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how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

Questioning the answer to adoptionist christology: Prepare the way of which Lord?

Adoptionism, Michael Bird tells us in his book Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology, was one of the “most potent if not persistent heresies of the second and third centuries”. It came in several unpalatable varieties, but common to all was the view 1) that “divine sonship was not essential to Jesus”, and 2) that “divine sonship is not ontological but honorific” (7).

As it happens, I’m inclined to agree with those two “heretical” statements, though I wouldn’t call it “adoptionism” and I think that the phrase “divine sonship” is misleading. Sonship is what Israel or Israel’s king has. It comes by election or appointment, not by adoption. The template for any “eternal” ontology that Christ has is provided by Jewish wisdom narratives, not by sonship. It is only once the creative Word of God has become flesh—arguably in the baptism of Jesus—that it is possible to talk about the glory of Jesus “as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn. 1:14).

But this is not quite the matter that I want to pursue here.

It is part of Bird’s argument that Mark presents Jesus to his readers as one who “is intrinsic to the identity of Israel’s kyrios”. It is not merely that, in Joel Marcus’ words, “where Jesus acts, there the Lord is powerfully at work.” That in itself is uncontroversial. Rather Daniel Johansson is right to describe a “more concrete identification”: “The exclusive divinity of the God of Israel is maintained, but not to the exclusion of Jesus. If we ask who the kyrios in the Gospel of Mark is, the paradoxical answer is: God and Jesus” (91-92).

Bird considers a number of instances where he thinks that “Jesus is described in such a way that he and the God of Israel both share in the identity of the kyrios” (84-92). The first of these comes with the announcement at the beginning of the Gospel concerning a messenger who is sent to prepare the way of the Lord (Mk. 1:2-3):

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight….’” (Mk. 1:2–3)

Bird takes it that this is a composite quotation, drawing on three sources. The primary source is Isaiah’s declaration of “good news” regarding the return of YHWH to Zion and the forgiveness of the iniquity that had brought destruction on exile upon the people of Jerusalem (Is. 40:1-11).

The words “Behold, I send my messenger before your face…”, however, are not found in the Isaiah passage. They come instead from Malachi:

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord (ʾadon) whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. (Mal. 3:1–3 ESV)

The speaker is YHWH, who announces that he will send his messenger (malʾakh) to prepare the way for him. This is in response to the complaint that there is no God of justice in Israel. “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them” (Mal. 2:17). Later we hear that God “will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes”, when the arrogant and evildoers will be burnt like stubble (Mal. 4:1, 5). The name “Malachi” means “my messenger”.

So the first messenger is undoubtedly a prophet. But in both Hebrew and Greek the word translated “messenger” can also mean “angel”, and it is possible that Malachi’s second “messenger of the covenant” is the angel of the Lord, a figure who embodies the dynamic presence of God in the midst of his people.

Bird’s third source is Exodus 23:20-21, which some scholars think lies behind the Malachi passage:

Behold, I send an angel (malʾakh) before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.

Bird then argues that the three Old Testament passages can be conflated, leading to the conclusion that:

Jesus is not only the Messiah, but Malachi’s “Lord” and “angel of the covenant,” functionally equivalent to the “angel“ of the divine presence who accompanied Israel in the exodus, and in terms of Isaiah, the presence of Yahweh himself. (86)

So here’s the anti-adoptionist pay out. If John the Baptist is preparing the way for one who is already named as Lord, when we get to Jesus’ baptism, “the heavenly voice can only be identifying Jesus as God’s Son at his baptism, not elevating him to divine sonship.”

I find this unconvincing.

On the one hand, I see no reason to suppose that Mark was remembering the Exodus passage. Conceivably Malachi had the phraseology in mind, but the two stories are very different: the “messenger” of Exodus 23:20-21 prepares a way for Israel, Malachi’s “messenger” prepares a way for YHWH. It is only the messenger’s role in preparing the way of the Lord that establishes the link between Isaiah 40:3 and the “Behold, I am sending my messenger before my face” tradition. Mark shows no interest in a guarding angel or “angel of the covenant”; this aspect can be safely discounted.

On the other hand, I don’t see how Mark’s narrative through to the baptism of Jesus supports Bird’s conclusions. John is the messenger preparing the way of the Lord, in the spirit of Elijah (Mk. 9:11-3; cf. Mal. 4:5-6), by “baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). He says that a greater person will come after him, who will baptise with the Holy Spirit, but this is not to be construed as the coming of the Lord of Isaiah 40:3. When Jesus does appear, the description of his baptism evokes not the coming of YHWH to Zion but the confirmation of Israel as YHWH’s servant: “Jacob is my servant; I will lay hold of him; Israel is my chosen; my soul has accepted him; I have put my spirit upon him…” (Is. 42:1 LXX). Then Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming the gospel of God and saying that the kingdom of God has drawn near (Mk. 1:14-15).

So we have no reason at this stage to identify the “Lord” of Mark 1:3 with Jesus. Jesus is rather the anointed Son who will perform the task of a servant on behalf of the God of Israel.

But that is not quite the end of the matter.

In the Malachi passage YHWH is speaking. He sends his messenger to prepare his way. But the “Lord whom you seek” and who will suddenly come to his temple is not YHWH but ʾadon. It is this “Lord” who will refine the priesthood as with fire, so that they “will bring offerings in righteousness” to YHWH (Mal 3:2-4). Then YHWH says that he himself will “draw near to you for judgment” (3:5).

In context the Lord who is ʾadon is presumably also YHWH, rather than a reformist figure in Israel (cf. Mal. 1:6, 12, 14). But the shift in terminology has introduced the possibility of differentiating between YHWH, his messenger or prophet, and an ʾadon who will come to the temple to enact or anticipate the judgment of God.

The distinction is not clearly operative in Mark 1:1-11, but it has obvious relevance for the dispute in the temple between Jesus and the scribes over the interpretation of Psalm 110:1:

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. (Mk. 12:35–37)

According to Bird, Jesus here attributes pre-existence to the Messiah “since Yahweh addresses him in David’s time”; he has “divine sovereignty as kyrios and priestly authority on par with Melchizedek, as Ps 110:1-4 makes clear” (89).

The point about pre-existence is debatable. Jesus says that David spoke “in the Holy Spirit”, which rather suggests that he has understood David’s words as prophecy.

But the Hebrew text of Psalm 110:1 also distinguishes between the “Lord” who is YHWH and the “Lord” who is ʾadon. The writer of the psalm, a court prophet or poet, refers to the king as “my lord” (ʾadōni), to whom YHWH says, “Sit at my right hand….” Jesus and the early church, however, found in the Psalm a way of speaking about the enthronement of a greater “Lord” or “King” than David. The kyrios who is YHWH has exalted the kyrios who is ʾadon to an everlasting throne in the heavens, and it is specifically in that sense that Jesus surpasses David:

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:34–36)

The distinction is anticipated, at least linguistically, in Malachi 3:1-4: it is YHWH who speaks and sends his prophet; it is the ʾadon who comes suddenly to his temple.

Arguably this provides an implicit template for Jesus’ coming to the temple as ʾadon to enact symbolically the coming judgment of YHWH on the corrupt temple system.

But the main point to make is that Jesus’ appeal to Psalm 110:1 must serve not to equate or identify these two Lords but to differentiate between them. There is one Lord who is YHWH. There are also messengers or prophets such as John the Baptist, whom YHWH has sent in vain to the vineyard of Israel. But there is also a Lord who has been anointed and authorised as a Son to fulfil the prophetic task.

This Lord will baptise Israel with the Holy Spirit and, according to Matthew and Luke, with the fire of God’s judgment (Matt. 3:11-12; Lk. 3:16-17). He will come suddenly to the temple not to destroy it but to prefigure its destruction. He will be rejected by Israel and killed, but YHWH will raise him from the dead and will authorise him—exceptionally—to rule at his right hand until the last enemy of his people has been destroyed.

Comments

When we read quotations from Psalms 2 or 110 in the New Testament we tend to think the early Christians quoted them for Christological reasons—that they reveal God’s plan to send a divine Messiah for our eternal salvation. But that is not what the psalms themselves concern. The titles given to God’s servant (Son, Lord) and his exaltation serve political ends—the submission of the nations to God, the defeat of pagan kings, etc. That the nations will soon be judged by God’s newly-exalted servant is the heart of the matter, not the adoption/enthronement in itself.

Do you think there is a way to show conclusively that when the NT writers quoted a psalm they were plugging Jesus into the whole text of the psalm rather than just the quoted verse?

I think this would be true concerning:

Psalm 24

The Lord Jesus is the Lord (YHWH), the Creator (1 Corinthians 10:26; Psalm 24:1-2). One must worship Him with a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 24:3-4). He blesses the believer by making him/her righteous (Acts 3:26; Psalm 24:5). To call upon the name of the Lord (YHWH) entails seeking the Lord (YHWH) (Isaiah 55:6; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 24:6) He is the King of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; Psalm 24:7-10).

Psalm 34

The Lord Jesus is to be continually thanked (1 Timothy 1:12; Psalm 34:1) and praised (Ephesians 5:19; 2 Peter 3:18; Psalm 34:1). We are to make our boast in Him (1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Psalm 34:2). His name is to be magnified (Acts 19:27; Psalm 34:3) and exulted (Philippians 2:9-11; Psalm 34:3). To call upon the name of the Lord (YHWH) entails seeking the Lord (YHWH) (Isaiah 55:6; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 34:4). He will deliver us from all our fears (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3; Psalm 34:4). When one abides in Jesus they can look to Him and never be ashamed (1 John 2:28; Psalm 34:5). When Stephen cried unto the Lord Jesus, He heard him and by receiving his spirit Jesus saved him out of all his troubles (Acts 7:59-60; Psalm 34:6). To taste and see that the Lord (YHWH) is good is applied unto the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 2:3; Psalm 34:8). We are to fear the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:31; Ephesians 5:21; 6:5; Colossians 3:22; cf. Psalm 34:9).

As with 1 Peter 2:3 (cf. Psalm 34:8), Peter applies Psalm 34:12-16a unto the Lord Jesus in 1 Peter 3:10-12. This is very significant because not only does this demonstrate that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of prayer but also YHWH (Lord) of v.15 and v. 16 are applied to Him in 1 Peter 3:12. Notice too, that the expression “the eyes of the Lord” are also applied unto the Lord Jesus which teaches He is omniscient (God).

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord Jesus “rescued/delivered” Paul from the lion’s mouth (2 Timothy 4:17) and will “rescue/deliver” him from every evil deed (2 Timothy 4:18).

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

See Luke 7:36-50.

After readin this, I have a queston I do feel the need to ask. Do you deny the deity of Jesus? Do you hold to the trinity as the accurate description of what the Bible teaches?

Good question.

I don’t think that the trinity is an “accurate description” of what the Bible teaches. I think the hermeneutical prominence that we give to it has badly obscured and corrupted the dominant kingdom narrative. This is a matter of intense and continuing debate amongst New Testament scholars, so we should probably assume that the picture will continue to change.

The New Testament certainly takes some tentative steps in the direction of trinitarian thought by identifying Jesus with the creative Word or Wisdom of God. I think, then, that it was inevitable and right that the Greek fathers reimagined the whole Jewish narrative under very different intellectual conditions. Somehow Jesus as Lord at the right hand of God and creative Logos had to be integrated into a monotheism defined rationally rather than narratively. They came up with the trinity. That’s all well and good, but I think that a historical method needs to keep a sense of the process, and not repaint the whole of the New Testament in bright Chalcedonian colours.

Understanding that the story of Scripture matters, I believe there should be a place for systematic definition of what we believe is presented in the Bible. Your main issue is that it is “greek” in origin and not so much Biblical.

I think that shortchanges what some would say is present in the Biblical evidence.

Now comes where the rubber meets the road. Is Jesus divine? Do you believe he is God, in the flesh as John 1 teaches. That He was with God and was God. That He was there in the beginning with God?

Maybe you will link me to an article, but how does defining the Trinity obscure the “dominant kingdom narrative”? I would say that the teaching of the Trinity doesn’t obscure what God is doing in history/story of Scripture as it does clarify who Jesus & the Spirit are and clarifying their authority and power to accomplish what God has intended?

And please explain to me what you mean by “process” rather than repainting the NT. Do you think the inspired authors of Scripture (maybe you take issue with “inspired”) were at some point unclear in what they were trying to communicate?

I simply mean that the development of the doctrine of the trinity was as much part of history as the writing of the New Testament. I think that the authors of scripture were inspired, but they interpreted things from within their own historical perspective and according to their own “worldview”, for want of a better way of putting it. That was as true for Jesus as it was for Jeremiah, James, John… Josephus, Justin, and Jerome.

Hi Michael,

I don’t want to interrupt your exchange with Andrew, but I did have a question for you about the last bit that you said.

What is it about what Jesus accomplished that would not have been accomplished if Jesus were not God?

Hello Phil,

I would say that everything hinges on if Jesus was who He says He was. The gospels don’t make sense if everything Jesus said about His own identity and what the authors said of Jesus’ identity were not true. Hebrews talks about Jesus’ blood being better than the blood of Abel. That is because his blod is that of God Himself in the flesh. How could a mere man’s atonement have done anythign to atone for the sin’s of God’s people for eternity? He could not proptitate for His people if He was not God. It doesn’t make sense of the virgin birth and the value of the virgin birth.

I would say that everything we know about God and His work in Christ hinges on Him being who He claims He was, which is God in the flesh.

Hebrews talks about Jesus’ blood being better than the blood of Abel. That is because his blood is that of God Himself in the flesh.

With respect, Michael, this looks like theology getting in the way of good interpretation.

The writer to the Hebrews says that the blood of Jesus “speaks more or better or greater (kreitton) than that of Abel” (Heb. 12:24).

The reference is to Genesis 4:10, where God says to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Abel was a righteous man but he was killed by his brother. His blood calls out for justice, so now Cain is “cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”

The point that the writer to the Hebrews makes is that Jesus was also a righteous man killed by his brothers, but his blood “sprinkled” on the ground “speaks” something better—presumably, in this context, a “new covenant”—or perhaps just more loudly.

Jesus is described as the “mediator” of a new covenant, just as Moses was the mediator of the old covenant. But I don’t see how we can argue from this that God’s blood was required for his death to have greater effect than the death of Abel.

Thanks, Michael.

So, if I’m reading you correctly (and please correct me if I’m not), the first part of your answer is more about whether or not the biblical texts are reliable if Jesus is not God. I understand where you’re coming from. If the biblical texts intend to teach that Jesus is God, and Jesus is not God, that’s a problem. I think, though, what’s under discussion is whether or not the biblical texts are intending to communicate that. If they aren’t intending to communicate that Jesus is God, and Jesus is not God, then there’s no tension there.

The second part of what you said is more along the lines of what I was trying to learn from your position. Again, I’m checking to make sure I’m understanding you correctly. You make two observations:

1. If Jesus is not God, his death cannot atone for sins.

2. If Jesus is not God, there’s no reason for him to be born of a virgin.

As to item 2, I’m a little unclear your thought process, there. Why does Jesus have to be God to be born of a virgin? Isaac was also a miraculous birth (granted, not a virgin birth), and he was not God. So I think maybe you’re thinking something that I’m just missing.

As to item 1, I’m not sure the biblical texts actually present that argument. Is there any Scripture that says atonement for the sins of the people requires God Himself to be sacrificed?

One text we sometimes discuss around here is 4 Maccabees, which was written around the first century contemporaneous with the other New Testament writings. We may not agree with some of the things presented in 4 Maccabees, but it’s useful because it shows us a reflection of Jewish thought and theology at the time.

In this work, the sons being martyred ask God to accept their deaths as an atonement for the sins of Israel. There doesn’t seem to be any indicator that they believed any of them needed to be God for this to happen, nor does there seem to be an expectation that the reader would know this was an error on their parts. Instead, they are held up as examples for everyone to imitate.

I guess one thing to consider is: does the Bible actually teach that God Himself must be sacrificed to be an atonement for sins, or is that an idea that is not actually in the biblical writings, but we bring that idea to the texts and, therefore, see it in the texts?

Your main issue is that it is “greek” in origin and not so much Biblical.

I’d say it’s a Greek re-working of the Jewish narrative about the God who anointed his “Son” with the Holy Spirit to fulfil his mission as the ideal servant to Israel, a narrative which became the pattern for the participation of his followers in this mission through the symbolism of baptism.

Is Jesus divine? Do you believe he is God, in the flesh as John 1 teaches. That He was with God and was God. That He was there in the beginning with God?

I have a rather underdeveloped perspective on John, but I would point out that what he says is that the word became flesh. I take this to mean that the word or wisdom of God, which was active in the beginning in the creation of all things, “became flesh” in Jesus, perhaps with reference to his baptism rather than his birth.

Maybe you will link me to an article, but how does defining the Trinity obscure the “dominant kingdom narrative”?

Here’s a link to an article. But briefly: 1) it re-imagines the relations between Father, Son and Spirit as a matter of ontology rather than as dynamic politically oriented narrative, at a stroke making vast swathes of scripture irrelevant; 2) it forces a lot of, let’s say, christological material into an unhelpful dualistic frame (Son of God vs. Son of Man, for example) that empties the terms of their profoundly important biblical significance; 3) it has, paradoxically, made it harder to appreciate the biblical significance of the conversion of the Greek-Roman world; and 4) by obscuring the apocalyptic dimension it has instilled a disastrous complacency in the modern church. I’m not saying that the church fathers were wrong to re-imagine the godhead in the way that they did, only that it came at a price.

I would say that the teaching of the Trinity doesn’t obscure what God is doing in history/story of Scripture as it does clarify who Jesus & the Spirit are and clarifying their authority and power to accomplish what God has intended?

The focus on “authority” is important. Trinitarianism leads us to think that Jesus had power and authority innately, by virtue of his divine origin. The New Testament, however, it seems to me, following the template of Daniel 7:13-14, holds that he was given this authority in anticipation of and at the moment of his ascension to the right hand of God as the vindicated Son of Man.

I’d say it’s a Greek re-working of the Jewish narrative about the God who anointed his “Son” with the Holy Spirit to fulfil his mission as the ideal servant to Israel, a narrative which became the pattern for the participation of his followers in this mission through the symbolism of baptism.

How do you understand the virgin birth in relationship to this? What do you do with what the angels said about this Jesus? To me It seems that his mission and nature were present (as echoed through the OT) long before the official declaration of God in His baptism?

Are you saying you believe that he was somehow made divine at his baptism? If so, how does this square with the virgin birth?

I have a rather underdeveloped perspective on John, but I would point out that what he says is that the word became flesh. I take this to mean that the word or wisdom of God, which was active in the beginning in the creation of all things, “became flesh” in Jesus, perhaps with reference to his baptism rather than his birth.

It seems that you remove any kind of personhood from those terms in John and the OT? I also see Genesis 1 and “Let us make Him in our image” as referring to the persons of Trinity (probably not surprising) rather than angelic or heavenly angels which pairs well with what is said in John 1. It is also my understanding that in the Greek world the “logos” had significant meaning. I am rusty on it personally but pairing the Hebrew background of wisdom/word of God with the Greek idea of logos seems to make a strong case for a divine person being implied. I also, of course see Jesus’s statements concerning Himself being explicitly divine and the “kyrios” usages meaning the covenant God. Clearly you have disagreements with Bird on that but that is where I line up.

“it re-imagines the relations between Father, Son and Spirit as a matter of ontology rather than as dynamic politically oriented narrative, at a stroke making vast swathes of scripture irrelevant;”

This is an issue I have noticed in your other post where I find significant disagreement, which stretches back to my original “earth-bound” language in my FB criticism. I find that you seem to think the only way to say anything about what God is doing, is through the one lense of its immediate effects in the stream of history. Instead, I would say that God is doing specific things in history for specific purposes but is revealing truths about Himself which transcend the historical avenues they work out.

I understand that in the Biblical worldview that the western categories of natural & supernatural don’t mesh. I agree. But that does not mean there are not truths about God, and who He is, that can be said and known outside of how and when it was revealed. As an example, God is love. We need to know what that looks like and means as revealed in the historical interventions of God throughout the story of the Bible. Absolutely. But, we can then go and define what that is based upon the revelation of God. Thus, taking us from the political and societal scene to the very person of God.

it forces a lot of, let’s say, christological material into an unhelpful dualistic frame (Son of God vs. Son of Man, for example) that empties the terms of their profoundly important biblical significance;

Maybe I misunderstand. Because, I have always known and been taught the significant biblical and OT background to the titles/names listed above. I know there are sometimes layperson misunderstandings that one highlights his divinity and another highlights his humanity…but as I far as I am aware this is limited to just that-lay or local misunderstandings. Not, robust biblical trinitarian orthodox. I would say the richness of those titles as Jesus latches onto them as the fulfillment of Israel’s story and purpose only enhances and enriches my own Trinitarian framework. I do not see them as working against each other but as workting together. The Systematic Theology only grows out of and is known from the Biblical Theology as it were.

Your 3rd and 4th points will probbly need to be read in that article which I should do at a later date.

The focus on “authority” is important. Trinitarianism leads us to think that Jesus had power and authority innately, by virtue of his divine origin. The New Testament, however, it seems to me, following the template of Daniel 7:13-14, holds that he was given this authority in anticipation of and at the moment of his ascension to the right hand of God as the vindicated Son of Man.

This is interesting and really making me think. I do believe we can hold two kinds of authority. I believe that God had determined to work in a particular kind of way. That God was intending to work through a people, led by priests and a some point a king. These priests and kings would point to the need for a true priest a king to fulfill what Isarel could not. Israel failed to bring in the nations, to be a city on a hill, to be the place where God’s Kingdom would begin to encompass the whole world. This failure, as determined by God, led to the need for particular person to fulfill a particular role. In this way, I do believe that Jesus fulfilled those roles. Jesus fulfilled all that was spoken of in the OT that Israel needed to do. Jesus was/is the priest that brought Israel and the nations to God through atonement. Jesus was/is the King that leads the people of God in victory over their enemies. (Sin, death, idolatry) This gives Him the authority to judge the nations in the framework God had been working inside of.

But there was only ever going to Jesus who fulfilled this. It was always God’s own Son in the flesh who could do this. It was His divine nature that made Him the only hope for Israel and the nations. So, I think I can hold both and see them in different ways? Does this make sense? Or are you apalled? :)

Thanks, Michael. A nice set of comments.

How do you understand the virgin birth in relationship to this?

I think that the virgin birth has nothing to do directly with incarnation: it is understood as miraculous sign that God is with his people to judge and deliver them.

I am not saying that Jesus was made divine at his baptism; rather, the creative word or wisdom of God was made flesh at his baptism, in the sense that this is when the creative activity of God in Israel, through Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, began.

It seems that you remove any kind of personhood from those terms in John and the OT?

As far as the prologue to John’s Gospel is concerned, I would say that “word” (or “wisdom”) have as much personhood as they are granted in the Old Testament and Wisdom literature.

I also see Genesis 1 and “Let us make Him in our image” as referring to the persons of Trinity (probably not surprising) rather than angelic or heavenly angels which pairs well with what is said in John 1.

That is a matter of theological opinion, not of exegesis. It’s a good way to discredit scripture, in my view.

…pairing the Hebrew background of wisdom/word of God with the Greek idea of logos seems to make a strong case for a divine person being implied.

I don’t think that we can say that either the Jews or the Greeks typically regarded wisdom/logos as a person, though the concepts may have been personified (as in the wisdom writings). The reference is to something more like the “rational” principle according to which the world came about, though no doubt Jews and Greeks understood rationality differently.

I find that you seem to think the only way to say anything about what God is doing, is through the one lens of its immediate effects in the stream of history.

That’s not quite how I would put it. I would say that the best way to understand what is being said in scripture is by interpreting according to the constraints that historical perspective imposes on the text. It is a further hermeneutical-theological question whether we think that that perspective may be transcended.

Thus, taking us from the political and societal scene to the very person of God.

But this is already in the “political and societal” reading. Scripture always deals with the political and social realities confronting the people of God on the basis of what was understood of the nature of God—chiefly, 1) that he was the creator of all things, and 2) that he had committed himself to the descendants of Abraham come what may, throughout history.

I know there are sometimes layperson misunderstandings that one highlights his divinity and another highlights his humanity…but as I far as I am aware this is limited to just that-lay or local misunderstandings. Not, robust biblical trinitarian orthodox.

Fair enough. This obviously needs looking at in more detail.

But there was only ever going to Jesus who fulfilled this. It was always God’s own Son in the flesh who could do this. It was His divine nature that made Him the only hope for Israel and the nations.

You make a couple of massive leaps here, so it’s difficult to know whether or how it makes sense.

1) It’s one thing to say that it was always God’s beloved Son in the flesh who was going to do this (just as it was always the apostles and early believers who were “predestined… for adoption as sons”: Eph. 1:4-5). It’s quite another to conclude that this Son pre-existed. Perhaps John has Jesus directly identify himself with the creative word of God (Jn. 17:5), but it is not at all easy to make the case from the rest of the New Testament.

2) Again, is it actually stated in the New Testament that it was Jesus’ divine nature that made him the only hope for Israel and the nations? The other narrative about the man from Nazareth, who is chosen, designated, empowered with the Spirit of God, who pursues his mission to Israel faithfully and obediently even to death on a Roman cross, who is raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of power to rule on behalf of YHWH as Israel’s king and hope of the nations until the last enemy has been destroyed—that narrative is everywhere, and it is very clear. But it does not at any point presuppose—as far as I can tell—the heavenly pre-existence of Jesus. The outcomes (redemption of Israel, judgment and rule over the nations of the Greek-Roman world) are not made dependent on the fact that Jesus from Nazareth was God. Even Philippians 2:6-11 seems to assert that it was precisely because Jesus from Nazareth was not God that he was exalted and given all authority and power.

This Lord will baptise Israel with the Holy Spirit and, according to Matthew and Luke, with the fire of God’s judgment (Matt. 3:11-12; Lk. 3:16-17). He will come suddenly to the temple not to destroy it but to prefigure its destruction. He will be rejected by Israel and killed, but YHWH will raise him from the dead and will authorise him—exceptionally—to rule at his right hand until the last enemy of his people has been destroyed.

This Lord who will “baptise Israel with the Holy Spirit” is Jesus, NOT YHWH, right?

Yes. Because the Lord who is YHWH gave the Spirit to the Lord who is greater than David to pour out on his followers (Acts 2:33).

The Lord (YHWH) of Joel 3:5 (LXX) is applied by Peter (and Luke) unto Jesus in Acts 2:21.

@ Marc Taylor

What makes you so boldly sure that the holy and unique Hebrew name of God, YHWH (or the corresponding Greek honorific appellative kyrios) at Joel 2:32 (LXX 3:5), is referred to jesus in Acts 2:21?

How can Luke’s Peter say, about ” Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst ” (Acts 2:22), that ” God raised him up” (Acts 2:24)?

1. The context that He is Lord is proclaimed (cf. Acts 2:36) - and to “call upon the name of the Lord” is applied to Him in other passages as well (Romans 10:13; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Timothy 2:22).

2. Peter just recently affirmed that Christ is omniscient (God) in that He is the “heart-knower” of all in Acts 1:24, and lots are cast in order to ascertain His divine will as YHWH (Acts 1:26; cf. Proverbs 16:33).

3. Peter would later affirm the Supreme Deity of Christ in that He is “Lord of all” in Acts 10:36.

4. Later in his epistle Peter would apply YHWH of Psalm 34:8 unto the Lord Jesus in 1 Peter 2:3. This is also done elsewhere concerning the same Psalm (34:15-16) in connection to the Lord Jesus in 1 Peter 3:12. In addition to that, Peter also applies YHWH of Isaiah 8:13 unto the Lord Jesus in 1 Peter 3:15.

Stephen Motyer: The New Testament use of this expression is remarkable for the way in which it is applied to Jesus. Joel 2:32 is quoted in both Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13, but in both places “the Lord” is then identified as Jesus (Acts 2:36; Romans 10:14). The dramatic conviction of the first (Jewish) Christians was that Israel’s worship needed to be redirected: people could no longer be saved by calling on Yahweh/Jehovah, the Old Testament name of God, but only on that of Jesus: “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). To “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2) therefore means worshiping him with divine honors (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Call, Calling).

@ Marc Taylor

I started replying to your points and your final comment in detail. But I realized that it is a waste of time.

Nowhere is it possoble to confuse the Lord God (YHWH) with Jesus Christ, who is Lord because he was made Lord by God (Acts 2:36)

It would be a waste of time for you because you are unable to refute the evidence.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 1:49; 11:27), but it wasn’t “declared” until after His resurrection (Romans 1:4). Notice also that although Jesus is quite often referred to as “Lord” in the Gospels it wasn’t until after His resurrection where the first instance of “the Lord Jesus” is to be found (Luke 24:3).

a. W. E. Vine: The title ‘Lord’, as given to the Saviour, in its full significance rests upon the resurrection, Acts 2:36; Rom. 10:9; 14:9 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Lord, page 690).

@ Marc Taylor

1. Once again (maybe by repeating it it will sink in):

Nowhere is it possoble to confuse the Lord God (YHWH) with Jesus Christ, who is Lord BECAUSE he was MADE Lord by God (Acts 2:36)

2. Jesus is the Son of God (no “quotation marks”). Only the trinitarians have invented the expression God-the-Son, as though it was the meaning of the former expression, which is the ONLY one used in the NT.

3. If God raised Jesus and made him Lord, obviously God =/= Jesus.

Repeat it all you want, because you do so by totally ignoring the evidence I supplied. Can’t make you deal with things that you refuse to even see.

Perhaps you should explain to “Miguel” why you think “God has made him both Lord and Christ” does not mean “God has made him both Lord and Christ.”

According to Josephus, Nathan revealed to David, and “laid before him, the anger of God against him, who had made (poiēsantos) him king over the army of the Hebrews, and lord of all the nations, and those many and great nations round about him (Ant. 7:151). David was not king before God made him king. Jesus was not Lord before God made him Lord.

I have - 2 posts ago.

Based on the confusion that is taking place here is some more help: Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski: In the context of Luke’s writings (Luke and Acts), this statement does not mean that Jesus was not “Lord” prior to his resurrection, since Jesus was Lord and Messiah (Christ) even when he was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:11). Rather, Peter means that God had exalted Jesus so that people would now recognize him for who he truly is, both Lord and Messiah. The idea is similar to Paul’s statement that in the resurrection God “declared” Jesus “to be Son of God with power” (Rom. 1:4) (Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, pages 160-161).

This agrees with what I cited earlier.

The evidence I supplied that Peter applied YHWH unto Jesus in Acts 2:21 has completely gone ignored. The closest it came to being addressed was “a reply was started…” but then we heard the cop-out as to why it never was completed.

@ Marc Taylor

The evidence I supplied that Peter applied YHWH unto Jesus in Acts 2:21 has completely gone ignored.

Can you please indicate precisely where you would have provided that “evidence”?

BTW, I asked you a question …

[MdS, 14 June, 2019 - 17:57] What makes you so boldly sure that the holy and unique Hebrew name of God, YHWH (or the corresponding Greek honorific appellative kyrios) at Joel 2:32 (LXX 3:5), is referred to jesus in Acts 2:21?

… that you never gave a reply to …

See above: Submitted by Marc Taylor on 15 June, 2019 - 02:47 Permalink

And if you are looking for some more information check out this link and see the 2nd post on how Peter believed that the Lord Jesus is God.

http://tinyurl.com/yxneqt3q

The evidence I gave is still being ignored. This isn’t surprising.

Here’s even more help for you concerning what you are confused by.

David Guzik:
i. It is as if Peter said, “You were all wrong about Jesus. You crucified Him as if He were a criminal, but by the resurrection, God proved that He is Lord and Messiah.”

ii. When Peter exhorted them whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21), there is little doubt who the Lord is that he spoke of: Jesus.

iii. “That the early Christians meant to give Jesus the title Lord in this highest sense of all is indicated by their not hesitating on occasion to apply to him passages of Old Testament scripture referring to Yahweh.” (Bruce)
http://tinyurl.com/y3osawtr

Is that supposed to prove your point? Luke does not say, “God proved that He is Lord and Messiah.” That’s not what the word poieō means. Can you provide a parallel case where “someone made someone something” means “someone proved someone to be something”?

Jews were to call on the name of the Lord Jesus because God had made Jesus Lord, and on that basis it also became possible to apply certain Old Testament passages to him.

Christ was constituted or instituted as Lord and Christ based on His resurrection.

Ah, so you agree with me.

As long as you understand what Peter (recorded by Luke) affirmed concerning what “Lord” meant when applied to Jesus in Acts 10:36 - He is Lord of all. That is, He is God.

As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)…. (Acts 10:36)

The question is whether pantōn in the phrase pantōn kyrios is neuter or masculine. The former might suggest the divine nature of his lordship (“Lord of all things”), but in context the masculine is much more likely: “Lord of all people”, perhaps at this juncture only “Lord of all Jews”. In that case, it is a restatement of his statement on the day of Pentecost: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

As Lord of all He is the proper recipient of worship thereby proving He is God for only God is to be worshiped.

Joseph Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: of the true worshippers of Christ (who is κύριος πάντων, Acts 10:36) (doulos).
http://tinyurl.com/yyle5c9r

The BDAG (3rd Edition) reads, “Lord over all (cp. Pind., I. 5, 53 Zeus ho pantōn k.; Plut., Mor. 355e Osiris; PGM 13, 202) Ac 10:36; Ro 10:12” (kyrios, page 578). As the supreme deity for many pagans Zeus would be the recipient of their worship. As the supreme Lord (God) for the Christians the Lord Jesus would be the proper recipient of their worship.

Christ was constituted or instituted as Lord and Christ based on His resurrection.

Maybe there a progress here …

TDNT: Peter in his sermon at Pentecost says briefly and clearly: kurion auton kai christon epoiesen ho theos, touton ton Iesoun hon humeis estaurwsate (Ac. 2:36). By His exaltation to the place of honour alongside God, Jesus of Nazareth has become the Christ and Kyrios of the world. The Messianic Psalm is thus fulfilled; the Messiah has entered His glory; the Messianic age has dawned. Jesus in the place of honour at the right hand of God has a share in the glory and power and deity of God which He exercises by sending the Holy Spirit (2:39-40, dexios, Grundmann).

To share in the deity of God by sending the Holy Spirit means that Jesus is God.

When Peter exhorted them whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21), there is little doubt [sic!] who the Lord is that he spoke of: Jesus.

Then you’d better kill even that little doubt, cuz otherwise it will kill you …

I doubt it.

Indeed. I’ve made the correction.