A definition of The Trinity runs as follows: there is only one
God; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God
and yet there are not three Gods but only one. The persons are
co-eternal and co-equal; one substance makes up the three members
of the Godhead, yet it exists or is distributed among three persons.
All alike are uncreated and omnipotent. God is a triune being,
three persons in one.
The technical definition of The Trinity may perhaps be confusing
to some people. As a result, various devices have been developed
to try to make the concept understandable. Here are a few.
One can picture a cake, made up of its separate ingredients: eggs,
flour, sugar -- yet combined and cooked, they make a single cake.
A single bottle of soft drink may be poured out into three glasses
-- one substance, yet three containers. St. Patrick liked to make
use of the Shamrock as an illustration of the Trinity: three leaves,
yet one Shamrock. Water exists in three forms: liquid, solid (ice),
and gas (water vapor), yet it remains one substance.
Perhaps the best way of expressing the nature of the Trinity is
to take the approach used in the Bible: that of a family. Three
members belong to this family: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet
they remain a single family, identified by the term God. No analogy,
no example to help explain the nature of the trinity is going
to be without its flaws. Every analogy breaks down, every example
remains less than completely satisfying. It must be understood
that the doctrine of The Trinity is designed to remove the paradox
that, though the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit
is God, yet there is but one God.
I. There is Only One God
Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one.
You were shown these things so that you might know that Yahweh
is God; besides him there is no other.
"You are my witnesses,"
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me."
"This is what Yahweh says --
Israel's King and Redeemer,
Yahweh of Hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.
Who then is like me?
Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established
my ancient people,
and what is yet to come -- yes, let him foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock;
I know not one."
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you, though
you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
II. The Son is God
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
The Greek grammatical construction leaves no doubt whatsoever
that this is the only possible rendering of the text. The subject
of the sentence is Word (logos), the verb was. There can
be no direct object following was, since according to grammatical
usage, intransitive verbs take no objects but take instead predicate
nominative which refer back to the subject, in this case, word
(logos) it is therefore easy to see that no article is
needed for theos (God), and to translate it "a god"
is both incorrect grammar and poor Greek, since theos is the predicative
nominative of was in the third sentence-clause of the verse and
must refer back to the subject word (logos) Christ then,
if he is the word "made flesh" (Jn 1:14) can be no one
else except God, unless the Greek text and consequently God's
word be denied." "The Word was with God" means
that the Word was with the person commonly known as "God",
that is, the Father -- while "the Word was God" means
that the Word was himself God by nature as much God as the Father,
without being the same person as the Father. This is about as
explicit as it gets. Besides the problems in Greek with those
who would suggest that the verse should be translated "the
word was a god", such a translation seriously contradicts
the Scriptures which say there is no other God but the one true
If Jesus is "a god" then what else can he be but God?
There is only one divine being in the universe. All others are
either false gods, who are not gods at all, or humans who falsely
claim such divinity (as for instance certain kings). That Satan
is referred to as "the God of this age" can hardly be
construed as an argument against Jesus' divinity. The statement
in reference to Satan is sarcastic, not serious; he is worshiped
by the wicked, and they follow him instead of the true God. Satan
is portrayed as a false god. This is hardly equivalent to the
way Jesus is portrayed. Notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an
idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but
one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or
on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"),
yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things
came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things came and through whom we live.
According to 1 Corinthians, if the Word in John 1:1 is anything
other than the one true God -- simply "a god" -- then
he is false and evil. The Watchtower publication, Reasoning
from Scripture points out that "Isaiah 9:6 (RS) also
prophetically describes Jesus as 'Mighty God,' but not as the
Almighty God. All this is in harmony with Jesus' being described
as 'a god,' or 'divine,' at John 1:1 (NW,AT)." Yet the point
being made by the Watchtower publication seems ill-founded at
best, because just one chapter over in Isaiah 10:20-21 is the
"In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the
house of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him who struck them down
but will truly rely on Yahweh,
the Holy One of Israel.
A remnant will return,
a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God."
If Yahweh is referred to as "Mighty God" wouldn't it
be somewhat blasphemous to apply the same designation to anyone
of lesser significance? In some Jehovah's Witness literature it
is intimated that there are three classes of divine beings: The
one true God, false gods, and something in between, "creatures
which, by virtue of their might and authority over other creatures
are legitimately designated 'gods'." How a creature could
be neither the True God, when the Bible is unmistakable in declaring
there is only one, nor a false god who is not legitimate at all
-- and yet still be "a god", is puzzling to say the
least. Scriptures raised to suggest that someone else might legitimately
be referred to as "a god" are Psalm 82:1, 6 (compared
to John 10:34); Psalm 8:5 (compare to Hebrews 2:7); and sometimes
Exodus 22:8-9, 28. In Psalm 82:1, 6 the psalmist calls certain
rulers "gods" (Hebrew elohim), yet verse five
states that they will die, making clear the writer's sarcastic
use of the term "god" for these kings (see the similar
approach taken by the writer of Ezekiel 28:1-10, where, regarding
the ruler of Tyre, he records:
Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre,
"This is what the lord Yahweh says:
"In the pride of your heart you say 'I am a god;
I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.'
But you are a man and not a god,
though you think you are as wise as a god....
They will bring you down to the pit,
and you will die a violent death
in the heart of the seas.
Will you then say, 'I am a god,'
in the presence of those who kill you?
You will be but a man, not a god,
in the hands of those who slay you.
You will die the death of the uncircumcised
at the hands of foreigners.'
In Hebrew, Psalm 8:5 states that man was created "a little
lower than God." The writer of Hebrews 2:7 was not quoting
from this Hebrew text when he wrote his passage; instead he made
use of the Greek translation of the Old Testament which has here
"angels" in place of God. The Jewish people during the
time the Septuagint was written were very fearful of doing anything
to lessen the power and glory of God; therefore, they substituted
"bless" in place of "curse" when the object
of cursing was God, and adjusted other passages which might be
taken to lessen God's honor -- hence their translation of Psalm
8:5. The use of this Greek translation by the writer of Hebrews
should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that "God"
sometimes refers to someone other than the one true God. So far
as Exodus 22:8-9 and 28 are concerned, in Hebrew it is clearly
the word "God" (Elohim) and though certain translations
may want to make this word mean "judges," there is no
evidence to suggest that this is reasonable; there are no other
places in the Bible where such a translation of the term could
at all be justified, and to take it as meaning "God"
in Exodus makes perfect sense. Finally, it may be useful to quote
at least a portion of a letter written by Julius R. Mantey, whose
Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament has been quoted
by various Watchtower publications in their discussions of John
I have a copy of your letter addressed to Caris in Santa Ana,
California and I am writing to express my disagreement with statements
made in that letter, as well as in quotations you have made from
The Dana-Mantey Greek Grammar.
1) Your statement: "their work allows for the rendering found
in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures
at John 1:1." There is no statement in our grammar that was
ever meant to imply that "a god" was a permissible translation
in John 1:1. A. We had no "rule" to argue in support
of the trinity. B. Neither did we state that we did have such
intention. We were simply delineating the facts inherent in Biblical
language. C. Your quotation from P. 148(3) was in a paragraph
under the heading: "With the Subject in a Copulative Sentence."
Two examples occur here to illustrate that "the article points
out the subject in these examples." But we made no statement
in this paragraph about the predicate except that, "as it
stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in theos."
And isn't that the opposite of what your translation "a god"
infers? You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 140 (VI)
in our grammar we stated: "without the article theos
signifies divine essence...theos en ho logos emphasizes
Christ's participation in the essence of the divine nature."
Our interpretation is in agreement with that in NEB and the TED:
"What God was, the Word was"; and with that of Barclay:
"The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God,"
which you quoted in your letter to Caris.
2) Since Colwell's and Harner's article in JBL, especially that
of Harner, it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate
John 1:1 "The Word was a god." Word-order has made obsolete
and incorrect such a rendering.
3) Your quotation of Colwell's rule is inadequate because it quotes
only a part of his findings. You did not quote this strong assertion:
"A predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be
translated as an indefinite or a 'qualitative' noun solely because
of the absence of the article."
4) Prof. Harner, Vol. 92:1 (1973) in JBL, has gone beyond Colwell's
research and has discovered that anarthrous predicate nouns preceding
the verb function primarily to express the nature or character
of the subject. He found this true in 53 passages in the Gospel
of John and 8 in the Gospel of Mark. Both scholars wrote that
when indefiniteness was intended that gospel writers regularly
placed the predicate noun after the verb, and both Colwell and
Harner have stated that theos in John 1:1 is not indefinite
and should not be translated "a god". Watchtower writers
appear to be the only ones advocating such a translation now.
The evidence appears to be 99% against them.
5) Your statement in your letter that the sacred text itself should
guide one and "not just someone's rule book." We agree
with you. But our study proves that Jehovah's Witnesses do the
opposite of that whenever the "sacred text" differs
with their heretical beliefs. For example the translation of kolasis
as cutting off when punishment is the only meaning cited in the
lexicons for it. The mistranslation of ego eimi as "I
have been" in John 8:58. The addition of "for all time"
in Hebrews 9:27 when nothing in the Greek New Testament supports
The attempt to belittle Christ by mistranslating arche tes
ktiseos "beginning of the creation" when he is magnified
as "the creator of all things" (John 1:2) and as "equal
with God" (Phil. 2:6) before he humble himself and lived
in a human body here on earth. Your quotation of "The father
is greater than I am" (John 14:28) to prove that Jesus was
not equal to God overlooks the fact stated in Phil. 2:6-8. When
Jesus said that, he was still in his voluntary state of humiliation.
That state ended when he ascended to heaven. Why the attempt to
deliberately deceive people by mispunctuation by placing a comma
after "today" in Luke 23:43 when in the Greek, Latin,
German and all English translations except yours, even in the
Greek in your KIT, the comma occurs after lego (I
say) -- "Today you will be with me in Paradise." 2 Cor.
5:8, "to be out of the body and at home with the Lord."
These passages teach that the redeemed go immediately to heaven
after death, which does not agree with your teachings that death
ends all life until the resurrection. Cf. Ps. 23:6 and Heb. 1:10.
The aforementioned are only a few examples of Watchtower mistranslations
and perversions of God's Word. In view of the preceding facts,
especially because you have been quoting me out of context, I
herewith request you not to quote from the Manual Grammar of
the Greek New Testament again, which you have been doing for
24 years. Also that you not quote it or me in any of your publications
from this time on.
Also that you publicly and immediately apologize in the Watchtower
magazine, since my words had no relevance in the absence of the
article before theos in John 1:1. And please write to Caris
and state that you misused and misquoted my "rule".
On the page before the Preface in the grammar are these words:
"All rights reserved -- no part of this book may be reproduced
in any form without permission in writing from the publisher."
If you have such permission, please send me a photo-copy of it.
If you do not heed these requests you will suffer the consequences.
Julius R. Mantey
This is what certain scholars, regularly quoted in Watchtower
publications actually have to say regarding John 1:1:
E. C. Colwell:
...predicate nouns proceeding the verb cannot be regarded as indefinite
or qualitative simply because they lack the article; it could
be regarded as indefinite or qualitative only if this is demanded
by the context, and in the case of John 1:1c this is not so.
A definite predicate nominative has the article when it precedes
the verb...this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the
prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession
of Thomas, 'My Lord and my God.' (John 20:28)" ("A Definite
Rule for te Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament,"
Journal of Biblical Literature, 52 (1933), p. 20)
Philip B. Harner:
"Perhaps the clause could be translated 'the Word had the
same nature as God.' This would be one way of representing John's
thought, which is, as I understand it, that ho logos, no
less than ho theos, had the nature of theos."
("Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and
John 1:1", Journal of Biblical Literature, 92,1 (March
1973), p. 87)
"'The Word was God...And the Word became flesh,' simply means
'The Word was divine....And the word became human.' The Nicene
faith, in the Chalcedon definition, was intended to conserve both
of these truths against theories that failed to present Jesus
as truly God and truly man..." (Jesus the Same. Abingdon-Cokesbury,
1945, p. 61)
"So in Jo. 1:1 theos en ho logos the meaning has to
be the Logos was God, not God was the Logos." (A New Short
Grammar of the Greek Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1977, p. 279)
"Theos must then be taken as implying God, in substance
and essence -- not ho theos, 'the Father,' in person. It
does not = theos, nor is it to be rendered a God -- but,
as in sarx egeneto, sarx expresses that state into which
the Divine Word entered by a definite act, so in theos en,
theos expresses that essence which was His en arche:
-- that He was very God. So that this first verse might be connected
thus: the Logos was from eternity, -- was with God (the Father),
-- and was Himself God." (Alford's Greek Testament: An
Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Vol. I, Part II. Guardian
Press, 1976; originally published 1871, p. 681)
"The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in iv.
24. It is necessarily without the article (theos not ho
theos) inasmuch as it describes the nature of the Word and
does not identify His Person.... No idea of inferiority of nature
is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the
true deity of the Word." (The Gospel According to St.
John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958 reprint, p. 3)
Who, being in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
The Greek word translated "form" in both verses is morphe;
in the same way Christ had the "form" of God, so he
had the "form" of a man. The use of the term morphe
in scripture is quite interesting. Gifferd writes that,
...morphe is therefore properly the nature or essence,
not in the abstract, but as actually subsisting in the individual,
and retained as long as the individual itself exits....Thus in
the passage before us morphe Theou is the Divine nature
actually and inseparably subsisting in the Person of Christ....For
the interpretation of 'the form of God' it is sufficient to say
that (1) it includes the whole nature and essence of Deity, and
is inseparable from them, since they could have no actual existence
without it; and (2) that it does not include in itself anything
'accidental' or separable, such as particular modes of manifestation,
or conditions of glory and majesty, which may at one time be attached
to the 'form,' at another separated from it...
The true meaning of morphe in the expression 'form of God'
is confirmed by its recurrence in the corresponding phrase, 'form
of a servant.' It is universally admitted that the two phrases
are directly antithetical, and that 'form' must therefore have
the same sense in both". It is perhaps interesting to note
that the Septuagint makes use of the term morphe in such
passages as Judges 8:18, where it describes Gideon's brothers
as having the "form" of princes. Or in Isaiah 44:13
where the craftsman is described as making idols in the "form"
of a man. As this passage in Philippians makes clear, as much
as Jesus was human, so was he God.
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry
of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Everett F. Harrison writing about this passage in his commentary
on Romans states:
But is "God over all" the correct translation? On the
ground that elsewhere Paul avoids such a stark identification,
despite his high Christology, some scholars reject the traditional
rendering, preferring something on the order of NEB: "May
God, supreme above all, be blessed for ever." This involves
taking the closing portion of the verse as a doxology and referring
it to God (the Father). Several considerations favor the traditional
wording, which refers "God" to Christ: (1) Christ's
relationship to Israel on the human side has been stated in such
a way as to call for a complementary statement on the divine side.
This is provided by the usual translation but not by the other
rendering. (2) "Who" can properly be coupled only with
the foregoing subject (Christ). If another subject (God) is being
introduced, there is no reason at all for the "who."
(3) A doxology to God can hardly be intended, since in doxologies
the word "blessed" is regularly placed before the one
who is praised. Here it comes after. (4) A doxology to God would
be singularly out of place in a passage marked by sorrow over
Israel's failure to recognize in Christ her crowning spiritual
blessing. (5) The definite article "the," is not linked
in the text with "God," but with the foregoing words
(literally, "the one being over all"), so Paul is not
trying to displace God with Christ, but is doing what John does
in Saying that the Word was God (John 1:1), that is, has the rank
of God. In any case, this is really implied in recognizing him
as "over all" (it is very awkward, with NEB, to refer
this to God in distinction from Christ). (Frank E. Gaebelein,
ed. The Expositors Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1976, p. 103)
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Commenting on this passage, even the Watchtower publication, Reasoning
From Scripture, states (on page 213) that "There is no
objection to referring to Jesus as 'God', if this is what Thomas
had in mind." Admittedly the book then goes on and tries
to limit the impact of this statement by arguing that since mighty
men were referred to as "gods", then there is nothing
wrong in describing Jesus as "divine" or "a god".
This argument has already been discussed in some detail above.
But this brings up another issue that needs to be faced. The Watchtower
publications will make use of terms such as "deity",
"divine", "divinity" and leave the impression
that it is okay to apply such terms to Jesus since they are somehow
less strong than saying "Jesus is God". However, the
word "deity" means "God", as do the words
"divine" and "divinity". Those translations
that use such terms in reference to the Son are not thereby trying
to downplay the fact that Jesus is God. Instead they are affirming
1 John 5:20
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding,
so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is
true -- even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal
While we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of
our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,...
There is really not a whole lot that can be argued against this
rendering; even the rendering in NW approximates this. Reasoning
from Scripture tries to say that the above translation is inconsistent:
"they [translators] do not follow the same rule in their
translation of 2 Thessalonians 1:12". Unfortunately for this
statement, the structure in the two passages is not the same:
tou megalou theo kai soteros hemon Iesou Christou
the great God and Savior ours Jesus Christ
2 Thessalonians 1:12
tou theou hemon kai kuriou Iesou Christou
the God ours and Lord Jesus Christ
Considering the difference in structure between these two passages,
it is not surprising that 2 Thes. 1:12 tends to be translated
differently than Titus 2:13. Therefore, it is inescapable that
Titus 2:13 states plainly that Jesus Christ is "our Great
God and Savior". And notice in Greek that it is "THE
Great God" -- with a definite article.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
The criticism raised against Trinitarians who use this verse to
show that Jesus is God is that "Being truly 'divinity,' or
of 'divine nature' does not make Jesus as the Son of God coequal
and coeternal with the Father, any more than the fact that all
humans share 'humanity' or 'human nature' makes them coequal or
all the same age."
What are they saying then? That as there are many human beings,
so there are many Gods? This is an argument for polytheism, not
an argument countering the Trinity, which preserves the Biblical
truth of "Hear O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one".
If a man is "human" and shares in "humanity",
then how much less is the Son of God "divine" and sharing
in "divinity"? There is only one God; if Jesus is "divine"
then he has to be God. There is not room for more than one God!
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or
authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is
before all things, and in him all things hold together.
It is difficult to escape the feeling of omnipotence given off
by this passage. Not only is the Son of God responsible for creating
the universe, it is also by his power that everything remains
in its orderly pattern. Related to this concept, one might also
take a look at the next passage and the comments that follow.
He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all
the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.
This second passage reflects the omnipresence of the Son of God,
telling us that he "fills the whole universe." No more
explicit statement of omnipresence is found, though it well reflects
what is described in Psalm 139:
O Yahweh, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Yahweh.
You hem me in -- behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
Only God is portrayed in the Bible as being everywhere present,
of being all powerful, and having all knowledge. Yet, the Son
is given these same attributes. Is it so surprising then that
Colossians 2:9 states that "For in Christ all the fullness
of the Deity lives in bodily form..."
Some might object: "But look, the next verse goes on to add
"and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head
over every power and authority." So does this mean that we
are Christ, if his fullness dwells in us? Not quite; take a look
at Galatians 2:20ff. to get a sense of what Paul means:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ
lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the
Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set
aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through
the law, Christ died for nothing!
Christ living in us, the Holy Spirit living in us, is the evidence
of salvation; what it is to be a Christian. It has nothing to
do with making us "gods" or "christs".
One last passage on the subject, Romans 8:1-2:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life
set me free from the law of sin and death.
But about the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by
anointing you with the oil of joy.
He also says,
"In the beginning, O Lord,
you laid the foundations of the earth
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
Sometimes Jesus refers to the Father as God and this is taken
as an indication that Jesus is somehow less than God. For instance,
in John 20:17:
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned
to my Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning
to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
There is nothing odd in Jesus referring to the Father as God,
since indeed that is what the Father is. What else would Jesus
call Him? In his incarnation as a human being, this would not
be unexpected -- but even in his glorified state (as in Revelation
3:12) there is nothing odd in it. Moreover it should be noted
that in John 20 for Jesus the words "Father" and "God"
are equivalent terms, defining each other.
Some will take Jesus' words in John 17:1-3 and say that Jesus
has excluded himself from being God:
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father,
the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify
you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might
give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is
eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom you have sent.
Perhaps it would be useful to read verses four and five as well:
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave
me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the
glory I had with you before the world began.
Listing Jesus separate from the Father does not diminish his Godhood;
it merely distinguishes the members of the Trinity as the separate
persons that they are.
It should be noticed that the words of Hebrews 1:10-12 are addressed
to the Son, paralleling John 17:4-5:
He [God] also says: (about the son, see verse eight)
"In the beginning, O Lord,
you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands...
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end."
This is a quotation of Psalm 102:25-27. If we look at verse 24
we see whom the psalmist had in mind:
So I said:
"Do not take me away,
O my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid..."
Now some might say this passage is applied to the Son simply because
he is God's representative and does the will of the Father. However,
the angels are God's representatives and do God's will, yet the
whole argument in the passage in Hebrews is that the Son is something
far more than the angels. As Hebrews 1:3-4 states:
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation
of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After
he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right
hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to
the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ, an ambassador of God; the
same could be said of Peter and the other apostles or of the Kings
of Israel and Judah, and yet no passages apply divinity to any
of these other "representatives" of God. Jesus is far
more than a mere "representative" -- which is the whole
point of Hebrews chapter one!
No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only who is at the
Father's side has made him known.
No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only
he has seen the Father.
These are key verses, since they tell us no one has seen God.
Yet, we know from the Old Testament that people did see
God. For instance, Exodus 24:9-11:
"Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders
of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.
Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire,
clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against
these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and
The Hebrew word hazah translated as "see" in
24:11 means "to see or behold with the eyes", according
to Brown, Driver, and Briggs in their Hebrew and English Lexicon,
where they make specific mention of this very verse.
Notice also Genesis 18, where Abraham has three visitors, one
of whom turns out to be the Lord: Yahweh. See also Isaiah 6:1-3
where Isaiah saw God "high and lifted up" in the same
way he saw the Seraphim; Numbers 12:6-8 tells us that Moses spoke
to God face to face, rather than through visions or dreams, and
that he sees "the form of God"; Judges 13:20-23 explains
that the father of Samson is afraid he might die because he has
seen God. He is reassured by his wife when she points out that
God would not have accepted their offering if he intended to kill
them. Job 42:5 says that Job saw God.
To explain the apparent contradiction between John 1:18 and 6:46,
which very clearly state that no one has seen God -- and Exodus
24 which very clearly says that Moses and seventy-three other
folks did (not to mention the problems raised by the other passages),
there is only one possible explanation: since no one has seen
the Father, the only conclusion, then, is that the God of the
Old Testament, Yahweh, is none other than the Son of God! This
isn't so surprising considering that Romans 10:9-13 records:
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord,"
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you
will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and
are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and
are saved. As the Scripture says, "Everyone who trusts in
him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference
between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly
blesses all who call on him, for "Everyone who calls on the
name of the Lord will be saved."
Paul has here quoted from Joel 2:32: "Everyone who calls
on the name of Yahweh will be saved." Yet Paul applies the
statement to Christ. Consider also Acts 2:21 where the same passage
is quoted from Joel and Peter again applies it to Jesus. Or Acts
4:10-12, where Peter says:
Then know this, you and everyone else in Israel: It is by the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom
God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you completely
healed. He is "the stone you builders rejected, which has
become the capstone." Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which
we must be saved.
Salvation is through the Son, whether in the Old Testament or
the New. Notice also what Isaiah 43:11 says:
I, even I, am Yahweh,
and apart from me there is no savior.
III. The Holy Spirit is God
Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled
your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept
for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't
it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't
the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such
a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
First Peter says they lied to the Holy Spirit, then he says they
were lying to God.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect
the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with
ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time,
says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will
write them on their minds."
This passage in Hebrews is a quote from Jeremiah 31:34 which identifies
the speaker as Yahweh -- yet the author of Hebrews feels perfectly
comfortable attributing it to the Holy Spirit.
The following passage is sometimes raised to cast doubt on both
the deity of the Son of God, as well as the Spirit of God:
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels
in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Not all the Greek manuscripts have the phrase "nor the Son"
(in fact, it is quite a large number, including an uncial text
dating back to the fourth century). But even if the phrase does
stand in the text, it is easily explained by the fact that Jesus
was speaking in his human incarnation (cf. Philippians 2:7 "but
made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant";
also Luke 2:52, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and
in favor with God and men." Clearly, Jesus was not omniscient
as a human being.) Sometimes the passage in Matthew is also used
to claim that the Holy Spirit is not omniscient, since it does
not know when Jesus will come back. First, it should be noted
that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the passage in Matthew
at all; secondly, the thought that the Holy Spirit is less than
knowledgeable about the things of God is contradicted by the following
passage in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11:
"But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit
searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among
men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within
him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the
Spirit of God."
The Holy Spirit is therefore presented as knowing all that God
Some people may attempt to argue that the Holy Spirit is simply
an impersonal force or power, pointing out that the Hebrew word
for Spirit, ruah, like the Greek word, pneumos,
can also mean "wind". However, it must be pointed out
that "wind" is an option only in very limited circumstances,
i.e., in those cases where ruah is not in a genitival relationship
with a person. If the word is linked as in Genesis 1:2 "The
ruah of God..." then the only possibility linguistically
is "Spirit", "breath", or "emotion".
"Active force" in an impersonal sense is never an option
with either the Greek or Hebrew words. Notice 1 John 4:13- 15:
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given
us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father
has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges
that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
Notice that John says that God lives in the believer. But before
that, he says that believers have been given "of his Spirit".
Notice too, what some other passages say about who lives inside
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the
Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does
not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's
Spirit lives in you.
The believer is called the temple of God, yet what the believer
has inside him is the "Spirit of God", which in Romans
is also called "the Spirit of Christ", once again making
Christ and God equivalent.
IV. The Father is God
There is little disagreement about this. Some relevant verses:
John 6:27, 1 Peter 1:2, Luke 10:21.
V. The Baptismal formula ofMatthew 28
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that the word "name" is singular, not plural.
There is one name ascribed to all members of the Godhead: Yahweh.
To suppose that the Son and the Spirit are somehow less than the
Father makes a mockery of this instruction. How can the Father
be Almighty God and yet be linked to beings -- creatures -- who
are anything less? Such an idea is blasphemous. The Son and the
Holy Spirit are as much God as the Father is.
The Ante-Nicene Fathers
It is said by some that "the testimony of the Bible and of
history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical
times and for several centuries thereafter." Specifically,
it is argued that such church fathers as Justin Martyr (d. c.
165 AD), Irenaeus (d. c. 200 AD), Clement of Alexandria (d. c.
215 AD), Tertullian (d. c. 230 AD), Hyppolytus (d. c. 235 AD)
and Origen (d. c. 250 AD) did not believe in the Trinity or accept
Jesus as God. The following quotes from these church fathers would
tend to weaken such a contention:
Moreover, in the book of Exodus we have also perceived that the
name of God Himself, which, He says, was not revealed to Abraham
or to Jacob, was Jesus, and was declared mysteriously through
And now we, who believe on our Lord Jesus, who was crucified under
Pontius Pilate, when we exorcise all demons and evil spirits,
have them subjected to us. For if the prophets declared obscurely
that Christ would suffer, and thereafter be Lord of all, yet that
[declaration] could not be understood by any man until He Himself
persuaded the apostles that such statements were expressly related
in the Scriptures. For He exclaimed before His crucifixion: 'The
Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the Scribes
and Pharisees, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.'
And David predicted that He would be born from the womb before
sun and moon, according to the Father's will, and made Him known,
being Christ, as God strong and to be worshipped. (The Ante-Nicene
Fathers, volume 1, Dialogue With Trypho, LXXV, Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1956, p. 236-237)
The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even
to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their
disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are
in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate
for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through
the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the
birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from
the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved
Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven
in the glory of the Father 'to gather all things in one,' and
to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that
to Christ Jesus our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according
to the will of the invisible Father, 'every knee shall bow, of
things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess' to Him, and that He should
execute judgment towards all;... (Against Heresies, I,x,1)
Therefore the Father is Lord, and the Son is Lord, and the Father
is God and the Son is God; for He who is born of God is God. And
thus God is shown to be one according to the essence of His being
and power; but at the same time, as the administrator of the economy
of our redemption, He is both Father and Son: since the Father
of all is invisible and inaccessible to creatures, it is through
the Son that those who are to approach God must have access to
the Father. Moreover David speaks clearly and most manifestly
of the Father and Son, as follows: Thy throne, O God, is for ever
and ever; Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity, therefore
God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.
For this means that the Son, being God, receives from the Father,
that is, from God, the throne of the everlasting kingdom, and
the oil of anointing above His fellows. And 'oil of anointing'
is the Spirit, through whom He is the Anointed, and 'His fellows'
are the prophets and the just and the apostles, and all who receive
fellowship of His kingdom, that is, His disciples. (Joseph P.
Smith. Ancient Christian Writers, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching.
New York: Newman Press, 1952, p. 78)
Clement of Alexandria:
And the Son is neither simply one thing as one thing, nor many
things as parts, but one thing as all things; whence also He is
all things. For He is the circle of all powers rolled and united
into one unity. Wherefore the Word is called the Alpha and the
Omega, of whom alone the end becomes beginning, and ends again
at the original beginning without any break.
Now God, who is without beginning, is the perfect beginning of
the universe, and the producer of the beginning. As, then, He
is being, He is the first principle of the department of action,
as He is good, of morals; as He is mind, on the other hand, He
is the first principle of reasoning and of judgment. Whence also
He alone is Teacher, who is the only Son of the Most High Father,
the Instructor of men. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 11.
The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book IV, chapter XXV. Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962, pp. 438-439)
"We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and
in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God,
and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too,
is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still
part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because
it is a ray of the sun -- there is no division of substance, but
merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God
of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains
entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of
shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come
forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two
are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of
God, He is made a second in manner of existence -- in position,
not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source,
but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold
in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh
in her womb, is in His birth God and man united. (Ante-Nicene
Fathers, vol. III, Tertullian, Parts I-III, Chap. XXI. Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962, pp. 34-35)
For God alone is without sin; and the only man without sin is
Christ, since Christ is also God. (Tertullian, p. 221)
The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had
nothing coeval with Himself, not infinite chaos, nor measureless
water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined
spirit, nor the azure canopy of the stupendous firmament. But
He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created
things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that
he willed to make them....Therefore this solitary and supreme
Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first;
not by the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but
as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in
the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for
the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from
Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was
in the Father Himself, bearing the will of his progenitor, and
not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father. For simultaneously
with His procession from His Progenitor, inasmuch as He is this
Progenitor's first-born, He has, as a voice in Himself, the ideas
conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered
the world to come into existence the Logos one by one completed
each object of creation, thus pleasing God.... The Logos alone
of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God,
being the substance of God.
For Christ is the God above all, and He has arranged to wash away
sin from human beings, rendering regenerate the old man. (The
Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V. The Refutation of All Heresies,
Chaps. XXVIII-XXIX. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956, pp. 150-151,
The particular points clearly delivered in the teachings of the
apostles are as follows:-- First, That there is one God, who created
and arranged all things, and who, when nothing existed, called
all things into being -- God from the first creation and foundation
of the world --...Secondly, That Jesus Christ Himself, who came
(into the world), was born of the Father before all creatures;
that, after He had been the servant of the Father in the creation
of all things -- "For by Him were all things made" --
He in the last times, divesting Himself (of his glory), became
a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man remained
the God which He was;...Then, Thirdly, the apostles related that
the Holy Spirit was associated in honour and dignity with the
Father and the Son.... (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. IV, Origen
de Principiis. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956, p. 240)
John, however, with more sublimity and propriety, says in the
beginning of his Gospel, when defining God by a special definition
to be the Word, "And God was the Word, and this was in the
beginning with God." Let him, then, who assigns a beginning
to the Word or Wisdom of God, take care that he be not guilty
of impiety against the unbegotten Father Himself, seeing he denies
that He had always been a Father, and had generated the Word,
and had possessed wisdom in all preceding periods...(Origen
de Principiis, p. 246)
We worship one God, the Father and the Son, therefore, as we have
explained; and our argument against the worship of other gods
still continues valid. And we do not "reverence beyond measure
one who has but lately appeared," as though He did not exist
before; for we believe Himself when He says, "Before Abraham
was, I am." Again He says, "I am the truth;" and
surely none of us is so simple as to suppose that truth did not
exist before the time when Christ appeared. We worship, therefore,
the Father of truth, and the Son, who is the truth; and these,
while they are two, considered as persons or subsistences, are
one in unity of thought, in harmony and in identity of will. So
entirely are they one, that he who has seen the Son, "who
is the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His
person," has seen in Him who is the image of God, God Himself.
(Origen de Principiis, pp. 643-644)
ANSWERS TO SPECIFIC OBJECTIONS
"First born of all creation"
Notice what is written about this phrase in the Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament:
The description of Christ as prototokos pases ktiseos in
Col. 1:15 obviously finds in the hoti clause of v. 16 its
more precise basis and explanation: Christ is the mediator at
creation to whom all creatures without exception owe their creation,
see V. 894, 28ff. Hence prototokos pases ktiseos does not
simply denote the priority in time of the pre-existent Lord. If
the expression refers to the mediation of creation through Christ,
it cannot be saying at the same time that He was created as the
first creature. The decisive objection to this view, which sees
in the pase ktiseos a partitive genitive, is that it would
demand emphasis on the tokos, whereas with the exception
of Lk. 2:7 (see 876,6 ff.), which refers to literal birth, the
tokos is never emphasized in the NT passages which speak
of Christ, especially Col. 1:18 (see 877, 15ff.). A further point
is that this view would bring -tokos into tension with
ktiseos (and ktisesthai in 1:16), for creation and
birth are different concepts and prototokos cannot be regarded
as a simple synonym of protoktistos. The only remaining
possibility is to take prototokos hierarchically (see line
7f.). What is meant is the unique supremacy of Christ over all
creatures as the mediator of their creation. The succeeding statement
in 1:17a; autos estin propanton, emphasizes the same supremacy,
while 1:17b draws the conclusion from 1:16. If prototokos
is selected in Col. 1:15 and then again in 1:18 to express this
supremacy, this is because of the great importance which the term
"firstborn" took on as a word for rank in the OT and
then retained in later Judaism. (TDNT, Kittel, vol. VI,
"only begotten" or "one and only"
That he is not merely making a comparison with earthly relationships
is indicated by para "from". The glory was that
of a unique relationship and the word "begotten" does
not imply a beginning of his sonship. It suggests relationship,
indeed, but must be distinguished from generation as applied to
man. We can only rightly understand the term "only begotten"
when used of the Son, in the sense of unoriginated relationship.
The begetting is not an event of time, however remote but a fact
irrespective of time. The Christ did not become, but necessarily
and eternally is the Son. He, a person, possesses every attribute
of pure Godhood. This necessitates eternity, absolute being; in
this respect He is not 'after' the Father (Moule). (Vine's
Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 140)
Notice, too, the use of the word monogenes in Hebrews 11:17,
where the writer tells us that Isaac was Abraham's monogenes
son. Certainly this word does not then have the sense of "only
begotten", despite the tradition of translating it this way,
since Genesis 16 tells us that Ishmael is also Abraham's son,
not to mention Genesis 25:1-2 which tells us that his second wife,
Keturah bore him "Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak
and Shuah". Genesis 25:5-6 explains:
Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still
living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them
away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.
Therefore, he also had an indeterminate number of other sons by
The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament made
about 200 BC makes use of the word monogenes; for instance
in Psalm 22:20 the Septuagint translates a Hebrew word meaning
"precious", as in the phrase "my precious life",
with the word monogenes; likewise in Psalm 35:17 it does
the same thing; and in Psalm 25:16 it translates "lonely"
CERTAIN SCHOLARS (AND OTHERS)TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT IN
REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES
The reader might want to compare the way these sources are quoted
in the Watchtower publication Reasoning From the Scriptures
with the complete quote as given below:
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol X, p. 126:
Trinity, the doctrine of God taught by Christianity that asserts
that God is one in essence but three in "person," Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit. Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit
doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus
and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the
Old Testament: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord"
(Deut. 6:4). The earliest Christians, however, had to cope with
the implications of the coming of Jesus Christ and of the presence
and power of God among them -- i.e., the Holy Spirit, whose coming
was connected with the celebration of the Pentecost. The Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit were associated in such New Testament passages
as the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19); and in the
apostolic benediction: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with
you all" (II Cor. 13:14). Thus, the New Testament established
the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity.
The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through
many controversies. Initially, both the requirements of monotheism
inherited from the Old Testament and the implications of the need
to interpret the biblical teaching to Greco-Roman paganism seemed
to demand that the divine in Christ as the Word, or Logos, be
interpreted as subordinate to the Supreme Being. An alternative
solution was to interpret Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three
modes of the self- disclosure of the one God but not as distinct
within the being of God itself. The first tendency recognized
the distinctness among the three, but at the cost of their equality
and hence of their unity (sub-ordinationism); the second came
to terms with their unity, but at the cost of their distinctness
as "persons" (modalism). It was not until the 4th century
that the distinctness of the three and their unity were brought
together in a single orthodox doctrine of one essence and three
persons. The Council of Nicea in 325 stated the crucial formula
for that doctrine in its confession that the Son is "of the
same essence [homo-ousios] as the Father," even though it
said very little about the Holy Spirit. Over the next half century,
Athanasius defended and refined the Nicene formula, and, by the
end of the 4th century, under the leadership of Basil of Caesarea,
Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus (the Cappadocian Fathers),
the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has
maintained ever since. (See Reasoning, p. 405)
New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIV, 1981, p.
From what has been seen thus far, the impression could arise that
the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th-century
invention. In a sense, this is true; but it implies an extremely
strict interpretation of the key words Trinitarian and dogma.
Triadic Consciousness in the Primitive Revelation. The formulation
"one God in three Persons" was not solidly established,
certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession
of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely
this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian
dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even
remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective; among the
2nd-century Apologists, little more than a focusing of the problem
as that of plurality within the unique Godhead. Not before Tertullian
and Origen, early in the century following, had an attempt been
made to solve the problem once raised by replying to the double
question: in what sense is God one, in what sense three? And even
then, results had been far from decisive....
Another way of saying the same thing, however, is not the only
oversimplified interpretation possible in this matter. If it is
clear on one side that the dogma of the Trinity in the stricter
sense of the word was a late arrival, product of 3 centuries'
reflection and debate, it is just as clear on the opposite side
that confession of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- and hence an
elemental Trinitarianism -- went back to the period of Christian
origins. Contemporary studies on the ancient Christian creeds
have done much to bring this out. (See Reasoning, p. 405)
John L. McKenzie. Dictionary of the Bible. New York:
Macmillan, pp. 899-900:
The trinity of God is defined by the Church as the belief that
in God are three persons who subsist in one nature. The belief
as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD
and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief. The
trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms
of "person" and "nature" which are Gk philosophical
terms; actually the terms do not appear in the Bible. The trinitarian
definitions arose as the result of long controversies in which
these terms and others such as "essence" and "substance"
were erroneously applied to God by some theologians. The ultimate
affirmation of trinity of persons and unity of nature was declared
by the Church to be the only correct way in which these terms
could be used.
The elements of the trinity of persons within the unity of nature
in the Bible appear in the use of the terms Father, Son, and Spirit.
The personal reality of the Spirit emerged more slowly than the
personal reality of Father and Son which are personal terms. On
the application of the name of Spirit to the Son in Pauline writings
cf SPIRIT. The unity of nature does not appear as a problem in
the Bible, and indeed could only arise when a philosophical investigation
of the term nature as applied to God was begun. In the NT the
Father is "the God" (Gk ho theos), and Jesus
is "the Son of the God" (ho hyios tou theou).
The Spirit is "the Spirit of the God" or "the Holy
Spirit," in this context a synonymous term. Deity is conceived
not in the Gk term of nature but rather as a level of being, "the
holy"; between this level and the level of "flesh"
there is an impassable gulf. Impassable, that is, by man; it is
bridged by Jesus, the Son, who renders it possible for men to
be adopted sons. Without an explicit formula the NT leaves no
room to think that Jesus is Himself an object of the adoption
which He communicates to others. He knows the Father and reveals
Him. He therefore belongs to the divine level of being; and there
is no question at all about the Spirit belonging to the divine
level of being. (see Reasoning, p. 406)
Consider what McKenzie had to say on page 317 under the entry
The word theos is used to designate the gods of paganism.
Normally the word with or without the article designates the God
of the Old Testament and of Judaism, the God of Israel: Yahweh.
But the character of God is revealed in an original way in the
NT; the originality is perhaps best summed up by saying that God
reveals Himself in and through Jesus Christ. The revelation of
God in Jesus Christ does not consist merely in the prophetic word
as in the OT, but in an identity between God and Jesus Christ.
Jn 1:1-18 expresses this by contrasting the word spoken by the
prophets with the word incarnate in Jesus. In Jesus the personal
reality of God is manifested in visible and tangible form.
In the words of Jesus and in much of the rest of the NT the God
of Israel (Gk ho theos) is the Father of Jesus Christ.
It is for this reason that the title ho theos, which now
designated the Father as a personal reality, is not applied in
the NT to Jesus Himself; Jesus is the Son of God (of ho theos).
This is a matter of usage and not of rule, and the noun is applied
to Jesus a few times. Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated "the
word was with the God [= the Father], and the word was a divine
being." Thomas invokes Jesus with the titles which belong
to the Father, "My Lord and my God" (Jn 20:28). "The
glory of our great God and Savior" which is to appear can
be the glory of no other than Jesus (Tt 2:13).
The Watchtower for May 15, 1977 quotes William Barclay
Now normally, except for special reasons, Greek nouns always have
the definite article in front of them,...When a Greek noun has
not got the article in front of it, it becomes rather a description
than an identification, and has the character of an adjective
rather than of a noun. We can see exactly the same in English.
If I say: 'James is the man', then I identify James with some
definite man whom I have in mind; but, if I say: 'James is man',
then I am simply describing James as human, and the word man has
become a description and not an identification. If John had said
ho theosen ho logos, using a definite article in
front of both nouns, then he would definitely have identified
the logos [the Word] with God, but because he has no definite
article in front of theos it becomes a description, and more of
an adjective than a noun. The translation then becomes, to put
it rather clumsily, 'The Word was in the same class as God, belonged
to the same order of being as God'....John is not here identifying
the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that
Jesus was God.
Thus ends the quotation in The Watchtower. However, this
is not quite what Barclay was actually saying. The Watchtower
has left out the rather significant set of sentences that comes
where only four dots appear in the quotation by The Watchtower:
The only modern translator who fairly and squarely faced this
problem is Kenneth Wuest, who has: 'The Word was as to his essence
essential deity.' But it is here that the NEB has brilliantly
solved the problem with the absolutely accurate rendering: 'What
God was the Word was.'
On the 26th of August, 1977 William Barclay wrote the following
letter to Dr. Donald P. Shoemaker of the department of Bible Studies
at Biola College (now University) in La Mirada, California:
Dear Professor Shoemaker,
Thank you for your letter of August 11th. The Watchtower article
has, by judicious cutting, made me say the opposite of what I
meant to say. What I was meaning to say, as you well know, is
that Jesus is not the same as God, to put it more crudely, that
he is of the same stuff as God, that is of the same being as God,
but the way the Watchtower has printed my stuff has simply left
the conclusion that Jesus is not God in a way that suits themselves.
If they missed from their answer the translation of Kenneth Wuest
and the N.E.B., they missed the whole point. It was good of you
to write and I don't think I need say anything more to make my
But he had spoken to the issue years before, in the Expository
Times, November, 1953:
The deliberate distortion of the truth by this sect [Watchtower
Society] is seen in their New Testament translation which is grammatically
impossible. It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate
the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest.
1. Strawman arguments
There is a tendency, when disparaging the beliefs of another person
or group, to inaccurately portray what they believe. For instance,
the Watchtower Society will give an inaccurate rendering of the
Trinitarian dogma, and then tear apart their portrayal of that
dogma. Unfortunately, in so doing, they have failed to argue against
the actual Trinitarian belief. Related to the strawman argument
is that called "poisoning the well"; for instance, an
individual or organization will be linked to others with whom
they have no direct relationship.
Poisoning the well also relates to the practice of finding fault
with a group or individual and then making the statement "see,
you can't believe anything they say"; such a conclusion does
not reasonably follow. Human beings make mistakes; even if you
know someone is habitually a liar, you cannot be certain that
he is always lying. For instance, if Adolph Hitler says the sun
rises in the east, one would have to accept the statement as valid,
despite how bad Hitler is, because the statement is true. One
does not get rid of truth by attacking the source of the statement.
The fact that the Catholic Church precipitated the Crusades, slaughtering
thousands of innocent people, often times just for financial benefit,
is no reason to reject the statement "Jesus is the Son of
God", although the Catholic Church makes this pronouncement.
A fact remains a fact no matter who is throwing it. Just because
there are some errors in any group, it does not mean that everything
they say is wrong.
2. Argument from Authority
To quote multiple scholars, to make statements along the lines
that "eleven German translations render the verse this way"
is not a valid method of argument.
...if experts rather than laymen are disputing over a question
in the field in which they themselves are experts, their appeal
would be only to the facts and to reason, and any appeal to the
authority of another expert would be completely without value
as evidence. (Irving M. Copi. Introduction to Logic.
New York: Macmillan, 1982, p. 105)
Listing all the scholars who have translated John 1:1 in a manner
consistent with the Watchtower perspective is not a reasoned defense
of that translation. It merely indicates that there are other
people of like opinion. The question that needs to be answered
is not how many names can be listed in agreement, but, what are
the reasons for the translation, and are those reasons valid?
Furthermore, if they wish to argue against the majority view,
they should give the arguments of that view, and then systematically
answer that argument, giving counter arguments -- without resource
to statements like "and so and so agrees with us." It
doesn't matter who agrees with you; what matters are your arguments.
An interesting question may be asked: why does the Watchtower
Society not encourage its members to learn Greek? Then they would
have thousands of scholars supporting their position after an
investment of only a couple years. Of course the argument is made
that the Watchtower Society already has a good translation and
so it is unnecessary. Yet, in the Christian churches, almost all
the pastors have at least two years of Greek training, even though
they have access to many translations. All translations are imperfect,
since they are created by fallible human beings. No translation
can fully represent what exists in the original language: for
instance, plays on words, alliteration, rhymes, and just the sound
and feel of the words do not translate. To fully comprehend the
text in all its richness and depth, one must see it in its original
form. Take Shakespeare for instance: do you seriously think it
feels the same in German? How much more the Bible, then! Someone
once said that reading a text in translation is like making love
with your clothes on.
One wonders if perhaps the reason the Watchtower Society does
not encourage its members to learn Greek is because they might
arrive at conclusions at variance with those of the Society. Of
course, it is interesting to note that Charles T. Russell (1852-1916),
the first President of the Watchtower Society sued a man named
J.J. Ross for "defamatory libel" in March 1913. Ross,
in his booklet, Some Facts About the Self-styled Pastor C.T.
Russell wrote, "Russell does not know the dead languages."
In the court room, Russell proved that Ross was right:
Attorney Staunton: Do you know the Greek Alphabet?
Russell: Oh, yes.
Attorney Staunton: Can you tell me the correct letters
if you see them?
Russell: Some of them, I might make a mistake on some of
Attorney Staunton: Would you tell me the names of those
on top of the page, page 447 I have got here? (Wescott & Hort
Russell: My way... (he was interrupted at this point and
not allowed to explain)
Attorney Staunton: Are you familiar with the Greek language?
Fredrick W. Franz, current President of the Watchtower Society,
in a Scottish Court case (Walsh vs. Latham, 1954) said the following:
Attorney: Have you also made yourself familiar with Hebrew?
Attorney: So that you have a substantial linguistic apparatus
at your command?
Franz: Yes, for use in my biblical work.
Attorney: I think you are able to read and follow the Bible
in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, German and French?
Attorney: You, yourself, read and speak Hebrew, do you?
Franz: I do not speak Hebrew.
Attorney: You do not?
Attorney: Can you, yourself, translate that into Hebrew?
Attorney: That fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis?
Franz: You mean here?
Franz: No. I wouldn't attempt to do that... (Pursuer's
Proof, p. 7)
Fred Franz also claims to have been nominated a Rhodes Scholar.
Faith on the March [a Watchtower Publication] on page 181
A scholar from his youth, Franz is a keen student of the Bible.
Born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1893, he carried away the honors
of the University of Cincinnati and was offered the privilege
of going to Oxford or Cambridge in England under the Rhodes Plan.
Instead, in 1914, he entered the full-time ministry.
Yet, according to a letter from The Rhodes Scholarship Trust of
January 14, 1981:
I have checked our records and do not find that Frederick William
Franz was elected to a Rhodes Scholarship. Our records, I should
note, refer only to Scholars from the United States. Unless Mr.
Franz has competed successfully as a candidate for the Scholarship
in another country, you may conclude that his claim to have been
a Rhodes Scholar is incorrect. (Pursuer's Proof, p. 102)
Lie (li). n., v. 1. a false statement made with deliberate intent
to deceive. Syn. 1. falsehood, fib, untruth.
In the Watchtower Publication Should You Believe in the Trinity?
it needs to be noted that at least ninety percent of the sources
quoted are taken out of context in order to try to make them say
the opposite of their intent. It should therefore be understood
that the Watchtower Society is virtually alone in its belief that
the Bible does not teach the Trinity.
The doctrine of the Trinity has been firmly entrenched in Christian
teaching since the New Testament. It is the plain teaching of
the Bible and it is impossible to deny that the Son and Holy Spirit
are as much God as the Father.
More importantly, it needs to be noted that the deity of Jesus
is necessary in order for his sacrifice on the cross to be sufficient
payment for our sins.
The result of sin is everlasting torment in Hell -- an infinite
penalty. Only an infinite being -- God -- could take such a penalty.
Therefore, Jesus must be God.
Since Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Trinity, at least they are
consistent in arguing that the death of Christ is not sufficient
for final salvation. Therefore Jehovah's Witnesses must teach
that works are necessary for salvation -- that an individual must
"contribute" to his or her own salvation.
However, such a concept flies in the face of plain biblical teaching:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this
not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so
that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Therefore, even the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith
teaches the necessity of the Trinity.
The Complaint of Jacob
by R.P. Nettelhorst
Jacob’s life was not a particularly easy one and his family life, both growing up, and then as an adult was certainly what would fit the modern definition of being “dysfunctional.”
So, to say the least, Jacob was not at all happy. The one true love of his life was dead. Joseph, his favorite, the oldest son of his beloved, had been dead for twenty-five years. And now Simeon had been taken from him, and this monster in Egypt was demanding the last link he had to his dead lover. Beside himself with grief, we find his reaction in Genesis 42:36 where it all comes down to this:
Their father Jacob said to them, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!"
And certainly it was the case that the circumstances of his life, from his perspective, from the perspective of his sons standing around him, made his complaint fully reasonable and perfectly understandable.
And yet, the fascinating thing about his words, for those of us reading the story, is that we know that he couldn’t be more wrong, despite the fact that his words seemed so obviously true to Jacob – unassailably true, in fact. But we the readers of this little episode, know something that Jacob doesn’t: we know that Joseph is not only not dead, but he is second in command in Egypt, the most powerful and most wealthy nation on the planet at that time. We also know that there’s no way for poor Jacob to know that.
So the reality of Jacob’s existence is that everything could hardly be better. His favorite son has done very well for himself, thank you. Good job, and great future, with money to burn. Poor Jacob simply doesn’t know this yet. His perception, his perspective of reality, is incorrect.
And we, the readers, can do nothing to alleviate Jacob’s suffering just now. And God didn’t do anything about it either. It’ll be another year before Jacob learns the truth of what his life is really like. For twenty-five years he mourned for someone who was not dead at all. He bemoans his fate as a miserable one, though his family is absolutely powerful and prosperous. But he doesn’t know any of that; in fact, he has no way of knowing any of that.
September 11, 2001 was thus an exceptionally bad day (to say the least) and raised numerous questions in the minds of many people about the nature of existence, about the goodness of God, about what it is really, that God wants and expects out of all of us. How do we live in a world where this sort of thing can happen? How do we face the crises of life, both small and great? Is there some key to life, some playbook we can get, some list we can follow, some formula we can memorize that will get us through life in one piece, with ourselves and our families living productive and prosperous lives? What does Jacob's complaint tell us about our relationship to God and the world?