In this post I am going to employ the interpretive method, which unitarians apply to Scripture to undermine Christ’s Deity, against them. I will show how their approach in attacking Christ’s divinity can be used to prove that the Father cannot be the true God, since only the Son is.
Anti-Trinitarians often appeal to the following verses, to hammer the point that the Father alone is the only true God,
“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVUE)
“since God is one, and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:30 NRSVUE
“For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6 NRSVUE
While explaining away the statements of these same inspired authors to Jesus’ being equally divine and therefore one in essence with the Father:
“After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him… I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed… Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.’” John 17:1-2, 4-5, 24 NRSVUE – 8:50, 54; 13:31-32; Isaiah 42:8; 48:11
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (kai Theos een ho Logos). He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people… The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him… And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth… No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, himself God (monogenes Theos), who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:1-4, 9-10, 14, 18 NRSVUE – Cf. Genesis 1:1; 2:4; Job 9:8; Psalm 36:9; Isaiah 43:6-7, 20-21; 44:24; 45:12, 18; 48:12-13
“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God (ho Kyrios mou kai ho Theos mou)!’Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’” John 20:28-29 NRSVUE – Cf. Psalm 35:23
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh… He who did not withhold his own Son but gave him up for all of us, how will he not with him also give us everything else?” Romans 8:3, 32 NRSVUE
“to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever (ho on epi panton Theos, eulogetos eis tous aionas). Amen.” Romans 9:5 NRSVUE
“while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (tou megalou Theou kai soteros hemon ‘Iesou Christou). He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:13-14 – Cf. Exodus 19:5; Psalm 130:7-8
“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as equally honorable as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (tou Theou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou):” 2 Peter 1:1 – Cf. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; Isaiah 45:21-23
“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God (ho Theos), is forever and ever, and the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God (ho Theos), your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.’ And, ‘In the beginning, Lord (Kyrie), YOU founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of YOUR hands; they will perish, but YOU remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak YOU will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But YOU are the same, and YOUR years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3, 8-12 NRSVUE – Cf. Psalm 86:8-10; 89:5-8; 102:25-27
These inspired writers not only affirm that Christ is the Son who dwelt with the Father in the same divine glory before the world began, but that he is also the uncreated Word who was fully God in essence even from before creation, being the God that is forever praised, and the great God and Savior of all believers, since he is none other than that very unchangeable Yahweh who created and gives life to all creation that became human!
And yet this is still not enough for unitarians to accept the fact that Jesus is God Almighty in the flesh according to the God-breathed Scriptures.
Therefore, I will now play the unitarians’ own game and use their interpretive method to disprove that the Father is the true God.
TURNING THE TABLES
The apostle Paul testified that Christ is the only sovereign Ruler, who alone is immortal by nature that dwells in unapproachable light:
“to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,which HE will bring about at the right time—HE WHO is the blessed and ONLY Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.It is HE ALONE who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to HIM be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:14-16NRSVUE
It is clear that the antecedent of all the English pronouns is Christ since he is the nearest referent within the immediate context. This is a fact which even the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge!
Jehovah is the “happy God” and his Son Jesus Christ is called “the happy and only Potentate” (1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15)… (Aid to Bible Understanding [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1971], p. 711 http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001868?q=Jehovah+is+the+%E2%80%9Chappy+God%E2%80%9D+and+his+Son+Jesus+Christ+is+called+%E2%80%9Cthe+happy+and+only+Potentate%E2%80%9D+%281+Tim.+1%3A11%3B+6%3A15%29&p=par; bold emphasis mine)
How can Jesus be “the one alone having immortality”? The first one described as being rewarded with immortality is Jesus Christ. That he did not possess immortality before his resurrection by God [sic] is seen from the inspired apostle’s words at Romans 6:9: “Christ, now that he has been raised from the dead, dies no more; death is master over him no more.” (Compare Re 1:17, 18). For this reason, when describing him as “the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords,” 1 Timothy 6:15, 16 shows that Jesus is distinct from all other kings and lords in that he is “the one alone having immortality.” The other kings and lords, because of being mortal, die, even as did also the high priests of Israel. The glorified Jesus, God’s appointed High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, however, has “an indestructible life.” – Heb 7:15-17, 23-25. (Insight on the Scriptures [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY 1988], Volume 1. Aaron-Jehoshua, p. 1189 http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200002155#h=6– see also p. 1032; bold emphasis mine)
Further corroboration that Jesus is the referent comes from what Paul wrote in his second correspondence to Timothy, where he ascribes eternal glory to the risen Lord,
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to JUDGE the living and the dead, and in view of HIS appearing and HIS kingdom, I solemnly urge you… From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous JUDGE, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for HIS appearing… At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for HIS heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:1, 8, 16-18 NRSVUE
And from the apostle John who explicitly describes Jesus as the Lord of lords and King of kings:
“they will wage war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14NRSVUE
And yet the OT expressly teaches that it is Jehovah who reigns in heaven as Lord of lords!
“For Jehovah your God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the terrible, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” Deuteronomy 10:17 American Standard Version (ASV)
“Oh give thanks unto the Lord of lords; For his lovingkindness endureth for ever:” Psalm 136:3 ASV
This leads me to my next case.
John not only identifies Christ as THE heavenly King of kings and Lord of lords, but also claims that Jesus possesses knowledge that no one else has:
“Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and wages war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name inscribed that NO ONE knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a scepter of iron; he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’” Revelation 19:11-16 NRSVUE
My final example poses a huge dilemma for these anti-Trinitarians.
“For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into debauchery and deny our ONLY Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (ton monon despoten kai Kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon). Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, once and for all, that JESUS, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Jude 1:4-5 NRSVUE
To say that this is a truly remarkable passage would be a wild understatement!
Not only does Jude describe the heavenly Christ as the believers ONLY master and Lord, but he also states that it was Jesus himself in his prehuman existence that delivered Israel during the time of Moses and subsequently punished them in the wilderness!
Note how the Jehovah’s Witnesses own Bible (per)version renders v. 4:
“… and who prove false to our ONLY owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.” New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition) 2013 Edition (NWT)
The problem for the unitarian becomes more compounded from the fact that majority of the Greek witnesses to Jude, which contain this text, actually describe Jesus as the only God!
“… and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ (ton monon despoten Theon kai Kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon).” World English Bible (WEB)
Either rendering leads to the same conclusion, namely, Jesus is Yahweh God incarnate since the OT is emphatically clear that Yahweh alone is the Lord who reigns from heaven.
For instance, compare what Jude wrote by inspiration with the following text:
“Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone (YHWH labaddeka); thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are thereon, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” Nehemiah 9:6 ASV
And now pay attention to how the Greek renders the Hebrew words YHWH labaddeka:
“And Esdras said, Thou art the only true Lord (Kyrios monos); thou madest the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, and all their array, the earth, and all things that are in it, the seas, and all things in them; and thou quickenest all things, and the hosts of heaven worship thee.” LXX
Hence, for a Greek-speaking Jew to describe Jesus as the only Lord (monos Kyrios) is to identify the risen Christ as the one and only Yahweh. There’s simply no way around this revealed truth.
V. 5 further substantiates this fact, since it plainly states that Jesus was the One who delivered Israel during the Exodus.
Compare how the following versions translate the passage:
“Now I want to remind you, although you came to know all these things once and for all, that Jesus saved a people out of Egypt and later destroyed those who did not believe;” Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
“… that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” English Standard Version (ESV)
“But I will admonish you once, that know all things, that Jesus saved his people from the land of Egypt, and the second time destroyed them that believed not. [Forsooth I will together admonish you, witting once all things, for Jesus saving his people of the land of Egypt, the second time lost them that believed not.]” Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
“… that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, did afterwards destroy them that believed not:” Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
“… that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, the second time destroyed those who did not believe.” Lexham English Bible (LEB)
“… that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe.” New English Translation (NET)
“… that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.” New Living Translation (NLT)
The reason why these translations all have the word Jesus is because this is the earliest and widespread reading of the extant copies of Jude.
In fact, the oldest extant copy of Jude is P72, which is a papyrus that scholars believe comes from the third century. And in that manuscript, v. 5 actually calls Jesus God!
“But I want to remind you about what you have always known, namely, that the GOD CHRIST (God, who is Christ [Theos Christos]), saved people out of Egypt, but then he destroyed those who did not believe.”
The words Theos Christos are written as nomina sacra (θς χρς), i.e., a practice where scribes would abbreviate the names and titles of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, out of reverence and recognition of their essential Deity.
Moreover, even the reading Lord which is adopted by certain translations,
“Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord (Kyrios) at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.” New International Version (NIV)
Still points to Christ since he is the one and only Lord mentioned in the previous verse.
Thus, no matter what variant a unitarian adopts s/he is still left with the inescapable fact that Jude emphatically and unambiguously proclaims that it was the Person of Christ who delivered and punished Israel during the time of Moses!
With that said, NT textual critic Philip W. Comfort shows why the reading Jesus is not only possible, but most likely what Jude wrote.
After mentioning the following reading,
panta hoti [ho] kyrios hapax
“[knowing that] the Lord having once and for all”
Comfort lists the major variants,
1. hapax panta, hoti Iesous
“[knowing] once for all, Jesus”
2. panta, hoti Iesous hapax
“[knowing] everything, that Jesus once”
3. hapax panta, hoti theos Christos
“[knowing] once and for all, that God [the] Messiah (or, Messiah God)”
4. hapax panta, hoti ho theos
“[knowing] once and for all, that God”
5. hapax touto, hoti ho kyrios
“once [you knew] this, that the Lord”
And then states:
Among all the readings cited above, the first and second variants are the most remarkable, for they say that “Jesus delivered his people out of Egypt.” This reading is found in A B 33 1739 1881 Origen Cyril Jerome Bede–AN IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION OF WITNESSES. P72 may possibly be an indirect witness to the reading “Jesus,” because it shows that the scribe had before him in his exemplar a messianic title–“Christ” (= “Messiah”). At any rate, it is easier to argue (from a textual perspective) that the reading “Jesus” is the one which all the others deviated than to argue that the reading with “Lord” (or “God”) was changed to “Jesus,” because scribes were not known for fabricating difficult readings.
Some scholars, such as Wikgren (1967, 147-152) have argued that Jude may have written Iesous in Jude 5 intending “Joshua” (see NEBmg), as in Heb 4:8. But this is very unlikely, because Joshua led the Israelites into the good land of Canaan, but not out of Egypt, and Joshua certainly did not destroy those who did not believe (Jude 5b). This was a divine activity. Thus, it is likely that Jesus here is being seen as Yahweh the Savior. In other words, from Jude’s perspective, it was Jesus, the I AM (see John 8:58), who was present with the Israelites and operative in their deliverance from Egypt. Paul shared a similar view inasmuch as he proclaimed that “Christ” was the Rock that accompanied the Israelites in their desert journeys and that “Christ” was the one the Israelites constantly “tested” during these times (see 1 Cor 10:4, 9 and note on 1 Cor 10:9). Thus, the reading “Jesus,” though difficult, IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. As such, it should be accepted AS THE ORIGINAL READING (as it was by Eberhard Nestle [1901, 328-329] and F. F. Bruce [1964, 63]).
The first edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament contained the reading “Jesus” in the text. But this was changed in the third edition, when a slim majority of the editors voted to put the reading with “Lord” in the text and the one with “Jesus” in the margin (Metzger and Wikgren voted against the decision and stated their reasons for doing so in TCGNT.)
The first English translation to adopt the wording “Jesus” was NLT. (As the New Testament coordinator who proposed this reading to the NLY committee, I was glad to see them adopt it.) Two other recent versions have adopted this reading: TNIV (a change from the NIV) and NET (see the note in NETmg). Otherwise, it has been regulated to the margin of all the other versions. NASB notes that “two early manuscripts read ‘Jesus.’” Those manuscripts are A and B. (Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, pp. 802-803; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Comfort isn’t the only textual critic to highlight the aforementioned data:
21 tn The terms “Master and Lord” both refer to the same person. 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. For more discussion see ExSyn 270-78. See also Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1…
24 tc The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Iēsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel (the NA27 has “the Lord” instead of “Jesus”). However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from A VARIETY OF EARLY WITNESSES (e.g., A B 33 81 88 322 424c 665 915 1241 (1735: “the Lord Jesus”) 1739 1881 2298 2344 vg co eth Or1739mg Cyr Hier Bede), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (theos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though P72 has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [theos Christos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦς is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate. The NA28 text now also reads Ιησοῦς. For defense of this reading, see Philipp Bartholomä, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt: A Re-examination of a Textual Problem in Jude 5, ” NovT 50 (2008): 143-58.
sn The construction our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ in v. 4 follows Granville Sharp’s rule (see note on Lord). The construction strongly implies the deity of Christ. This is followed by a statement that Jesus was involved in the salvation (and later judgment) of the Hebrews. He is thus to be identified with the Lord God, Yahweh. Verse 5, then, simply fleshes out what is implicit in v. 4. (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/Jude+1)
Hence, the foregoing data shows that all the variant readings end up proving that Jesus is the One whom Jude believed was actively involved in the Exodus.
And since the OT emphatically teaches that it was Yahweh God who led Israel out of Egypt,
“And God spake all these words, saying,I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3 ASV
“I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Deuteronomy 5:6
“but because Jehovah loveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he sware unto your fathers, hath Jehovah brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 7:8 ASV
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. For Jehovah’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, And in the waste howling wilderness; He compassed him about, he cared for him, He kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, That fluttereth over her young, He spread abroad his wings, he took them, He bare them on his pinions. Jehovah alone did lead him, And there was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomg 32:8-12 ASV
It is, therefore, undeniable that this inspired author has described Christ as Yahweh God Almighty in the flesh, since there is no other way that Jude could write that it was the preexistent, prehuman Jesus who personally delivered Israel from Egypt and punished some of them in the desert for sinning against him.
To sum up the problems which the unitarian approach to exegeting the inspired Scriptures raise for their anti-Trinitarian views, we demonstrated that:
- Jesus is the only sovereign Ruler that reigns in heaven, being the one and only King of kings and Lord of lords.
- Jesus alone is immortal, with immortality being one of his intrinsic qualities (Cf. John 1:4; 11:25-26; 14:6; Acts 2:24; 3:15; 1 John 1:1-3).
- Jesus dwells in unapproachable light that no one can behold (Cf. Acts 9:1-9; Psalm 104:2).
- Jesus alone knows his unique, special name.
- Jesus is the only sovereign Master and Lord of believers.
- Jesus is the Lord who delivered Israel out of Egypt and then punished them in the desert for their rebellion.
- Yahweh alone is Lord and he alone reigns in heaven as Lord of lords.
- Yahweh is the Lord who delivered Israel during the time of Moses.
- Jesus is, therefore, Yahweh God Almighty in the flesh
- Jesus is not the Father.
- The Father, therefore, cannot, be Yahweh God but must be a secondary, subordinate deity to Christ who alone is Yahweh Almighty.
This is what happens when we approach the God-breathed Scriptures the way unitarians do, who misread and misinterpret the Holy Bible in order to make it fit in with their erroneous beliefs and assumptions.
Welcome to the wonderful world of anti-Trinitarian, unitarian eisegesis!