In today’s online debates, civility is a lost art. I appreciate the courteous back and forth we are engaging in.
1. My talking about nature was more in a theological sense then looking back to the Hebrew word. Judaism and Christianity are monotheistic religions for a reason. The Bible teaches there is only one divine being and many verses support this. I am not sure what you are arguing for. Do you think Judaism and Christianity teach polytheism?
2. If I said to Jim, “My friend and my colleague.” Who would take that to mean I was speaking to two different persons? No one! Everyone would say I was addressing a single person. The same goes for Thomas. After addressing Jesus, he commends Thomas for what he just said him. As I said previously your presuppositions, that Jesus is not God, preclude you from accepting the obvious. Thomas said to Jesus, my Lord and my God. As I said previously, Thomas agreed with the Apostle John when he wrote in John 1:1, “And the Word (Jesus) was God.”
3. I refer back to #2 on this point.
4. In context, Paul is writing about the hope of the second coming in Titus 2:13. “…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” In the New Testament the word “appearing” is used exclusively of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1,8; Titus 2:13). Appearing is never used of the Father. It is consistently tied to the second coming of Jesus. Thus “appearing of the glory of our great God” cannot refer to the Father. Therefore, both God and savior refer to one person Jesus.
Greek scholars contend Titus 2:13 is speaking of only one person. Bruce Metzger writes, “In support of this translation [“our great God and Savior”] there may be quoted such eminent grammarians of the Greek New Testament as P.W. Schmiedel, J.H. Moulton, A.T. Robertson, and Blass-Debrunner. All of these scholars concur in the judgment that one person is referred to in Titus 2:13 and that therefore, it must be rendered, “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Bruce Metzger Facts on Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 24)
Greek scholars have come up with a guiding principle for interpreting such a construction: “When two nouns in the same case are connected by the Greek word ‘and,’ and the first noun is preceded by the article ‘the,’ and the second noun is not preceded by the article, the second noun refers to the same person or thing to which he first noun refers, and is a farther description of it.” (Bowman, Why you Should Believe in the Trinity) In Titus 2:13, two nouns “God” and “Savior” are joined together with the Greek word for “and,” and a definite article (“the”) is placed only in front of the first noun (“God”). The sentence literally reads: “the great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” As scholar Robert Reymond explains, “The two nouns [God and Savior] both stand under the regimen of the single definite article preceding ‘God,’ indicating that they are to a single referent.” (Robert Reymond, Jesus Divine Messiah)
5. In the doctrine of the Trinity the human nature of Jesus submitted and humbled himself before the Father. No problems with the second person of the Trinity (Jesus) addressing the person of the Father.
6. You never answered my previous question so I’ll ask it again… If you don’t believe Jesus is God, then what is he?
Thanks again for the reply. Here are my thoughts on your latest points:
1. No, I don’t think the Israelites (or Christians) were polytheistic. I’m just pointing out that the Hebrew terms for “god/s” could be applied to beings other than God the Father. Sometimes even YHWH was applied to the angelic visitors (Genesis 18-19).
2. I don’t think John 20:28 is so “obvious.” That is why I’m pointing out the evidence that is contrary to the way you are interpreting it. Perhaps you are overlooking how “my God” is used all the other times in scripture because you want it to be referring Jesus in this particular passage.
3. I agree that “the word (Jesus) was God” in John 1:1c. However, we still have to interpret what that means. You think “the word” refers to a preexisting divine son, whereas I think “the word” refers to the resurrected human Jesus (as in John 1:14; Revelation 19:13). Other Christians think it refers to an “impersonal wisdom/plan” or some kind of angelic being.
4. You make a valid point that “appearing” isn’t associated with God the Father. However, you are assuming that “the glory of God” is referring to God himself. As I read the text of Titus 2:13, it seems to me that “the glory of our God” refers to the result of “the appearing” in the same way that you or I might do something for “the glory of God.” Thus, Paul was saying that the appearing of the savior was for the purpose of glorifying God (cf. Jude 1:25).
5. I’m aware that other scholars have different opinions about the Greek in Titus 2:13. I’m offering you another perspective. Every one should consider the evidence for himself and make up his own mind.
6. My understanding is that Jesus Christ was an ordinary Israelite (Hebrews 2:14-16) who had a miraculous conception (Luke 1:35). God the Father later annointed him with holy spirit power, raised him from the dead, and appointed him the judge of the world (Acts 10:39-44).
1. We both agree Christianity teaches there is only one God.
2. Since you believe Jesus is not God, you have to cling to your interpretation that Thomas was addressing two persons when he said to Jesus (one person) “My Lord and my God.” 100% of the scholars I am aware of agree that Thomas called Jesus Lord and God. What noted Greek scholars can you come up with that agree Thomas is speaking to two persons?
I do realize Jesus addresses the Father and calls him my God in John 20:17: “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” You are asking what the Jehovah’s Witnesses ask, how can the Father be Jesus’ God and he still be God?
In context the word “God” here in 20:17b is referring to the Father. The human Jesus is calling the Father his God, submitting himself to the Father. The Son took on a human nature and gave up certain divine prerogatives or privileges. Jesus was still fully God but chose not to utilize his divine abilities (Phil. 2:5-8). As Paul writes in Philippians 2, Jesus as a human submitted himself to death, something the Father cannot do. A difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature.
In John 17 the focus is on the human aspect of Jesus’ identity. He identified himself with his “brothers” (Disciples). The human Jesus had “brothers” and the divine nature does not. Notice also he says “My Father and My God.” He taught others to say “Our Father.” My Father affirms he is the Son of God. By using “MY” he saying he is equal with the Father. In John 5:17-18 (NASB) “But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” Jesus calling God “My Father” was a way to proclaim equality with God the Father and the Jews knew this and wanted him dead.
3. John 1:1 says Jesus was God (theos). John 1:14 says Jesus, as God, took on human flesh. Jesus has two natures, fully God and fully man. In Revelations 19:13 the second Person of the Trinity, the incarnate Son of God is called The Word of God because He is the revelation of God. He is the full expression of the mind, will, and purpose of God, “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). Revelations 19:13 reaffirms the truth of John 1:1, that Jesus was God.
4. You said referring to Titus 2:13, “However, you are assuming that “the glory of God” is referring to God himself.” If God in your sentence means the Father, then that is not what I am assuming. The truth I am assuming nothing, I am going by what Paul writes. The text says the appearing refers to Jesus at his second coming. He is the great God and savior as all the scholars I quoted contend.
5. What NT Greek scholars agree with you that Paul is addressing two persons?
6. All you showed in Hebrews 2:12-14 is that Jesus had a human nature. I agree…where we disagree is believing he also had a divine nature. In Luke 1:35 “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.’” What do you believe the Son of God means? The Jews believed in John 5:17-18 that the Son of God (called God my Father) meant he was equal with God.
I agree the Father raised Jesus from the dead. However, he said he raised himself. John 2:19-22 “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” Jesus clearly says he will raise himself from the dead. Thus he affirms he is fully God and fully man. As man he could die (God cannot die) and as the second person of the Trinity he had the power to raise himself from the dead.
Thanks again for continuing the conversation.
1. Yes, we both agree that there is only one true God.
2. I’m not really concerned what other scholars think about John 20:28 because the interpretation that I offered is just as plausible as the other perspective that you are espousing. I only need to be able to offer a reasonable explanation based upon exegetical and contextual evidence that is consistent with other factors that suggest the apostles were not teaching that the human Jesus was the same being as God the Father. John 20:28 is not decisive either way.
3. For the sake of brevity, I would point out that my understanding of Philippians 2:6a is that the resurrected human Jesus was “existing in the form of God” at the time when Paul was writing the letter to the church. This is why the verb translated “existing” is a Present Participle (in contrast to the subsequent Aorist verbs which refer to the earthly ministry of Jesus in 2:6b-8).
4. Unlike most other Biblical Unitarians, I agree with you that John 5:18 is plainly saying that the disciples understood that the human Jesus was “making himself equal with God.” However, we still must interpret in what sense there was “equality” between the Father and the son. My understanding is that the “equality” was a matter of inheritance (co-ownership) and not an ontological issue. There are many different ways that two persons can be “equal” without sharing the same “being.”
5. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just say that I would also understand the “glory I had with you before the world was” (John 17:5) in the context of inheritance (co-ownership). The human Jesus was not talking about Preexistence in this context, but was merely referring to the possession of God’s glory to which he was always entitled. For example, my own father established his wealth long before I was born, and yet I can claim it was my own because I will inherit it someday.
6. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just mention that my understanding of John 1:1 is that it is a resurrection text and not a Preexistence text. However, unlike most Biblical Unitrarians, I do agree with you that John 1:1 is using “the word” (LOGOS) to refer to a person (i.e. the human Jesus, as in John 1:14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13).
7. My understanding of Hebrews 1:3 that it is referring to the glorified status that the human Jesus attained as a result of his resurrection and ascension. I think “exact representation of His nature” is an unlikely translation. The writer of Hebrews uses UPOSTASIS elsewhere to mean “assurance” (which has no ontological connotation). See Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 11:1.
8. We simply differ on how we read Titus 2:13. I take “the glory of our great God” to be referring to something that God exemplifies, and not to the person of God himself. On the other hand, you read it as a reference to God himself. My understanding of the passage maintains a distinction between two different beings (God, Jesus) where “the glory” of one of them (i.e. God the Father) is attributed to the other one (i.e. Jesus Christ).
9. There are some Greek scholars who share the same perspective on Titus 2:13 that I do. However, selectively pitting some scholars against other scholars proves nothing. Thus, I would rather focus on the exegetical considerations the should be the determining factors. Ultimately, you and I have to consider the evidence for ourselves and make up our own minds.
10. As I noted earlier, I agree with you that John 5:18 indicates that Jesus was “making himself equal with God” on the basis of “claiming that God was his own Father.” In each case where the Jews wanted to stone Jesus, he was making this claim (cf. John 8:54; John 10:33-36). However, you are presuming that “equality” is an ontological term and I don’t think that is an accurate connotation of the word. I think a divine Father and an human son can be “equal” in the sense that any son who is the “heir” already owns everything that belongs to his father (Galatians 4:1-2).
11. I don’t think it logically follows that because both God the Father and the human Jesus assume the authority to raise the dead that it requires that we understand that they were both the same being. Keep in mind, Jesus attributed his authority to raise the dead to God the Father (John 5:21-26; John 17:2).