This is the material that I prepared for my debate with unitarian Andrew Griffin.
THE HUMAN INCARNATION OF YAHWEH
The Baptist is identified as the shaliach, or agent, of Yahweh prophesied in Isaiah:
“He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.’” John 1:23 English Standard Version (ESV)
According to Isaiah, that specific agent was sent to prepare for the coming of Yahweh God himself, not some other agent of God:
“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’… Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11 ESV
And yet the One whom the prophet prepared for was Jesus Christ!
“John answered them, ‘I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. ‘Behold, the Lamb of God The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’ The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:26-36
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.”’)” Footnotes: John 1:14-15
Note the reference to seeing the glory of the Son and the Baptist’s crying out, clear allusions to the prophecy of Isaiah. And:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and am known by My own. Even as the Father knows Me, so I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also bring them, and they will hear My voice. There will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:11, 14-16
This means Jesus isn’t merely God’s agent invested with God’s authority. That is the role assigned to the Baptist. Rather, Christ is the physical enfleshment of the God of John the Baptism!
THE GOD THAT THE PATRIARCHS AND PROPHETS SAW
John testifies that no human being has seen God apart from the Son revealing him:
“No one has seen God AT ANY TIME. The only Son (ho monogenes hyios), who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” John 1:18
Note the various renderings of this text:
“No one has EVER seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God (monogenes theos) and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” New International Version (NIV)
“No one has EVER seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” ESV
The following verses make the same point:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.” John 6:44-46
“All things are delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son, except the Father. And no one knows the Father, except the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27 – Cf. Luke 10:22
This means the God who appeared visibly in the OT was none other than the Person of Jesus Christ.
“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11 ESV
“And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, ‘Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’” Numbers 12:5-8
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. One cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.’ The posts of the door moved at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.’… Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me.’ He said, “Go, and tell this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn and be healed.”’” Isaiah 6:1-5, 8-10
“Though HE had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in HIM. This fulfilled the word spoken by Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this when he saw HIS glory and spoke of Him.” John 12:37-41
John quotes Isaiah 6:10 to show that this was the time when Isaiah beheld the glory of Christ when the prophet saw Jehovah seated on a throne, a point made emphatically clear by the following translations and commentaries:
“Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory and spoke of him.” MOUNCE
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” NIV
“Isaiah said this because he had seen Yeshua’s glory and had spoken about him.” Names of God Bible (NOG)
“This is what Isaiah said when he saw the shining-greatness of Jesus and spoke of Him.” New Life Version (NLV)
tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah AS HAVING SEEN THE PREINCARNATE GLORY OF CHRIST, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9).
sn Because he saw Christ’s glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus. New English Translation (NET https://netbible.org/bible/John+12; capital and underline emphasis mine)
Ver. 41. “This did Isaiah say, when he saw his glory and spoke of him.” John justifies in this verse the application which he has just made to Jesus Christ of the vision of Is. vi. The Adonai whom Isaiah beheld at that moment was the divine being who is incarnated in Jesus. Herein also John and Paul meet together; comp. 1 Cor. x. 4, where Paul calls the one who guided Israel from the midst of the cloud Christ… The ancient Latin and Syriac versions are agreed in supporting the received text. The sense of the latter is simple and perfectly suitable. “It was of Christ, who manifested Himself to him as Adonai, that Isaiah spoke when he uttered such words.” John proves that he has the right to apply this passage here. (Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John with an Historical and Critical Introduction, translated from the third French edition with a preface introductory suggestions, and additional notes by Timothy Dwight President of Yale [Funk and Wagnals Publishers, New York 1886], Volume 2, pp. 235-236: http://books.google.com/books?id=zx8WAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; bold emphasis mine)
With the foregoing in view, note again the Greek of John 12:41:
“Isaiah said this when he saw His glory (eiden ten doxan autou) and spoke of Him.”
Now compare this with the English rendering of the Greek version of Isaiah, commonly referred to as the Septuagint (LXX):
“And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, [that] I saw the Lord (eidon ton Kyrion) sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory (tes doxes autou)… And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (tes doxes autou)… And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips; and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts (kai ton Basilea Kyrion sabaoth eidon tois ophthalmois mou).” Isaiah 6:1, 3, 5
“The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ So he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am Almighty God. Walk before Me and be blameless.’… Then He stopped talking with Abraham, and God went up from him.” Genesis 17:1, 22
“Then God spoke to Moses, and said to him, “I am the LORD, and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name, The LORD I was not known to them.’” Exodus 6:2-3
“He said, ‘Brothers and fathers, listen! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran,” Acts 7:2
“‘I know that you are Abraham’s seed. But you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I am telling what I have seen with My Father, and you are doing what you have seen with your father.’ They answered Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father.’ Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father: God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and proceeded into the world. I did not come of My own authority, but He sent Me.’” John 8:37-42
Jesus claims that Abraham didn’t try to kill him, unlike the Jews of his day who tried to do so. This implies that Jesus and Abraham actually saw each other, a fact confirmed later on by our Lord:
“‘Truly, truly I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death.’ Then the Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham and the prophets died, and You say, “If a man keeps My word, he shall never taste death.” Are You greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets are dead! Who do You make Yourself out to be?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. If I say, “I do not know Him,” I shall be a liar like you. But I know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day. He saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old. Have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. Going through their midst, He passed by.” John 8:51-59
There’s still more information in the next part (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/debate-material-for-johns-gospel-and-deity-of-christ-pt-2/).