Talking Jesus: how does the Trinity fit in?

Neil asks in connection with my post Talking Jesus: problems with the modern evangelistic paradigm: “how do you view the Trinity given your statement about the uniqueness of Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ and everyone else’s encounter with either the pre-risen Christ or the Holy Spirit post-resurrection?” I had complained that in the “Talking Jesus” report on evangelism in England the understanding of Jesus that dominates the New Testament is entirely disregarded. I will try and explain roughly how I think the Trinity fits into this argument.

1. Whatever inkling the disciples may have had of Jesus’ future exalted status (eg. Mk. 10:37), they don’t appear to have been under the impression that they were dealing with someone who claimed to be God incarnate. The authors of the Synoptic Gospels, at least, were careful to keep such speculations out of their accounts.

2. Paul clearly did not “see” the Second Person of the Trinity on the way to Damascus. He saw the recently crucified Jesus who had been raised and seated at the right hand of God—made both Lord and Christ, as Peter puts it (Acts 2:36). Others had similar visions—Stephen, for example (Acts 7:56)—though Paul seems to have thought of his own encounter as in some way unique (1 Cor. 15:8; Gal. 1:16). I take it that this revelation was received quite widely in the churches, though perhaps in a less dramatic visionary fashion, through the Spirit.

The point of these visions was that they established and confirmed the belief of the early church that Jesus had been vindicated and given authority to judge and rule over both his own people and the nations in the age to come. It was a belief or faith firmly oriented towards a future crisis and transformation:

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess. 1:9–10)

My view is that this constitutes the dominant and most important story that is told about Jesus in the New Testament following his death and resurrection. It does not identify or equate Jesus with God. Jesus is rather the obedient servant who is exalted and given the authority to judge and rule as Lord and King—an authority which YHWH otherwise reserved for himself.

This is most, if not all, of the argument of the Christ “hymn” in Philippians 2:6-11. Jesus does not take the path of the pagan divine ruler who seeks to make himself equal to God. He takes instead the path of the servant, in obedience to YHWH, and is subjected to a humiliating death on a Roman cross. But he is vindicated for his faithfulness and given the name which is above every name, etc. The outcome will be the one envisaged in Isaiah 45:20-25: the pagan nations will abandon their idols and glorify the God of Israel.

3. The experiential basis for this apocalyptic christology was the resurrection of Jesus and the charismatic experience of the early—and I suppose we might add the concrete historical expectation that the nations of the empire would confess Jesus as Lord.

Paul encountered the risen Messiah. The Fathers encountered—in a less violent sense—the Second Person of the Trinity.

It is less clear to me why the early Christians told a second, less developed, more speculative story that associated or identified Jesus with the divine Wisdom or logos by which all things were made. My working assumption is that the Wisdom motif basically provided a way to talk about the new world that was coming into existence as a result of the apocalyptic narrative. This seems to me to be especially clear in Hebrews 1:1-2:9.

Once the connection with Wisdom was made, it led in two directions. First, it gave expression to the belief that Jesus was, like Wisdom (cf. Prov. 8:22-31), the agent of creation, the one through whom all things were originally made (Jn. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).

Secondly, Hellenistic Judaism already had the idea that divine Wisdom came into the world and dwelt in Israel in the form of Torah:

Then the creator of all commanded me, and he who created me put down my tent (skēnēn) and said, ‘Encamp (kataskēnōson) in Jacob, and in Israel let your inheritance be.’ Before the age, from the beginning, he created me, and until the age I will never fail. In a holy tent I ministered before him, and thus in Sion I was firmly set. In a beloved city as well he put me down, and in Jerusalem was my authority. And I took root among a glorified people, in the portion of the Lord is my inheritance. (Sir. 24:8–12)

This seems a fairly obvious antecedent to John 1:14: the Word through which all things were made “became flesh and dwelt (eskēnōsen) among us”.

4. As the church consolidated its position in the Greek-Roman world, it had less need for the apocalyptic narrative with its orientation towards vindication and a future kingdom. But the Wisdom-logos motif would prove increasingly useful as a way to reconcile the unique status attributed to Jesus with a more rationally constructed notion of divinity. The Logos christology of Justin Martyr, for example, was a significant staging-post on the way to Trinitarian orthodoxy.

The point I would stress here is that the whole process was thoroughly contextual. It remained a matter of how people encountered and talked about Jesus in their cultural-historical context. Patristic orthodoxy was just as much a response to circumstances as Jewish apocalypticism. Paul encountered the risen Messiah. The Fathers encountered—in a less violent sense—the Second Person of the Trinity.

The early Jewish church drew on Old Testament and Jewish-apocalyptic categories, imagery, narratives, in order to express the conviction that Jesus had been put in control of the foreseeable future. To a significant degree this was underpinned by charismatic experience.

The Greek-Roman church responded to the intellectual and apologetic challenges presented by its very different cultural environment to reformulate the relationship between Jesus and the Father in broadly (neo-) Platonic terms. This was underpinned not by charismatic experience but by the furious ratiocinations of the Fathers.

The process and the outcome were neither better nor worse than in the case of the apocalyptic argument (except insofar as they led to a massive depreciation of the Jewish biblical narrative, which we are only just getting over). It simply had to be done. And it’s now part of the story.

It wasn’ t like that of course. ‘Trinity’ was an explanation that grew out of the implications of ALL the biblical data and the Jesus Event. Not one strand or stream. While the pages of the NT were being and soon after the first Christians…. prayed to Jesus, worshipped him, and from John 20v28 through to IGnatius approx 100 ad ( called Jesus God 12x. The ‘name’ they prayed in, baptised in , did anything in was the name of JEsus. OT texts referring to YHWH or EL were appropriated and totally unselfconsciously applied to Jesus as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Just read Hebrews 1 and Romans 10. This was no later development, it was no minor note in the NT symphony .

The ‘name’ they prayed in, baptised in , did anything in was the name of JEsus. OT texts referring to YHWH or EL were appropriated and totally unselfconsciously applied to Jesus as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Just read Hebrews 1 and Romans 10.

This, of course, as you realize, is one of the main points at issue. Jesus exercised divine authority, and this was acknowledged at a very early stage. The question is whether this is explained by identification or as the bestowal of authority on an anointed king.

I don’t see how you can conclude from “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9) that Paul was thinking of Jesus here as God.

Focus in on Romans 10, we will see what was going on internally with the first belIevers which would lead to the ‘explanation ’ of the Trinity later. The main plank which is central to ‘Trinity’ is Jesus being recognised as ‘God’. Not the father of course ( I even see some modern scholars ‘misunderstanding ’ the divinity / deity of Jesus as some claim to 100% identity with the father) .

So in this passage it is kurios ( Lord) is the issue plus useage of OT passages that there apply to YHWH and in this passage are applied without any hesitation or doubt to Jesus. There are passages of course where Jesus is called ‘God’ ( notably John 20v28) but let us examine where. YHWH Is applied to Jesus……… to grasp what I am saying a reading of the full chapter is required while noting every occurrence of ’ Lord’, and being aware that the underlying word is kurios every time. Also noting when a quote or allusion to the OT occurs and to whom it refers to in the OT and to whom it refers in the passage.

The LORD in v9 refers to Jesus. The him in v11 is God and refers to Jesus in the our passage. Who is the Lord and what is his name ( identity) of …… the same lord who is lord of all v12 is also the one who richly blesses those who call on him and is the one who to call on his name is to be saved v13. Joel 2v 32 where it is yhwh is quoted the same with isa 28v16.

It is clear to me that the Lord identified in v9 is consistently the same lord throughout the passage. Without blinking they apply YHWH passages to Jesus .

This is a widespread practise throughout the various authors in the NT. the LXX is the background here of course but these first followers of Jesus ( this includes the writers of the gospels) all applied YHWH to Jesus. Yahweh / YHWH, IAO, Jehovah, Yahweh. Do not appear anywhere in the manuscripts and texts of any part of the NT ( unless one includes the four occurrences of HalleluYAH in Revelation 19). This phenomena of application to Jesus OT texts which refer to Jesus is remarkable.

Here lies one of the seeds of the later explanation we now know as Trinity. It was not by some pagan interpolation or Greek philosophical influence that the first Christians made reference and implication to the fact that Jesus was in some way ‘God’. They prayed to him, worshipped him, called on his name and as the NT was being concluded Ignatius of Antioch called him ‘God’ 12 times , no one complained, no one accused him of straying g from the true core teaching. On this issue …I am with him.

John, thanks for this. I’ve tried to explain why are think you are wrong about the YHWH texts here.

I will reply to your comments in the next day or so. Last week was very pressured and this week I am lecturing in a bible college on apologetics. However I will have time to reply.

Andrew. I have been hesitant to say this but I have for some time come to the conclusion that
You do not seem to understand ‘The Trinity’.

There are indications in your comments that you think that Jesus as God means that he is the father. This is untrue. It does violence to the data in the NT that fed into the later discussions and formulations.

I also believe that you make a fundamental error in your approach to this issue.

You make it an ‘either or’ issue rather than an ’ as well as’ issue.

Your emphasis on Jesus as the King etc is neither contradictory or a difficulty for holding to an early high Christology as well. The two emphases are there in the texts and your sometimes ingenious ways of removing the ‘deity of Christ’ and the other components of what was later describes as ‘Trinity’ just won’t work because the material is in the NT.
The impliCations I feel for holding your view is that you cease to be orthodox, cease to be evangeliCal . Sorry to be so blunt.

John, you can be as blunt as you like. I make no bones about the fact that I think scripture has to be interpreted on its own historical terms, not subjected to extraneous theological interpretation just to save orthodoxy. In that respect, a both/and approach to the matter is nonsensical.

It’s then up to the theologians to go back and look at how they have formulated Trinitarian orthodoxy and consider whether there are ways of restating things that maintain the metaphysical relations without riding roughshod over scripture. The theologians need to roll their sleeves up and do some hard biblical reading again. It’s not good enough just to keep parroting ancient dogma.

I don’t think that is necessarily an impossible task. There is more to the New Testament witness about Jesus than the statement that the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead and gave him all authority and power, to judge and rule over Israel and the nations. This is critical to how we understand the New Testament narrative and its view of the future, and I would also say that it is an emphasis that we urgently need to recover. But other stories are told, other connections are made—e.g., with Wisdom and creation—and I think it would be a very interesting exercise to work through the narrative and see where it takes us under the terms of a post-enlightenment, post-modern, rather than neo-platonic, metaphysics.

But look, there was a fair amount of interpretive or exegetical detail in this post. You have taken none of it into consideration. You have simply dismissed it and blithely claimed that this creature that looks like a donkey is also a hippopotamus. I hesitate to say it, but I am leaning towards the conclusion that you don’t understand the New Testament.

I don’t think you are actually reading what I am saying. The and/or approach refers to the fact that Jesus being given the status of ‘God’ is IN the New Testament not later than it. Therefore it runs alongside any other emphasis . You are attempting to say it is a later development. My apologies for not understanding the New Testament , in current terms I share that privilege with such luminaries as Bauckham, Hurtado and older ignoramuses such as F. Bruce, right the way back to athanasius. And even ignatius of Antioch.

What you are putting forward is a denial of what the NT teaches and the sweep of Christian scholarship has embraced. It’s serious.

You can parody what I say and see me as the villain but I am astounded that your appl Actions of a number of passages seem to indicate you don’t nderstand what you reject.

Let me give one example …. you test heavily on the fact that the father made Jesus Lord therefore he wasn’t Lord/ yhwh or God.

This only works if you deny his pre existence, his deity and butcher the meaning of passages like Php 2 v 6-11.

You also don’t seem to take into account what happened ……from the beginning when Jesus was with the Father sharing his glory ( the glory that YHWH. Would not share with another) up to the glorification of being made Lord there was his becoming man.

This side of the event we can read events with the addition of humanness to the nature or attributes of Jesus.

So let’s look at Php 2. He was in the form ( NIV very nature, nlt God) of God, it tells us equality with God was something he did not hold on to but he humbles himself ( became human) he died and was exalted.

The every knee shall bow passage is resonant of Isaiah where all bow to yhwh. This is not exaltation to a state he had never been, but exaltation of him in his resurrected humanity to where he had been before.

If you are wondering ,…what you call ‘orthodoxy’ has no issue with it being ‘to the glory of God the father’.

Your useage of psalm 110, acts 17v31. Etc I find really puzzling. TBH you speak like jac van zyl and those like him who really do hate mainstream historic Christianity . I don’t know how you can be or operate inside the evangelical mainstream historic Christian world if truth be told.

Of course there is a difference between the father and the son and yhwh and lord but also the YHWH that Isaiah saw was said to be Jesus John 12v41, the sharing of the throne of God and the titles of God and the application of yhwh passages to Jesus throughout the NT in all writers cannot be contained within your ‘explanations’.

If you addressed the real issues of this argument which bluntly are that an Early High Christology is very very clear from the pages of the NT itself. Both writers in and outside of the NT and early ones Ll happily and without flinching call him God, worship him and honour him equally not just as well as the father. That is the import of John 5v23.

For your view of Jesus to work I put forward the following comments ( based on statements and recollections of what you have said)
Jesus did not pre exist
Any comments of G John that imply or state his deity or pre existence should be ignored because G John is not reliable.
This includes the passages in John 17
The logos isn’t Jesus, isn’t personal and therefor John 1 can’t be used by the ‘orthodox’
Php 2 doesn’t say what we think it says. Jesus wasn’t God in any sense, wasn’t equal to God and refused th thought. The exaltation was not restoration to former estate plus resurrected manhood. It was a man being exalted.

Jesus is not God and should not be worshipped. Unless it’s worship of the fatherthrough jesus.

All the passages where Jesus is referred to as God must be explained away. Jon. 20v28 is an awkward one but it’s in John so it doesn’t carry so much weight.

Proskunein when referring to God is worship when it refers to Jesus whether before or after the resurrection is just obeisance ( same view as Jehovah’s witnesses btw just saying)

The and/or approach refers to the fact that Jesus being given the status of ‘God’ is IN the New Testament not later than it.

Let me clarify. Systematic Trinitarian doctrine came later. As I said in the post, the making-Jesus-Lord story is not the way that the New Testament talks about Jesus. The Wisdom motif gets us much closer to what you are looking for, and it seems to me striking that the Church Fathers (Anthanasius, for example) relied largely on John’s Gospel for the biblical basis for their formulation. And there are a few places, some of them textually and exegetically questionable, where Jesus appears to be called “God”.

My basic argument with respect to the dominant apocalyptic narrative is that it cannot be used to establish a direct identification between Jesus and God. The logic of the narrative doesn’t rely on Jesus being equated with YHWH in certain Old Testament texts. It relies on the idea that YHWH gives authority to his anointed or obedient agent or servant or king. This logic is explicit in the Old Testament and it is explicit in the New Testament. I presume there is a good reason for it, and I think it is a bad idea to obscure that reason simply to extend the control of Trinitarian orthodoxy over the biblical text.

But where you misunderstand me is when you say that I “rest heavily on the fact that the father made Jesus Lord therefore he wasn’t Lord yhwh or God”. My argument is that these particular texts, this particular narrative, cannot be used to prove that Jesus was thought of as God. There are other texts which lead in that direction, and I can see why the Greek Fathers struggled to maintain the Jewish apocalyptic narrative and decided to collapse everything down into their convoluted metaphysics. That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is Theological Interpreters of Scripture who think that every part of the complex Jewish New Testament narrative must conform to the final doctrinal position.

It comes down to how we read the texts. I want to tease the different strands apart. You want to twist them altogether into a single Trinitarian thread.

I’m very aware of the texts concerned re Jesus being called ‘God’, suffice it to say that the preferred ‘in the text’ translation of all the major versions is pro the historic view. John 1v1 and 20v28 which bookend the substance of the gospel are undisputed. Throwing in John 1 v18 and 8v58 make it interesting reading. Romans 9v5. Is probably ok. And Titus 2v13 and 2 pet 1 v1 when taking into account Granville sharpes construction are clearly admissible. With heb 1 v8 with other alternatives. Not making sense , that makes a good group of ‘Jesus is God’ texts. Lay on top of this the ridiculous number of yhwh texts applied to Jesus and passages like ‘the throne of God and the lamb’ and ‘let all Gods angels worship him’ ( alongside 1 st century accounts and practise of the worship of Jesus) the case for the mainstream view ( early high christology) is pretty convincing.

Your David is kingship emphasis is perfectly legitimate and based in the text…the two are. Using anti mainstream texts and approaches is unhelpful. Misrepresenting the historic view of Jesus in relation to the father ( albeit possibly accidentally) is also not suitable or appropriate.

You appear not to have understood, or not to have wanted to understand, what I was saying. What on earth do you mean by “anti mainstream texts”?

anti mainstream texts. Your choice of texts to support your emphasis and more importantly to rule out an EHC (early high christology view which is mainstream histpric understanding of the texts) reads like they have been lifted from an anti trinitarian handbook.

John, is in the Bible …….just saying. The view you wish to relegate to the theologising of later church councils IS IN THE TEXT. It was refined and clarified after the debates discussions of the ante Nicene period.

It is not an option for Gods people and its theologians and thinkers (who operate within and benefit from the commun ity of histric and in particular Eveangelical Christianity) to discount, dump or deny what that gospel says.

I do understand what you are saying, I think it is false and wrong, not your basic premise or your method but your unusual desire as it seems to be to dismiss even despise normal Christology rather than state the obvious ….. it is clearly in the text of the NT documents both Johannine aqnd Pauline. Its clear in Philippians 2 and there is no intellectual or theological reason to make Php 2 say something that denies both the pre existence and deity of the Son.

The prologue of Johns Gospel, the upper room discourse and Php 2 (and much more) all show that the ‘U curve’ from God to man and onward to exaltation is THERE in the text alongside messiah and kingship themes. You do the Church of God no favours by trying to remove it.

My argument is supported by pretty much every book in the New Testament. The consistent witness of the New Testament writers is that God raised his Son from the dead, exalted him to his right hand, and gave him all authority and power to judge and rule not only over Israel but also over the nations in a foreseeable and realistic future. That is the New Testament christological mainstream by a country mile.

Only John constructs his christology around a non-apocalyptic understanding of the relation of the Son to the Father, and even that probably needs qualification.

As I said before, the “mainstream historic understanding” has turned this inside-out, making very little use of the Jewish-apocalyptic narrative and relying heavily on John.

You read too many anti-trinitarian handbooks.

I’m not discounting John’s testimony, but it seems to me to reflect a later stage of reflection. It is certainly very different to the Synoptic Gospels, Acts, Paul, Hebrews, Peter, and even Revelation.

I am in two minds about Philippians 2, but the basic thrust of the passage is that the God of Israel bestowed on him the name which is above every name, giving him a power greater than Caesar had by divinisation.

Well there it is. I am taking the view that Jesus was in the form of God, he didn’t cling on to his equality with God. He came as man, suffered and died and now as man he was declared as yhwh……Lord of all. I am saying that your view runs alongside this view , there is no reason for you or anyone else to butcher Php 2, John 17, or in fact the entire Johns Gospel!! There is absolutely nothing you have said that provides me with any reason to think that the mainstream view is incorrect, should be overthrown, or relegated to much later theologising. Your exclusive view only works if you chuck out Johns gospel and make mincemeat out of Php 2. I’m not prepared to accept or believe that for myself or accept it in any way being taught or encouraged in evangelical circles. Just saying

I see no reason to think that you have even read what I’ve said. You assiduously avoid the details of the exegesis and keep hammering on John’s Gospel as though the rest of the New Testament was written as commentary on it.

In the Philippians passage the most that is said is that Jesus was “in the form of God” and chose not to hang on to or grasp at (I don’t think the translation is settled) equality with God. Neither of those amounts to saying that he was declared to be YHWH or thought to be YHWH. You have blatantly twisted the text by substituting “declared to be yhwh” for “had the name (presumably kyrios) bestowed upon him”. And you accuse me of making mincemeat of the text!

Oh Andrew. I have read every single thing you have said in this thread and others on this subject. Most of your points about the historic kingship emphasis etc. I have no issue with.

I do have a very big issue with
1. Your dismissal of Johns gospel , it provides a first century parralel account of who Jesus is.
2. Your denial of the trinity and deity of Christ as later theological developments with no root in the NT.
3. Your accusation that I am focussing only on John ….. while you question my take on Philippians 2!!! I could have added Hebrews 1, Colossians 1 and much more.
4. I can only assume that you are on some sort of campaign to subvert mainstream historic Christian teaching. SUbtly but most certainly. Your odd comments about if Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the most high then he is not God makes out that every Trinitarian scholar in the history of the Church is a bit ‘slow in the head’ ( my apologies for my lack of academic phrasing!)
5. I have issues with the way in which you in a biased and unconvincing way ‘explain away’ , the passages where Jesus is called ‘God’, or where he is worshipped, prayed to or honoured equally with God the father.

JEsus was Lord prior to his coming to earth ( you deny his pre existence…. don’t you?) in fact John ( oops sorry) identifies the vision of Isaiah as being the glory of Jesus ( John 12v41). The sublime descriptionof Jesus in the first few verses in Hebrews 1 and later in the chapter where the Father calls him ‘God’ ( v8) and YHWH of Psalm 102 is said to be Jesus all back up what John reports about ‘the glory he had with the father ( the one that would never share his glory with another) . He was already ‘God’. He humbled himself just as the carmen Christi says and then this man he became is exalted and given the name of Lord YHWH( remember this passage alludes to Isaiah description of YHWH as applying to Jesus) ….. and thus all would know that this one, God and man, son of God son of Man, is worthy of worship and adoration…which we see throughout Revelation ( particularly ch 5) . JEsus is my Lord and my God ( I’m not apologising for quoting Jn 20v28) I have no idea who he is to you. I too have a love and deep interest in history. I have referred to one of the earliest apostolic fathers…Ignatius of Antioch on a few occasions here. You have never commented as far as I am aware regarding his calling Jesus ‘God’ some 12 times in his undisputed epistles. I don’t understand why you cannot accept that this early high Christology as being there in the pages of each strand of what is today the NT . I commend it to you.

1. I do not dismiss John’s Gospel. I merely set it apart from the mainstream Jewish-apocalyptic narrative. We cannot read the New Testament through the lens of John.

2. I think that the later Trinitarian conceptuality is firmly rooted in the New Testament, just not in the simplistic way that traditional interpretation supposes. This is not really about theology or apologetics. It’s about good biblical interpretation.

3. I don’t think that Hebrews 1 and Colossians 1 help your argument. I agree that Jesus is identified with divine Wisdom as an agent of creation.

4. I am not on a campaign to subvert historic Trinitarian belief, but I think that the theologians may have to rethink the relationship between the Trinitarian formulae and the New Testament in the light of a more Jewish-historical understanding of the origins of Christianity.

5. The questioning of the passages in which Jesus is supposedly called God is done on the basis of good biblical scholarship. There is some scope for disagreement, but the arguments against the view are not trivial. I think the contextual arguments for the proposed reading of Titus 2:13 are very strong.

A new song is sung to the Lamb in Revelation 5 because he was the descendant of David who ransomed people for God, who conquered death, and who received what he didn’t have before, namely “power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). Yes, he receives that alongside God (5:13), but the passage does not identify him with God.

>> The view you wish to relegate to the theologising of later church councils IS IN THE TEXT. It was refined and clarified after the debates discussions of the ante Nicene period.

Just for clarity’s sake, it’s not like Trinitarianism was some widespread position that only a handful of cranks disagreed with. Eusebius — Constantine’s own bishop — represented Arianism at the Council of Nicea along with nearly half the other contingents.

I’m not saying Trinitarianism is wrong; I am saying that it wasn’t some huge consensus view of early Christianity. It was literally centuries before Nicene Trinitarianism was established as orthodoxy, and it resulted in the expulsion or forced signatures of many bishops, including Eusebius himself.

So, just watch yourself when you start talking about “normal” Christology. It became “normal” at the point of a sword, not by natural, widespread consensus that everyone was teaching.

These words were written approx 260 ad, you may recognise them. “There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word, Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal. And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all. There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abideth ever.” The definitions oflater orthodoxy made precise things previously left with some loose ends. There is little doubt that the ‘normal’ christology of the pre nicene period was what Alexander held to and the Nicene formulation proclaimed with massive majority. Your point of orthodoxy spreading by the sword is utterly without foundation at this period . It was athanasius who was exiled six times remember! Reply about Ignatius and the other church fathers who happily and freely call Jesus God. It’s in the text of the NT, and he is my Lord and my God

I don’t think you read what I wrote.

There were Trintitarians before the Council of Nicea. There were also many other views present at the Council of Nicea. My point wasn’t, “Nobody was a Trinitarian until Constantine,” my point is that Trinitarianism was not some commonly held consensus view.

Historians estimate that fully half the First Nicean Council contingent were Arians, not to mention at least three other non-Trinitarian views represented. Just because you can quote theologians who WERE Trinitarian does not prove that virtually EVERYONE was Trinitarian.

If it WERE a consensus position, there’d hardly be a need to have several Councils or for Constantine to make a declaration. What, you think they were all debating on what kind of Trinitarian they should all be?

You just seem like a very dogmatic person who isn’t very interested in learning or growing. You come from a large tribe, but the fact is that church history does not bear out your criticisms.


Without blinking they apply YHWH passages to Jesus

I think you are correct here.  In fact, ancient Judaism (see Alan F. Segal’s book Two Powers in Heaven) held what today is called the “two powers” concept.  They were completely ok with a YHWH in heaven and a embodied YHWH on earth.  That is until the 2nd century, which was clearly a reaction to Christianity.

Another great work where this concept is presented is Michael Heiser’s book Unseen Realm- that book really changed my Biblical worldview.  He has a 1.2 hour presentation on this concept on YouTube.

Very clear explanation! Thanks for posting this.

Marc Taylor | Sun, 01/15/2017 - 04:51 | Permalink

Concerning point #1, all the Gospels testify to the fact that the Lord Jesus is God.
a. Matthew: In Matthew 28:18 we learn that the Lord Jesus is the Almighty. There is no limitation to His absolute power.
b. Mark: In Mark 14:62 the Lord Jesus alludes to the vision of Daniel in which the Son of Man receives ‘pelach’ (cf. Daniel 7:14) — a worship properly given unto God alone.
c. Luke: In Luke 24:52 supreme worship is rendered unto a visibly absent Savior.
d. John: In John 5:23 the Lord Jesus is due equality of worship with the Father. No creature, no matter how highly exalted, could justifiably claim such supreme worship.

Thanks for the input, Marc.

a. Jesus says that all authority in heaven and earth has been given (edothē) to him, alluding presumably to Daniel 7. The figure “like a son of man” in Daniel 7 is certainly not God, most likely a symbolic representation of the persecuted righteous in Israel. Jesus claims to have received the highest authority and rule from God, but this cannot be twisted to mean that Jesus is claiming to be the Almighty.

b. Mark 14:62 makes the same point. The Son of Man is not identified with the “Power”. He is seated at the right hand of Power, which echoes Psalm 110:1: God gives his king authority to rule in the midst of his enemies. No identification. Jesus doesn’t himself claim that all peoples will “serve” (plch) him, but it’s an important observation. Given the impossibility of equating the “one like a son of man” and the “ancient of days” in the vision, my assumption would be that this “service” or “worship” also reflects the fact that dominion, glory and kingdom were given to him.

c. In this passage Jesus identifies himself as “the Christ”—that is, as Israel’s anointed saviour and king—in whose name forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations (Lk. 24:46). “Christ” is not “God”. In this context proskunēsantes simply means that they did obeisance to him as to as their Messiah and Lord—a widely attested use of the verb. The magi did not think that they were worshipping God when they said that they had come to worship (proskunēsai) the king of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). When Luke picks up the story in Acts, we soon get Peter’s explanation for the “worship” of the disciples: “God has made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

d. It’s clear that Jesus is worthy of the same “honour” (timōsin) as the Father because the Father “has given all judgment to the Son” (Jn. 5:22). That’s exactly my point. In these passages Jesus is “worshipped” or “honoured” because he has been given the authority by God to judge and rule as Israel’s king on YHWH’s behalf. The argument requires a clear distinction of identity between Jesus and God, not a confusion of identity.

Hello Andrew,
Thanks for your response.
If God the Father created another omnipotent being then that means there are two that are Almighty. The Bible teaches there is only one Almighty God.
Those who believe the Lord Jesus is God can account for the fact that he was “given” all power in that He simply refused to always employ His omnipotence but those who deny the Lord Jesus is God can not satisfactorily explain that the Lord Jesus has (right now) all power — He is omnipotent/Almighty.
Since the Lord Jesus is the Almighty He is the proper recipient of ‘pelach — the worship due unto God alone.’

In Luke this worship was rendered unto Christ as a visibly absent Savior — which demands that it is supreme worship.

In John the distinction is between the Father and the Lord Jesus. Given the history of idolatry with all of humanity it is very interesting to notice that the Bible never teaches that the Father ever receives a form of worship superior to the worship properly received by the Lord Jesus.

I think you may be conflating the terms “power” as in omnipotence and “power” as in authority.

When Jesus announces, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me,” he is not announcing that he has become omnipotent.

Well, Matthew didn’t say he had been given all authority in the universe. He said he’d been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

So, in Luke 4, you would contend that Satan was tempting Jesus with an offer of omnipotence?

Or in 1 Corinthians 7:4, you would say that Paul is suggesting that men have supernatural powers over their wife’s body and vice-versa?

Or in 1 Timothy 12, that Paul is suggesting that women should not be able to exercise their Godlike powers over men? I mean, that’s a great suggestion; it just seems like the New Testament idea of authority is, well, authority and not godlike super powers.

Heaven and earth refers to the entire universe (cf. Matthew 11:25).

The husband does not have total authority over his wife if he commands her to sin so your example doesn’t apply.

In citing Matthew 28:18 the BDAG (3rd Edition) reads, “Of Jesus’ total authority” (exousia, page 353). Some may choose to attempt to diminish what the Lord Jesus affirmed but the evidence is certainly not in their favor.

Alex FinkelsonMarc Taylor | Wed, 01/18/2017 - 00:39 | Permalink

In reply to by Marc Taylor

The Bible does teach that the Father receives a form of worship which the Son does not — namely, the Son’s worship and sacrificial self-offering. The Father never served as a priest on behalf of the Son. The Father never offered Himself up to the Son. But the Son became a high priest by offering his own body to God. (Hebrews 9:14)

Any level of worship that the Son offered to the Father the Son likewise received from people for there is not one Greek (and/or Hebrew word — as well as Aramaic) that can be cited that the Father receives where the Son does not elsewhere receive the same level elsewhere.
If the Son is a created being (as Unitarians affirm) then Bible fails to use any word to differentiate between the worship due unto the Creator and the worship due unto the creature.