Towards the end of the book of Revelation John hears somebody say: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:12–13). This is presumably Jesus speaking (cf. 22:16); and since God says nearly the same thing about himself in Revelation 21:6, it is inferred that John means to establish some sort of identity between Jesus and God. Richard Bauckham, for example, has said: “As a way of stating unambiguously that Jesus Christ belongs to the fullness of the eternal God, this surpasses anything in the NT” (R. Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, 1993, 56-57).
Bauckham is right to draw attention to the parallel, but I think that the narrative structure of Revelation—and indeed of New Testament eschatology generally—works against the idea of a direct identification of Jesus with the “eternal God”. John is making a more subtle and more urgent point about the role of Jesus.
Who was and who is and who is to come
John greets the seven churches with grace and peace from God, “who is and who was and who is to come”, from the “seven spirits”, and from Jesus Christ, who was the first martyr (ho martus) to be raised from the dead and who is now “ruler of kings on earth” (Rev. 1:4–5). We could perhaps think of this as a quasi-trinitarian construction, but Jesus is described only as the royal Son who was raised from the dead and has received the nations as his heritage, to rule them with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; cf. Ps. 2:7-8). This is not a statement of divine ontology. What John gives us is a political eschatology, much the same as we have in Philippians 2:6-11: the one who has suffered has been exalted and will be confessed as Lord by the nations, he will be the “ruler of kings on earth”.
By his death Jesus has brought into being a people who will serve “his God and Father” as priests. He is the one who comes “with the clouds” to receive vindication and a kingdom, and the tribes of Israel will regret what they did to him. But it is the Lord God who asserts at this juncture, “I am the Alpha and the Omega…, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:4–8). The narrative distinction is preserved between the God of all history and the martyr Jesus Christ, who was faithful unto death but who has been rewarded.
The first and the last
The “one like a son of man” whom John sees in the midst of the seven lampstands in the opening vision announces himself as “the first and the last, and the living one”. He was dead, he is now living for the ages of the ages, and he has the “keys of death and Hades”. Jesus also speaks of himself as “the first and the last, who died and came to life” in the letter to the church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:8). Similar statements about being “the first and the last” are made about YHWH in Second Isaiah, where the point of the idiom seems to be that the God who began a process will see it through to the end (Is. 41:4; 44:6-8; 48:11-12). There are also theophanic details in the description of the “one like a son of man”: he seems, for example, to have the white hair of the “ancient of days” (Rev. 1:14; cf. Dan. 7:9).
Does this suggest an identification with God? Not according to what is actually said: by his death he has created a priestly people for his God; he has received the keys that will release others from death and Hades because he himself overcame death, because he is the “one like a son of man”, not because he is God; and the phrase “the first and the last” has to do with his death and resurrection rather than with a supposed divine identity.
Bauckham maintains that “I am the first and the last” is an assertion of “Christ’s participation in the eternal being of God”. This requires a rather clunky intersection of two modes of being: “His eternal livingness was interrupted by the experience of a human death, and he shares the eternal life of God through triumph over death” (55-56). This may have been an inevitable contrivance for the early church, but it’s more than John was saying. Jesus has come into the presence of God and naturally reflects something of the glory of God, but what is at issue in Revelation is his eschatological function apart from God.
I am the Alpha and the Omega
The formula “who is and who was and who is to come” is not applied to Jesus but is reserved for God (Rev. 1:4, 8), and God is not said in Revelation to be “the first and the last”. But two expressions are used as self-references both by God and by Jesus. God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6); and Jesus says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).
The narrative contexts, however, are different in important ways—a point I have been trying to make in a couple of recent posts: “How come there are bad people in the new heaven and new earth?” and “More on the new Jerusalem in the midst of the nations”.
The divine claim is made in relation to the final renewal of creation. John sees a new heaven and a new earth, in which there is no more death and mourning; all evildoers have been destroyed in the lake of fire. As Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, God is the one who created and who recreates.
When Jesus makes the same claim about himself, the evil-doer is still doing evil and the unclean are still unclean; and outside the city are “dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15). The coming of Jesus is not for the purpose of finally renewing creation but to deliver and recompense those who faithfully witnessed to him in the face of Roman persecution: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done” (Rev. 22:12; cf. 22:17; 20). This is why he also includes the phrase “the first and the last”: he has overcome death, he has the keys to death and Hades, and he can deliver those who have suffered for his sake.
This is exactly the distinction that we find in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Jesus has the kingdom as long as there are enemies—social, political and existential threats to the integrity and security of the priestly people of God. In keeping with the paradigmatic conceptuality of Psalm 110:1, he “must reign until he (God) has put all his (Jesus’) enemies under his (Jesus’) feet”. Once the last enemy has been destroyed—that is, death—Jesus will deliver the kingdom back to God and become subject to him.
God is the beginning and the end of the creation story, but Jesus is the beginning and end of the political subplot.
So I disagree with Bauckham. If there is any transfer of divine language to Jesus, it presupposes the fundamental eschatological distinction between the creation story and the kingdom story. Jesus is as “God”, so to speak, in relation to the political narrative because he has been given all authority and power at the right hand of the Father. He is the king to whom, because he was faithful, the right to judge and rule over the nations has been devolved.
Revelation 1:18 and 2:8 seem to connect Jesus’ firstness with his death and his lastness with his immortality. The latter of which makes more sense than the former. Perhaps Jesus is the first of those who will die in the eschatological tribulation?
As for the alpha and omega phrase attributed to Jesus, your distinction between the visions in Rev 21:1-8 and Rev 21:9-22:5 continues to pay dividends. The connection to the two-part eschatological narrative in 1 Cor 15 (the subjugation to Christ and then the subjugation of Christ) is a good one but why does the New Jerusalem appear in both visions? Does the passing of the first earth and first heaven force us to see Rev 21:1-8 as the end of history?
Perhaps Jesus is the first of those who will die in the eschatological tribulation?
That’s how I see it. He is the first of the martyrs, the first to be raised from the dead, the firstfruits of the resurrection that would attend the restoration of Israel (cf. Dan. 12:1-3).
…but why does the New Jerusalem appear in both visions? Does the passing of the first earth and first heaven force us to see Rev 21:1-8 as the end of history?
What persuades me that Rev. 21:1-8 was meant to depict a final and absolute state of affairs is the emphasis on the destruction of death as part of the final putting right of all things. But the structure of the book is certainly problematic.
The visionary context for the seeing of the new heaven and new earth and then the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven is given, I think, all the way back at the beginning of chapter 17:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness… (Rev. 17:1–3)
It may then be significant that one of the same group of angels takes him not to a wilderness but to a high mountain to see the holy city a second time descending from God:
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God… (Rev. 21:9–10)
But what that significance is, I’m not sure—and it may be putting too much faith in these narrative cues.
I’ve read a quite a few posts on your blog. While I thoroughly appreciate your determination to challenge what we’ve been taught, the nature of your conclusions and the conclusions themselves confuse me. Not that I don’t understand them or that I don’t understand how you arrive at these conclusions. It’s that I don’t understand WHY you would. What I mean is this; the narrative historical approach makes sense. In fact I believe it’s essential to reading scripture and properly understanding it. Context is always key. However, the application of this method appears to derive a narrative that, unless I am mistaken, demands exclusivity. Not only that but, it tends to largely ignore/redefine significant positions within the narrative simply because of disagreement with the theology it imposes/generated.
For example, a key part of understanding the narrative is to understand how the audience within understood what was going on and how they interpreted And defined it. I’ve read on your blog that “Son of God” does not mean “God”. I clearly see why you would say that and I would agree that in many uses and contexts “Son of God” clearly doesn’t mean “God”. However, in the book of John Jews certainly believed that for Jesus to make such a claim equated Him with God. And after doing so several times they used this claim (a claim neither He nor His followers ever outright denied) to kill Him because according to their law it was blasphemous for Him to call God His Father.
1. Why strike these facts from the narrative? Or, I guess, redefine them because to you the weight of rest of the narrative demands it?
The same can be said of John 1 or 1st John 1 that clearly point to not only eternal existence of who incarnated as the Christ but also is clearly regarded as God.
A significant part of the narrative that appears to be diminished or denigrated is that first century Jews took scripture very seriously and thus took their approach and assessment of God very seriously. More seriously than we give them credit for. So, with the apostles being 1st century Jews it’s astoundung that they would have such comfort and conviction in their very strange appropriation of terms and phrases for Jesus that leaves Him so close to God that a debate on His deity could even exist. It had never been done before. For John to open his letter with such a profound, confounding, yet very direct statement says volumes. More than you appear to give it credit for. Especially understanding that it is a conclusion He reached AFTER seeing all that he saw. So to read scripture through the lens of John isn’t a strange thing to do at all. If I write a book with a retrospective proclamation of the main character of the book in the first sentence I expect for the reader to keep that in mind throughout the entire letter. Further details may add to the proclamation but nothing renders it void or redefines it. For that same John to scribe Jesus ascribing to Himself such divine prerogatives as “Alpha and Omega” without inserting an explanation that this was not an equating with the Father is astounding. Peter rebuked Jesus for how He spoke of Himself. Surely, John would do similar if not in real time then in retrospect when scribing the events.
Why is this aspect of the narrative less significant?
Lastly, perhaps you have considered this and perhaps not. I would say, many would agree, that the Jews of Jesus day employed a similar approach to the narrative historical method to understanding scripture. This is the very reason why they could not truly accept who He was. Who He was did not align with who they exegetically believed the messiah would be. I have read many modern Jewish perspectives that affirm this. Not that they agree with what I just said but, that to this day their understanding of Old Testament texts prevent Jesus from being who He was. They were/are wrong, obviously. But, their rendering of scripture is to blame for that. Not Jesus and not the perspectives of 1st century followers who wrote about Him in a modern 1st century context.
Also, I just want to be clear that I don’t believe that the goal of the New Testament writers was exclusively or mainly to point out that Jesus was God. However, I don’t believe that this diminishes its importance to either the narrative nor the Gospel. What I do see in the New Testament is primary sources referring to Jesus in a litany of ways, including but not limited to His divinity. And when these are mentioned it’s taken as matter of fact rather than a point of contention or ambiguity. Just as in our churches today we will call Jesus the Lamb of God and the King of Kings and then the Alpha and Omega and then discuss his humanity all side by side without flinching or feeling the need to explain how one doesn’t invalidate the other. I see the same in scripture. John opens his letter calling Jesus the incarnate word of God who was God and created everything that has ever been created. He then has scriptures where Jesus says that The Father is the only true God. He came to the conclusion that Jesus was God not despite Jesus’ proclamation that they know the Father as the only true God nor before it but, along side it and after it. To John and to us, both can exist without eliminating the other or diminishing the other. So it’s strange to arrive at a conclusion that ascribing deity to Christ wasn’t the intention when so much is said that makes the point debatable at worst. Again, it’s strange for people with such a high view of God to use terms and phrases that allow for it to even be debatable what they can be used for Jesus as well. As a husband I would never want to allow any ambiguity in regards to who my wife is and my allegiance to her. Furthermore I wouldn’t use language to describe another woman that could make it seem like I am referring to her as my wife as well. My nicknames for my wife belong to my wife.
When Jesus was killed for blaspheming by calling God His own Father not one disciple I have read added the footnote “…..but, what he really meant was that He was only the promised messiah. Our savior was killed due to a misunderstanding of words.”
He was killed for claiming that He was the Son of God. His killers understood Him to be claiming equality with God and also making Himself God by calling God His Father. John opens the same Gospel where these accusations are recorded by emphatically ascribing the very articles of the accusation to Jesus, the accused. This is all IN THE NARRITIVE AND HISTORY (not yelling, just adding emphasis). When Jesus says God is the only true God or that the Father is greater than He I don’t say “well this can’t be what is meant because Jesus is God”. I say as with all phrases “what does this mean in the light of what has been said? Can these all coexist or does one eliminate the other?”
the fault in many i believe is that they take a 2 dimensional approach to a multidimensional narrative. It’s not either or. It’s both and.
I look at theology and history the the way I do religion and science. They work in conjunction, not in opposition. They support one another. So the history of what John says about Jesus supports the theology we believe about Jesus Whig includes all of what is said about Jesus at face value in unison. I don’t say “well in order for a human to exist he must have two human parents. Genesis supports that. Therefore, the virgin birth must have meant something else in the narrative because a human cannot be born of woman alone. So Jesus couldn’t have been trulyhuman at all”
i can accept that Jesus was human. I can also accept that He was God. If my mom is black and my father is white I’m not black or white. I’m black and white. Equally black. Equally white. One gene May dominate the other in my biology but neither eliminates the other regardless of my appearance. If my blood is tested you will find both. John “tested” Jesus and found both. Even if we disagree on the proper understanding of what John said, we can’t disgaree that he used very divine and very human terms to describe the messiah.
Hi. Thanks for all of this. My response is here.
deon, Christians like to use the 4th Gospel, which was written 60-65 years after the death of Jesus by an unknown author, as their starting point for understanding Jesus. This is unfortunate because we see a progression from Paul’s epistles and the earliest Gospel, Mark, that should not be ignored. Here’s what I see:
- Jesus was the Messiah and Prophet who received divinity after being resurrected … a few vague hints at pre-existence (Paul’s epistles & Gospel of Mark) 50-70 CE
- Jesus was the Messiah, Prophet, and product of a miraculous birth who received divinity after being resurrected … a few vague hints at pre-existence (Gospels of Matthew and Luke) 75-90 CE
- Jesus was the begotten, preexistent Word of Yahweh and perfect reflection of Yahweh who came from heaven to earth to fulfill the role of Messiah and Prophet (Gospel of John) 90-95 CE
- Jesus is God since God is a coeternal, coequal, one substance, three-in-one Godhead. (Trinitarianism – Council of Nicaea) 325 CE
Although the religious leaders didn’t like when Jesus referred to himself as the son of God, this was not unprecedented. David called himself a son of God (Psalm 2:7), Adam was called a son of God (Luke 3:38), and in Psalm 82:6 we see other beings referred to as both “gods” and as “sons of the Most High.” The nation of Israel was also called Yahweh’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22 & Jeremiah 31:9). And in Genesis, Deuteronomy, and Job, there are references to “sons of God.”
In John 10:31-36, Jesus said to the Jews who wanted to stone him, Why do you have a problem with me calling myself the son of God since your own scripture refers to others both as gods and as sons of the most high?
I agree as will virtually every Christian ever that Jesus wasn’t the first nor the last to be called son of God. However, that misses the point. This is what has to be explained:
Why did the Jews react the way they did? Why was the reaction to Jesus’ referencing God as His father so different than anyone else ever recorded in scripture? In fact, why was there a reaction at all if the title was so generic and ambiguous? I have heard countless refutations of Christ’s deity. None adequately address this simple aspect.
Secondly, neither Mark nor Paul were original apostles. Neither were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ earthly ministry. John was. So, even if he wrote his letter on his death bed after all the others were completed and in circulation it doesn’t diminish its accuracy. Why would we give weight to a secondary account than to a primary one? When do we ever do that in literature? When do we ever do that in investigations?
The issue appears to be that equal weight isn’t being given to scripture. Mark is more authoritative and reliable because it was written earlier. That’s not how the Bible works. It’s all weighed equally based on inspiration, not based on when it was written. But, if you believe that we should rank the authenticity and authority of scripture in a hierarchical manner, that’s what you believe. In that case it’s not much I can say.
They were going to stone him because they thought he was saying he was making himself out to be god, but he explained that he was just saying what others had said in the past, so they didn’t stone him.
Since you believe John was the writer, and since you believe “It’s all weighed equally based on inspiration, not based on when it was written,” there’s not much I can say. :)
I went back to reread just in case I missed it but, that’s not exactly how it happened in John 10. They sought to stone Him because to them at the very least He appeared to be making Himself God. His response wasn’t “no, I’m not. You’re mistaken.” His response was “Your scripture says those who received the word of God we’re called gods. So, if I am doing the work of God and God Himself sent me into the world why is it such a big deal for me to proclaim to be the Son of God? For you to believe that I am in the Father and He is in me?”
That didnt calm calm them down. There wasn’t a collective sigh of relief. When He finished explaining Himself “they sought to seize Him but, He fled.”
He didn’t back down from the claim as many suppose. He pointed out to them how odd it was that they would be upset for Him making the claim when people extremely much less worthy receive such a title in their own scripture with no contention.
But we can definitely agree to disagree. Better to do that than keep going if we are both settled in our beliefs. Thanks for responding. I truly appreciate. Also, thanks for being civil. Means a lot as I am sure you know. :-)
The Jews already had stones in their hands, so you have to ask, why didn’t they throw them? Jesus is arguing for something less than is declared in the scriptures. He is saying, Why would you stone me for calling myself son of God when your own scriptures refers to others as gods?
They didn’t stone him because he showed them they were mistaken in thinking he was making himself god. Now later, they try to arrest him because he said “The Father is in me and I am in the Father,” but they didn’t try to stone him for this since this didn’t qualify as blasphemy. They wanted to arrest him because they believed he was leading people astray by claiming to be Yahweh’s Anointed One.
“The Jews already had stones in their hands, so you have to ask, why didn’t they throw them?”
That’s not really a good question to ask me, or to ask of the narrative.
Because I could ask you the same question and we would both have to give the same answer. What answer is would that be? “I don’t know”
Let’s give this a shot. Let’s restate your question.
Peter: “The Jews already had stones in their hands, why didn’t they throw them?”
Deon: Honestly, I have no idea. Now, according to the scriptures “Then they were trying again to seize Him, yet He eluded their grasp.”
John 10:39 HCSB. So, maybe they just didn’t have a chance to stone Him because He escaped. But, honestly I really don’t know. The scripture doesn’t say.
Now, I’ll ask my question.
Deon: “According to John 10:31, “Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him.” The reason they gave for attempting to stone Him was that He called God His Father which made Him God, in their minds at the very least.
Since they already had stones in their hands, and since He already committed the stoneable offense, why didn’t they stone Him? What scripture details this reasoning? I’ll go ahead and tell you that I don’t know. The scripture never says.”
Deon, you are coming at the text with preconceived ideas and forcing the text to fit your ideas, so pointing out passages in the text appears to be a waste of my time; however, I will answer the questions you asked me:
Since they already had stones in their hands, and since He already committed the stoneable offense, why didn’t they stone Him?
They didn’t stone him because he explained that he wasn’t being blasphemous since he wasn’t making himself God, but instead was simply referring to himself as “son of God,” a thing which was lesser than what was accepted in their own scripture. (Jn 10:34-36)
What scripture details this reasoning?
I understand your view because I grew up in a conservative Christian home where faith meant we couldn’t question what the preacher said. I was taught the same as you regarding the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture, the divinity of Jesus, etc. People who disagreed with my conservative views were scripture-twisting Liberals! It wasn’t until I struck out on my own in my 30s determined to follow the truth wherever it led that I started to shed many of the ideas from my childhood.
It really started when I started examining what Bible scholars had to say rather than assuming pastors had it figured out. It’s an uncomfortable journey because the systematic theology created by the church over the last 2000 years can provide a foundation with answers, and that provides peace. But of course once you realize it is a manmade foundation full of holes, there is no way to stay with it…
You responded to my post and my question with preconceived ideas. As a result, you didn’t answer my question. You inadvertently answered a different question that I never asked.
First a little bit about me. I grew up “in church” and at a very early age I realized that what I was seeing and what I was reading didn’t match up. You’re not the only one on a faith journey. This is a preconceived notion by “enlightened” and “awakened”people that they are the only people seeking truth (or at least the only ones doing it the right way) and that they are the only ones challenging their faith and the validity of what they have been taught. So, when you engage in discussion or debate with them there is an unfair slant because they can just say “you haven’t shaken your preconceived ideas”.
Did you for a moment stop and think that maybe I too have wrestled with my faith and challenged the status quo? Did you for a moment stop and think that I too have struggled with my peace about what I believe?
Or is it because I dont agree with you that you’ve eliminated that possibility? So basically, my faith journey and the conclusions I’ve drawn and continue to draw are invalid because I haven’t reached the same conclusions as you? The very thing you accuse me of is the very thing you do to me.
That’s the way of the world. They appreciate your open mind until you’re open mind doesn’t agree with them. Then your closed minded and hateful etc.
Now back to my question. You asked me why didn’t they throw the stones at the end of the chapter. I said that I didn’t know and that it was possibly because he escaped. Which is actual scripture. I then asked you why didn’t they stone Him the very first time they picked up the stones. Basically you said it was because if the answer he gave.
That wasn’t my question. My question was, why didn’t they stone Him BEFORE He responded? Why did they give Him a chance to respond at all if they already had stones in their hands and he commuted the offense? Why not just stone Him right away?
Does the scripture actually say they didn’t stone Him because he corrected them, or is that an inference?
I think you’re reading way too much between the lines that isn’t actually there. I assume you are wrestling with things and that is why you are at Andrew’s blog. (Andrew’s ideas certainly aren’t mainstream evangelical ideas.)
I don’t think I’ve been hateful, so I hope you’re not lumping me in with the close-minded hateful people…
You are right that we all come to a text with preconceived ideas, but if your preconceived ideas cause you to force the text to fit your ideas rather than accept the natural reading, that usually indicates a problem.
Actually, I did answer your question. I copied and pasted it directly from your post and the word “before” was not there.
The answer to your new question is Jews would not have immediately started throwing stones at every person who said something that sounded blasphemous with giving that person a chance to defend or accuse themselves. I don’t think the text is at all ambiguous (unless you make it ambiguous):
A. What Jesus said sounded blasphemous to them so they picked up stones.
B. Seeing them pick up stones, Jesus asked why are you going to kill me?
C. They told him what the charge was.
D. He then explained why the charge was incorrect and they didn’t stone him.
E. He then said something else that got them angry (but was not blasphemous) so they tried to arrest him but he escaped.
Thanks for responding. I am always struggling with things. Not due to lack of faith. It’s because I’m human. My heart wants to believe. Yet my mind wants every single dot to be connected. And for every dot to have counterpoint for every counter point.
I arrived at the blog after watching a non related video on YouTube and immediately fact checking a statement. I did my googling on “Christ in Daniel 7” or some similar query and stumbled upon this blog.
Your statement about me having preconceived notions is what spurred my response. Even outside of this theological debate, that is a pet peeve of mine as it tends to derail an otherwise productive discussion. The “preconceived notion” card is bad play imo. No one ever admits to having and adhering to a preconceived notion, making it hard to prove. Furthermore it oft appears as a either shot at credibility, a last ditch effort to win an argument, or both.
Back to the discussion. Let’s erase my “first question” and only use my “second question” which you just responded to.
Read Acts 7 and Acts 14. These are the accounts of Stephen’s stoning and Paul’s stoning. While both were more verbose neither said anything that didn’t align with what Jesus said in John 10. Yet hey were stoned. You propose that Jesus was only to be arrested for what Stephen and Paul were stoned for. I’ll for a moment back off of my belief that Jesus was indeed making deity statements. Let’s say that Jesus, Paul, and Stephen were saying the same thing. Why wasn’t Jesus stoned? Before, after, during His response? What about what Paul and Stephen said differed so greatly from what Jesus said and had been saying that made the Jews rethink Jesus’ stoning at the end of John 10?
i don’t believe Paul and Stephen were making deification statements. I actually believe that what they said is more in line with what you believe Jesus is saying in John 10. But they were stoned. Jesus was not.
i don’t know your heart. You sound intelligent and studious. So I won’t accuse you of having any preconceived notions because I don’t believe you have any. I believe you studied a subject thoroughly and arrived at a convicted conclusion.
So have I. We simply don’t agree. The Lord will judge and I am comfortable with that. If I am wrong I pray and have prayed that He show me the light. I pray the same for you.
Regarding Acts 7, Stephen was accused, like Jesus before his crucifixion, of blasphemy. Just as Jesus was accused of planning to destroy the temple, Stephen was accused of saying Jesus was going to return and do that very thing. When Jesus was given a chance to defend himself against the charge, he responded by saying they would see him coming as Yahweh’s Chosen on the clouds in judgment against them. Likewise, when Stephen had a chance to defend himself against the charges, he ended his sermon by accusing the Jewish leaders of betraying and killing the Messiah, which he claimed he could confirm since he could see Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
In Acts 10, we are told that a group of Jews and Gentiles were hoping to stone Paul in Antioch but he slipped away. Later, he appears to have been stoned by Gentiles in Lystra who were urged on by Jews from Antioch and Iconium. In this chapter, we aren’t told what the charges were, but since Gentiles were involved, the charges probably had more to do with stirring up the people and causing riots.
These situations appear to be quite different from what Jesus was initially accused of in John 10—making himself out to be God.
Like I said in my earlier response, we all have preconceived notions, so we need to judge our notions by how well they align with the original meaning of the text. Of course, the trick is rightly determining the original meaning of the text, and that’s where consulting several Bible scholars is useful. In the end, we believe what seems true while recognizing we could be wrong since we are interpreting texts that are thousands of years old.
I’ve appreciated this conversation. Like you said earlier, matters like these are not always discussed civilly so it’s refreshing when they are.
Are you familiar with any of the church fathers such as Tertullian who affirmed Christ’s deity much before Nicea?
Being that John actually walked with Jesus don’t you think it was possible for him to teach the very message of his gospel well before the first copy of it was produced? I doubt the books of John were the debut of his beliefs and teachings.
You might want to read your Tertullian a little more closely. Although he is perhaps the first theologian to use the word “trinity,” he does not mean Nicean trinitarianism. His views are generally a “crass form of Arianism” as the New Catholoic Encyclopedia puts it and is one of the reasons neither the Catholic nor Orthodox churches recognize him as a saint.
Although he says it is appropriate to refer to Jesus as “God” apart from the Father because the Son inherits all the titles of the Father, only the Father is “unoriginate” God.
I could be wrong, but my impression is that most New Testament scholars do not consider the Apostle John to be the author of the 4th Gospel. (In fact, it’s unlikely any of the NT books were aritten by the 12 Apostles.) Although the Apostle was given credit for this because Irenaeus identified the author as “John,” many scholars have given reasons for doubting it was the son of Zebedee. Bauckham thinks Irenaeus was referring to the aged disciple John, not John the son of Zebedee. Witherington has suggested the author of the 4th Gospel, the “beloved disciple,” was probably Lazarus. Others have suggested Apollos.
Here, Witherington gives several reasons for the author being someone other than the Apostle: http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2007/01/was-lazarus-beloved-disciple.html
1. Concerning Revelation 1:4-5 it reads above that: This is not a statement of divine ontology.”
Of course it is. It is a blessing of grace and peace from the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
2. Concerning priests it reads above that: By his death Jesus has brought into being a people who will serve “his God and Father” as priests.
Because the Lord Jesus is God He also has priests that worship Him (Revelation 20:6).
3. The article reads: and Jesus says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).
On the meaning of the Alpha and the Omega:
a. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: On the meaning of the phrase cf. Revelation 11:17… (Alpha)
What does the Alpha and the Omega mean as applied to the Lord Jesus in Revelation 22:13? Lord God, the Almighty (Revelation 11:17).