of the day. But a day with the Lord is 10000 years; and the half of that, therefore, is 500 years. For it was not meet that He should appear earlier, for the burden of the law still endured, nor yet when the sixth day was fulfilled (for the baptism is changed), but on the fifth and half, in order that in the remaining half time the gospel might be preached to the whole world, and that when the sixth day was completed He might end the present life. (Some Exegetical Fragments of Hippolytus)

COMMODIANUS

XXXV. Of the Tree of Life and Death.

Adam was the first who fell, and that he might shun the precepts of GodBelial was his tempter by the lust of the palm tree. And he conferred on us also what he did, whether of good or of evil, as being the chief of all that was born from him; and thence we die by his means, as he himself, receding from the divine, became an outcast from the Word. We shall be immortal when six thousand years are accomplished. The tree of the apple being tasted, death has entered into the world. By this tree of death we are born to the life to come. On the tree depends the life that bears fruits — precepts. Now, therefore, pluck believingly the fruits of life. A law was given from the tree to be feared by the primitive man, whence comes death by the neglect of the law of the beginning. Now stretch forth your hand, and take of the tree of life. The excellent law of the Lord which follows has issued from the tree. The first law is lost; man eats whence he can, who adores the forbidden gods, the evil joys of life. Reject this partaking; it will suffice you to know what it should be. If you wish to live, surrender yourselves to the second law. Avoid the worship of temples, the oracles of demons; turn yourselves to Christ, and you shall be associates with God. Holy is God’s law, which teaches the dead to live. God alone has commanded us to offer to Him the hymn of praise. All of you shun absolutely the law of the devil

LXXX. The Name of the Man of Gaza.

You who are to be inhabitants of the heavens with God-Christ, hold fast the beginning, look at all things from heaven. Let simplicity, let meekness dwell in your body. Be not angry with your devout brother without a cause, for you shall receive whatever you may have done from him. This has pleased Christ, that the dead should rise again, yea, with their bodies; and those, too, whom in this world the fire has burned, when six thousand years are completed, and the world has come to an end. The heaven in the meantime is changed with an altered course, for then the wicked are burnt up with divine fire. The creature with groaning burns with the anger of the highest God. Those who are more worthy, and who are begotten of an illustrious stem, and the men of nobility under the conquered Antichrist, according to God’s command living again in the world for a thousand years, indeed, that they may serve the saints, and the High One, under a servile yoke, that they may bear victuals on their neck. Moreover, that they may be judged again when the reign is finished. They who make God of no account when the thousandth year is finished shall perish by fire, when they themselves shall speak to the mountains. All flesh in the monuments and tombs is restored according to its deed: they are plunged in hell; they bear their punishments in the world; they are shown to them, and they read the things transacted from heaven; the reward according to one’s deeds in a perpetual tyranny. I cannot comprehend all things in a little treatise; the curiosity of the learned men shall find my name in this. (Writings)

VICTORINUS

From the Twentieth Chapter

1-3. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he held the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed a little season. Those years wherein Satan is bound are in the first advent of Christ, even to the end of the age; and they are called a thousand, according to that mode of speaking, wherein a part is signified by the whole, just as is that passage, the word which He commanded for a thousand generations, although they are not a thousand. Moreover that he says, and he cast him into the abyss, he says this, because the devil, excluded from the hearts of believers, began to take possession of the wicked, in whose hearts, blinded day by day, he is shut up as if in a profound abyss. And he shut him up, says he, and put a seal upon him, that he should not deceive the nations until the thousand years should be finished. He shut the door upon him, it is said, that is, he forbade and restrained his seducing those who belong to Christ. Moreover, he put a seal upon him, because it is hidden who belong to the side of the devil, and who to that of Christ. For we know not of those who seem to stand whether they shall not fall, and of those who are down it is uncertain whether they may rise. Moreover, that he says that he is bound and shut up, that he may not seduce the nations, the nations signify the Church, seeing that of them it itself is formed, and which being seduced, he previously held until, he says, the thousand years should be completed, that is, what is left of the sixth day, to wit, of the sixth age, which subsists for a thousand years; after this he must be loosed for a little season. The little season signifies three years and six months, in which with all his power the devil will avenge himself under Antichrist against the Church. Finally, he says, after that the devil shall be loosed, and will seduce the nations in the whole world, and will entice war against the Church, the number of whose foes shall be as the sand of the sea.

4, 5. And I saw thrones, and them that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were slain on account of the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast nor his image, nor have received his writing on their forehead or in their hand; and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years: the rest of them lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. There are two resurrections. But the first resurrection is now of the souls that are by the faith, which does not permit men to pass over to the second death. Of this resurrection the apostle says: If you have risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.

6. Blessed and holy is he who has part in this resurrection: on them the second death shall have no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and they shall reign with Him a thousand years. I do not think the reign of a thousand years is eternal; or if it is thus to be thought of, they cease to reign when the thousand years are finished. But I will put forward what my capacity enables me to judge. The tenfold number signifies the decalogue, and the hundredfold sets forth the crown of virginity: for he who shall have kept the undertaking of virginity completely, and shall have faithfully fulfilled the precepts of the decalogue, and shall have destroyed the untrained nature or impure thoughts within the retirement of the heart, that they may not rule over him, this is the true priest of Christ, and accomplishing the millenary number thoroughly, is thought to reign with Christ; and truly in his case the devil is bound. But he who is entangled in the vices and the dogmas of heretics, in his case the devil is loosed. But that it says that when the thousand years are finished he is loosed, so the number of the perfect saints being completed, in whom there is the glory of virginity in body and mind, by the approaching advent of the kingdom of the hateful one, many, seduced by that love of earthly things, shall be overthrown, and together with him shall enter the lake of fire.

8-10. And they went up upon the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil who seduced them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. This belongs to the last judgment. And after a little time the earth was made holy, as being at least that wherein lately had reposed the bodies of the virgins, when they shall enter upon an eternal kingdom with an immortal King, as they who are not only virgins in body, but, moreover, with equal inviolability have protected themselves, both in tongue and thought, from wickedness; and these, it shows, shall dwell in rejoicing for ever with the Lamb. (Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John)

METHODIUS

Chapter 1. Chastity the Chief Ornament of the True Tabernacle; Seven Days Appointed to the Jews for Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles: What They Signify; The Sum of This Septenary Uncertain; Not Clear to Any One When the Consummation of the World Will Be; Even Now the Fabric of the World Completed.

O Arete, you dearest boast to the lovers of virginity, I also implore you to afford me your aid, lest I should be wanting in words, the subject having been so largely and variously handled. Wherefore I ask to be excused exordium and introductions, lest, while I delay in embellishments suitable to them, I depart from the subject: so glorious, and honourable, and renowned a thing is virginity.

God, when He appointed to the true Israelites the legal rite of the true feast of the tabernacles, directed, in Leviticus, how they should keep and do honour to the feast; above all things, saying that each one should adorn his tabernacle with chastity. I will add the words themselves of Scripture, from which, without any doubt, it will be shown how agreeable to God, and acceptable to Him, is this ordinance of virginityIn the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. And you shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. And you shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 23:39-42

Here the Jews, fluttering about the bare letter of Scripture, like drones about the leaves of herbs, but not about flowers and fruits as the bee, fully believe that these words and ordinances were spoken concerning such a tabernacle as they erect; as if God delighted in those trivial adornments which they, preparing, fabricate from trees, not perceiving the wealth of good things to come; whereas these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation.

For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, Genesis 2:1 so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord, which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us. For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation, in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider the naked truth itself, for He says, A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings. Proverbs 1:5-6

Wherefore let it shame the Jews that they do not perceive the deep things of the Scriptures, thinking that nothing else than outward things are contained in the law and the prophets; for they, intent upon things earthly, have in greater esteem the riches of the world than the wealth which is of the soul. For since the Scriptures are in this way divided that some of them give the likeness of past events, some of them a type of the future, the miserable men, going back, deal with the figures of the future as if they were already things of the past. As in the instance of the immolation of the Lamb, the mystery of which they regard as solely in remembrance of the deliverance of their fathers from Egypt, when, although the first-born of Egypt were smitten, they themselves were preserved by marking the door-posts of their houses with blood. Nor do they understand that by it also the death of Christ is personified, by whose blood souls made safe and sealed shall be preserved from wrath in the burning of the world; while the first-born, the sons of Satan, shall be destroyed with an utter destruction by the avenging angels, who shall reverence the seal of the Blood impressed upon the former

Chapter 5. The Mystery of the Tabernacles.

Wherefore, above all other things, I say to those who love contests, and who are strong-minded, that without delay they should honour chastity, as a thing the most useful and glorious. For in the new and indissoluble creation, whoever shall not be found decorated with the boughs of chastity, shall neither obtain rest, because he has not fulfilled the command of God according to the law, nor shall he enter into the land of promise, because he has not previously celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. For they only who have celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles come to the Holy Land, setting out from those dwellings which are called tabernacles, until they come to enter into the temple and city of God, advancing to a greater and more glorious joy, as the Jewish types indicate. For like as the Israelites, having left the borders of Egypt, first came to the Tabernacles, and from hence, having again set forth, came into the land of promise, so also do we. For I also, taking my journey, and going forth from the Egypt of this life, came first to the resurrection, which is the true Feast of the Tabernacles, and there having set up my tabernacle, adorned with the fruits of virtue, on the first day of the resurrection, which is the day of judgment, celebrate with Christ the millennium of rest, which is called the seventh day, even the true Sabbath. Then again from thence I, a follower of Jesuswho has entered into the heavens, Hebrews 4:14 as they also, after the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles, came into the land of promise, come into the heavens, not continuing to remain in tabernacles — that is, my body not remaining as it was before, but, after the space of a thousand years, changed from a human and corruptible form into angelic size and beauty, where at last we virgins, when the festival of the resurrection is consummated, shall pass from the wonderful place of the tabernacle to greater and better things, ascending into the very house of God above the heavens, as, says the Psalmist, in the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among such as keep holy day. I, O Arete, my mistress, offer as a gift to you this robe, adorned according to my ability. (Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse IX)

LACTANTIUS

Chapter 14. Of the First and Last Times of the World.

Since we have spoken of the immortality of the soul, it follows that we teach how and when it is given to man; that in this also they may see the errors of their perverseness and folly, who imagine that some mortals have become gods by the decrees and dogmas of mortals; either because they had invented arts, or because they had taught the use of certain productions of the earth, or because they had discovered things useful for the life of men, or because they had slain savage beasts. How far these things were from deserving immortality we have both shown in the former books, and we will now show, that it may be evident that it is righteousness alone which procures for man eternal life, and that it is God alone who bestows the reward of eternal life. For they who are said to have been immortalized by their merits, inasmuch as they possessed neither righteousness nor any true virtue, did not obtain for themselves immortality, but death by their sins and lusts; nor did they deserve the reward of heaven, but the punishment of hell, which impends over them, together with all their worshippers. And I show that the time of this judgment draws near, that the due reward may be given to the righteous, and the deserved punishment may be inflicted on the wicked.

Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; and in this they perhaps followed the Chaldeans, who, as Cicero has related in his first book respecting divination, foolishly say that they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which matter, because they thought that they could not be convicted, they believed that they were at liberty to speak falsely. But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truthknow the beginning and the end of the world, respecting which we will now speak in the end of our work, since we have explained respecting the beginning in the second book. Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodelled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works. But this is the Sabbath day, which in the language of the Hebrews received its name from the number, whence the seventh is the legitimate and complete number. For there are seven days, by the revolutions of which in order the circles of years are made up; and there are seven stars which do not set, and seven luminaries which are called planets, whose differing and unequal movements are believed to cause the varieties of circumstances and times.

Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says In Your sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day. And as God laboured during those six days in creating such great works, so His religion and truth must labour during these six thousand years, while wickedness prevails and bears rule. And again, since God, having finished His works, rested the seventh day and blessed it, at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years; and there must be tranquillity and rest from the labours which the world now has long endured. But how that will come to pass I will explain in its order. We have often said that lesser things and things of small importance are figures and previous shadowings forth of great things; as this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits.

In the same manner also the fashioning of the earthly man held forth to the future the formation of the heavenly people. For as, when all things were completed which were contrived for the use of man, last of all, on the sixth day, He made man also, and introduced him into this world as into a home now carefully prepared; so now on the great sixth day the true man is being formed by the word of God, that is, a holy people is fashioned for righteousness by the doctrine and precepts of God. And as then a mortal and imperfect man was formed from the earth, that he might live a thousand years in this world; so now from this earthly age is formed a perfect man, that being quickened by God, he may bear rule in this same world through a thousand years. But in what manner the consummation will take place, and what end awaits the affairs of men, if any one shall examine the divine writings he will ascertain. But the voices also of prophets of the world, agreeing with the heavenly, announce the end and overthrow of all things after a short time, describing as it were the last old age of the wearied and wasting world. But the things which are said by prophets and seers to be about to happen before that last ending comes upon the world, I will subjoin, being collected and accumulated from all quarters. (The Divine Institutes, Book VII Of a happy life)

JESUS CHRIST: THE ETERNALLY PRAISED GOD

In this post I will sum up the evidence supporting the fact that Paul, in Romans 9:5, affirms the two natures of Christ, being both God and Man.

Notice what the inspired Apostle wrote as he recounted some of the favors God lavished upon Israel, culminating with the greatest blessing one could ever be granted:

“who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ camewho is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:4-5

Here’s another rendering of this verse:

“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” New International Version (NIV)

According to Paul, Israel’s God honored his people by choosing to become a human being from their race.

In other words, Israel was given the blessing of having the one true supreme God of all creation become an Israelite, from the tribe of Judah and the line of David, by choosing to be born of a Jewish woman:

“concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:3-4

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5  

“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,” 2 Timothy 2:8

“For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.” Hebrews 7:14

Here are the other texts confirming Jesus’ physical descent and lineage from Judah and David:

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” Matthew 1:1

“Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” Mark 10:46-48

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:32-33

 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,” Luke 3:23-33

“And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus—” Acts 13:22-23

These next examples are rather significant since they also affirm the Deity of Christ:

“But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignantand said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise”?’” Matthew 21:15-16

Christ justified the praise he received from the children by citing the following Psalm,

LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth! You reveal your majesty in the heavens above. From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy.” Psalm 8:1-2 New English Translation (NET)

O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth! for thy magnificence is exalted above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise, because of thine enemies; that thou mightest put down the enemy and avenger.” Psalm 8:2-3 LXX

Where David refers to YHVH enabling babes to magnify him in order to silence his enemies for being less wise than even sucklings since they refused to worship him due to their arrogance and ignorance!

As such, Jesus was claiming to be that very YHVH God whose enemies failed to recognize who he was, even though the children knew that this was the Lord God who was worthy of their worship and glorification!

There’s more:

“‘Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:29-38

In the aforementioned passage, Peter identifies the risen Christ as the YHVH God whom the prophet Joel stated would pour out his Holy Spirit upon believers and whose name people must invoke and call on in order to be saved:

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.”’” Acts 2:14-21

At the same time, the holy Apostle is careful to distinguish Jesus from the Father, showing his awareness that God, Christ and the Spirit are three distinct divine Persons.

In these next examples,

“But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’” Revelation 5:5

“‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the LastI, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’… He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:12-16, 20

The heavenly Christ claims to be the Root of David, and therefore the Life and Source of the Davidic dynasty, as well as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last who comes to judge and repay each individual for what s/he has done!

These are titles and functions that point to the Son being uncreated, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, since they are ascribed to God Almighty elsewhere in the Holy Bible:  

“Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.” Isaiah 40:10

“Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first; And with the last I am He.’” Isaiah 41:4

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.” Isaiah 48:12

“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10

“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’” Revelation 21:6-7

In light of the above, pay attention to all the evidence provided by following Evangelical authors which conclusively proves that Romans 9:5 describes the risen Jesus as the eternally praised God:

According to the NASB and most recent major English versions, Paul refers to the Christ as “God,” whereas in the NWT and some other (mostly older) translations, he does not. In other texts that apparently call Jesus “God,” we have encountered various textual and translation disputes. Here, the difference comes down to punctuation.

If we break up the verse into lines and translate it word for word in order without punctuation, it will help us see what the issues are:

a. whose [are] the fathers

b. and from whom [is] the Christ according to the flesh

c. the one who is over all

d. God blessed unto the ages amen

Put very simply, the main options35 for punctuating the verse boil down to three: (1) Put a period at the end of line b, so that lines c and d are a separate sentence. This would mean that the verse does not say that Christ is “over all” or that he is God.36 (2) Put a period at the end of line c, so that line d is a separate sentence. This would mean that the verse says that Christ is “over all” but does not call him God.37 (3) Treat all four lines as part of the same sentence (which may start in verse 3). This would mean that the verse says that Christ is “over all” and also calls him God.38

Two considerations lead most translators to choose the third option. First, grammatically, “who is over all” most naturally modifies “the Christ” in the preceding part of the verse: “and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, the one who is over all” (translating literally). In addition, “who is” or “the one who is” (ho on) agrees grammatically with “the Christ” (ho Christos), leading the reader to understand that “who is over all” is continuing to say something about the Christ. Paul’s wording here closely parallels a similar outburst of praise directed to God the Father in another of Paul’s epistles: “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows, the one who is [ho on] blessed forever, that I am not lying” (2 Cor. 11:31, authors’ translation). This means that the third line of Romans 9:5 most likely is part of the sentence that begins in verse 3. The thought that the Messiah is “over all” is certainly consistent with Paul’s teaching; in fact, the idea is repeated just one chapter later (Rom. 10:12).

The second consideration is the position of the word for “blessed” (eulogetos), which in Greek follows the word for “God” (theos). In biblical doxologies that stand as separate sentences and that use blessed, it always precedes the divine name or title (God, YHWH, etc.) in the sentence. Here are some typical examples.

Blessed be God . . . (Pss. 66:20; 68:35)

Blessed be the Lord . . . (Exod. 18:10; Ruth 4:14; Pss. 28:6; 31:21)

Blessed be the Lord forever. (Ps. 89:52)

Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel . . . (1 Sam. 25:32; Pss. 41:13; 106:48; cf. Luke 1:68)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . (2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3)

The fact that Romans 9:5 does not follow this standard biblical pattern for a doxology that stands as a separate sentence (which Paul himself uses elsewhere) makes it reasonably certain that “God blessed forever” is part of the same sentence as the preceding lines. Paul uses this sentence structure in other places in his writings, including earlier in the same epistle.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is [hos estin] blessed forever! Amen. (Rom. 1:25).

The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is [ho on] blessed forever. . . . (2 Cor. 11:31 NASB)

For these reasons, we can be quite confident that Romans 9:5 does, indeed, call Jesus “God.”39 This text is all the more significant when we consider that it is the earliest New Testament writing that calls Jesus “God” (dating to about A.D. 57, about a quarter-century after Jesus’ death and resurrection).40  Moreover, in Romans 9:5 we see three of the five elements we are discussing in this book pertaining to the deity of Jesus: he receives the divine honor of eternal praise; he has the divine name “God”; he shares God’s seat, holding the highest position of ruling over all creation. (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 3: Name Above All Names: Jesus Shares the Names of God, 12.  Immanuel: God with Us, pp. 146-148; bold emphasis mine)

With the foregoing in perspective, I will provide more proofs in the next part of my discussion.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Nightmare Pt. 4

This is a continuation of my series: The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Nightmare Pt. 3b.

In this post I will contrast the Authorized King James Version with the JW’s (mis)translation of the Holy Bible in order to show the deliberate, pernicious renderings by the Society of specific biblical texts, which are directly related to the Trinity and the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The readers can access all these Bible versions from the Society’s own website: Online Bible.  

It will become obvious to the readers that the Society has deliberately mistranslated these verses, or chosen to go with alternate ways of rendering the texts, for the express purpose of misleading its members from what the Holy Bible actually teaches in regards to God’s true identity.

FIRST EXAMPLE

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (dia tou haimatos tou idiou).” Acts 20:28

“Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” NWT

Here we have an explicit affirmation of the two natures of Christ, i.e., Jesus is God who became man in order to redeem a people for his own possession by his sacrificial death. The Society obscures this by inserting the word “Son,” even though this term does not appear in any extant Greek manuscript of Acts 20:28.

Besides, the God-breathed Scriptures are rather emphatic that a mere creature is incapable of ransoming a single soul from their sins, which is why God must do so:

“None of them can ever redeem a brother Or give to God a ransom for him, (The ransom price for their life is so precious That it is always beyond their reach); That he should live forever and not see the pit… But God will redeem me from the power of the Grave, For he will take hold of me. (Selah)” Psalm 49:7-9, 15 NWT

“Truth has vanished, And anyone who turns away from bad is plundered. Jehovah saw this and was displeased, For there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, And he was astonished that no one interceded, So his own arm brought about salvation, And his own righteousness supported him.” Isaiah 59:16 NWT

“I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled that no one offered support. So my arm brought me salvation, And my own wrath supported me.” Isaiah 63:5 NWT

And yet Jesus does what only the one true God is able to do, namely, redeem the entire creation by his sacrificial death on the cross:

“in praise of his glorious undeserved kindness that he kindly bestowed on us by means of his beloved one. By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one (dia tou haimatos autou), yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness.” Ephesians 1:6-7 NWT

“who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood (dia tou haimatos autou), even the forgiveness of sins… And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:13-14, 18-20

This brings me to my next example.

SECOND EXAMPLE

“who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him (en auto) were all things (ta panta) created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things (ta panta) were created by him (di’ autou), and for him (eis auton): And he is before all things (panton), and by him all things (ta panta) consist.” Colossians 1:15-17

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all other things, and by means of him all other things were made to exist,” NWT

The Society has inserted the word other for times in their translation, despite the fact that this term does not appear in the original Greek copies of this passage.

It is obvious why they did so since the Society realizes that, for Christ to have been the One whom the Father employed to create and sustain the entire creation, he must be Jehovah Almighty, just as the following texts affirm:    

“And the Levites Jeshʹu·a, Kadʹmi·el, Baʹni, Hash·ab·neiʹah, She·re·biʹah, Ho·diʹah, Sheb·a·niʹah, and Peth·a·hiʹah said: ‘Stand up and praise Jehovah your God throughout all eternity. And let them praise your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are Jehovah; you made the heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens and all their army, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve all of them alive, and the army of the heavens are bowing down to you.’” Nehemiah 9:5-6 NWT

“He spreads out the heavens by himself, And he treads upon the high waves of the sea.” Job 9:8 NWT

“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by my name And whom I created for my own glory, Whom I have formed and made… The wild beast of the field will honor me, The jackals and the ostriches, For I provide water in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert, For my people, my chosen one, to drink, The people whom I formed for myself So that they might declare my praise.’” Isaiah 43:6-7, 20-21 NWT

“This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: ‘I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. Who was with me?’” Isaiah 44:24 NWT

Therefore, since the divine Scriptures testify that Jehovah alone created and sustains all things, and yet Jesus is the One in/by/through/for whom all things came into being, the Son must be Jehovah God Almighty (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit). There’s simply no way around this divinely revealed truth.

In fact, the very same prepositions which Scripture employs to describe Christ’s role in creation are ascribed to God the Father as well.

Note carefully the following texts:

“Because from him and by him (di’ autou) and for him (eis auton) are all things (ta panta). To him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36 NWT

“For it was fitting that the one for whom (di’ hon) and through whom (di’ autou) all things (ta panta) exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Hebrews 2:10 NWT

And now contrast this with the what the proceeding verses state in regards to Christ’s creating and giving life to all creation:

“All things were made by him (di’ autou); and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men… He was in the world, and the world was made by him (di’ autou), and the world knew him not.” John 1:3-4, 10

“but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom (di’ houare all things (ta panta), and we by him (di’ autou).” 1 Corinthians 8:6

“hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom (di’ hou) also he made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:2

These passages show that both the Father and the Son are equally responsible for creating and preserving the whole creation, which in turn proves that both of them are being described as the one true Creator and Sustainer of all created things.  

THIRD EXAMPLE

“He that cometh from above is above all (epano panton estin): he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all (epano panton estin).” John 3:31

“whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Romans 9:5

Compare:

“The one who comes from above is over all others. The one who is from the earth is from the earth and speaks of things of the earth. The one who comes from heaven is over all others.” NWT

“To them the forefathers belong, and from them the Christ descended according to the flesh. God, who is over all, be praised forever. Amen.” NWT

The Society obscures these texts by denying that Christ is being described as the God who transcends all creation.

However, they did manage to translate the following passage correctly:

“and how surpassing the greatness of his power is toward us believers. It is according to the operation of the mightiness of his strength, which he exercised toward Christ when he raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE EVERY government and authority and power and lordship and every name that is named, not only in this system of things but also in that to come. He also subjected all things under his feet and made him head OVER ALL THINGS with regard to the congregation, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

Now since the Hebrew Bible attests that Jehovah alone is the head of all creation, and that he alone is exalted far above all beings,

“Then David praised Jehovah before the eyes of all the congregation. David said: ‘May you be praised, O Jehovah the God of Israel our father, throughout all eternity. Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah. You are the One exalting yourself AS HEAD OVER ALL. The riches and the glory are from you, and you rule over everything, and in your hand there are power and mightiness, and your hand is able to make great and to give strength to all. And now, O our God, we thank you and praise your beautiful name. And yet, who am I and who are my people that we should be in a position to make voluntary offerings like this? For everything is from you, and we have given to you what comes from your own hand.’” 1 Chronicles 29:10-14 NWT

“For you, O Jehovah, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted FAR ABOVE all other gods.” Psalm 97:9 NWT

This again affirms Jesus’ identify as Jehovah God Almighty who became flesh!

That is why Christ can be described as possessing absolute sovereignty over all creation,

“Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: ‘All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.’” Matthew 28:18 NWT

Possessing infinite and unfathomable riches,

“For you know the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sake, so that you might become rich through his poverty.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NWT

“To me, a man less than the least of all holy ones, this undeserved kindness was given, so that I should declare to the nations the good news about the unfathomable riches of the Christ” Ephesians 3:8 NWT 

And who reigns supremely over all created beings as the only sovereign Ruler since he is the King of kings and the Lord of lords:

“to observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times. He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal might. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:14-16

“and from Jesus Christ, ‘the Faithful Witness,’ ‘the firstborn from the dead,’ and ‘the Ruler of the kings of the earth.’ To him who loves us and who set us free from our sins by means of his own blood—and he made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—yes, to him be the glory and the might forever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6 NWT

“These will battle with the Lamb, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those with him who are called and chosen and faithful will do so.” Revelation 17:14 – Cf. 19:11-16, 19, 21

This helps us appreciate why every created being in the entire creation worships Jesus to the same extent and for the same duration that God the Father is worshiped:

“When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, and each one had a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense. (The incense means the prayers of the holy ones.) And they sing a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.’ And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, and they were saying with a loud voice: ‘The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’ And I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, and ALL THINGS IN THEM, saying: ‘To the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’ The four living creatures were saying: ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshipped.” Revelation 5:8-14 NWT

I.e., the risen Christ is no mere creature but is distinguished from and infinitely superior to every created thing in existence, since he is the uncreated Son of God who is as to his very nature Jehovah God Almighty who became flesh!

FOURTH EXAMPLE

“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him… But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God (ho Theos), is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” Hebrews 1:6, 8

Hebrews has taken the following OT texts, which speak of the angels worshiping Jehovah,

“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.” Deuteronomy 32:43 LXX

“Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his angels.” Psalm 96[Heb. 97]:7 LXX

And applied them to Christ, so that it is now God’s Firstborn Son whom all the angels worship as Jehovah!

Now contrast this the NWT:

“But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: ‘And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him… But about the Son, he says: ‘God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.’”

Once again, the Society robs the Son of his glory be denying that he reigns eternally as THE God whom the whole host of heaven worships.

That these texts are clearly depicting the Son as Jehovah God Almighty that became human is easily proven by what immediately follows:

 “‘You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your companions.’ And: ‘At the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; and just like a garment, they will all wear out, and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as a garment, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never come to an end.’” Hebrews 1:9-12 NWT

Here the inspired author has the Father quoting the following passage, which describes Jehovah as the unchangeable Creator and Sustainer of all creation,

“O Jehovah, hear my prayer; Let my cry for help reach you… But you remain forever, O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations… I said: ‘O my God, Do not do away with me in the middle of my life, You whose years span all generations. Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; Just like a garment they will all wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’” Psalm 102:24-27 NWT

In reference to the Son, thereby magnifying Christ as that very Jehovah God who at the beginning created the heavens and the earth and all their host!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” Genesis 1:1, 2:4 NWT

As one noted Evangelical scholar explains:

In establishing the superiority of Jesus over angels, the author draws a series of contrasts between them in verses 4-14. The antithesis between verse 7 and verses 8-9 that is marked by the strongly adversative mende is twofold: the angels serve… but the Son reigns… in their service of God the angels change their form… but in his rule of equity the divine Son continues forever… One contrast relates to function, the other to nature. Over against the variability of angelic function, the author sets the stability of the Son’s throne and the constancy of his rectitude. Over against the evanescence and impermanence of angelic form, the author sets the eternality and divinity of the Son’s person. Whereas the angels are addressed by God, the Son may be addressed as God. On this view verses 10-12 reinforce and extend the antitheses. While angels are creatures of divine fiat, the Son himself is the divine Creator. While they are mutable, he is immutable… Never could it be said concerning the Son, ho poion ton hyion tou pneuma kai ton leitourgon autou pyros phloga. From this I conclude that to interpret theos as a vocative does full justice to the flow of argument in the immediate context.

Some scholars are reluctant to express a preference as to whether theos is nominative or vocative in verse 8, declaring that both interpretations are admissible and make good sense. But the overwhelming majority of grammarians, commentators, authors of general studies, and English translations construe theos as a vocative (“O God”). Given the affirmation of verse 3 that the Son is the effulgence of God’s glory and the visible expression of his being, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that when the author affirms further that God the Father addresses his Son as theos at his resurrection he intends to signify that, equally with the Father, Jesus possesses the divine nature

Sometimes the elements of this divine-human paradox are expressed elsewhere in the epistle in close juxtaposition, but generally the author is content to stress one or other aspect as his argument demands. That he believes in the full deity of Jesus is clear: Jesus is described as the perfect representation of God’s glory and nature (1:3); he not only existed before he appeared on earth (10:5), before Melchizedek (7:3), before human history began (1:2), or before the universe was created (1:10), but he also existed and exists eternally (7:16; 9:14; 13:8); like his Father he may be called “Lord”; he is creator (1:10), sustainer, (1:3), and heir (1:2) of the universe, that is, everything in time and space (tous aionas, 1:2); he is “Son” (hyios) and “the Son of God” (hyios you theou), 98 the timeless on of 1:3 pointing to a natural, not adoptive, sonship; he is worshiped by angels (1:6) and is the object of human faith (12:2); he is sovereign over the world to come (2:5); and passages referring to Yahweh in the OT are applied to him.

No less evident is the writer’s emphasis on the real and complete humanity of Jesus. He assumed human nature with all its weaknesses and limitations (2:11, 14, 17), apart from sin (4:15; 7:26); he belonged to the tribe of Judah (7:14) and “Jesus” was his human name; he experienced human emotions (5:7), temptation (4:15), suffering (5:8; 13:12), and death (2:9; 12:2); he believed in and feared God (2: 13; 5:7) and offered prayer to him (5:7); he exhibited human virtues such as fidelity (2: 17; 3:2) and obedience(10:7); he gave teaching while on earth (2:3); and he endured the hostility of sinners (12:3)…

Finally, Christ’s eternality. “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever” affirms that Christ’s personal rule is eternal. Eis ton aiona tou aionos and implies that Christ, as ruler, is also eternal; (v. 8a) anticipates the phrase eis ton aiona of Psalm 110:4 (109:4 LXX) cited three times by the author in reference to the eternity of the Melchizedekian order of priesthood (5:6; 6:20; 7:17). Jesus is a priest “forever” after the order of Melchizedek, and the treatment in Hebrews of the relationship between these two figures constitutes “the culmination of the epistle’s argument,” “the kernel and focus of the entire Epistle.” Other statements that are reminiscent of this theme of Christ’s eternal nature are “your years will never end” (1:12); “the power of an indestructible life” (7:16); “he continues for ever … he is able for all time (eis to panteles) to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (7:24-25); “through his eternal spirit (dia pneumatos aioniou)” (9:14); “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (eis tous aionias)” (13:8)… The appellation theos that was figurative and hyperbolic when applied to a mortal king was applied to the immortal Son in a literal and true sense. Jesus is not merely superior to the angels. Equally with the Father he shares in the divine nature (theos, v. 8) while remaining distinct from him (theos sou, v. 9). The author places Jesus far above any angel with respect to nature and function, and on a par with God with regard to nature but subordinate to God with regard to function. There is an “essential” unity but a functional subordination. (Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos for Jesus [Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 1998], pp. 216-218, 225-227; bold emphasis mine)

FIFTH EXAMPLE

“And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins… Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:23-24 56-59

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:13-14

Compare:

“He went on to say to them: ‘You are from the realms below; I am from the realms above. You are from this world; I am not from this world. That is why I said to you: You will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am the one, you will die in your sins.’… ‘Abraham your father rejoiced greatly at the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.’ Then the Jews said to him: ‘You are not yet 50 years old, and still you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I have been.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid and went out of the temple.”

“But Moses said to the true God: ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your forefathers has sent me to you,” and they say to me, “What is his name?” What should I say to them?’ So God said to Moses: ‘I Will Become What I Choose to Become.’ And he added: ‘This is what you are to say to the Israelites, “I Will Become has sent me to you.”’”

The foregoing is self-explanatory and therefore needs no commentary.

SIXTH EXAMPLE

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Compare:

“For this very reason, God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every OTHER name,” NWT

Instead of Christ possessing the status and authority that transcends all power, rule, and dominion in creation, the Society has Jesus being positioned above every other name.

It is apparent why the Society inserted the word other again, even though it is not in the Greek manuscript tradition.

To have Jesus bearing the name above all names means that the post-resurrected Christ now reigns supreme as Jehovah God Almighty, since Jehovah alone bears the name that far transcends all power, rule and dominion:

“Let them praise the name of Jehovah, For his name ALONE is unreachably high. His majesty is above earth and heaven.” Psalm 148:13 NWT

And it is at the name of Jehovah that every creature must bow and confess:

“By myself I have sworn; The word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, And it will not return: To me every knee will bend, Every tongue will swear loyalty.” Isaiah 45:23 NWT

Therefore, for Paul to say that every creature in the entire creation will worship Jesus as Lord means that the day is coming when all creation will acknowledge that the Son is Jehovah in the flesh.

The blessed Apostle states that such a confession glorifies the Father since it is the Father’s express will and command for everyone to give the Son the exact same honor that he himself receives:

“For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son, so that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23 NWT

SEVENTH EXAMPLE

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon ME whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10

An astonishing prophecy where Jehovah claims the day will come when his own people will mourn over the fact of their having physically pierced him through!

The Christian Scriptures indicate that this prophecy was partially fulfilled when Christ was crucified and will be fully realized when the risen Lord returns to judge the earth:

“And again, a different scripture says: ‘They will look to the one whom they pierced.’” John 19:37 NWT

“Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen.” Revelation 1:7

Now contrast this with the NWT:

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and supplication, and they will look to THE ONE whom they pierced, and they will wail over him as they would wail over an only son; and they will grieve bitterly over him as they would grieve over a firstborn son.”

Unsurprisingly, the Society has chosen to go with the minority reading as opposed to the reading found in the vast majority of the Hebrew copies and ancient versions:

“Some scholars, however, are not content to take the passage as it stands but make every conceivable effort to evacuate the passage of any and all references to the Messiah and his deity. These efforts begin, not surprisingly, with the expediency of textual emendation. Despite the fact that the original Hebrew of 12:10 clearly reads ‘they will look unto me’ and has the support of the large MAJORITY of reliable Hebrew manuscripts, the LXX, the Old Latin, the Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, the Aramaic Targums, and the Greek versions of Aquilla, Symmachus, and Theodotion, some scholars and modern versions such as the Revised Standard Version, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and Moffat’s version, have chosen to follow a MINORITY of unreliable Hebrew manuscripts and have changed the ‘unto me’ to ‘unto him’… Now the presence of the third-person pronoun in the following phrase is factual enough, but it is not a conclusive argument that the former first-person reference must be emended to harmonize with it.

“I say this on three grounds: first is the fact that the reading ‘unto me,’ as we have already noted, is supported by the VAST MAJORITY of ancient witnesses; second the ‘unto me’ is by far the harder reading. That is to say, it is readily conceivable why a scribe would alter ‘unto me’ to read simply ‘unto,’ but it is not readily apparent why a scribe would change the simple ‘unto’ to ‘unto me.’ Even though he himself prefers the easier reading and accordingly emends the text, H.G. Marshall acknowledges the arbitrary character of his choice when he writes:

The point may… be made, and, in fact, has been made… that [‘unto]’ is the easier reading; hence it is more probable that it is an error for [‘unto me’] than vice versa. There is great force in this objection. Indeed, it so weakens the case for [‘unto’] that those who feel the incongruity of the Massoretic text will have to resort to emendation.

“And third, the shift from the first to the third person may be an instance of either the common enallage (a grammatical change) of verbal number frequently met with in the speeches of Yahweh (see the many instances where Yahweh, as the first person speaker, refers to himself in a given speech in the third person as Yahweh) or the differentiation-identity pattern we have already had occasion to note for the reader (see Zech 2:10-11; MT, 2:14-15) in which the Messiah is both personally identified with God and yet, at the same time and in the same context, distinguished from him.” (Robert L. Reymond, Jesus: Divine Messiah – The New and Old Testament Witness [Christian Focus Publications, Scotland 2003], Part One: The Old Testament Witness, 2. The Old Testament Witness to the Messiah, pp. 145-146; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Once again, it is obvious why the Society chose to go with reading found in a minority of manuscripts.

As already indicated, according to the majority reading it is Jehovah God who is speaking and therefore he is the One that had been physically pierced or thrust through due to the instigation and rebellion of his people.

And yet the only way that Jehovah who is Spirit by nature (cf. Isaiah 31:3; Matthew 16:17; Luke 24:39; John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 15:45) could be physically pierced through is if he took to himself a physical body of flesh.

This is precisely the inspired message of the NT writings. I.e., Jesus is that very Jehovah God who became flesh when he was conceived and born from the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit (Cf. Matthew 1:16, 18-25; Luke 1:26-35; 2:1-7; John 1:1-4, 10, 14; Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-8).

Jesus’ virginal conception and birth fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which announced that the Mighty God would be born as a child in order to rule over David’s throne forever and ever:

For a child has been born to us, A son has been given to us; And the rulership will rest on his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (El Gibbor), Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the increase of his rulership And to peace, there will be no end, On the throne of David and on his kingdom In order to establish it firmly and to sustain it Through justice and righteousness, From now on and forever. The zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Seeing that the phrase Mighty God is one of the names given to Jehovah in the very next chapter,

“In that day those remaining of Israel And the survivors of the house of Jacob Will no longer support themselves on the one who struck them; But they will support themselves on Jehovah, The Holy One of Israel, with faithfulness Only a remnant will return, The remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God (El Gibbor).” Isaiah 10:20-21 NWT

This again merely reinforces the fact of Jesus being the human incarnation of Jehovah God Almighty, even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit!

FURTHER READING

JESUS CHRIST: SUPREME OVER ALL CREATION

2 Thessalonians 1:12 and Christ’s Deity: Sharp’s Rule Triumphs Again!

In this post I will cite another example of Granville Sharp’s first rule in respect to texts that deal with the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sharp’s First Rule states that,

“When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill], if the article ho, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle” (Sharp, Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article, 3).

In other words, when two singular personal nouns, adjectives or participles, which are not proper names, are connected by the conjunction kai (“and”), with the definite article appearing only before the first noun/adjective/participle, then both nouns/adjectives/participles refer to the same person.

This is precisely what we find in the following case:

“That way the name of our Lord Yeshua will be honored among you. Then, because of the good will of Yeshua Christ, our God and Lord (tou Theou hemon kai Kyriou ‘Iesou Christou), you will be honored by him.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 Names of God Bible (NOG)

The Greek literally reads, “the God of us and Lord Jesus Christ.”

Note how various translations render this particular text:

“so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in him, in keeping with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.” Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)

“that the name of our Adonay Yah Shua Messiah be glorified in you – and you in him, according to the charism of our Elohim and Adonay Yah Shua Messiah.” exeGeses Companion Bible (ECB)

“That way the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored among you. Then, because of the good will of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, you will be honored by him.” GOD’s WORD Translation (GW)

“that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.” New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)

“Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” New Living Translation (NLT)

“so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Wilber Pickering New Testament (WPNT)

“that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.” Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

CONTEXTUAL EVIDENCE

The immediate context affirms that the blessed and inspired Apostle is indeed identifying Christ as our Lord God:

“This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment and is intended to make you worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you are suffering.Certainly it is right for God to pay back those who afflict you with affliction,and to give us who are afflicted relief when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angelsin blazing fire (en puri phlogos). He will take revenge on those who do not know God and on those who refuse to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.Such people will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction by being separated from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious power (kai apo tes doxes tes ischyos autou) when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be regarded with wonder on that day by all who have believed—including you, because you believed our testimony. With this in mind, we always pray for you, asking that our God might make you worthy of his calling and that through his power he might help you accomplish every good desire and faithful action.That way the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by him, according to the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus, the Messiah.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 International Standard Version (ISV)

Here, Paul attributes to the risen Christ the very language which the Old Testament employs to describe YHVH coming to judge the earth and consume the wicked with fire:

“For, behold, the Lord will come as fire, and his chariots as a storm, to render his vengeance with wrath, and his rebuke with a flame of fire (en phlogi puris). For with the fire of the Lord all the earth shall be judged, and all flesh with his sword: many shall be slain by the Lord.” Isaiah 66:15-16 LXX

“Now therefore enter ye into the rocks, and hide yourselves in the earth, for fear of the Lord, and by reason of the glory of his might (kai apo tes doxes tes ischyos autou), when he shall arise to strike terribly the earth. For the eyes of the Lord are high, but man is low; and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and haughty, and upon every one that is high and towering, and they shall be brought down; and upon every cedar of Libanus, of them that are high and towering, and upon every oak of Basan, and upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, and upon every high tower, and upon every high wall, and upon every ship of the sea, and upon every display of fine ships. And every man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall fall: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isaiah 2:10-17 LXX

The Apostle is essentially indicating that Jesus is that YHVH God who comes in the glory of his might to take vengeance upon the wicked of the earth by consuming them with flaming fire.  

Hence, if Paul has no qualms in identifying Jesus as YHVH then he surely would have no problem describing him as the Lord God of all believers.

At this point, Paul is doing nothing more than echoing the words of doubting Thomas after he saw the risen Christ standing before him in his resurrected and glorified physical body of flesh:   

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord. So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God (ho Kyrios mou kai ho Theos mou)!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:24-29

SUPPORTING TEXTS

If the text from 2 Thessalonians were an isolated case, then one may have reason to doubt whether Paul was in fact describing Jesus as God. However, this isn’t the only instance where the Holy Spirit filled apostle magnified Christ as God in the flesh:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28 New King James Version (NKJV)

“of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Romans 9:5 NKJV

“For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ,” Colossians 2:9 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (tou megalou Theou kai Soteros hemon ‘Iesou Christou),” Titus 2:13 NKJV

Interestingly, the aforementioned text and the following,

“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (tou Theou hemon kai Soteros ‘Iesou Christou)” 2 Peter 1:1 NKJV

Are both cases of Sharp’s construction, and invariably identify Christ as the true God:

tn The terms “God and Savior” both refer to the same person, Jesus Christ. This is one of the clearest statements in the NT concerning the deity of Christ. The construction in Greek is known as the Granville Sharp rule, named after the English philanthropist-linguist who first clearly articulated the rule in 1798. Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. The only issue is whether terms such as “God” and “Savior” could be considered common nouns as opposed to proper names. Sharp and others who followed (such as T. F. Middleton in his masterful The Doctrine of the Greek Article) demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, theos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, sōtēr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp’s rule. Although there have been 200 years of attempts to dislodge Sharp’s rule, all attempts have been futile. Sharp’s rule stands vindicated after all the dust has settled. For more information on Sharp’s rule see ExSyn 270-78, esp. 276. See also 2 Pet 1:1 and Jude 4. (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/Titus+2; bold emphasis mine)

And:

tn The terms “God and Savior” both refer to the same person, Jesus Christ. This is one of the clearest statements in the NT concerning the deity of Christ. The construction in Greek is known as the Granville Sharp rule, named after the English philanthropist-linguist who first clearly articulated the rule in 1798. Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. In fact, the construction occurs elsewhere in 2 Peter, strongly suggesting that the author’s idiom was the same as the rest of the NT authors’ (cf., e.g., 1:11 [“the Lord and Savior”], 2:20 [“the Lord and Savior”]). The only issue is whether terms such as “God” and “Savior” could be considered common nouns as opposed to proper names. Sharp and others who followed (such as T. F. Middleton in his masterful The Doctrine of the Greek Article) demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, theos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, sōtēr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp’s rule. Although there have been 200 years of attempts to dislodge Sharp’s rule, all attempts have been futile. Sharp’s rule stands vindicated after all the dust has settled. For more information on the application of Sharp’s rule to 2 Pet 1:1, see ExSyn 272, 276-77, 290. See also Titus 2:13 and Jude 4. (Ibid. https://netbible.org/bible/2+Peter+1; bold emphasis mine)

That’s not all.

Paul even went as far as to describe Christ as the eternal, uncreated Son of God who created and sustains the entire creation:

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 NKJV

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He IS before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:13-20 NKJV

Since the Hebrew Bible clearly attests that YHVH alone created all things and sustains all creation by himself,

“And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: ‘Stand up and bless the LORD your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.’” Nehemiah 9:5-6 NKJV

“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth—Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him… The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.” Isaiah 43:6-7, 20-21 NKJV

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all ALONE, Who spreads abroad the earth by MYSELF;’” Isaiah 44:24 NKJV

This again illustrates that for this blessed Apostle, Christ is no mere creature or semidivine Being. Rather, Jesus is the incarnation of YHVH God Almighty, even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, why should it be hard to believe that the grammar of 2 Thessalonians 1:12 clearly points to Paul describing Jesus as the God and Lord of all believers?

This brings me to my next section.

EXPOSITORS/GRAMMARIANS/THEOLOGIANS

I now cite the views of various theologians, grammarians and exegetes who all agree that the syntax and grammar of 2 Thessalonians 1:12 strongly affirms that Jesus is being called both God and Lord.

All emphasis will be mine.

Of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (του θεου ημων κα κυριου Ιησου Χριστου). Here STRICT syntax requires, since there is only one article with θεου and κυριου that one person be meant, Jesus Christ, as is certainly true in Titus 2:132 Peter 1:1 (Robertson, Grammar, p.786). This otherwise conclusive syntactical argument, admitted by Schmiedel, is weakened a bit by the fact that Κυριος is often employed as a proper name without the article, a thing not true of σωτηρ in Titus 2:132 Peter 1:1. So in Ephesians 5:5 εν τη βασιλεια του Χριστου κα θεου the natural meaning is in the Kingdom of Christ and God regarded as one, but here again θεος, like Κυριος, often occurs as a proper name without the article. So it has to be admitted that here Paul may mean “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” though he may also mean “according to the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (A.T. Robertson), 2 Thessalonians)

Of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (του μεγαλου θεου κα σωτηρος Ιησου Χριστου). This is the necessary meaning of the one article with θεου and σωτηρος just as in 2 Peter 1:12 Peter 1:11. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 786. Westcott and Hort read Χριστου Ιησου. (Ibid., Titus)

Of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ (του θεου ημων κα σωτηρος Ιησου Χριστου). So the one article (του) with θεου and σωτηρος requires precisely as with του κυριου ημων κα σωτηρος Ιησου Χριστου (of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ), one person, not two, in 2 Peter 1:11 as in 2 Peter 2:202 Peter 3:22 Peter 3:18. So in 1 Peter 1:3 we have ο θεος κα πατηρ (the God and Father), one person, not two. The grammar is uniform and inevitable (Robertson, Grammar, p. 786), as even Schmiedel (Winer-Schmiedel, Grammatik, p. 158) admits: “Grammar demands that one person be meant.” Moulton (Prol., p. 84) cites papyri examples of like usage of θεος for the Roman emperors. See the same idiom in Titus 2:13. The use of θεος by Peter as a predicate with Jesus Christ no more disproves the Petrine authorship of this Epistle than a like use in John 1:1 disproves the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel and the same use in Titus 2:13 disproves the genuineness of Titus. Peter had heard Thomas call Jesus God (John 20:28) and he himself had called him the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). (Ibid., 2 Peter)

Since the article stands before θεοῦ, and not before κυρίου, it is altogether most natural, with Hofmann, to refer θεο also to Christ [but see Critical Note 13.—J. L.], without this being, as Hilgenfeld supposes (p. 264), a mark of spuriousness; for not merely Titus 2:13, but also Romans 9:5 speaks of Christ in loftier terms than are agreeable to our modern critics (comp. Joh 20:28; 2 Peter 1:12 Peter 1:11). The distinction between God and Christ is not to be sustained by an appeal to texts like 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2, since there the article is wanting also before θε and θεο. (Johann Peter Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical, 2 Thessalonians)

The only question is, whether, in the next clause, τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ , one independent subject is to be understood [so that it shall read, of our great Gad and Saviour Jesus Christ.—D.], or whether, with most [or rather several—they hardly appear to be the majority.—D.] recent interpreters, it should be rendered, “the appearing of the glory of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” For our part, we decide in favor of the first, and believe the words may, should, and must be understood as giving the name “great God” not to the Father, but to the Saviour Jesus Christ. On purely philological grounds, the position of Bengel will hardly be questioned: “It may be referred to Christ.” Even Winer, § 11, does not deny that σωτρος μν may be regarded, consistently with grammar, as a second predicate depending upon the article το. The only ground on which he feels obliged to prefer the other view, adopted by De Wette, Huther, and others, is the doctrinal opinion, derived from the writings of Paul, that this Apostle could not have styled Christ the great God. But in view of 1 Timothy 3:15-16Romans 9:5Colossians 1:15-20, and other passages, we cannot regard this objection as valid. Equally arbitrary with the position that Paul regarded Christ as a mere man, and nothing more, is the Arian view, that Paul did not recognize Christ as God, yea, as μέγας θεός. Whoever will simply read and translate the words without doctrinal prejudice, will have as little hesitation in referring them to one and the same subject, as in understanding, e.g., in 2 Peter 1:11, the words βασιλείαν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, as relating to the same subject. He, who is there called κύριος (Lord), is here called μέγας θεός (the great God); as is clear also from the fact that Paul ascribes an “appearing” to the Son (comp. 1 Timothy 6:142 Timothy 4:12 Timothy 4:8), but not to the Father, who is “invisible.” Taking all things into the account, we believe that the sense of the words, and the connection, speak decidedly in favor of one and the same subject (Christ). We cannot, therefore, but regard the use which the Church fathers very early made of this passage as a weapon against the Arians as entirely legitimate. [Ellicott has come to the same result with Dr. Van Oosterzee, which is that also of Calvin, Matthies, Usteri, Wiesinger, Tholuck, and Ebrard. He says:

“It must be candidly avowed that it is very doubtful whether, on the grammatical principle last alluded to (in respect to two substantives closely united, and under the vinculum of a common article), the interpretation of this passage can be fully settled; see Winer, § 18, 5 Obs., p. 148. There is a presumption in favor of the adopted interpretation, but, on account of the (defining) genitive ἡμῶν (Winer, p. 142), nothing more. When, however, we turn to exegetical considerations, and remember (1.) that ἐπιφανεία is a term specially and peculiarly applied to the Son, and never to the Father; (2.) that the immediate context so specially relates to our Lord; (3.) that the following mention of Christ’s giving Himself up for us—of His abasement—does fairly account for St. Paul’s ascription of a title, otherwise unusual, that specifically and antithetically marks His glory; (4.) that μεγάλου would be uncalled for, if applied to the Father; and (5.) lastly, observe that apparently two of the ante-Nicene (Clem. Alex. and Hippolytus), and the great bulk of the post-Nicene writers, concurred in this interpretation—when we candidly weigh all this evidence, it does seem difficult to resist the conviction that this text is a direct, definite, and even studied declaration of the divinity of the Eternal Son. It ought not to be suppressed that some of the best versions (Vulg., Syr., et al., not, however, apparently Æth.), and some fathers of undoubted orthodoxy, adopted the other interpretation.” So also Erasmus, Grotius, De Wette, and Huther.—D.]

Even if, however, a difference of subjects should be assumed, this passage bears testimony, not directly, indeed, but indirectly, as Huther, among others, admits. [This view is strongly expressed by Alford, who, without considering the question closed, prefers to regard “the great God” as describing the Father; but adds: “Whichsoever way taken, the passage is just as important a testimony to the divinity of our Saviour: according to one way, by asserting His possession of Deity; according to the other, even more strikingly, asserting His equality in glory with the Father, in a way which would be blasphemy if predicated of any of the sons of men.”—D.] So Calvin: “But we may refute the Arians briefly and solidly: for Paul, having spoken of the revelation of the glory of ‘the great God,’ immediately added ‘Christ,’ that we might know that the revelation of glory will be in His person; as if he had said that, when Christ shall appear, the greatness of the Divine glory shall then be revealed to us.” (Ibid., Titus)

We should not pass without notice that it is in the passages from II Thessalonians that ho kurios is given relative prominence. In the two passages from I Thessalonians ho theos comes forward, while in those from II Thessalonians it is ho kurios. That is in accordance with the general character of II Thessalonians, which is distinctively a kurios epistle. Proportionately to the lengths of the two epistles, while theos occurs about equally often in each, kurios occurs about twice as often in the second as in the first. We do not pause to inquire into the causes of this superior prominence of kurios in II Thessalonians, although it may be worth remarking in passing that in both epistles it is relatively prominent in the hortatory portions. Whatever, however, may have been the particular causes which brought about the result in this case, the result is in itself one which could not have been brought about if theos and kurios had not stood in the consciousness of Paul in virtual equality as designations of Deity. For the phenomenon amounts at its apex, – as we see in the four passages more particularly before us – to the simple replacement of theos by kurios as the designation of Deity. And that means at bottom that Paul knows no difference between theos and kurios in point of rank; they are both to him designations of Deity and the discrimination by which the one is applied to the Father and the other to Christ is (so far) merely a convention by which two that are God are supplied with differentiating appellations by means of which they may be intelligibly spoken of severally. With respect to the substance of the matter there seems no reason why the Father might not just as well be called kurios and Christ theos.

Whether the convention by which the two appellations are assigned respectively to the Father as theos and to Christ as kurios is ever broken by Paul, is a question of little intrinsic importance, but nevertheless of some natural interest. It is probable that Paul never, not only in these epistles to the Thessalonians, but throughout his epistles, – employs kurios of the Father. The term seems to appear uniformly in his writings, except in a few (not all) quotations from the Old Testament, as a designation of Christ. Thus the Old Testament divine name kurios (Jehovah) is appropriated exclusively to Christ; and that in repeated instances even when the language of the Old Testament is adduced, – which Paul carries over to and applies to Christ as the Lord there spoken of. The question whether Paul ever applies the term theos to Christ is brought sharply before us by the form in which the formula, the use of which we are particularly investigating, occurs in II Thess. i. 12. There we read of Paul’s constant prayer that “our God” should count his readers worthy of their calling and fulfil with reference to them every good pleasure of goodness and work of faith with power, to the end that “the name of our Lord Jesus” might be glorified in them, and they in Him, kata ten charin tou theou hemon kai kuriou Iesou Christou.

It will probably be allowed that in strictness of grammatical rule, rigidly applied, this should mean, “according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ,” or, if we choose so to phrase it, “according to the grace of our God, even the Lord Jesus Christ.” All sorts of reasons are advanced, however, why the strict grammatical rule should not be rigidly applied here. Most of them are ineffective enough and testify only to the reluctance of expositors to acknowledge that Paul can speak of Christ as “God.” This reluctance is ordinarily given expression either in the simple empirical remark that it is not in accordance with the usage of Paul to call Christ God, or in the more far-reaching assertion that it is contrary to Paul’s doctrinal system to represent Christ as God. Thus, for example, W. Bornemann comments briefly: “In themselves, these words might be so taken as to call Jesus here both God and Lord. That is, however, improbable, according to the Pauline usage elsewhere.” This mild statement is particularly interesting as a recession from the strong ground taken by G. Lünemann, whose commentary on the Thessalonian epistles in the Meyer series Bornemann’s superseded. Lünemann argues the question at some length and one might almost say with some heat. “According to Hofmann and Riggenbach,” he writes, “Christ is here named both our God and our Lord, – an interpretation which, indeed, grammatically is no less allowable than the interpretation of the doxology ho on epi panton theos eulogetos eis tou aionas, Rom. ix. 5, as an apposition to Christos; but is equally inadmissible as it would contain an un-Pauline thought: on account of which also Hilgenfeld, “Zeitschr.f.d. wiss. Theol.,” Halle, 1862, p. 264, in the interest of the supposed spuriousness of the Epistle, has forthwith appropriated to himself this discovery of Hofmann.” Ernst von Dobschütz, who has superseded Bornemann as Bornemann superseded Lünemann, is as sure as Lünemann that it is un-Pauline to call Christ God; but as he is equally sure that this passage does call Christ God, he has no alternative but to deny the passage to Paul, – though he prefers to deny to him only this passage and not, like Hilgenfeld, the whole Epistle. “But an entirely unPauline trait meets us here,” he writes, “that to tou theou hemon there is added kai kuriou Iesou Christou. Not that the combination, God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, is not original-Pauline (see on I Thess. i. 1), but that what stands here must be translated, ‘Of our God and Lord Jesus Christ’ as Hofmann and Wohlenberg rightly maintain. This, however, is in very fact in the highest degree un-Pauline (Lünemann) in spite of Rom. ix. 5, and has its parallel only in Tit. ii. 13, ‘Of our Great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus,’ or II Pet. i. 1, 11, ‘Of our God (Lord) and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”‘ H. J. Holtzmann, as is his wont, sums up the whole contention crisply: “In the entire compass of the Pauline literature, only II Thess. i. 12 and Tit. ii. 13 supply two equally exegetically uncertain parallels” to Rom. ix. 5 “while, in Eph. iv. 6, God the Father is ho epi panton.”

It is manifest that reasoning of this sort runs great risk of merely begging the question. The precise point under discussion is whether Paul does ever, or could ever, speak of Christ as God. This passage is offered in evidence that he both can and does. It is admitted that there are other passages which may be adduced in the same sense. There is Rom. ix. 5 which everybody allows to be Paul’s own. There is Tit. ii. 13 which occurs in confessedly distinctively “Pauline literature.” There is Acts xx. 28, credibly attributed to Paul by one of his pupils. There is II Pet. i. 1 to show that the usage was not unknown to other of the New Testament letterwriters. It is scarcely satisfactory to say that all these passages are as “exegetically uncertain” as II Thess. i. 12 itself. This “exegetical uncertainty” is in each case imposed upon the passage by reluctance to take it in the sense which it most naturally bears, and which is exegetically immediately given. It is as exegetically certain, for example, as any thing can be purely exegetically certain, that in Rom. ix. 5 Paul calls Christ roundly “God over all.” It is scarcely to be doubted that this would be universally recognized if Romans could with any plausibility be denied to Paul, or even could be assigned to a date subsequent to that of, say, Colossians. The equivalent may be said of each of the other passages mutatis mutandis. The reasoning is distinctly circular which denies to each of these passages in turn its natural meaning on the ground of lack of supporting usage, when this lack of supporting usage is created by a similar denial on the same ground of its natural meaning to each of the other passages. The ground of the denial in each case is merely the denial in the other cases. Meanwhile the usage is there, and is not thus to be denied away. If it may be, any usage whatever may be destroyed in the same manner.

In these circumstances there seems no reason why the ordinary laws of grammar should not determine our understanding of II Thess. i. 12. We may set it down here, therefore, with its parallels in Tit. ii. 13 and II Pet. i. 1 in which the same general phrasing even more clearly carries this sense.

II Thess. i. 12: ten cha’rin tou theou hemon kai kuriou Iesou Christou.

Tit. ii. 13: kai epiphaneian tes doxes tou megalou theou kai soteros hemon Christou Iesou.

II Pet. i. 1: pistin en dikaiosune tou theou hemon kai soteros Iesou Christou.

In these passages the conjunction, in which God and Christ are brought together in the general formula which we are investigating, reaches its culmination in an express identification of them. (Benjamin Brickeridge Warfield, Biblical Doctrines

, pp. 186-190; bold emphasis mine)

In regards to Titus 2:13, which is another example of a Sharp construction, Evangelical scholar and commentator Murray J. Harris explains why this verse does not have two persons in view:

“The expression theos kai soter was a stereotyped formula common in first-century religious terminology (see Wendland), was (apparently) used by both Diaspora and Palestinian Jews in reference to Yahwehand invariably denoted one deity, not two. If the name ‘Iesous Christos did not follow the expression, undoubtedly it would be taken to refer to one person; yet ‘Iesous Christos is simply added in epexegesis.”

“… it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, whatever the date of Titus, one impulse behind this particular verse was the desire to combat the extravagant titular endowment that had been accorded to human rulers such as Antiochus Epiphanes (theos epiphanes), Ptolemy I (soter kai theos), or Julius Caesar (theos kai soter), or to claim exclusively for the Christians’ Lord the divine honors freely granted to goddesses such as Aphrodite and Artemis or to gods such as Asclepius and Zeus.

“Consequently, if one reason for the use of the phrase theos kai soter was polemical, it is unlikely that two elements of the phrase should be divorced, with theos denoting God the Father and soter Jesus Christ.” (Harris, Jesus As God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus [Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI 1998], pp. 178-179; bold emphasis mine)

And here is what this scholar wrote in regards to both Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1:

“Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 may be considered together, since both use a stereotyped formula, ‘God and Savior,’ in reference to Jesus. This was a common formula in first-century religious terminology, used by both Palestinian and Diaspora Jews in reference to Yahweh, the one true God, and by Gentiles when they spoke of an individual god or a deified ruler. In all of these uses the expression God and Savior invariably denotes one deity, not two, so that when Paul and Peter employ this formula and follow it with the name of Jesus Christ, their readers would always understand it as referring to a single person, Jesus ChristIt would simply not have occurred to them that ‘God’ might men the Father, with Jesus Christ as the ‘Savior.'” (Harris, 3 Crucial Questions About Jesus [Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI 1994], pp. 96-97; bold emphasis mine)

Harris concludes his analysis:

“In the light of the foregoing evidence, it seems highly probable that in Titus 2:13 Jesus Christ is called ‘our great God and Savior,’ a verdict shared, with varying degrees of assurance, by almost all grammarians and lexicographers, many commentators, and many writers on NT theology or Christology, although there are some dissenting voices.” (Jesus as God, p. 185; bold emphasis mine)

FURTHER READING

Ephesians 5:5: Another Example of Granville Sharp’s First Rule?

GRANVILLE SHARP AND THE DEITY OF CHRIST

THE NT USE OF THEOS SOTER AND THE DEITY OF CHRIST