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UNITARIANS PROVE THE FATHER ISN’T THE TRUE GOD

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.    

UNITARIAN PROOFTEXTS

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)

And:

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:

  1. Jesus is the only sovereign Ruler that reigns in heaven, being the one and only King of kings and Lord of lords.
  2. 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).
  3. Jesus dwells in unapproachable light that no one can behold (Cf. Acts 9:1-9; Psalm 104:2).
  4. Jesus alone knows his unique, special name.
  5. Jesus is the only sovereign Master and Lord of believers.
  6. Jesus is the Lord who delivered Israel out of Egypt and then punished them in the desert for their rebellion.
  7. Yahweh alone is Lord and he alone reigns in heaven as Lord of lords.
  8. Yahweh is the Lord who delivered Israel during the time of Moses.
  9. Jesus is, therefore, Yahweh God Almighty in the flesh
  10. Jesus is not the Father.
  11. 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!

FURTHER READING

WATCHTOWER PROVES THE FATHER IS NOT THE OMNISCIENT LORD!

Biblical Verses That Call Jesus God

How Unitarian Logic Ends Up Proving That The Father Can’t Be God

How Unitarian Logic Proves the Father Can’t be God Pt. 2

THE HOLY SPIRIT OF THE SON OF GOD

MORE PROOF FOR CHRIST’S ESSENTIAL DEITY

In this post I share another way in which the inspired Scriptures describe Jesus a YHWH God Almighty who became a human being.

THE SPIRIT OF YHWH GOD

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Holy Spirit is said to be the Spirit of YHWH God whom YHWH sent to speak to/through and empower the prophets and others to fulfill God’s will.

Here is a sampling of [O]ld [T]estament texts that affirm this point:  

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?’” Genesis 41:38

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,” Exodus 31:3

“and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship,” Exodus 35:31

“And Balaam saw that it was good in the eyes of Yahweh to bless Israel, so he did not go as at other times to encounter omens, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel dwelling tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him. Then he took up his discourse and said, ‘The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, And the oracle of the man whose eye is uncovered; The oracle of him who hears the words of God, Who beholds the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes opened,’” Numbers 24:1-4 Legacy Standard Bible (LSB)

“But the Spirit of Yahweh clothed Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him.” Judges 6:34 LSB

“Now the Spirit of Yahweh came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.” Judges 11:29

“‘Then the Spirit of Yahweh will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.’… Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. And they came to the hill there, and behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. Now it happened that all who knew him previously saw, and behold, he was prophesying with the prophets, so the people said to one another, ‘What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’”1 Samuel 10:6, 9-11 LSB

“Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, ‘The Spirit of Yahweh spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me, “He who rules over men as a righteous one, Who rules in the fear of God,”’” 2 Samuel 23:1-3 LSB

“Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded.” 2 Chronicles 15:1

“Yet for many years You had patience with them, And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.” Nehemiah 9:30

The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

“Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139:7

“Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10

“Who has encompassed the Spirit of Yahweh, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He take counsel and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And made Him know the way of understanding?” Isaiah 40:13-14

The Spirit of Lord Yahweh is upon me Because Yahweh has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to captives And freedom to prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1 LSB

“But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy; He fought against them. Then His people remembered the ancient days, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them… As the cattle which go down into the valley, The Spirit of Yahweh gave them rest. So You led Your people, To make for Yourself a glorious name.” Isaiah 63:10-11, 14 LSB

“There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers… I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.” Daniel 5:11, 14

“Is it being said, O house of Jacob: ‘Is the Spirit of Yahweh impatient? Are these His deeds?’ Do not My words do good To the one walking uprightly?” Micah 2:7 LSB

“On the other hand I am filled with power⁠—With the Spirit of Yahweh⁠—And with justice and might To declare to Jacob his transgression, Even to Israel his sin.” Micah 3:8 LSB

According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!” Haggai 2:5

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, ‘This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says Yahweh of hosts.’” Zechariah 4:6

“And they made their hearts diamond-hard so that they could not hear the law and the words which Yahweh of hosts had sent by His Spirit by the hand of the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from Yahweh of hosts.” Zechariah 7:12 LSB

It is important to keep in mind that the OT writings never identify the Holy Spirit as belonging to or being sent by an angelic creature and/or a mere human being.

CHRIST’S HOLY SPIRIT

Remarkably, the [N]ew [T]estament writings state that the Holy Spirit who inspired the OT prophetic writings,

“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21

Was actually the Spirit of Christ!

“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WHO WAS IN THEM was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter 1:10-12

Note how Peter had no qualms stating that it was actually Christ’s Holy Spirit who enabled the prophets to foresee and foretell the sufferings that Christ would endure prior to his glorification.

Paul was another inspired writer who identifies the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus:

“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:19

Christ is further depicted as being the One who pours out the Holy Spirit from heaven upon all those who would believe in his name:

“And he preached, saying, ‘There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” Mark 1:7-8

“‘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.’… 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 2:32-33, 37-38

What makes this text from Acts so remarkable is that Peter had just quoted the following OT prophecy,

“Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am Yahweh your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame. And it will be afterwards That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; Your old men will dream dreams; Your young men will see visions. Even on the male slaves and female slaves I will in those days pour out My Spirit. And I will put wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of Yahweh comes. And it will be that everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As Yahweh has said, Even among the survivors whom Yahweh calls.” Joel 2:27-32 LSB – Cf. Acts 2:17-21

To explain how Jesus’ followers were able to glorify God in all the various languages and dialects spoken by the Jews who had come to worship at the temple:

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’ So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’ 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 onlythe third hour of the day.But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:’” Acts 2:1-16

The Apostle used this miracle to prove that Jesus had been raised to heaven where he then poured out the Holy Spirit while enthroned at the Father’s right hand, and that a person must acknowledge and confess Christ’s name for salvation.

Peter hammered this same point on another occasion after healing a paralytic in the name of Jesus Christ:

“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.A man lame from birth was being carried, whom people placed daily at the gate of the temple called Beautiful to ask alms from those who entered the temple.Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.Peter, gazing at him with John, said, ‘Look at us.’So he paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’He took him by the right hand and raised him up. Immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened.Jumping up, he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.All the people saw him walking and praising God. They knew that it was he who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to him. As the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the entrance that is called Solomon’s Porch, greatly amazed. When Peter saw it, he answered the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? Or why do you stare at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Son Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,and you killed the Creator of Life, whom God has raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And HIS NAME, by faith IN HIS NAME, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. And faith which comes through Him has given him perfect health in your presence… God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your iniquities.’” Acts 3:1-16, 26 Modern English Version (MEV)

“And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, ‘By what power or by what name have you done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” Acts 4:5-14

The reason why this is remarkable is that the prophecy from Joel emphatically states that it is YHWH God who will pour out HIS Spirit upon all flesh and that it is HIS name that a person must call on and invoke in order to be saved!

And yet Peter claimed that it was actually the risen Jesus who poured forth the Holy Spirit upon his disciples and that his name alone saves.

The Spirit-filled Apostle made it emphatically clear that the gift of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins are only granted to those who would believe on the name of Jesus Christ!

In complete agreement, Paul also quoted Joel 2:32 to hammer the point of salvation being given only to those persons who verbally confess that Jesus is the Lord whom God raised from the dead:   

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Romans 10:9-13

In fact, the first Christians came to be known for and characterized by their practice of calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, a devotional pattern which began with the Jews in Jerusalem!

“Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.’ Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to YOUR saints in Jerusalem.And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on YOUR name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear MY name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for MY name’s sake.’ And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on THIS name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’” Acts 9:10-21

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” 1 Corinthians 1:2

To call this astonishing would be a wild understatement since the OT is crystal clear that believers are those who call on the name of YHWH alone!

“And Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33

“Exalt Yahweh our God And worship at the footstool of His feet; Holy is He. Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They would call upon Yahweh and He would answer them. He would speak to them in the pillar of cloud; They kept His testimonies And the statute that He gave them. O Yahweh our God, You answered them; You were a forgiving God to them, And yet an avenger of their evil deeds. Exalt Yahweh our God And worship at His holy mountain, For holy is Yahweh our God.” Psalm 99:5-9 LSB

I love Yahweh, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, So I shall call upon Him in all my days. The cords of death encompassed me And the distresses of Sheol found me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of Yahweh: ‘O Yahweh, I beseech You, provide my soul escape!’… I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of Yahweh… To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of Yahweh.” Psalm 116:1-4, 13, 17 LSB

“Yahweh is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18 LSB

Hence, not only is the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Christ whom Jesus pours out from heaven, but the risen Son is also that very YHWH God who grants salvation to all those calling on his name in sincerity and truth!

THE SPIRIT OF THE FATHER AND THE SON

The NT doesn’t stop there since it further presents the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and the Son!

“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:6-7

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you… For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:9-11, 14-17

Note the complexity and beauty of these passages.

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ the Son by whom believers become children of God, and therefore have the right to call God their own Father!

And to have the Spirit indwelling you is to have the Spirit of God and Christ within you, which is to have Christ himself in you!

We are further told that it is the Father and Son together who sent forth the Holy Spirit from the Father’s presence in Jesus’ name, meaning on behalf and for the sake of Christ:

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you… But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:16-17, 26

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26

Moreover, the Spirit is not only sent to reveal what the Father and Son want Christ’s followers to know, but also for the express purpose of glorifying the Son by convincing Jesus’ disciples that he owns all that the Father possesses:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:7-15

What all this shows is that both the Father and Son are being identified as YHWH God Almighty, since it is YHWH who possesses the Holy Spirit and sends him into the world.

Here is a summary of the points made in this article to help the readers see more clearly how this is a revealed truth of inspired Scripture:

  1. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of YHWH.
  2. The Holy Spirit is sent and poured out by YHWH.
  3. The prophets spoke by the Spirit of YHWH.
  4. Salvation comes from calling on the name of YHWH.
  5. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and of Christ.
  6. The Holy Spirit is sent and poured out by God and Christ.
  7. The prophets spoke by the Spirit of Christ who was in them.
  8. Salvation comes from calling on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Conclusion: The inspired Scriptures identify both Father and Son as the one true God YHWH, with the Son being also described as YHWH God that became a flesh and blood human being (Cf. Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-2, 6-7; Micah 5:1-4; Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-6; 4:12-16; Luke 1:26-35; 2:1-7; John 1:1-14; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 1:3-4; 8:3; 9:5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-20; 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 2:9-18; Revelation 22:16).

Unless stated otherwise, scriptural references taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Holy Bible.

FURTHER READING

WHO IS THE JEHOVAH THAT ONE CALLS UPON TO BE SAVED?

THE NWT TESTIFIES THAT THE TRINITY IS THE ETERNAL CREATOR!

 

NEW TESTAMENT USE OF THEOS PT. 4

I now arrive at the finale: NEW TESTAMENT USE OF THEOS PT. 3.

WITNESS OF HEBREWS

Hebrews is another inspired writing that calls Christ ho theos, referring to him as the God who reigns forever, being the Son that is the exact imprint of God’s uncreated nature and the visible manifestation of God’s glory, whom the Father appointed to create and sustain all creation by his own powerful word:

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of HIS power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’… But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God (ho Theos), is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.’ And, ‘YOU, Lord (the Son), laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of YOUR HANDS; they will perish, but YOU remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe YOU will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3, 10-12

Remarkably, the author has God the Father applying two OT verses, where angels are commanded to worship YHWH,

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

And where YHWH is glorified for being the unchangeable Creator and Sustainer of all creation,

A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!… But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations… Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” Psalm 102:1, 12, 25-27

To his beloved Son!

Thus, it is the Father himself that is glorifying, praising, magnifying, even worshiping his own Son as YHWH Almighty, lauding his Firstborn for being that very immutable Creator and Life-giver whom all the angelic host worship!

If this does not eradicate any doubt whatsoever that the NT describes Christ as theos in an absolute and eternal sense, then nothing will.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The evidence presented in this series of posts demonstrated that within the NT writings the term theos is rarely used for any other being besides the one true God. The few places when it is used for things besides the true God it is always in a negative connotation, e.g., to individuals or objects wrongly worshiped as gods.  

The only times when theos is used positively it is in reference to the Father and the Son, and even then it is rarely used for the Son. Yet when it does refer to the risen Christ it always has the same meaning that it does when employed of the Father. I.e., the Son is God in an absolute, undiluted sense, being essentially one with the Father in nature, power, glory and honor.

I conclude with the words of Evangelical NT scholar Murray J. Harris, since he masterfully sums up all of the aforementioned points:

A. The Use of theos in the Pre-Christian Era

Chapter I discussed the three common Hebrew terms that are rendered by theos in the LXX: el, elohim, YHWH. All three words are used of the God of Israel but only the first two can also refer to a particular pagan deity or, as generic appellatives, designate deity as such. YHWH, however, is exclusively a proper noun, denoting Israel’s covenant God, never a common noun, and therefore, unlike el, elohim it never refers to angels or human beings.

In extrabiblical literature, theos has three primary referents. As applied to gods, it may refer to a particular god (or even goddess), to the supreme god, Zeus, or to deity in general, whether viewed in personal or impersonal terms. As applied to human beings, the title theos was used to describe famous heroes, politicians, philosophers, patriarchs, renowned rulers, self-styled servants of God, or even people as intelligent beings. And Jewish writers roughly contemporary with the writing of the NT, such as Philo and Josephus, use theos or ho theos to refer to the God of Israel.

For any Jew or Gentile of the first century A.D. who was acquainted with the OT in Greek, the term theos would have seemed rich in content since it signified the Deity, the Creator of heaven and earth, and also could render the ineffable sacred name, Yahweh, the covenantal God, and yet was capable of extremely diverse application, ranging from the images of pagan deities to the one true God of Israel, from heroic people to angelic beings. Whether one examines the Jewish or the Gentile use of the term theos up to the end of the first century A.D., there is an occasional application of the term to human beings who perform divine functions or display divine characteristics.

B. The Use of theos in the New Testament

Of the 1,315 uses of theos in the NT, 78.4% are articular and 21.6% are anarthrous. No uniform distinction may be drawn between ho theos and theos, since (1) as a nomen rectum theos is articular or anarthrous generally depending on the state of the preceding noun (the canon of Apollonius); (2) within single NT books the same preposition is found with both an articular and an anarthrous theos, with apparently no difference of meaning; and (3) as a virtual proper name, theos shares the imprecision with regard to articular use that characterizes proper names in general. Yet occasionally ho theos and theos are distinguishable, as when the anarthrous theos emphasizes “godhood” (a theological distinction), or when the articular theos is always found with certain words (e.g., enopion) or phrases (e.g., kyrios ho theos) or is generally found with personal pronouns (syntactical distinctions without theological import).

An analysis of the use of (ho) theos as a subject or predicate with the verb einai expressed or unexpressed shows that the NT writers prefer ho theos (45 examples) over theos (5) as the subject, but theos (16) over ho theos (8) as the predicate. Of these 24 predicative uses of (6) theos, the term is usually qualified if it is articular and often qualified if it is anarthrous. Generally, then, the NT avoids a statement such as “X is (ho) theos” unless that theos is further defined.

Each strand of the NT affords clear testimony that customarily theos, whether articular or anarthrous, refers to the trinitarian Father. Four converging lines of evidence support this conclusion: (1) the frequent compound appellative theos pater where the second noun is in epexegetic apposition (e.g., Gal. 1:1); (2) the various trinitarian formulations where ho theos must denote the Father (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:13); (3) the many places where ho theos is distinguished from Kyrios ‘Iesous Christos, as in epistolary salutations (e.g., James 1:1); and (4) uses of (ho) theos in contexts where reference is made to fatherthood, sonship, regeneration, or brotherhood (e.g., John 6:32-33). Whenever (ho) theos is found in the NT, we are to assume that ho pater is the referent unless the context makes this sense impossible. Nowhere is it appropriate to render ho theos by “the divine Essence” or ” the Godhead.” (Harris, Jesus as God, XIII. Conclusions: Theos as a Christological Title, pp. 270-271; emphasis mine)

And:

D. Limitations to the Use of theos in Reference to Jesus Christ

The application to Christ of the title theos is exceedingly rare-only seven certain, very probable, or probable instances out of a total of 1,315 NT uses of theos. From an analysis of representative scholarly views concerning the nine texts discussed in chapters II-VII and IX-XI, it may be seen that the majority of scholars hold that theos is applied to Jesus no fewer than five times and no more than nine times in the NT.2 The same range characterizes the principal modern English translations of the NT (1 John 5:20 apart).3 Reasons for the relative infrequency of theos as a christological title are discussed below in §G.

The very rarity of the designation of Jesus as “God” is evidence that theos never becomes a proper name when used of Jesus but remains a descriptive title. In accord with this, one never finds theos applied to Jesus without an accompanying identification of the person so titled. In John 1:1 it is the logos who is theos; in John 1:18, monogenes (hyios); in John 20:28, autos = ho ‘Iesous; in Romans 9:5, ho Christos; in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, ‘Iesous Christos; and in Hebrews 1:8, hyios. Unless the context refers explicitly to Jesus as the person of whom the title theos is being predicated, this term will refer to theFather and be a virtual proper name. Although ho hyios tou theou occurs (where ho theos = the Father), never does one find ho pater tou theou (where ho theos = Jesus). No NT writer says anything comparable to tou pathos tou theou mou (Ignatius, Rom. 6:3) or ho theos ho agapesas me kai paradous heauton uper ’emou (the reading of minuscule 330 in Gal. 2:20, in the genitive case).

In the seven instances in which theos refers to Jesus, the usage is usually (Rom. 9:5 being the only exception) accompanied by a statement in the immediate context that makes an explicit personal distinction between the Son and God the Father. That is, there is a remarkable juxtaposition of statements that imply the substantial oneness of Son and Father and statements that express a personal distinction between them. Thus one finds ho logos een pros ton theon immediately before theos een ho logos (John 1:1). In John 20 the same Jesus who is addressed as ho theos mou (v. 28) himself refers to his Father as ho theos mou4 (v. 17). The verse that follows 2 Peter 1:1, where ‘Iesous Christos is called ho theos hemon kai soter, distinguishes ho theos from ‘Iesous ho Kyrios hemon (2 Pet. 1:2). Similarly, in successive verses in Hebrews 1, Jesus is addressed by the words ho theos (v. 8) and the one who anointed him is referred to as ho theos ho theos sou (v. 9). Immediately after John has described the logos as monogenes theos (John 1:18) he adds ho on eis ton kolpon tou patros. Finally, the same sentence that portrays ‘Iesous Christos as ho megalos theos kai soteros hemon (Titus 2: 13) speaks of he charis tou theou soterios pasin anthropois (Titus 2:11). And even in Romans 9:5 where there is no explicit distinction between Son and Father (ton syngenon mou … ex hon), ho Christos is qualified by to kata sarka, a phrase that could not be predicated of the Father.

Linked with the preservation of this inviolate distinction between the Son and the Father is the fact that although he is theos Jesus is never called either pater or kyrios ho theos {= YHWH Elohim)5 or ho monogenes alethinos theos.6 Never is he termed theos in a place where a reference to (ho) pater is found; the Father is never called ho pater tou theou. And in binitarian and trinitarian passages or formulations, only the Father, never the Son (or Spirit), is called ho theos (e.g., binitarian: 1 Cor. 1:3; 8:6; trinitarian: 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 13:14). Moreover, while the expressions ho theos ho pater, ho theos pater, ho theos kai pater, theos pater, and theos kai pater are found, one never finds ho theos ho hyios,7 ho theos hyios, ho theos kai hyios, theos hyios, or theos kai hyios. (Ibid., pp. 274-275; emphasis mine)

We couldn’t have stated it any better!

FURTHER READING

What Kind of Theos is Jesus?

BIBLICAL TEXTS CALLING JESUS “GOD”

GRANVILLE SHARP AND THE DEITY OF CHRIST

NEW TESTAMENT USE OF THEOS PT. 3

I come to the third part in my series: NEW TESTAMENT USE OF THEOS PT. 2.

THE APOSTLES PAUL AND PETER

The proceeding texts are also viewed by the consensus of NT exegetes, commentators, theologians etc., as identifying Jesus as God in an absolute sense:

“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 New King James Version (NKJV)

The statement on Christ’s being an Israelite according to the flesh shows that he is much more than a human being, since it would be superfluous to even mention this point if he was a mere human creature. Jesus is, as the blessed Apostle stated, also the eternally praised God who reigns supreme over all creation.

This is further corroborated by Paul describing Christ as that very YHWH whom individuals must call on and confess in order to be saved:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:9-13 – 14:9; Acts 10:36

The inspired Evangelist has ascribed the following passage to Jesus Christ,

“It will happen that whoever will call on Yahweh’s name shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.” Joel 2:32 World English Bible (WEB)

Thereby identifying the risen Jesus as YHWH God Incarnate.

Hence, since Christ is the YHWH that became enfleshed whom one must confess to be saved, then he is most certainly the true God, God in the highest sense imaginable, since YHWH is the only God in existence:

“Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, who is enthroned among the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth…Now therefore, Yahweh our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are Yahweh, even you only.” Isaiah 37:16, 20 WEB

But Yahweh is the true God. He is the living God, and an everlasting King. At his wrath, the earth trembles. The nations aren’t able to withstand his indignation. You shall say this to them: ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth, and from under the heavens.’ God has made the earth by his power. He has established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding has he stretched out the heavens.” Jeremiah 10:10-12 WEB

Interestingly, Paul describes Jesus as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, which is the role that the aforementioned texts ascribe to the only true God:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For BY HIM all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created THROUGH HIM and FOR HIM.And he IS BEFORE all things, and IN HIM all things hold together.And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.For IN HIM all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:15-20

To say that this is astonishing would be a wild understatement since the Hebrew Bible emphatically teaches that YHWH ALONE created and preserves all things for himself and for his own glory!

“Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, ‘Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.’” Nehemiah 9:5-6

“who ALONE stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;” Job 9:8

“I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made… The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for MYSELF that they might declare my praise.” Isaiah 43:6-7, 20-21

“I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host… For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other.’” Isaiah 45:12, 18

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.” Isaiah 48:11-13

Could this Holy Spirit filled emissary be any clearer that Jesus is God in the highest sense imaginable?

At the same time, Paul is clear to distinguish Jesus from the Father, and ascribes the work of creation to both of them:

“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 for sin,[a] he condemned sin in the flesh… He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:3, 32

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

This means that for this holy Apostle, both the Father and the Son eternally exist as the one true God YHWH!

The next passages further substantiate that this is what the Apostles believed about the Son:

“At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ (tou megalou theou kai soteros hemon ‘Iesou Christou). He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.” Titus 2:13-14 CEB

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (tou theou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou).” 2 Peter 1:1

The foregoing texts employ what is commonly referred to as Granville Sharp construction, e.g., article-substantive-kai-substantive construction.

According to this construction, when two singular nouns/adjectives/participles that are not proper names are connected by the conjunction kai (“and”), with the definite article (“the”) appearing only before the first noun/adjective/participle, then both nouns/adjectives/participles refer to one and the same individual.

In fact, there are four other occurrences of this construction in Peter’s epistle, all of which relate to Christ:

“or in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (tou kyriou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou).” 2 Peter 1:11

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ(tou kyriou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou), they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” 2 Peter 2:20

“that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior (tou kyriou kai soteros) through your apostles… But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (tou kyriou hemon kai soteros ‘Iesou Christou). To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:2, 18

No serious scholar, theologian, exegete, apologist etc., denies that the preceding cases are all identifying Jesus as both Lord and Savior.

And since Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 are identical in structure to the aforementioned Petrine texts, what consistent exegetical and/or contextual reasons could possibly be given for denying that these verses call Christ God in an absolute sense?  

No good reason whatsoever!

It is merely the assumption and bias that the NT never identifies Christ as God Almighty which leads individuals to reject the explicit testimony of these passages.

With that being said, we are once again confronted with the fact that Jesus is being described as YHWH Incarnate. Otherwise, these Apostles would be guilty of idolatry and blasphemy for declaring that the risen Christ is the [great] God and Savior who redeemed a people from their sins to be his lawful possession.

This is due to the fact that the OT expressly attributes these titles and functions to YHWH ALONE, as can be seen from the proceeding references:

“O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” Psalm 130:7-8

“Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:21-22

OTHER PAULINE TEXTS

The holy Apostle cited what some scholars believe was a hymn or a poem celebrating the incarnation of Christ:

“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

The One possessing God’s nature humbled himself to take on the nature of a servant by becoming human in order to die on a cross.

Paul further proclaimed that Christ possessed the entire fullness of the divine nature even as a human being:

“See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him THE WHOLENESS of deity (theotetos) dwells bodily,and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Here’s another translation of the relevant verse:

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

Murray J. Harris helps us grasp the implication of the blessed Apostle’s inspired words:

“One verse beyond all others in the New Testament affirms that every divine attribute is found in Jesus. Paul does not say simply ‘the plenitude of Deity,’ but ‘the entire fulness of Deity.’ He emphasizes that no element of that fullness is excepted. Whatever is characteristic of God as God resides in Jesus. This includes both God’s nature and his attributes. In the Greek text the verb lives (present tense) and the adverb ‘in bodily form’ are not found side by side but are separated, which suggests that two distinct affirmations are being made: that the entire fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ ETERNALLY and that this fullness now PERMANENTLY resides in Christ IN BODILY FORMThus, Paul implies both the eternal deity and the permanent humanity of Christ.” (Harris, Three Crucial Questions about Jesus [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1994], p. 66; emphasis mine)

And:

“… The separation of katoikei from somatikos suggests that two distinct affirmations are being made (cf. Vincent 906): that the total plenitude of the Godhead dwells in Christ eternally and that this fullness now permanently resides in the incarnate Christ in bodily form. It is true that before the incarnation the pleroma did not reside in Christ somatikos; it is not true that before the incarnation the pleroma did not reside in him at all. Thus Paul implies both the eternal deity and the permanent humanity of Christ. Moreover, katoikei… somatikos implies that both before and after his resurrection Christ ‘possessed’ a soma (cf. 1:22; 1 Cor 15:44; Phil 3:21).” (Harris, Exegetical Guide To The Greek New Testament: Colossians And Philemon [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI 2010], p. 89; emphasis mine)

Harris also responds to objections against Paul describing Jesus as God:

But before this exegetical conclusion finally stands, one must consider objections that arise from the wider context of Pauline Christology. They are three in number.

First, would a Jewish monotheist such as Paul ever contemplate using theos of a figure other than Yahweh, the God of Israel?89 In chapter I, we discovered that in Pauline usage theos was a sufficiently broad term to allow for its application to figures other than Yahweh. If he could apply the term to any being thought worthy of worship (1 Cor. 8:4; 2 Thess. 2:4c; cf. Acts 17:23) or to the so-called gods of polytheistic religion (1 Cor. 8:5 bis; Gal. 4:8b; 2 Thess. 2:4a), if he could depict the inordinate quest to satisfy all natural instincts (he koilia, by metonymy) as ho theos (Phil. 3:19), and if he could describe Satan as ho theos tou aionos toutou (2 Cor. 4:4), there is no a priori reason why he should not use the term of a being whom he considered to have identity of nature and parity of status with the one true God, particularly because theos could be used qualitatively and as a generic title as well as the personal name of God the Father.90 To express the point another way, it cannot be deemed incongruous for Paul, who taught that one of the signs of the Antichrist would be his laying claim to the title theos (2 Thess. 2:4), on one or two occasions himself to speak of the true Christ as theos.

Moreover, Pauline Christology was sufficiently “high” to permit the application of theos to Jesus as a title. Indications of Paul’s exalted conception of Christ include the following (see also appendix I; Elwell):

1. Christ shares the divine nature (Phil. 2:6) and attributes (Eph. 4:10; Col 1: 19; 2:9).

2. Old Testament passages and titles (such as kyrios) that refer to Yahweh are applied to Christ (e.g., Joel 2:32 (MT 3:5] in Rom. 10:13; cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; Isa. 45:23 in Phil. 2:10-11).91

3. God and Christ jointly form a single source of divine grace and peace (e.g., Rom. 1:7; Philem. 3), direction (1 Thess. 3: 11), and comfort (2 Thess. 2:16-17).92

4. Christ is the object of saving faith (Rom. 10:8-.13; cf. Acts 16:31) and of human and angelic worship (Phil. 2:9-11).

5. Christ is the addressee in petitionary prayer (1 Cor. 1:2; 16:22; 2 Cor. 12:8).

6. Christ exercises exclusively divine functions, such as creational agency (Col. 1:16), the forgiveness of sins (Col. 3:13), and final judgment (1 Cor. 4:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).

The second objection is this. Since Paul nowhere else applies the term theos to Christ, should not his uniform usage, according to which theos denotes God the Father, be decisive in the case of an ambiguous construction such as in Romans 9:5b (Abbot, Authorship 363–74 = ” Construction” 113-22)?93 In the next chapter I shall rehearse the reasons for believing that in Titus 2:13 Jesus Christ is in fact called ho megas theos kai soteros hemon. Of course not all scholars regard that letter as genuinely Pauline, but even for such Titus 2:13 may represent an inevitable or legitimate development of Pauline tradition. Romans 9:5 and Titus 2:13 are the only two places in the Pauline corpus where it is at all probable theos is a christological title.94

No one can doubt that Paul generally-in fact, almost always-reserves the term theos for God the Father (see chapter I). But dominant usage is not exclusive usage. Since there are several passages where theos clearly does not refer to the Father,95 we cannot speak of uniformity of usage. In the realm of lexicography one readily allows Paul hapax legomena (such as cheirographon, Col. 2:14) or dis legomena (such as thriamBeuein, 2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 2:15). Why deny to him in the realm of theological diction the luxury of occasional hapax or dis legomena that might reflect a view (viz., regarding the deity of Christ) that he expressed linguistically throughout his letters in a variety of complementary ways?96 To call Christ theos was not the only way Paul could express his belief in the divinity of Christ. Other titles such as kyrios and hyios theou also admirably served that purpose and in the early church were much more commonly used this way than was theos, since they were less prone to misunderstanding. But this is to anticipate the third objection.

“It is difficult to imagine that if he [Paul] were content to speak so frankly here [of Christ as theos] he should not have done so elsewhere in his epistles, where countless opportunities for such a course presented themselves” (Kirk 104). I address this general matter in chapter XIII so it must suffice at this point to state summarily some possible reasons why Paul so rarely speaks of Jesus as theos:

1. As applied to the Father, theos is a proper name. If Jesus were regularly called theos, so that, like Christos, this term ceased to be a title and became a proper noun, linguistic confusion would prevail.

2. With the general reservation of the term theos for the Father, the distinction between the Son and the Father remains intact-the Father is heis theos, the Son heis kyrios (1 Cor. 8:6)-and there is no possible compromise of the doctrine of the Son’s subordination to the Father.

3. If theos had become the personal name of the Son as well as of the Father, it would have proved difficult for the early Christians to defend themselves against the accusation that they were ditheistic and that Jesus was in fact a deuteros theos.97

4. Belief in the real humanity of Jesus would have been jeopardized if Jesus had perpetually been called theos, not to speak of the theological conundrums that would have been created by expressions such as ” God died for us” (cf. Rom. 5:8) or ” God’s physical body” (cf. Col. 1:22).

But quite apart from these proposed explanations, one may ask why, in principle, if the author of the Fourth Gospel, in which theos is used 83 times, can apply the term theos to Jesus on three occasions (John 1:1, 18; 20:28), should Paul not do so once (Rom. 9:5) or twice (Rom. 9:5; Titus 2: 13) when he has used the word theos over 500 times.

These then, are the three broad objections that have been brought against the conclusion that in Romans 9:5 theos is a christological title: that Paul would not have called Jesus theos; that Paul did not ever use theos of Jesus; and that if Paul had applied this title to Jesus, he would have done so frequently. None of these objections is sufficiently compelling to force one to surrender or modify the conclusion reached on narrowly exegetical grounds. (Harris, Jesus as God, VI. God Blessed Forever (Romans 9:5), pp. 167-170; emphasis mine)

I am not finished just yet. More to come in the final installment: NEW TESTAMENT USE OF THEOS PT. 4.