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God and Christ: Examining the Evidence for a Biblical Doctrine

 

Jesus as THEOS

By David Barron

 

Though the New Testament generally reserves qeo,j for the Father we have observed exceptions to this.  There are others to whom it is applied, the most notable of such ones being Jesus.  BDAG observes that of passages where qeo,j may be applied to Christ it is used differently than when used for “God in the Israel/Christian monotheistic perspective…”[1]  This work further observes:

 

“Some writings in our lit[erature] use the word q[eo,j] w[ith] ref[erence] to Christ (without necessarily equating Christ with the Father, and therefore in harmony w[ith] the Shema of Israel Dt 6:4; cp. Mk 10:18 and 4a below), though the interpretation of some of the passages is in debate.  In Mosaic and Gr-Rom. traditions the fundamental semantic component in the understanding of deity is the factor of performance, namely saviorhood or extraordinary contributions to one’s society.”[2]

 

Depending upon when during Jesus’ existence qeo,j was applied, the appellative may have carried different senses.  For example, in his preexistence it may be understood differently than when applied to him as a man on earth.  In his exaltation there may be several layers of meaning. 
There is good reason to question whether or not Jesus is called “god” in several passages, while others are plain and the sense need only be ascertained from the context.  Several of these passages are worthy of review and the following pages will do as much.  In this we will see strive to determine how qeo,j is applied to Christ, if at all.

 

John 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

 

Nearly sixty years ago question over the appropriate translation of John 1:1 was launched to the fore with the introduction of Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Their translation of John 1:1, though far from new, was for the first time widely distributed so that reaction was swift. 


With most translations reading “the Word was God” the NWT broke from that tradition with “the Word was a god.”  So plainly speaking against both the doctrine of the Trinity and Sabellianism, there is little wonder it came under attack.  Many opposed initially dismissed it, suggesting as Bruce Metzger that it was “a frightful mistranslation.”[3]  How Dr. Metzger blundered so greatly can only be attributed to his theological mindset, for he certainly was not ignorant of Greek grammar.  Yet some others have displayed little short of blind ignorance, suggesting the translation to be “incorrect grammar and poor Greek.”[4] 

 

In the Beginning Was...

 

With the words “in the beginning” John opened his Gospel with an allusion to the Genesis creation account.  Scholars have long recognized this allusion, but in doing so they have also limited the timeframe of John’s reference to the events of Genesis.  With the Genesis record accounting only for physical creation, overlooked is the creation of the spirit realm and those therein. 


While Genesis 1:1 refers to “the heavens,” one should not understand this to be something beyond what is found in the physical universe.  Heaven is a common reference to the physical universe (cf. Gen. 22:17; 26:4), while even earth’s atmosphere came to be so identified (Gen. 1:6-8).  The angels are noted to have been present in the beginning at the earth’s creation (Job 38:6-7), yet any reference to their creation is absent in Genesis.  These either existed before the beginning or the beginning was initiated before the Genesis account with the creation of the spiritual realm and those therein, so that it is not a moment but a period of time.


We noted in chapter 4 John’s allusion to earlier Wisdom texts, as one commentator highlights:

"It is important to observe that the development of the concept of the Word of God in the OT and later Judaism is similarly related to that among Israel’s neighbors. This applies to the association of Word and Wisdom. The connection of Wisdom with the creative Word is already assumed in Prov 8:22–31 (note especially vv 27–31). In Wisd 9:1 there is an explicit identification of Wisdom and the Word: 'God of our fathers, and Lord who keepest mercy, who madest all things by thy word, and by thy wisdom formedst man.…'"[5]

 

One striking parallel between John 1:1 and Proverbs 8 is reference to “in the beginning” (Pro. 8:23), but Proverbs instead defines the time of Wisdom’s creation.  Though Wisdom was created before Genesis (cf. Pro. 8:25-29), she still came to be “in the beginning.”  Having determined in chapter 4 that this Wisdom is Jesus both according to the New Testament and the early church, we may well find reference to his creation. 


Trinitarians giving attention to this text already have a strong objection, but to those who have not it is one that might be surprising.  This stems from the simple word “was.”  This in John 1:1 is translated from the Greek imperfect h=n (en) and taken as a reference to eternity past.  James White so explains it:

 

“The tense of the word expresses continuous action in the past...  The Word does not come into existence at the 'beginning,' but is already in existence when the 'beginning' takes places... The Word is eternal.  The Word has always existence.  The Word is not a creation.”[6]

 

White is correct in his assessment of the imperfect to the extent that the idea of entry into existence is not defined.  The imperfect can be used of anyone or anything, the difference being that for these it is taken for granted that they have been created.  For the Trinitarian the assumption is that because Jesus ‘already was’ at the very start of creation he never came to be.


What White and others like him suggest is far from a good argument.  For example, if one did not recognize that “the beginning” extended to include Wisdom’s creation in Proverbs 8, the account would be inherently limited to the Genesis account and so the creation of the physical universe.  One might well say then that Michael the archangel “was in the beginning” with Gabriel.  Such would not suggest their eternality, only their existence at the specified time without regard for their creation. 
More noteworthy are the words of A.T. Robertson, a noted Trinitarian and grammarian who agreed that John 1:1 identified Christ as eternal for theological reasons.  Yet his open confession that this viewpoint should not be insisted upon grammatically is revealing. 

 

"The[se] are sometimes called 'aoristic' imperfects... The same root was used for both forms, as only one form exists and it is hard to tell which tense the form is... We see this difficulty in h=n, e;fhn, e;legon, etc., particularly in verbs of saying, commanding, etc.... Hence we need not insist that h=n (Jo. 1:1) is strictly durative always (imperfect). It may be sometimes actually aorist also. So as to e;fhn (Mt. 4:7); e;legon (Mk. 4:21, 24, 26, 30, etc.), etc.”[7] 

 

That the Word ‘was in the beginning’ with an aoristic imperfect is much the same as saying he “was in the world” (John 1:10).  As the world is a creation Jesus could not have eternally dwelt there, nor could he have been there without first coming to be there.  Though John speaks only to the fact that he “was” there, it is implicit that he first came to be there.  As the Word “was” in the world once he came to be there, he too “was” in the beginning only once he came to be there.  Thus says Wisdom, the preexistent Logos: “He established me in the beginning” (evqemeli,wse,n me evn avrch, ethemeliosen me en arche, Pro. 8:23 LXX).  John relates this notion in his first epistle, saying that the Word is “from the beginning” (1Jo. 1:1), expressly identifying this time as his point of origin. 

 

Therefore the period known as “the beginning” began with the creation of the Logos/Wisdom as “the beginning of God’s creation” (Rev. 3:14).  Within this period the angels were created followed by the heavens and the earth.

 

Was qeo,j

 

Before examining this text we might first consider a couple of the more recognized arguments.  Though relatively uncommon today, what is known as Colwell’s Rule was not long ago cited in most discussions of John 1:1c.  Introduced in 1933 as A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament,[8] what is actually Colwell’s first rule stated that “definite predicate nouns that precede the verb usually lack the article.”[9]

 

Colwell’s research had arguably led him to some accurate conclusions, but his rule did nothing to aid in translating or understanding this passage.  Instead of providing a means of determining definiteness, we are given insight into nouns that are predetermined to be definite.  What came to be used in support of the Trinitarian position was in fact the converse of the rule.  Itself no rule at all, this has been used to make the case against an indefinite rendering, suggesting that predicate nominatives preceding the verb and lacking the article are usually definite.  By the very nature of ‘usually’ one could not absolutely determine anything about John 1:1c, but this conclusion is also not accurate.  No study has suggested this to be the case, and worse, if John 1:1c were definite it would prove contrary to Trinitarianism and support Sabellianism.[10]  Daniel Wallace, himself opposed to the indefinite rendering of this text, explains:

 

“Further, calling qeo,j in John 1:1c definite is the same as saying that if it had followed the verb it would have had the article.  Thus it would be a convertible proposition with lo,goj (i.e., ‘the Word’ = ‘God’ and ‘God’ = ‘the Word’).  The problem of this argument is that the qeo,j in 1:1b is the Father.  Thus to say that the qeo,j in 1:1c is the same person is to say that ‘the Word was the Father.’”[11] 

 

Philip Harner observes this same point:

 

“There is no basis for regarding the predicate theos [in John 1:1c] as definite.  This would make [qeo,j h=n o` lo,goj] and [o` lo,goj qeo,j h=n] equivalent to [o` lo,goj h=n o` qeo,j], and like [o` lo,goj h=n o` qeo,j] they would then contradict the preceding clause of 1:1.”[12]

 

Sabellianism views the converse of Colwell’s Rule as highly attractive: Jesus is the same God as the Father and is the Father, but they are different revelations of God.  Nevertheless, this notion is entirely contradicted by John 1:1b.  The Word, the Son of God, could not be the one whom he is with, so he could not be the Father.

 

The Trinitarian does not find John 1:1c speaking to Jesus’ identity as “the God,” but neither does that one allow him to be “a god” as one lesser than the Almighty.  For them it is necessary to articulate that Jesus is God just as the Father is without equating him with the Father. 

 

In his thesis Revisiting Colwell’s Rule in Light of Mass/Count Nouns Donald Hartley takes up previous work by Philip Harner[13] and Paul Dixon[14] in arguing that qeo,j in John 1:1c is “purely qualitative.”[15]  To understand Hartley’s conclusion and its error one must understand the mass/count distinction among nouns, of which qeo,j is the latter.[16]

 

Mass nouns are largely unbounded in that they refer to a substance or quality without constraining size or amount.[17] Count nouns relate a bounded entity that can be quantified.[18]  Count nouns can be semantically plural or indefinite while mass nouns cannot.[19]  In (1) are examples of mass nouns while (2) presents countable nouns.

 

              (1) Mass Nouns

                            a) We drank water.

                            b) They are serving pudding for desert.  

              (2) Count Nouns

                            a) Do you own a cat?

                            b) There are still seats available.

 

With (1) the amount of water and pudding is unspecified for there may have been only a spoonful or a barrel.  In view are the substances themselves.  Provided in (2) are quantifiable entities, a single cat and multiple seats. 

 

The issue besets confusion for some when conversion is introduced.  Conversion takes place via an override when the lexical meaning of a noun is overridden by grammatical structure so that the noun is converted from one type to the other.  Laura A. Michaelis explains this: 

 

“If lexical and structural meanings conflict the semantic specifications of the lexical element conform to those of the grammatical structure with which that lexical item is combined.”[20]

 

This principle is in part highlighted by Talmy:

 

“Another debounding mechanism available for a noun is to shift the grammatical category of the noun from count to mass. One construction with this mechanism—seen in the well-known example There is cat all over the driveway—include the deformation of the original referent.”[21]

 

Talmy proceeds to note the possibility of such a shift without the above deformation, as in “There are probably (10) miles of pencil in that stationary store.[22] The ability to make conversion as this is the backbone of Hartley’s thesis.


Though Hartley is correct in that a count noun can take the function of a mass noun he errs with another significant point.  He suggests that “a mass noun is always qualitative and incapable of being indefinitized.”[23]  Just as a count noun can become a mass noun through conversion, so a mass noun can too become countable.  Michaelis notes that “the indefinite article a can also be combined with a mass specification”[24] and through the use of pudding as in 1b explains the result:

 

“Via [the use of the indefinite article], the noun pudding receives the individual construal associated with the class of count nouns.”[25]

 

When an unbounded mass term is given the English indefinite article the noun takes a count function. It is common to speak of a water as in a glass or bottle of water and of a pudding as in a cup of pudding.  These mass terms become count nouns when the lexical meaning is overridden with a grammatical one.


Hartley places a great deal of emphasis on sa,rx (sarx, flesh) as a mass term at John 1:14.  Noting parallel structure with John 1:1c he argues that they “are more likely to reflect the same rather than different semantic nuances.”  While this need not be objected to, Hartley erroneously concludes that as a count noun qeo,j can convert and sa,rx cannot so that qeo,j must be the converted noun. The flaw in this suggestion is that sa,rx does not appear until 13 verses after John 1:1.  The result of this could well have John 1:1c initially misunderstood so that only upon reading through the following 13 verses would one finally understand John’s intended meaning.  Upon reading and understanding the implications of verse 14 the reader would be forced back to 1:1c to correct the initial misunderstanding.  This strikes one as highly improbable.

 

Further difficulty besets Hartley’s position in that nothing suggests conversion as John 1:1c fails to present difficulty with understanding qeo,j as a count noun.  The only difficulty is with his preconceived theology.[26]  Conversely, if we accept Hartley’s suggestion that John 1:1c and 1:14 are ‘likely to reflect the same semantic nuance’ it is more reasonable to find sa,rx converted to a count noun.[27] 

 

By converting sa,rx to a count noun we find that John was not addressing only the substance that the Word became.  Per Hartley’s suggestion that John 1:1 and 14 present ‘the same semantic nuance,’ John is saying that the Word became a bounded entity consisting of flesh, a concept properly conveyed with a count connotation. When glossing this text BDAG observes both this meaning and apparently the presence of conversion, with sa,rx denoting “a physical being, living being with flesh.”[28]

 

Even with the preceding one cannot neglect word order.  Harner has suggested John’s word order provides a meaning that is “primarily qualitative”[29] and that had an indefinite sense been intended John could have written o` lo,goj h=n qeo.j (ho logos en theos).[30]  Does the provided word order indicate conversion and in turn demand Hartley’s conclusion?  No, as even Harner confesses:

 

“The word-order... with the anarthrous predicate before the verb, does not preclude the possibility that the noun is indefinite.”[31] 

 

The table below provides a sampling of indefinite preverbal anarthrous predicate nominatives from John’s gospel as in 1:1c

 

4:19

A prophet

6:70

A devil

8:44

A murderer

8:44

A liar

8:48

A Samaritan

9:17

A prophet

10:1

A thief

10:13

A hired hand

10:33

A man

12:6

A thief

18:37

A king

 

     The following illustrates a parallel indefinite expression with John 1:1c.

 

Acts 28:4

foneu,j

evstin

o` a;nqrwpoj

 

a murderer

is

the man


John 1:1

qeo,j


h=n


o` lo,goj

 

a god

was

the Word

 

Chapter 3 discussed John’s use of poetic rhythm in his prologue.  Altering his word order as some suggest necessary for an indefinite rendering would have entirely destroyed the rhythm or required a completely different structure.  As there is no conflict between John’s word order and an indefinite qeo,j the prologue stands as is in light of the evidence, allowing and even supporting the translation “the Word was a god.”

 

With a definite reading ruled out and a purely qualitative rendering highly unlikely due to qeo,j being and here functioning as a count noun, there is clear support for an indefinite qeo,j.  Even so it is good to look at the probable background from which John derived his prologue, for when John spoke of the Logos he did not introduce a concept unfamiliar to his audience.   

 

The notion of a heavenly Logos was established well before John took to penning his Gospel.  Thomas Tobin explains that it was “in the works of Philo of Alexandria (ca. 20 B.C.E – 50 C.E) and his immediate predecessors that logos found its full flowering in Hellenistic Jewish literature.”[32]  To what extent this preexisting tradition impacted John's Gospel is often disputed, but it is hard to imagine that there was not an influence based upon the evidence.  So Tobin explains: “While one cannot argue that the author of the hymn in the Prologue [of John] had read Philo, it is difficult to imagine that the two are not part of the same Hellenistic Jewish tradition of interpretation and speculation.”[33] A sampling of the similarities between both John and Paul (cf. Col. 1:15-17) that Philo shares brings this to the fore:

 

“Philo calls the Logos the ‘Son of God,’ ‘the eldest son,’ ‘the first-begotten’… He describes the Logos as ‘the image of God, through whom the whole world was framed’… ‘the instrument through which the world was built…’”[34]

 

With only the above there are immediately recognizable similarities between the Logos as spoken of by Philo and then by John.  Where they differed fundamentally was in that John equated the Logos with Jesus Christ while it is commonly accepted that Philo viewed the Logos impersonally.  Though this be the case, Philo’s anthropomorphic language closely paralleled John (and Paul), bringing Tobin to acknowledge that “the similarities [between Philo and John] of both conceptual framework and vocabulary are nevertheless remarkable.”[35]  On reviewing the evidence Raymond Brown is forced to a similar conclusion:

 

“Personally, we believe that the evidence points rather toward a common background shared by both Philo and John.”[36]  

 

If John 1:1c is understood to be indefinite the apostle would likely have presented the Logos as a second god, distinct from Jehovah.  It is this very language that Philo used to describe the Logos, calling him a “second god” (QG 2:62).  With numerous parallels between the language of Philo and that found in the New Testament for Christ, it is not difficult to imagine John identifying the Logos as a “second god” by saying that “the Word was a god.”  Contrary to the objections of many this confession fit firmly within the Jewish concept of monotheism where others could properly be called gods, as were even the angels (Psa. 8:5).[37] 

 

John 20:28

“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

 

Trinitarians could not feel more comfortable identifying Jesus as their Lord and God, but some holding have so ingrained within themselves a separation of the two as to produce a level of discomfort with doing the same.  Perhaps it is this discomfort and haste to provide a response to the Trinitarian abuse of this passage that has led some to errantly attempt a refutation of the Trinitarian interpretation.

 

A survey of leading Bible translations reveals Thomas’ expression to be punctuated with an exclamation point.[38]  Looking to Thomas’ words as an exclamation some mistakenly view his words as only a statement of shock or excitement akin to “Oh my God.”  Such an interpretation is without parallel and unfounded.  Possible is that this exclamation is one of recognition and faith.  It is said that Thomas was not defining Jesus’ identity but “answering” his command to be “believing” (John 20:27).  The response was only to demonstrate his belief through an expression of faith in the God who raised Jesus from the dead. 

 

Significantly, the early church other than Novatian who attributed this text to “Christ’s divinity”[39] is largely silent on the meaning of Thomas’ words, making it difficult to determine just how far back this or any other interpretation goes.  Had Thomas’ words been as unambiguous as some Trinitarians today suggest, it is somewhat surprising that they were not more often appealed to in the early writings.  One of the oldest records we have of this text with commentary comes from Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350-428).  He for one found this to be a confession of belief in the Father in response to Jesus’ command:

 

“Thomas, indeed, when thus he had believed, says, ‘My Lord and my God.’  [Thomas] is not saying [Jesus] himself is Lord and God, for knowledge of the resurrection was not also teaching that God was he who rose again, but, as it were, he praises God greatly for the miracle performed.””[40]

 

While impossible to know whether Theodore’s understanding was one inherited or developed by him out of theological necessity,[41] it should not be quickly dismissed.  Examining Thomas’ words from a grammatical perspective Winer suggests a similar interpretation:

 

"On the other hand, [John 20:]28, though directed at Jesus (ei=pen auvtw/|), is rather an exclamation than an address; and, in the Greek authors, such a Nom[inative] has early and strong prominence."[42] 

 

Though Winer failed to explicitly parallel Thomas’ words with any statement “in the Greek authors,” he may well have included Mark 3:34 among such texts.  Recorded here, i;de h` mh,thr mou kai. oi` avdelfoi, mou (ide he meter mou kai hoi adelphoi mou, “Behold My mother and My brothers!”) closely resembles o` ku,rio,j mou kai. o` qeo,j mou ( (ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou) at John 20:28.
Admittedly, most scholars have come to reject the opinions of Theodore and Winer, though we cannot dismiss the fact that many may do so due to their own theological disposition.  As the basis of rejection is not absolute, one cannot be dogmatic on the meaning of this passage.  Nevertheless, Robertson comments that the text is “not exclamation, but [an] address, the vocative case though the form of the nominative, a very common thing in the Koiné.” [43] 

 

The principle difficulty in understanding Thomas’ confession to be of one other than Jesus is the fact that it is directed to Jesus.  The closest parallel to this passage is one of address, where the one spoken to is also spoken about, giving weight to this notion.  Psalm 34:23 in the LXX (35:23 MT) addresses Jehovah while almost perfectly paralleling Thomas expression in John 20:28.   The Psalmist identified Jehovah, saying, “o` qeo,j mou kai. o` ku,rio,j mou” (ho theos mou kai ho kurios mou), which translates, “My God and my Lord.” 

 

This Psalm finds that Jehovah had not directed his attention to David, so it is as if he has been asleep through inactivity.  David is prompted to ask him to ‘awaken’ and return to activity.  David furthers asks Jehovah to ‘attend to his judgment’ by bringing an end to his enemies.  Finally, he confesses Jehovah as ‘his God and his Lord.’ Thomas and the early disciples may have attributed a Messianic application to the psalmist’s language.  The term translated “awake” (evkegei,rw, ekegeiro) is found within the New Testament in connection with Jesus’ resurrection (1Co. 6:14), providing possible grounds for a Messianic fulfillment.[44]  As the one that God will judge through (cf. Acts 17:31), Jesus would have rightly been identified by Thomas as the deliverer of judgment against his enemies.  This being so, it was entirely proper for Thomas to address Jesus in such a manner as God’s principle agent in this activity.  Otherwise Thomas may have felt that “my Lord and my God” was a proper address to the Messiah through his exaltation regardless of whether or not he had this text in mind.

 

The presence of the article before qeo,j is not necessarily theologically significant.  One must observe that the article is used for reasons of grammar so that text could not have been written without it.  Moule explains: 

 

“In John xx. 28 o` ku,rio,j mou kai. o` qeo,j mou, it is to be noted that a substantive in the Nominative case used in a vocative sense and followed by a possessive could not be anarthrous (see Hoskyns and Davey, Commentary, in loc.); the article before qeo,j may, therefore, not be significant.”[45]

 

Accepting Thomas’ identification of Jesus as his Lord and God brings out objections such as that of James White: 

 

“No created being could ever allow such words to be addressed to him personally. No angel, no prophet, no sane human being, could ever allow himself to be addressed as ‘Lord and God.’”[46]

 

White’s assessment is inaccurate unless he intends to stretch the matter so to say that the two titles could be addressed to Jesus separately but not when paired.  This appellation is no more difficult than when we find Old Testament passages applied to Melchizedek in 11Q13Melchizedek, where, for example, Psalm 82:1 speaks of “God” and this is interpreted to be Melchizedek without equating him with Jehovah.  Thomas likewise could have identified Jesus as his Lord and God in a sense distinct from Jehovah.  Indeed, for one to argue that Thomas intended to equate Jesus with the Old Testament Jehovah would demand that he maintained a Trinitarian or Sabellian view, and as we have seen from the New Testament this was not a position established by the earliest Christians. 

The burden of proof rests squarely upon those who claim that Thomas had Trinitarian ideas in mind.

 

That the apostle John recorded events in a way for these titles to be otherwise understood in a secondary sense is not insignificant, be they applied due to agency or otherwise.  Shortly prior to recording the incident with Thomas, John related an event where Jesus spoke what provides us with the necessary qualification to Thomas’ confession.  Recorded in John 20:17, Jesus referred to his own God, showing that in whatever sense Jesus was “God” it was in a sense relative to this one.  This, unless one assumes Trinitarianism, qualifies John 20:28 so that it refers to Jesus as God in a sense lesser than Jehovah,[47] placing him in view as a divine agent, possessing titles that have been bestowed upon him representationally or in reference to his exalted position.

 

Demonstrating how John 20:17 would serve to qualify 20:28 is the forty-fifth Psalm.  Here a Jewish king is identified as “God” but in a sense secondary to the Almighty (Psa. 45:6).[48]  This did not define a sinful, human king as Almighty God.  The psalmist carefully qualified the appellation “God” for the human king so not to cause confusion, identifying Jehovah as his God.  Thus Harris observes:

“[The palmist] forestalls misunderstanding by indicating that the king is not ~yhla without qualification.  Yahweh is the king's ‘God.’”[49]

 

John’s recording of Jesus’ words so closely prior to Thomas’ confession is no mere coincidence.  The context and the structure provided was entirely purposeful (John 20:31).  While the separation between John 20:17 and 28 is certainly greater than that in Psalm 45, it is sufficiently close for the reader to have retained Jesus’ expression in mind when reading Thomas’ words.

 

Christians should feel comfortable identifying Christ as their God/god, but the appellation should always be properly understood.  The first century Christians would have had no problem with this and they would have understood it well within their biblical view of monotheism.[50] 

 

Acts 20:28

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.                                         

When we imagine God we do not think of him as a man of flesh and blood.  He is a spirit (John 4:24).  Many Trinitarians find difficulty speaking of ‘God’s blood,’ for though the doctrine of the hypostatic union has two natures bound together in a single person, it is the human nature of Christ that has blood, not the God nature.  Unfortunately many have errantly concluded that this difficulty is what has led to dispute over the proper translation of the verse:

 

Although most contemporary English versions render the last part of the verse in the same way as the NASB… many scholars and commentators in recent decades have preferred the rendering found in the NRSV… There is no doubt as the reason for this preference: those who dispute the conventional translation find the language, which expresses the idea of God’s having ‘blood,’ difficult if not impossible to entertain.”[51]

 

‘God’s own blood’ is a difficult expression, but this is hardly the sole reason for disputing this as a reference to Jesus.  There are two significant reasons to doubt the conventional translation in the King James tradition: The contextual identification of God and the consistent application of “the church of God” in reference to the Father. 

 

Paul’s words leave little doubt that in this context God was a reference only to the Father.  He spoke to all “about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).  His ministry was “received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace” (v. 24).  He again speaks of “God” and “the word of his grace” (v. 32), recalling the distinction in verse 24.  Finally he speaks of “the Lord Jesus,” not directly distinguishing him from God but staying consistent with his distinction between Christ as Lord and the Father as God.

 

Paul’s reference to “the church of God” is not an expression unique to this passage.  Interestingly, every instance of this New Testament expression is understood to be in reference to the Father.  Other than the text in question the first instance of it is at 1 Corinthians 1:2.  Paul expresses his calling to be “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1Cor. 1:1).  He writes “to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have sanctified in Jesus Christ…. who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 2).  The distinction between Jesus as Lord and the Father as God continues in 1:3, 4 and 9.

 

The next passage at 1 Corinthians 10:32 does not find an immediate distinction in this chapter, but as the second to last verse we can look early into chapter eleven to find this, also relating to following passages at 1 Corinthians 11:16, 22.  Here we are reminded that “God is the head of Christ” (1Cor. 11:3) and that Jesus “is the image and glory of God” (v. 7).  Here, too, little ambiguity is present. 
Paul twice speaks to the persecution of “the church of God” (1Cor. 1:9; Gal. 1:13), but also of how “we have testified against God that He raised Christ” (1Cor. 15:15).  In Galatians Paul leaves no doubt as to his distinction between God and Jesus Christ with an open confession of it (Gal. 1:1, 3).  He further testifies of how “God… was pleased to reveal His Son in me” (v. 15-16). 

 

Perhaps the most ambiguous is 1 Timothy 3:5, 15.  Only here does the immediate context fail to provide a direct distinction between God and Christ.[52]  Nevertheless, this should not be taken to mean that Paul did not maintain this distinction throughout his epistle.  From the very first verse Paul continues to maintain the distinction between “God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus.”  “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Ti. 2:5).  Paul even gave Timothy a charge “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus” (1Ti. 5:21) and urged him “in the presence of God… and of Christ Jesus” (1Ti. 6:13).[53] 

 

Paul’s language makes it difficult if not impossible to imagine Christ as God in Acts 20:28.  The immediate context dictates that God be only the Father, while Jesus Christ is our Lord and his son.  Further, Paul’s consistent reference to “the church of God” as a reference exclusively to the Father makes any other interpretation difficult and inconsistent.       

 

Grammatical considerations must not be overlooked either, there being a certain level of ambiguity.   The use of tou/ ivvdi,ou (tou idiou) after tou/ ai[matoj (tou haimatos) may be understood attributively (“his own blood,” cf. Acts 1:25) or substantively (“the blood of his own,” cf. John 1:11).  There is no feasible grammatical means to conclusively decide which is correct, though it is worthy of note that the two other references to “his own blood” involving the use of ivvdi,ou both read the unambiguous tou/ ivdi,ou ai[matoj (Heb, 9:12; 13:12).  Acts 20:28 could have read this way so to lack this ambiguity and this is a variant reading, but it is not original. 

 

When factoring in contextual considerations it is difficult not to imagine tou/ ivvdi,ou substantively.  Some have suggested that this may be “a title that early Christians gave to Jesus,”[54] but even this is unnecessary.  The reference may be only to one belonging to God, his son.  With the context considered this is certainly the best solution as F.F. Bruce concludes:

 

Gk. dia. tou/ ai`,matoj tou/ ivdi,ou, for which the Byzantine text reads dia. tou/ ivdiou ai`,matoj.  The Byzantine reading could mean only ‘with his own blood,’ but the reading here adopted is best rendered ‘with the blood of his own one.’  The sense of o` i;dioj is well attested in the vernacular papyri, where it is ‘used thus as a term of endearment to near relations, e.g. o` dei,na tw|/ idiw| cai,rein [‘So-and-so to his own (friend), greeting’]’ (J.H. Moulton, MHT I, p. 90).  As used here i;dioj is equivalent to the Heb. [yahid] (‘only’), elsewhere represented by Gk. avgaphto,j (‘beloved’), evklekto,j (‘choice’), and monogenh,j (‘only-begotten’).  In view of this, it is unnecessary to conjecture, with F.J.A. Hort, that ui`ou/ (‘son’) may have dropped out of the text after ivdi,ou (it may be supplied for the purpose of translation).”[55]

 

Hebrews 1:8

But of the Son He says, ‘YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.

 

The book of Hebrews has been discussed already in a number of respects, having observed its frequent use of quotations from the Old Testament.  Discussing John 20:28 we saw how Hebrews 1:8-9 related to the original source text at Psalm 45 where the application was to the Jewish king. 

 

For any text to be fully understood the proper translation must be ascertained.  As the Psalm found application to a human king some have found difficulty with the translation “God.”  This stems largely from the perceived difficulty of identifying others as qeo,j/~yhil{a/ while maintaining a biblical monotheism.  Discussing the translation A.T. Robertson relates: 

 

“It is not certain whether ho theos is here the vocative (address with the nominative form as in John 20:28 with the Messiah termed theos as is possible, John 1:18) or ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with estin (is) understood: ‘God is thy throne’ or ‘Thy throne is God.’ Either makes good sense.”[56]

 

If qeo,j, here a nominative, serves as a vocative, the subject is in some way qeo,j.  On the other hand if o` qeo,j is a nominative the sense would seem to be that God Almighty is the basis of the subject’s throne or authority.  The answer is perhaps found in Psalm 45:5 (45:6 LXX) where the text of the Septuagint reads ta. be,lh sou hvkonhme,na dunate, (ta bele sou ekonemena dunate,“Your weapons are sharpened, O Mighty One”).  The vocative donate, parallels o` qeo,j giving weight to the notion that this is also vocative. 

 

With the vocative Trinitarians and Sabellians are quick to point out the identification of Christ as God, but this identification is not in itself theologically significant.  Far more difficult for them are the comments of Trinitarians on the application of qeo,j to the king:  For example Murray Harris relates:

 

“[The king] was ‘Yahweh's anointed,’ in the sense that he served as Yahweh's deputy on earth, exercising a delegated yet sovereign authority.  And as anointed leader of God's chosen people, the king was, by the gracious divine will, God's adopted son (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; 89:27-28 [Engl. w. 26-27]). Yet, in accounting for this unique application of the title to a king, one must reckon with more than simply the king's divine election and his unique role in standing in loco dei. The king may exceptionally be addressed as ‘God’ also because, endowed with the Spirit of Yahweh, he exhibits certain divine characteristics.”[57] 

 

Keil and Delitzsch provide similar remarks:

 

“He [the Psalmist] gives him [the king] this name [God], because in the transparent exterior of his fair humanity he sees the glory and holiness of God as having attained a salutary of merciful conspicuousness among men. At the same time, however, he guards this calling of the king by the name Elohim against being misapprehended by immediately distinguishing the God, who stands above him, from the divine king by the words ‘Elohim, thy God,’ which, in the Korahitic Psalms, and in the Elohimic Psalms in general, is equivalent to Jahve, thy God’…”[58]

 

The Jewish king was properly identified as “God,” but not so without qualification.  He was God only relative to his God, the Almighty.  His identification as qeo,j/~yhil{a/ was in reference to his kingship as God’s representative and the authority associated with this position.  With the king possibly typifying the Messiah Jesus would have been greater, yet this does nothing to suggest that qeo,j somehow designates Jesus as the Almighty.  The author of Hebrews maintained the same qualifier that the psalmist supplied for limiting his position.  Unfortunately the Trinitarians who recognize the Psalm’s qualification ignore the same in Hebrews.  They must, for any qualification with reference to Christ as God would refute the teaching they insist upon.

 

1 John 5:20

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

 

Speaking to his Father in prayer Jesus undoubtedly knew his words would later be revealed by the Holy Spirit.  Though preparing for his own death he focused heavily on his disciples and their needs, so he chose his words carefully.  At the same time he did not censor himself as he had often done in public.  Where he would regularly instruct others to keep silent about what he had done and who he was, he now spoke openly.

 

Identifying “the only true God” (John 17:3) Jesus could well have named himself as this one.  He could have said, “That they may know the only true God, both you and the one whom you sent.”  Or perhaps, “That they may know you and the only true God whom you sent forth.”  The Father already knew himself to be “the only true God,” but Jesus deliberately chose to identify him as this while distinguishing himself as the one “sent.”

 

Looking to include Jesus in “the only true God” some appeal to 1 John 5:20. “This,” translated from ou-toj (houtos), may refer to the nearest antecedent as in 1 John 5:6, so identifying Jesus as “the true God.”  Even so, John’s epistles more often find the nearest not to be correct (1Jo. 2:22; 2Jo. 7, 9).  In light of this nothing can be determined grammatically.

 

The best case for Jesus here being identified as “the true God” is based upon the identification of “eternal life.”  Jesus is said to be this in 1:2, so it would be fitting for John to conclude with the same, yet this suggestion rests squarely on the notion that the Father should not be identified in the same way.

Jesus is everlasting life because the Father “gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26).  While the Father has this in him inherently, he gave it to the Son to have as well.  This is the ability to give everlasting life, which Christ did through his sacrifice, though we have not yet seen it fully realized.  As the ultimate source of this life we can say that “God has given us eternal life” (1Jo. 5:11), so that the Father too is properly identified as “eternal life.” 

 

As the Father is “the only true God,” he is naturally here “the true God.”  This has become so apparent that even Trinitarian apologetics have begun to confess as much.[59]  Many scholars and commentators have been leaning in this direction for some time as well, such as with Robertson: 

“It is a bit tautological to refer it to God, but that is probably correct, God in Christ, at any rate. God is eternal life (John 5:26) and he gives it to us through Christ.”[60] 

 

William Loader provides a similar thought:

 

“The Greek of [1 John] 5:20 has only the true (one) and reads literally: we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding 'so that we know the true (one) and we are in the true (one)', in his Son Jesus Christ. 'This (one) is the true God and eternal life.' It is clear from this that 'the true (one)' is God [the Father] throughout. Christ is his Son. In the final sentence this (one) most naturally refers still to God, not to Christ, as some have suggested.”[61]

 

God in Messianic Names

 

Professed Christians of all theological backgrounds have traditionally agreed upon a standard reading of Isaiah 9:6.  This has been interpreted to assign the Messiah a series of titles describing his character and identity.  Trinitarians and Sabellians have latched onto this notion especially, for in the text he is understood to be called “Mighty God.” 

 

Jesus may well be so identified without theological difficulty for true Unitarianism.  This may well mean that he serves as God’s principle agent upon the earth (cf. Psa. 82:1, 6).  His identification as “everlasting Father” could correlate to his identity as the last Adam, giving life to all who put faith in him (1Cor. 15:45).  As the “prince of peace” he rules on David’s throne (Jer. 33:17).  So The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible states:

 

“Over this reestablished Davidic kingdom there will rule an ideal king, who is acclaimed as a ‘wonder of a counselor,’ one whose counsel will be effective for his people’s wellbeing; a ‘divine [i.e. hero] warrior’; ‘father [of his people] from of old’ (or perhaps ‘father of plunder,’ who by his conquests brings benefits to them); and a ‘prince who brings prosperity.”[62] 

 

While each of these titles may have a direct fulfillment in the Messiah personally, another understanding may be more consistent with the context.  Isaiah refers to a single “name” that would be given the Messiah, not a series of them.  How this relates may best be understood by looking to other names in the preceding chapters of Isaiah and elsewhere. 

 

Within Isaiah 7 and 8 three prophetic names are written on five occasions.  Once is the name Shear-jashub, meaning, “The Remnant Shall Return” (Isa. 7:3).  Twice the name Immanuel is used, meaning, “With Us is God” (Isa. 7:14; 8:8), and the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz is also used on two occasions, meaning, “Swift is the Booty, Speedy is the Prey” (Isa. 8:1, 3).  With each name the child was only a symbol of something greater.  These did not describe the child but spoke of God or prophetically of what was to come. On the name Shear-jashub, Gill explains:

 

“[The] name signifies ‘the remnant shall return’, and who was taken with the prophet, to suggest either that the remnant that were left of the former devastations by those two kings ought to return to the Lord by repentance; or that though the people of Judah should hereafter be carried captive by the Assyrians, yet a remnant should return again.”[63] 

 

The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz was also not descriptive of Isaiah's son so that the child was himself swift booty or speedy prey.  He was given this name as a divine symbol.  Barnes states:\

 

“The idea is, that the Assyrian would hasten to his plunder - that it would be accomplished with speed. This name was to be given to a child of Isaiah; and this child was to be a sign of the event which was signified by the name…”[64] 

 

The name Immanuel proves more interesting, for Isaiah 7:14 has a prophetic fulfillment outside of a child contemporary to Isaiah (Mat. 1:23).  Commonly thought is that because the name means “With us is God,” Jesus was the God that was with his people in the incarnation.  This interpretation, as even Harris observes, goes above and beyond the intended meaning:

 

“There are therefore strong reasons for believing that in Matthew 1:23 meqV h`mw/n o` qeo,j signifies that in Jesus God is present to bring salvation to his people rather than that Jesus, as o` qeo,j, is personally present with his people.  Matthew is not saying, ‘Someone who is ‘God’ is now physically with us,’ but ‘God is acting on our behalf in the person of Jesus.’”[65]

 

Luke tells of an angel who insisted that God was with Mary before she had even conceived Jesus (Luke 1:28).  To say that God was with her or the Jewish people then did not require his physical presence.  Explaining the meaning of the name as applied to Isaiah’s son, Barnes appropriately interprets the meaning of the name as also applied to the Messiah,[66] though inconsistently he provides another interpretation when applied to him, exposing his theological bias.  He relates:

 

“The name is designed to denote that God would be with the nation as its protector, and the birth of this child would be a sign or pledge of it. The mere circumstance that this name is given, however, does not imply anything in regard to the nature or rank of the child, for nothing was more common among the Jews than to incorporate the name, or a part of the name, of the Deity with the names which they gave to their children.”[67] 

 

It is hardly plausible that the name, as given to the Messiah, was intended to denote that the Messiah was this God.  So Barnes goes on to highlight:

 

“Thus, ‘Isaiah’ denotes the salvation of Yahweh; ‘Jeremiah,’ the exaltation or grandeur of Yahweh, each compounded of two words, in which the name Yahweh constitutes a part. Thus, also in ‘Elijah,’ the two names of God are combined, and it means literally, ‘God the Yahweh.’ Thus, also ‘Eliab,’ God my father; ‘Eliada,’ knowledge of God; ‘Eliakim,’ the resurrection of God; ‘Elihu,’ he is my God; ‘Elisha,’ salvation of God. In none of these instances is the fact, that the name of God is incorporated with the proper name of the individual, any argument in respect to his rank or character.”[68]

 

he name Immanuel, both as it was originally applied and in the case of the Messiah, served to show that God was with his people.  He was not physically present, but he was watching over them and directing events as necessary.  Here the name revealed something, but it did not describe the child personally.

 

Names are elsewhere used similarly.  For example, Jeremiah 33:16 finds Jerusalem called “Jehovah our righteousness,” a “name” also given to the king (Jer. 23:6).  The meaning was not that the king or the city was Jehovah or the source of righteousness, but that Jehovah was the source of the righteousness that would be seen in them.  Other examples include “Jehovah sees” (Gen. 22:14) for the location of Abraham’s sacrifice in place of Isaac.  The meaning was that Jehovah saw Abraham’s need for a sacrifice in place of his son and provided it.  The name spoke nothing of the location itself, but of what the location represented to Abraham.  Similarly, “Jehovah is my banner” (Ex. 17:15), the altar Moses made after the defeat of the Amalekites, symbolizing Jehovah as the one that they would rally around for support. 

 

Reflecting on the above examples it is apparent that a child or location could be given a name that told nothing of the individual ontologically.  These would symbolize what had taken place, what would occur and specifically, what Jehovah would do.  Reflecting upon these, two serious questions become apparent. First, on what grounds can we argue that Isaiah 9:6 is a description of the child when the text explicitly states that it is his name? Second, as his name, can we justify taking the use within this one text as a description when five other texts closely related present prophetic names that are not considered descriptions?  It is difficult to justify doing so.  In fact, it seems appropriate to apply the words of Albert Barnes to the name provided in Isaiah 9:6 as well, for we can reasonably say that it “does not imply anything in regard to the nature or rank of the child.”

 

The child apparently represents the one described by his name.  He is not the Mighty God, but he represents him (Isa. 10:21).  He will not himself be the “Wonderful Counselor,” but from that one he will receive “the spirit of counsel and strength” (Isa. 11:2).  Jehovah is all that is spoken of in the child’s name and he will reveal himself through that one.  In accordance with this The Jewish Publication Society's 1917 Edition translates Isaiah 9:6 with a single compound name:

 

Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele- joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom;

 

Further, The Jewish Study Bible comments in line with the observations we have herein noted, stating:

 

"'The Mighty God...ruler': This long sentence is the throne name of the royal child. Semitic names often consist of sentences that describe God; thus the name Isaiah in Hebrew means 'The LORD saves'; Hezekiah, 'The LORD strengthens'; in Akkadian, the name of the Babylonian king Merodach-baladan (Is 39:1) means 'the god Marduk has provided a heir.' These names do not describe that person who holds them but the god whom the parents worship. Similarly, the name given to the child in this v. does not describe that child or attribute divinity to him, contrary to classical Christian readings of this messianic verse."[69] 

 


[1] BDAG, 450.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Bruce M. Metzger, “The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ,” Theology Today (April, 1953), 75.

[4] Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Revised and Expanded Edition (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985), 85.

[5] George R. Beasley-Murray, “John,” Second Edition, WBC, 36:8.

[6] James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 50-51.

[7] A.T Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934.), 882-3. Underline added.  

[8] E.C. Colwell, “A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament,” JBL, 52 (1933), 12-21.

[9] Ibid, 20. The predicate nominative finds the predicate noun in the subject case, meaning that the noun in the predicate position is in reference to the subject.  In this text that noun comes before the verb and lacks the definite article.  

[10] Thanks to Sean Kasabuske for pointing out that while generally true this is not completely accurate.  It is possible that “the Word was God” in the sense expressed through divine agency.

[11] Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 268.

[12] Phillip B. Harner, “Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1,” JBL 92, 85.

[13] ibid.

[14] Paul Stephen Dixon, The Significance of the Anarthrous Predicate Nominative in John, (Dallas Theological Seminary Thesis, 1975).

[15] Donald Hartley, Revisiting Colwell’s Rule in Light of Mass/Count Nouns, [www reference cited Dec. 21, 2008], http://www.bible.org/assets/worddocs/hartley_colwell.zip, 11. 

[16] The following is not intended as an exhaustive discussion of linguistics in relation to mass and count nouns.  Provided is a basic overview of the mass/count distinction and how this relates to our understanding of John 1:1c.

[17] Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature, (New York: The Penguin Group, 2007), 167.

[18] ibid.

[19] Admittedly, certain mass nouns are plural though without quantification, but this goes beyond the scope of our discussion. 

[20] Laura A. Michaelis, “Word meaning, sentence meaning, and syntactic meaning,” Cognitive Approaches to Lexical Semantics, ed. by Hubert Cuyckens, Rene Dirven, John R. Taylor, (Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003), 171.

[21] Leonard Talmy, Toward a Cognitive Semantic, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), 1:52. 

[22] ibid, 53. 

[23] Hartley, 11.

[24] Michaelis, 172.

[25] ibid.

[26] There are other texts where such conflict is present as in John 4:23 where spirit could not be countable both because the sentence would not make sense and the parallelism with the mass term truth that immediately follows.   

[27] Hartley provides a statistical analysis of count nouns to suggest that John 1:1c is most likely purely qualitative, yet this analysis is entirely subjective.  Hartley determined for himself the categorization of each noun and yet the nouns he views as purely qualitative are so often translated indefinitely in most if not all leading translations.  That Hartley dedicates so much of his conclusion arguing against an apologetic work and that his theology only allows for a purely qualitative understanding makes his work suspect, appearing more apologetic than scholarly with his conclusions determined before the work even began.   

[28] BDAG, 915.

[29] Harner, 85.  It is interesting to observe in this regard that Harner’s language is significantly weaker than Hartley’s. 

[30] ibid.

[31] ibid, 80.  Harner’s comments specifically reference Mark 15:39 but as both have “the anarthrous predicate before the verb” the principle would also apply to John 1:1.

[32] Thomas H. Tobin, "The Prologue of John and Hellenistic Jewish Speculation," CBQ, 52 (1990), 256.

[33] ibid., 262. 

[34] Ezra Abbot, “On the Construction of Romans IX. 5,” The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel and other Critical Essays (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1888), 369-70.

[35] Tobin, 262.

[36] Raymond Brown, “The Gospel According to John I-XIII: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary,” AB, lvii.

[37] For more on this one need only reference back to chapter 1. 

[38] New American Standard Bible, New International Version, New Jerusalem Bible, New Revised Standard Version.

[39] Novatian, “A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity,“ ANF, 5:622.

[40] Patrologie, Patrologie Graecae, Thomus LXVI, Synesius Episc, Theodorous Mopsuestenus (Paris: 1864), 783-4.  Cited from the unpublished work of David Schuman. 

[41] While Theodore’s theology necessitated that Thomas’ exclamation not be in reference to Jesus, it is impossible to determine whether or not this understanding was new or inherited from others in the church.

[42] G.B. Winer, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament (Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1897), 183.

[43] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament. Electronic Version found within BibleWorks 6 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934), John 20:28.

[44] This would not deny the text's original application to the Father, as we have already noted in chapter 2, but the language could have also carried a Messianic expectation.

[45] C.F.D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 116.

[46] White, 70.

[47] Such does not require one assume a Unitarian view, only that the Bible is consistent in how titles are applied and language is used.  This will now be demonstrated in that the Bible provides such qualification for others.

[48] This passage will be discussed in greater detail below with an examination of Hebrews 1:8. 

[49] Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God: The New Testament use of Theos in Reference to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 201.

[50] While not discussed in this book it is well possible that 2 Peter 1:1 identifies Jesus as “our God and Savior.”  This confession is not difficult and is understood well in harmony with John 20:28.  Titus 2:13 is doubtful.  If Jesus is in view before kai. he is identified as “the glory of the great God” and not the “the great God” himself, a confession that is entirely Pauline (1Cor. 11:7).  That do,xa is attributive is doubtful (cf. Titus 2:11 where he is also “the grace of God”).  On the other hand “the glory of the great God” reminds one of Jesus’ reference to the appearance of God’s glory along with Christ’s at the second advent (Luke 9:26).

[51] Bowman and Komoszewski, 145. Emphasis added.

[52] That this is not immediately present is not troubling because it was not Paul’s focus.  He did not write to continually distinguish Christ from God, but he often did it nonetheless. 

[53] Also 1 Thessalonians 2:14, but that the expression is “the churches of God in Christ Jesus,” there is distinction in the text so that a discussion is unnecessary.  Similarly, 2 Thessalonians 1:4, but the distinction is throughout (1:1, 2, 6-7, 8, 12). 

[54] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1971), 426.

[55] Frederick Fyvie Bruce, “The Book of Acts,” Revised Edition, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Edited by Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988), 391.

[56] Robertson, Word Pictures, Hebrews 1:8

[57] Harris, 200.

[58] F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 Volumes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., repr. 1978), 5:2:83-4.

[59] So even Bowman and Komoszewski list this in reference to the Father (Bowman and Komoszewski, 284). 

[60] Robertson, Word Pictures, 1 John 5:20.

[61] William Loader, “The Johannine Epistles,” Epworth Commentaries (London: Epworth, 1992), 79.

[62] Peter R. Ackroyd, “The Book of Isaiah,” The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, Edited by Charles M. Laymon (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971), 338. Brackets Original.

[63] John Gill, Exposition of the Bible, [www reference cited Nov. 02, 2006], http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/, Isaiah 7:3.

[64] BN, 6:1:174.

[65] Harris, 258.

[66] The Messiah certainly had a greater fulfillment of this text for the way in which God was then with his people in providing salvation exceeded anything he had previously accomplished.  Nevertheless, such a greater fulfillment in no way demands that Jesus be God with them. 

[67] ibid, 159.

[68]  ibid, 6:1:159-160.

[69] The Jewish Study Bible: Featuring the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation, Edited by Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 802.


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