Christian Churches of God
(Edition 2.0 19960601-19980605-20071024)
Many Christians have grown up with the concept of a Trinitarian Christian Godhead, which was introduced several centuries after Christ and the Apostles, and have accepted it without question and without verifying it in the Bible. Paradoxically, the Bible does not teach the Trinity. The Apostles never even heard the word “trinity”, and certainly never taught a three-party Godhead. A related concept of a dual, co-eternal Godhead was introduced and spread by Herbert Armstrong in the twentieth century. This paper addresses the basis of the Armstrong Binitarian (or more accurately, ditheist) doctrine and finds it wanting. The paper promotes the Unitarian teaching of the Bible, namely, that there is only One True God.
Modern Christianity (with the exception of its theologians) assumes that the view held by both Trinitarianism and also the ditheist form of Binitarianism, namely that Christ was co-eternal with the Father, is the biblical view. Binitarianism seeks to assert that, whilst Christ was co-eternal with the Father, he was somehow subordinate and so a lesser but nevertheless eternally existent God. From this logic he was, and is, thus a true God, equal in the Godhead with the other true God to which the status of Father was allocated. He assumed the status of Son and thus there were two eternally existing Gods ab origine or from the eternity before the beginning of creation, either spiritual or physical. This position is held most dearly and is defended by resort to the most extraordinary manipulation of the plain words of the texts.
Interestingly enough, this position that Christ is a co-eternal God is attributed to the early Church by those who defend it from a lay point of view. However, it is not held by the theologians, who acknowledge the early position of the Church to be something quite different, namely subordinationist Unitarian. Much of the ignorance of modern Protestantism surrounding the question of Christ’s immortality stems from the singular reliance on the Authorised King James Version, which has been deliberately mistranslated in some texts to obscure the true intent of the verses; and even plain forgeries have been inserted in the texts, either in the English or in the Textus Receptus on which it is based in order to support the Trinitarian (and by extension, the modern Binitarian) viewpoint.
It is important to understand the method of the conferment of immortality on Jesus Christ to understand how that same immortality is conferred on the elect. In order to examine the matter, we will first examine the biblical texts from a number of translations. Having established the premises upon which the Bible appears to be based, we will then test it against the understanding of the early Church theologians.
What will emerge is that the Apostles were Unitarian – that is, they believed that there was only One True God. They believed that Christ was not the One True God but a product of the One True God, and that the One True God is both Father of all and Lord of all. We will see that the position that Christ holds is a delegated position, which stems from the abiding love of the Father. The elect will share in that position, which necessarily involves immortality in the same way that Christ shares in the immortality and power of God. We will see that it was the view of the prophets and the early Church Elders (who were disciples of the Apostles) that mankind would become elohim as Christ was anointed an elohim by his Elohim, who was the One True God. We will see that this is the true basis of Monotheism.
This point is clearly made by the Apostles. John is clear (Jn. 17:3 and 1Jn. 5:20).
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (KJV)
The premises made here are seen as:
1. The subject is eternal life. Eternal life is thus conferred from a basis.
2. The basis is that they (the elect or those who seek eternal life) know the One True God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
3. The plain words of the text distinguish two Beings: the first is the One True God; the second is Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
From this text we may deduce the following:
1. Eternal life depends upon a knowledge of the One True God and His delegate or messenger;
2. That delegate is Jesus Christ;
3. Jesus Christ is not the One True God; and
4. Failure to understand the difference between the One True God and His messenger Jesus Christ, or to confuse the issue as to whether there is more than One True God, implies an inadequate knowledge such as to disqualify the candidate from eternal life. That is implied, as eternal life is the subject of the sentence and the knowledge of both entities and their status is the conditional, i.e. eternal life depends upon this knowledge.
The major point also from this text is that there is only one True God. Christ is thus not a true God.
Is this point accidental? Does it appear elsewhere and is it supported by other texts? What might we deduce from it?
1John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (KJV)
The wording of this text, among others, has been used to demonstrate the fact that Christ is not the One True God both by the early Church and by the Unitarian Church of the Middle Ages and Reformation. Misconstructions have been placed on it to attempt to assert the use of the article, i.e. The God as applying to Jesus Christ in the Greek. The New Testament was noted throughout the ages to only use the definite article when referring to God the Father as The God. This text in 1John 5:20 was misconstructed so that it might be inferred that the definite article referred to Christ. Such a refutation of the Unitarians (occasionally called Socinians by the Catholics) in Eastern Europe in the Reformation period was attempted by the compilers of the 1851 Haydock commentary of the Douay-Rheims English version of the Bible. The Douay-Rheims was compiled in any case from the Vulgate (see fn. to 1Jn. 5:20 in the Haydock commentary).
The Jerusalem Bible gives a clearer translation of the text.
We know too that the Son of God has come,
and has given us the power
to know the true God.
We are in the true God,
as we are in [H]is Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the true God,
this is eternal life.
Verse 21 says:
Children be on your guard against false gods.
This concept, namely that the True God is eternal life, is repeated here. Christ is here distinct from the True God and is named as the Son of God. We are in the True God as we are in the Son of God. Thus, we are in both the Father, who is the True God, and His Son whom He sent. Conversely, we will see that they are also in us.
Through John, Christ is at great pains to make this point because it was John who had to deal with the heresy that attempted to elevate Christ to a co-eternal modality with God. This became the forerunner of Trinitarianism and its incoherent predecessor, Binitarianism. However, neither view was held by the Elders or members of the Apostolic Church, or the disciples in the second century.
The concept of the One True God is derived from the Shema (Deut. 6:4).
Shema Yishroel Jehovah Elohenu Jehovah Ehad
This is translated: Hear O Israel the Lord our God is one. The Trinitarians are left to extract the best from this text. They claim that the word for God here is Elohim, which it is not. The word Elohenu is a singular derivative of Eloah. Elohim is a plural derivative of the singular Eloah. Elohenu, as a singular derivative, cannot be associated with Elohim.
Eloah is the Father (Prov. 30:4-5; see Interlinears). Eloah is the object of worship in the Temple for whom it was built (Ezra 4:24 to 7:24). Ezra established worship in the House of Eloah at Jerusalem and established magistrates and judges in Israel and the lands beyond the river to judge those who know the Law of Eloah (Ezra 7:25-28).
The First Commandment under its seven principles and the Shema are examined in the paper The First Commandment: The Sin of Satan (No. 153).
As recorded in the Gospel of John, Christ develops the conferring of immortality on himself by the Father. This is logically necessary, as it had to be explained so that we might understand it in order to qualify ourselves for immortality. The text in John 5:17-47 has a number of significant premises. The first point deals with sonship as equality.
John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (KJV)
The first point is that the Jews held that he had made himself equal with God by claiming that God was his Father. This is the same charge that is levelled at the elect when they claim that the Bible destines them to become elohim (from Zech. 12:8).
Zechariah 12:8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. (KJV)
Zechariah 12:8 shows that the elohim of Israel is the Angel of Yahovah. This Angel or elohim is at the head of the household of the king. The text develops that of Genesis 48:14-16.
Genesis 48:14-16 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. (KJV)
Thus the elohim of Israel was the Angel of Redemption. This is examined in the papers The Angel of YHVH (No. 24) and The Deity of Christ (No. 147). This position was held by the Apostles and their disciples, as we shall see.
The Psalms show that the elohim of Israel was a subordinate elohim.
Psalm 45:6-7 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (KJV)
The text in Deuteronomy shows that the elohim of Israel who was Yahovah was allocated Israel as his portion when the Most High God divided the nations among the sons of God (RSV; beny eliym DSS) or the angels of God (aggelon theou, LXX). This text was altered by the Sopherim sometime after Christ in what is now the Masoretic Text (see Companion Bible and Soncino for the altered text).
The elohim were thus sons of God. They had access to the Throne from before the creation and after. There were multiple Morning Stars in this group and Satan was one of the sons of God. (Deut. 32:8 (RSV); Job. 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7). The elohim were a council (see Sabourin S.J., The Psalms: Their Origin and Meaning, Alba House, N.Y., pp. 72-74 for an analysis of this concept). These texts are found at Psalms 82:1,6; 86:8; 95:3; 96:4,5; 97:7,9; 135:5; 136:2; 138:1.
The elohim of Israel was elevated above his partners (Ps. 45:6-7). The partners were the council of the Elohim. This elohim referred to in the Psalm is identified as Jesus Christ from Hebrews 1:8-9.
Hebrews 1:8-9 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (KJV)
We can establish from these texts that Messiah was the Great Angel of Yahovah who was Israel’s second God. This is seen from the usage of Yahovah and his superior Yahovih or Yahovah of Hosts. This is understood from the treatment of the terms in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary 3068 and 3069. The terms are never spoken and are rendered as Adonai for SHD 3068 and as Elohim for SHD 3069 so as not to confuse the two beings. The terms referring to Yahovah and his superior Yahovah of Hosts is found, for example, in Zechariah 2:8-9.
Zechariah 2:8-9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me. (KJV)
We see here that the entity Yahovah was sent by Yahovah of Hosts. The two are distinct Beings: one is the messenger; the other is the supreme God. This sense is evident elsewhere (see also the paper The Elect as Elohim (No. 1)).
The text in Hebrews shows that Christ was advanced above his partners by his incarnation and activity as the earthly son. This concept was developed of Messiah as Mordecai in Esther (Esth. 3:1; 5:11; 10:2) (see the paper Commentary on Esther (No. 63)).
God was not concerned with the faithful angels. They were learning by their faithfulness in administering to us as ministering spirits. It was with the descendants of Abraham that He was next concerned. Therefore, the High Priest had to become as one of them in order to understand them and bring them to salvation.
Hebrews 2:16-18 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (KJV)
The KJV renders the text the nature of angels. The RSV renders the text as follows:
Hebrews 2:16-18 For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (RSV)
The KJV attempts to make it appear that Christ was not in the form of the Host. This was done along with the manipulation of many texts to show that Christ was somehow another true God, as had been developed by the Athanasians from the Council of Nicaea in 325 BCE and formulated in the Council of Constantinople in 381 CE. The text in Hebrews was argued at length at Nicaea. The Trinitarians were concerned about the concept of Christ being created and fought against the explicit statement in Hebrews that Christ was faithful to He that made him. This text was translated faithful to He that appointed him in the English because of Trinitarian theology (Heb. 3:2 – see also Heb. 1:2).
Hebrews 3:2 He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God's house. (RSV)
The word translated as appointed is poieo (SGD 4160), which is to make or do. This is the only time this word is translated thus. The sense of Christ’s appointment is found in Hebrews 5:5-10.
Hebrews 5:5-10 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; 6 as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz'edek." 7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz'edek. (RSV)
Christ was thus not always High Priest. After he had qualified he was appointed as High Priest by God. This is the reason why the Book of Hebrews was resisted by the Modalists and by those who sought to elevate Christ as a true God. Hebrews was removed from the Canon by many who sought this (see the paper The Bible (No. 164) for an explanation of the development of the Canon). Although he was a son, he learned by what he suffered and, being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. He was thus not the source of eternal salvation until it was conferred on him by the Father.
Also, the sonship is held to be in distinction from the incarnation from Hebrews. Thus Christ had an elevated status from his reduction and suffering. The sense of the charge of equality with God by claiming sonship was rejected by the Apostles. There are various texts that deny the equality of Christ with God and which show his relationship with the Father. Many of these were altered by the Trinitarians in the English texts. The sense of Philippians 2:6 was altered significantly in the KJV.
Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (KJV)
Here the sense is made out to be that Christ did not think it robbery to be equal with God. The sense is, however, that it was not something to be grasped after to become equal with God. In other words, the fallen Host wanted to grasp equality with God. Christ did not do so but became obedient unto death. We see this sense from the RSV and other texts (see also Marshall’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament).
Philippians 2:6-11 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (RSV)
The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon at page 74 also shows the nature of the word developed as grasped (SGD 725; harpagmos).
John 1:1 was similarly mistreated (see the papers The Deity of Christ (No. 147) and The First Commandment: The Sin of Satan (No. 153)). The New World Translation attempts to rectify the translation with: In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. The text deals with The God (ton Theon) and a god (theos, without the definite article). The indefinite article must be inferred here in the Greek. We will now examine this text more fully. The Greek text reads:
W< •DP± µ< Ň 8`(@H,
En arche en ho logos,
In [?] beginning was the word [or divine utterance],
6"4 Ň 8`(@H µ< BDÎH JÎ< 2,`<,
kai ho logos en pros ton theon
and the word was towards the God
6"4 2,ÎH µ< Ň 8`(@H
kai theos en ho logos
and [a] god was the logos
and the logos was a god.
The definite article is absent from the first clause En arche. This is perhaps more correctly read as in a beginning. The definite article is expressed in the Greek whereas the indefinite article is always inferred, being absent in the Greek. The preposition pros means towards; it does not mean with specifically. So the basic use of prepositions is: pros means towards, en means in, and ek means out of (pro = before; meta = after; epi = up; huper = over; pepi = about; eis = into; appo = from; dia = through; hupo = under; kata = down).
The use of pros ton theon here in John 1:1 means that the word was towards or with the God in the sense that this theos looked towards or was on the side of, or was a loyal attendant of the God. This logos was also a god. Now this meaning is totally unacceptable to Trinitarians. The text is thus translated as it is. However, the meanings can be seen from a number of sources.
The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures shows the constructions mentioned above. Also, the text in John 1:1 can be compared with other Greek texts of the same construction. An example in Greek literature is found in Xenophon (Anabasis, 1:4.6). The text is translated, But the place was a market, and is understood as meaning that there were other markets, just as John 1:1 can be taken to infer that there were other elohim or theoi – which we understand from the Psalms etc. The Appendix of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation for John 1:1 deals with these texts and lists the translations of John 1:1 in other Bibles. The Complete Bible - An American Translation renders the expression as divine, reading: In the beginning the Word existed. The Word was with God and the Word was divine (1943 reprint). Dr. James Moffatt translates the text as: The Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine (A New Translation of the Bible, 1935 edn.). The anarthrous use of theos here prompts these translators to use the term divine because it is clear that the theos referred to in the text is distinct from the ton theon or ho theos which is the being the God as distinct from a god which is the logos. This is the same sense John uses in 17:2-5 (esp. at v. 3).
The Kingdom Interlinear holds that the text could have been translated as, and the Word was a god in consistency with Xenophon’s usage. They note that the copulative verb was and the expression a god form the predicate of the sentence. The inference of the definite article to apply to the logos as theos – so that the sentence should read, and the Word was God, implying that the logos was the God that the sentence states the logos was with – is linguistically unreasonable and against the plain usage of the words of the text. Green’s Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament holds that the general rule is that, "in the simple sentence, the Subject takes the article and the Predicate omits it". The examples provided by Green in explanation of this situation relating to the word is truth, the word was god and God is love, are noted in the appendix to the Kingdom Interlinear to be an unintended admission that the Word in John 1:1 is not the same god as the God with whom the word is said to be (p. 1159).
Within the rules of language, as identified, this appears to be the case. Dr. A. T. Robertson has stated that:
God and love are not convertible terms, any more than God and Logos or Logos and flesh...The absence of the article here is on purpose and essential to the true idea (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 768; cf. The Kingdom Interlinear, ibid.).
Robertson’s view is supported by Dana and Mantey (Manual Grammar, p. 140; cf. the Kingdom Interlinear, ibid.). Robertson’s lists show that the omitting of the definite article in the predicate may be not according to any general rule, but for a specific purpose outside that rule (ibid., p. 1159). John does this often (Jn. 1:4,9,20,21,25,49; 3:28; 4:29,42; 5:35; 6:14,35,48,50,51,58,63,69; 7:26,40,41; 8:12; 10:7,9,11,14,24; 11:25,27; 14:6; 15:1,5; 18:33; 20:31; 21:24) and the translators often insert the indefinite article before the predicate noun (Jn. 4:19,24,25; 10:33; 12:6). Thus, from this usage, no objection can be raised to the insertion of the indefinite article a before the anarthrous theos in the predicate of John 1:1 (cf. ibid., p. 1160). The various translations render the same predicate construction with an anarthrous theos, found in Acts 28:6, not as he was God but he was a god. Thus, the same rules of grammar are broken and rendered entirely in the reverse in these two texts by the Trinitarian translators (see KJV, RSV, Westminster Version (1948), Moffatt’s Translation, An American Translation, Spencer’s Translation (1946) (cf. Kingdom Interlinear, ibid.). The true idea is held to be that the Logos or Word is not God or the God but is the son of God. He is hence a god or an elohim, which constitute God’s Council as formed from His sons. This is the entire sense of the Psalms and the structure of Revelation chapters 4 and 5. John qualifies the entire structure in the Gospel at John 17:3 and reiterates the understanding from 1John 5:20. Scripture supports this view entirely and overwhelmingly rejects the Trinitarian rendering and explanation. This was the view of the publication The New Testament, in an Improved Version, upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation: with a Corrected Text (London, 1808). This version long preceded Russell and the publishers of the Kingdom Interlinear. The text reads:
“The Word was in the beginning and the Word was with God, and the word was a god.”
This is a consistent rendering of the text within the theology of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The function of Trinitarian logic regarding these texts has forced the development of an entire theology that is explained only by an appeal to mystery. The Logos is held to be with the God and yet be the God. This is nonsense, and the text could have made such an hypothesis much more conveniently. Moreover, the other texts explain that this meaning is not the sense of the text, or the New Testament. It is thus inconvenient in the philosophical sense and against the other myriad texts, which show that Christ was subordinate and a separate entity. This is acknowledged by most theologians (e.g. Calvin, Harnack, Brunner) as the biblical position, which is Unitarian. Rational Theism, Judaism and Islam are all acknowledged to be Unitarian.
Similarly, the term in the beginning is applied to the term En arche, which is the same use as found in the LXX for Genesis 1:1. There is much dispute about which beginning is involved in the creation narrative. A re-creation is assumed by many or most theologians, who consider or attempt to explain the narrative in relation to known earth archaeology and geology. If it was the beginning, then the Greek has a means of saying exactly that.
The text in John 1:1 is seen to be another confirmation of Psalm 45:6-7 – as was Hebrews 1:8-9. John 1:1 must be read in context with Hebrews 1:8-9 and also Paul’s texts. John continues in chapter 1 to show that Christ was a subordinate to The God.
John 1:10-18 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'") 16 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. (RSV)
Thus the Word or logos was the Being that came as an only son from the Father. The Old Testament shows that there were myriad sons, some of whom were Morning Stars at or before the time this planet was formed (Job. 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7; Pss. 86:8-10; 95:3; 96:4; 135:5). Morning Star was the rank held by Satan (Isa. 14:12) and taken over by Christ (2Pet. 1:19; Rev. 2:28; 22:16). However, Christ was the only born son; that is, he is the only one of the sons of God who became born of flesh. This sense is held in John 1:18. The Receptus again alters this text to read the only born son or the monogenes uion. However, the ancient texts used monogenes theos or only born god (i.e. elohim) as Marshall’s Interlinear (using Nestle’s Text) shows. The word him is also added. The sense of the text is that the only born god spoke.
This is concealed by the Trinitarians in the same way that Philippians 2:6 was later translated, among others. For example: 1Timothy 3:16 in the KJV is compiled from the Receptus. The Receptus uses a blatant forgery in Codex A to attribute equality as God to Christ.
1Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (KJV)
The Companion Bible is an easily accessible reference for this text. The Revised Version prints He Who instead of God. The R.V. adds in the margin: “Theos rests on no sufficient evidence”. The Companion Bible goes on:
The probability is that the original reading was ho (which), with the Syriac and all the Latin version, to agree with musterion (neut.). The Greek uncial being O, some scribe added the letter s, making [Ho sigma] (He who), which he thought made better sense. Later another put a mark in this O making the word [theta sigma], the contraction for Theos, God. This mark in Codex A in the British Museum is said by some to be in different ink.
This problem came from the fact that there were no texts in the Bible supporting the Trinitarian position. To further develop the Trinitarian position, a number of other texts were inserted. We will examine these below. Binitarians are also confused by these texts, but their theology is much more simplistic and their comprehension of the issues seems much weaker.
Dependence of the Son on God the Father
This position now takes us back to John 5:19-47 where Christ made a series of points.
John 5:19-47 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. 31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. 37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41 I receive not honour from men. 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (KJV)
Christ develops this delegated authority position. From this text we are shown that:
1. Christ could do nothing of himself (thus he is not co-equal in power).
2. The example of the Father was conferred on the Son, which the Son imitated.
3. The love of the Father was the reason for this disclosure of knowledge and power.
4. This love was to extend to the elect. Hence, the extension itself was the reason in order that they might marvel and so be converted (v. 20).
5. The resurrection is extended to the dead by the power of the Father. This discretion is given to Christ in judgment.
6. The Father takes no part in the judgment, having delegated the judgment to the Son.
7. This was done so that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. The honour of the Father is thus an attribute of His position. The honour of the Son is an attribute of his delegation and is thus not intrinsic.
8. This honour is conditional to the relationship with the Father who sent the son.
9. Whoever hears the words of Christ and believes on the Father who sent him has eternal life. They will not come into condemnation but into eternal life.
10. The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those that hear will live (i.e. eternally).
11. For as the Father has life in Himself so has He given the Son to have life in himself.
Thus the Son did not have life in himself except as it was given him by the Father. The power of the resurrection and of eternal life is delegated by the Father to the Son and, hence, to the elect. The elect are thus co-heirs with Christ to the power of the Father as enjoyed by the Son.
Immortality is the state of deathlessness (athanasia, SGD 110). It is used only three times in the New Testament (1Cor. 15:53,54; 1Tim. 6:16) in distinction to aptharsia (SGD 861) and apthartos (SGD 862), also translated immortal or immortality, which means incorruptible or genuineness and hence immortality or sincerity. (The name Athanasius, therefore, means the immortal one.)
God has this state of athanasia intrinsically. God the Father cannot die. That is a conditional to His omnipotence.
The text at 1Timothy 6:16 refers to the Father only as having this state. This text, as might be expected, is thus obscured in the KJV.
1Timothy 6:13-16 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. (KJV)
The sense of this text is that God is the blessed Potentate and King of Kings and Lord of Lords unto whom no one can approach, whom no one has seen nor can see. The Trinitarians are forced to attempt to claim that this text refers to Christ in the sequence of immortality, obviously because it denies the state of deathlessness to Christ intrinsically. We know from John 1:18 that no man has ever seen God and that Christ spoke. Christ was made visible and has been seen by men. God has never been seen by mortal eyes.
The RSV shows the intention more clearly that the One True God reveals or makes manifest in the proper time. He alone is immortal and that no one has ever seen Him nor ever can because He dwells in unapproachable light.
1Timothy 6:13-16 In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (RSV)
The Jerusalem Bible translates this clearly and is unequivocal:
Now, before God the source of all life and before Jesus Christ, who spoke up as a witness for the truth in front of Pontius Pilate, I put to you the duty of doing all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no man has seen and no man is able to see: to him be honor and everlasting power. Amen
The New English Bible translates the text as:
I charge you to obey you orders irreproachably and without fault until our Lord Jesus Christ appears. That appearance God will bring to pass in [H]is own good time - God who in eternal felicity alone holds sway. He is King of kings and Lord of lords; [H]e alone possesses immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light. No man has ever seen or can see [H]im. To [H]im be honour and might for ever! Amen.
Phillip’s Modern English Bible and The Living Bible have the same context. God alone will make manifest, or order, the coming of Jesus Christ. God alone is immortal, or the only source of immortality (Phillip’s). No mortal eye can see Him (Phillip’s). The Living Bible renders the text 1Timothy 6:15-16 as:
For in due season Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only Almighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone can never die, who lives in light so terrible that no human being can approach [H]im. No mere man has ever seen [Him], nor ever will. Unto [H]im be honor and everlasting power and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The simple meaning of the words is seen as being that only God possesses intrinsic immortality or the state of deathlessness. God delegates this condition to Christ from John 5:26. This text cannot refer to Christ, as he was seen by the prophets and Apostles in his glorified or spiritual state, both before the incarnation and after the ascension, which was his glorified state (Acts 1:9). This is the reason why the Councils of the Trinitarian Church have ruled against those who hold that Christ was seen from the Old Testament. This ruling also attempts to prevent identification of Christ as the Angel of Yahovah. Christ was glorified and granted eternal life by God both before and after the incarnation. This logic is attacked by Trinitarians from the point of view of the text at John 17:5.
John 17:5 and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made. (RSV)
The KJV says: "glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was". This text which follows John 17:2,3,4 and is qualified by them – also implying a willing self-revelation of God to Christ – is somehow taken to mean that Christ was immortal, co-eternal and co-equal in spite of the multiplicity of other texts which show that he did not seek to grasp equality and that Christ did not possess intrinsic immortality.
John 17:2-5 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; 5 and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made. (RSV)
We know that mortals (thnetos or dying, occurring five times: Rom. 6:12; 8:11; 1Cor. 15:53,54; 2Cor. 4:11) can acquire athanasia or immortality from 1Corinthians 15:53-54. Thus Christ at present is the only Being to acquire immortality through the resurrection.
God possesses immortality intrinsically. Others acquire it by delegation. Christ and the elect thus become immortal but they, by the same process, are not eternal in a retrospective sense. Christ cannot give eternal life to other than those determined and given to him by the Father. This text merely reinforces the fact that Christ had a pre-incarnation state that was with God and was from God’s own self. Christ was in the form of God. This state was conferred by the Holy Spirit, which is God as the power of God and the means by which Christ is glorified as God (see the papers The Holy Spirit (No. 117) and also Consubstantial with the Father (No. 81)).
The glorification of Christ is that of the elect. The form (morphe) of God, as the image of the invisible God, is delegated to the elect as it was to Christ. The elect are thus foreknown from God’s omniscience, predestined, chosen, called, justified and hence glorified (Rom 8:29-30).
Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. (RSV)
The glorification that was given to Christ, and which he had as the Angel of Yahovah and elohim of Israel with God before the incarnation, is given to the elect as elohim (Zech. 12:8).
The elect thus put on immortality also.
1Corinthians 15:51-54 Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." (RSV)
Nothing in any of these texts can be construed as implying that Christ was either co-eternal with God or co-equal. Nor can it be inferred that Christ was independent of the power of God for existence. He thus cannot be a true God in the sense that the Father is a True God.
There is only One True God that lives for ever and ever and all beings or things were created by His will, and they exist and were created for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11).
God gives to Christ a number of positions. Yahovah was one title that Christ was given, however, he is given others (Isa. 9:6, see esp. everlasting father).
Yahovah stems from the title I am that I will become (from ‘eyeh ‘asher ‘eyeh) as given at Sinai (see Companion Bible, fn. to Ex. 3:14; see SHD 1961 for hayah or ‘eyeh). Christ thus declared himself as Yahovah (SHD 3068), the national god of Israel, as opposed to Yahovih (SHD 3069) or Yahovah of Host. Christ’s claim enraged the Jews (Jn. 8:58).
God was becoming something and Christ was part of that activity. God was extending Himself as and through the elohim.
Trinitarians also make claim from the conferring of the title everlasting father that Christ was also the Father, which is absurd given the distinctions within the Monarchia and the Circumincession of Trinitarian theology, where the Trinity is distinct but not separate. The only way that this title can be given is by delegation.
There are in fact many fatherhoods (or patria) in both Heaven and Earth. This is translated as every family in most Bibles to obscure this meaning.
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, (RSV)
The KJV renders it every fatherhood as the whole family; again obscuring an interpretative text. The everlasting fatherhood is delegated with the power of eternal life. Each of the families in Heaven is under a leader, and the function of the divisions of the priesthood and the nation into twenty-four divisions (see the paper God’s Calendar (No. 156)) was to mirror the celestial Temple and God’s government (Heb. 8:5).
King of kings and Lord of lords
Another of those delegated titles is the title King of kings and Lord of lords, which we see applies to the Father (1Tim. 6:16) but is conferred on the Son for the Return, the Subjugation of the Planet, and the Millennial Reign (Rev. 19:16).
Revelation 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. (RSV)
This function of delegation in Hebrew is not properly understood by modern Christianity. In Hebrew cosmology, the messenger was treated with the deference of the entity that he represented.
Delegation of Immortality from Alpha and Omega
The function of immortality was vested in God the Father, as we have seen (1Tim. 6:16). This process was extended to Christ and then to the elect. Christ in the first instance became the Alpha and the Omega by delegation. This is revealed by God to Christ in Revelation 1:8-20.
Revelation 1:8-20 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. 9 I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Per'gamum and to Thyati'ra and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to La-odice'a." 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; 14 his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; 16 in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (RSV)
The text of Revelation 1 is constructed in five paragraphs or sections: verses 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-11, 12-20. God is before the throne and this Being is distinct from Christ, the third element in this chapter. The distinction is made between "the one who is and was and is to come" and Jesus Christ. The former or first Being has a throne in front of the seven spirits. This Being, the Lord God who is the Father, is the Being whose coming is described in Revelation 21. The structure is thus introduced in chapter 1 and concluded in chapter 21, being explained in the intervening chapters. The Alpha and the Omega is shown as being God Almighty and not Jesus Christ, from verse 8. The text at verse 17 shows the term the first and the last (protos and eschatos; the first-born of a series). This is derived from the meaning of the delegation by God of the process of the first and last to Christ. He was not Alpha and Omega but he was the first-born from the dead. He was alive and dead and alive again forevermore. The text shows the concept in the RSV.
In the KJV, we can see that this concept was resisted by the compilers of the Receptus, who inserted the words Alpha and Omega in the text at verse 11 where no such concept or words existed in the ancient texts. The following became the text in the KJV.
Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. (KJV)
This wording does not appear in the ancient texts (e.g. not in NU or M texts, not in Vatican manuscript #1209 Emphatic Diaglott, hence also not in other Bibles). The Companion Bible notes that the texts omit the words I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and as referring to Christ and also the words which are in Asia (see fn. to v. 11). Verse 8 is also translated as simply the Lord and not the Lord God (Greek: the Lord The God) as is evident from the RSV and also the New English Bible, Phillip’s and the Jerusalem Bible. The KJV version of Revelation 1 is a distortion involving false insertions in the Receptus. The purpose is to assert Christ as the Alpha and the Omega as seemingly ignoring God rather than by delegation from God.
All of these alterations or forgeries to key texts are by Trinitarians in order to distort the theology to assert their false position. The Alpha was the primary source. He also retains the first and last structure. Christ came from this source. He was not the Alpha. However, he was the first and he will be the last (eschatos). God is, however, the Omega. He is thus the end result of the activity of the creation. Christ is dedicated to the establishment of the Kingdom of God where God will become all in all. As Omega, God becomes the product of His own (God’s) creation. We become individual aspects of the Holy Spirit as it is a monotheist web of living entities coming from and interacting with God the Father and each other.
Christ was the first-begotten of the creation. He is before all things (at their head, see Zech. 12:8). In him all things subsist or are held together (Col. 1:16-17).
Christ was seen biblically as a subordinate elohim or theos (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9; Gen. 48:14-16; Zech. 12:6). This was the Great Angel who was Israel’s second God (see Barker’s The Great Angel: Israel’s Second God for a quasi-Trinitarian perspective).
Christ derives his life, power and authority by command of God the Father (Jn. 10:17-18). Christ subordinates his will to God who is the Father (Mat. 21:31; 26:39; Mk. 14:36; Jn. 3:16; 4:34). God gives the elect to Christ, being greater than Christ (Jn. 14:28) and greater than all (Jn. 10:29). God sent His only born (monogene) Son into the world that we might live through him (1Jn. 4:9). God honours Christ, being greater than Christ (Jn. 8:54).
The elect are made to participate in the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4). God put all things under the feet of Christ and made him head of all things to the Church. God promised His inheritance to the saints and He gave it to them through His mighty power:
Ephesians 1:20-23 which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; 22 and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. (RSV)
The entire purpose of Christ’s existence as a being, a power and incarnation as a man was to fulfil God’s will as it applied to the saints and God’s plan of creation and salvation.
Christ’s condition of existence where the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily (Col. 2:9) involves the theotetos, translated here as Godhead. This is the deity or the state of being God. Deity (theot) differs from divinity (theiot) as essence differs from quality or attribute (Thayer’s p. 288). Thus, Christ possessed the essence of the God’s deity and not His attributes other than by delegation. All things are given to Christ by God.
1Corinthians 15:27-28 "For God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one. (RSV)
Obscuring texts is not the province of any one Bible. Here the RSV has rendered this text to read everything to everyone rather than all in all as in the KJV. The text in Colossians 3:11 is the same sense (panta kai en pasin). Here we see that God is to be all in all. Thus we are vehicles of the Spirit of God. We are the living stones of the Temple that houses the Being and power of God. We thus become immortal as Christ was given immortality and as God has immortality. We can never be the Alpha but we will finally become the Omega as elohim as part of God.
The logic of God’s omnipotence has an intrinsic limitation. He could not die, being spirit and immortal. The plan of creation was to reproduce Himself through the power of His Spirit by which means He conferred His attributes. This necessarily involved immortality. The retention of the state of immortality was dependent upon the allocation of the Spirit within a spiritual structure by the will of God.
The fallen Host were and are spirit, but their retention of the state of immortality is finite. The loyal Host are glorified with God in His presence and they have held that estate from before the creation of the world in the same way that Christ held that state before his incarnation. Because of the rebellion of some of the Host and the sin of man, the designated leader of the loyal Host had to assume an earthly existence in order to show the love of God by laying down himself for his brethren. God is showing this love by extending the process of immortality and power to His children. This elevates others to a greater position and does not rule by force and power without love. Satan would not subjugate himself. God chose Christ and made him the only born Son and elohim. He then became the first-born from the dead. He achieved his position as a son of God in power from his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). He thus was not in this position before the resurrection. He was thus anointed with the oil of gladness above his partners (Heb. 1:8-9). Psalm 45:6-7 is thus a prophecy. This was all done by the command of God and through no other power.
Christ held that he had a command from the Father to lay down his life and to take it up again. All these things he did in accordance with the will of the Father, who was his God and Father and our God and Father. This point is made in John 20:17.
John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (KJV)
The Bible is clear that Eloah is the God Most High. He is the Father of us all (Mal. 2:10).
Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (KJV)
Christ gave up his position as a son of God to become human and die for us. This was something God could not do.
We will now proceed to examine the theology of the disciples of the Apostles and their understanding against the above constructions from the plain words of the Bible texts. A most important point to make is that Trinitarian or Binitarian theology is not evident in any of the early writings. All of the disciples and the early apologists held that Christ was a creation of the Father. For this reason the early disciples are rarely read and are even more rarely quoted.
One of the most important early theologians was Irenćus. He was the disciple of Polycarp and perhaps of John himself. He was one of the most important of the Smyrna church and he and another disciple went to Lyon via Rome. He became bishop of Lyon. He is the closest we can get to the doctrine of the Apostles in explanation or clarification of what John and the others meant in the New Testament. We will see that Irenćus held that we would become elohim or theoi as prophesied in Zechariah 12:8. These positions were examined in more detail in the work Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127).
Irenćus says of God:
For He commanded, and they were created; He spake and they were made. Whom therefore did He command? The Word, no doubt, by whom, He says, the heavens were established and all their power by the breath of His mouth [Ps. 33:6]. (Adv. Haer., III, viii, 3)
Irenćus held that:
… it is clearly proved that neither the prophets nor the apostles did ever name another God, or call [him] Lord, except the true and only God.... But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him (ibid.).
Irenćus extended the capacity to become God (theos or elohim) to the Logos here as distinct from the other things established (ibid.). He had already established the position of God and the Son and those of the adoption as theoi or elohim and all sons of God from Book III, Chapter vi.
Therefore neither would the Lord, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles, have ever named as God, definitely and absolutely, him who was not God, unless he were truly God; nor would they have named any one in his own person Lord, except God the Father ruling over all, and His Son who has received dominion from His Father over all creation, as this passage has it: The Lord says unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool [Ps. 110:1]. Here the [Scripture] represents the Father addressing the Son; He who gave Him the inheritance of the heathen, and subjected to Him all His enemies...
Irenćus went on to state that the Holy Spirit termed both Father and Son here as Lord. He held that it was Christ who spoke with Abraham prior to the destruction of the Sodomites and had received power [from God] to judge the Sodomites for their wickedness. And this [text following]
… does declare the same truth: “‘Thy throne, O God’ is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God hath anointed Thee” [Ps. 45:6] For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name of God [theos or elohim] - both Him who is anointed as Son and Him who does anoint, that is the Father. And again: “God stood in the congregation of the gods, he judges among the gods” [Ps. 82:1]. He [here] refers to the Father and the Son and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church for she is the synagogue of God, which God - that is the Son Himself - has gathered by Himself of whom He again speaks: “The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth.” [Ps. 50:1]. Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, “God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence;” [Ps. 50:3] that is, the Son who came manifested to men, who said, “I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not” [Isa. 65:1]. But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High” [Ps. 82:6]. To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the “adoption, by which we cry Abba Father” [Rom. 8:15] (Against Heresies, Bk. III, Ch. vi, ANF, Vol. I, pp. 418-419).
There is no doubt that Irenćus had a subordinationist view of the Godhead and extended the term God (as theoi or elohim) to include the Son and those also of the adoption. He seems to indicate here that Christ gathered the elect, whereas we know from Scripture that it is God who gives the elect to Christ in order that they be gathered (Jn. 17:11-12; Heb. 2:13; 9:15). The exclusive application of the term to the physical elect may be incorrect given Irenćus’ application here. The loyal Host are also included in the council from the understanding in Revelation 4 and 5. Thus the loyal Host are also the Ecclesia of God.
There is no doubt that the term elohim or theoi was held to extend to the Church and that this was the understanding of the first century Church both from John to Polycarp, who taught Irenćus, and on into the second and subsequent centuries.
Another writer of approximately the same time as Irenćus was Justin Martyr. He showed the first tendencies to move to Sunday worship, as we will see below.
Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all; for they do not discern the mystery that is therein, to which, as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed. (Apol., I, xiii)
And the first power after God the Father and Lord of all is the Word (logos), who is also the Son. (Apol., I, xxxii).
It is wrong, therefore, to understand the Spirit and the power of God, as anything else than the Word (logos), who is also the firstborn of God. (Apol., I, xxxiii).
Thus, Justin thinks of the Logos as an emanation of God, which is capable of individuation, to embrace the concept of the Spirit in general and Christ in particular. He says, however:
But both Him [God] and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, knowing them in reason and in truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.
Thus, the angels were also held to be conformed to the image of God (in the same way as Christ was made like Him). From Chapters 13, 16 and 61, Justin did not advocate the worship of Angels (see also fn. 3 to ANF, Vol. 1, p. 164; see the paper Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127) for comment). The worship of the Christian Church is confined to God and does not extend even to Christ, other than in homage as a controller and master. But, importantly, Justin extends the body to include the loyal Host. This is therefore a closer approximation to the biblical doctrine of the Spirit being capable of individuation to embrace the elect who are to become theoi, as Christ is one of the theoi subordinate to his theos, who is God the Father. Biblically, he is, however, the second highest theos, as the High Priest.
Justin was seemingly among the first to introduce Sunday worship (see Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, p. 223ff.) yet he was still a subordinationist. He held peculiar antinomian views regarding the Sabbath and its application to the Jews as a peculiar punishment. His views were not supported by Christians at the time, and Bacchiocchi holds that the Christian Church has never accepted such a false thesis (p. 225). To hold that God established the circumcision and the Sabbath solely on account of the wickedness of the Jews as a distinguishing mark, to set them off from other nations and us Christians so that the Jews only might suffer affliction (Dial. 16:1, 21:1; see also Bacchiocchi, ibid.), makes God guilty of gross respect of persons and is contrary to the entire sentiment of the confessions of the Reformation. In spite of this error, his view of the Godhead is still subordinationist. However, he introduces emanationist reasoning which seems to accompany this antinomianist approach. As we have seen, Justin, however, still denied the doctrine of the Soul and Heaven as non-Christian and as stemming from the Mystery cults.
Clement of Alexandria says in like manner:
For the Son is the power of God, as being the Father's most ancient Word before the production of all things, and His Wisdom. He is then properly called the Teacher of the beings formed by Him. Now the energy of the Lord has a reference to the Almighty; and the Son is, so to speak, an energy of the Father. ("Strom.", VII, ii, P.G., IX, 410)
Clement however understood that the destiny of the elect was to become gods. He said when speaking of gnosis, which he held could be attained by man to some extent during his stay on Earth:
But it reaches its climax after the death of the body, when the soul of the [gnoostikos] is allowed to fly back to its original place, where after becoming a god, it can enjoy, in a complete and perpetual rest, the contemplation of the highest divinity 'face to face', together with the other [theoi] (S. R. C. Lilla Clement of Alexandria A Study In Christian Platonism and Gnosticism, Oxford, 1971, p. 142).
Thus here we see the combination of the Greek gnosis combined with the early doctrine that we would become theoi or elohim. There was no suggestion that Christ or the other theoi were equal to this highest divinity (from Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127)).
Hippolytus says most significantly:
Now, that Noetus affirms that the Son and Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes his statement thus: "When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another's."
For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that the Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times. (Hippolytus repeats this opinion in his summary, Book X.) (Con. Noet, n. 14, "The Refutation of All Heresies", Bk. IX, Ch. V, ANF, Vol. V, pp. 127-128);
The first and only (One God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval with Himself, ... But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them. For He is fully acquainted with whatever is about to take place, for foreknowledge also is present to Him. (Hippolytus, ibid., X, XXVIII, p. 150)
Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father.
For simultaneously with His procession from His progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor's firstborn, He has as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation thus pleasing God. (Hippolytus, ibid., X, XXIX)
Christ, he means, the wisdom and power of God the Father, hath builded His house... (Fragment on Proverb 9:1, ANF, Vol. V, p. 175).
It is with this writer that we first develop the error that Christ was the only emanation of the Father, and that the other elements of the heavenly Host are creations of the Son and thus do not share in the Divine Nature as does the Son. Now this is the basic error upon which the doctrine of the Trinity began to be built. As was demonstrated from the biblical context, the elohim are a multiple Host of which the Lamb is the High Priest, but he is one of them as a fellow or comrade even though all of the hierarchical structure was created by, or in, him and for him (Col. 1:15). The saints likewise become companions to Christ from Hebrews 3:14 and hence brothers to the Host (Rev. 12:10) and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). The heavens, all things that were, referred to as being created by the Son, are the spiritual and physical structures. This is the intent of the references at John 1:3 regarding the creation and 1Corinthians 8:6 regarding the universe (ta panta) and humans.
Colossians 1:15-17 specifically allocates the creation of all things visible and invisible. The creation of thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities, through him and for him, cannot refer to the Council of the Elohim. The creation by Christ of the lordships (kuriotetes) is not of the entities.
If that were so then it would involve the creation of God who is the supreme Kurios. Thus we are dealing with the powers and not the Beings – the thrones and the structure of the heavens and their government.
Ephesians 1:22 and 3:9 show that it was God who created all things and placed them under the feet of Christ and made him head of all things for the Church. This was done so that the rulers and authorities in the heavens would understand through the Church the manifold wisdom of God. These things were done to demonstrate that God has highly exalted Christ (Phil. 2:10), which logically he could not always have been. Yet God used Christ as the leader and primary instrument of the creation of the ages (Eph. 11:3). Christ created the world (Heb. 1:2); he reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of His nature (Heb. 1:3). Hebrews 2:10 refers to the all things (ta panta) which constitute the universe.
Hebrews 2:11 states that: For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin (enos pantes). Hebrews 11:3 allegedly states that the world was created by a word of God (remati theou; see Marshall). The Logos is not identified as being involved and, more particularly, the word translated as created is identified by Marshall as meaning adjusted (katertisthai), and that it is not the world that is adjusted but rather the ages (aionas). Thus: The ages were adjusted by a word of God so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. This is a concept of creation by adjustment of the space/time equation, which has not yet been addressed. Romans 11:36 refers to God, not Christ, as the source and object of all things.
The rest of the Elohim referred to in the Bible have subordinate but composite authority with Christ. They have dominion over the celestial structure. This composite Elohim (under Jesus Christ) is created in accordance with the will of God. One of them, the Covering Cherub termed Satan, and those subordinate to him, in rebellion created contrary to God's will (see Cox Creation: From Anthropomorphic Theology to Theomorphic Anthropology (No. B5)). It is a logical absurdity to suggest that Christ could be created infallible yet the other members of the Host were given free moral agency such that they could choose to obey or sin. Christ's success stemmed from his obedience not from his infallibility. His success was known from the prescience of God. He is given dominion pursuant to his obedience and faith. The dominion over the celestial creation and hence the power of the Christ and the Host in creation is to be extended to mankind after the Second Resurrection from Deuteronomy 4:19.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia (N.C.E., art. ‘Trinity, Holy’, Vol. XIV, McGraw Hill, N.Y., 1967, p. 296) makes the most extraordinary assertion concerning the doctrine of Hippolytus.
Hippolytus in his refutation of Noetus (10) and the exaggerated identification of Christ with the Father, insists that God was multiple from the beginning.
This is simply false from a comparison with the actual text of Hippolytus (C. Noetus 10) above. The same authority holds that:
Tertullian, combatting the same attitude (Adv. Prax. 5), all but explicitly personalizes this eternal multiplicity. The Word stands forth and is other than the Father though still within the Godhead in the manner suggested by human reflection, as internal discourse is in some sense another, a second in addition to oneself, though yet within oneself.
This form involves the same logic as Noetianism and Sabellianism and is seriously incoherent.
Tertullian holds from Against (Adv.) Praxeas that:
This one only God has also a Son, His Word, who proceeded from Himself, by whom all things were made...All are of one, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons- the Father, the Son and the Holy [Spirit]: three however, not in condition but in degree; not in substance but in form; not in power but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power inasmuch as He is One God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy [Spirit]... (II);
Tertullian also says that the Father raised the Son from the dead (II). Thus Tertullian makes important distinctions in the interrelationship of the three entities, which are aspects of the operation of God in degree. The Son and the Spirit are processions from the Father and subordinate aspects of His manifestation. Tertullian gave the Trinity a numerical order and distribution (III). He also held that the Monarchy of God came from the Father (III), but that it was equally the Son's, being held by both (III) yet committed to the Son by the Father (IV).
Tertullian held that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son. Tertullian also held (IV) that the Father and the Son are two separate persons. Thus it might be asserted that true Binitarianism commenced with Tertullian.
He who subjected (all things) and He to whom they were subjected - must necessarily be two different Beings (ibid.).
However, Tertullian says at Chapter V that before all things God was alone.
For before all things God was alone - being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself.
The fact that He possessed Reason made him in fact not alone and Tertullian holds that this faculty of Reason termed by the Greeks logos, was the faculty from the beginning which was more correctly reason rather than word as He had reason but did not speak. Thus Tertullian makes the distinction that Christ is the reason of God and that this reason must have been instantiated in the Divine essence from the beginning. The argument is open to various objections. The first error is that Christ was the entire aspect of Word and Wisdom and not just a manifestation of those aspects. Thus he was Logos as part of The Logon (for development see the paper Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127) and others listed). The logos that appeared to man was Christ. If Christ was with God before the beginning – as Tertullian states that God had reason even before the beginning – then Christ is an attribute of God which is capable of distribution but is incapable of isolation to a single entity. It is absurd to suggest that Christ apart from God renders God without reason or Wisdom and hence not God.
Christ was the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3:14). We are thus identifying the beginning as understood by the early theologians as the beginning of creation, which began time. Tertullian holds that only God existed before the beginning in his abiding perpetuity (V), distinct from and greater than the Son (IX) who is both Word and Wisdom (VI). God did not become Father until after the creation of the Word (VII) to effect the creation (Adv. Hermog. 3). God the Father thus stood outside of time and all other beings did not. Only He is the Supreme God. The N.C.E. states that:
By the middle of the 3[r]d century, as one may see reflected in Novatian's treatise De Trinitate, the Roman Church, originally cool towards this stress on otherness and plurality, had come to incorporate Tertullian's main insights. Novatian, moreover, insists (ch. 31) quite frankly on the unequivocal eternity of father and sonship in the Godhead. (op. cit., p. 297)
As can be seen above, the later teachings, while incorporating some of Tertullian's sentiments, became based on Novatian's (alleged) concept of co-eternality in opposition to the express words of Tertullian.
Thus the dogma was a hybrid construction of the third-century Church. It was not based upon the biblical narrative but upon gradually developing faulty theology. The comments above indicate that the authorities are incorrectly cited, totally reversing the meaning of the texts – which seemingly indicates selected readings.
The Eastern school, centred on Alexandria and writing close to the time of Hippolytus and Tertullian, had incorporated the teaching of the Son as a generation of the Father, commencing with Clement (above). But Clement was subordinationist, as were all the early theologians. Clement's successor was Origen.
We see from this sequence that the doctrine of the co-eternality of Christ is the teaching of Novatian (ca. 250). The quote above by the N.C.E. regarding the position of the co-eternality of Father and son in the Godhead is perhaps an overstatement. Kelly holds that Novatian was more archaic than Hippolytus and Tertullian, whose influence he reflected. He held that the One and only Godhead is the Father, the author and sustainer of all reality (De Trin. 31). Nevertheless, from Him, when He willed it, was born a Son, His Word ... being a second person after the Father. He does not tie the generation of Son to creation. He alleges that the Father was always Father and, hence, He must always have had a Son. This concept was developed from the view that Christ existed substantially before the foundation of the world (De Trin. 16). The limitation appears to be Novatian’s view of the foundation of the world as the beginning of creation. In this sense, Christ existed before such creation. However, there were two aspects of the creation: the physical and the spiritual.
In this sense, Novatian does not understand the Old Testament relationships of the sons of God and hence his theology is flawed. This is invariably the case with Binitarians as well as Trinitarians. However, his position seems to deny any aspect of co-equality, which is more in keeping with the modern Binitarians than with the Trinitarians.
This quasi-Trinitarian view is now espoused as seemingly biblical doctrine yet it was not held until Novatian. Novatianists also caused a schism in the Church because of their attitude to those who lapsed in the Decian persecution (Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, pp. 204, 436ff.).
Origen is clearly subordinationist.
We declare that the Son is not mightier than the Father, but inferior to Him. And this belief we ground on the saying of Jesus Himself: 'The Father who sent me is greater than I. (Con. Cels., VIII, xv)
We know, therefore, that He is the Son of God, and that God is His Father. And there is nothing extravagant or unbecoming the character of God in the doctrine that He should have begotten such an only Son; and no one will persuade us that such a one is not a Son of the unbegotten God and Father. If Celsus has heard something of certain persons holding that the Son of God is not the Son of the Creator of the universe, that is a matter which lies between him and the supporters of such an opinion. (Con. Cels., VIII, xiv)
Origen as the successor to Clement in the Alexandrian School:
… envisioned the universe along Neoplatonist lines of hierarchical extrapolation. At the utterly transcendent apex, there is God the Father (De Princ. 1.1.6), alone source without source or, to use Origen's favourite term (e.g., In Ioan. 2.10.75), ungenerate [agennetos]. But (De Princ. 1.2.3) the Father has from all eternity generated a Son, and (In Ioan. 2.10. 75) through his Son the Word, he has brought forth the Holy Spirit. The three, Origen maintains in the same passage, are three distinct individuals [hence persons] or *hypostases [cf. In Ioh. 2,10,75]. On the other hand (Frag. in Hebr.), with explicit reference here to Father and Son, they share together a 'community of substance.' for the Son, he adds a moment later is 'of the same substance' [*homoousios ] as the Father.(N.C.E., p. 297).
J.N.D. Kelly in Early Christian Doctrines says of Origen’s theory of the Hypostases that:
This affirmation that each of the Three is a distinct hypostasis from all eternity, not just (as for Tertullian and Hippolytus) as manifested in the 'economy', is one of the chief characteristics of his doctrine, and stems directly from the idea of eternal generation. Hupostasis and ousia were originally synonyms, the former Stoic and the latter Platonic, meaning real existence or essence, that which is a thing is; but while hupostasis retains this connotation in Origen [e.g. In Ioh 20,22,182f.; 32,16,192f.], he more frequently gives it the sense of individual subsistence, and so individual existent. The error of Modalism, he contends [ibid.. 10,37,246: cf. ib. 2.2.16; In Matt. 17,14.], lies in treating the Three as numerically indistinguishable (:¬ *4"NXD,4< Jč •D42:č), separable only in thought, 'one not only in essence but also in subsistence'... (p. 129)
From De Orat. 15,1 and C. Cels. 8,12, Origen holds the true teaching to be that the Son "is other in subsistence than the Father". The Father and the Son are "two things in respect of Their Persons, but one in unanimity, harmony and identity of will" (see also Kelly, ibid.). Kelly says that:
Thus while really distinct, the Three are from another point of view one; as he expresses it [Dial. Heracl. 2], 'we are not afraid to speak in one sense of two Gods, in another sense of one God' (ibid.).
Origen thus held the Father to be theologically prior to the Son and that the Son was a product of the Father. He holds the unity to be a moral one rather than an assumed and incoherent Modalism. Origen relates the marriage of man and wife as one flesh as symbolic of this, and also equates the human relationship of the elect with Christ as being of one spirit. Thus, on a higher plane again, Father and Son though distinct are one God. Kelly holds that though Origen seems to speak of Christ as a creature this is as a conscious concession to Proverbs 8:22 and Colossians 1:15 and that it should not be pressed. He participates in the divine nature by being united to the Father's nature (In Ioh. 2,2,16; 2,10,76; 19,2,6). Kelly states that:
One must be careful, however, not to attribute to Origen any doctrine of consubstantiability between Father and Son.
Origen's union of the Father and the Son is one of love, will and action (Kelly, discounting the texts surviving in Rufinus' whitewashed Latin translation, ibid., p. 130). Origen states of the Holy Spirit (Frag. in Hebr. PG 14, 1308):
He supplies those who, because of Him and their participation in Him, are called sanctified with the matter, if I may so describe it, of their graces. This same matter of graces is effected by God, is ministered by Christ, and achieves individual subsistence (ßN,FJfF0H) as the Holy Spirit (see also Kelly, ibid.).
Kelly (pp. 130-131) considers from this that the ultimate ground of the being of the Holy Spirit is the Father, but that it is mediated to the Spirit by the Son, from whom also the Spirit derives all its attributes (cf. ibid., 2,10,76).
The three are eternally and really distinct but they are not a Triad of disparate Beings. The error is in the conclusion that the Son imbues the Spirit with all its attributes rather than being its controller in the elect. Co-eternality is logically compromised. The failure to understand the nature of the Spirit in the monotheist control of the elect is the fundamental error here (see the paper The Holy Spirit (No. 117)).
The Platonist emanationism dictated that the structure descended in these forms from the Father, and thus the Spirit became the third form rather than the animating agency and the means by which Christ became one with God. Through the Spirit humanity could become one as Christ was but on a conditional basis, which the Greeks appear to have rejected. The intrusion of neo-Platonism into Christianity is widespread (see Mysticism). The failure to understand the distinction made by Origen above set the stage for the Council of Nicaea some 100 years later. The oneness of the substance was the oneness conferred by the substance of the Holy Spirit, which was of itself an attribute of God. Origen held that only the Father is God from Himself (autotheos) (In Ioan. 2.2.17).
… and in Origen's mind (C. Cels. 5.39) Christians rightly refer to the Son as a 'secondary' [deuteros] (*,bJ,D@H) deity (N.C.E., ibid.).
Origen's postulation of eternal creation negated the concept of the co-eternality of Christ.
From these texts we can see that Binitarianism did not really eventuate until Tertullian, where it emerges in a quasi-Trinitarian setting and this is appropriate as Binitarianism is really an incoherent, and seemingly ditheist form of Trinitarianism. Trinitarianism was not in any real form until after Origen. The first known instance of any mention of three elements acting in concert was made by Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 180 CE) who used the term trias, of which the Latin Trinitas is held to be a translation. Theophilus spoke of the trias of God, His Word and His Wisdom (Theophilus to Autolychus. The ANF translates trias as Trinity). The next mention we have of the term comes with Tertullian (De Pud., c. xxi, P. G., II, 1026). Whilst Tertullian was the first to assert the essential unity of the three ‘persons’, it is seen that his logic and his arguments are essentially subordinationist (see Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, p. 570). The nearest equivalent to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan doctrine of the Trinity was not until the Roman bishop Dionysius (ca. 262 CE), who became concerned with eliminating the process of reducing the three entities to separate Gods (Schaff, ibid.). This process is examined also in the paper Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127).
Theological Confirmation of the Early Church Godhead
The theologians understand that the doctrines of the early Church were subordinationist Unitarian. They assume, quite incorrectly, that this was an inferior understanding to that reached in the fourth century at Nicaea and Constantinople.
As we see from the following comments, the views both acknowledge the early doctrines and seek to assert a superiority from the later Councils. As was noted in the paper The Soul (No. 92), Anders Nygren (Agape and Eros, Tr. by Philip S. Watson, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1969) mentions the sharp distinction made by Justin Martyr between God and the manifestation of the Logos:
The Logos is in a way divine but not in the strictest sense of the word... The Father alone is unbegotten and incorruptible and therefore God. He is the Maker and Father of all things. (Dial. lvi. 1.) He did not come to us; He remains always above the heavens and never reveals Himself to anyone and has dealings with no one. (Dial. v. 4.) In relation to Him, Christ is of lower rank, a *,bJ,D@H 2,`H, [deuteros theos] 'another God than He who created all things.' (Dial. lvi. 1.)
Nygren says of this:
This subordinationist trait in the Christology of the Apologists is undoubtedly to be attributed to the Greek idea of God. (p. 280)
Nygren is wrong in this matter as can be seen from an examination of the Old and New Testament schema outlined above. Justin Martyr is closer than he; however, the distinction and acts of creation are relative to the Logos, and this position is not understood by either. Nygren judges Loofs to be correct when he says of the Apologists:
Their Logos doctrine is not a 'higher' Christology than usual, but is rather on a lower level than the genuinely Christian estimate of Christ. It is not God who reveals Himself in Christ, but the Logos the reduced (depotenzierte) God, a God who as God is subordinate to the highest God. (Loofs Leitfaden zum Studium der Dogmengeshichte, 4 Aufl., 1906, p. 129, ibid.)
Nygren and Loofs were both wrong in their estimate of what was genuinely Christian. They were trying to reinterpret the Ante-Nicene Christology, which more closely follows the biblical, within the modern concepts which are non-scriptural.
The theologians assume that the early Church had it wrong. They even try to assert that the early Christian view was derived from the Greek concept of God when that position was common to antiquity – not only being evident in the Hebrew cosmology, but everywhere. The reality is that the Greek philosophical concepts as developed from Platonism were the driving force behind Trinitarianism and the ancient Soul doctrine found in Gnosticism, and also from Mystery cults (see below and the paper The Soul (No. 92)).
With this paucity of biblical and early Church evidence in support of Binitarianism and the Trinity, it is thus not surprising that the Reformation scholars invented a Trinitarian text for the Bible. This occurred in the Receptus at what should have been 1John 5:7. It is unclear who the authors were as Erasmus is credited with ignoring the text. Perhaps it was the Elzevirs. The KJV produced the text:
1John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (KJV)
This text is a forgery and has been known as a forgery for centuries. However, it still suits Trinitarians to quote it when they are challenged.
The position that has been developed shows the biblical position from the texts and that of the early Church. It is quite improper to suggest that the Church saw Christ as co-eternal or other than a product of the Father. The doctrine of co-eternality, in that Christ is held to have eternal existence independent of the Father, is a fabrication of theology. The doctrine of the three elements of God being eternally existent beings or persons that are co-equal is not found anywhere until Constantinople (381 CE) and even then improperly formulated.
The immortality that Christ has is the same immortality that the elect share as co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 3:29; Tit. 3:7; Heb. 1:14; 6:17; 11:9; Jas. 2:5; 1Pet. 3:7). This adoption of God occurs at the redemption of the body (Rom. 8:23). Thus we all become immortal. Inherent immortality is an ongoing promise. It is not and cannot be logically retrospective. None of us, including Christ, can be the Alpha. We can, and all will be, the Omega but only as part of God, whose existence will be total. Thus He alone is Alpha and Omega. Modern Christianity fails to understand the true nature and the full power of the Monotheist system freed from the false systems of Binitarian/Trinitarian limitations on the Godhead. Their power is limited by their own vision and the deceit of the Adversary, who seeks to limit their power and potential.
The heavenly Host have eternal life while they are retained in the spirit (see also the paper Eternal Life (No. 133)). The whole question of spiritual eternality is related to the question of Relativity Theory within the limits of our current understanding. Space, Time, Mass, Energy, etc. are equivalent expressions of single fundamental essence. The capacity for God to allocate and control this power is a product of His omnipotence.
Christ had to be confined in time and space as a man in order to be brought under judgment and die. God could not do this and nor could the Host as they exist (see also the paper The Purpose of the Creation and the Sacrifice of Christ (No. 160)).
The reduction of the Host in rebellion is by their limitation in time and space. Thus, being confined to the bottomless pit confines them in time and space and also limits their power. The fallen Host will be reduced finally to physical existence in the Second Resurrection and judged. Satan is reduced to a man (Isa. 14:12-15) and brought to the grave, to the sides of the pit (v. 15), and then dealt with in that form. He will be seen by the nations in that form.
Isaiah 14:16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; (KJV)
He will either repent or die (see the paper The Judgment of the Demons (No. 80)).
The loyal Host appear to have been tested in the form that they are and are trained in that form. We will become isaggelos or equal to and as angels (Lk. 20:36). Christ confesses us before the angels for our position to be adopted (Lk. 12:8-9). This then leads us to the next point of timing of the gift of immortality.
Nobody has been resurrected other than Christ; the others of the elect are fallen asleep (1Thes. 4:13-18). But the dead will be raised.
1Corinthians 15:16-18 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also that have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
But, in fact, Christ, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, has been raised from the dead (1Cor. 15:20). David died and was buried and …
Acts 2:29 … his tomb is with us to this day.
John 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven but he that descended out of heaven, even the son of man who is in heaven.
Thus, the extension of immortality together with the adoption as sons of God comes from the resurrection from the dead. The assertion that anyone has been resurrected with Christ and ascended into Heaven is a heresy from this text in John.
Our gift is at the return of Messiah (1Cor. 15:12-26). Christ is risen from the dead as the first-fruits and then everyone in their own order. The elect rise at his coming (1Cor. 15:23). The sequence is well known (from Rev. 20:1-15). Revelation 20:6 shows that the elect are raised in the First Resurrection, and the second death has no power over them. They are thus immortal, but conditional to obedience. From their adoption they possess the Holy Spirit and they then are sons of God and loyal. It is thus developed from God’s will that they will not rebel and death and hell or sheol, the grave, are no more (Rev. 20:14). They become concepts that are no longer applicable. The rest of mankind receive immortality from the Second Resurrection when all people are judged and corrected. They will be saved by the teaching and activities of the elect in the sequence of the Second Resurrection, which lasts one hundred years (Isa. 65:20).
The Host does not have immortal life (see Cox Creation: From Anthropomorphic Theology to Theomorphic Anthropology (No. B5), 4-6, pp. 121-122). Nygren understood the concept of eternal life in the Church when he said:
The ancient Church differs most of all from Hellenism in its belief in the Resurrection. Christian tradition affirmed the 'Resurrection of the flesh,' which the Apologists opposed to the Hellenistic doctrine of the 'Immortality of the soul.' The antithesis was conscious and intentional, for at no point so much as this was their opposition to the Hellenistic spirit felt by the early Christians. The Platonic, Hellenistic doctrine of the Immortality of the soul seemed to the Apologists a godless and blasphemous doctrine, which above all they must attack and destroy. (Justin, Dial. lxxx. 3-4)
Their motto in this regard might well be Tatian's word: 'Not Immortal, O Greeks, is the soul in itself, but mortal. Yet it is possible for it not to die.' (Tatian, Oratio ad Graecos, xiii. 1). The difference between Christian and non-Christian in this matter was so great that belief in the 'Resurrection of the flesh' could become a shibboleth. One who believes in the 'Immortality of the soul' shows thereby that he is not a Christian. As Justin says: 'If you have fallen in with some who are called Christians ... and who say that there is no resurrection of the dead, but that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians.' (Dial. lxxx. 4) (ibid., pp. 280-281)
These two matters above clearly mark the demarcation point between Christian and pseudo-Christian philosophy. The extension of eternal life to the Host by God is through obedience. The retention of eternal life is also through obedience (see also the papers The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143), Eternal Life (No. 133) and The Soul (No. 92)).
There is only one True God and Jesus Christ is His Son. The True God dwells in unapproachable light and no mortal eye has seen Him or ever can see Him (1Tim. 6:16). He can only be approached and worshipped in spirit and in truth – and those are the people who the Father seeks to worship Him (Jn. 4:23). This is eternal life that we know the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ whom He has sent (Jn. 17:3). Eloah alone is the object of worship of the Temple as its God and Father (Ezra 4:24 to 7:23) and all things will be done according to His Law (Ezra 7:25-26).
This has been the key doctrine of the Churches of God over two thousand years (see the paper The General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)). This doctrine has come under attack when the Church has fallen in to apostasy – firstly, in the events up to Nicaea/Constantinople (381) and, secondly, in the period of the Reformation when the Church lapsed into Protestantism under the Western Waldensians and recently under the Churches of God organised in America from about 1955 onwards. The Church has been persecuted by the so-called orthodox system for centuries over this doctrine, which, together with the food laws, Sabbaths, New Moons and Holy Days, has been a distinguishing mark of the Faith.
Christian Churches of God
PO Box 369 Woden, ACT 2606 Australia
E-mail: CCG Secretary
Copyright: The papers on this site may be freely copied and distributed provided they are copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher's name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.
| Search | Alphabetic Index | Long Catalogue | Home Page | Webmaster | Additional |