Christian Churches of God
The Elect as Elohim
The Original Church Doctrines and the Advent of the Trinity
(Edition 2.0 19940311-19990322-20071112)
This paper deals with the multiplicity of the elohim in the Godhead and the destiny of the elect to become elohim. The capacity to become elohim or theoi was the view of the early Church. This paper is related to papers on The Deity of Christ and also The God We Worship and The Holy Spirit series.
The Elect as Elohim
In the third and fourth centuries, the Church adopted a doctrinal shift from the position that the elect will exist as elohim or theoi which was the position held by Christ at John 10:34-35 from Psalm 82:6, and which was the original understanding of the Church. The original position is explained in detail in the work God Revealed. This paper is concerned with what the Bible text actually says and establishing the plan that it outlines. Having established the biblical schema, it will then be tested against the understanding of the earliest Church writers for accuracy. The problems and assumptions are outlined in the paper God Revealed Chapter 1 Ancient Monotheism (No. G1).
Most Hebrew-English Lexicons record the variant uses of the words. The variant uses of the names of the deity are extracted from this and explained from a Trinitarian framework. Such a paradigm requires the texts to be explained within a context which would not render the doctrine of the Trinity absurd. Consequently, some, such as Francis, Driver and Briggs or the more widely used Gesenius (Robinson, tr. Brown, Driver, Briggs update), are construed to explain the extensive meanings of the terms used for the deity and Host within a paradigm of a developing religion.
The discipline of Religious Studies also attempts to explain the context of the Old Testament and the New Testament in similar terms. This arrangement suits both Trinitarians and agnostics. The former, because the premise they adopt is that the final form of the structure was not developed until the Council of Chalcedon (ca. 451 CE) using Greek metaphysics, and the latter because the concept of a living God writing an inspired Bible is at variance with the syncretic nature of their studies. We are concerned with the actual words of the texts.
Words normally applied to the deity in Israelite and non-Israelite societies are also applied to humans. Such application is a consistent Middle East world-view, which extends the heavenly Host to interact with humans. The examination of the use of Eloah, elohim, el, elim (eliym) etc., the Hebrew or the Chaldean, and Aramaic equivalents, are contained in the work God Revealed. The examples of where Eloah (or Elahh) is used in the singular to refer to a concept of a god other than Eloah, are in 2Chronicles 32:15, Daniel 11:37-39, and Habakkuk 1:11. Eloah never has the article, although Habakkuk 1:11 determines it by the suffix and it is found once in the construct in Psalm 114:7 (see Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Harris ed., Moody, Chicago, 1980, p. 93). Such concerns do not detract from this paper. For example, the texts in Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius on El (SHD 410), page 42, show that the word means god but with various subordinate applications to express ideas of might, and is applied to men of might and rank.
Similarly, elohim (SHD 430) is explained as being plural in number and as referring to rulers, or judges, either as divine representatives at sacred places, or as reflecting divine majesty and power. Thus, the term is extended to humans as well as the angelic Host. The biblical texts show that this simple explanation of reflecting the divine majesty is the sense in which the terms were applied in the Bible. Thus, the name carried the authority which was of itself conferred by God. This sense is resisted by Trinitarians.
Trinitarian works which seek to further the concepts of the Bible as a developing structure proceeding into the Trinity are common. Good examples are that of Karen Armstrong’s A History of God (Heinemann, London, 1993) and C.M. LaCugna’s GOD FOR US: The Trinity and Christian Life (Harper, San Francisco, 1993). LaCugna admits (Encyc. of Religion, art. 'Trinity') that neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament contains a basis for the Trinity. The classic work referred to for such purposes is W.F. Albright’s Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (London, 1968). G.R. Driver develops the concept of the myth in his Canaanite Myths and Legends (Edinburgh, 1956). R.L. Fox goes even further in this vein in The Unauthorised Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible (London, 1991). The fundamentalist Trinitarian approach has been to alter the translation of the biblical texts to disguise the concepts, and to deny the plurality of the word elohim. Joshua 22:22 is an example. The RSV renders the text:
The Mighty One, God the Lord! The Mighty One, God the Lord!
Mark S. Smith in The Early History of God (Harper, San Francisco, 1990, p. 8) notes the Hebrew text as ‘el’elohim yhwh ‘el’elohim yhwh or God of gods is yhwh God of gods is yhwh. Thus El of Elohim means head of a plurality. Smith holds the text to exhibit the assimilation of the word el into Hebrew and its development into a generic noun meaning god. Smith argues for the development of the Hebrew concepts, from the Canaanite, perhaps from the period of Iron Age I, as shown from the Ugaritic corpus, imposing themselves on the cult of Yahweh (Intr., p. xxvii). He says that by the end of the Monarchy, monolatrous Yahwism was the norm in Israel, allowing the gradual development of Monotheism (ibid.). Smith admits importation of practices into the religion of Israel. He argues that some practices regarded as syncretic belong to Israel’s ancient religious heritage (ibid., p. xxxi), perhaps also from the Canaanite linguistic base which is essentially the same language as Hebrew. Smith attempts to establish the biblical claims and then examine them within a wider framework.
This work is also concerned with establishing the biblical framework so that it can be examined more widely but with conclusions different to those of Smith. That examination is further undertaken in the work Mysticism Chapter 4 Judeo-Christianity (No. B7_4). Thus, the framework should not be written down by sociological prejudice. The structure must be faithfully restored by assuming that the Bible text means what it says. Trinitarian prejudice interferes with this process. The Dead Sea Scrolls, Ugarit and Nag Hammadi texts have shed important light on what was actually understood to be the meaning of the biblical texts at the time of Christ and these are referred to as necessary.
What is of importance is that no serious scholar denies that, at the time of Christ, the Bible was understood to refer to a Council of the Elohim or Elim and that the term extended way beyond the concept of a duality or a Trinity. A significant work on the subject is The Psalms: Their Origin and Meaning by Leopold Sabourin, S.J., (Alba House, NY; revised and updated version (post-1974)). Sabourin demonstrates the concept of the Council of the Elohim in his work. On pages 398f., Sabourin lists the usage of Eloah but avoids dealing with the significance. From pages 72-74, Sabourin addresses Psalm 86:8-10, 95:3, 96:4, and 135:5. The Bene Elim are identified as the Sons of God as are the Bene Elyon (Sons of the Most High). On pages 102-104, he mentions the saints or Holy Ones (qedosim) from Psalm 89:6-8 who are God’s celestial attendants and that the term is used also of the human faithful. These supra-terrestrial beings are of the Bene Elim or the Bene HaElohim. The Bene HaElohim are the Sons of the God(s). Sabourin, noting also Coppens comment (ETL, 1963, pp. 485-500) that the noun qedosim in the Masoretic Text designates the supra-terrestrial Court of YHVH, who are held to be elohim (pp. 102-103), says of this:
The concept of a heavenly assembly is not a purely literary form, but is an element of the living pattern of Israelite faith (p. 75).
The pattern of the usage of the terms for God is of an extended order. There is no doubt that the meaning was understood whether it was written in Hebrew, or Aramaic, or Chaldee. The pattern is undoubtedly of an extended order, which included humans, and involved a Council that Christ had established on Sinai. These elohim are referred to in Exodus 21:6, where the word is translated as judges.
The word is thus acknowledged as being plural here, and in Exodus 22:8-9, by its translation as judges, but the word used is elohim. There are, however, two perfectly sound and common words for judge(s) in Hebrew. These are paliyl (SHD 6414; Ex. 21:22; Deut. 32:31) and shaphat (SHD 8199; Num. 25:5; Deut. 1:16, et seq.). The words were in use at the time the word elohim was used. Thus, the distinction was meant to convey a concept other than judge. The concept the term was intended to convey was of the authority of God as it was extended to the congregation of Israel. The Governing Council of Israel was thus part of the Elohim. This extension was as a reflection of the heavenly system, as was noted from Hebrews 8:5. The pattern was understood in a consistent manner throughout the Old Testament, and was applied in like manner in the New Testament. It was God’s stated intention that, from this covenant, He would write the Law in the hearts and minds of men and they would not need teachers (Heb. 8:10).
The Old Testament demonstrates the subordinate relationships of the Elohim and indicates their extent. It also identifies the Angel of YHVH (reading the term as Yahovah from the ancient renderings of Yaho from the Elephantine texts; cf. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton 1958, pp. 278-282) and his relationship to the Law, which is fundamental to the issue of the position and authority of Christ. The progressive identification of the Angel of YHVH occurs from Genesis 16:7 (see NIV footnote). He is also identified by commentators as the Angel of the Presence (Isa. 63:9). There are also instances of multiple entities appearing and being referred to as YHVH. The instances of the alterations of YHVH to Adonai (by the Sopherim) in 134 places are at Appendix 32 of The Companion Bible (see also App. 31 for the fifteen extraordinary points and App. 33 for emendations and Ginsburg, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, pp. 318-334 for details).
The Angel appeared to Abraham and his family. Hagar saw the Angel (Gen. 16:7) who was referred to as You Are the God Who Sees. He was an El. The entity was interchangeably referred to as the Angel of Yahovah and Yahovah, the One Speaking to Her – thus implying multiplicity. This Angel, who was Yahovah, appears to Abraham in Genesis 17; 18:3 (the first of the 134 alterations of the Sopherim; see Massorah, ss. 107-115 and Ginsburg, ibid.). The substitutions affecting this concept are at Genesis 18:3,27,30,32; 19:18; 20:4; Exodus 4:10,13; 5:22; 15:17; 34:9; Numbers 14:17. Elohim was treated in the same way and thus the list requires expansion. The three entities appearing to Abraham were referred to as YHVH with no distinction and the two Angels in Genesis 19 who destroyed Sodom were addressed as YHVH, both together and without distinction, which is probably the reason for the change by the Sopherim. The destruction of Sodom was done by elohim (Gen. 19:29). Thus, the title Yahovah or YHVH is applied in a hierarchical structure from YHVH of Hosts, God Most High or Eloah to the Elohim of Israel who is a subordinate god, to the two Angels who were in turn subordinate to that Elohim. Thus, the term is one of authority delegated from Eloah. The elohim who was the Angel of YHVH also appeared to Abimelech at Genesis 20:4 et seq. At Genesis 21:17-30, elohim is referred to as the Angel of elohim.
Abraham was himself referred to as elohim in Genesis 23:6. The terms are translated mighty prince but the words are nâsîy’ (SHD 5387) an exalted one as a king or sheik and elohim (SHD 430), hence king or prince elohim.
Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. (KJV)
The words rendered mighty prince are in effect prince of the elohim. This is a little inconvenient for the Trinitarians and modern Judaism, so they both render it mighty prince. Hence Abraham and Moses were both termed elohim in the Bible.
The Angel of YHVH was termed elohim, Yahovah, and The Angel of Yahovah in the sacrifice of Isaac at Genesis 22:11-12 (see The Interlinear Bible). This subordinate Being was not omniscient. He appeared in Genesis 24:7,30-44,48 and was clearly not Eloah.
The Angel of YHVH revealed himself to Jacob as the El BethEl or the God (El) of the House of God, hence the High Priest of the House of God (Gen. 28:21-22). This YHVH, the Elohim of the Patriarchs and the El of the House of God, later identifies himself as the Angel of HaElohim or The God(s) (Gen. 31:11-13). This elohim instructs Jacob (Gen. 35:1-13). Genesis 35:11ff. uses AbiEl or God is My Father. The term Elohim Abi El Shaddai also has the meaning the God Who Worships Almighty God (see the paper God Revealed Chapter 1 Ancient Monotheism (No. G1)). This Angel was the Peniel or the Face of God (Gen. 32:24-30). Hosea identifies this Angel as elohim (Hos. 12:2-9). This Angel, one of the elohim, was the Elohim (or Captain) of the Host (Elohi ha Tseba’avch) wrongly termed God of Hosts (deleting reference to The).
He was an ‘ach elohim or the Brother Elohim denoting a wider family relationship of the elohim. Amos 9:5 also has similar meaning which accords with Joshua 5:15. This Angel was the Commander of the Host or Captain of the Army of God. Yahovah is His Memorial appears to be another term for the Angel. The concept of seal or mark is probably meant from Exodus 3:15 (My Name is My Memorial). Jacob viewed this elohim as the Angel of Redemption (Gen. 48:15-16).
This Angel of YHVH addressed Moses at the Mountain of the God(s) (HaElohim) and identified himself as the Elohi of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 3:1-6,10-12). He is distinguished from and is a messenger for Eloah, the God of Hosts or God Most High. This Being was the Angel in the Cloud of the Exodus (Ex. 13:21; 14:19 (note interchangeable identification)) who was the YHVH who drove the sea back (Ex. 14:21), the YHVH in the Pillar of Fire and Cloud (Ex. 14:24). He thus has interchangeable titles. It was he who gave the Law to Moses and established the seventy Elders of Israel (Ex. 24:9-18). Deuteronomy 5:30-33 identifies this entity as YHVH and he is a messenger of YHVH of Hosts, whom Christ says no man has ever seen and voice no man has heard (Jn. 5:37; 6:46). This Angel was understood to be the Presence of God and hence the Angel of the Presence. He is a subordinate God appointed as Elohi of Israel by his God above his partners (Ps. 45:6-7; see also Heb. 1:5-13; Rom. 15:6; Eph. 1-3). The YHVH sent this Angel to bring Israel out of Egypt (Num. 20:16) and to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan (Ex. 33:2-3). This Angel was the YHVH who spoke to Moses face to face (Ex. 33:11) and Moses did not differentiate between them in any significant way (Ex. 33:12-17). Thus, the presence of God was held to be in the Angel who was his face or persona which is the Latin word for face or mask and from which person is derived and which is incorrectly applied and confined in the Trinity.
This Angel of YHVH remained with Israel through the period of the Judges and is referred to as YHVH (see Jdg. 6:11ff.). The Angel is referred to as Adonai (v. 13), and YHVH (v. 15) (altered by the Sopherim), and the Angel of Elohim (v. 20). This Angel is also referred to as YHVH Shalom or He Causes Peace, hence he is the Prince of Peace, a title of Messiah. Gideon prayed and sacrificed to The God and not this elohim (Jdg. 6:36), although this elohim enabled the Spirit of the Lord to enter Gideon (Jdg. 6:34).
The Angel appeared to Samson’s parents and was referred to as elohim (Jdg. 13:19-20). The Angel declared his name as pel’iy (Jdg. 2:18), approximating wonderful, which is a title of Messiah (from Isa. 9:6). The Angel appears in the days of the Kings (2Sam. 24:16, 1Chr. 21:12-30). This Angel is a mediator between Heaven and Earth from 1Chronicles 21:16. The Angel of YHVH was the YHVH who spoke through the prophet Gad (v. 18). The version in Samuel shows that two YHVHs are involved: the Angel of YHVH and the YHVH for whom sacrifice is being made. YHVH then commands the Angel (1Chr. 21:27). David was motivated by fear of the Angel of YHVH and hence relocated the Temple or House of The God (1Chr. 22:3).
The Angel of YHVH appeared to Elijah and was termed YHVH (1Kgs. 19:5-12). He spoke condemning the king at 2Kings 1:3. At 2Kings 1:15, he spoke for YHVH, who is identified as YHVH of Hosts at 2Kings 19:31-32; 2Chronicles 32:31; Isaiah 37:33-36 deals with the Yahovah that is speaking to Isaiah. This Angel of YHVH, intermediary God of Israel, is Israel’s protector (Ps. 34:7).
The deferential forms of referring to Yahovah and his Superior, Yahovah of Hosts, are found in Ezekiel (see also SHD 3068, 3069). Yahovah referred to Yahovah of Hosts as Yahovih (e.g. Ezek. 16:36; 31:10,15; 36:5; 38:10,14; 39:8 etc.). The dabar Yahovah or word of Yahovah is rendered normally in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 31:1ff. refers to the Garden of The God(s) (HaElohim). Adonai Yahovih is used for this prophecy at Ezekiel 29:8, thus implying a distinction between the Word of God and the use of Adonai Yahovih. The Hebrew concept thus evolves of the Memra, which was translated as logos in the Greek New Testament.
The Angel or Word of God as the Memra is understood to be the Messiah. Zechariah 3:1-9 shows the Angel as Judge and is identified as YHVH and the Angel of YHVH. Satan stands as accuser. The Angel has the power of judgment and is thus the righteous judge of the Testaments and the Elohim of Psalm 82:1 who stands in the Congregation of the El and judges among the elohim. Reference extends to embrace YHVH’s servant, the Branch. Psalm 110:4 extends the priesthood from the Aaronic to the Melchisedek through this entity. The DSS shows that Judaism expected a Messiah of two advents (see G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, esp. Messianic Anthology and the translation of the thirteen fragments from cave XI).
The lineage of Messiah was of Nathan and of Levi (see Zech. 12:10; hence Lk. 3). The Messianic Anthology draws attention to the promises to Levi at Deuteronomy 33:8-11 and 5:28-29. The text identifies the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:18-19 as referring to Messiah, as does Numbers 24:15-17. The Messiah of Aaron and the Messiah of Israel were the same person from Damascus Rule (VII) and the unpublished fragment in cave IV (Vermes, p. 49). The Qumran translations refer to Melchisedek as Elohim and El. This stems from the sense of the final judgment conducted by the Messianic priest and priesthood. Isaiah 52:7 uses elohim in context of the Messianic advent to Zion (see Heb. 12:22-23). He was understood to be identical with the Archangel Michael and was head of the Sons of Heaven or Gods of Justice. Thus some Judaic sects identified Messiah as Michael (from Dan. 12:1). This was the old Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine up until 1931.
Messiah is also assumed to be Melchisedek. Both assumptions are in error. Melchisedek has the meaning My King is Righteousness or My King is Justice (justice and righteousness being synonymous – see Vermes Dead Sea Scrolls in English). Were Melchisedek to be Messiah then there is a serious problem with the incarnation and the sacrifice. The Christian assumption that Melchisedek is Messiah rests on a misunderstanding of the texts in Hebrews 7:3. The terms without father, mother and genealogy (apator etc.) refer to the requirement to have recorded Aaronic lineage (Neh. 7:64) for the Levitical priesthood. The term beginning of days and end of life refers to the requirement to commence duties at thirty years of age and cease at fifty years (Num. 4:47). The High Priest succeeded on the day of his predecessor’s death. Melchisedek has no such requirement. Hebrews records that he was a man (Heb. 7:4). He was made like the son of God (Heb. 7:3) yet he was not the son of God who was another priest (Heb. 7:11).
Thus, all the elect can participate in the priesthood, being made like unto the son of God, regardless of lineage and age, continuing in perpetuity. As to who Melchisedek was, we can only surmise (see the paper ). The Essene misconstrued the text messianically as have some modern fundamentalists. Hebrews appears to have been written so as to correct this error but has itself been misconstrued. The Midrash holds that he was Shem (by Rashi) being king (melek) over a righteous place (tsedek) (Abraham ibn Ezra and Nachmanides). This place was where the Temple would be built for the Divine Presence, which the Midrash applies to Jerusalem as a whole, from the text Righteousness lodged in her (Isa. 1:21) (ibn Ezra and Nachmanides, see Soncino fn. Gen. 14:18).
However, more importantly, the concept of a Council of Elohim was absolute and is undeniable, as being the properly understood meaning of the Old Testament texts involving the elohim. The subordinate structure of the Elohim is understood on one hand, but misunderstood in relation to Michael and Melchisedek.
YHVH Sabaoth or YHVH of Hosts is the name of God (from Isa. 51:15; 54:5; Jer. 10:16; 32:35 et seq.; Amos 4:13; 5:27) who is Eloah. This Being has a son, perhaps from the reading of the text at 1Chronicles 22:11 (rather than hayah, SHD 1691), as the Son of Yehi Yahovah. Certainly Eloah has a son, from Proverbs 30:4-5. Thus, the son of Eloah appears to be the Elohi of Israel, but he is not the object of prayer and sacrifice.
This Elohim, anointed by his God, having a throne of the elohim (Ps. 45:6-7) then stands in the Assembly of the El and judges in the midst of the Elohim (Ps. 82:1). Hence:
Rise O Elohim and judge the earth (Ps. 82:8).
The end result of this activity of the Angel of YHVH as Elohim is extended to the household of David in the Old Testament. It is thus absolutely sure from the Old Testament that the destiny of the elect as the household of David as King of Israel was to become as elohim, as the Angel of YHVH at their head.
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)
The term before them is translated elsewhere as at their head. Thus the Angel of YHVH was the elohim at the head of the household of Israel. This Being can only be Messiah.
The Old Testament thus looks to an advance in the status of Israel. The household of the king are advanced to the standing of elohim ruling from Jerusalem among the nations. We see this concept is not physical and is not developed from the New Testament.
The New Testament (Acts 7:38) confirms that it was an Angel that appeared on Sinai and spoke to Moses and who gave the Law (Acts 7:53), and identifies Christ as that Angel of the Old Testament. Moreover, the New Testament (Heb. 1:8-9 quoting Ps. 45:6-7) demonstrates conclusively Christ’s subordination and obedience.
The singular word or name applied to God Most High is Eloah. It is applied to God the Father and never used to refer to Christ. The generic term that is used to refer to the extended order of the Host operating under the authority of God is Elohim.
The Elohim act both as a Council among the Host and to mankind. The position stated by Trinitarians that the Council is that of the magistrates in Jerusalem is a presumption derived from the comments in Exodus. It was the accepted understanding of the first century that the Elohim or Theoi rank extended to mankind, and was so understood to be extended to Moses, by reference to both Philo and Josephus. The Christian position was as stated by Irenaeus. This is well understood by modern scholars. For example, Gregg and Groh refer to Irenaeus who said:
There is none other called God by the scriptures except the Father of all and the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Early Arianism - A View of Salvation, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1981, p. 68).
Irenaeus used the Greek term theoi which was the equivalent of the Hebrew elohim. Modern supposition is that from this statement the angelic Host were not included in this term.
Namely, it is held that they were inferior to mankind (from a misunderstanding of 1Cor. 6:3, which relates entirely to the fallen Host) or did not possess the adoption, which for them was unnecessary. The fallen Host were viewed by the early theologians as being able to repent (this is further developed in the work God Revealed).
Modern research demonstrates that Judaism acknowledged a duality of the Godhead – namely one supreme God and a subordinate God down to the Middle Ages (see Peter Hayman, Monotheism: A Misused Word In Jewish Studies? JJS 42 (1991), 1-15; Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God, SPCK, London, 1992; and also Hurtado, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism, Fortress/SCM; his article in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (eds. Green McKnight and Marshall, Inter-Varsity Press, 1992); and his unpublished What do we mean by “First-Century Monotheism”? (University of Manitoba research paper). The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (93c) rejects the origin of Elah, the biblical Aramaic name for God, as having been derived from two Gods, El and Ah (shortened Ahyeh or “I shall be” as suggested by Feigin (JNES 3:259)). There is little doubt that the entity Eloah is the God Most High and that the duality of the Israelite deities directly involve superior and subordinate forms.
When God Most High is referred to He is distinguished from the subordinate YHVH by the epithet YHVH of Hosts, or the Elyon, the Most High designation. The case for the development of the concept of God is made by Smith (loc. cit.). He contends that the original God of Israel was El. This is because El is not a Yahwistic name. Hence El was the original chief God of the group named Israel. Smith finds support from Genesis 49:24-25, which presents El names separate from the mention of YHVH in verse 18. Also, Deuteronomy 32:8-9 casts YHVH in the role of one of the sons of El, here called Elyon.
When the Most High (elyon) gave to the nations their inheritance, when [H]e separated humanity, [H]e fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of divine beings. For Yahweh’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage (Smith, p. 7).
The Soncino translates the Masoretic Text (MT) as according to the number of the children of Israel. Thus, the nexus is confined to the twelve tribes and the Canaanite territories, but only by Rabbi Rashbam.
The MT reads bene yisrael where the Septuagint (LXX) reads aggelon theou and the Qumran reads bny ‘ilhym [or bene eliym] (cf. Smith, n. 37 noting also Meyer, and Skehan BASOR 136 (1954):12-15 (cf. First Epistle of Clement, using aggelon theou), and the text of Ben Sira 17:17, reflecting later exegesis of Deut. 32:8, implies a divine ruler for every nation). Thus the older texts support the above and the Masoretic appears to have been altered at some later date. The RSV adopts this view and renders the texts as Sons of God.
The allocation of the nations according to the number of the sons of God or the Elohim/eliym demonstrates further the extended order. Instead of supporting the contention of a developing structure, it rather supports an extended structure disguised by Pharisaic Judaism – and such disguise is supported without serious challenge by the Trinitarians.
Smith himself says:
Just as there is little evidence for El as a separate Israelite God in the era of the Judges, so Asherah is poorly attested as a separate Israelite goddess in this period. Arguments ... resting on Judges 6 where she is mentioned with Baal.
The regional understanding as an extended structure of the elim is not fully appreciated by scholars. The syncretic integration theory is used to explain the variant titles and hierarchies. However, this was not as confused among the nations as some scholars would have us believe. The suggestion that the elect would be elohim is taken up as a fact in the Epic of Gilgamesh where Noah (Uta-Napishtim) is made one of the elim or elohim (see New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, Ch. ‘Assyro-Babylonian Mythology’, Hamlyn, 1984, p. 63).
The so-called Yahweh (or more correctly, Yahovah) being referred to above, from Deuteronomy 32:8-9, is the subordinate Yahovah of Israel who was allocated Israel as the key nation of the restoration. The allocation of the nations according to the number of divine beings here extends beyond the thirty, as there were understood to be seventy nations or tongues. Thus, it may be deduced it was understood there were to be seventy divine elohim in the full Council of Elohim.
The Sanhedrin or Council of Elders established at Sinai was a prototype of the extended order. That the national watchers or elim resisted God and the YHVH of Israel is noted in Daniel 10:13 (cf. Deut 32:18). Thus, the extended Council must have had a significant number of Elohim who rebelled. These entities are to be replaced from the ranks of the elect beginning from the First Resurrection.
Harvey (in Jesus and the Constraints of History, in ch. ‘The Constraint of Monotheism’, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1982) notes the honorific is used to describe figures other than God. Moses is referred to as divine. He is referred to as Theios in Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 3:180; 8:34,187; 10:35) and also in Philo (e.g. Vita Moses 1:158). Harvey considers the reference to Moses as divine is a linguistic phenomena which does not qualify the unique divinity God.
However, none of the commentators appears aware that it was God who made Moses an Elohim and placed him as Elohim to Egypt making Aaron his prophet. These terms are used only of the divine agency, but the delegation is demonstrated to be not only from God Most High to the Angel of the Presence but also further to Moses, who was the first specific biblical evidence we have that the rank of Elohim was extended to mankind, and by direct order of God (see Ex. 4:16; 7:1). Were the Elohim rank not capable of delegation at the order of Eloah, then God Himself would have forced Pharaoh to be in breach of the First Commandment by making Moses an Elohim to Pharaoh. That is, Pharaoh would have had another Elohim before God.
However, the Commandment clearly does not mean that. By the appointment, God was demonstrating that the term before or beside meant specifically in place of, or without delegation and authority of. Hence, God could appoint the subordinate Elohim of Israel in Psalm 45:7 without affecting the sense and authority of the First Commandment. The use of the term Elohim by delegation to the magistrates, as judges in Jerusalem, is held to imply that the term as God does not, therefore, extend beyond three hypostases in reality. Such absurd reasoning seems to reverse the thinking involved in the Old Testament.
The term Elohim was applied to both the angelic Host and to those in authority in the priesthood, specifically Moses, to demonstrate that the Elohim rank, and the oneness of God and His nature, would extend to embrace mankind. If the reverse were the case then the priesthood would be engaged in blasphemy on an ongoing basis.
The term elohim is a plural word which is used to refer to the angelic Host, or to God acting through or with the angelic Host. This of itself demonstrates that the term elohim is a plural term extending the concept of, and authority of, God to a subordinate structure. In Genesis 35:7 the term elohim has a plural verb, but is translated God was revealed rather than Gods were revealed. The Soncino notes that:
Elohim which describes God under the aspect of Lordship, may be used in the plural; but no other word meaning God is ever so employed.
The Soncino goes on to note that the rabbinical authority Abraham ibn Ezra understood this text to refer to angels. This text can be developed to demonstrate that it referred to the Angel of the Presence or the Messiah. The significant aspect is that the logic of the usage of elohim here is acknowledged to extend to the angelic Host. Thus, the concept of the extension of the capacity to be elohim to the Host was held within Judaism. The extension to the elect, biblically, commenced at least as early as Moses.
The reference to Isaiah 44:8, as a demonstration that YHVH is one Elohim – which is offered by Trinitarians – is simply false. Isaiah 44:6-8 states:
So says Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of [H]osts: I am the First and I am the Last; and there is no God except Me ... Is there a God beside me? Yea there is none. I have not known a rock. (Interlinear)
It is asserted that Yahovah (or incorrectly Jehovah) is one here but the text in fact refers to two entities, Yahovah King of Israel and Yahovah of Hosts. Yahovah King of Israel is speaking of Yahovah of Hosts. Green has translated the text by inserting and with his Redeemer to make it appear that both are referred to as one. Similarly, he has translated the word biladay (SHD 1107) as except in Isaiah 44:6 and as beside in Isaiah 44:8. However, the sense of without or beside is that conveyed here.
Isaiah 44:8 identifies clearly that entity spoken of, namely YHVH of Hosts, as Eloah. Eloah is a singular word which refers only to God the Father or the God of Hosts. From Proverbs 30:4‑5, we know that this Eloah is God the Father and He has a son predicated to Him in His Old Testament relationship with Israel. Judaism, Islam and biblical Christianity worship this entity as the One Supreme God. The Yahovah of Israel is identified, from above as the Angel of the Presence who is Messiah. The text demonstrates that there are two YHVHs here, with the subordinate YHVH of Israel proclaiming the ascendancy of YHVH of Hosts. This YHVH of Hosts is Eloah and beside whom, and indeed without whom, there is no Elohim. This concept forms the basis of the First Commandment. Thus, the YHVH of Israel here is separate and subordinate.
The subordinate God of Israel, the Angel of YHVH who is Messiah is the High Priest of the House or Temple of God. He is the El BethEl. Hebrews notes his appointment directly from Psalm 45:6-7. There is no doubt that this elohim was anointed and appointed over his partners (metoxous) or comrades (Heb. 1:9) in the Council. The Council of the Elohim that he heads as High Priest is mirrored in the organisation of the Temple, as the Temple of Zion is an example and shadow of the celestial structure (Heb. 8:5). The High Priesthood of the Temple consists of twenty-four divisional High Priests and a central High Priest. The organisation is reflected in the Council of the Elders in Revelation 4 and 5. This Council of the Elders/Elohim is referred to throughout the cosmology of the Middle East and referred to from Sumeria to Egypt showing that the biblical structure was widely known (see also Eliade Gods, Goddesses and Myths of Creation, Harper and Row, New York, 1974, pp. 21-25).
Psalm 9:5-8 refers to YHVH who is faithful in the assembly of the saints (multitude). He is highest of the Sons of the Mighty (or the Eliym as plural of the El, i.e. the Gods). El is greatly to be feared in the congregation (inner assembly or council) of the saints (qadoshim or holy ones). Yahovah, God of Hosts, is the entity referred to as being surrounded by faithfulness. Revelation 4 and 5 show that this group numbered thirty entities including the four Cherubim or Living Creatures. Thus, thirty pieces of silver (also the price of a slave) were required for the betrayal of Christ (Mat. 27:3,9 cf. Zech. 11:12-13) as it was an offence against the entire Godhead. The Elders are charged with monitoring the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8) and Christ is their High Priest, the member of them who was found worthy to open the scroll of the Plan of God having ransomed men and made them a kingdom and priests to our God, i.e. the God of the Council and of Christ (Rev. 5:9-10).
The ransom of men is part of an end-time restoration which occurs on the second coming of Messiah as King of Israel, his first coming being understood as the Messiah of Aaron. This first Messianic Advent was the atonement for sin and the establishment of the Melchisedek priesthood. The end-time restoration was understood to be an extension of the elohim as portrayed in Zechariah 12:8. In the restoration of the Last Days when Messiah shall come to Zion, as was understood from Hebrews 12:22-23, the sequence of the Advent involved the defence of Jerusalem and the strengthening of the physical inhabitants of the city for the millennial reign. However, as we have noted above, Zechariah goes on to state:
And he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the House of David shall be as God (elohim), as the Angel of YHVH before them.
The significance here was that Zechariah was given to understand that the Angel of YHVH was an elohim and that the household of David (who was long dead) was to consist of those who would themselves be elohim as part of David’s household. Zechariah wrote at the end of the Bible period as one of the last books to be written (allegedly ca. 413-410 BCE, App. 77 of The Companion Bible refers). The understanding of the sequence thus was not altered over the duration of the compilation of the text. From the DSS/Ugarit/Nag Hammadi, we know that the understanding was intact at the time of Christ.
The Church adopted a form of Trinitarianism which primarily sought to deny the above. It is seriously incoherent and non-biblical. In short, the early form of Trinitarianism was initially developed by Origen in Alexandria to combat the so-called Gnostic view of a celestial council of elohim, which was adhered to by the early Church. Christ was a subordinate God appointed by his God (Ps. 45:7 (using Eloheik) and Heb. 1:9) who was Eloah or Theon or ho Theos (as The God) in the Greek (Jn. 1:1,18). Origen used the Stoic concept of the hypostases, which is a synonym (as is the Platonic ousia) meaning real existence or essence, that which a thing is. But Origen gives it the sense of individual subsistence and so individual existence. Thus, Origen developed a closed hierarchy of only three elements of the Godhead. The Father was the supreme God. The other two elements of Son and Holy Spirit were creations of the Father as ktisma. But Origen’s schema is a forerunner of Trinitarianism, the sole purpose of which was to limit the extension of the capacity to be elohim to three Beings, and deny its capacity in the elect and the heavenly Host.
The Greeks took up Origen’s schema in the latter half of the third century. Some, such as Theognostus of the catechetic school at Alexandria, emphasised the Son’s kinship with the Father although the Son was a creature with his activity restricted to rational beings. He also declared that his substance or ousia (using the Platonic term rather than hypostases) was derived out of the substance of the Father (see Kelly, Early Church Doctrines, p. 133). Others emphasised his subordinationism. From the paper , we know that the god Attis carried both aspects of father and son. That is a Modalist structure. These two elements gave rise to Trinitarianism, which is the desire to accommodate the structure of the worship of the god Attis, and its Modalism, into Christianity to satisfy the philosophical objections of its followers.
Origen’s disciple Dionysius, Pope of Alexandria, because of an outbreak of Sabellianism in the Libyan Pentapolis in the late fifties of the third century, wrote a work rebutting Modalism. He thrust the personal distinction between the Father and the Son into the foreground. The Sabellians had one of his letters to bishops Ammonius and Euphranor highlighting this aspect which Kelly (p. 134) alleges was indiscreet. The Sabellians complained that the Origenists were making a sharp division amounting to separation between Father and Son. This was opposed and limited by the Novationists at Rome who influenced Bishop Dionysius, the Pope. Athanasius tried (De sent Dion. 4) to whitewash Dionysius of Alexandria a century later, but Basil (Ep. 9.2) maintained that he had gone to the opposite extreme in anti-Sabellian zeal.
The term hypostases became ultimately incorporated into Catholic doctrine resulting in the anathemas of the Councils of Chalcedon and Constantinople II. The structure resulted in the declarations of the Monarchia and the Circumincession. The declaration that the Godhead is distinct but not separate is essentially a statement of the Monarchia and the Circumincession. It is philosophically absurd given the functions of English. The use of hypostases and ousia as terms appears to attempt to cover up the incoherence. The Godhead is held by Trinitarians to be three hypostases in one ousia, using the Stoic and Platonic terms to attempt a distinction.
The denial of the term Being to God and Christ effectively denies their existence, which is absurd. Saying that God is Universal Mind (or Universal Soul) utterly depersonalises God and denies the reality of the Son of God except that the son’s existence is notionally declared as a hypostasis. It is a word game that gives no reality to the Saviour. On the other hand, were the reality of the Son to be insisted on then the doctrine is essentially an insipient breach of the First Commandment.
You shall have no other elohim before me.
The entity here is the YHVH Eloheik (YHVH Your Elohim) who is identified at Psalm 45:7-8 as the Elohim who anointed the Elohi of Israel.
By elevating our intermediary elohim, one of the Council (Ps. 89:7), to the level of Eloah, (God the Father) we are in breach of the First Commandment. This is the sin of Satan, who claimed to be El of the Council of the Elohim (Ezek. 28:2). See the paper The First Commandment: The Sin of Satan (No. 153).
The doctrine of the Trinity rests on a series of false premises designed to enable a paradigm shift (cf. the paper ). These are:
a) That elohim as the Godhead refers to two entities only, making no distinction between Eloah and the multiple entities including the Council and Host (Dan. 7:9 ff.)
b) That these two entities (and the Spirit) are incapable of separation in fact or in thought, and are not properly describable as Beings.
c) That the pre-incarnate existence of Christ was not as the Angel of YHVH.
d) That Christ was the only Son of God before the creation of the world (see Job 1:6; 38:7).
e) That Christ and Satan were the only two Morning Stars (see Job 38:7; Isa. 14:12; Rev. 2:28; 22:16).
f) That Christ is God in the same way that God is God (see above) and not a subordinate God (Heb. 1:9) sent by the Lord of Hosts (Zech. 2:10-11). Hence, he is made an object of worship and prayer contrary to Ex. 34:14, Mat. 4:10 etc.).
g) That Christ was the only begotten Son and not the only born God and Son (monogenes theos and uion; Jn. 1:18; 3:16; 1Jn. 4:9; see also Lk. 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Heb. 11:17 for comparison). He was the first-begotten (prõtotokos) of all creation (Col. 1:15) hence the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3:14, not as per the NIV).
h) That Christ had existence separate to his incarnation hence he could have prayed to himself as God. Such a proposition effectively denies the distinction between Father and Son, and the totality of the resurrection. It is of Antichrist (1Jn. 2:22; 4:3; 2Jn. 7).
i) That Christ and God were of the same will and that Christ was not possessed of a separate will, which he subordinated to God through willing obedience contrary to Matthew 21:31; 26:39; Mark 14:36; John 3:16; 4:34.
j) That divine nature admits of no gains and no losses in Christ. Logically this would deny the resurrection of the saints as explained in 1Corinthians 15, and in the biblical promises to the elect. The Trinity seeks to assert that the divine nature given to the elect differs from the way in which it is shared by Christ.
k) That the Holy Spirit is given by fixed measure, contrary to John 3:34 (RSV); Romans 12:6.
l) That Christ could not have sinned (from the false premise of divine nature admitting of no gains and no losses rather than from the omniscience of God, who knew that Christ would not sin).
m) That Christ was consubstantial with God in such a way that he was co-equal and co-eternal with God, contrary to Philippians 2:6 and 1Timothy 6:16, which show that only God is immortal. Christ’s eternality or aioonion life (1Jn. 1:2) and that of all beings, including Christ, derive from that entity. Both Christ and the elect are of the same origin (Heb. 2:11, RSV), deriving their life and eternality from conditional obedience to the Father (Jn. 5:19-30) who created us all (Mal. 2:10-15). As the Father has life in Himself, so He gave the Son to have life in himself (Jn. 5:26), and we are co-heirs, being ordained to have life in ourselves by authority of God (see the paper ).
n) That the elect are not Sons of God in the same way that Christ is a Son of God and hence not co-heirs, contrary to Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 1:14; 6:17; 11:9; James 2:5; 1Peter 3:7.
o) That the Supreme God came down in the flesh and dwelt among men (stemming from the fraudulent insertions in 1Timothy 3:16 in Codex A. The false insertions were retained in the KJV and manipulated into the preamble in the NIV). The assertion that the Supreme God came down in the flesh is contrary to John 1:18 (and Jn. 1:14 where it was the logos (or Memra) who became flesh), and the numerous texts distancing Christ from the One True God (Eloah or Theon or ho Theos as The God, who is God the Father), the God of Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3, 20:17; 1Cor. 8:6; 2Cor. 1:3) who stands in His name (Mic. 5:5).
The concepts of how God is one is misunderstood by Trinitarians. The Shema (Deut. 6:4) refers to Yahovah Elohenu or Yahovah as one God. The entity at Deuteronomy 6:5 is identifiable as God Most High, the God who anointed Christ as Elohi of Israel in Psalm 45:7.
The unity of God, necessary to Monotheism, is of an extended order dwelling in unity under a central will in agreement and spiritual interaction through the spirit and power of God (1Cor. 2:4-14) which through Christ is towards God (2Cor. 3:3-4). The Trinity denies the unification necessary to Monotheism and is logically polytheist. It occurs because the rulers do not understand, being unspiritual (1Cor. 2:8,14).
The God noted in Proverbs 30:4 as having a Son is Eloah, from Proverbs 30:5. The Sons of God are thus known from the Old Testament and, in particular, Messiah is known. The understanding of the Father by Christ is consequent upon the Father’s willing self-revelation (see Rev. 1:1,6). Christ is not omniscient and never claimed to be so.
God is held by the Bible to be the God and Father of Christ (from Rom. 15:6; 2Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3,17; Col. 1:3; Heb. 1:1 ff.; 1Pet. 1:3; 2Jn. 3; Rev. 1:1,6; 15:3). Christ derives his life, power and authority by command of God the Father (Jn. 10:17-18). Christ subordinates his will to that of God, who is the Father (Mat. 21:31; 26:39; Mk. 14:36; Jn. 3:16; 4:34). God gave the elect to Christ and God is greater than Christ (Jn. 14:28), and greater than all (Jn. 10:29). Thus God sent his only born (monogene) Son into the world that we might live through him (1Jn. 4:9). It is God who honours Christ, being greater (Jn. 8:54).
God is the Rock (sur) as a Quarry or Mountain from which all others are quarried, the flint of Joshua 5:2, the principal and effective cause (Deut. 32:4, see Maimonedes Guide of the Perplexed, University of Chicago Press, 1965, Ch. 16, pp. 42ff.). God is the Rock of Israel, the Rock of their salvation (Deut. 32:15), the Rock that bore them (Deut. 32:18,30-31). 1Samuel 2:2 shows that Our God is our Rock, an everlasting Rock (Isa. 26:4). It is from this Rock that all others are hewn, as are all the descendants of Abraham in the Faith (Isa. 51:1-2). The Messiah is hewn from this Rock (Dan. 2:34,45) to subjugate the world empires. God, not Peter, nor Christ, nor anybody else, is the Rock or foundation upon which Christ will build his Church (Mat. 16:18) and upon which he himself rests.
Messiah is the chief cornerstone of the Temple of God, of which the elect are the Naos or the Holy of Holies, the repository of the Holy Spirit. The Temple stones are all cut from the Rock that is God, as was Christ, and given to Christ, the spiritual rock (1Cor. 10:4), the rock of offence and stone of stumbling (Rom. 9:33) to form the Temple. Christ will construct the Temple so that God may be all, in all (Eph. 4:6). God has given Christ to be all and in all (panta kai en pasin, Col. 3:11), putting all things under his feet (1Cor. 15:27), giving him to be the head over all things to the Church which is his Body, the fullness of him that fills all in all (Eph. 1:22-23).
When God put all things under Christ it is manifest that God is excepted, being the One who put things under the feet of Christ (1Cor. 15:27). When Christ subdues all things, then shall Christ himself be subject to God, who put all things under Christ so that God may be all in all (panta en pasin, 1Cor. 15:28, not as per RSV). Thus, the Platonist doctrines that seek to merge God and Christ in the Trinity are metaphysical nonsense which contradicts Scripture. Christ will sit on the right hand of God, by direction of God (Heb. 1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet. 3:22) and share God’s Throne as the elect will share the throne given to Christ (Rev. 3:21), which is a throne of God (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8 or God is thy Throne translated Your throne O God, see fn. to annotated RSV).
God who sends is greater than he who is sent (Jn. 13:16), the servant not being greater than his Lord (Jn. 15:20). It is the utmost absurdity to suggest that a being could be a sacrifice unto itself. Such an act, logically, is suicide or, within Trinitarianism, a partial mutilation. Hence, the doctrine denies the resurrection, especially from 1Corinthians 15.
Thus, the distinction in the crucifixion and resurrection is mandatory and complete. The resurrection had to be in the flesh involving translation as the Wave Offering, otherwise there is no salvation and no ongoing harvest. The preparation of Christ for the ascension to his God and our God, who is our Father (Jn. 20:17), was real and distinctive. Christ achieved his capacity to be God and achieved the fullness of the Godhead bodily from the operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the doctrine of the Sonship from baptism is true and complete.
Having established the biblical position at the time of Christ, we are able to see how this position was present during the first and second centuries. From the texts of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus available to us, we know that the understanding extended into the early Church.
Justin Martyr states that God taught the same thing by the prophets as by Moses, and this is borne out above (see Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. XXVII, ANF, Vol. I, p. 207f.). Justin taught that God begat, as the beginning, a certain rational power from Himself that is called, by the Holy Spirit: now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God (Theos), and then Lord and logos. Justin identifies him as the Captain of the Army of the Lord who appeared to Joshua (ibid., LXI). This section was drawn in exposition of Proverbs 8:12ff., where Wisdom was identified as Messiah, who was made by God, and God’s will was then executed by Messiah. Justin holds (ibid., LXII) that in the creation God conversed with entities numerically distinct from Himself. Thus, Moses was held to declare that the creation involved at least two Beings numerically distinct from one another. Ditheists attempt to isolate this to two, and Trinitarians merge it into three indistinct hypostases. The elohim were in fact more numerous, from the other texts referred to above, especially Psalm 45:6-7, which ascribes partners to Christ.
Irenaeus (ca. 125-203) wrote on the question of the extension of the term elohim (or theoi in the Greek) to mankind. Irenaeus is important because he was taught by Polycarp, the disciple of John (see Butler, Lives of the Saints, Burns & Oates, UK, 1991, p. 56). Thus, we can be fairly certain that Irenaeus’ understanding (short of forgery) approximated that of the early Church. He certainly supported the Quartodecimans and mediated in the Passover controversy (Butler, ibid., p. 197); although he was isolated from Asia Minor, being in Lyon. In his work Against Heresies he expounded the concept that the elect would exist as elohim.
Irenaeus held that the angels and the creator of the world were not ignorant of the supreme God seeing that they were His property and His creatures and were contained by Him (Bk. II, Ch. VI, ANF, p. 365). Irenaeus did not refer to the creator of the world, who was Messiah, as God the Most High or the Almighty (ibid., Ch. VI:2). From this work it is shown that the Greek concepts of the Demiurge and the Pleroma had invaded the concepts of that which are termed Aeons and had sought to infuse the biblical concepts with Greek metaphysics, thus destroying them. The Gnostics were forced underground, being part of the Mysteries and finally developed into the Trinity. This is developed elsewhere.
Irenaeus (and Justin) taught that the resurrection was physical, and then God would render the bodies incorruptible and immortal (ANF, Vol. I, p. 403). God is held to be the Creator (ibid., p. 404) as opposed to Christ, who created the world under this God (ibid., p. 405). Irenaeus held that the Holy Spirit had designated both the Father and the Son (from Ps. 45:6-7) as Elohim or Theoi – the Father appointing the Son.
Irenaeus held that Psalm 82:1 referred to the Father, the Son and the elect (those of the adoption as the Church) when it said:
God stood in the Congregation of the gods (theoi), he judges among the gods (Adv. Her., Bk. III, Ch. VI, ANF, Vol I, p. 419).
He did not fully understand the extent of the brotherhood of the elect, which extended to all of the Host, who are brethren in the Kingdom. Revelation was given to John in exile on Patmos after he had trained Polycarp. Revelation 12:10 holds the angels to be the brethren of the elect. Revelation 4 and 5 show that the elect have been ransomed to the Council of the Elders to become kings and priests among the Host. Christ states that the elect are to become equal to the angels (isaggelos from isos and aggelos (Lk. 20:36) which has the concept of being part of them as an order). Christ confesses us before his brethren in the Host.
Irenaeus held that the Church was the Synagogue of God, which the Son had gathered to himself. In Psalm 50:1, God of gods is held to refer to God. Our Messiah was the theos or God who shall come openly and shall not keep silence (Ps. 50:3) and who appeared openly to those who sought him not (Isa. 65:1); and the name gods of Psalm 50:1 refers to the elect of whom Christ is held to have referred, when he said:
Ye are gods and all sons of the Most High (Jn. 10:34-35 cf. Ps. 82:6) (ibid.).
It is thus quite erroneous for the Church to state, from the distance of two millennia, that Christ was using a text that referred to the magistrates in Jerusalem, when a disciple of Polycarp held that he was referring to the elect as elohim. Those who believed in Christ were held by Irenaeus to be Sons of God as co-heirs with Christ and thus elohim.
Irenaeus also held that Christ was the Son of I Am That I Am (YHVH) or, more correctly, I will be what I will become (cf. Oxford Annotated RSV; from Ex. 3:14). Thus, his carriage of the title was by delegation. Irenaeus quotes Isaiah thus:
I too am witness (he declares) saith the Lord God, and the Son whom I have chosen, that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I AM (Isa. 43:10) (ibid.).
The Soncino renders the text:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, And My Servant whom I have chosen; That ye may know and believe me and understand That I am He; Before Me there was no God (El) formed, Neither shall any be after Me.
The quote from Irenaeus and the Soncino variant, which more or less confirms Irenaeus shows that I AM refers to God, who is the Father. The reference to servant in the Soncino is seen from Irenaeus to refer to Messiah. The Soncino attempts to equate My Servant with the earlier witnesses, as Israel, although no rabbinical authority is cited. What is certain is that this text was seen as indicating that only God, and not Messiah, was pre-existent. Further, Messiah is distinguished from God.
Irenaeus showed that his understanding of Isaiah 44:9 and Jeremiah 10:11 on the question of the idols was that the idols were idols of demons (Adv. Her., Bk. III, Ch. VI, ANF, p. 419). These demons were removed from the theoi or elohim. In referring to Jeremiah 10:11, Irenaeus quotes:
The gods that have not made the heavens and earth, let them perish from the earth which is under the heaven. For from the fact of his having subjoined their destruction he shows them to be no gods (elohim or theoi) at all.
Thus, the idols themselves were shown to be understood, not as being simple idols, but rather as being the embodiment of the demon whom they represented (see also Bk. III, Ch. XII:6, ibid., p. 432). This was the standard understanding throughout the ancient world. Thus, the removal of the demons and their restraint and later judgment removed them from the category of elohim. Irenaeus shows by reference to Exodus 7:1 that Moses was indeed made an elohim to Pharaoh but is not properly termed Lord or God by the Prophets. He is rather spoken of by the Spirit as Moses, the faithful minister and servant of God (Heb. 3:5; Num. 12:7), which is also how Messiah is termed in the texts. Thus, each of the elohim is a subordinate servant of Eloah, the Elyon.
Irenaeus (ibid., p. 421) states that Christ confessed Caesar as Caesar, and God as God, from Matthew 22:21, and also from Matthew 6:24 in serving God and not mammon. Thus, Christ distanced himself from the claim of being The God (see also ibid., p. 422).
Quoting Philippians 2:8, Irenaeus shows that the relationship Christ had as God and Judge was derived from the God of All because he became obedient unto death (ibid., Ch. XII:8, p. 433). Irenaeus quotes the LXX of Isaiah 9:6, stating that Messiah was Emmanuel the messenger [or Angel] of Great Counsel of the Father (ibid., Ch. XVI:3, p. 441). He showed thereby that the Angel of Great Counsel of the Old Testament (LXX) was understood to be Christ.
Irenaeus denies the concept that the suffering of Jesus can be separated from the Messiah by alleging that Christ remained impassible. In other words, he denies the attempt to assert that the divine aspect of Messiah could be separated from the human Jesus on Earth. This became a teaching of the Gnostic sects, twisting Mark’s Gospel and ignoring others. Irenaeus also shows what became the basis of the errors of the sects. The Ebionites used Matthew’s Gospel only. Thus, they drew erroneous conclusions regarding the position of Christ. The Athanasians or Trinitarians used the term Ebionite later as an attempt to confine the doctrines of subordinationism and subordinationists of any persuasion to an heretical lineage from Ebionites to the parties involved in the disputes at Nicaea and which were labelled as Arians. Such claims are false from an examination of the early Church writers who, prior to Nicaea, were subordinationist (cf. the paper ).
Irenaeus was emphatic that there was only one God or Father, namely God the Father. Messiah was His son. He says Marcion also mutilated Luke’s Gospel to establish his teaching. The Valentinians used John to the detriment of the others and also by including pseudo-gospels. The fact is that then, as now, the Scriptures must be used together diligently and not selectively. Irenaeus shows an advanced understanding of the fourfold nature of the Gospels and their significance in relation to the cherubim (ibid., Bk. III, Ch. XI:8, pp. 428-429).
Irenaeus denied the concept that Jesus could have suffered and risen again, and that he who flew off on high was another, remaining impassible. Irenaeus held that the Christ whom God promised to send, He sent in Jesus, whom they crucified and God raised up (ibid., Ch. XII:2,4,5, pp. 430-431).
There is no confusion between God and Christ in the mind of this theologian, and he clearly states here that the Apostles did not change God but that Christ was sent by God. Irenaeus says:
Hereby know ye the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth Jesus Christ came in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which separates Jesus Christ is not of God but is of antichrist (Ch XVI:8 quoting 1John 4:1,2. Note: The Vulgate and Origen agree with Irenaeus. Tertullian seems to recognise both readings. Socrates says (VII,32. p. 381) that the passage had been corrupted by those who wished to separate the humanity of Christ from his divinity. Polycarp (Ep., c, vii) seems to agree with Irenaeus and so does Ignatius (Ep. Smyr., c, v) (see fn. to ANF, ibid., p. 443, quoting also Burton Ante-Nicene Testimonies to the Divinity of Christ).
Thus, any doctrine which seeks to separate Christ by conjoint relocation to both earthly and heavenly realms was understood by the early Church as the doctrine of Antichrist. The alteration of the text appears to have been in the East. The Bible texts are still uncorrected to this day.
Irenaeus says that the Spirit of God descended upon Christ as a dove that it might fulfil Isaiah 11:2 (And the spirit of God shall rest upon him), and also Isaiah 61:1 (The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me). Thus it was not ye that speak but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you (Mat. 10:20) (ibid., Ch. XVII:1, p. 444). The Holy Spirit was therefore understood to be of God and not from Christ but rather through Christ, as explained above.
This was so that it was:
… the Son of God, made the Son of man, becoming accustomed in fellowship with Him to dwell in the human race, to rest with human beings and to dwell in the workmanship of God, working the will of the Father in them, and renewing them from their old habits into the newness of Christ (ibid.).
Irenaeus taught that the elect would put on immortality so that they might receive the adoption as sons (ibid., Ch. XIX:1).
The Spirit joined the elect to God bringing distant tribes to unity, and offering to the Father the first-fruits of all nations (ibid., 2). Christ was the instrument of this action but he was not the object of worship or the architect of its operation. Nevertheless, he was the Wonderful Counsellor and Mighty God spoken of through Isaiah 9:6 and the Judge of Daniel 7:13 (ibid.).
However, Christ acknowledged the Father as his God, as did David quoting the same Psalm 22:1, where David said firstly:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Christ again stated this on the cross, as recorded in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. Both texts are referring to Eloah, the Supreme God and the God and Father of Christ. The words used by Christ are Aramaic – namely, he allegedly said:
Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-th’a’ni.
This is an English transliteration of a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic ‘eli, ‘eli lamah ‘azabthani. The word for God is the Aramaic El, but here equivalent of Eloah, as God expressing His will to His son. Nonetheless, Christ and the elect were called God (elohim) by extension.
There is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son and those who possess the adoption (Adv. Her., Bk. IV, Pref. 4, ANF, p. 463).
[Ch] 1. Since, therefore, this is sure and stedfast (sic), that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the spirit of adoption [see iii. 6,1], that is, those who believe in the one and true God, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God; and likewise the apostles did of themselves term no one else as God, or name [no other] as Lord; and, what is much more important, [since it is true (sic)] that our Lord [acted likewise], who did also command us to confess no one as Father, except Him who is in the heavens, who is the one God and the one Father; ... (ibid., p. 463).
It is thus absurd to suggest that the understanding that the elect will become elohim was not understood as the original position of the first two centuries of the Church, given that Irenaeus was the closest link that we have with its doctrines and that he so clearly held this position. Further, it is shown beyond doubt that this position is the coherent plan of the Scriptures, not only of the Scriptures proper, which by biblical definition was the Old Testament (Dan. 10:21; Mat. 21:42; 22:29; 26:54; Mk. 12:10,24; 14:49; 15:28; Lk. 4:21; 24:27,32,45; Jn. 2:22; 5:39; 7:38; etc.), but also of the Gospels and into the writings of the New Testament.
In the very passage that deals with the elect as elohim, namely John 10:35, Christ introduces the concept that Scripture cannot be broken. The selection of this passage as the example was not an accident. This very concept marks our destiny and is the aspect that the Adversary would most attack and for which purpose the Trinity was designed. The Gospels are specifically for the outline of the coming Kingdom of God. The writings of the Apostles are to prepare the elect and show the mechanics of the execution. However, all Apostles, as noted by Paul, held that:
All scripture is inspired by God (or God-breathed) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2Tim. 3:16).
Scripture is the bearer of the Royal Law: to love your neighbour as yourself (Jas. 2:8); and no Scripture is of any private interpretation (2Pet. 1:20). Thus, a doctrine developed by three Cappadocian theologians in the fourth and fifth centuries in contradiction of Scripture and the early position of the Church is to be resisted with all our might. It quite obviously breaches the First Commandment, making Christ equal to God. This was so obviously the intent that the passage at Philippians 2:6 was altered in the KJV to reflect this aspect and create the illusion that Christ was equal with God. This is to accuse Christ of idolatry, as the sin of Satan.
No Christian can accept the doctrine of the Trinity as it denies the omnipotence of God the Father and rejects our destiny. For these reasons the Churches of God have been persecuted for 1,600 years.
The elect have been persecuted for this doctrine by those who call themselves orthodox, or at least who have been accorded that right, because their doctrine of government best suited the civil structure of the empire that used them. The Churches of God have had, until recent times, a different structure of organisation which has helped them to resist such persecution as they faced.
Paul records that the Church has had disputation as to doctrine on many occasions although they have no custom of being fond of strife (1Cor. 11:16). He records that disputes amounting to divisions arise within the Churches of God.
For there must also be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you (1Cor. 11:19).
Dispute over the nature of God and the subordination of Christ has arisen before in the Church eras. The result has been to divide. The groups that embraced Trinitarianism, or its Modalist equivalent in the days of John, have then either left the Church when their errors were pointed out, as with John (1Jn. 2:19), or lapsed into antinomianism, becoming Protestant, as happened among the Waldensians. Christ did not intervene on at least the last occasion. Each person had to make their choice based on their understanding as developed by the Holy Spirit.
The process of Trinitarian exposition traditionally has been over a period of time. The first step was to expound the doctrine that Christ was co-eternal with God from the beginning rather than from his direction, as are the elect and all the Host. Given this error, the doctrine of co-equality is then advanced until it becomes viewed as heresy to assert his dependent subordinationism or that he was the prõtotokos, the first-begotten of all creation, the beginning of the creation of God. Prõtotokos is not a title, as demonstrated from the early understanding. For this reason Christ makes the point in Revelation 3:14 to the Church of the Laodiceans that he was the beginning or arche of the creation of God (cf. the paper ). Seemingly, that Church teaches that he was not. They were the only Church to do so, and any teaching regarding eras must conclude that the last era of the Church does the same. The error of co-eternality, ab origine, began to be expounded in the Churches of God for the first time in five hundred years some time after 1940, probably in the 1950s. This error must be understood and redressed.
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