The Holy Spirit 1: Conceived by the Holy Spirit

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Under the modern evangelical paradigm there are three main components to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. First, the Spirit is understood to be the third person of the Trinity. Secondly, the Spirit is the agent of personal renewal, the source of new life, the transformative power of the new covenant. Thirdly, as the “body of Christ” the church is endowed with varieties of “gifts of the Spirit” or “charismata”, such as prophecy, healing, and flower-arranging.

This provides the basic structure of our “pneumatology”—our theory of the Holy Spirit. Evangelical study and teaching will generally proceed by sifting what is said in the New Testament about the person and work of the Holy Spirit (that is already a very evangelical formula) into one of these three containers: theology, soteriology and sanctification, and ecclesiology. But what if we begin not with the theory but with the texts? How do the person and work of the Holy Spirit appear in the light of a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament? I plan to take a few posts to consider how things might look from this new perspective, beginning with the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit in Matthew and Luke:

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 1:20)

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. (Lk. 1:35)

The main point to be made regarding these texts is that they have have nothing to do with the metaphysics of incarnation. It is often assumed that the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit was the means by which he became both God and man, with Mary providing the human component and the Spirit providing the divine component. That is not how Matthew and Luke understand it. Both the conception by the Holy Spirit and the reinterpretation of Mary’s “virginity” in the light of Isaiah 7:14 point to the fact that Jesus was the one who, in the words of the angel to Joseph, would “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The event is to be interpreted according to the terms of Israel’s story not according to later theological developments.

This is also true for Luke 1:35. Isaiah tells the complacent women of Jerusalem to mourn, for the city will be a desolation “until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest” (Is. 32:15). In the Septuagint the Spirit “comes upon” the unrighteous women as for Luke it “will come upon” the righteous woman Mary. The parallel statement that the “power of the Most High will overshadow you” recalls Exodus 40:35:

And Moses was unable to enter into the tent of witness, because the cloud was overshadowing it, and the tent was filled with the glory of the Lord.

The image is not of God entering the sphere of humanity but of God dwelling in the midst of his people. Whereas Ezekiel had seen the glory of the Lord depart from the temple at the time of the exile (Ezekiel 10), Luke suggests that the glory of the Lord will return as a result of the birth of this child.

The references to the conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit are spare, but it does not take a lot of digging around to find that they were intended to evoke the beginning of a narrative about the salvation of Israel. This does not take away from the miraculous nature of the event—that is a different matter. But it does call into question certain later christological assumptions.

The critical point to grasp here is that, as far as scripture goes, “Son of God” does not mean “God the Son” or “God incarnate”. The “Son of God”, in this context, is Israel’s king (it can also denote other individuals and the community of Israel itself which stand in close relationship with YHWH). The popular idea that as “Son of Man” Jesus is human and as “Son of God” divine is simply wrong. Both refer to human figures, who may be exalted, for different reasons, but who are not confused with God himself.

In this respect, the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is the precursor to his baptism, where he is publicly acknowledged as God’s son, and several other statements in the New Testament, including Romans 1:1-4:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord….

peter wilkinson | Thu, 02/16/2012 - 17:40 | Permalink

Doesn’t Matthew 1:18 “before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” suggest that the birth account does have to with the metaphysics of incarnation?

Doesn’t Matthew 1:20 also suggest that the pregnancy was not from Joseph, nor from any other person, but the Holy Spirit? -  “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

It’s highly likely that similar uses of words and phrases in different contexts provide pointers to the meaning of words in the Matthew and Luke accounts, but context is king. In Matthew and Luke I can’t see much room for doubt: they are describing a virgin birth in which the agent of conception was the Holy Spirit.

Any narrative reading of the passages will have to take account of this won’t it?

@peter wilkinson:

I agree that Matthew and Luke describe a supernatural conception. My point is that they do not interpret that supernatural conception as the means by which God becomes flesh—at least, not in the sense that we normally understand that idea. They interpret Jesus’ supernatural birth as a sign that this is the child through whom God would restore Israel—or even, in Matthew’s case, as a sign that God would judge Israel. We could perhaps argue that “through whom” points to an instrumental basis for understanding the incarnation, but “instrumental” is not “metaphysical”.

Maybe I’m a bit daft, but I feel like I’m missing something. I follow what you’re saying about how “… the glory of the Lord will return as a result of the birth of this child.”

Where I’m a bit foggy is why the incarnation through the Holy Spirit, as the majority of Christendom understands it, is incorrect.

Are they mutually exclusive? Can they be both?


Thanks for pushing for clarity. I’ll have another go at it….

Whatever Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit might mean apart from the texts, my argument is that Matthew and Luke do not take it to mean that his supernatural conception was the basis for his being both God and man. It’s all about how they tell the story—and, in particular, how they use the Old Testament in order to bring out the significance of the event.

Matthew interprets it in the light of or as a fulfilment of Isaiah 7:14, which has nothing to do with God becoming man; it tells the story of how God will be present as Immanuel in the midst of his people when they face destruction.

Luke takes a different approach, but the effect is the same. Jesus’ miraculous conception is understood as a sign that God is about to restore his people through this “Son of God” who is to be born.

The critical point to grasp here is that, as far as scripture goes, “Son of God” does not mean “God the Son” or “God incarnate”. The “Son of God”, in this context, is Israel’s king (it can also denote other individuals and the community of Israel itself which stand in close relationship with YHWH). The popular idea that as “Son of Man” Jesus is human and as “Son of God” divine is simply wrong. Both refer to human figures, who may be exalted, for different reasons, but who are not confused with God himself.

In this respect, the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is the precursor to his baptism, where he is publicly acknowledged as God’s son, and several other statements in the New Testament, including Romans 1:1-4:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord….

I have added these last paragraphs to the post above—I was in too much of a hurry when I wrote it.

@Andrew Perriman:

I suppose it all comes down to the question of which narrative Jesus was fulfilling, how he was fulfilling it,  and the rather larger question provoked by the birth accounts (and much else in Matthew and Luke) of what kind of person Jesus actually was. The more I consider that question, the more laughable it seems that Jesus could simply be described as acting in the role and model of Old Testament prophet alone.

The first part of the narrative of Isaiah, in 7-8, fulfilled in the invasion of Assyria, bears similarities with the invasion of Israel by Rome in AD 67-70, but with the very different outcome that in the former Jerusalem was spared but in the latter it spectacularly wasn’t. “Immanuel” as used by Matthew already means something very different from what it meant in Isaiah 7.

The narrative of Isaiah 7 continues to Isaiah 9, in which “the son” (verse 6) reflects the fulfilment (verse 7) of the promises made by God to David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). In Matthew and Luke, the sense in which these promises are being fulfilled becomes a matter of extraordinary interest not only as to how those extraordinary promises would be fulfilled but as to who this person was, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb without the aid of male insemination.

The interest is heightened by the development of Jesus’s unique relationship with God. No other Old Testament figure was affirmed as a “son” as Jesus was at his baptism. The link with Nathan’s unique prophecy to David - “I will be his father and he shall be my son” (2 Samuel 7:14) stimulates enquiry as to what kind of son he was. The extraordinary relationship which Jesus enjoyed with God as ‘Father’ is unique. Nowhere else had this relationship been seen before as it was seen in Jesus.

So we have “Immanuel” being given augmented meaning in Matthew. We also have a very different kind of person in Jesus from anyone seen before, relating uniquely to God as “Father” in a highly augmented kind of “son” relationship to God, which can be described as new because it had not been seen before.

“Son of God” when used to describe Jesus means something very different from its previous application to kings, angels or Israel, and did not turn out to be anything like the expectations that had been formed about “Son of God” as messiah. All these developments are brought to bear on the phrase as it is used to describe Jesus. The birth narratives confirm that Jesus was a very different person from anyone with whom he could be compared in Israel’s history, and far more than a messiah figure who came to deal with Israel’s historic enemies in the way that Israel had expected and had seen in her previous history.

As I read the birth narratives of Jesus, they are not proof-texts for a divine incarnation, but signposts to the nature and status of Jesus within the narrative, for which I can find no other adequate category than divine Son of God, as well as fulfilled finite man within his unique prophet, messiah, servant, king, priest figure in Israel’s narrative. But then the question of which narrative we are reading, and how that is written into gospels and letters, is another topic of overriding interest.

@Andrew Perriman:

What I don’t understand is if the Holy Spirit concieved Jesus, then the Trinity didn’t exist up to that point.

Was God and the Holy Spirit a duo before this event and are there any theological mentions of them as such? I’m also wondering why Judas committed suicide in a state of guilt when it seems imperative for him to have handed over Jesus so he could die for our sins. He must have been part of God’s plan to fulfill the prophecy.

NorrinRadd | Tue, 02/28/2012 - 11:31 | Permalink

I appreciate the goal of allowing each Gospel to speak for itself, trying to understand it the way its original audience would have, rather than filtered through centuries of theology and tradition.

I do think there are at least a couple of things you need to address:

— The observable likelihood that NT writers did not always use OT citations strictly according to their original context.

— The fact that Luke is likely “Volume 1” of the two-volume “Luke-Acts” set.  While Matt may safely be considered on its own, I don’t know that Luke should be taken in isolation from Acts.

For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit is always something that I have a difficult time discussing with my older ministry students. Therefore, you can imagine how excited I am that you’ve decided to write a series of posts focusing on the topic. Thank you so much for giving me some great ideas about how to approach the Holy Spirit!

Are you aware that Mary was not of the seed of David but of the seed of Nathan his brother? 

Joseph was of the seed of David, as said when he went to be taxed.

Christ also confirms in scripture saying HE is the root and offspring of David.  

Therefore it has to come from David’s lineage!

No woman on this earth ever conceived a child without a man including Mary!  Read the scriptures! 

Christ says it in scripture but who is listening?

Was the Holy Spirit present yes She was!

She was also present when John was conceived by his parents and that wasn’t called immaculate! 

Marc Taylor | Tue, 01/29/2019 - 17:55 | Permalink

Hi Andrew,

 I do find it interesting that right after Matthew records the birth and naming of Jesus (Matthew 1:25) we see Him being worshiped (Matthew 2:2). That His name of Immanuel ‘God with us’ (1:23) is to be understood as Jesus being God is that upon His entrance into the world worship is immediately rendered unto Him.

 In regards to Luke, we see that in announcing the birth of the Lord Jesus we are told that He will reign forever and ever (Luke 1:33). This reign involves His priests (Revelation 20:6). That He has priests necessitates that He is worshiped by them.

 Furthermore, in anticipation of this kingdom the believer is to hallow/sanctify the Father’s name in worship (Luke 11:2). This worship also encompasses the Lord Jesus in that He is to be sanctified (1 Peter 3:15; cf. Isaiah 8:13). Indeed, Paul also connects Christ’s kingdom to the doxology rendered unto Him in 2 Timothy 4:18.

@Marc Taylor:

Hi Marc. I’ll stick to the infancy narrative…

We see astrologers from Persia paying homage to the infant as a new-born king. Compare:

And Achimaas shouted and said to the king, “Peace!” And he did obeisance (prosekynēsen) to the king on his face on the ground and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who shut up the men who hate, their hand against my lord the king.” (2 Sam. 18:28 LXX)

They came looking for a king, not a god. All they learnt from Micah was that a ruler was born in Bethlehem who “will shepherd my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6). It’s reading too much into the story to treat this as worship of a divine figure.

If Isaiah could call a baby born in the court of Ahaz “Immanuel”, it can hardly be said that this proves the divinity of Jesus. The giving of the name is a prophetic message: “before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted” (Is. 7:16). It means that God is present to save his people.

@Andrew Perriman:

Hell Andrew,

 The example given in 2 Samuel 18:28 employs the Greeek word proskyneō. This can be properly rendered unto others besides God in the OT, but by the NT era I think it is used for the worship of God alone. In fact, Matthew couples it with latreuō in 4:10 for the worship due unto God alone.

 I believe the words used within both contexts of announcing Christ’s birth relate to Him bein worshiped. I provided evidence for this in my most recent post.

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

 This refers to the worship that took place within the tabernacle.

NIDNTT: Hebrews shows the closest links with the OT. Of the 6 uses, 4 refer to the temple (tabernacle) cultus (Heb. 8:5; 9:9; 10:2; 13:10; Tent). There is no need, however, to restrict these passages to the priest’s vicarious acts for the people in the sacrificial worship; they can refer to the old worship in the tent, including that of the people in general, which was temporary, and not final and perfect. For as Heb. 9:14; 12:28 show, only the conscience which has been cleansed and brought to life by Christ, only the one who has been received into the true and eternal community of God (Heb. 12:22 ff.) can worship God acceptably “with reverence and awe” (3:550, Serve, K. Hess).

@Marc Taylor:

That’s a fine theological interpretation, and I don’t disagree.  But the text doesn’t actually say that.  It just says “hoi te skene latreuontes.”  Literally, “those who serve the tent.”

The point is that the use of a specific word — particularly that word — doesn’t indicate that what is being “served” must be God.

I appreciate the New International Dictionary citation, but if you’ve got access to that, then you will note that it, Strong’s, the TDNT, and virtually every NT-related linguistic reference you can get your hands on will define “latreuo” much more broadly than “worshipping God.”

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

 They served God in the temple. 

Chronicles 35:3 
He also said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel built; it will be a burden on your shoulders no longer. Now serve the LORD your God and His people Israel. (NASB
 Josiah (cf. 2 Chronicles 35:1) did not mean that the service (worship) that ought to be given unto God was also to be done unto the people of Israel. 

@Marc Taylor:

This is interesting. Plutarch is late first, early second century AD. The king is not himself divine but he is the “image of the god who is the preserver of all things”. Proskyneō here does not mean “worship” in the conventional Christian sense, but it was often directed towards a king, and the king was often closely associated with deity. It is probably good background for New Testament usage, though not in the way Marc thinks:

Now you Hellenes are said to admire liberty and equality above all things; but in our eyes, among many fair customs, this is the fairest of all, to honor the King, and to pay obeisance (proskynein) to him as the image (eikona) of that god who is the preserver of all things. If, then, thou approvest our practice and wilt pay obeisance (proskynēseis), it is in thy power to behold and address the King; but if thou art otherwise minded, it will be needful for thee to employ messengers to him in thy stead, for it is not a custom of this country that the King give ear to a man who has not paid him obeisance (proskynēsantos).’ (Plutarch, Them. 27.3)

@Marc Taylor:

There is simply no basis in linguistics for that statement. You can’t just dismiss the extremely influential LXX and contemporary Hellenistic usage and assert, without any evidence, that the New Testament employs the word differently. There is every reason exegetically to suppose that the meaning of proskyneō in Matthew 2:2 falls somewhere between 2 Samuel 18:28 LXX and Plutarch, Them. 27:3; and the narrative context strongly supports that conclusion. Cf. Hagner:

The most natural meaning of προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ in the historical setting (with the reference to a king) is “to pay homage to him.” “To worship him” may also be used in the looser sense, referring to the divinity claimed by ancient monarchs. (D.A. Hagner, Matthew 1–13 (1993), 28)

@Andrew Perriman:

 I think it is used differently in the NT. It is used of either the Father or Jesus. Whenever it is used of any other it is always used negatively.

@Andrew Perriman:

If Isaiah could call a baby born in the court of Ahaz “Immanuel”, it can hardly be said that this proves the divinity of Jesus. [underlining added]

You seem to know who this “baby born in the court of Ahaz” would have been. The best exegetes are still wondering whether the Isaiah 7:14 suggests that the young woman (almah) was alread pregnant (harah) with this “son to be conceived and born”, or not yet; whether she would be a member of the royal family; or the prophetess with whom Isaiah has sexual relations shortly after (Is 8:3); or what …

@Andrew Perriman:

He was born in the reign of Ahaz.

This “son to be conceived and born” must have been relevant enough, for him to be recognized as a “sign” (Is 7:14). Once again, where do you find evidence for such baby boy that would have been “born in the reign of Ahaz” in the text of the Bible?

No shenanigans, please.

@Miguel de Servet:

I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at here.

Isaiah says to Ahaz that the Lord will give him a sign: a young woman (of some description) will have a son, who will be given the name Immanuel. This appears to be a sign for Ahaz, one that he will see. Before this boy is old enough to choose between good and evil, “the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted” (Is. 7:16). The sign has reference to political circumstances that are of direct concern to Ahaz.

What am I missing?

The sign is revealed anyway. העלמה, “the young woman,” not yet married (i.e., a virgin), who is apparently present or contemporary, will in due course bear a child and call his name עמנו אל Immanuel, meaning God-(is)-with-us. By the time the child is old enough to make decisions, the land of the two opposing kings will be devastated. The sign is simple. It has to do with a period by which time the present crisis will no longer be acute or relevant. This parallels the statement in v 8b but indicates a much shorter period. The shorter period accords with history. Tiglath-Pileser’s reactions to Rezin and the son of Remaliah came in 733 B.C.E. when he reduced most of Israel to the status of an Assyrian province. (J.D.W. Watts, Isaiah 1–33, 135)

@Andrew Perriman:

The sign is simple. It has to do with a period by which time the present crisis will no longer be acute or relevant. (J.D.W. Watts, Isaiah 1–33, 135 — quoted by Andrew)


  1. Isaiah was a prophet (at least he had the reputation of being one).
  2. He says that “the Lord Himself will give a sign”, and this sign is specified to be that “the young woman will conceive and bear a son”.
  3. The “sign” of which he speaks to King Ahaz must be recognizable before the events.

So the sign must be independent from and precede “a period by which time the present crisis will no longer be acute or relevant”. Otherwise it would hardly be a sign, would it?

@Miguel de Servet:

I’m still not following you. The sign is the conception and birth of the child Immanuel. Ahaz is to understand from this event that the political outcome will happen within a few years. So yes, the sign of the birth of the child is independent of and prior to the defeat of the two kings. In the same way, according to Matthew, the extraordinary conception and birth of Jesus are a sign that God is with Israel to save his people from their enemies.

What exactly is your point?

@Andrew Perriman:

I’m still not following you.

[Patiently] Where can you identify this “sign” that Ahaz would have recognized, this Immanuel? In isaiah (where one would obviously look first)? Or in any other book of the TaNaKh? Or even in apocryphal Hebrew literature?

@Miguel de Servet:

Isaiah identifies the “sign” with the birth of the boy. Do you mean: where is the account of the birth of the boy? Where is the boy? The boy himself was unimportant, just as Maher-shalal-hash-baz was unimportant (Is. 8:3). But I presume that the existence of the boy called Immanuel is noted in Isaiah 8:18: “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” The boy, who is either his own son or born into Isaiah’s circle, is one of several signs and portents given by the Lord concerning the immediate future of Ahaz’s kingdom.

@Andrew Perriman:

At long last!

So you “presume” that Is 8:18 (where Isaiah refers not just to one baby boy, but even to his “children” — at least two, Shear-jashub of Is 7:3 and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz of Is 8:3 — as “signs [‘owth] and portents [mowpheth] “) may indicate the fulfilment of Is 7:14. Obviously it cannot be Shear-jashub. I wonder why the Lord told Isaiah to call the “son of trhe prophetess” Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, instead of Immanuel [`Immanuw’el ], as it would have made sense to expect.

Any suggestion?

@Marc Taylor:

Jesus is not named Immanuel in Matt. 1.  He is named “Jesus.”  He is said to fulfill a passage in Isaiah where a child is born who is named “Immanuel,” but Jesus is never named that.

“Immanuel” means “God is with us,” not “This person is literally God, and therefore God is with us because this person is here.”  This is why the child in Isaiah 7 can be named Immanuel — the birth is a sign during a time of trouble that God is with His people.

In Matthew 2, the magi want to worship Jesus because he is King of the Jews.  This is specifically what they say.  They do not say, “We are looking for God incarnate to worship him.”  They are looking for the King of the Jews, which is why they think Herod will know where he is, since Herod is the present ruler of the Jews.

Luke 1:33 does say that Jesus will reign forever, but this is also said of other perfectly mortal human rulers.  David, for instance (Ezekiel 37:25) and Solomon (1 Chron. 17:12-14).  As other texts and parallel texts make clear, what God is promising is not that the person will actually live forever, nor declaring that these people are God incarnate, but their reigns will last forever, generally in the form of their descendants and the longetivity of the empire they establish.

Saying that someone is the “priest of x” does not mean that “x” is God incarnate nor the object of divine worship.  For example, Genesis 41 mentions the priests of On.  On was a city; it was neither a god nor worshipped.  Similarly, Exodus 2:16, “priest of Midian.”  1 Kings 12 “priests of the high places.”  Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is “the priest of our confession,” but our confession is not God nor worshipped.  Likewise Hebrews 9:11, Christ is “priest of the good things that have come.”  Zech. 7:15 “priests of the house of the Lord,” or John 19:21 “priests of the Jews.”

I confess I’m having trouble following the logic of your last paragraph.  There are certainly plenty of things and people in the Bible sanctified as holy that are not God, and there are certainly many people and things associated with God’s kingdom that are not God.  And the 2 Tim. 4:18 reference certainly does not require Jesus to be God, if that reference is even talking about Jesus.

Again, all these passages -can be- read in the way you describe, but doing so would be starting from your conclusion.  If we assume Jesus is God, then we can find that teaching everywhere.  But if you were just reading those passages as part of the context of the writings and not as a list of prooftexts marshalled together to discuss this topic, you might not get the idea they taught the divinity of Jesus at all, and certainly many early Christians felt similarly.

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

 To be the King of the Jews is to be God, otherwise they would not have worshiped Him.

 David and Solomon were prefigures of Christ.

 The city of On was a center of sun worsip. Thus these priests worshiped the sun.

    a. A priest of God would offer worship to God (Genesis 14:18-20; Leviticus 1:9). 
     b. A priest of Dagon would offer worship to Dagon (1 Samuel 5:5).
     c. A priest of Baal would offer worship to Baal (2 Kings 10:19).
     d. A priest of Chemosh would offer worship to Chemosh (Jeremiah 48:7). 
     e. A priest of Zeus would offer worship to Zeus (Acts 14:13). 
     f. A priest of Christ would offer worship to Christ (Revelation 20:6). 

 Things can be sanctfied as holy, but no person is to be sanctified as Lord for that would entail worship.

Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene A. Nida: The closest equivalent of have reverence for Christ may be “worship Christ,” to which, of course, may be added “in your heart” (A Translator’s Handbook on the First Letter From Peter, page 106). 

@Marc Taylor:

David and Solomon and Saul and Ahab and Herod and Caesar were all kings of the Jews and were not God.  I appreciate that you can refer to David and Solomon as types of Christ, but all you’ve proved is that “King of the Jews” can apply to people who are -like- God but not God themselves.  David and Solomon are not Jesus.

The city of On may very well be a center of sun worship, but you can see how the Bible can call someone “priests of something” and that “something” is not what they’re worshipping.  In this case, they’re not worshipping On, even though they are “priests of On.”  They’re worshipping the sun.  This invalidates your argument that to call someone a “priest of Jesus” means that Jesus is God.

David was definitely sanctified as Lord (1 Samuel 16:1-13) as was Solomon (1 Kings 1:38-40) as was Saul (1 Samuel 10:1), Jehu (2 Kings 9:1-10).  It’s something you do to kings — set them apart as special.  This is why we can be enjoined to sanctify Jesus in our hearts as king.

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

 This is why David and Solomon were not worshiped as being God. Jesus was. 

A priest by defintion worships somethig or someone. A priest of Christ would worship Christ.

Murray Harris: the final picture the New Testament gives of the eternal state is one where ‘slaves’ (douloi) are completely devoted to the worship and service (latreusousin) of the Lord God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:3). The redeemed remain ‘slaves’ although their service is that of priests (cf. Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6) (Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor to Total Devotion to Christ, page 139). 

 Peter applies the OT text of Isaiah 8:13 in reference to YHWH unto the Lord Jesus in worship (1 Peter 3:15). The did not happen to the others you mentioned.

@Marc Taylor:

Ok, so now you’re ditching the “priest of” argument and, instead, saying that the phrase only means what you say it does if it is coupled with worship.  So, basically, you’re saying the phrase “priest of” only means “worship” if you can also demonstrate that worshipping is going on.

I find that argument to have little value.

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

 I am not ditching the argument at all. A priest of Christ is a worshiper of Christ. I already cited Murray Harris above. Here’s another:

William Henry Simcox: τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. The strongest proof, perhaps, in the Book of the doctrine of Christ’s coequal Deity. If we read these words in the light of St John’s Gospel, or of the Nicene Creed, they suggest no difficulty; but without the doctrine there taught, they make salvation to consist in the deadly sin which the Moslems call “association”—the worshipping the creature by the side of the Creator (The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges). 

@Marc Taylor:

And a priest of On is someone who worships the city of On, and a priest of the Temple is someone who worships the Temple, right?

Well, no.  They aren’t.  But we’ve already tread that ground.  Then you say, “Well, but in those instances, the Temple and On aren’t being worshipped.”  And then I say, “But you said the language necessitated worship.”  And then you say, “No, none of those other things were worshipped, but Jesus was.”  And then I say, “But that means the language doesn’t necessitate that.  You’re appealing to something else.”  And then you say, “No, it’s because the language necessitates that.”  And the circle continues.

You have made many strong statements about specific language meaning specific things, and you have been shown many counter examples, all of which you explain away by going outside the specific language used, which means that you don’t have a valid point about the language used in the first place.

It would be like if I said, “Everywhere a shepherd is mentioned, he kills Goliath.  That’s how I know David killed Goliath.”  And then you show me passages where shepherds did not kill Goliath, and I say, “Maybe, but those people didn’t kill Goliath.  David actually did.”

You would rightly point out that means the language of “shepherd” is not how we decide if David killed Goliath or not.  And then I might respond, “Of course we can.  We know David killed Goliath because he’s called a shepherd, and that means he killed Goliath.”

That would be really frustrating, wouldn’t it?

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

 A priest necessitates a worshiper. Now to whom or what he worships must be determined by the word and the context. A priest of Baal is a worshiper of Baal, a priest of Zeus is a worshiper of Zeus. No problme there, but when it comes to a priest of Christ being a worshiper of Christ then resistence is immediately encountered. Why isn’t the same reistence applied when used of Baal and Zeus? The reason is some simply do not want to beieve that Christ has worshipers for this would demonstrate that He is God.

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

Hello Philip,

 You wrote:

 “And the 2 Tim. 4:18 reference certainly does not require Jesus to be God, if that reference is even talking about Jesus.”

 Unless the context shows otherwise “Lord” refers to Jesus (1 Cor. 8:6). Notice that it was the Lord Jesus has “rescued” (rhyomai) Paul from the lion’s mouth (4:17) and will “rescue” (rhyomai) him from every evil deed (4:18). Moreover, in verse 17 the word “strengthened” (endynamoō) is used only two other times in Paul’s’ letters to Timothy and in both instances it is applied to the Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:1). 

 It is worth noting that the doxology addressed to the Father in Galatians 1:5 reads the same way as the doxology addressed to the Lord Jesus in 2 Timothy 4:18 thereby proving that the Lord Jesus receives worship in equality with the Father. 
ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν (Galatians 1:5) 
ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν (2 Timothy 4:18) 

@Marc Taylor:

But Paul doesn’t say “Jesus” did those things.  He says “the Lord.”  Your argument is:

1. Paul means Jesus in 4:18 when he says “the Lord.”

2. We know this because Paul always means Jesus when he says “the Lord.”

3. As evidence for this, check out the 4:18 passage.

I mean, can you honestly not see that your reasoning entirely depends on the preestablished truth of your conclusions?

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

And “Lord” (unless the context shows otherwise) refers to the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 8:6). I remember you expressed the same type of argument concerning the use of “Lord” in the Book of Acts.  Andrew, “Lord” primarily refers to Jesus while “God” primarily refers to the Father.

 You ignored the evidence that I gave that the “Lord” refers to Jesus in 2 Timothy 4:17.

@Philip L Ledgerwood:

Hi Phil.  Are any church doctrines that cannot (based on the narrative-historical approach) be directly gleaned from the NT texts simply wrong?  Doesn´t the church have the right to develop dogmas and doctines (as the Holy Spirit leads) outside the realm of what one particular scriptural interpretive lens may not allow?  Although the NT in its immediate historical context may not teach the divinity of Jesus, maybe the Holy Spirit (even early on in church history) spoke to the church in a time and place where this doctrine began to make sense to embrace, proclaim, and preserve.


I’ve wondered the same, but the thought occurs that if the post-NT church is going to follow the same pattern that seems to be laid out in the authoritative texts, it would formulate “dogmatic stories” about itself and the Creator’s continuing action in history on its behalf, rather than “dogmatic doctrines” about the nature of the Creator. 

The proliferation of theological distinctions among Protestants (my tradition, FWIW), all regarded from the inside to have been under the leading of the Holy Spirit, IMO invites contemplation of the possibility that in earlier stages of the formation of ecumenical or more nearly ecumenical dogmas, that leading may not have been accurately perceived.