We now arrive at the fourth part of my refutation: The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 3.
So we have only one true, almighty God, Jehovah, and he is the Father (Is 64:8), which, according to Trinitarian theology, the Son cannot be. And when we break it down, Stafford is correct in his assertion of almighty God being the archetype, and all others copies. Even Vine’s points out in reference to the true tent as the, “the spiritual, antitypical tabernacle, Heb. 8:2; 9:24, not that the wilderness tabernacle was false, but that it was a weak and earthly copy of the heavenly.”
Heinz fails to include Vine’s translation of alethinos in John 17:3 since to do so would undermine his very point. No one denies that alethinos can have the archetypal connotation in Hebrews 8:2 and 9:24. Yet Vine does not attribute the archetypal meaning to John 17:3. Furthermore, Hebrews 8:2 and 9:24 don’t talk about eternal life being dependent upon a close, personal knowledge of BOTH the Father and the Son. How arrogant of the created WT Christ to place Himself on an equal plane with the Father in this context!
Second, we agree with Heinz that there is only one true, almighty, God, Jehovah. Yet we disagree with him that the Father alone is Jehovah. The Holy Bible clearly teaches that the Son is also the Almighty God:
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:7-8 NIV
The context clearly identifies the One who is coming as the pierced one, namely Jesus Christ. The One that is coming identifies himself in verse 8 as the Almighty. This passage clearly establishes that Jesus Christ is God Almighty.
Greg Stafford begs to differ:
“In an attempt to further identify the ‘Alpha and Omega’ of this verse, Trinitarians have tried to establish a link between Jesus in verse seven, who is there spoken of as ‘coming,’ and the One ‘who is coming’ according to verse eight. There are several problems with this interpretation, however, that make such an identification practically impossible from a biblical perspective.
“First, in Revelation 1:4, 5, John writes: to the seven congregations that are in the district of Asia: ‘Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come [ho on kai ho en kai ho erkhomenos], and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth’ (emphasis added). Here we can see that prior to verse 8 the description of the One ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come’ is given to One who is clearly distinguished from ‘the seven spirits’ and ‘Jesus Christ.’ It would seem obvious that the only other person from whom ‘undeserved kindness and peace could come is the Father.
“Thus, the ‘coming’ of the Alpha and Omega’ in verse eight is consistent with the description of the Father’s ‘coming’ in verse four. Further proof that a reference to the ‘coming’ of the Father is supported by Scripture, particularly the book of Revelation, is found in chapter 6 verses 16, 17, where those who refuse to bear witness to God and Jesus cry out: ‘Fall over us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come [emphasis added], and who is able to stand?’
“Here we can see that ‘the One seated on the throne’ is also seen as ‘coming’ with the Lamb on the ‘great day of their wrath.’ Throughout the book of Revelation, including here in 6:16, ‘the One seated on the throne’ is a common reference to Jesus’ God and Father (4:10; 5:1, 7; 7:10, 15; 21:5) There is no compelling evidence to support the belief that Revelation 1:8 is a reference to Jesus Christ. In fact, the evidence seems to point decisively in favor of the Father being the ‘Alpha and the Omega’ of this verse.” (Stafford, second edition, pp. 178-179)
Stafford claims that there is no compelling evidence to support the Trinitarian position. As we will now see it is Stafford’s post-biblical 19th century JW theology that does not allow him to see the compelling evidence that supports Jesus as the referent of verse 8.
First, it should be pointed out that Holy Bible often applies the same titles and functions to both the Father and the Son. For instance, both the Father and the Son are said to be “King of kings and Lord of lords”:
“which God will bring about in his own time-God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16 NIV
“and from Jesus Christ, ‘the Faithful Witness,’ ‘the firstborn from the dead,’ and ‘the Ruler of the kings of the earth.’” Revelation 1:5 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 called and chosen and faithful with him [will do so].” Revelation 17:14 NWT
“And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:16 NWT
These passages pose additional problems for the JWs. 1 Timothy 6:15 states that God is the only (monos) Potentate/Ruler and King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet Jesus is said to be the King of kings and Lord of lords as well as the supreme Ruler of all. Therefore, either the JW must claim that Jesus is Jehovah God or assume that the authors of the NT often contradicted themselves and didn’t actually mean what they said since only doesn’t actually mean only.
Furthermore, Revelation not only distinguishes between the One sitting on the throne from the Lord Jesus Christ, as Stafford claims, but also shows the Father and the Son sitting on the same throne. (Cf. Revelation 3:21; 22:1, 3)
In fact, Revelation identifies Jesus as the One seated on the throne:
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
The One seated on the throne judges all peoples. Yet elsewhere in the NT it is Jesus Christ who sits on the throne to judge all:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:31-33 NIV
“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him… And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:22-23, 27 NIV
In fact, Revelation clearly distinguishes Jesus from all creation:
“And EVERY CREATED THING which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and ALL THINGS IN THEM, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:13-14 NASB
Revelation 5:13-14 distinguishes the Lamb from “all creatures,” and shows all creation giving glory, honor, and blessing (i.e., worship and praise) both to the Father and to the Lamb. This refutes any attempt of viewing the Lord Jesus as the first of God’s creation.
Therefore the title of “who was, who is, and who is to come,” presents no particular difficulty for the Trinitarian position since this is one of the many titles and functions applied to both members of the Trinity.
Second, the context of 1:4-5 ends at verse 6 with a doxology to Christ:
“… and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father- to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.”
This implies that Stafford’s attempt of trying to identify the speaker of 1:8 with the one referred to in 1:4 will not work. Revelation 1:7-8 is actually identifying someone other than the Father as the one “who was, who is and who is to come.” The context specifically identifies the One who is to come as the One that was pierced. Based on this fact, verse 8 can only be referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, the very One who was pierced and is coming again.
Third, scripture clearly states that the Father reveals his invisible qualities through the visible manifestation of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ:
“And Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.’” John 12:44-45 NASB
“Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.’” John 14:9-11 NIV
“He is the image of the invisible God…” Colossians 1:15 NIV
In light of these passages, the only way that the Father can be said as coming is in the person of His Son. The Father reveals his invisible qualities and presence through the visible appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the eternal God made visible. (Cf. Matthew 1:22-23; John 1:1, 14, 18)
This point actually affirms the Trinitarian position since the only way for Jesus to perfectly reveal the invisible God to man is if Christ himself is fully God in nature. A finite creature cannot fully manifest the qualities of the infinite God to creation. That Jesus is fully God in visible form is something that the NT explicitly teaches:
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and IN HIM you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10 NASB
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…” Hebrews 1:3 NIV
Fourth, Stafford overlooked the fact that Revelation 1:4-5 is actually a Trinitarian benediction. According to this passage the source of all grace and peace stems fully and equally from all three persons:
“John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,” Revelation 1:4-5 NIV
The seven spirits refer to the perfect work of the Holy Spirit, something which the WatchTower publication, Revelation Its Grand Climax At Hand!, agrees with:
“‘Undeserved kindness and peace’-how desirable these are and especially when we appreciate their source! The ‘One’ from whom they flow is the Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself, ‘the King of eternity,’ who lives ‘from time indefinite to time indefinite.’ (1 Timothy 1:17; Psalm 90:2) Involved here too, are ‘the seven spirits,’ which term indicates a fullness of operation of God’s active force, OR HOLY SPIRIT, as it brings understanding and blessing to all who pay attention to the prophecy. Also occupying a key role is ‘Jesus Christ,’ of whom John later wrote: ‘He was full of undeserved kindness and truth.’ (John 1:14) Thus, John’s greeting has the same elements that the apostle Paul mentioned in closing his second letter to the Corinthian congregation: ‘The undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the sharing in the holy spirit be with all of you.’ (2 Corinthians 13:14) May those words apply to everyone of us who love truth today!-Psalm 119:97” (Ibid., p. 18 bold and capital emphasis mine)
Seeing that it is God that grants grace and peace to believers affirms the essential equality of all three Persons. The only way for all three Persons to give grace and peace to all the Christians within the seven churches that were located throughout Asia is if all three are omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Seeing that God alone possesses these attributes affirms that all three are fully God in nature.
This passage also establishes the personality of the Holy Spirit of God since a force does not grant grace and peace, a person does. So we see that this passage backfires against Stafford and affirms the Trinitarian position!
Interestingly, the WatchTower at one time viewed Revelation 1:8 as a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Duane Magnani and Arthur Barrett in their book, The Watchtower Files-Dialogue With Jehovah’s Witnesses (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis MN, 1985), state:
“…Throughout Revelation, John speaks of Jesus as the one who is to come, and Jesus calls himself the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Further, we know the Bible never speaks of the Father as the one who is to come. In 1917, Watchtower readers were taught in a book called The Finished Mystery that Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:12, 13 confirmed that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega…” (Ibid., p. 221 bold emphasis mine)
Magnani and Barrett reproduce the actual commentary from The Finished Mystery regarding Revelation 1:8:
1:8. I am THE Alpha and I AM ALSO THE Omega.-
Alpha is the first letter, and Omega the last letter, of the Greek alphabet.
The Beginning and the Ending.-“Our Lord’s great honor is shown in that He was not onlythe first of God’s creation, but the last. From this we are to understand that the great Jehovah did not directly employ His own power in creating either men or angels; but that He delegated His power to His Only-begotten Son.”-Z.’93-115
Saith the Lord GOD.-But not the clergy; they will have none of this doctrine.
Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.-“It is since HIS RESURRECTION that the message has gone forth-‘All power in heaven and in earth is given unto Me.’ (Matt. 28:18.) Consequently it is only since then THAT HE COULD BE CALLED THE ALMIGHTY.”-Z.’93-115; Rev. 1:4; :16:5-7. (Ibid., p. 224 bold and capital emphasis mine)
I submit that the WatchTower had it right in the beginning since Revelation 1:7-8 is clearly referring to Jesus as the Almighty God.
Revelation supplies additional evidence that Jesus is in fact God Almighty:
“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:12-18 NIV
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:” Revelation 2:1 NIV
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1 NIV
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6 NIV
The symbols of the Lamb, the seven horns, the seven eyes, the walking in the midst of the seven lampstands and the holding of the seven stars signifies that Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. The number seven represents completeness and perfection while horns symbolize power with eyes symbolizing knowledge. The seven lampstands refers to the seven churches located throughout Asia Minor:
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea’… The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:10-11, 20 NIV
The only way for Christ to be in the midst of all these seven churches is if he were omnipresent!
The WatchTower publication Revelation Its Grand Climax At Hand! states in relation to Revelation 2:1:
“As in the other six passages, Jesus here draws attention to a feature denoting his authoritative position. He reminds the overseers in Ephesus that all elders are under his protective oversight and that he is inspecting all the congregations. Down into our 20th century, he has continued to exercise this loving headship, watching over the elders and kindly shepherding all associated with the congregation…” (Ibid., p. 33 bold emphasis mine)
Here is the publication’s comment regarding Revelation 3:1:
“Why does Jesus identify himself as the one ‘who has the seven spirits’? Because these seven spirits represent Jehovah’s holy spirit flowing in its fullness. John describes them also as ‘seven eyes,’ indicating the penetrating visions that God’s holy Spirit bestows on Jesus. (Revelation 5:6) Thus, he is able to uncover and handle any situation that may exist. (Matthew 10:26; 1 Corinthians 4:5)” (Ibid., p. 55 bold emphasis mine)
As well as their comment regarding Revelation 5:6:
“What else adds to our appreciation of this ‘lamb’? He has seven horns. Horns in the Bible are often a symbol of power or authority, and seven would indicate completeness. (Compare 1 Samuel 2:1, 10; Psalm 112:9; 148:14) Hence, the Lamb’s seven horns represent the FULLNESS OF POWER that Jehovah has entrusted to Jesus. He is ‘far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come.’ (Ephesians 1:20-23; 1 Peter 3:22)…
“Moreover, Jesus is filled to completeness with holy spirit, as pictured by the Lamb’s seven eyes, which ‘mean the seven spirits of God.’ Jesus is a channel through whom the FULLNESS of Jehovah’s active force flows to His earthly servants. (Titus 3:6) Evidently, it is by this same spirit that he sees from heaven what is happening here on earth. LIKE HIS FATHER, JESUS HAS PERFECT DISCERNMENT. Nothing escapes his notice. (Compare Psalm 11:4; Zechariah 4:10) Clearly, this Son- the integrity keeper who conquered the world; the Lion of the tribe of Judah; the root of David; the one who offered his life for mankind; the one with complete authority, fullness of holy spirit, and perfect discernment from Jehovah God-yes, this one is outstandingly worthy to take the scroll from Jehovah’s hand…” (Ibid., p. 85 bold and capital emphasis mine)
Aside from the erroneous assumption that Jesus was given the completeness of power and discernment, these passages clearly demonstrate that Jesus is God Almighty. There is no escaping that the NT does in fact clearly teach that Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing and present everywhere. That is why Jesus is able to sustain and control all creation, since Jesus is the source of all creative energy and power. (Cf. John 2:23-25, cf. 1 John 3:20; John 14:23, 16:30-31, 21:17; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5, cf. 1:7-8, 16:22, Revelation 22:20; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:7-10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:16-17, 2:2-3, 3:11; Hebrews 1:2-3; Revelation 2:23, cf. 1 Kings 8:39, Jeremiah 17:10)
We therefore see that contrary to what Heinz claims Jesus is the one true, almighty God Jehovah. This affirms that the one almighty God is a multipersonal Being.
Origen knew of the correct way to understand the difference between true and false:
Origen seemed to understand the use of alethinos in John 17:3, for in his Commentary on John he wrote:
“God on the one hand is VERY God (autotheos, God of himself); and so the Savior says in His prayer to the Father, “That they may know Thee the only true God; ” but that all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in his divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article), rather God (without the article). And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, “The God of gods, the Lord [Jehovah], hath spoken, and called the earth.” [Ps. 136:2] It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for the drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is “THE GOD,” and those who are formed after him are gods, images, as it were, of Him the Prototype.””
Ante-Nicene Fathers (Eerdmans’ reprint series) Book 2, p. 323)
Does that make us henotheistic? After discussing Deut. 32:8 and Ps. 82:1-6, Ralph Smith poses the timely question: was Israel henotheistic or monotheistic? His answer is that Israel was monotheistic. But in what sense? Quoting G.E. Wright, Smith notes that monotheism (in this case) can be defined as: “the exclusive exaltation of the one source of all power, authority, and creativity” (_Old Testament Theology. R. Smith. P. 232). By defining monotheism in this way, we allow room for others to be called gods (in that they are superhuman and supernatural) without compromising our monotheistic position.
The views of Origen are dealt with in the article on John 17:3.
Furthermore Heinz quotes certain authorities without giving us enough of the context whereby we can assess what these scholars actually meant. As we shall see, Heinz often misquotes his sources, wrenching statements out of their intended context and thereby giving a misleading impression as to what these authors meant.
Here is what Smith actually wrote in his OT Theology. The discussion about Deuteronomy 32:8 and Psalm 82, which Heinz alludes to, indicates that the ‘gods’ of the nations are acknowledged to be real beings. However, in Psalm 82 (in Smith’s view), Yahweh judges the gods of the nations as being evil (i.e., FALSE) and says that they will die like men. All the other examples of “gods” as actual beings presented by Smith are what I have already termed as “false gods”– i.e., Baal, Asherah, etc. There is NO MENTION anywhere in Smith’s discussion about a class of “good” gods.
Even in the early period of Judaism reflected in these passages (Smith seems to accept the idea of a progressive monotheism), Jews believed that the other gods might, in fact, exist, but that they were UTTERLY POWERLESS. They could do nothing, and were of no account.
On page 230, Smith says later Judaism (by which he no doubt means deutero-Isaiah – several hundred years before Christ) came to deny even the existence of the gods of the nations. Not only were they powerless, they were nothing at all.
Interestingly, in his discussion of the Shema Smith states clearly that Trinitarianism is not at odds with Jewish monotheism in any way.
Finally, consider the context of the quote Heinz gives us:
Should one speak of the faith of Israel in the Old Testament as henotheistic or monotheistic? G.E. Wright said that Old Testament Scholars have generally understood henotheism to mean “the worship of one God who is confined to one people and country, but a worship that does not exclude the recognition of other deities” (Old Testament Against Its Environment, 37). Henotheism defined in that way certainly DOES NOT FIT the universal and cosmic conception in the Old Testament.
Wright prefers to use the term monotheism for the Old Testament faith because “it has always been used to define Judaism and Christianity in which the angelic host has survived and has been elaborated” (IBID). Even later, Israel placed no abstract metaphysical emphasis on the existence or nonexistence of the other gods. The emphasis was on their lack of power to do anything. Monotheism rather than henotheism emphasizes the most characteristic and unique feature of Israel: “the exclusive exaltation of the one source of all power, authority, and creativity” (IBID, 39). This understanding of monotheism leaves room for angelology, demonology, and the New Testament understanding of the Godhead. (bold and capital emphasis mine)
So, contra Heinz, Smith’s view “allows” for angels or demons being called “gods” in the context of being the false gods of the nations. Smith never calls the angels that serve Yahweh “gods,” but angels, seraphim, cherubim, etc. His definition of monotheism (Wright’s actually) is conducive to the Trinity (again, he refers to this specifically a couple pages earlier). But nowhere do we see him stating anything remotely like the JW’s view of monotheism, in which Jews in the time of Christ believed in a heavenly court of gods subordinate to the one God. Smith says the other gods “lack power to do anything,” which would militate against the view of Christ as a second god, being called “mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6, the emphatic THEOS in John 1:1, or Thomas’s God in John 20:28.
Heinz not only commits the fallacy of appealing to authority but also wrenches citations out of their intended context. I also need to constantly remind Heinz that scholars do not determine truth, God’s word does. That is why when we do consult God’s word Heinz’s post-biblical 19th century JW views of God are found to be unbiblical since it is not monotheism at all. Rather, Heinz’s views are nothing more than henotheism trying to disguise itself under the guise of biblical monotheism.
I have one final part left: The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 5.