God in Christ Jesus
By Paul Ferguson
It is impossible for one book to tell all about God. If the Heaven of heavens cannot contain him, then one book cannot completely tell of Him. However, each new book written about God should add something to the sum of knowledge which we possess, or else it has no reason for being written.
In his book, “God in Christ Jesus”, Paul Ferguson not only adds to our knowledge about God and His nature, but he does it in his own unique and interesting manner. Having an understanding of Greek and Hebrew, the languages in which the Bible was originally written, he is able to make clearer portions that have been deliberately obscured by those who deny the supreme deity of Jesus Christ.
This book will prove a valuable addition to the library of every enquiring preacher who is interested in learning more about God. It will also appeal to the diligent layman who is trying to get a clearer grasp of the basic issues of the Godhead question.
Most important, this book can prove to be the means whereby those who are confused may be enlightened to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, and by so doing it will enable them to give Him the glory due His name.
W. C. Parkey
Harvestime Radio Broadcast
Table of Contents
Our Doctrine Explained
The Revelation of the Father 1
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ 3
The Nature of the Son 6
The Nature of the Holy Spirit 9
1. Plural nouns, verbs & adjectives used w/ God 12
2. Introductions to the epistles 14
The resurrection of Christ 14
Three persons mentioned together for little effect 15
3. Aaronic benediction and trishagion 16
4. Limitations of the Son 16
In knowledge & power 17
2 witnesses and 2 judges 17
5. Intercessory work of Christ and the Spirit 17
6. Subjection of the Son 18
7. The Ancient of Days 20
8. The Lamb as it had been slain 20
9. The Right Hand of God 22
10. “The Face of my Father” 22
11. Our Lord’s Baptism 22
12. These three are one (I John 5:7) 23
13. The Word was with God 23
14. The other Comforter 11
15. Denying the Father and the Son 24
16. Double uses of God in the O.T. 24
17. Double uses of Jehovah in the O.T. 24
18. The Spirit of the Son 25
19. Divine Conversations between the Father & Son 25
20. Personality of the Spirit 10
21. …as we are one 26
22. By whom He made the worlds 27
23. Express image of His Person 27
24. The glory I had in thee before the world was 27
25. God sent His Son into the world 27
Jesus is the Father 28
Jesus is the Son and Holy Spirit 29
No other God but one 30
How much of God is Jesus? 31
The picture the Bible portrays of Jesus 32
The Baptismal Formula
1. ‘In the name’ means ‘in the authority of? 34
2. Mt 28:19 is the formula; Acts 2:38 the author. 38
3. No specific directions are given to say anything 39
4. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do 40
5. ‘Jesus’ is the wrong pronunciation 42
6. Baptism in Jesus’ name was for Jews only 42
7. Epi-eis 42
8. I’d rather do what Jesus said 42
9. Its not important enough to bother with 43
A Final Appeal 45
Many people have actually acquired erroneous ideas and misinformation about our message. Thus I have prepared this little introduction to set forth what we really believe about the Godhead.
We maintain that:
I. One God has manifested Himself in three principal forms:
1. He is Father in creating, loving, chastening, providing, directing, and sustaining.
2. He unveiled, in human form, a portion of His omni-present, invisible self which became Son in redemption.
3. He is a spirit; and as the Holy Ghost He lives and works in men’s hearts.
II. This one God exists indivisibly in one person whose Old Testament name was Jehovah, and whose N. T. name is Jesus.
This should not be understood to be neatly fitted into three separate periods of history. God from the beginning of time has always loved, provided and sustained. He was always a spirit, and He will always be God made flesh.
Neither should it be understood to teach that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are merely offices or abstractions. These are terms describing real and vital attributes of God.
We feel that this message is important enough to put into print because:
1. It restores to our Lord Jesus the honor and glory due Him.
2. It rebukes error.
3. It removes the dark cloak of tradition from the Godhead; and presents the Holy One of Israel as He really is: a unique, undivided One.
4. It declares the whole counsel of God.
5. It reveals the true identity of our Lord Jesus.
Before we begin discussing this difficult topic, it is only fair to admit that this subject can never be thoroughly searched out. We poor mortals can never hope to understand “the-deeper mysteries of the Trinity” (Job 36:26, Prov. 30:3, Job 11:7), but God has told us certain things about Himself that He wants us to know (Rom. 1:20). These things we certainly can and should know, but we should not go beyond what God has said lest we be found liars (Prov. 30:6).
So with these thoughts in mind and a prayer in our hearts let us enter within the veil and survey the wondrous truths of God!
Part One: Our Doctrine Explained
The Revelation of God the Father
In the Old Testament we hear little about God being a father to His people. Here, He is father only through the act of creation (Mal. 2:10, Isa. 64:8); or in places He is designated as father of the Jewish nation through His adoption of them (Jer. 31:9, Hos.1l:l, Ez. 16:8-14).
But in the New Testament we may freely read of the most glorious revelation ever to grace the printed page: God wants to be a personal, spiritual Father to everyone, everywhere! He watches over us, cares for us, leads us, provides for us, and loves us with an everlasting, never-dying love. Our smallest troubles are His utmost concern; our minutest trial draws His most careful attention. When we hear the expression “God the Father”, we should not think of some kind of a vague, abstract person in a trinity; but our hearts should be awakened to the most gracious of all God’s attributes: love.
But it in the very idea of the Most High God of the universe creating, loving, caring for and taking an active part in human history we meet with our first problem. The Scriptures portray Him as not only loving, personal and revealing; but also He is described as glorious, invisible and unapproachable. Note well these verses:
“For our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:29
“…which no man can approach unto…” I Tim. 6:16
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible…” I Tim. 1:17
“No man hath seen God at any time…” St. John 1:18
“Who is the image of the invisible God…” Col. 1:15
“…whom no man hath seen nor can see…” I Tim. 6:16
“…there shall no man see me and live.” Exodus 33:20
Read these verses over again, carefully! They appear to teach that it is a physical impossibility for human flesh to approach unto or see God!
Yet certain Old Testament saints claimed that they had actually seen God. Throughout the Old Testament we hear of God visibly appearing to people! Let us examine some of these instances.
1. “And the Lord appeared unto him ‘(Abraham)….And he lifted up his eyes and…three men stood by him…” Gen. 18:1, 2
2. “And, behold, Jehovah (Hebrew reads this instead of Lord) stood above it (the ladder), and said, I am the Lord God…” Gen. 28:13
3. “And there wrestled a man with him (Jacob)…and Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face …” Gen. 32:24, 30
4. “And they (Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders) saw the God of Israel…and did eat and drink.” Ex. 24:10, 11
5. “…thou, Lord art seen face to face …” Numbers 14:14
6. “…we (Samson’s parents) shall surely die because we have seen God.” Judges 13:17, 18, 22
7. “I (Micaiah) saw the Lord…sitting upon His throne.” I Kings 22:19
8. “…I saw the Lord sitting upon His throne…” Isa. 6:1
Read these verses over carefully along with the others.
Jewish theologians puzzled for centuries over these verses offering many a weird and fanciful explanation. But finally in the New Testament God gave us the true interpretation of all this. The N.T. teaching on this subject is as follows:
1. The invisible God has an image. II Cor. 4:4, Col. 1:15, Heb
2. Anyone who sees this image has seen God. St. John 14:9/ 1:3
3. This is not just a masquerade. The image is God! John 20:28
God not by my own notion but by the decree of the scripture. The reader will notice that in each instance of the visible appearances of God what appeared was called God. And what the Bible calls God was and is forever God and none else. Not an archangel, a demigod, a separate person but absolutely and wholly God.
Although His substance is un-seeable, unapproachable, unfathomable, He is able to change a portion of that substance into something we can see and approach, since nothing is impossible with Him (Lu.1:37).
I cannot see the back of my head except in a mirror. But it is as lawful and true for me to say I cannot see the back of my head as it is to say that I can see it. It all depends in what sense I am talking.
But why would God want His creatures to see Him? The answer is this: It is not enough for God to he all powerful, absolute, all knowing; He is a loving God. Love needs an object to love: so He must needs create. If He creates beings on whom He can shower His love, even this is not enough. Because He loves them; He must commune with them, and they with Him. They must have fellowship one with another.
Creature must meet Creator but not on His own level, or they would be consumed at His glory and brightness. Thus He changed a portion of this “consuming fire” into something His creatures could see, know and, in part, understand. Not that we cannot now know God “in part”
whom now, although we do not see him, we “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”; but God looks forward to the day when we shall see “face to face” and worship before His throne throughout eternity. (I Cor. 13:9-12), I Peter 1:8, Rev. 22:4, 5). In the following chapter we shall see how God’s longing to be manifested to His creatures was finally fulfilled in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Many believe that this glorious form through which God ruled the universe was a portion of God transformed into a supernatural being. This is very likely if “first” in Col. 1:15 and Rev.3:14, where Jesus is called “firstborn of all creation” and the “beginning of the creation of God”, means “first in order” instead of rank. But this may not be the case.
In Ps. 80:27 God says of the Messiah, His image, “I will make Him my firstborn.” When this Psalm was written, Christ was yet to be born. Thus “first” must mean “first in rank”.
As for Rev. 3:14 a quick glance at any thorough Greek lexicon, such as Thayer’s or Arndt and Gingrich’s, will show that the original Greek word translated “beginning” in the King James Version may also mean “author of”. The Greek word is apxn (ar-ka).
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
In order to make the redemption of mankind possible, this glorious manifestation which Isaiah saw “high and lifted up” finally arose from His throne, came down to earth, was made flesh and dwelt among us. Glory of glories, wonder of wonders, mystery of mysteries! When He came to reveal Himself, He came not with great pomp and array; but He came as a tiny babe to a stable in Bethlehem.
The idea of God “coming down” to earth reminds us of certain Old Testament verses:
“For behold the Lord cometh forth out of His place and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.” Micah 1:3
“And the Lord came down to see the city…” Gen. 11:5
“And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle…” 1 Num. 12:5
But the Bible, in other places, clearly teaches us that God is omnipresent, i.e. everywhere at once. Notice these verses:
“Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?” Jer. 23:23
“The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” I Kings 8:27
“…the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” Eph: 1:23
He is everywhere at once; yet Isaiah sees Him as only large enough to fill a throne (?). He is omnipresent; yet He comes down to earth. How can He be said to go where He already is?
Liberals explain this apparent contradiction by saying that at first the Hebrews believed in a finite (limited) tribal diety and later on developed the idea of an omnipresent God. But I believe the true explanation is this:
When I say I see a part of the ocean, it is perfectly correct for me to say, “I saw the ocean.” Thus when anyone sees a part of God, it is permissible for him to say that he saw God. Thus when saints saw the visible manifestation of God coming down to earth; and they said, “God came down…; they did not mean that all of God came down. Just as, when the lighthouse keeper looks out on a stormy night and says, “The ocean is troubled”; he doesn’t mean the whole ocean. So these saints were not referring to all of God coming down.
The visible portion of His substance was not omnipresent. From this image or visible “part” of Himself, God so to speak, did business. Before His throne in heaven people presented themselves (Job 1:6); He summoned and sent people from this place (I Kings 22:19-22); He judged from here (Ps 9:4); in fact, all of God’s dealings with the heavenly hosts took place from this geographical location.
Clearly this was God’s headquarters from which he manifested Himself to the heavenly hosts. It is from here that He will finally judge the quick and the dead (Rev. 20:11, Rom.14:10).
But this illustrious throne from which the Lord of glory showed Himself to the hosts of heaven, and on which we shall behold Him throughout eternity, was empty at one particular time in history. Praise be to God! “He who sat upon the throne”:
“Being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2:6, 7 (see note on this verse at end of chapter.)
“Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…” II Cor. 8:9
“For verily, He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” Heb, 2:9-16
“God was manifested in the flesh…” I Tim. 3:16
“The Word was God…the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” St John 1:1, 14
For thirty-three years the God of the universe made His headquarters right down here on earth. Not as a glorious personage, but as the “Son of man”.
Let us review for a moment the Biblical evidence for all this:
1. Jesus is the Image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15, Heb. 1:3 II Cor.4:4)
When Phillip said, “Show us the Father”, Jesus plainly said, “Have I been so long time with you and yet thou hast not known me, Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father…” St. John 14:9-11
If the Father could have been seen other than “in the face of Jesus Christ”, there would have certainly been some mention of it here.
2. He whom Isaiah saw “high and lifted up” was Christ.
“Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said, again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things Esaias said when he saw His (Christ’s) glory, and spake of Him.” St. John 12:39-41
This is a direct quotation from Isaiah 6:10. The wording is slightly different from this passage in our Bibles because John was not quoting from the Hebrew text but from a Greek translation of the Old Testament.
Notice that the Bible clearly states that these words were spoken when Isaiah saw Christ. Since the first few verses in chapter six describe him as seeing God, we naturally conclude Jehovah and Christ are the same.
There is no room to doubt that Isaiah saw only one person on that throne since he speaks of only one person “whose train filled the temple” leaving no room for anyone else. There is no record of anyone ever seeing more than one person at a time who was God. (see objections VII, VIII, IX, X, XXIII). All the saints who claimed to see God saw only one person.
3. Christ left heaven and came down to earth (St John 3:13, 6:62)
“…He came down from heaven…” St. John 3:13
“What and if ye shall see the son of man ascend up where He was before?” St. John 6:62
Thus the evidence is overwhelming that the same image seen by O.T. saints and Christ are one and the same. But there is something quite different about this manifestation of God that was different from all the others. In the following chapter we shall develop the idea of humanity co-mingling with divinity in the “lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.”
Note on Phil.2:6, 7: Careful study of how the original Greek words were understood by people at this time, in papers not available to the King James translators, makes a more understandable translation of this verse possible.
This verse may be translated: “Although He was the outward (visible) expression of what God is inwardly (invisibly) (morph-a) He did not consider being the same as God (equal-isos) a prize or honor to be retained (arpogmos)….” (my own translation) For further reference on these words see A.T. Robertson’s Word Studies; Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the N.T.; K.S. Wuest, Practical Use of the Greek N.T. (pp.84-88); and Arndt and Gingrich’s Lexicon.
The Nature of the Son
Follow this verse carefully:
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore that Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
This plainly tells us that the reason why Jesus was the Son of God is because He was begotten of God in the womb of Mary.
We fee1that this is the correct distinction to make between the Father and the Son: the Father is the divinity which was not incarnated as contrasted to the visible image of God which was. (Of course in relation to the rest of humanity the divinity in Christ was just as much the father of mankind as the divinity outside of Him, if we are to believe God is the same all over.)
We do not believe that there has ever been a son as old as his father. If He were a son, He must have had a beginning. I believe that in formulating doctrine God uses words that have a clear meaning to us. The very word “son” indicates beginning, generation, and inferiority of relation.
Jesus, the Son, was begotten of God at a particular time in history and was not always begotten as the doctrine of eternal sonship teaches. In accordance with this the Bible limits this begetting to a certain day. Hebrews 1:5 says, “This day have I begotten thee.” (This is a direct quotation from the second Psalm.)
“This day” in the verse refers to the day Jesus was born at Bethlehem of Judea, even though this verse was written hundreds of years before it took place. God prophetically let the psalmist listen in on something that would not be said for another thousand years. The fact that the early church considered this verse to be prophetic is shown by Acts 13:31.
“…the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled unto us their children…as it is written, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts l3:33) The apostle here is telling us that Ps. 2:7 is a prophetic promise which was fulfilled in New Testament times with the birth of Jesus.
Now, if He was begotten two thousand years ago, as the Bible says He was; it does not take an intelligent person long to discover that He was not a son before he was begotten unless He was begotten twice. We believe the term “son” refers to the visible part of God’s substance which became flesh and dwelt among us. He was not called son, except prophetically, before this time.
We do not deny the personality of the Son. We merely wish to specify why He is called “son” and what His true relationship to the Father is. There is something different about the Son of God. He is far different from any other manifestation of God in the history of the world. God came down as a man before the birth of the Messiah, but never were these manifestations called “son”. The mere fact that God turned a portion of Himself into a man would not mean this man was His son. This would be only God in another form.
The incarnation was more than God being made flesh; it was the mingling of God with man in the womb of Mary. God made flesh, the part of the Son furnished by God, united with the “seed of David”. Thus God “took on” the seed of David just like we would put on a coat. But this did not mean that what resulted was not fully God, any more than the fact that I put on a coat means that I am no longer a human but a raccoon or a rabbit (depending on the coat). Neither, however, does it mean the Son of God was not completely human because He was still God made flesh: both God and man.
It is difficult to find an illustration that adequately fits the incarnation. The reason is that nothing like this has ever happened from the foundation of the earth. Such an event is completely beyond the realm of human experience. Many things about the incarnation we may never understand.
In human birth what we are is determined by genes which are located on little bands called chromosomes. Each of us gets a set of chromosomes from our father and a set from our mother. There is nothing to lead us to believe things were any different with the birth of Jesus.
Jesus, the Son, received a set of chromosomes from God, the Father. The single cell which encased these tiny bands which would help determine His characteristics had been the glorious image through which God ruled the universe. This cell (the smallest unit of life) united with another single cell in the womb of Mary, and thus, the Son of man was conceived.
The chromosomes in this second cell had been furnished by each of Mary’s parents, who in turn received them from their parents and so on down the line all the way back to Adam. Thus, a little bit of the entire human race resided in the body of Jesus.
The thought that the God of the universe could condense His visible image to the size of a single cell is staggering, but this conclusion is inescapable. Saying that Mary took no part in the forming of the infant Jesus makes her a mere incubator and does injustice to the word of God. The explanation that both natures were united into one being is the only possible way Jesus could have:
* “Took on the seed of David…” Heb.2: 9-16
* been “the offspring of David” Rev 22:16; Acts 2:30
* been “made of the seed of David” Rom.1:3, Acts 13:23, II Tim 2:8
It is inescapable that Mary made a very definite contribution to the earthly tabernacle of our Lord, or these things could never have been said about Christ. Humanity mingled with the divine nature in the womb of Mary; and the result was a man in every sense of the word; yet the divinity in Him could speak out and say, “I am God” and be true in every sense of the word.
As a man He wept (Lu.19:41), He hungered (Matt.4:2), He thirsted (John 4:7), He slept (Matt.8:24) and was weary (St. John 4:6). Most important of all He even had a human consciousness separate from God. Thus the human nature could commune with the Divine nature as well as any other man. If it could not, Jesus would not have been a complete man, and thus could not have redeemed us. This fact has been a great source of confusion to theologians in trying to interpret the Godhead. It has caused people to think there are two personalities in the Godhead. No wonder Paul speaks of all this as a great mystery. (I Tim. 3:16)
The Nature of the Holy Spirit
By way of introduction we should comment that there is no difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost since they are both translations of the same Greek word (pneuma) which, in a nonreligious sense, meant wind, breath, breeze, etc.
If one were to take the time to analyze every use of the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” (pneuma and ruach) in the Bible, he would not just find one meaning for the words but five different meanings. They are as follows:
1. An attitude or frame of mind (“the spirit of meekness”) Gal. 6:1
2. An agency or influence
3. A spiritual being or essence (what something is)
4. The seat of psychological reaction and consciousness
5. Enthusiasm, courage, strength (“neither was there spirit in them anymore” Jos.5:1, “When he had eaten, his spirit came again…” I Sam. 30:12)
Many who read the Bible believe that every time the word “spirit” is used in connection with God it is speaking of the third person of the trinity. This is not true at all. This belief is a great source of error and confusion. Actually the verse may be referring to any of these five uses. In the next few lines I shall be discussing three of the more important uses of this word.
A Spiritual Being or Essence
“God is a Spirit (spiritual being)” St .John 4:24 He is like the wind: we can hear and feel Him, but cannot see Him, except in the face of Jesus Christ. It is this aspect of God we are referring to in our United Pentecostal manual when we speak of God as not having parts. This is God’s nature which we cannot see. We use the words parts”, “body”, “image”, etc. to describe the visible, revealed aspects of God.
Sometimes, in place of “God”, our Lord is often called “the Spirit”:
“The same God worketh all in all…” I Cor. 12:6
“The selfsame spirit divideth….” I Cor. 12:11
Thus when Trinitarians tell us that the Spirit “wills, teaches, speaks, moves, loves, etc.”, they tell us nothing we do not already believe; because, this is simply another way of saying God “wills, teaches, speaks, moves, loves, etc.” It is no way teaches the Spirit is a person separate from God. Certainly the Spirit is a person; He is God.
The “Holy Ghost” is a term used in other cases to describe the essence of God or “that which differentiates God from that which is not God”, in other words: His divine nature. In this respect the Holy Ghost is “the Spirit of God”. God can’t be separated from His Spirit or divine nature anymore than I can be separated from my human nature.
The Holy Ghost is actually the Spirit (spiritual essence) of the Father. Notice these verses:
“…not ye that speak; but the Spirit of your Father…” Mt.10:20
“…Not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost…” Mk 13:11
In the sense of being a spiritual essence or nature the Spirit can be “poured out”, “descend”, “come down upon”, or “fall on” a person; or it can be withdrawn (Ps 51:11). What God is made of is like the wind: “it bloweth where it listeth”.
The fact that the Spirit can be “sent” (Ps.104:30) does not mean that the Spirit is a separate person any more than God sending light, truth, mercy, his voice, etc.(Ps.43:3, 57:3, 68:33) means that these things are separate persons from God. “Sent” in reference to the Spirit merely means that God manifests His special spiritual influence in a given location. Indeed, if one believes in an omnipresent God, this is the only possible conclusion.
The Seat of Psychological Consciousness
“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…” (Eph.4:30)
“A woman grieved in spirit…” Isa. 54:6
“His spirit was troubled…” Gen. 41:8
“His spirit came again and he revived…” Jg.15:19
This use of the word “spirit” portrays all of God’s inner awareness’s and feelings. In Eph. 4:30 we are not sealed by literal paper and wax seals but by the fact that God regards us inwardly as His own chosen people; and consequently, will keep us from the day of wrath if we “grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby we are sealed.” Eph 4:30
As an Agency
“By His Spirit hath He garnished the heavens…” Job 26:13
“Not by might (human might), not by power, but by my Spirit” Zech. 4:6
“Spirit” in these verses is used to specify the “means by which God does whatever He does.” In John, the sixteenth chapter, “the comforter” is the agency by which God will aid the church. It is God’s power helping us.
It will be objected that if the word “spirit” in this chapter is used in the sense of “power” or “agency”, then the masculine pronoun “he” would not have been used with it. Actually the word “spirit” remains neuter throughout the entire chapter. The neuter definite article (“the”) is always used with the word for “spirit. Cf. “the Spirit itself…” Rom. 8:16
The “he” and “himself” of these chapters (14-16) refer to the Greek word translated “comforter”(ho parakletos) which is a masculine noun; and therefore, must have masculine pronouns used with it. Many words in Greek which would normally take “it” in English must take “he” in Greek e.g. agaraios (marketplace). So the fact that “comforter” is masculine does not mean that it cannot be God’s power.
When Christ spoke of the Comforter (John 14:16, 17), He spoke of His own spirit! The Comforter is the Spirit of Truth (v.17). Who is Truth? Jesus plainly said, “I am…the truth.” (v.6). If Jesus is truth, then the spirit of Truth is the Spirit of Jesus.
This is why He could Say, “I will come unto you…” (v.18). When He spoke of “another Comforter”, He was referring to the fact that His bodily presence would soon be taken away from them (v.28); but that He would come unto them through His Spirit and dwell in their hearts comforting them inwardly.
When He said the Father would send the Holy Spirit, He was speaking of Divinity. Thus He sent His own Spirit: for he said, “…Whom I will send unto you…”(15:26). In another verse, it is the Father who sends the Spirit (14:26). When He said He would send the Spirit He was speaking as God and not man.
In John 16:13 the Spirit is spoken of as if it is controlled by God. “For He shall not speak of Himself; but what He shall hear that shall He speak….” God controls His Spirit in the same way I control my body and spirit (Prov. 16:32), but they are not separate persons from me.
God’s Spirit, in this sense, is the same thing to God as my body is to me. My body is the means by which I do everything I do. Just as my brain sends out messages which are “heard” and obeyed by my body, so God’s eternal wisdom completely directs and controls the agency by which He does things: His eternal power.
“Of Himself” in this verse cannot mean “about Himself” since the Spirit inspired the Bible and certainly speaks about Himself in it. Actually Jesus used this expression concerning Himself (St. John 5:19). Now Jesus spoke a great deal “about” Himself; so, He must have meant that He (His flesh) did not speak independently or apart from divine revelation. Thus divine power or agency does not speak or act of itself like a separate person would, but it is under the complete control and direction of divine wisdom.
We do not mean to imply that the Spirit is always an impersonal being, as some claim we do; but certainly the words does have non-personal meanings.
When we choose one “pet” definition to read into all cases, we meet with exegetical disaster. It is our belief that Trinitarian scholars have, for the most part, failed to see the richness and diversity of meaning in the word “spirit”; and that it has been their downfall.
Part Two: Objections Answered
1. Plural nouns, verbs and adjectives used with God
Most people have tended to localize this problem to one or two scriptures, i.e. Gen.1:1 and 1:26; but the facts are that plural words are used in connection (directly modifying) with God all through the Bible.
Here are some examples of plural nouns and adjectives used with God: (The underlined words are plural in the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament was originally written.)
1. “In the beginning God…” Gen.1:1
2. “…knowledge of the Holy…” Prov. 30:3
3. “Remember thy creator” Ecc. 12:1
4. “Thy maker is thy husband…” Isa.54:5
5. “the living God…” Jer. 10:10
Here are some places plural verbs are used:
1. “…let us make Man…” Gen. 1:26
2. “God caused me to wander…” Gen 20:13
3. “God suffered him not…” Gen. 3l: 7
4.”He called the name of the place El-bethe1: because there God appeared unto him…” Gen. 35:7, 28:13
5. “God judge betwixt us…” Gen 31:53
6: “Whom God went to redeem…” II Sam. 7:23
7. “So that a man shall say…He is a God that judgeth…” Ps. 58:11
8. “These are the gods that smote the Egyptians” I Sam. 4:8
Trinitarians say that God inspired these people to use plural words with God as a foreshadowing of the doctrine of the Trinity. But we hardly think God would inspire the deceitful, idol worshipping Laban (Gen 31:53) or the Philistines just before they stole the ark.
Another difficulty in taking this interpretation is that only one person appeared to Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28:13). If Jacob’s plural referred to the Trinity (35:7), then we would have been told that all three persons stood on the ladder.
Actually the only possible explanation for all this is:
In the Hebrew language plurals are used, not only to show number (more than one), but also to strengthen the idea of the word.
The singular “qadosh” meant “holy” while the plural “qedoshim” means “most holy” or “very holy”. The singular “el” means “powerful one”; the plural “elohim” means “the most or exceedingly powerful one” or “God”. This grammatical peculiarity is often referred to as “plural of majesty”. It was used by kings of the East to show their supposed greatness; it is used in the Bible to show God’s true greatness.
What Trinitarian scholars do not realize is that plural nouns, verbs, and adjectives are used abundantly in the Bible where it is obvious that only one, single person is referred to.
The following are examples of this: (plural words are underlined)
1. “Abraham his master…” Gen. 24:9, 51
2. “Joseph’s master (Potiphar)” Gen. 39:20
3. “The king of Egypt…” Gen. 40:1
4. “Let our lord (Saul) now command…” I Sam. 16:16
5. “The presence of Esau…” Gen. 35:1
6. “The presence of Isaac…” Gen. 27:30
7. “I have accepted thy (Abigail’s) presence.” I Sam. 25:35
8. “The countenance of Laban…” Gen. 31:2
9. “Them that were near the king’s person (Zedekiah)” Jer.52:25
1. “after he had made it (singular) a molten calf (sing.): and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt …” Exodus 32:4 (“brought” and “god” is plural. Aaron is using the plural of majesty to exalt the golden calf.)
2. “The Philistines said, God is come (singular) into the camp…these are the gods (plural) that smote (plural) the Egyptians…” I Sam 4:8
If anyone is interested in studying this very interesting subject further, he is referred to pp. 396-401 in Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar. It is recommended that the student have a mastery of the basic fundamentals of Hebrew before this book is approached. Very little has been written on this subject that is understandable by the layman.
Before we conclude this subject some comment should be made on St. John 14:23 which reads as follows:
“…we will come unto him and make our abode with him…”
It is possible that this verse has a more theological interpretation than the previously quoted verses.
To understand this verse, we must first know who “we” refers to. Jesus is saying that the presence of both the Father and the Son will be with anyone who loves God and keeps his word. We have previously explained that these terms refer to the human and divine natures of our Lord.
How could this be possible? Our Lord’s human nature was received up into heaven. How can it still be with us? The answer is this: The historical, human Jesus is with us yet today in the same way that Paul was “with” the Colossian church “beholding their order”. Although he was miles away from them in body; he said, “Though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” (Co1. 2:5)
This is perfectly natural language, and is not in the least bit deceitful, for either Paul or the human nature of Jesus to say that they would be with someone when actually they are visibly far removed from them.
The Father and the Son make their abode in our hearts by one Spirit (Eph. 4:5): the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
II. The introductions to the New Testament epistles
Rom.1:7; I Cor. 1:1-3; II Cor. 1:1-3; Gal. 1:1-3; Eph. 1:1-3; Phil. 1:1,2; Col. 1:1-3, I & II Thes. 1:1,2; I & II Tim. 1:1,2; Titus 1:1-4; Phil. 1-3; James 1:1; I Pet. 1:1-3; II Pet. 1:1; I John 1:3; II John 3, Jude 1, Rev.1:4,5
Example: “…Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:7
But in almost every one of Paul’s fourteen letters the original Greek is as follows:
apo theou patros hamon kai kuriou Iasou Christou or as translation permits: “from God our Father and Lord, Jesus Christ…”
The “the” before “Lord” is not found in the original Greek; it has been added by translators, We do not say that this was wrong for them to do this, but we do say it would be all right to leave it out. Notice we have also added a comma. This is perfectly permissible, since there was no punctuation in ancient Greek. The purpose of the comma is to explain who “Father” and “Lord” refer to.
Passages such as I Thess. 1:1 (“…which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ…”) may be explained by the simple fact that the Greek word for “and” (kai) may also mean “even”. The King James scholars translate it as such in I Thess. 3:13 and other places.
Also, in the same chapter of I Thess. we have this phrase: “…and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and (even) our Father…”(v.3). This simply means that we are patiently trusting in our mediator, “the man Christ Jesus” while God looks on. It is another contrast between our Lord’s human and divine natures.
Last of all we would list three groups of passages which, although they are not explained by the aforementioned facts, contain nothing harmful to our position.
1. The resurrection of Jesus
Example: “…by Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead…” Gal. 1:1
On the cross a human life was lost. To be alive from a human standpoint means quite another thing from being alive from a divine standpoint. The fact that God is immortal does not mean that part of Him could not undergo human death which is merely the stopping of certain chemical processes.
And even here we find the mystery of the incarnation, for Jesus actually stated that He would raise Himself from the dead:
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up…” St John 2:19, 22
“I lay down my life that I might take it again…I have power to lay it down and to take it again.” St. John 10:17, 18
How will we explain this? By merely saying that His form or flesh was so closely united to the divinity that He could speak as God. Thus He says, I, God, will raise this, my body, from the dead.”
2. Jesus is the Father’s Son
“…from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and in love.” II John v.3
This states absolutely nothing we do not already believe, i.e. God begat a son! But stop! Let us think! The very words “son”, “born”, “begotten” implies beginning, generation, inferiority of relation. If He were a son, He must have at one time had a beginning of this sonship. And where was this beginning? Why was he called son? Let us hear and know and believe the words of wise Gabriel, who may even now be standing before God. Hear them now as they echo back across the years:
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore (this is the reason he was called son) that Holy thing shall be called the Son of God.” Lu. 1:35
3. Father, Son, Holy Ghost mentioned together for literary effect.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you.” II Cor. 13:14
“To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus and called.” Jude v.1
“…elect according to the foreknowledge of God through the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.” I Peter 1:2
“And” certainly should not be translated “even” in these passages, for here we are dealing with three separate qualities: grace, love, communion; sanctification, preservation, calling; and foreknowledge, sanctification, sprinkling.
It would have sounded dull to say “the love of God, and the grace of God and the communion of God”; moreover, the beauty of the passage would have been lost by saying “grace, love and communion be with you.” The writer merely fitted in separate titles of God for literary effect. Certainly Trinitarians believe all three persons love, have grace, and give communion. Surely these terms do not refer to separate divine works each of which designates a particular person. If they do, according to Trinitarian doctrine, the works are mixed up in the two verses. In Jude the Father sanctifies and the Spirit calls (so Trinitarians scholars interpret the verse to mean); in Peter it is the Spirit who sanctifies.
By way of summary we would say that whenever words like “and” “both”, “we-us” and “also” are used to contrast the Father and the Son, the contrast should be taken as one between the human nature and the divine natures of our Lord and not as a contrast between two persons in the Godhead.
III. The Aaronic Benediction of Numbers 6:24-26
“The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace. The Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee.”
And the so called trishagion of Isaiah 6:3:
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts…”
In Hebrew grammar the repetition of a word or idea in a sentence is used to intensify or strengthen the idea of the word or expression. Examples of this are:
“O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.” Jer.22:29
“Trust not in lying words, saying, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.” Jer.7:4
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace…” (the Hebrew reads: “peace, peace”) Isa. 26:3
Thus if the Aaronic benediction and the trishagion prove God is a trinity, then these verses prove the earth and the temple are trinities too.
IV. Limitations of the Son
Many times people read in the Bible where it speaks of our Lord’s humanity and ascribe it to his divinity to bring out a plurality of person in the godhead. This we feel has caused eighty percent of the confusion in this issue. A few possible illustrations of this are as follows:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him…” Rev 1:1
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man…neither the Son but the Father.” Mark 13:32
These texts seem to imply that there are some things our Lord did not know. Yet another class of texts describe Him as the only wise God, our Savior (Isa.43:11, Eph. 4:5, Jude v.25), who knows all things (John 21:17, 16:30). Are we to believe Jesus was so vain as to let the disciples think He knew all things when really there were a few things He didn’t know? How are we to explain these seemingly contradictory verses?
This problem is easily solved by noting once again that our Lord had two natures. One, divine, which knew all things; and one, human, which was subject to human limitations just like us. Remember “it behooved Him, in all things, to be made like unto His brethren.” Hebrews 2:17 Part of God voluntarily gave up the prerogative to use its omniscience and omnipotence to redeem us from sin.
The human nature of Jesus had an ordinary mental development just like any other human. He had to learn to walk, talk, read, write, and every other basic skill a young Jewish boy learns. There is no reason for us to doubt there was any difference in spiritual areas. As deity revealed to humanity, it was humanity which “increased in wisdom and knowledge.” Lu.2:52
Further examples of where people attribute deity to passages referring to humanity are:
“And ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” I Cor. 3:23
“The head of Christ is God.” I Cor 11:3
Yet we are “complete in Him (Christ) which is the head of all (how much) principality and power.” (Col. 2:10), and “He that cometh from above is above all.” (St. John 3:31) What about this? Why did Jesus say, “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) if the Father and the Son are co-equal and the Bible says Christ is above all?
The answer is simply this: Passages referring to the Subjection of the Son to the Father mean that the human nature is subject to the divine nature. The only other alternative is to say that the Bible contradicts itself. Modernists interpret these verses to mean that the church at first considered Christ a mere man and later on made him a deity.
Next on the list is John 8:17, 18, “It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”
Before we jump to any conclusions, let us see how the Father bore witness of the Son. In St. John 5:36 He tells us; “I have a greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works…that I do (miracle the Father did through Him) bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.” Thus Jesus as man witnessed to them by word of mouth; but Jesus as God witnessed to them by the power of the Spirit through miracles, signs and wonders. This is two witnesses but one person.
Last of all I would cite St. John 5:22, “The Father judgeth (or is now judging as the Greek permits) no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
Now let us first see how this judgment was committed. After this He says, “He that heareth my words…John 12:48 says, “The words that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Thus men were then being judged, not by words spoken in lightning and thunder from Mt. Sinai, but by the words spoken by our Lord’s fleshly tabernacle.
IV. The Intercessory Work of Christ and the Spirit
A. Of Christ:
“Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25
Does this teach that Jesus is in heaven praying for? If it does, it proves nothing for the theory of persons in the Godhead; for praying is indicative of humanity.
I do not believe “intercession” necessarily means that He is literally praying for us since we have this testimony from the mouth of our Lord who said: “At that day, I say not unto you, that I shall pray the Father for you.” (St. John 16:26)
In the tabernacle plan the priest made intercession for the people by sprinkling blood on the altar. I Tim. 2:5 shows that Christ’s mediatorship does not prove there are two persons in the Godhead. This verse says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”
“The man Christ Jesus” is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Jesus cannot save us because He prays to the Father, but because: “…He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Heb.9:26) “once for all” (10:10) Now He is in the Holy of holies (read chapters 9 & 10 of Heb.) “to appear in the presence of God for us.” (9:24) just as the high priest in the earthly tabernacle appeared before God with the blood of bulls and goats.
B. Of the Spirit
“Likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26, 27
This most certainly does not refer to God praying with Himself. This passage becomes quite clear when we remember the words of St. Paul in I Cor. 14:14,15 : “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth…what is it then, I will pray with the spirit.”
“Groanings which cannot be uttered”, is perhaps better translated “which cannot be understood” (cf. Goddspeed’s version). Thus when we pray in an unknown tongue, our soul is not hampered by mental blocks, distractions, and limitations of the flesh. “He which searcheth the hearts” understands our words and grants us our petitions.
It is our own spirit which realizes our inner needs, far better than our outer man which perisheth, and cries out to God in an unknown tongue; and “He which searcheth the hearts” knoweth what the mind of the spirit is. God would not search hearts to find out what His own Spirit meant.
VI. The Subjection of the Son (I Cor. 15:24-28)
“Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till He hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under his feet. But when He saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under him…then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
Here we are told Jesus is to deliver up the kingdom to God–yet He hath appointed Jesus, His Son to be heir of all things…yet He is to deliver up His kingdom (?) (Heb.1:2). John says (Rev.1:6), “…to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” Yet He is to be subjected (?).
It is rather unusual that this passage should be used by some to teach the nature of the Godhead and the divine nature of Jesus. For years these verses have been Unitarian “stomping grounds”. These verses have been offered by them as proof that our Lord was a mere man and nothing more. Actually if these verses refer to our Lord at all, they refer to His human nature being subject to divine nature.
Actually there is strong evidence to indicate that these verses are not referring to our Lord at all. How can they be when power and dominion is to be to Him both now and forever and ever, and He now has all power? (Rev. 1:6; Matt.28:18) “Son” in these verses may refer to the church in the same figurative sense it was used in connection with the Jewish church in Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1.
God has already put all things under Christ’s feet when He raised Him from the dead (Eph. 1:22). The subject of these verses is to reign only until God has put all His enemies under His feet. This has already happened with Christ. All things are now put under His feet, including death.
These verses give us a picture of the church delivering up her authority and power she has on the earth. For He has set governments in the church, pastors and leaders (I Cor. 12:28, Heb.13:7; I Thes.5:12); but when He raptures the church these offices, as well as prophecy, and the gift of knowledge, etc., will be done away with (I Cor. 13:10).
Verse 23 tells us that this is all to take place at the coming of Christ for the Church. “Then”, in verse 24, means “immediately thereafter” in Greek (Mark 8:25, John 13:5). Thus, immediately after the coming of the Lord this subject is to give up his authority.
This was all done at the parousia (Greek word in verse 23 referring to the rapture in contrast to apokolupsis which refers to the judgment of the nations). Now after that our Lord will then proceed to take vengeance on the nations and does so in Rev.17:14. According to Rev. 20 not all the nations will be subject to Christ until a thousand years later when Gog and Magog are destroyed and the white throne judgment takes place. So these verses cannot possibly be referring to Jesus.
Oh brother, I am looking forward to seeing Jesus crowned King of kings and Lord of lords not to seeing Him demoted and stripped of all rank and authority, made little better than an angel. Such teaching is heresy in the first degree.
VII. The Ancient of Days
I now state that when the offices of the church are delivered up, then we shall receive higher positions and reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev.5:10). This is the teaching of Daniel 7:13 which is often used to teach that there is more than one person in the Godhead:
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given to him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
This is not one person in the Godhead coming up to another as a casual reading would imply. We would think that the explanation given to Daniel would have some weight in the matter. Observe:
v. 16 “I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.” And here is the story the bystander told:
v.18. “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and
v. 22. ever….Until the Ancient of days came (the coming of the Lord), and judgment was given to the saints of the most high; and the time came that the saints possessed
v. 27. the kingdom….And the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey.”
This interpretation offered by “one that stood by” is evidently in conflict with some modern day theories. The one “like unto the son of man” is actually a figurative expression for the whole church who will be like Jesus (I John 3:1, 2).
VIII. The Lamb as it had been slain
In the fifth chapter of Revelation we read of a book, written on the backside and sealed with seven seals, which no man was able to open. Evidently no one could do this because the word of redemption had to take place first before the events written in the book could come to pass.
Finally one prevails: Jesus of Nazareth who, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God (Heb. 9:14). Observe:
“And He (the lamb) came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne.” Rev. 5:7
“Obviously two persons here,” cry our trinity friends. And so a casual reading would suggest. But wait! This passage does not teach us any more about the nature of God than it teaches us about the nature of lambs! How do we know? We know from our own observation that lambs do not have seven eyes or seven horns (v.6). We also know from examining other scriptures in the Bible that there are not two persons in the Godhead. How are we to interpret these verses then?
We must remember that this is in a vision, and thus the language is highly figurative. We hardly suppose that a literal lamb “as it had been slain” could have taken hold of a book with its hooves. Actually this is the plan of salvation enacted out before John in the form of a pantomime. The lamb is symbolical of the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ that was slain and thus opened the way for fallen humanity to return to God. Hence by virtue of this fact, He can now take the book which represented the concurring events right up to the end time.
The book is the revelation of Jesus Christ “which God gave Him” (Rev. 1:1). Here we see human and divine elements of the incarnation portrayed figuratively, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” (v.5) and the “Lamb as it had been slain” point to the humanity of our Lord. Certainly no one would say that these verses teach us that our Lord looked like a literal lion or lamb. “Him that sat on the throne” is the divine nature of our Lord. Any doctrine which must go to parables and figurative visions for proof texts cannot be a very strong one.
Since these verses do not teach the literal nature of lambs and of the body of our Lord, we should not feel compelled to believe that it teaches there are literally two persons in the Godhead, especially when this goes against so much of the rest of the Bible.
But note that only one sat on the throne (4:1), and the lamb came from the midst of the throne (v.6): a perfect example of Jesus leaving His glory and being made flesh. We are able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that “He who sat upon the throne” was, in fact, our Lord Jesus Christ, the mighty God while the lamb is “Jesus, the son of man”. Follow these verses carefully:
Rev. 4:8 tells us that the one (vs.1, ch.4) who sat upon the throne was: “the Lord God Almighty which is and which was and which is to come.” This is Jesus: “Behold He cometh with clouds…I am Alpha and Omega saith the Lord which is and which was and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev.1:7, 8) “I am Alpha and Omega…I Jesus” 22:13-16
Jesus is the Lord God Almighty; there is only one Lord; and He is Jesus (Acts 9:5). So it had to be Jesus on the throne and no other.
IX. The Right Hand of God
Ps.110:1.”The Lord said unto my lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool.” (see Obj. XIX) (cf. Lu.22: 69, Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55, Romans 8:34; Col 3:1, Heb.1:3, 8:1)
“Right hand” in these verses is not to be taken as a literal spatial position. This is a figurative expression of the Hebrews meaning a high and exalted position.
The church is described as standing on God’s right hand: “Upon thy right hand did stand the queen…” (Ps.45:9) Yet the church is still on earth. Christ is depicted as seated on the “right hand of majesty” (Heb.1:3) and coming seated on the “right hand of power” (Mark 14:62, Lu.22:69). Surely no one thinks power has a literal right hand.
There are two more things which definitely make “right hand” a figurative expression:
1. St. John 1:18 says that the Son is “in the bosom of the Father”. Now how can He be on God’s right hand and in His bosom at the same time unless this language does not refer to a literal, spatial position but a figurative relation?
2. Rev. 3:21 tells that Jesus is sitting on His Father’s throne. Heb.8:1 says He is on the “right hand” of the throne.
This expression was very clear to the Jew of Paul’s day, but evidently it needs some explaining to many present day Bible scholars.
X. Face (Matt.18:10)
“For I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father.”
“Face” (Gr. prosopon) in Greek actually, in this case, means “presence” and not a literal face. Paul speaks of seeing the “face” (singular) of the entire Thessalonian church (I Thes.2:17). This Greek word is often translated “presence” in the King James Version.
XI. Our Lord’s Baptism
Since God is omnipresent, He could be down on earth in human form and still be in heaven. Isaiah saw a vision of Jehovah seated on His throne in heaven; but this did not mean that He could not have also, at the very same time, been on the earth watching over His saints and answering their prayers. Are we to believe God is no bigger than Isaiah or Micaiah because He chose to manifest this much of Himself to the two prophets? Are we to believe there was no more of God than what these two prophets saw? Shame!
Actually we believe the heavenly form seen by these prophets came down to earth and was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. Now, if while He was in heaven He could have done things on the earth, then He could have done things in heaven while He was on the earth.
What happened was this: the Spirit of God descended, and God spoke. If what Trinitarians say is true, the third person could descend on someone and speak from heaven also since He is also omnipresent. Yet this would not prove there are four persons in the Godhead. In this baptism we are witnessing three separate manifestations of one God.
XII. I John 5:7
“There are three that bear record in heaven…these three are one.” The question we would now ask is this: Three what?
Trinity preachers read in the word “persons”, but actually it does not say what the three are. We believe “these three” are the three principal manifestations God has seen fit to reveal to mankind.
XIII. St. John 1:1 “…the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
If this proves the Word is a separate person from God, then it also proves eternal life is a separate person from God; because, eternal life was with God (I John 1:2), and eternal life was God (I John 5:20).
Many have demanded that we explain who “the Word” or Logos (Greek) was. But the man in John’s time would have needed no such explanation. Logos was an excepted religious term among both Jew and Greek. Let us see what this word meant to the people of the Apostolic era, remembering this: We are to assume that a word used in the Bible retains its popular meaning unless we are given direct scriptural evidence that a new definition has been assigned to it.
1. To the Greek philosophers logos (which in Greek means “reason” among other things) meant “divine reason” which created and controlled the world. This was the explanation of the universe (cf.v.3) to the educated heathen of John’s day.
2. The Jewish theologians borrowed this word and used it to describe the agency through which the unapproachable, unfathomable God acts directly on the world: His divine wisdom. (see Prov. 8:12 where wisdom is spoken of as a person in a figurative sense)
3. Last of all the Targums (Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament which were read aloud to the common people) used the word logos (which they translated memra) to indicate the organ of revelation which God used to make contact with the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, etc.) and the prophets. Whenever Jehovah appeared in bodily form the Targums substituted “the word of the Lord” for Jehovah. In other words they used logos to indicate the “image of the invisible God.”
All of these meanings, although differing in form and expression, all boil down to one thing: the logos is that part of God which has come into direct contact with the world in revelation, creation, manifestation, etc. This was indeed a fitting word to use in describing Jesus, the Son of God.
XIV. The Other Comforter (see chapter 4, part 1)
XV. There are a group of passages meant to point out the necessity of accepting the gospel which are often used to show the nature of the Godhead:
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is an anti-Christ which denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” II John v.9, I John 2:22
We do not deny the Father and the Son. “He that denieth” Jesus, the man, the same has no part with Jesus, the mighty God. We have already made clear our belief about the Father and the Son in ch.l-3.
XVI. Double uses of God in the O.T.
“Thus saith the Lord…I will dwell in the midst of them, and thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me.” Zech, 2:8, 11
This does not teach the plurality doctrine. At verse 11 the man with the measuring line (v.1) has ceased to speak by “thus saith the Lord” and says, “thou shalt know the Lord sent me” of himself.
“…the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me” (Isa.48:16)
This was spoken by the prophet and not by God. “And” here should doubtless mean “even”. (see Obj. II) There were no quotation marks in ancient times, and thus we must sometimes rely upon the context to determine who is speaking.
XVII. Double Uses of Jehovah
“I (Jehovah)…will save them by Jehovah (Heb.) their God.” Hos 1:7
This, however, is not hard to understand since Isa. 43:11 tells us that there is no other savior but Jehovah. Here God speaks of Himself to point out that there would be no other savior besides “Jehovah their God”.
“Jehovah rained fire from Jehovah (Heb.) out of heaven.” Gen.19:24
This is no mystery when we remember Jehovah had come down to earth as a man, and thus as such rained down fire from Himself. Jeremiah plainly tells us He fills heaven and earth (Jer.23:24).
XVIII. The Spirit of the Son
“Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father.” (Ga1.4:6)
This verse reads much the same as Romans 8:15, “We have received the spirit of adoption (sonship-huiothosia), whereby we cry Abba, Father.”
We feel that the spirit of the Son and the spirit of adoption are one and the same. This should be taken in the same sense as the “spirit (zeal, or the same mind) of Elias” of Luke 1:17. It refers to God giving us the same mind which was in the man Christ Jesus who Himself cried Abba, Father in the garden. (Mark 14:36)
XIX. Divine Conversations between the Father and the Son.
Since the Son was a man in every way, (“…in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren…” Heb.2:17) it is not unnatural to suppose He also had a separate human consciousness from God the Father. We especially emphasize the word human since there are not separate divine consciousnesses.
This being true, human and divine natures could converse; and their conversations would in no way prove that there were separate persons in the Godhead.
The conversations of the O.T. are probably prophetic. Acts 13:33 shows that the N.T. writers were aware of this and interpreted them as such (see ch.3).
The following are three of the more important examples:
A. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand till I make thy enemies thy foot stool.” Ps.110:1. This strengthens our proposition that “right hand” is figurative. Verse 5 states that “the Lord at thy (Christ(s) right hand shall strike at thine enemies.” Now if Jesus were literally on God’s right hand, God would be on His left hand. But in verse 5 He suddenly gets on the other side (disobeying His Father’s command to stay on his right side).
B. “Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God…” (Heb.1: 6, 7) If, as we have been saying, flesh conversed with spirit, why does He call the flesh God? Our answer is: because He was “God made flesh”. But since “God” in this verse is not in the Vocative Case (the case of address) many have translated it, “God is thy throne…”(Cf. Mt.23) where “Heaven is my throne.”
C. “a body hast thou prepared me…” (Heb.10:5) The quotations in this portion of the chapter are taken from Ps.40:5-8. This is quoted from the Greek translation of the Old Testament which says, “a body hast thou prepared me”, but the Hebrew text reads “mine ear hast thou opened”. I do not believe “a body” refers to the incarnation.
Even though there is a slight confusion as to just exactly what the original reading of this verse was, the essential meaning has been preserved. It is not a question of which we should accept the Greek or Hebrew text; since they both have the same general meaning. If one reads the context of Ps. 45 in both versions, the essential meaning seems to be: “I do not care for sacrifice and offering, but I have opened your ears (or prepared you body so you can hear and obey my words.”
The reader is urged to read the context and make His own evaluation of what this verse means.
XX. The Personality of the Spirit (see ch.4)
XXI. “That they (the church) may be one even as we are one”. John 17:22
Here “one” is used in the same sense as “unified” or “agreed”. Jesus speaks of the oneness of the wills of the flesh and spirit. His flesh had a definite will of its own apart from the divine will, but these two wills were in complete agreement with each other just as the wills of the separate members of the church should be.
This verse only proves that the human and divine natures of Jesus had separate wills which we already believe. It does not exclude the possibility that Jesus, the mighty God and the “everlasting Father” might be the same person.
Certainly no orthodox Trinitarian would say that the only way in which the members of the Trinity are one is the way the saints are one. Individual members of the church cannot say, “When you see me you see my brother.” “One” in John 17:22 means “unified” or “agreed” while “one” in John 10:31 appears to have had a meaning of absolute oneness.
“…neither shall any man be able to pluck them (His sheep) out of my hand …neither shall any man be able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand…I and my Father are one.” John 10:28-30
There is only one flock (Eph.4:4, I Cor. 12:13), and it is in Jesus’ hand and in the Father’s hand. The one flock can’t be in two places at once. So the Father’s hand and the Son’s hand must be the same place. If they both have the same hand, then they must both be the same person.
If “hand” means control or power, then there would be twos shepherds (if the Father and Son are two persons) contrary to John 10:16.
XXII. “By whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2, Co1. 1:16, St John 1:2)
We believe that the human substance of the Son contributed by God was totally divine before the incarnation. He was that completely divine “image of the invisible God” which Isaiah and Michaiah saw in heaven. As such He created all things. Note:
“Who is the image of the invisible God…for by Him are all things created.” Col. 1:15, 16
God created the worlds through His image. The words “by” or “through” do not prove that His image is a separate person from Him anymore than these verses prove God’s arm, hand, power, word, breath, etc. were separate persons from Him: Jer. 27:5, Ps. 33:6, Isa. 48:13.
Actually no other person participated in the creation but Jesus:
“I am the Lord that maketh all things: that stretcheth forth the heavens alone and spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Isa. 44:24
One Lord (Eph.4:5) who is Jesus (Acts 9:5)
XXIII. “The express image of His person…” Heb 1:3 The Greek word for “person” here need not be an actual “person” but means only substance, essence, etc.”. The word is hupostasis.
XXIV. “The glory I had in thee before the world…” John 17:1. In saying this Jesus meant that His flesh was then God and unhampered by human limitations as it now was.
XXV. “God sent His Son into the World” (St. John 3:17) “I proceeded forth and came from God” (St. John 8:42)
The word “sent” indicates the subjection, submission, obedience, and subservience of the one sent to the sender. As we have before pointed out, it was the human nature of Jesus who was subjected (Lu. 2:51), submitted Himself to God (I Peter 2:23), learned obedience (Heb. 5:8), and was finally made perfect (Heb. 5:9). The divine Jesus was above all. (St. John 3:31)
As man He was sent (St. John 3:17); as God He was already everywhere at once; and thus He couldn’t be sent anywhere because He was already there!
“Where(ever) two or three are gathered…there am I…” Mt.18:20
The fact that He made this statement while still on the earth shows that the “second person in the Trinity did not give up His omnipresence in the incarnation.
“God made flesh” was only that part of God which occupied the heavenly throne from eternity. It is the “image” who is sent to earth. Jesus said “He that seeth me, seeth Him that sent me.” (John 12:45) Thus the divine nature sent the human nature.
“Into the world” may perhaps be taken in the same sense as a father sending his son out “into the world” to make his own way. This happened at the outset of Jesus’ ministry (Lu.4:18-2l).
“He hath sent me (v.18) this day (the day He began preaching) is this scripture fulfilled” (v. 1)
Part III: Evidence Submitted
The substance of what we have said is this:
Jesus is the only Person in the Godhead; and He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We are now prepared to make good our claims.
A. Jesus is the Father
“Unto us a son is born…and His name shall be called… the Everlasting Father…” Isa. 9:6
The Father is “Lord of heaven and earth” acc. to Matt. 11:25; Jesus is Lord of all (Acts 10:36); there is only one Lord! Eph.4:5
Now if His name was called “everlasting Father”, He was and is the everlasting Father. Behold I show unto you a mystery:
“God was made flesh and dwelt among us…” (I Tim. 3:16; St.John 1:1, 14) God was the Father: “To us there is but one God, the Father…” I Cor. 8:6
There is only one Father: “Have we not all one Father?” Ma1.2:10 therefore the Father was made flesh and dwelt among us! (It should be understood, of course, that not all of the
Father took part in the incarnation.)
Trinity folk say there is only one Father: the Trinity. All three persons are fathers. But Jesus said, “…one is your Father” (Mt. 23:9) not “three is your father.”
Some say Jesus is Father because we are His spiritual children. But He is Father in every way I can think of:
He made us. Co1.1:17
He begot us. St. John 1:18, I Pet.1:23, St. John 1:14
He watches over us. Ps. 23:1
He provides for us. Phil. 4:19
Trinity preachers also make the ridiculous claim the “one” in these verses I have previously quoted is not a mathematical one but a so-called “compound one”. But anyone can tell from the context that the idea of “one” in these verses is “one of a kind”.
Is the reason we are not to call men Father (in a spiritual sense) because our Father is unified? Or is it because there is mathematically one Father as far as we are concerned?
If the former is true, then it would be an irrelevant argument. Notice the un-natural language this causes:
“…to us there is but ‘unified’ God the Father…”
Paul was not trying to tell us God was unified, but that there was mathematically only one God in contrast to many pagan gods. This very foolish “compound one” interpretation destroys the very meaning of these verses. Imagine trying to tell someone that we are all brothers because God is unified or because the persons in the Trinity get along good together! This isn’t wresting the scriptures; it’s mangling them!
The writings of trinity authors literally bristle with obscure verses intended to show us that “one” can mean “unified or agreed”, which no one doubted in the first place. This is a genuine, bonafide case of straw-man fighting. Nobody doubts that a word may have more than one meaning; our objection is that it can only have one at a time! It can’t mean a mathematical one and “unified or agreed” at the same time!
B. He is the Son
But how could He be both Father and Son all at once? To this question we would give the same answer any good trinity preacher would give to someone who wanted to know how He could be both God and man all at once! If He was both God and man; and there is only one God; and this one God is the Father, then Jesus is both Father and Son. Ask your trinity preacher how Jesus could be both God and man.
How two natures could so unite as to be both completely God, and completely man is a mystery beyond the grasp of our finite minds. We can only accept in faith the solemn testimony of the word of God. The only other alternative is to say the Bible contradicts itself.
C. He is the Holy Spirit
Now we all know that there is but one Spirit (of God). The Bible bears this out in Ephesians 4:4.
The problem at hand is: Who is that one Spirit?
We need only ask the apostle Paul to have our answer. Tell us, Paul, who is that one spirit you spoke of? Hear now the words of the great apostle: “The Lord is that Spirit.” (II Cor. 3:18) Who is the Lord? The Lord said, “I am Jesus.” (Acts 9:5) Add all these things together and you have but one unavoidable answer: Jesus is the Holy Spirit too!
Many will try to make an analogy between “one Spirit” in this verse and “one body”. There is one body, the church; but we all have our own separate bodies too. When the verse says “one”, it means “one of whatever sense the word is used. The verse is not talking about human bodies, but it does say that there is mathematically only one church. Just as there is mathematically only one body of Christ; there is also mathematically only one Spirit of God; and a word cannot have two meanings at once. The sense in which spirit is used here is made definite in I Cor. 12:13 which says, “By one spirit are we all baptized into one body.” Certainly this is not a compound “one”.
There Is No Other God But One
Next, we argue as follows:
When “lord” is capitalized in the O.T., Jehovah is the Hebrew word. The reason for this is that the ancient Jews were superstitious about pronouncing this name.
The main objection to the texts we are about to cite will be that Jehovah is the name of the Trinity, and thus these verses apply to the Trinity as a whole. But Deuteronomy 10:17 tells us that “Jehovah is the lord…” so what would apply to the Lord would also apply to Jehovah, i.e. there is only one Lord (Eph.4:5) whose name is Jesus (Acts 9:5): and therefore Jesus is Jehovah (Deut.10:17); and He who is Jehovah is Jehovah alone (Neh. 9:6).
Our proposition is:
1. Jesus is the one Lord spoken of in the following verses, and
2. His name may be used in place of Lord and still the statement would be correct and in accordance with God’s word.
1. “The Lord (Jesus), He is God and there is none else.” Deut 4:35
2. “The Lord (Jesus), He is God in heaven above and in the earth beneath, and there is none else.” v.39
3. “O Lord (Jesus)…thou art God…even thou alone.” Ps. 86:9,10
4. “Lord (Jesus)…thou art God…even thou alone.” Isa. 37:16
5. “Thus said the Lord (Jesus) …beside me there is no God.” Isa. 44:6
6. “Is there a god beside me? Yea there is no god, I know not any.” Isa. 44:8
7. “I am the Lord (Jesus) and there is none else.” Isa.45:5
Trinity preachers say the one Lord is the Trinity, and there is no other Lord besides the Triune God. And by so saying the last of their much worn creed topples over; for the Bible says, “to us there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ” (I Cor.8:6) So they have now admitted that Jesus is the Trinity and have been converted over to Oneness. (This could not mean “one Jesus Christ” since this would be a strained interpretation. Notice Paul says, “There be lords many, but to us there is but one Lord…”)
A House Divided
Perhaps this little illustration will show how many “boondogglers” are explaining the Bible.
Suppose we had a house: one house. Our friends say, “Now of course we have only one house here; but it is divided into three distinct rooms: the kitchen, the bedroom, and the living room.” Now when we hear that “the kitchen, the bedroom and the living room are one” we begin to wonder whether there might be only one distinct room in the house instead of three.
But then our friends say, “Oh that just means the rooms are all united into one house.” Even after all this we are willing to stay with the parade until we keep hearing the bedroom referred to as the kitchen and the kitchen referred to as the living room. This is the last straw! We must say something!
When we suggest that perhaps the people might eats sleeps and entertain guests all in the same room, we are called heretics and rabble-rousers. As we are being chased away we are told that, “The bedroom is called the kitchen because the people sometimes have breakfast in bed, and the kitchen is called the living room because guests are occasionally entertained there.” Upon replying that this might not exactly be natural language, a volley of stones is hurled at us.
In like manner when we “Oneness” folk bring up the fact that Jesus is plainly called the “everlasting Father” in Isa. 9:6 and that “spirit” in II Cor. 3:18, we are told that all three persons are fathers (making one our grandfather) and all three of them are spirits (making three spirits).
Now if someone told you there was only one kitchen in the household (Ma1. 2:10); and the kitchen was in the bedroom; and the bedroom was in the kitchen (John 14:6); and the living room was in the bedroom, you would naturally conclude that there was only one room in the house.
So when we read that Jesus is “the Father”; and there is only one “God the Father”; that there is only one Spirit; and the Lord Jesus is that one Spirit (I Cor. 8:6, II Cor. 3:18, Acts 9:5, Isa. 9:6), we naturally conclude that Jesus is the only person in the Godhead.
Dare we now suggest that there might be one indivisible God:
1. Who is Father in creating, sustaining, loving and providing,
2. Who changed a portion of His substance into flesh and dwelt among us, and as such is called the Son,
3. Whose Spirit refers to His spiritual qualities in contrast to our human qualities. (?)
How Much Of God Is Jesus?
When I heard J. F. Kennedy had become President (knowing full well that there was only one President and one J. F. Kennedy), I naturally assumed that he was completely president as well as completely J. F. Kennedy. If he was anything less than the standard definition of President, he would not and could not be president.
There are approximately five hundred distinct “persons” in the Senate, but we could never refer to one single member as “the Senate. It is an old unchangeable rule: single members do not make up the whole group. But there is not this knowledge in everyone.
Jesus is plainly called “the mighty God” (Isa.9:6), “My God” in John 20:28, and “the great God and Savior in Titus 2:13. Now if He is God, He is all of God. And if there is two other persons each a God, then there are three Gods. If Jesus is one third of God, as many claim, then He is not God at all but a demigod. We have been accused of Aryanism, but here is Trinitarianism unveiled as either Gnosticism or polytheism.
How one times one times one could be three is a great un-searchable mystery, and its advocated fix many a tasty poultice to ease our pain while their “hard sayings” seep through the cracks in our brain. “It’s like the sun,” they say, “It is made up of solids, liquids, and gases, yet there is only one sun.” But solids, liquids, and gases taken separately cannot each be called “the sun”.
Next we are told of one big triangle with three little triangles inside. One triangle, yet three! This sounds very plausible at first glance. But if the big triangle is “the oblique triangle”, and all the little triangles are also oblique, then each one of the separate little ones must be called “an oblique triangle” instead of “the oblique triangle” (unless one qualifies it further by saying, “the oblique triangle on the left” but our Lord is called “the God” without further qualification.)
So if the three persons are mighty gods, and the finished product is “mighty God”, any one person could not be called the mighty God without further distinction. Moreover, if this were applicable to the Godhead, it would be scriptural to say that there are three Gods; but the Bible plainly says, “The Lord is God alone.” (Isa. 37:16); and “the Lord He is God and there is none else.” We have plainly stressed all through this part that there is only one Lord God, and He is Jesus.
We might suggest a little “three in one” oil to loosen this “squeaky theology”. For just as this lubricant is called “three in one” because there are three uses in one oil, so the number three is used with God because He has manifested Himself in three different forms.
The Picture the Bible Portrays Of Jesus
As we read the Bible we are impressed with the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is not just a “person” in the Godhead, but that He is all of God there ever can be. Notice these verses where He is:
“Head of all principality and power” Col 2:10
“The blessed and only potentate” I Tim.6:16
“The only wise God our Savior” (Isa.43:11, Matt.1:23, Jude 25
“The King eternal…the only wise God” Rev.17:14, I Tim. 1:17, Eph 4:5, Acts 9:5
“The Almighty” Rev.1:8
“Lord God Almighty” Rev.11:7
“He that cometh from above is above all” St. John 3:31
“In Him dwelleth all of the fullness of the Godhead bodily” Col. 2:9
“Christ is all and in all” Eph 3:11, Acts 10:36
“Lord of all” Acts 10:36
“He is before all things and by Him all things consist.” Eph. 1:22
No one will ever fully understand the Bible until He accepts the mystery of the Godhead as being in Jesus.
In closing I should like to quote from C. Haskel Yadon’s book “Jehovah-Jesus”:
“Trinitarianism belittles, degrades, undeifies the infinite God. While it professedly concedes infinity to each person of the Trinity, in reality it denies this infinity. The feeling that each is less than infinite is inseparable from the belief in a trinity of divine persons, and the accompanying assignment of different offices and works and even attributes to each. Each divine person is felt to be less than infinite; and therefore, notwithstanding the theory, not the supreme God in all His fullness; which He must be or else not be God at all.” (p.90)
Note on I Tim. 6:16, Jude v.25, I Tim 1:17:
Trinity ministers make “much ado” about the fact that the Hebrew word yacheed (only) is never used in connection with God. But here is a direct of its exact Greek equivalent monos being used with God.
The Baptismal Formula
Since any treatment of the Oneness doctrine would be incomplete without dealing with correct baptismal formula, we have included this appendix.
We hold that in order to be baptized correctly a convert must, in some manner, have the name of Jesus audibly invoked over him sometime during this baptism. Whatever else which may be said is optional and would not affect the validity of the baptism as long as it were in accordance with the word of God.
Just as in the reception of the Spirit baptism, signs other than tongues were sometimes present; but tongues, being present in each described instance, are the valid characteristic. So, in water baptism, various titles (Lord, Christ, etc.) were used in the baptismal formula at the discretion of the baptizer.
But in each instance the name of Jesus was used.1 This we feel is essential element to the formula. The important thing is that, in some manner, the name of Jesus is named over the candidate. Whatever else might be said, as long as it were in accordance with the word of God, would make no difference one way or the other.
Each and every instance of baptism where there is any trace of a formula, we note this phenomenon: they were baptized “in the name of Jesus”.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ…” Acts 2:38
“For as yet He had not fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus…” Acts 8:16
“And He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts 10:48 (see note at bottom of page)
“And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 19:5
Attempts to refute our teachings and to reconcile these passages with Matthew 28:19 (“Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”) have been numerous as well as fanciful. In the following pages I shall discuss some of the more important of these attempts.
“‘In the name” meant “in the authority of”
Back at the turn of the century many important scholars began to seriously question that there ever was a formula in New Testament baptism. It was stated that perhaps “in the name” should be interpreted figuratively to mean “in the authority of” or “in the person of”.
This doubt is reflected in Thayer’s lexicon (dictionary) which our opponents so proudly quote. But they are about a hundred years behind times in their knowledge of Greek. Since Thayer’s lexicon came out in 1888 many important archeological finds have been unearthed shedding much light on the Greek language as it was spoken in the time of our Lord. So that Dr. Collet of the Univ. of Chicago says that many phrases which were “hitherto impossible” became now common. Because of these findings and much research in Greek prepositions, this position has been challenged, and today I do not know of a single scholar of any importance who holds these views.
One of the newest and best lexicons ever put out is written by Arndt and Gingrich with the cooperation of the best scholarship of Europe and America. It is gradually replacing Thayer’s lexicon in schools and colleges. It has received a special praise because of its excellent treatment of prepositions. A review by the University of Chicago says that it makes all other lexicons obsolete.
On commenting on the meaning of the Greek phrase en (epi) to onomati (p.576) the authors say,” ‘in the name’ in Acts 2:38 means to be baptized or to have oneself baptized while naming the name of Jesus.”
The same work on commenting on Matt. 28:19 where the original Greek is different from Acts 2:38 (eis is used in place of en for “in”) says that this verse is not referring to a formula at all but means “the one who is baptized comes under the protection and becomes the possession of the one whose name he bears.” (p.575)
The authors of the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Rel. Knowledge say, “the Greek phrase en (epi) to onomati means that the act of baptism takes place with the utterance of the name of Jesus; baptism eis to onoma (Matt.28:19, Acts 19:5) means that the person baptized enters into the relation of belonging to Christ and of being his property.” (See article on baptism)
One work our opponents delight in quoting is Hastings Dictionary of the Gospels. This work was written back in the 19th century when the controversy over the absence of a formula was still raging. This work presented each side fairly. Of course our good friends quote only their own side. Now a man is known by the company he keeps. The two sources I have just quoted (Gingrich and Schaff) are of extremely fundamentalist backing. On the other hand Thayer did not even believe in the deity of Christ, and the authors of Hastings Dictionary considered the Bible little more than a fairy book.
Be that as it may, it would do our friends good to come out of the 19th century, When Hastings brought out his Encyclopedia of Rel. and Ethics in the 20th century, the existence of a formula in baptism had become firmly established; for they say in their article on water baptism, “The latter sealed…the candidate by invoking the fair name of Jesus upon his head.”
All this does not mean that “in the name” never means “in the person of” or “in the authority of”. For instance in Co1.3:17 we read:
“Whatsoever ye do in deed or in word, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Certainly we do not audibly call the name of Jesus every time we do something. However, a close examination of this verse shows that the Greek here is different from that of the baptismal formulas. The word “the” before “name” is absent in the original Greek. According to Dana and Mantey’s Manual Grammar of the Greek N.T. and Kenneth Wuest’s Practical Use of the Greek N.T. (see chapters on the definite article) when the article is omitted before a Greek noun, it may lose its definiteness: and it quality rather than its individuality is stressed. Thus in Col. 3:17 instead of a definite, individual, proper name as in Acts 2:38; the figurative meaning of “name” (authority, person, etc.) is stressed.
“God” for instance, with the article, refers to the one true God; without the article it might mean “divine”.
If the expression “in the name” means only “in the authority of” in connection with baptism, we would think that, at least once, it would have been used of John’s baptism. John baptized “in the authority of Jesus”; his whole ministry was based on the coming of the Messiah. Certainly he did not baptize in his own authority.
There are about three times as many references to baptism in the gospels (many of which are specific instances) as there are in the book of Acts, yet in not one instance do we hear of John baptizing “in the name” of anyone. This is truly a phrase distinguishing John’s baptisms from the apostolic baptisms.
If what our opponents say is true, then there was no difference between John’s baptisms and Apostolic baptism. Why then are we told about the disciples at Ephesus being re-baptized? Why was there any need for such a baptism?
In both cases the people were immersed in water “in the name of Jesus.
In both cases they were required to believe on Christ
Jesus before receiving baptism. (“…saying unto them that they should believe on Him that should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus…” Acts 19:4)
If the expression in question is not a spoken formula, why are we repeatedly told the apostles baptized in Jesus’ name? We are never told they did anything else like this (except in explanations to unbelievers). Yet in baptism we are told ever and ever again that they baptized “in the name of Jesus”. Why? Simply to establish in the mouth of two or three witnesses what formula was to be used. In what other apostolic ordinance was this style ever used?
It would have been highly superfluous to keep pointing out that the apostles baptized in the authority of Jesus. Are we to believe that the apostles of our Lord Jesus would have baptized in any other authority? Of course not! The implication is so strong in whose authority they were baptizing that no such statement would have been necessary (at least for the benefit of believers).
Thus we see this “theory” is very foreign to the entire style of the Bible. Actually it does not even answer the supposed contradiction it seeks to explain. If Jesus said they were to baptize “in the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” and the apostles baptized only in the authority of the Son, then they disobeyed Jesus just as much as if they used the wrong formula.
A favorite parable used by our friends is about the ambassador who does things “in the name” of the U. S. without actually audibly calling that name. But if he did anything (in his official capacity) in the name of one state only, they would be the first to screm for his dismissal for playing favorites!
It is unusual then, they cannot see that if baptism was to be performed only in the authority of all three persons in the Godhead and the apostles baptized in the authority of one person only, they disobeyed their Lord.
Moreover, if these persons have one common authority shared by all, Peter and the apostles were no less dishonorable. All of our states share one common equal authority, but for anyone representing this country to call this one common authority “the authority of Texas” would be dishonoring the other states. So we see this very subtle “explanation” poses twice as many questions as it pretends to answer.
The reader will soon see that the only way out of this dilemma is to admit that Jesus is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and that the apostles actually used this name (Jesus) when they baptized.
Our opponents are ever challenging us to produce a scripture where a name was called over a person who was baptized. We have two such scriptures:
“All the gentiles upon whom my name is called.” Acts 15:17
“Do not they blaspheme that worthy name which was called over you.” James 2:6 (see note at bottom of page)2
When was the “worthy name” called over them? Most of our opponents will be quick to say it was called from time to time in preaching, or it refers to the fact that they were called Christians. But the tenses of the original Greek do not permit this. If these verses were speaking of a continual day to day occurrence still going on, then the Imperfect tense would have been used. This is the Greek tense of habitual, continual action; while the Aorist (tense of Ja. 2:6) tense is used to indicate an action which happened at one particular definite event sometime in the past.
The tense used in Acts 15:17 is the perfect. The meaning of this tense is: the name was called over them at some particular event in past time and this name is still resting upon them. Where else except in baptism would there be a naming of God’s name over anyone at a particular, specific time? This is undoubtedly a reference to the baptismal formula. Notice that the word “name” is singular in these verses.
Actually we believe that anyone who said he had been baptized in Jesus’ name knew full well that someone had said, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus” or something similar. Ask any Trinitarian minister how he baptizes. When he tells you he baptized “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”, he knows full well he means that he audibly invokes these names over the person he baptizes. The disciples in Acts 4:16 knew when they had been commanded not to teach or preach “in the name of Jesus” they were not to audibly invoke or call his name. When Jesus in Mark 16:17 said “in my name they shall…he knew they were to use His name audibly. This is the clear language of the Bible unmuddled by the doctrines of men.
By way of summary we believe there was a formula in water baptism for the following reasons:
1. Greek scholars tell us the original language refers to a formula.
2. Common everyday speech forces this interpretation.
3. Saying “in the name” means “in the authority” makes the Bible contradict itself: Since if the apostles baptized only in the authority of the Son, they disobeyed Jesus.
4. The Bible speaks of God’s name being called over the saints at one particular event.
5. “In the name” could not be a random phrase meaning only the authority under which baptism was preformed; because, it is never used with John’s baptisms.
6. Since baptism, in a sense, is an outward sign to mankind, it should be outwardly acknowledged whose authority the person is being baptized in.
7. If “in the name” means “in the authority”, John’s baptism was the same and converts would not have needed to be re-baptized who had received this baptism.
Matt. 28:19 is a baptismal formula; the verses in Acts merely tell us the authority under which the baptisms were preformed.
This is a very double minded explanation and unstable in all its ways. I dare say one will have to go a long way to find a piece of exegesis which wrests the scriptures more than this example at hand.
Here we have two passages with exactly the same grammatical construction (Matt.28:19; Acts 19:5), exactly the same reference, exactly the same setting; and we are asked to believe they have altogether different meanings. And why are we asked to believe this? Simply because those who propound this theory do not wish to do what these passages say to do! So they try to make us believe they have different meanings.
These people have imagined a difference, but it is all in their heads. We challenge them to cite chapter and verse where the Holy Ghost put a difference between these verses.
We need say no more on this schizophrenic explanation since we have already shown this to be the other way around by commenting upon the difference in prepositions (words for “in”) in the verses in Acts and Matthew.
“The Bible does not give specific directions to say anything.”
Many modern day scholars are challenging us to produce one scripture where the Bible says to say anything when someone is baptized. Then they expect us to sit by with a blank expression of awe and bewilderment. But we have no such intention.
We have before proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was an audible formula in water baptism which was practiced by the early church. (see Obj. I) Now we would ask this question: Where did they get this formula? Are we to believe they made it up themselves? God forbid! If they made this much up, how can we be sure they didn’t just make the whole thing up?
Actually everything the apostles did and taught in formal worship, they did at the specific command and direction of our Lord Jesus Christ. After his resurrection Acts 1:2 assures us that our Lord took special rains to give His apostles explicit instructions as to what they were to do. We are not told what the commands were this speaks about, but we may be well assured that His disciples made special efforts to see that everything Jesus directed was done exactly as He had said it should be done. Jesus commanded; and the book of Acts is an accurate, historical description of how the apostles carried out these commands.
We may be well assured beyond the shadow of a doubt that if the apostles baptized using the formula “in the name of Jesus”, they were explicitly directed to do so by none other than the supreme authority: our Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly unusual that some men, order to avoid obeying the word of God, would dare to insinuate that the apostles of our Lord invented forms of worship to suit their own idle whims. “Such doctrine is plainly from the pit!”
Actually, we believe that for a church to be pleasing to God, it must be built after the “pattern” of the New Testament church. Moses was admonished of God “to make all things after the pattern which was shown him in the mount” (Heb. 8:5). Chapters 8-10 in Hebrews plainly tells us that the tabernacle is a type of the N.T. church. So the true church must be built after the pattern showed us in the holy, unshakeable mountain of God’s word: the New Testament. We are to “do according to all that is written therein.” (Gal.3:10)
Thus we answer forever the afore mentioned challenge with this verse:
“If any man take away from the words of this book, God shall take his part out of the book of life.” Rev. 22:19
If we remove the correct baptismal formula, we are taking away from the Word of God and erring from the Biblical pattern: and are thus in danger of having our names taken from the book of life.
“It’s not what you say that’s important; it’s what you do; and the attitude you do it in that counts.”
There are many ceremonies which might be done ever so exactly and in the best attitude which would be of none effect without the proper words being spoken aloud.
Imagine a marriage where no words were spoken! Imagine the dedication of a church where there is no formal audible mention of the dedication, a funeral with no parting words of comfort, a trial in which neither side say anything!
People, who think the calling of a name over someone is foolishness, actually acknowledge that a large part of the Bible is foolishness. Let us examine some of the things the calling of a name over someone signified in the Bible:
1. Adoption “Let my name (Jacob’s) be named on them…” (Ephraim and Manasseh) Gen. 48:16 Jacob adopts them as his own sons, and thus they are then eligible with equal rights of inheritance with his own sons. If the word “adoption” is too strong, certainly some type of special acceptance is intimated by these words. Many commentators feel this special adoption was necessary because Joseph’s sons had an Egyptian mother. At any rate, from this time onward, they are accepted with equal rights.
2. Dedication “This house (the temple) which I have built, thy name is called upon it.” II Chron. 6:33
“Called upon it” is the literal Hebrew of this verse. The King James translators so render it in their marginal notes. If material buildings are audibly dedicated to God, how much more ought the Lord’s name be audibly invoked over the New Testament temples of God at their symbolic dedication in water baptism?
3. Subjection and Ownership “Lest I take it (Rabbah) and my name be called upon it…” II Sam. 12:28
The translation “called by my name” cannot be correct since there is no record of the city’s name ever being changed. Indeed years later it still retained this same name (Jer.49:2). Evidently Joab’s name would have been called upon the city to show that it was now under subjection to him.
4. Marriage “Seven women shall take hold of one man and say…let thy name be called upon us (lit. Heb.)” Isa. 4:1,2
5. Blessing “…on this wise ye shall bless the people saying, the Lord (Heb. Jehovah) bless thee, etc.” “And they shall put my name on them, and I will bless them” Numbers 6:24, 27
From Sinai on Israel is called “my people upon whom my name is called.” (lit. Heb.) II Chron. 7:14; Deut. 28:10; From Pentecost on the church is God’s people upon whom His name has been called. (Acts 15:17) In the Old covenant the name was put on the people en-masse, but in the new covenant we have a more personal walk with God so each one of us has God’s name named on us personally. The Jewish church was adopted by God, but the members of Christ’s church come one by one out of all nations and are born into the kingdom.
The terminology we are discussing was transferred into the New Testament (see Acts 15:17; James 2:6) in the formula of water baptism which is among other things an outward symbol of our adoption, dedication, subjection, and betrothment to Christ. Now the N.T. church is the people “upon whom my name is called.”
All of this seems to fit very nicely with the meaning of eis to onoma (see p.36) which we have previously pointed out means that the person becomes the property of the one whose name is called over him.
When a slave was sold to a pagan temple, it was said that he was sold “into the name” of a particular deity, indicating that he came under the ownership of that god. Strack and Billerback tell us in their Evangelium nach Matt, erlautet aus dem Midrasch and Talmud that when the Jews released a slave they gave him a ritual bath “into the name of freedom” indicating he came into or under that state. For similar uses of eis to onoma see Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the N.T. in the Papyri.
In conclusion we see:
1. The same basic ideas of ownership and subjection are connected with water baptism that are connected with the calling of a name over a person in the Old Testament (Col 2:12; Rom. 6:12)
2. The practice of the calling of God’s name over His people was continued in the N.T. The tenses (Aorist and Perfect) indicated the calling took place at one particular event. (See Obj. I)
3. The only particular ceremony in the Christian’s life where these Old Testament ideas of the calling of a name over someone all meet is water baptism.
Thus it is only reasonable to suppose the calling of God’s name over the saints mentioned in Acts 15:17 and Jas. 2:7 is a reference to the formula of water baptism: and it does make a difference whether or not we say something while a person is being baptized.
“Jesus is not the correct pronunciation of the name.”
It seems certain from the Greek New Testament that the Apostles adopted the Greek form of the name in place of the original Aramaic form. There is some evidence that at least part of the N.T. was originally written in this language (Matthew) and was later translated into Greek by someone with apostolic sanction.
The name of Jesus as it appears in the N.T. was not the original form in which it was first spoken. We feel that this is divine sanction that the name may be spoken with the pronunciation of whatever language the person speaking might be using.
“Baptism in Jesus’ name was for the Jews only.”
This ingenious explanation might possibly carry some weight were it not for the fact that Jesus directed the disciples to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost (Matt.28:19), and the fact that Cornelius was not a Jew.
This “alibi” says that whenever the Greek word for “in” is eis, it is referring to a formula: and when en or epi ing is used, the meaning is figurative (in the authority of” etc.). We have already shown this to be the other way around (see. Obj. I), but even so this argument is meaningless since eis is not only in Matt. 28:19 but also in Acts 19:7.
“I’d rather go by what Jesus said than by what the Apostles said”
More primitive Trinitarians, driven to their wits end to get around the evident truth of the Bible, have said the words of Matt.28:19 are to be taken before those of the apostles. But we feel:
1.We must approach this problem with the understanding that Acts 2: 38, 8:16, 10:48,19:6 in no way contradict Matt. 28:19;
2. and that the disciples obeyed to the letter the instructions of their Master to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, etc.
Judging these aforesaid facts to be true the apostles must have in every case baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. If they did not, they disobeyed the command of our Lord. If it is so that they deliberately disobeyed, then our faith and all we stand for is in vain: and we are yet in our sins! For if the apostles were so irresponsible as to fail to carry out this simple command, we can hardly put any stock in anything else they said.
It would be foolhardy to say Peter did not know the command of the Lord on the day of Pentecost. Scripture tells us Peter stood up with the eleven apostles (Acts 2:14). Surely someone would have remembered the words of Jesus and rebuked Peter. Are we to believe the founders of our most precious faith were in actuality a group of slaggards who had no regard for the commands of their Master? Madness! Madness!
How disillusioned anyone would be, to even let such a thought come into his mind! Are we not told that our Lord took special pains in instructing His disciples? Must we believe that our Lord sent forth his servants to do something they did not even understand how to do in the first place?
Therefore, in fact, the people on the day of Pentecost were told to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of .the Holy Ghost! So it is established that the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is Jesus! This indeed follows from logic. If, as we have previously proven, Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, then the name of all three is Jesus.
Who is the champion who would stand up to cry “Heresy, heresy!”? Such an one would certainly have been stoned under the Mosaic dispensation (Lev. 24:14). “Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye he shall be thought worthy of now? (Heb 10:29) The cry “Heresy, heresy” must be answered with the cry, “Blasphemy, blasphemy!”
Who is he that would say the apostles disobeyed? Let him be the heretic! Who is he that would say the apostles did not know any better? Let him be the fool!
“It is not important enough to bother with.”
It is truly amazing what great lengths some people will go to avoid obeying God’s word! Here are some of the reasons we believe in Jesus’ name baptism enough to teach, practice, or even die for:
1. The name of Jesus is above all names! The name that gives us power to remove mountains (Matt.17:20); cast out devils; take up serpents, heal the sick (Mark 16:17,18), yes, the very name by which we are saved (“…for there is no salvation in any other…” Acts 4: 12) is Jesus and no other! “Lord, even devils are subject unto us through thy name.”, declared the disciples in Luke 10:17. Is it not fitting and proper that we extent to this name all due reverence and awe? Not as a mere charm or fetish, but ever being mindful of the owner and of the redemptive work of the covenant it signifies. We do everything else in the name of Jesus; why then not baptize in it?
We have already briefly mentioned that Jesus is the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But let us not stop here! Go on with me, I pray you. Let us enter the spiritual realms: let us look with holy awe and reverence upon the deeper things of God; let us examine the name of Jesus in the light of the divine, inspired Word of God!
Jesus is the name of the Father. When God became flesh, His flesh also received this name. He said, “I have kept them in thy name which thou hast given me…” (John 17:12). The King James Version reads “those that thou hast given me…but this is impossible since “which” in Greek would then have to be plural, masculine, Accusative. Put instead it is singular, Dative and must refer to name.
Where did the Son get his name (Jesus)? Hebrews 1:4 tells us, “He hath by inheritance obtained a much more excellent name than they.” Anyone knows a Son receives his father’s name. “Wherefore God also hath…given Him a name which is above every name.” (Phil.2:9) Ephesians 1:21 tells us that Jesus is “above every name which is named in this world and in that which is to come.”
Jesus is also the name of the Holy Sprit. “The Lord is that Spirit” (II Cor. 3:18); and “the Lord, I am Jesus.” (Acts 9:5)
The Bible prophesied that in the Gospel dispensation God would only have one name: “And in that day (“evening time” v.7) shall there be one Lord and His name one…” Zech. 14:9). Jesus has to be God’s only proper name: since, if it were another name, Jesus would be above it: and there would be no salvation in it (Acts 4:12).
2. We have proved that in every single mentioning of New Testament baptism where the formula is mentioned, it was always in the name of Jesus! (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:6). This makes it the Bible pattern. The author trembles when he remembers the surety of the Word of God:
“If any man shall take away from the words of this Book…God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Rev.22:19
If preachers omit Jesus’ name baptism from their preaching and saints omit it from their lives, they are in danger of being cut off from the commonwealth of God. Man with his creeds and isms have brought the Word of God to naught. “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of me,” (Mark 7:7). Strange it is how God uses the mysterious number seven in the scriptures. You do well, oh reader, if you remember this verse: Mark 7:7.
3. If you are baptized with only the words: Father, Son and Holy Ghost being called over you, then you are now a living witness that the Bible contradicts itself: and the apostles disobeyed Jesus.
4. If the minister only said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”, he lied because he didn’t. He never mentioned the name. We have before proved that this name is Jesus. If you care anything about Jesus, then get baptized in the name!
5. We have the direct command of the scripture which is given by inspiration and thus the very voice of God talking: “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts 2:38
6. Anything worth doing is worth doing right!
7. If it is taught in the Bible, it is important. It is blasphemy in the first order to say anything taught and practiced by our Lord and His disciples, as much as baptism was, is unimportant.
8. Paul baptized in Jesus’ name and said, “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ…” I Cor. 11:1.
How long will God’s holy Word be set at naught by our modern day Pharisees? How long will it be held in disrespect? “Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” (Lu.6:46) When will men ever lay aside their traditions and worship God in spirit and truth? Who will dare call Jesus, Lord, who has not obeyed His every command? And He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
I challenge you, oh reader! Will you dare turn this message away when it so plainly confronts you? Are you able to risk your soul upon chance, supposition, and conjecture? The time is past for theories. Now is the time more than ever before for us to embrace the whole Word of God. “Obedience is better than sacrifice…” (I Sam. 15:22). Step out for God! Seek His truth as you would a precious pearl, a hidden treasure…be buried by baptism in His precious name!
A Final Appeal
No doubt you may have heard this doctrine propounded over and over again, and for some reason you have seen fit to reject it. But I would like to make one last, final appeal to you. I would like you to pause now, kneel down, and search your heart. See if you can hear God talking to you.
Just say, “Lord, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it. No matter what! If this doctrine is of You, then give me an open heart to receive it, and courage to obey it.” I challenge you to do this.
You can lose nothing, and you can gain all.
The devil will whisper, “You were so sure you were right. How can you ever be sure about anything else if you were wrong about this? But God is faithful and will make a way.
You do not want the esteem of men; you want to please God. We who preach this blessed truth do not wish to cause division and strife. We merely desire one thing and one alone: a closer conformity to God’s Word. I sincerely hope that you will not let this message pass by. God is getting ready a people who will step out for Him no matter what. I want you to be in that number.
This book God in Christ Jesus was written by Paul Ferguson and may be used for study & research purposes only.
1 Acts 10:48 reads “in the name of Jesus Christ” in almost all Greek manuscripts. King James translators had only about 3 or 4 manuscripts (dating back to the Middle Ages) on which to base their text. Today we have 4500 manuscripts and fragments, some within one or two hundred years of the apostles. Even if “lord” should be the original reading, this does not affect our teaching because we shall later prove that the name of the Lord is Jesus.
2 This is the literal Greek of this passage. It reads as follows: to epiklethomenon ep humas, which was called upon you. This translation was included in the marginal notes of the King James Version, and is translated this way in the Amer. Bible Society’s Spanish translation.