REFUTING ANOTHER ANTI-TRINITARIAN RUSE
I continue from where I previously left off: HAS JESUS ALWAYS BEEN JEHOVAH GOD? PT. 1.
In this post I will provide further evidence that Jesus has always existed as Jehovah God by nature.
THE WITNESS OF THE BAPTIST
Another way of proving that Jesus has always possessed the name Jehovah is by seeing how John the Baptist described himself:
“He said: ‘I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, “Make the way of Jehovah straight,” just as Isaiah the prophet said.’” John 1:23
Here the Baptist identifies himself as that voice in the wilderness whom the prophet foretold would herald the coming of Jehovah God Almighty:
“A voice of one calling out in the wilderness: ‘Clear up the way of Jehovah! Make a straight highway through the desert for our God. Let every valley be raised up, And every mountain and hill be made low. The rough ground must become level, And the rugged ground a valley plain. The glory of Jehovah will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together, For the mouth of Jehovah has spoken.’… Go up onto a high mountain, You woman bringing good news for Zion. Raise your voice with power, You woman bringing good news for Jerusalem. Raise it, do not be afraid. Announce to the cities of Judah: ‘Here is your God.’ Look! The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will come with power, And his arm will rule for him. Look! His reward is with him, And the wage he pays is before him. Like a shepherd he will care for his flock. With his arm he will gather together the lambs, And in his bosom he will carry them. He will gently lead those nursing their young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11
Note that Isaiah did not say that the envoy would pave the way for an agent of Jehovah who acts on Jehovah’s behalf. Rather, the prophet made it explicitly clear that it is Jehovah himself, Israel’s very own God, who would appear in visible glory to save and shepherd his people.
And yet according to the Baptist, the God whose way he came to prepare, and whose glory would be seen by all flesh, was none other than Jesus Christ!
“So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of divine favor and truth. (John bore witness about him, yes, he cried out: ‘This was the one of whom I said, “The one coming behind me has advanced in front of me, for he existed before me.’”)… John answered them: ‘I baptize in water. One is standing among you whom you do not know, the one coming behind me, the lace of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ These things took place in Bethʹa·ny across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said: ‘See, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said: “Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, for he existed before me.” Even I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing in water was so that he might be made manifest to Israel.’ John also bore witness, saying: ‘I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me: “Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one who baptizes in holy spirit.” And I have seen it, and I have given witness that this one is the Son of God.’ Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he looked at Jesus walking, he said: ‘See, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:14-15, 26-36
John’s Gospel isn’t the only inspired writing that identifies the Baptist as the herald prophesied by Isaiah, or of Jesus being that very Jehovah whom the Baptist was sent ahead of to prepare his way:
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Ju·deʹa, saying: ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ This, in fact, is the one spoken of through Isaiah the prophet in these words: ‘A voice of one calling out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of Jehovah! Make his roads straight.”’… ‘I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance, but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not worthy to take off. That one will baptize you with holy spirit and with fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will clean up his threshing floor completely and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.’ Then Jesus came from Galʹi·lee to the Jordan to John, in order to be baptized by him. But the latter tried to prevent him, saying: ‘I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?’ Jesus replied to him: ‘Let it be this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.’ Then he quit preventing him. After being baptized, Jesus immediately came up from the water; and look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw God’s spirit descending like a dove and coming upon him. Look! Also, a voice from the heavens said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” Matthew 3:1-3, 11-17 – Cf. Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-6, 15-17, 21-22
“Paul said: ‘John baptized with the baptism in symbol of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’” Acts 19:4
This also helps us appreciate why Jesus is said to be the One who is shepherding his flock and who will come to repay each man according to his deeds,
“I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his life in behalf of the sheep. The hired man, who is not a shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them— because he is a hired man and does not care for the sheep. I am the fine shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I surrender my life in behalf of the sheep. And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:11-16
“For the Son of man is to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will repay each one according to his behavior. Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28
Even though these happen to be the very functions which Isaiah’s prophecy attribute to Jehovah alone.
What all of this proves is that Jesus is that very Jehovah God Almighty whom Isaiah foresaw coming to reveal his glory to all mankind.
Here is a breakdown of the foregoing evidence, which presents a rather powerful case for the Holy Bible depicting Jehovah God existing as an eternal, infinite Triune Being:
- Jesus is the Jehovah God whom John was sent ahead of to prepare his way.
- Jesus is also a flesh and blood Israelite, which means that he is Jehovah God Incarnate.
- This in turn shows that Jesus is one eternal divine Person who possesses two distinct natures, being both God and Man at the same time.
- And yet Jesus is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, but is the Son of God whom the Holy Spirit descended upon in visible form in order to assist him in his mission.
- At the same time, the Father is not the Holy Spirit but rather is the One who sent forth his Spirit to accompany his beloved Son.
- Therefore, the one true God Jehovah eternally exists as three distinct, yet inseparable divine Persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
One is hard pressed to find a clearer, more explicit presentation of the Trinity and the hypostatic union of Christ in the God-breathed Scriptures.
THE JEHOVAH WHOM ISAIAH SAW
There is further evidence for Jesus being that very same Jehovah whose glory Isaiah said would be seen by all flesh.
The inspired Evangelist states that the reason why Isaiah prophesied of Jesus is because the prehuman Christ had appeared to him:
“So Jesus said to them: The light will be among you a little while longer. Walk while you still have the light, so that darkness does not overpower you; whoever walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, exercise faith in the light, so that you may become sons of light.’ Jesus said these things and went off and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, who said: ‘Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard from us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?’ The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: ‘He has blinded their eyes and has made their hearts hard, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts and turn around and I heal them.’ Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but they would not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue; for they loved the glory of men even more than the glory of God.” John 12:35-43
The Apostle references Isaiah 6:10 to explain that the Jewish rejection of Christ, in spite all the miracles he had performed, was a fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied centuries earlier.
As noted, what makes this remarkable is John’s explaining that Isaiah declared these things concerning Jesus because he had actually seen the glory of the preexistent Christ.
Now pay attention to how the following Bible versions render the particular verse in question:
“Isaiah said these things because he saw Jesus’ glory; he spoke about Jesus.” John 12:41 Common English Bible (CEB)
“(Yesha‘yahu said these things because he saw the Sh’khinah of Yeshua and spoke about him.)” Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“Isaiah said this, because he saw the glory of Jesus and spoke about him.” Contemporary English Version (CEV)
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ divine greatness. So he spoke about him.” Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)
“Isaiah said these things when he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” Expanded Bible (EXB)
“Isaiah said this because he had seen Jesus’ glory and had spoken about him.” GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. Good News Translation (GNT)
“Isaiah said these things because he saw the glory of Christ, and spoke about him.” J. B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
“Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory and spoke of him.” William Mounce Reverse Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)
“Isaiah said this because he had seen Yeshua’s glory and had spoken about him.” Names of God Bible (NOG)
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” New Century Version (NCV)
“Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory, and spoke about him.”
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)
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” New International Version (NIV)
“This is what Isaiah said when he saw the shining-greatness of Jesus and spoke of Him.” New Life Version (NLV)
“These things Yeshayah spoke because he saw the kavod (glory) of Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach and he spoke about him. [Isa 6:1]” Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
“Isaiah said this about the Christ when he saw how great he was.” Worldwide English (WE)
However, in the passage from Isaiah we are told that the glory that the prophet saw with his own physical eyes and spoke of was actually that of Jehovah God Almighty!
Here is the context of Isaiah 6:
“In the year that King Uz·ziʹah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two. And one called to the other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The whole earth is filled with his glory.’ And the pivots of the thresholds quivered at the sound of the shouting, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said: ‘Woe to me! I am as good as dead, For I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For MY EYES have seen the King, Jehovah of armies himself!’… Then I heard the voice of Jehovah saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?’ And I said: ‘Here I am! Send me!’ And he replied, ‘Go, and say to this people: “You will hear again and again, But you will not understand; You will see again and again, But you will not get any knowledge.” Make the heart of this people unreceptive, Make their ears unresponsive, And paste their eyes together, So that they may not see with their eyes And hear with their ears, So that their heart may not understand And they may not turn back and be healed.’” Isaiah 6:1-5, 8-10
According to John, this was none other than God’s eternal Word and divine unique Son who revealed himself to Isaiah.
The Evangelist reinforces this point when in the prologue he writes that,
“No one has EVER SEEN God. It is God the only Son (monogenes Theos), who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” English Standard Version (ESV)
John is explicitly clear. No one has ever been able to perceive and know God apart from the Son’s revelation of God, since the Son alone has perfect comprehension of the Father, which is why he alone is capable of making him known. This is the precise reason why anyone who wants to know God must come to the Son and place their love and trust in him:
“No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him, and I will resurrect him on the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by Jehovah.’ Everyone who has listened to the Father and has learned comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except the one who is from God; this one has seen the Father.” John 6:44-46
“However, Jesus called out and said: ‘Whoever puts faith in me puts faith not only in me but also in him who sent me; and whoever sees me sees also the One who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness.’” John 12:44-46
“At that time Jesus said in response: ‘I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children. Yes, O Father, because this is the way you approved. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son except the Father; neither does anyone fully know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for yourselves. For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light.’” Matthew 11:25-30 – Cf. Luke 10:21-24
These inspired texts only reinforce the point that the God whom Isaiah saw must have been Christ in his prehuman existence since the prophet could have never known or perceived God’s true nature and character apart from the Son’s revelation of him.
THE PRE-CREATIONAL GLORY OF THE SON
The aforementioned verses help us appreciate the meaning and import of our Lord’s own words to the Father:
“So now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was… Father, I want those whom you have given me to be with me where I am, in order that they may look upon my glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the founding of the world.” John 17:5, 24
Christ emphatically declares his personal prehuman existence alongside the Father, claiming to have been the very object of the Father’s love from before the world’s creation.
The interesting aspect of our Lord’s statements is the assertion that his glorification entails not the reception of a glory that he did not initially have. Rather, he is returning to the same glory he personally possessed along with the Father prior to the creation of the world.
The vision of Isaiah where he beheld Jehovah visibly seated on his heavenly throne gives us an idea of what Jesus’ glory looked like.
Seeing that the Evangelist has already stated that it was actually the prehuman Christ whom the prophet saw enthroned in heaven, this indicates that the glory which Jesus possesses in union with the Father, and which he had voluntarily set aside to assume the status of a slave while he was on earth,
“in order to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, who said: ‘Look! My servant whom I chose, my beloved, whom I have approved! I will put my spirit upon him, and what justice is he will make clear to the nations. He will not quarrel nor cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the main streets. No bruised reed will he crush, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish, until he brings justice with success. Indeed, in his name nations will hope.’” Matthew 12:17-21
“For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” Mark 10:45 – Cf. Matthew 20:28
“For which one is greater, the one dining or the one serving? Is it not the one dining? But I am among you as the one serving.” Luke 22:27
“For I tell you that Christ became a minister of those who are circumcised in behalf of God’s truthfulness, so as to verify the promises He made to their forefathers,” Romans 15:8
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
Is that of his reigning alongside the Father on the heavenly throne as the one supreme Lord over all creation:
“Men, brothers, it is permissible to speak with freeness of speech to you about the family head David, that he died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one of his offspring on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in the Grave nor did his flesh see corruption. God resurrected this Jesus, and of this we are all witnesses. Therefore, because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you see and hear. For David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you executed on a stake.” Acts 2:29-36
“He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—this one is Lord of all.” Acts 10:36
“For to this end Christ died and came to life again, so that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.” Romans 14:9
“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
“for which very reason God raised him supremely high and granted him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee of what is in heaven and what is on earth and what is underground should bend and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 BYINGTON
“He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power. And after he had made a purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3
“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
The Scriptures attest that this is a glory that no heavenly creature possesses, but one which they all ascribe to Jehovah alone:
“Sons of deity (bene Elim), give to Jehovah, give to Jehovah glory and might. Give to Jehovah the glory that belongs to his name; do reverence to Jehovah in stately sacred garb.” Psalm 29:1-2 BYINGTON
“The heavens praise your marvels, O Jehovah, Yes, your faithfulness in the congregation of the holy ones. For who in the skies can compare to Jehovah? Who among the sons of God (bi’bne Elim) is like Jehovah? God is held in awe in the council of holy ones; He is grand and awe-inspiring to all who are around him. O Jehovah God of armies, Who is mighty like you, O Jah? Your faithfulness surrounds you.” Psalm 89:5-8
It, therefore, becomes abundantly evident from the inspired witness of Scripture that Jesus has always been Jehovah God Almighty by nature who then became flesh at a specific point in time, without ever ceasing to be God. As such, there has never been a moment in Christ’s eternal uncreated existence that he did not already have the divine name, if by name one means the nature or Being of God.
In the final segment of my rebuttal, I shall delve further into the meaning of John 17:11-12 in order to properly understand what our Lord meant when he said he had prevented his followers from perishing by the Father’s name, which he had been given: HAS JESUS ALWAYS BEEN JEHOVAH GOD? PT. 3.