Christian Churches of God
The Deity of Christ
(Edition 20 19951203-19991108)
This most important paper examines the biblical position on the deity of Christ. The paper examines and discusses the various positions from Radical Unitarianism to Trinitarian Process Theology. The pre-existence of Christ is demonstrated from Scripture. The paper On Immortality (No. 165) complements this paper.
The Deity of Christ
This paper addresses the question of the Deity of Christ as raised in the International Ministerial Congress paper of the Church of God (Seventh Day) 5 to 10 December 1994, published in Bible Advocate February 1995.
This matter is of extreme importance as it reflects a shift in direction among the ministerial ranks of one of the Churches of God from a traditional Unitarian position to one which effectively endorses the Trinitarian structure as determined from the Council of Chalcedon. The position is stated in what is incorrectly known as the Nicene Creed or Creed of the Council of Nicea, which it is not. This development is important because the Church of God has been Unitarian for some nineteen centuries.
Terms of reference: The Bible is held as the definitive source of evidence in the matter. We are concerned here with what is biblically true and coherent.
The primary question is: Is Christ divine and, if so, how is he divine?
The first possible answer is that Christ is not divine and by nature he was just a man. The first possibility is divided into two parts.
1. The first proposition was that he was merely a man with no pre-existence.
This position is one that might be determined as Radical Unitarianism. This asserts the position of the One True God such that it seeks to deny not only a pre-resurrection divinity attributed to Christ but also any pre-incarnate position. Thus Christ did not sacrifice other than an earthly existence for his fellow men.
The biblical evidence is against proposition 1. John 1:1 establishes the proposition of two divine beings from the accusative nominative distinction between “The God” using the accusative case and the definite article in relation to the Father only, and the nominative case and no article for theos in relation to the logos which is here identified with Messiah. This use of the accusative and the definite article is consistent throughout the Bible. It is used only of the Father. It is noted by the Heydock Commentary to the text of 1John 5:20 (Douay-Rheims version of 1851 which attempts to wrongly attribute the article to Christ at 1John 5:20) and from the Latin Vulgate.
John 1:2-3 asserts his pre-existence as a supernatural being. His role in the creation was asserted from John 1:10. He came to bear witness to the Light but he was not that Light but was sent to bear witness to that Light which is the true Light. The true Light that enlightens every man was coming into the world (Jn. 1:8 Oxford Annotated RSV). That true Light was the power of God which we understand as the Holy Spirit. All who received Christ, who believed on his name, he gave power to become sons of God (Jn. 1:11). He became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory as of an only born (monogenous para patros) from a father (Jn. 1:14 Marshall’s Interlinear Main Text).
God no man has seen never. The only born god (theos) the [one] being in the bosom of the Father that one declared [?him] (Jn. 1:18 Marshall’s Interlinear Main Text).
God brought the prototokos into the world (Heb. 1:6). This elohim was anointed with the oil of gladness above his partners or comrades (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9). This being was the prototokos, or first begotten, of all the creation of God (Col. 1:15). Hence he was the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3:14). This Lord (or kurios) was the voice of the Lord in the wilderness during the Exodus (Acts 7:33).
Thus, it is beyond dispute that the Bible asserts the supernatural existence of Christ prior to the incarnation. Point 1 is thus dismissed.
2. The second proposition is that Christ existed as a pre-incarnate being.
From the very texts which reject proposition 1, proposition 2 is established.
Christ thus had a pre-incarnate existence.
2.1 Was Christ the only son of God?
The Bible is quite emphatic that Christ is not the only son of God. When the earth was first formed the sons of God were assembled and the Morning Stars or Light Bearers sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:4-7).
2.2 Was Christ given sole control of the world?
The answer is an emphatic no. The nations were allocated their inheritance by the Most High according to the number of the sons of God (Deut. 32:8 see Oxford Annotated RSV; the Masoretic Text (MT) was altered after Christ and hence the translation in the KJV; see LXX aggelon theou; and Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), Beny Eliym).
Jehovah’s portion was Israel. Jacob is his allotted heritage (Deut. 32:9). Jehovah here was allotted his portion by the Most High. The term Jehovah is thus also applied to a subordinate God.
2.3 Did all those sons of God have access to the throne of God?
The answer is yes. The sons of God presented themselves before God on a regular basis (Job. 1:6; 2:1). This included Satan who was also a son of God (Job 2:1) and the theos or god of this world (2Cor. 4:4).
2.4 Were all those sons faithful?
The answer is no. The sons of God left their own positions allocated to them and hence face judgment (Jude 6; Gen. 6:4). Satan took a third of the sons of God and rebelled against the Most High God (Rev. 12:3-6).
3. Is Christ divine and, if so, how?
3.1 Christ is held to have had God’s nature through the Holy Spirit.
He was thus in the form of God. He did not attempt to grasp equality with God (Phil. 2:6, Marshall’s Interlinear RSV etc., not KJV). He emptied himself taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a stauros, a stake called a cross (Phil. 2:7-8). Similarly, the elect share in the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4).
So we see that inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in the same nature, that through death he might destroy Satan who has the power of death.
Therefore, he had to be made like his brethren, in every respect (Heb. 2:17 RSV), that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted (see Heb. 2:10,11,14-18). Thus we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).
Therefore, when incarnate as a man, Christ was like men in all ways. None the less, Christ was full of the deity (theotetos) which is the essence of God (Col. 2:9) as quality differs from attribute (see The New Thayers Greek-English Lexicon and below). This divinity or divine nature is available to humans also that we may put on the nature of God (Col. 2:10).
Thus we affirm the divine nature of Christ.
3.2 Does the divine nature Christ shared as a human differ from that of others?
The answer is no. He was made like us in every respect (Heb. 2:17 RSV) that we might become co-heirs with him (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 3:29; Tit. 3:7; Heb. 1:14; Heb. 6:17; 11:9; Jas. 2:5; 1Pet. 3:7).
3.3 Does the fact that Christ was possessed of the divine nature mean the same thing as being possessed of the Deity?
The answer appears to be no. Thayer says that deity (theot) differs from divinity (theiot) as essence differs from quality or attribute (Thayers, p. 288). The fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Christ (Col. 2:9). The text thus should be rendered deity or the state of being God. The meaning is thus the fullness of the essence of God dwelt bodily in Christ. It is this fullness or essence that is given to us so that all men put on the new nature of God (Col. 3:10). They are neither Jew nor Greek but all are Christ’s because he is in all (Col. 3:11). He develops people through the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to finally make God all in all (1Cor. 15:28 KJV; see also Marshall’s Interlinear RSV; not as per NIV).
4. Is there one God or two Gods?
This is perhaps a wrong question. The Bible is emphatic that there is only One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20) and that He alone is immortal (1Tim. 6:16). John 17:3 also states that Jesus Christ is His son. Thus Christ is distinct from the One True God who alone is immortal.
The Bible thus affirms the Oneness of God and that the One True God is the Father. This Father is named Eloah from the Old Testament (Prov. 30:4-5). He is also termed the Most High God (Gen. 14:18; Num. 24:16; Deut. 32:8; Mk. 5:7). He is distinct from the Christ as the son.
Deuteronomy 6:4 says Shema Yishrael Jehovah Elohenu Jehovah Ehad.
It is assumed, by Christians only, that this text, meaning Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One refers somehow to two beings and that the Elohenu is a derivative of the plural word Elohim. Elohim is itself a plural derivative of Eloah which is singular. The term Elohenu is singular and relates only to the Most High God, Eloah, who is God the Father (see Prov. 30:4-5).
Trinitarian assertions for this text have no basis. The allocation of the term Jehovah has two applications as we will see later. The Soncino commentaries say of this text:
The Lord Our God, The Lord is One. The Lord, Who is now our God and not of other peoples, will in time come to be acknowledged as the one and only God [Rashi]. Is One signifies ‘He alone’ is the Lord [Ibn Ezra]. The text has our God because He performed His miracles with Moses [Nachmanides]. The final letters ayin and daleth in the Hebrew words for hear and One are written large to concentrate attention upon the thought contained therein [Sforno].
The miracles performed with Moses were done by the Angel of the Presence under direction of God. No man, including Moses, has ever seen God or heard His voice (see The Angel of YHVH (No. 24)). The use of the name Jehovah is by delegation. There are two forms of Jehovah. The forms are Jehovah (SHD 3068) and Jehovih (SHD 3069). Jehovah is the Jewish national name for God and is rendered as the Lord. SHD 3069 is used after SHD 136 Adonai and is pronounced by Jews as Elohim in order to prevent the repetition of the same sound as 3068 which is rendered Adonai. This name rendered elohim is the name for God. Thus Adonai Jehovah is a subordinate being and the national God of Israel. Jehovih Elohim is the God and the God of Adonai Jehovah. This is the sense of Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9. Jehovah appeared to the prophets and conveyed orders from Jehovih Elohim or Jehovah Elohim. Messiah stands in the name of Jehovah Elohim (Mic. 5:4). This is the Lord God, the Lord or God of Hosts (Amos 3:13; 4:13; 5:14; etc.). The Lord of Hosts sent Jehovah unto the nations. This is clear from 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)
It is clear here that Jehovah is distinct from the Lord of Hosts. Thus Jehovah of Israel acts at the behest of a superior God.
The entity here who is the elohim of Israel is explained later in Zechariah as the Angel of Jehovah who is at the head of the household of David. The household will also become as Elohim.
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) or at their head (RSV).
The word for God here is elohim. Thus the house of David shall be as God as the Angel of Jehovah at their head. The being at the head of the royal household, which is the elect, is Messiah. Certainly Messiah is identified as elohim from Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9.
5. Are these elohim then confined to two elohim or entities?
The answer is no. The Psalms show absolutely that the elohim are a council.
The elohim judges among the elohim (Ps. 82:1). This rank is to be extended to humans (Ps. 82:6; Zech. 12:8). He is greater than the other elohim (Ps. 86:8). God is a great king above all elohim (Ps. 95:3) and is to be feared above all elohim (Ps. 96:4). God is to be worshipped by the elohim (Ps. 97:7) above whom he is exalted (Ps. 97:9). The Jehovah of Israel, the adon (singular) or Lord of Israel is above all elohim (Ps. 135:5). Jehovah Elohim Sabaoth is a strong Jah or God (Ps. 89:8-9).
The entities are thus distinct and more than two. There is an Elohim of Elohim which is the object of praise and thanksgiving (Ps. 136:2). This elohim anointed Messiah with the oil of gladness above his partners. These partners are the elohim who are all sons of God. Christ achieved his status as a son of God in power from his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). He relinquished the position he held in order to be elevated beyond it and as High Priest (Heb. 1:3-14; 2:5-10). He who sanctifies and they who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:11). All will be elohim as sons of God.
As co-heirs we also will achieve this status. Since the beginning of the Church we have held this doctrine. Irenaeus held that Psalm 82:1 referred to the theoi or gods (elohim) which included the elect, namely those of the adoption (Against Heresies, Bk. 3, Ch. 6, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 419).
6. How then are there multiple elohim?
The elohim are identified as the Bene Elyon or sons of the Most High. This fact has been commented on by many scholars. Sabourin S.J., The Psalms Their Origin and Meaning Alba House, NY, pp. 72-74, notes these applications and acknowledges that the existence of the elohim as a council has been part of the fabric of Jewish religion for millennia. It is not a new concept. What is new is the assertion that the term elohim is confined to two beings. That assertion is made by non-Hebrews who are either Trinitarian or their Binitarian preliminaries.
This understanding is carried to its fuller explanation in Revelation 4:1 to 5:14. The Council of the elders are the inner council of the Host. The priesthood of the temple reflected the High Priest, who is Christ (Heb. 8:1-2), and the twenty-four elders around the throne of God who monitor the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8).
The elohim are thus multiple. There were some thirty in the inner council and the Holy ones or qadosim or the angelic saints were understood to be an inner and an outer structure. The saints or qadosim (SHD 6918) are seen from Psalm 89:1-8, Job 5:1 and Zechariah 14:5, and are also human.
The inner and outer council were understood to number seventy [two] which was represented by the Sanhedrin or elders and then by the seventy ordained by Christ (Lk. 10:1,17). The text has hebdomekonta [duo] (see Marshall’s Interlinear) or seventy [two] but is rendered seventy as also the Sanhedrin was understood to be never simply seventy. The nations were also understood to be seventy because of the number of the councils as allocated from Deuteronomy 32:8.
The number of the Host went from this council of thirty and then seventy to the administrative structure of the Host which was understood as the thousand. It was understood from Job that one of the thousand had to atone for the sins of men as a mediator (Job 33:19-24; esp. v. 23).
These sons of God were known as messengers or delegates (see above) or malak rendered aggelos in the Greek and hence angel in the English. They were also known as watchers (Dan. 4:13,17,23). These sons of God were also known as elahhin, the equivalent of elohim, in the Chaldean. Their dwelling was not with flesh (Dan. 2:11).
Thus the elohim or elahhin which is the plural, of Eloah or Elahh (Chaldean) or Allahh (Arabic) are the sons of Eloah. The specific son He allocated to redeem mankind was nominated in Proverbs 30:4-5 as His son. That being was the Elohim of the Patriarchs who was also the Angel of Redemption of Genesis 48:15-16. The elohim that fed Jacob all the days of his life was also the angel that redeemed him. This Angel of Redemption was that of Job 33:23, one of the sons of God. This one was nominated to be High Priest of the House of God and become the El Bethel or the El of the House of God (Gen. 28:10-22).
There are thus multiple sons of God who share the divine nature with the Father. The means by which they share the divine nature can only be by the Light that was to come into the world to reconcile men to God, and that was the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:9).
7. The assertion is then made by Trinitarians from premises which are based in Greek Philosophy. They attack the Hebrew notion of atonement. They assert that the son who is dependent upon the Father for his immortality and existence is “inferior” and “of a different substance to the Father” and “the son is, therefore, unlike the Father”.
These statements are non-biblical false assertions which are based upon the Greek philosophical premises regarding the capacity of like to befriend or atone for like. This concept has no basis in the entire structure of Hebrew thought based upon the laws of God. The false assertions are an attack on the entire concept of sacrifice that was the shadow of the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
Christ entered the Holy of Holies with his own blood rather than the blood of bulls. He offered up himself (Heb. 7:26-28). He continues in an unchangeable priesthood (Heb. 7:24). Every High Priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices (Heb. 8:3). The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once every year and not without blood which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people (Heb. 9:7). The Holy Spirit signified by this that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing (Heb. 9:8).
The sacrifice of the harmless to reconcile the inferior to the superior was thus a thought process integral to Hebrew worship and divinely ordained order. The rejection of the adequacy of this sacrifice was an attack on the adequacy of the plan of reconciliation of God.
In order to attack the basis of Hebrew theology and the promises to Israel, the Greeks had to undermine the concepts of the superiority of God over the elohim or sons of God. To do this they had to elevate Christ to equality with God so that they could assert that the laws given by God through the Torah could be altered. The concept of the extended elohim could only be denied by confining the means of instilling the divine nature and isolating it as an entity. Thus the Holy Spirit came to be asserted as a person from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 ratifying an assertion half formed from the Council of Constantinople in 381. The Council of Nicea in 325 had not addressed this issue. The creed, termed the Nicene Creed, attributed to this council, is a later invention.
To support the attacks on the law, the divinity of Christ was asserted in the contentions of Modalism. This simply denied that Christ was an entity distinct from the Father. This was so obviously inadequate and so obviously a heresy that it was only accepted in Rome and Alexandria. Trinitarianism seeks to attack the subordination of Christ and the dependence of Christ on the Father for life as an inadequate sacrifice. This is done from the premise that only like can befriend like. This is a peculiarly Greek notion and denies the entire thrust of the Scriptures. The Greek word agape which is used to refer to the love of God is a loan word from the Hebrew word ‘ahabah (SHD 160). This word agape did not appear among the Greeks and their philosophy until the Septuagint (LXX) was written. Thus the concepts of filial and erotic love gave rise to this faulty Greek thought process which was then used to attack the Scriptures and eliminate the law. The Trinity is, at its philosophical base, an attack upon the laws of God. Christ must be made co-equal and co-eternal to God to justify a change in the law. The fact that this is biblically indefensible is ignored and the texts that disprove the assertion are ignored, attacked, misrepresented or mistranslated.
The circular reasoning process is then applied to the concept that, if the son is then unlike the Father, how can he be given glory, honour and, in a misapplied sense, worship?
8. The reasoning is faulty. The point in question is a necessary development of Monotheism.
Definition: A Being is that which is or exists.
Axiom: That which is held to exist is necessarily a Being.
The Bible holds the following premises:
1. There is only One True God (Deut. 6:4; Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20).
2. He has sons (Gen. 6:4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7); one of whom is Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3).
3. He alone is immortal (1Tim. 6:16). He lives for ever and ever (Rev. 4:9).
4. By His will all things exist and were created (Rev. 4:11).
Conclusion: Thus all other things, either entities or Beings, are a product of the will of the Father.
The Bible holds that the sons of God exist. By definition a being is that which exists. Therefore, God and the sons of God are beings. From the conclusion, the sons of God are a product of the Father. Christ is a son of God, therefore Christ is a product of the Father. He was crucified in weakness but lives by the power of God and we live in him and are kept by the power of God (2Cor. 13:4; 1Pet. 1:5).
Order of precedence does not confer rank. Rank is conferred by power and can determine order of precedence. God alone existed before the beginning in abiding perpetuity, being immortal (1Tim. 6:16). God is therefore the source of all power which He confers on the son (1Pet. 3:2). The powers that be are ordained of God (Rom. 13:1).
Because Christ and the sons are products of the Father, they are inferior in rank. Because someone is inferior in rank does not mean that they are inferior in substance. The sons of God are given power from God being made images of God and of one substance with God. Being of one substance does not confer co-eternality. The Father is logically prior to the son or else there is nothing that can be predicated to such a relationship within any meaning in language. The physical creation is destined for decay and death. Thus the physical sons are of a different substance. The physical had to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). Every one that does is born of God (1Jn. 4:7) and whosoever is born of God does not sin because he is born of God (1Jn. 3:9; 5:18). These sons are destined to become elohim as the Angel of Jehovah at their head (Zech. 12:8) and to have eternal life (1Jn. 5:11; 2:25) upon obedience such as Christ gave to the Father. By virtue of Christ’s blameless life of obedience, and his death and resurrection to spirit as a son of God in power (Rom. 1:4), he is now immortal (Heb. 5:6,8,9) and at the right hand of his God in power (Eph. 1:17-23). This was by the Holy Spirit.
What God creates, He can destroy. Hence the disobedient can be destroyed for eternity also (Rev. 20:15).
Christ is thus immortal as an elohim seated at the right hand of the Father as His High Priest but he is not equal in rank to the Father. He is neither co-equal nor co-eternal save by delegation of the Father who confers all things on him (cf. 1Cor. 15:24; Rev. 12:5; 19:15).
Spiritually and biologically we are all sons of God but we were created to exercise His power by delegation as elohim (Zech. 12:8; cf. 1Jn. 5:11; 2:25).
Christ does not have life inherently within himself. This is a Trinitarian false assertion in contradiction of John 5:26.
John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (KJV)
The son has life within himself by direction of the Father and so do we all. Christ thus exists by direction of the Father.
To assert that Christ always existed and always will exist denies the gift of God from the obedience of Christ. It is contrary to the above Scriptures and denies 1Timothy 6:13 wherein God gives life to all things.
1Timothy 6:16 says plainly that only God is immortal and that no man has seen Him or ever can see Him. He dwells in unapproachable light being seen only by the spiritual beings. For this reason Trinitarians attempt to declare that the Father and Son are aspects of the same God. Thus the doctrine of the Monarchia and the Circumincession. Christ is held from these logical absurdities to be distinct but not separate.
9. The Doctrine of Antichrist.
It is worthwhile from this point to view the Doctrine of the Antichrist at 1John 4:1-2.
1John 4:1-2 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (KJV)
The sense of this text has been altered. The assertions by the Modalists, who later gave way to their descendants the Trinitarians, attempted to assert that Christ did not properly die and that some of him remained in the heavens as God. This was the heresy that faced John and to which he refers. This text was altered at a very early date by the Modalists and Trinitarians because it identified them with the doctrine of Antichrist. The correct ancient text can be identified from Irenaeus (Ch. 16:8, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, fn. p. 443).
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.
Socrates the Historian says (VII, 32, p. 381) that the passage had been corrupted by those who wished to separate the humanity of Jesus Christ from his divinity.
10. Some common Trinitarian problems and solutions.
10.1 The terms creating, beginning, begetting and only born are confused and misused to obscure the texts.
In Revelation 3:14, Christ is held to be the beginning (arche) of the creation of God. The translation is rendered ruler in the NIV to overcome the implication that Christ is created. The use of the term arche which means beginning is important in view of the early theology of the Gnostics. The word arche is used precisely and means beginning (see The Holy Spirit (No. 117)).
The word relating also to the creation is prototokos where, in Colossians 1:15, Christ is stated to be the image of the invisible God, the prototokos of all creation. Here it is rendered as firstborn. Prototokos is used as one of a series. Christ was the firstborn of the creation from the spiritual realm. He was the firstborn or prototokos of Mary (Lk. 2:7). Matthew 1:25 refers to Christ as her firstborn or prototokos in the Receptus.
Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (KJV)
The Receptus says that she bore the son of her, the firstborn. And she called his name Jesus (Joshua). This has been omitted from modern texts based on very weak evidence. The Companion Bible says of this text regarding her firstborn son:
These words are quoted by Tatian (A.D. 172) and twelve of the fathers before cent. 4; and are contained in nearly all MSS. except the Vatican and Sinaitic (cent. 4). All the [modern] texts omit “her firstborn” on this weak and suspicious evidence.
It is indeed weak and suspicious evidence. Mariolatry emanated both from Syria and especially in Rome from the later centuries. It was necessary to deny that Mary had other children in order to establish her divinity also. Luke could not be altered but it was not as clearly dangerous as was the text in Matthew. The fact that Christ had brothers and sisters is biblically undeniable from Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.
Christ’s brothers were James, Joseph (Joses), Simon and Judas (not Iscariot). His sisters are mentioned in Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3 but not by name (see also Mat. 27:56). James is mentioned also in Mark 16:1 and Judas is mentioned in Luke 6:16. He and Iscariot are carefully distinguished. He is referred to as the brother of James because of the post-resurrection nature of the texts.
There is no doubt that Christ was viewed, from the use of prototokos, as the first of a series in three respects. He is the firstborn of the creation (Col. 1:15). He is the firstborn of the children of Mary (from above) and he is also the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18). We are also conformed to the image of Christ who is the image of God so that he is thus the prototokos or firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).
The use of prototokos is as the first of a series. It is inconsistently used because Trinitarians avoid the consequences of the texts wherever possible. The term prototokos is also the term used in Hebrews 1:6 when God brings the firstbegotten into the world. Hebrews 1:5 quotes Psalm 2:7 showing that David understood the sonship of Messiah.
The distinction is important. Christ was the firstbegotten of the spiritual creation. He was also one of many sons of God yet he was the only son or elohim to be born. He is thus referred to as the monogenes theos or only born god in John 1:18. The Receptus has the monogenes uion or only born son to avoid the implications of monogenes theos but the term was understood anciently as monogenes theos. He was thus the firstbegotten of the creation but the only born of the sons of God. We are all born again to the position of sons of God yet prototokos is only used of Christ in relation to the dead.
Christ is thus the only god to be born yet the first of the creation of the elohim or theoi. Paul says that there are many theoi and many kurioi yet for us there is only One God the Father, from whom are all things and one Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor. 8:5-6).
There is thus only One True God who is the Father (Jn. 17:3).
10.2 There is held to be a distinction by Trinitarians between Christ and the other sons of God who are angels.
This is classic anterior reasoning. Christ was elevated above the angelic Host by his resurrection from the dead. The entire text in Hebrews deals with the demotion below the angels and his ascension above them. That he was not always so is seen from Hebrews 1:3-4.
Hebrews 1:3-4 He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. (RSV)
Hebrews 1:5 refers to the fact that he was the only one to have been born (gegenneka) of God. Yet he was the prototokos who was brought into the world. He was anointed with the oil of gladness beyond his partners (metoxous) (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9). The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation (Heb. 1:14). This text has been held to denigrate the position of the Host and make it impossible for Christ to have been once as they were and for them to be equal to the elect. This is a total misunderstanding of the text of Hebrews. Hebrews is qualified by the testimony of Christ which holds the destiny of mankind to be equal to angels (isaggelos; Lk. 20:36). Christ will confess us before the angels of God (Lk. 12:8-9) who are our brethren (Rev. 12:10).
It is thus apparent that Messiah had to atone for sin on two levels and was made high priest and king over both the spiritual and the physical realms.
The fact that angels are subordinate to Christ does not mean that Christ is equal to God nor does it mean that we will be on a different plane or of a different substance to either God or Christ or the angels. We will all be sons of God as they still are sons of God. They are of one substance with the Father as is Christ and as are we consubstantial with the Father (see Consubstantial with the Father (No. 81)).
We possess the Holy Spirit and for that reason we are consubstantial. God is replicating Himself and the fact is that He intends to become all in all (Eph. 4:6; 1Cor. 15:28 KJV; see also Marshall’s Interlinear Main Text). Being created we become of one substance with the Father by extension as do all the sons of God. By definition, the fullness of the deity dwelling in the individual renders the capacity to be God in the sons. They are then, by definition, of the same substance. The fact of the generation or creation does not necessitate a distinction of substance. Nor is it claimed anywhere in the Bible that such should be the case.
We are all partakers of the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4). That fact however does not automatically confer eternality and authority. Moreover, eternality conferred forwards does not imply that the same co-eternality existed always. It is conferred by God but did not exist in Christ or the Host ab-origine or from the beginning. Hence the attributes of co-eternality and co-equality are not conferred on any being by partaking of the divine nature and the substance of the Father. Thus only God is immortal (1Tim 6:16).
To assert that Christ is true God is a heresy which breaches the first commandment. There is only One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20) and Jesus Christ is His son. Christ is not true God. If he were then, by definition, there would be two true Gods and thus the NT would be false. To assert the existence of two true Gods is denied by Trinitarians. The only people to assert such non-biblical falsehood are the groups known as Binitarians who fall into the logical trap set by the Trinitarians. Binitarianism is a late aberration. It is usually found in people of Trinitarian background who see the fallacy of Trinitarianism from the Bible yet do not want to appear impious in Trinitarian terms by appearing to reduce the position of Christ. This position is of course nonsense and ignores Scripture. Binitarianism is logically polytheist which is why Trinitarianism was led to deny the separation of God and Christ in the Godhead. They are thus held to be distinct but not separate. This is nonsense in biblical terms. The Bible is quite clear that there is One True God and that he is the God and Father of Jesus Christ and the God and Father of us all (Jn. 20:17).
Christ is not equal to the Father (Mat. 19:17; 20:23; Mk. 13:32; Jn. 12:29; 14:28; 1Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 15:28). Christ is not co-eternal with the Father (1Tim. 6:16). Only God exists outside time, i.e. before the beginning, as time is a relationship between two or more objects.
Only God is alpha and omega, the first and the last. I am the alpha and the omega, says [the] Lord the God (Rev. 1:8). The definite article is not translated before “God” in the texts.
The existence as alpha and omega is as one who is and who was and who is to come. He is the Almighty. This is God the Father speaking. This God gave the book of Revelation to Christ that it might be revealed to his servants.
Thus Christ is not omniscient either as a man (Mk. 13:32) or as a divine being (Rev. 1:1).
Thus the attributes of God are by delegation. Yet we are all elohim, children of the Most High all of us (quoting Ps. 82:6) and Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:34-35).
Christ and all the elohim are subordinate to God acting under delegation. The perceived inferiority that is drawn from this position by Trinitarians is as we have seen related to the necessity to elevate Christ to eliminate the necessity of keeping God’s laws. Yet sin is the transgression of the law (1Jn. 3:4) which is the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25) by which we are judged (Jas. 2:12).
It also is the most absurd reasoning to suggest, as is a logical necessity of Trinitarianism, that a being could be its own High Priest. Such vain and faulty reasoning would preclude such a being from the title of God.
From the above position, relating to God, Christ and the Host as sons of God, there is no difficulty in seeing the aspects of creation by delegation under the will and plan of the Father. From this conferred power Christ creates as we see from Colossians 1:16-18. In this way Christ also becomes heir to the attributes laid aside for his inheritance, as we see from Isaiah 9:6. Christ can also be an everlasting father because there are many fatherhoods in heaven and earth (Eph. 3:14). The word translated family here is patria or fatherhood. Thus the title father whether of households or of the Household of God is a delegated title designating the ultimate responsibility of the holder of the office.
Christ is the firstborn of every creature. To try to assert from this that it does not mean that he was a creature makes a nonsense of the accepted philosophy of language. This is classic Trinitarian incoherence.
Christ is the Messiah of the line of Judah and heir to the promises of God. He is the heir to the throne of David. David inherits nothing from Christ. David is part of Messiah’s genealogy and with which he is co-heir as are all the sons of God from the resurrection of the dead. An heir is only a prototokos or firstborn of a series if he is the firstborn, and that position belongs to Christ from his resurrection as a son of God in power from the dead (Rom. 1:4). All in the series are heirs in biblical terms as we see above. God spoke to us by His son whom He appointed heir of all things but we are co-heirs as we see from the numerous texts above (e.g. Rom. 8:16-17 etc.).
The attributes of God are conferred by God under His will. Christ partakes of the divine nature as do we all. We all thus become elohim or theoi or gods yet we are not co-equal or co-eternal in a retrograde sense even though we are granted eternal life because we know the One True God and His son Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3). We are granted to lay hold on eternal life (1Tim. 6:19) as heirs in hope (Titus 3:7).
Christ, learning obedience by what he suffered, being perfected, became, to all those who obey him, the cause (Marshall’s Interlinear Main Text) of eternal salvation, being designated by God a High Priest after the order of Melchisedek (Heb 5:8-10). Christ was thus perfected and because of his obedience enabled us all to obtain eternal life and salvation but he himself was not the source of eternal life. Eternal life had been promised to us by God (1Jn. 2:25). Only God is immortal. God gave us the gift of eternal life (1Jn. 5:11-13). This is the True God and eternal life (1Jn. 5:20).
All of us are made in the image of God, both the physical and the spiritual beings (Gen. 1:26-27). The Holy Spirit was the missing dimension that was to be brought into the world as we saw from John 1:9. Christ was not that light nor was he the author of the light. God is source of the light and the light is the power of God we know as the Holy Spirit. Christ, as the instrument of everlasting salvation of God, was foretold by the prophets (Jer. 23:5,6; Isa. 43:11 cf. Lk. 2:11; Isa. 45:15-24). God exalted Christ as we saw from his obedience, humbling himself unto death, bestowing a name and authority upon him which is above every name (Phil. 2:5-11). Thus the right of the Father to confer authority is undeniable. To infer equality from this text is quite wrong. Christ never at any stage in his life said that he was God and indeed referred to the Father only as God. John and Paul were adamant that no one has seen God even though Christ was seen and heard by thousands.
He came in his Father’s name and they did not receive him (Jn. 5:43). He was that prophet foretold through Moses (Deut. 18:18-19).
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. (RSV)
The Messiah speaks in God’s name but he is not God. He is an elohim, one of the sons of God, but he is not Eloah (God / ton theon) who is God the Father of the New Testament. Christ was faithful to Him who made him (lit: to the [one] making him Heb. 3:2, Marshall’s Interlinear; poiesanti translated appointed by Trinitarians). Poieo or made is the sense in which it was understood and argued at the Council of Nicea.
The Trinitarian faith, as expressed in creeds such as the Nicene, is against the express tenets of the faith as conveyed in the Bible.
The history of the Councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Chalcedon and the subsequent creeds will be the subject of further papers.
The Nicene Creed attempts to assert a series of false premises which are denied by the Bible. In essence it seeks to imply that Christ is the only son of God when this is false, as we have seen. The assertions regarding Christ being of one substance with the Father again seeks to distinguish Christ from all other beings. It also seeks to assert that he is a true God which is blatant blasphemy from the various texts quoted above. Christ is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. Trinitarians do not understand prophecy and sacrifice. Christ is
a stone that will make men stumble and a rock that will make them fall, for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into his glorious light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy (1Pet. 2:8-10).
There is only One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20) who is the God and Father of Jesus Christ and the God and Father of us all (Jn. 20:17). No man has ever seen this God, nor heard His voice nor ever can see Him. He dwells in unapproachable light and only this God is immortal (1Tim. 6:16). He confers on all those who obey Him the capacity to be sons of God (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 4:5-6; Heb. 2:10; 1Jn. 3:1-2; cf. Heb. 5:9) and thus elohim (Zech. 12:8) or theoi. Hence God is One.
The correct rendering of Jehovah (SHD 3068) and Jehovih (SHD 3069) is Yahovah and Yahovih as there is no J in Hebrew.