Jesus is the Fullness of the Godhead
By Gordon Magee
In this section we will briefly answer some common objections to the scriptural teaching that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus Christ.
“Let Us Make Man In Our Image” (Genesis 1:26)
Trinitarians argue that this verse shows a trinity of divine persons, but the verse immediately following says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” We should note the use of the singular personal pronouns. John 1:3, 10 makes it clear that creation was the work of one divine person. “The world was made by him” [Jesus]. Isaiah 44:24 is crystal clear on this point. God speaks in the first person and says, “I am the LORD . . . that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Could language be plainer? Creation is the work of one divine person only. (See also James 2:19; Malachi 2:10.)
Angels were present when God made the world (Job 38:7), and they applauded His creative acts. Jehovah converses with angels (Psalm 103:20). The Jews have always believed that the “us” of Genesis 1:26 refers to God and the angels. Man is certainly made in the likeness of angels (Hebrews 2:7). Indeed when angels appeared in Bible times they were often simply called men (Acts 1:10).
A careful study of Genesis 3:22-24, where the “us” again appears, reveals that God is addressing the cherubim or elect angels who, together with Himself, “know good and evil.”
“Us,” relative to God and the angels, is seen again in Genesis 11:7, where God indicates to the angels that Babel’s hour of judgment had come: “Let us go down, and there confound their language.” As at Sodom, God, in conjunction with the angels, executed the work of vengeance (Genesis 18:33; 19:1).
Isaiah 6:1-8 is crystal clear concerning the identity of the “us.” It is God and the seraphim. Angels cannot preach the gospel (see Acts 10:1-8), but they are deeply interested in its propagation (I Peter 1:12). A true gospel preacher speaks for Jehovah and all His angels.
We do not say that angels helped at creation. In humility the great God of heaven revealed to them His intentions. Some people see a major objection to all this in Isaiah 40:12-13. Let them read the passage carefully, for it does not clash with our proposition. It does not say that God refuses to counsel with angels it simply states that no one, as His counselor, teaches or instructs the Almighty. God does counsel with angels. He even counsels with men. He counseled with Abraham about Sodom (Genesis 18:17) and not only counseled but permitted Abraham to actually bargain with Him. Nevertheless, neither Abraham nor the angels ever taught God anything.
“The Word Was With God” (John 1:1)
A dear brother quoted this verse to me to prove that Jesus the Word was a distinct divine person from the Father. I asked him, “Who is your God?” He answered, “The trinity”
I said, “Let us read the verse in the light of your answer `In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the trinity, and the Word was the trinity.'”
“Oh!” he cried, “in that verse God stands for the Father.”
`All right,” I replied. “Let us read it again-1n the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the Father, and the Word was the Father.'”
He could say no more. The meaning of the verse became clear to him, and it is this the Word was God. Any idea that the Word was a distinct personality from God is destroyed by John when he emphatically declared, “And the Word was God.” I know of no stronger Oneness verse in the whole Bible. How can we make a difference of person between God and His Word?
The Hebrew word Elohim is translated “God” in our Bibles. It indicates a plurality of attributes and not of persons. Baal (Judges 6:31) and Baalzebub (II Kings 1:2) are called Elohim but they were not trinities. Great Bible teachers such as Calvin have ridiculed the notion that this word affords any support for a belief in a plurality of divine persons.
Elohim is applied to Christ, thus proving that it does not mean a plurality of persons. A few examples will suffice: Elohim was sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:4, 12, 13); Elohim was pierced at Calvary (Zechariah 12:10); Elohim is coming back as King (Zechariah 14:5). Do we think that three persons were betrayed, crucified, and are coming again? Of course not! The very use of the word Elohim in Scripture proves that by it the sacred writers did not mean three divine persons but rather our one Lord Jesus Christ, who has all the attributes of full-orbed deity.
Jordan’s Banks (Matthew 3:13-17)
Some imagine that a trinity of divine persons is taught in this passage. Actually, this is just the result of wishful thinking. Let us bear in mind that what happened at the baptism of Jesus was not arranged to teach the people any particular doctrine of the Godhead. As a matter of fact, apparently no one by Jordan’s banks that day heard or saw anything concerning the voice or the dove save John the Baptist. It was a private and infallible sign to John whereby he could identify the Messiah (John 1:33).
Moreover, the dove alighting upon Jesus was purely symbolical. Some people say that Jesus received the Holy Ghost at Jordan. How wrong they are! There never was a time when Jesus did not have the Holy Ghost and that without measure. John the Baptist was full of the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. Dare we say less for Jesus?
Trinitarians say that the voice heard at Jordan’s banks demands personality. Did the voice emanating from Balaam’s donkey indicate personality (Numbers 22:28)? Jesus said that if people ceased to praise Him, the stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Would we then understand the rocks to have personality? The truth is that the man who was baptized by John was also the omnipresent God, and He was responsible for the voice. Jesus claimed to be on earth and in heaven at the same time (John 3:13; 1:18). He also claimed while still on earth as to His body that He was present as God in the midst of every believing company that met in His name the wide world over (Matthew 18:20). Jesus, who was that day baptized in the river, was omnipresent everywhere present at once as to His Spirit. If we deny that He as to His divinity was responsible for the voice then we virtually deny Him the attribute of omnipresence.
John 14:10 settles the issue. Jesus claimed that all miraculous works attending His ministry (and that includes the voice and the sign of the dove) were attributable to One who dwelt within Him: “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” (Matthew 2 7:46)
Trinitarians should carefully consider the logical conclusions of their objections before making them. If Jesus was actually forsaken by God then He is not God. The trinitarian explanation of this verse, namely, that here we see one divine person forsaking another, compels us to ask where then is their professed belief in the unity of the Godhead? If the divine persons of the trinity theory are so distinct as to be able to forsake each other, then how can trinitarians with any degree of logic or consistency deny that they really believe in three Gods?
Jesus was not forsaken by God; He could not be, for He was God manifested in flesh (I Timothy 3:16). Jesus claimed that His Father would not forsake Him in the hour of crisis (John 16:32). Hebrews 9:14 teaches that the Holy Spirit was resident in Jesus right up until the very last moment, until the offering was completed. The truth is that Jesus felt Godforsaken. He had to, because He was the sinner’s substitute and this was part of the price He had to pay.
In Leviticus 2:1-3, the fine flour represents our Lord’s humanity, the oil mixed with the fine flour speaks of God in the body of Jesus Christ, and the frankincense indicates intercession. The flour, the oil and the frankincense were together baked by fire on the altar, which speaks of Calvary. This is a lovely picture of how the great Spirit God was resident in Christ even when the flames of divine retribution engulfed His soul at Calvary. Jesus was not actually God-forsaken at Calvary but felt the awful reality of a God-forsaken soul as He stood in the sinner’s stead.
“The Glory Which I Had With Thee Before The World Was” (John 17:5)
Trinitarians allege that this verse and its context reveal that Christ was the Son before the world was. If this were true, then it would violently contradict all the passages in Scripture which teach that the Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ relates to time and humanity. The true explanation of this verse is simple. Jesus was praying for glorification, which was at that time still future (John 7:39; I Timothy 3:16). Indeed, the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and glorification were all still future when Jesus prayed in John 17. Our Lord indicated in His prayer that in some sense He actually had been glorified in eternity past.
What did our Lord mean? He meant that He had been glorified in eternity past just as He had been crucified in eternity past. (See Revelation 13:8.) Everything relative to Christ’s redemptive work happened in eternity past in the mind of God.
In God’s mind, long before the earth was made Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a vicarious death, had a triumphant resurrection, had a wonderful ascension, and was received up into glory. Our God inhabits eternity and sees the things that are not as though they were. Ephesians 1:4 makes it clear that also before the world was made the church was chosen and purified in Christ. God saw us before Him in love, and yet we did not even exist!
Oneness theologians understand that John 17:5 refers to the ideal existence of the Son before the foundation of the world, or His existence in God’s mind and thought. Obviously the Son did not actually exist before Bethlehem, else we should have no difficulty locating Him as being actually present in the Old Testament and the period it covered. There is not one verse in the Old Testament that shows the Son as being then present. He is certainly prophesied of in the Old Testament. Always, the Son is the coming One and not the present One. How could the Son have existed in the Old Testament as such when He was made of a woman centuries later? (Galatians 4:4). Examples of ideal pre-existence are found in other parts of the Bible. (See Romans 4:17 and Jeremiah 1:5.)
New Testament Plurals (John 14:23)
Trinitarians emphasize the words we and our in this and similar verses and argue that those words reveal a plurality of divine persons. I can well remember asking a trinitarian preacher to explain the verse to me: “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” He could not even begin to expound its meaning, for even he, as a trinitarian, could not believe that he had three divine persons abiding in him. There is only one way to have God abiding in us and that is by the Spirit, and Ephesians 4:4 says there is “one Spirit:”
The meaning of John 14:23 is very beautiful and clear to those who have the Oneness key. Matthew 10:20 speaks of the Spirit of the Father, and Galatians 4:6 speaks of the Spirit of the Son, yet there are not two Spirits but one (Ephesians 4:4). The Spirit of the Father is the Spirit of almightiness, the Spirit of power (John 14:10). The Spirit of the Son is the Spirit of priestliness, or the Spirit of obedience and prayer (Galatians 4:6; John 17:1; Hebrews 5:8). The believer has both aspects in the Holy Ghost. Anything about a believer that speaks of the miraculous or almightiness is (the Spirit of) the Father abiding in him, and anything about a believer that speaks of prayer, submission, obedience or priestliness is (the Spirit of) the Son abiding in him, yet there is but one Spirit in two aspects.
Oneness can interpret John 14:23 and every other “plural” verse, but trinitarianism can offer no explanation. Let us never forget that Jesus had a dual nature and so performed a dual role. When one meditates upon this great fact, he will readily see that Jesus requires plurals to fully describe His offices and operations. That the plurals do not indicate persons but rather offices in the one person is clearly shown by John 12:45: “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.”
In this respect a study of Isaiah 53 is very rewarding. Verse 6 mentions “the LORD” in contradistinction to “him” (Christ). Verse 10 reads, “It pleased the LORD to bruise him . . . [and] make his soul an offering for sin.” The Lord thus appears as the offerer and Christ as the lamb (verse 7), the offered One. Yet who does not know that Jesus is the great high priest, the great offerer, and who does not know that at the same time He is the great offering and lamb? The wonderful truth of Isaiah 53 is that Christ, the God-man, is the One who bruised and was bruised, who offered and was offered, who was both high priest and lamb at Calvary. Superficially, some may see two persons in Isaiah 53, but those who know that truth about Jesus’ dual nature and role can see that the prophet spoke not of two divine persons but of the offices of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“How Many Did Stephen See?” (Acts 7:54-60)
Stephen did not say, “I see Jesus and God.” He knew better than that, for “no man [and that includes Stephen] hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18; I John 4:12). God is invisible (Colossians 1:15; I Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27), and it is impossible to see anything that is invisible! Because God is invisible, “no man hath seen, nor can see” him (I Timothy 6:16). The instances in the Old Testament where people claimed to have seen God are to be understood as theophanies or temporary materializations of God in angelic form.
In this dispensation, Jesus is the image of the invisible God; indeed Jesus is the express image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). At Bethlehem God assumed human form, and that human form called the Son is God’s perfect, complete and permanent incarnation. This explains why the theophanies of the old dispensations ceased at Bethlehem. Since Jesus is God’s express image, and since “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9), it is impossible for God to reveal His person outside of or apart from Jesus. Stephen therefore did not see and could not have seen two persons.
What then is meant by the expression “the right hand of God”? According to Exodus 15:6, Moses and the Israelites on the safe side of the Red Sea claimed to have seen “the right hand of God” when the waters fell in upon the Egyptians and they were drowned. What did they actually see? Nothing but a tremendous manifestation of God’s power and glory. This they called “the right hand of God.” Stephen was an Israelite and knew the Hebrew Scriptures. When he used the expression “the right hand of God” he meant exactly what Moses meant when he used the same phrase. Stephen claimed to see Jesus in the place of glory and power and described this as “the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
We should note that after receiving the vision Stephen still believed that Jesus was God. He called upon God and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Only God the Father receives the spirits of men in death (Psalm 31:5; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Hebrews 12:9). Stephen knew that too and yet said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Stephen believed that Jesus was God and the Father veiled in flesh. If, as trinitarians affirm, Stephen saw two, then God is not invisible, God has been seen, Jesus is not the express image of God but simply an image (all of which contradict the Scriptures), and Stephen committed his spirit to the wrong member of the trinity!
“Stand Up, Stand Up, For Jesus!”
Dear reader, you have now come to the end of this little book. Before you close it and lay it down, let me make the issue clear. This is not just an argument between theologians. This is a matter of Christ. “What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42). Do you say He is God, fully God, truly God, wholly God, solely God, altogether God, and exclusively God? Or do you think, as so many do, that He is but the second person of a trinity? Remember, if Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead and you persist in worshiping two others you break the Scripture, in which the one God says, “There is no God else beside me” (Isaiah 45:21). Remember, if Jesus is full-orbed deity and you regard Him as being one-third of God when you worship then you cannot be truthfully called a worshiper of God. Why not take your stand with those who believe that Christ is all? He is the Father as to His deity, the Son as to His humanity, and the Holy Spirit in emanation. In a coming day, everybody everywhere will believe nothing else (Zechariah 14:9). Man-made traditions say that Jesus is in the Godhead. The Scripture of truth says that the Godhead is in Jesus (Colossians 2:9). Which will you believe?
The above article, Jesus is the Fulness of the Godhead is written by Gordon Magee. The article was excerpted from the fourth chapter of Magee’s book Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is the Godhead in Jesus?
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.