JWs (as well as other unitarian groups)[1] deny that Jesus’ Ἐγώ εἰμι (egō eimi, “I am”)[2] were claims of being equal with God. Typically they appeal to John 9:9: “Some were saying: ‘This is he.’ others were saying: ‘No, but he looks like him.’ The man kept saying: ‘I am he’” (egō eimi, “I am”). In other words, because the syntactically (not contextually) unpredicated Greek phrase egō eimi was used of the blind man, JWs argue that Jesus’ claim of being the egō eimi, that is, the “I am,” cannot be a claim of deity.  

What quickly refutes this blank argument is simply the CONTEXT. Meanings of words (and phrases) are determined by context, not merely by lexical meaning. If this vital point is not considered, then, meanings become a mere pretext.     

In the Septuagint (LXX), the unpredicated egō eimi was an exclusive title for YHWH (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 48:12, translated from the Hebrew, ani hu). In these places, the context clearly indicates that the unpredicated “I am” was a title of YHWH denoting His eternal existence, which He alone claimed of Himself. Further, in Isaiah 41:4 and 48:12, YHWH’s claim of being the “I am” is joined with the claim, “I am the first, and with the last,” and “I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last.” In the NT, only Jesus Christ claimed to be “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17, 2:8; 22:13). So incontrovertibly, the unpredicated “I am” in the OT (LXX) was a clear claim of deity, that is, eternal existence, exclusively used of YHWH.

Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the unpredicated “I am,” esp. sandwiched between other divine implications and syntactical features,[3] the Jews, against the backdrop of the LXX, clearly recognized the semantic force of what Christ was claiming: “They picked up stones to kill Him” (John 8:59). This was a legal stoning according to Jewish law (Lev. 24:16). In fact, the Jews understood and responded in the same way (wanting to kill Christ), when Jesus made other unique claims of deity. For example, Mark 14:61-64- claim: Son of God and Son of Man, “coming with the clouds of heaven”; John 5:17-18- claim: Son of God, “making Himself equal with God”; John 10:30-33- claim: giving eternal life to the His sheep, being essentially one (hen) with the Father, and being the Son of God.

Christ’s claims of being the “I am” were not isolated. In John 8, in which most of Jesus’ “I am” claims were recorded, there are many additional claims of Christ as to His preexistence and deity (cf. 8:12, 19 [esp. the “I am” clams in vv. 24, 28, 58], 40, 51), which led up to His crowning claim of being the absolute, “I am,” that is, I am the Eternal One who spoke to Moses in the burning bush.[4]

Thus, contextually, Jesus’ “I am” claims were unambiguous claims of being the eternal God, the YHWH of Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10 et al. And the Jews knew this—for they wanted to kill Him for blasphemy (John 8:59)! The contextual dissimilarity cannot be missed. When Jesus stated, “I am,” it was a startling claim to be God incarnate, whereas when the blind man stated, “I am,” it was in mere response to the question of who it was that Christ healed. Note verses 8-9:

 So the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” The man himself kept saying, “I am the one [egō eimi].” 

The blind man simply explained, Yes, “I am” the man who Christ healed! Clearly, the “I am” has an implied predicate. Note the significantly different responses of the Jews to Jesus’ absolute “I am” statements in John 8:58; 18:5, 6, and verse 8 compared to the blind man’s “I am” statement in John 9:9:   

 

  1. John 9:9, when the blind said, “I am,” the Jews did not attempt to stone him, as they attempted to do to Christ in response to His claim of being “I am” (John 8:58-59).

 

  1. There was no adverse reaction by the Jews to the blind man saying “I am,” nor did one person fall back, contra the guards in response to Jesus’ “I am” claims in John 18. 

 

  1. In the entire content of John 9, there were no divine implications made by the blind man. Whereas, Christ made abounding divine implications all throughout John 8 leading up to verse 58, as pointed out above. 

 

  1. As also mentioned above, John 8:58 contains a verbal contrast between Abraham’s beginning (denoted by the aorist genesthai, “was”) and Jesus’ eternality, that is, being the eternal One (denoted by the present eimi, “am”): “Before Abraham was born” vs. “I am.”   

 

Therefore, there is absolutely no contextual similarity between Jesus’ multiple unambiguous claims to be the unpredicated “I am,” God incarnate, and the blind man’s response of being the man that Jesus healed.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

NOTES

[1]. A distinction, though, needs to be made between religious groups that are theologically “unitarian” (or unipersonal, i.e., seeing God as one person, thus rejecting the Trinity) and the official Unitarian religion itself. The former would include such religious systems as post-first century Judaism, Islam, Oneness Pentecostals, JWs, etc., while the latter is applied exclusively to the Unitarian Church as a religious denomination. Thus, “unitarian” refers to the unipersonal theology of the JWs as well as all other theological unitarian groups. Technically, a unitarian belief of God is synonymous with a unipersonal belief of God.

[2]. Appearing mostly in, but not limited to, the Gospel of John (8:24, 28. 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8; cf. Mark 6:50).

[3] To laser light His eternal existence as God, in John 8:58 for example, Jesus asserted a sharp verbal contrast between Abraham, who had a beginning denoted by the aorist verb, genesthai (“was born.” from ginomai, “to come to be”), and His eternal existence denoted by the present indicative verb, eimi (“am,” as in egō eimi, “I am”). Thus, a “came to be” vs. “I am always being” contrast. The same verbal contrast can be seen in the prologue of John, where the imperfect verb ēn (“was,” from eimi) denoting the Word’s unoriginate eternal existence, which is exclusively applied to the Word in verses 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10. This verb is contrasted with the aorist egeneto (“became”) which is also from ginomai, which refers to all things that came into existence or had a starting point (e.g., the creation, vv. 3, and 10; John the Baptist, in v. 6). It is not until verse 14 that egeneto is applied to the Word (pertaining to His incarnation): Kai ho Logos sarx egeneto, “And the Word became [ginomai] flesh.” The same verbal contrast (Christ as eternal vs. created things) is found in Hebrews  1:3-4, where the present tense participle ōn (“always being”) is set in contrast with the aorist epoiēsen (“He made”) in verse 2 and participle ōn being in contrast with the aorist genomenos (“having become”—referring to the incarnation) in verse 4. And the same in Philippians 2:6-7 where the present participle huparchōn (“existing/always subsisting”) in verse 6 is set in contrast with the aorist verbs, ekenōsen (“emptied”) labōn (“by taking”), genomenos (“having been made”) and heuretheis (“having been found”) verses 7 and 8. In each case, there is an outstanding contrast between the eternal preincarnate Son and all things created. See also 2 Corinthians 8:9 where we find a syntactical parallel with Philippians 2:6-7—viz., participle vs. aorist. Participles— ōn, “rich being” (2 Cor. 8:9) – huparchōn, “in the nature of God being (Phil. 2:6). Aorist indicatives— eptōcheusen,He became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9) – ekenōsen,emptied Himself” (Phil. 2:7). Hence, Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “that You, through His poverty [i.e., His incarnation], might become rich” (in glory and righteousness). Also, the same linguistic contrast is found in the LXX of Psalm 90:2 (89:2)—namely, the aorist ginomai is set in contrast with present indicative eimi:

Before the mountains existed [or “were born,” genēthēnai, the aorist of ginomai], and [before] the earth and the world were formed [plasthēnai, the aorist infinitive of plassō], even from age to age, You are [ei, the second person present indicative of eimi].            

[4]. In Exodus 3, the angel of the LORD (viz., the preincarnate Son) appeared to Moses and spoke to him from the burning bush (v. 2). He had identified Himself to Moses as YHWH and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 4, 6). In verse 13, in response to Moses’s question regarding His “name,” the LXX records the angel of the LORD declaring, Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (egō eimi ho ōn, “I am the One”). Although the phrase is not an exact syntactical parallel to the unpredicated egō eimi in John 8:58 et al., the semantic consequence is the same—namely, expressing eternal existence. Note the articular (or adjectival) participle ho ōn following egō eimi. This present tense participle ōn is from eimi (“I am, exist”)—linguistically, existing, being, subsisting (context and grammatical features determine its durational aspect). In particular contexts, the articular participle can denote timeless, eternal existence. It is used of God the Father in Revelation 1:4 and either Father or Son in 1:8 and 4:8. However, in the articular participle is applied to Christ at John 1:18 (ho ōn, “the One who is always, timelessly existing, in the bosom of the Farther”); 3:13 (M, TR); 6:46; and Romans 9:5 (Rev. 1:8). In these passages, the articular participle denotes the Son’s timeless existence. Regarding John 1:18, Robert Reymond remarks, “The present participle ὁ ὢν . . . indicates a continuing state of being: ‘who is continually in the bosom of the Father’” (Systematic Theology, 1998, 303). So Vincent sees the articular participle in John 1:18 as “a ‘timeless present’ expressing the inherent and eternal relation of the Son to the Father.” The anarthrous participle ōn can also carry this linguistic force. Robertson observes the participle in Hebrews 1:3 [hos ōn, “who is”] as denoting “Absolute and timeless existence (present active participle of εiμί) in contrast [as pointed out above] with γενόμενος in verse 4 like ἦν in Joh 1:1 (in contrast with ἐγένετο in 1:14) and like ὑπάρχων and γενόμενος in Php 2:6f” (Robertson, Word Pictures). Therefore, although the LXX of Exodus 3:14 (egō eimi ho ōn) is not an exact syntactical parallel to John 8:58 et al., it is a semantic equivalent of eternal preexistence and thus, deity. Whereas the exact syntactical parallel (i.e., the unpredicated egō eimi) would be found in in the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; and 48:12—, which are exclusively applied to YHWH.

 

“In Him”

1 Cor. 1:30: “But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”  

Rom. 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Cor. 5:17, 21: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Eph. 1:4: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”

 

The ἐν (“in”) + the dative construction was a favorite linguistic formula of the Apostle Paul. For example (NA28th), ἐν αὐτῷ (“in Him”) appears 23 times and ἐν Χριστῷ (“in Christ”) appears 73 times in his literature.[1]

As with all prepositions, the meaning of preposition ἐν is determined by its object, which in Paul’s formula is either singular dative nouns such as Ἀδὰμ (“Adam”), σαρκὶ (“flesh”), νόμῳ (“law”), πνεύματι (“Spirit”), Κυρίῳ (“Lord”), or the singular dative pronoun, αὐτῷ (“Him”). Note that when Christ is the object of ἐν (“in Him,” “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” etc.),[2] a few views have been suggested among standard scholarship as to the semantic of the dative in the prepositional phrase.   

For example, dative of sphere (i.e., locative, “in the realm/sphere of”); instrumental dative (i.e., dative of means/instrument, “by means [instrumentally] of”), and a couple other semantic views have also been posited. Wallace (GGBB) points out, that the dative expressing sphere is a frequent usage especially with ἐν + the dative, as in Eph. 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him [ἐν Κυρίῳ] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love.”

However, it seems that the predominant meaning (i.e., of scholarly opinion, e.g., Lightfoot, TDNT, NIGTC et al.) of Paul’s ἐν + the dative formula, when referring to Christ (or other persons in the Trinity) denotes “in union with Christ,” that is, being identified and unified with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. Consistent to Paul’s Adam-Christ antithesis, which is well exampled in such passages as 1 Cor. 15:22, where Paul’s ἐν + the dative formula denotes “in union with”: “For as in [union with] ADAM [ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ] all die, so also in [union with] CHRIST [ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ] all will be made alive.” Turner sees that “Adam is a representative man ‘in’ whom all mankind was viewed. . . . But the instances with en are predicated of Christ or the Gospel and mean ‘in the sphere of’” (cf. Matt. 3:11; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13). 

Many other passages in Paul’s literature, which involve the ἐν + the dative formula, denote union or identification with Christ in contrast to condemnation, sin, law, flesh, etc. For example, Romans 6:11: “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God IN CHRIST [ἐν Χριστῷ]; 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST [ἐν Χριστῷ] Jesus.”

In this sense, men walk to two territories, either “in Christ” or “in Adam, in the flesh.” Union and identification with one or the other. Being “in Christ,” therefore, is tantamount to being in union with Him. So Lightfoot observes, “ἐν Χριστῷ, i.e. ‘by virtue of our incorporation in, our union with, Christ.’” It is in that sense, then, that as the old man is ἐν ‘Αδάμ and the Jew ἐν νόμῳ, the believer are ἐν Χριστῷ. So Eadie rightly says, “Believers were looked upon as being in Christ their federal Head, when they were elected.”

Further, note the contrast of being ἐν σαρκὶ (“in [the] flesh”) and being “in Christ/“in the Spirit” with emphasis on the indwelling of the Spirit in Rom. 8:9: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Thus, being ἐν Χριστῷ is set in contrast to being ἐν ‘Αδάμ (“in Adam”) in 1 Cor. 15:22 and being found ἐν Χριστῷ is set in contrast to being ἐν νόμῳ (“in the Law”) in Phil. 3:6-9.

 Conclusion

The ἐν + the dative formula (esp. Paul’s near exclusive use of ἐν Χριστῷ) undeniably expresses the love that God the Father has for believers, which is shown by His electing them to the adoption of sons placing them in union with His Son (Eph. 1:4-5). Paul’s ἐν + the dative formula linguistically denotes “in union with Christ,” that is, being identified and unified with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. Hence, Paul can say, “Therefore I, the prisoner ἐν κυρίῳ [‘in the Lord,’ not, ‘of the Lord’]” (Eph. 4:1). Paul also uses this signifying formula to denote the unbreakable union believers have with the Father and the Spirit—viz. union and identification with the triune God.    

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-Notes 

[1] Aside for three places in Peter, ἐν Χριστῷ appears only in Paul.

[2] Ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐν Κυρίῳ.

Restoration & Healing: 
Jairus and the bleeding woman   

                                                                     

Deut. 32:39:

“See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can save anyone from My hand.”

 1 Pet. 2:24-25:

“And He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

 
Mark 5:22-43 presents two examples of extraordinary faith, Jairus (a synagogue official) and the bleeding woman. Verse 22 starts the context with Jairus, but the narrative abruptly switches in verse 25ff.

25-26 “A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years [lit., ‘with a flow of blood’; most likely, vaginal bleeding, which would make her ceremonially unclean]. 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse.”

There were several specific Jewish cures for this problem mentioned in the Talmud. For example, carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen cloth around one’s neck in the summer and in a cotton cloth in the winter and/or carrying barley corn from the excrement of a white female donkey. But for her, nothing worked!

27-28 “after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she had been saying to herself, ‘If I just touch His garments, I will get well.’ When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak.” “She had been saying” (lit. “she kept saying”) – Greek, elegen, which is an imperfect tense, indicating a past ongoing or repeated action, thus, she “kept saying, thinking.”

So, in this context the woman seems to have been trying (kept trying) to obtain the bravery to touch Jesus’ cloak: “If I just touch His garments, I will be healed.” Mark uses sōthēsomai from sōzō (“to save, heal, deliver”). The term would have had a strong Old Testament spiritual significance to his readers—Matthew uses the same term in the parallel (9:21). Some have suggested that since in other places, Mark uses other terms that merely mean “heal” (such as therapeuō[1]) the meaning here for the readers may be: “If only you would “touch” Jesus, you would be “saved!”

However, this would prompt the question: When did she have faith? In the same chapter, the faith of the demoniac is realized after he was healed, not before.

29 “And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” Here the girl was immediately healed even though she was willing to make Jesus, a Rabbi, ritually unclean by touching His garments. So, when did her motives turn to real faith in Christ? She had an enormous amount of faith in Christ healing her. Similar to the great faith of the centurion who in Luke 7:7, 9, said to Jesus:

“For I am not worthy for You to come under my roof . . . but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. . . . Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.’”

30-31 “And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power from Him had gone out, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My garments?’ 31 And His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”  

Note the next verse in the ESV, “And he looked around to see who had done it.” Along with Mark 13:32, this is a classic objection to the deity of Christ made by Jehovah’s Witnesses and other unitarians: “If He is God, why did He not know who touched Him?” (and/or, “Why did He not know the day of hour of His return in Mark 13:32?”) Many Christians give the popular canned response appealing to the Son’s incarnation—He did not know as man (incarnation, emptied status – cf. Phil. 2:6-8) veiling [but not divesting] His divine prerogatives. However, the Greek provides clarity and removes any implied ignorance of Jesus here.

The verb in verse 32, translated “He kept looking around” is from the one Greek verb periblepō, which in the imperfect tense (a repeated action). This verb is used only six other times in the New Testament. Except for one place (Luke 6:10), only Mark uses this term (Mark 3:5, 34; 5:32; 9:8; 10:23; and 11:11). This verb seems to be a favorite term of Mark; it is only used of Jesus in the New Testament (except in Mark. 9:8).

Consider this: Every time the verb periblepō (“looked around”) is used (in any form), it is used to denote “a looking around in observation,” and not in ignorance or discovery (unless one asserts Mark 5:32 as the exception). Since the verb is only used of Jesus, obviously this is a very important term for Mark and has special relevance. Furthermore, every time the verb appears (including Mark 5:32) it is in the middle voice indicating the personal interest or concern for the thing of person(s) denoting Jesus “intently gazing” (which again, is the lexical semantic of the term).

Again, the verb is only used of Jesus in the New Testament (except in Mark. 9:8) and used to denote “a looking around in observation,” and not in ignorance or a mere vague or arbitrary “look to see what’s going on” kind of a thing removes any notion that the Son was ignorant of who touched Him. Some translations correspond well with the Greek rendering (e.g., NASB, Amplified). While others do not (e.g., ESV, Holman). However, note Matthew’s redaction in 9:20-22 (NASB; NET, ESV reads similarly):

And behold, a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Him, and touched the border of His cloak; 21 for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will get well.” 22 But Jesus, turning and seeing her, said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” And at once the woman was made well.”

Although some translations, on the surface, present Jesus seemingly ignorant as to who touched Him in the Mark account, this notion is completely eliminated by 1) the lexical significance of the verb periblepō, 2) Matthew’s explicated version wherein Jesus immediately identifies the woman, and 3) the rendering of several clear translations: “He looked around to see the woman who had done this” (5:32, NASB).

 

33-34 “But the woman, fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease.”

It was not the touching of Jesus’ garment that made her well; rather it was her great faith! Not faith in faith, but faith in Jesus. The phrase “has healed” (“Daughter, your faith has healed you”), is from sesōken. The verb here is in the perfect tense implying that the healing remained and continued.[2]

 

Jairus’ Daughter

 35 “While He was still speaking, people [messengers] came from the house of the synagogue official [Jairus], saying, ‘Your daughter has died; why bother the Teacher further?’” Note the tense here (aorist indicative), literally, “has died” was spoken by the messengers—implying that Jairus was very impatient.

36 “But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, ‘Do not be afraid, only believe.’” “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Two commandments here. The contrast can not be missed: faith is the opposite of fear. Same phrase (“Do not fear/be afraid”) is used in Mark 6:50 (the walking on the water incident):

For they all saw Him and were terrified [“great fear”!]. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid” (lit., tharseite, egō eimi, mē phobeisthe: “Take courage, I am, Do not be afraid!”).

Why be afraid? Jesus is the “I am,” that is, the eternal One, the YHWH “who stills the roaring of the seas” (Ps. 65:7; cf. 89:9).


37-39:
“And He allowed no one to accompany Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the synagogue official, and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And after entering, He said to them, ‘Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child has not died, but is asleep.’”

“Sleep” (katheudō) was an Old Testament (and NT) synonym for death as Jesus used it of Lazarus in John 11:11 and Paul in 1 Cor. 11:30: “For this reason [not recognizing the Lord’s sacrifice] many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [dead].” Paul here speaks of partaking in the Lord’s Supper appropriately.

40-41 “And they began laughing at Him. But putting them all outside, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was in bed. 41 And taking the child by the hand, He said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).” “Talitha, kum!” is Aramaic, which seems to be the native tongue of the Jews of this time and thus of Jesus.[3] Hence, it seems to indicate that the audience to which Mark wrote was Gentile.

 

Points to remember:

  • Healings (spiritual and physical) are subject to God’s timing and sovereign will (Deut. 32:29; Acts 16:6-7; 1 John 5:14).  
  • Healings are not always physical (cf. 1 Pet. 2:24-25).  
  • Healings were with faith (as here in this narrative, cf. also Luke 7:7-8) and without faith (cf. Mark 9:24). 
  • God is sovereign over all life, death, sickness and healings (cf. Exod. 4:11; Deut. 32:39; Job. 13:14; 42:11; John 9:1ff—cf. Exod. 4:11).

 

“Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3).

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Notes

[1] Cf. Mark 1:34; 3:2, 10; 6:5, 13.

[2] Cf. Eph. 2:8, where sesōsmenoi, (“saved”) is the perfect participle from the same base verb, sōzō (“to save, deliver, heal, preserve, rescue”).

[3] There are many places in Mark (and few places in the other Gospels) where Aramaic phrases are recorded. For example, Sabbata in Mark 3:4; Boanerges in Mark 3:17; Satan in Mark 3:23, 26; 8:33; Talitha cumi (or kum) in Mark 5:41; Ephphatha in Mark 7:35; Gehanna in Mark 9:43,45,47; pasca in Mark 14:14; Abba in Mark 14:36; Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani in Mark 15:34 (contra Matt. 27:46) et al.   

 

Jesus the Son of God, claimed that He was truly God (cf. John 5:17-18; 8:24, 58; 10:30; 13:19; 18:5-6, 8) and possesses the very attributes of God:

 

  • He is the monogenēs theos, “unique/one and only God” that was sent from the Father and came down rom heaven (John 1:18; 3:16; 6:38)
  • He is truly God and truly man, God the Son (John 1:1; 5:17-18; 8:24, 58; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Jude 1:4; Heb. 1:3, 8-13; 1 John 5:20)  
  • He is the Son, a distinct person from the Father and not the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; John 1:1; 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:13). 
  • He is the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10)
  • He was worshiped as God (Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14)
  • He preexisted with and shared glory with the Father before time (Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 13:3; 6:38; 17:5)
  • He is immutable (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8)
  • He has the power to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6)
  • He is greater than the temple (Matt. 12:6)
  • He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8)
  • He is the King of a kingdom and the angels are His and they will gather His elect (Matt. 13:41; Mark 13:27)
  • He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:13-17)
  • He died and was raised from the dead (Matt. 17:9, 22-23; 19;26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33; John 2:19ff.)
  • He is omnipresent (Matt. 28:20; John 14:23)
  • He is omniscient (John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30; 21:17)
  • His is omnipotent (Matt. 8:27; 9:6; 28:18; Heb. 7:25)
  • He gave His life as a ransom for many (Isa. 53:11; Mark. 10:45)
  • He gives eternal life (Luke 10:21-22; John 10:27-28)

 

Virtually every NT book teaches the full deity of the Son, Jesus Christ, explicitly or implicitly. Jesus Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity. The Son is truly God and truly man coexisting with the Father; sent by the Father to redeem the elect of God by His sacrificial death on the cross (cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:9-11; 8:32), which He is the only mediator between the Father and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5).

Thus, the Christ of biblical revelation is the divine Son, a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is the Christ that saves; this is the Christ that Paul and the other NT authors preached—thus, this is the Christ we must proclaim! – – Blessed Trinity. 

 

 

 

NASB: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born I am’” (as in most trans.)  

Greek: εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί (eipen autois Iēsous: amēn amēn legō humin, prin Abraam genesthai egō eimi).

 

The unambiguous claims of Christ to be equal with God, God Himself, God in the flesh, and yet distinct from the Father are abounding both in the OT (as the angel of the Lord) and in the NT are abounding (e.g., Exod. 3:6, 14; Matt. 12:6; Mark 6:50; John 8:24 et al., 5:17-18; 10:26-30; 17:5; Rev. 1:8, 17; 2:8; 22:13 et al.)    

In John 8:24, Jesus declared, “For if you should not believe that I am [egō eimi] you will perish in your sins” (lit. trans.)[1] Although most translations add either a predicated clause or the pronoun “he” after “I am”[2], the fact is there is no pronoun (i.e., no supplied predicate) contained after egō eimi (“I am”) in any Greek manuscript of John 8:24 or after Jesus’ other affirmations of being the “I am” as in Mark 6:50; John 8:28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. An added predicate is a decision made by the translator.[3].           

Hence, these particular occurrences in John of Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” are not the same as statements in which contain a clear and stated predicate, such as, for example, “I am the door, the shepherd, the bread,” etc. Whereas the several “I am” statements exampled in John 8, 13:19, and 18:5, 6, 8 (and Mark 6:50) have no stated predicate in the Greek, but rather the “I am” stands alone–which would be an absolute claim to deity. Thus, the burden of proof would rest on the one attempting to  show otherwise.

As shown below, John 8:58 contextually and syntactically (esp. in light of the verb contrast) asserts an absolute unequivocal claim of deity made by Christ, which was clearly understood by the Jews in the next verse. However, whether or not the “I am” statements in the other passages are contextually unpredicated, that is, “I am the eternal God” claims, the deity of the Son is well established in the entire content of John’s literature (John 1:18; 5:17-18; 10:30; 20:28; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:7-8, 17; 22:13 et al.).        

To understand the full theological significance of the phrase egō eimi, the OT background must first be considered. The Hebrew phrase, ani hu (“I [am] He”), which was translated egō eimi in the Septuagint (LXX), was an exclusive and recurring title for YHWH alone (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4 et al..[4])—which the Jews clearly understood (cf. John 8:59).[4]

Again, Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was not only seen in John 8:58 (as many assume), but note the marked progression starting in 8:24, then, vv. 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. It is when we examine all the “I am” statements do we see the consequence of His claim.

When Jesus declared He was the “I am” at John 18:5, 6, and 8, we read that the “fearless” Romans soldiers “fell to the ground.” What would cause Roman soldiers to fall to the ground? So powerful were Jesus’ divine pronouncements that it caused His enemies to shudder to the ground. Even when Jesus was being arrested at perhaps one of the lowest points of His life on earth, He still retained total sovereignty over His enemies.

Jesus’ divine statements of being the “I am” were unambiguous claims of being the eternal God, that is the YHWH who spoke to Moses and the YHWH who rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from YHWH out of heaven.” 

Also See The NWT and John 8:58 


NOTES

[1] Ean gar mē pisteusēte hoti egō eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humōn.

[2] For example, the pre-2011 NIV has a bracketed clause after “I am” that reads: “the one I claim to be.”

[3] Although the non-predicated divine declaration, “I am,” John 8:58 is accepted universally as a divine claim in biblical scholarship, not all scholars hold 8:24 in the same light as reflected in many translations. However, some translations (e.g., ISV [2008]; NAB) do see the phrase at 8:24 as unpredicted: “I am.” The Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010) reads: “I said to you that you shall die in your sins, for unless you shall believe that I AM THE LIVING GOD, you shall die in your sins” (caps theirs). Also see Vincent’s Word Studies, where 8:24, 28, 58 and 13:19 are seen as a “solemn expression” of Jesus’ “absolute divine being.”

[4] Some connect Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58. However, as mentioned, the LXX rendering of Exodus 3:14 is not an exact equivalence: Egō eimi ho ōn (“I am the Being” or “Existing One”). Though there is a solid connection between Jesus’ divine claim in John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14 (both provide same meaning: I am the Eternal one. Also note the articular participle, ὁ ὢν (ho ōn, “the one who is/being always”) in the LXX of Exodus 3:14. When contextually warranted, as in 3:14, the phrase indicates timeless existence – “who is always existing.” The phrase is applied to the Father in Revelation 1:4 and 4:8 and applied to the Son and John 1:18 denoting the Son’s eternal existence: “No one has seen God at any time; the only the unique God who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the One who is/being always”] in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Also applied to the incarnate Son in Romans 9:5 with the same sematic: “Whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the One who is/being always”] over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” The phrase also appears in Revelation 1:8. Although referential identity is not clear (Father or Son), verse 7 clearly refers to the Son, which seems to correlate naturally with verse 8.            

As pointed our above, the full theological impact of Jesus’ divine declarative should be linked to the Hebrew phrase ani hu (“I [am] He”), which was rendered by the LXX as egō eimi. Again, the unpredicted egō eimi was a divine title used exclusively by YHWH (e.g., Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4). Unlike Elohim (“God”), the title egō eimi was never applied to men or angels, but to YHWH alone: “See now that I am [egō eimi], and there is no god except Me” (Deut. 32:29, LXX).

 

According to the NT (esp. in Paul) and OT, the gospel is simply the incarnational and atoning work of the Son. The work of man in his faith-act, repentance, obedience, etc. is the “result” and not the substance of the gospel. In other words, the gospel has nothing to do with man, rather, all to do with the Son.

The gospel is not limited to one doctrine, such as election (as many overly zealous, yet unripe, Christians assume), rather, the gospel is the work of the Son consisting of both His Humiliation (incarnational work, life, suffering, death, being buried) and His Exaltation (resurrection, ascension, seated at the right hand of God, second coming).

Paul clearly summarizes his gospel of the Son definition in esp. in such places as Rom. 1:1, 3; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; and 2 Tim. 2:8 (see below). However, in many other places, the apostle provides a positive detailed delineation of the gospel—namely, the Son’s incarnational and cross work, even without using the term “gospel” (cf., Rom. 5:1, 10; 8:32; 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 5:25; Phil. 2:6-11; Titus 3:5-7 et al.).  

 

The Gospel is the work of God the Son 

 

Rom. 1:1, 3: “the gospel of God. . . . regarding His Son”

1 Cor. 15:1-4 (A.D. 54):

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel [euaggelion] which I preached [euēggelisamēn- aorist ind. of euaggelizō], which also you received in which also you stand, 2 By which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached [euēggelisamēn– aorist ind.] to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as first importance [prōtos] what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

2 Tim. 2:8: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.” 

 

So Rom. 10:15: “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written [Isa. 52:7], ‘How beautiful [hwraios, ‘timely’] [are] the feet of those gospelizing [euaggelizomenwn] good things.”

 

 

A vital part of the believers’ progressive (practical) sanctification is to do the commandants given by Christ in Luke 9:23—denying one’s self, taking up the cross, and following Christ.        

Luke 9:23-25: “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose It, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Context. Note the context in the previous passages (Luke 9:18-22), which is the identification of Christ (see the parallel account in Matt. 16:13-18):

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?’ 19 They answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day.”

Jesus’ first questions to the “disciples” was regarding who “who do the people say that I am?” (they gave inadequate answers). Then, Jesus asked them specifically: “Who do you say that I am?” It was the most faulty, fearful yet devoted, disciple of them all, who correctly answered and confessed: “The Christ of God.” However, Peter’s full confession is recorded in the parallel account in Matt. 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Although Peter (like many of us) totally misunderstood Jesus’ mission (esp. Matt. 16:21-23), and made countless mistakes in both word and action, he rightfully saw Jesus as Lord, the Son of God (God in the flesh), the Messiah of Israel. As with all Christians, throughout Peter’s life, he had victories and failures (even after the resurrection; cf. Gal. 2:11), but he grew spiritually and doctrinally until the point of his death. Recalling, Jesus had prophesied of Peter’s death in John 21:14-19, “signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, follow Me!” (v. 19)—and he did just that – the rest of his life unto his death.

From the start of Peter’s journey as an apostle of Christ, to his death, in spite of his many mistakes in his Christian life, Jesus was his Lord and Savior. Although, his ongoing sanctification and understanding of the work and mission of Christ was developmental and progressive and at times faltered, his faith in the Christ as “the Son of the living God” was unwavering.

What I find interesting is that immediately after Peter’s high Christological Confession (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:18), Jesus foretold that He must “be killed” (Luke 9:22) Peter “criticized” the Lord Jesus for saying He must die: “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Jesus, then, responds in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:23 adds, “Get behind me Satan”).

Jesus indicates to His disciples (who heard Jesus’ rebuke) that true discipleship can not be realized unless one is willing to forsake it all. This would mean fully trusting Him in all things. Job demonstrated this kind of trust when he said, “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15).

Peter eventually grew in knowledge and understanding of the Savior and His mission. This is apparent in John 6 regarding Jesus’ seemingly difficult statements of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:54). In response to this, “many of His disciples left” (v. 66), which prompted Jesus to ask (v. 67) “the twelve, ‘You do not want to leave also, do you?’ 68 Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 And we have already believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”

 

Denying oneself involves humility before the Lord.

Peter makes this point in 1 Pet. 5:6-7: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you” (NASB). In verse 6, the verb tapeinoō (“be humble”) is in the aorist imperative—, which indicates an urgent command, as in Be humble right now!—“under the mighty hand of God.” Keep in mind, the OT writers frequently used God’s hand as a symbol of discipline (Exod. 3:19; 6:1; Job 30:21; Ps. 32:4) and deliverance (Deut. 9:26; 32:32; Ezek. 20:34).

But how are we to be humble ourselves under the mighty hand God. The means of doing this is found in verse 7: “By casting all your cares [‘anxiety, worry’] on Him” (NET). The verb epiripsantes is the aorist participle of epiriptō (“to throw, cast upon”). So the verb would literally be translated as, “casting” (ESV, Holmen) or “having cast” (NASB 2020), or better “By casting” (NET). Unfortunately, translations such as the NIV (even the 2011 updated) make the participle independent of verse 6 by translating the participle as “Cast,” the beginning of a new sentence: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

In other words, the very means of obeying the urgent commandment in verse 6 (“be humble under the mighty hand of God”) is found in the action of the participle: “By casting all your anxiety [or ‘worry’[1]] on Him—because He cares.”

Luke 9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Although following Christ is a commandant (present imperative), the two preceding verbs arnēsasthō (“let him deny”) and aratō (“let him take up”) are in the aorist imperative—thus, as seen above, a commandment that stresses urgency— “Do it now!” commandment! Commenting on the parallel passage in Matt. 16:24, Calvin says of the phrase, “And let him take up his cross”:

As God trains his people in a peculiar manner, in order that they may be conformed to the image his Son, we need not wonder that this rule is strictly addressed to them. . . . (Calvin, Commentary of Matthew).

9:24 “For whoever wishes to save his life [psuchēn, “soul”] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Nothing is more important in this life than to live for and serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen? As seen, Peter came to understand this clearly: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We as Christians have nowhere else to go except to the Lord Jesus—who has given us the words of eternal Life: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (see also 1 John 5:20). In our stressful, unpredictable lives all we can do is ask: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

9:25 “For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but loses or forfeits himself?” For us, nothing, but Christ matters. Without the Son, the soul will perish: “The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12; cf. John 3:36).

9:26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Contextually, this statement was in the present state of the looming event of His death. However, there seems to be wider application (whether the latter phrase is referring to the final Eschaton [Second Coming] or, as many see it, the Transfiguration in vv. 28-36). The term translated, “ashamed” is from epaischunomai. Note the prefix of the verb, epi (“on, upon”) with aischunō (“to dishonor, disgrace”).

This verb shows the personal aspect of the disgrace or dishonor. Paul is “not ashamed [same term] of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). Christian teachers even more, should not be ashamed of the Son of God and His work; or that He alone is the only means of salvation. True believers who love the Lord should never be ashamed of proclaiming the Trinity and justification through faith alone.


Notes

[1] The term anxious/worry is from the Greek word merimna, which carries the meaning of being “drawn in opposite directions; pulled apart from both sides.”

 

 

Taken from the the larger article, Biblical Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation), by Dr. Edward Dalcour.     


Election.
How one sees election and God’s sovereignty will effect every dimension and method of how one evangelizes. The term “election” is from the Greek noun eklogē (ἐκλέγω, from ek, “out” and legw, to speak or reason). Linguistically, it denotes a “marking out,” or “choice” or “the act of picking out, choosing” (Thayer). The noun is used in the NT 7 times.[1]

 

Romans 11:5, for example, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice (eklogē chritos, lit., “election of grace”).   

 

The verb being, eklegomai-eklegw (“I chose, mark out”) appears twenty two times in the NT, and always middle voice (gram. subject does the action to or for himself). Note the verb’s usage in Ephesians 1:4-5, for example:

 

4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (John 15:16, 19; etc.).

Theologically, it refers “to the electing” of those whom The Father gave to the Son, whom He called and choose for salvation before the foundation of the world (John 6:37-39, 44; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13). According to Romans 9:22-23 – Election is God’s way of “making known” to us (vessels of mercy) – “the riches of His glory.”

 

 Two Views: Conditional Election and Unconditional Election

 Conditional Election – asserts that God elects those for salvation based not His free and sovereign choice; rather, it is based on the foreseen future actions of men (faith-act), which is the “condition” of God electing him. In this sense, salvation is solely based on God’s foreknowledge of what He sees in man, that is, what men will do with His Son.

In this view, Jesus’ death on the cross produced a “universal” hypothetical atonement—i.e., it asserts that Jesus died and paid the penalty of sin and took the wrath of all men. Further, in this, view, God really desires all men to be saved, but the mighty force of man’s will stops God from doing what He desires—viz. from actually saving “all men.” Those who hold to this view include Roman Catholics, and most modern evangelicals—most of the professing Christian church. Salvation then in this view, is purely SYNERGISTIC (lit., “together works)—namely, God and man working together; man cooperating with God.      

 

Unconditional Election asserts that God’s election of men unto salvation was based not on the foreseen actions of men (as a condition), but rather, based on God’s immutable sovereignty and freedom (unconditional) over the clay. In this view, Jesus’ atonement was not hypothetical, but definite; He died specifically for all the ones the Father gave Him (John 6:37-39, 44; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30; 9:5-23; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13).

\

Salvation in this view is purely MONERGISTIC (“alone working”)—namely, God working alone in salvation—man’s eternal destiny then is in the hands of the sovereignty, grace, mercy, and justice of God, and not in the hands of sinners. Those who hold to this view include the entire Reformed tradition (including the Puritans), early Baptist tradition, and present-day Reformed and Sovereign Grace churches, and most standard Systematic Theologies.           

[1] Acts 9:15; Romans 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; and 2 Peter 1:10.

             

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’”

 

 

 

Before we look at John 14:9, note the obvious fact: Nowhere in the NT, did Jesus Christ ever state that He was the same person as the Father, nor did anyone in the NT ever call him Father, rather He is “the Son of the Father”– a distinct person (Dan. 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:1b, 18; 5:17-18; 6:38; 10:17, 30; 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 1:3; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 6, 8-12; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13 et al.).

The Oneness people routinely quote this passage, usually in the same breath with John 10:30, as though it was part of the passage. Only by removing this passage from the document and immediate context can Oneness advocates posit a modalistic understanding. At the outset, as with John 10:30, Jesus never states in this passage, “I am the Father,” only that “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Oneness advocates confuse Jesus’ representation of the Father (John 1:18; 14:6; Heb. 1:3) with their unitarian assumption that that Jesus is the Father.

There are five exegetical features, which provide a cogent refutation to the Oneness handling of this passage.

  1. Context: In verse 6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” In verse 7, He explains to His disciples that if they “had known” Him they would “have known” the Father also. Jesus then says to His disciples, “From now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Thus, by knowing Him they “have known” and “have seen” the Father (note the parallel: “have known” – “have seen”).

    Still not understanding (i.e., by knowing Jesus they know and see the Father), Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (v. 8). Jesus then reiterates (as a corrective) that by seeing Him they can see, that is, they can “know” or recognize the invisible Father (v. 9). The context is obvious: by knowing and seeing Jesus (as the only way to the Father; cf. v. 6), they could really see (i.e., know/recognize, cf. John 9:39) the invisible Father (cf. John 1:18; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 6:16). The OT and NT present that the Son is and has been eternally subsisting as the perfect and “exact representation” (charaktēr) of the very nature (hupostaseōs) of Him (autou, “of Him,” not “as Him”; Heb. 1:3).

    Therefore, when they see Jesus, they “see” the only way to, and an exact representation of, the invisible unseen Father, for Jesus makes Him known, He explains or exegetes Him (John 1:18). Thus, “He [Jesus] has made known or brought news of [the invisible God]” (BDAG, 349). One cannot have the Father except through the Son, Jesus Christ: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23; see also John 17:3). Note also that in 14:10, Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father when He declares: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” To repeat, not one time in the NT does Jesus (or any other person) state that He Himself is the Father.

 

  1. The Father is spirit: When Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” the only thing His disciples literally saw was Jesus’ physical body. Both Oneness believers and Trinitarians agree that the Father is invisible and does not have a physical body. Hence, Jesus could not have meant that by “seeing” Him they were literally seeing the Father.

 

  1. First and third person personal pronouns and verb references: Throughout John 14 and 16, Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father. He does so by using first person personal pronouns (“I,” “Me,” “Mine”) and verb references to refer to Himself and third person personal pronouns (“He,” “Him,” “His”) and verb references to refer to His Father.

    Notice John 14:16:I will ask [kagō erōtēsō, first person] the Father, and He will give [dōsei, third person] you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (also cf. 14:7, 10, 16; etc.). In the same way, Jesus also differentiates Himself from God the Holy Spirit.

 

  1. Different prepositions: Throughout John chapters 14-16, Jesus distinguishes Himself from His Father by using different prepositions. Beisner[1] points out that the use of different prepositions “shows a relationship between them [i.e., the Father and Son]” and clearly denotes essential distinction. Jesus says in John 14:6 and verse 12: “No one comes to [pros] the Father but through [dia] Me . . . he who believes in [eis] Me . . . I am going to [pros] the Father” (cf. also John 15:26; 16:28).

    Further, Paul frequently uses different prepositions to differentiate the Father from Jesus. In Ephesians 2:18, Paul teaches that by the agency of the Son, Christians have access to the Father by means of the Spirit: “For through Him [di’ autou, i.e., the Son] we both have our access in [en] one Spirit to the Father [pros ton patera].” Only by circumventing these significant details can one establish Modalism from John 14:9.

 

  1. The first person plurals in John 14:23: “We will come,” “We will make.” In verse 23 of the same chapter, Jesus declares, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and [lit.] ‘to him We will come’ [pros auton eleusometha] and ‘at home/abode with him, We will make’ [monēn par’ autō poiēsometha].” Against the Oneness notion, Jesus specifically used two first person plural indicative verbs (eleusometha, “We will come” and poiēsometha, “We will make”). Oneness advocates typically cherry-pick passages (esp. with v. 9) and then pretext into them a modalistic unitarian understanding.

 

Conclusion

Again, in the NT, Jesus is identified as the Son, never as the Father; no one ever addressed Him as the Father or the Holy Spirit. Nor did Jesus ever refer to Himself as the Father or the Holy Spirit. If fact, Jesus primarily referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” (80 times). Son of Man was His most used title of Himself. (cf. Dan. 7:13).

As the context clearly shows, Jesus in John 14:9 Jesus expresses to His disciples that as the only way to (v. 6) and thus, representation of the Father, they could “see,” that is, know the Father. Jesus is presented as God-man, the very image and perfect representation of His Father (cf. John 1:18; Heb. 1:3). In His preexistence (cf. John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17), He had loving intercourse and glory with the Father (cf. John 1:1; 17:5). The Son is clearly presented as the divine Priest (cf. Heb. 7:1ff.) who revealed His Father to mankind (cf. John 1:18). The Son is the one and only Mediator between the Father and humans (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5).

The Oneness pretexting of John 14:9 is based on a unipersonal assumption of God, which nullifies Jesus’ own authentication: “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another [allos: other than the one speaking] who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true” (John 5:31-32; cf. 8:17-18).

Who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).

 

Notes 

[1] Calvin Beisner, Jesus Only Churches, 34.     

David says in Psalm 49:7-8 that “No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him. For the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever.” Hence, “No man” could provide an actual redemption for man. However, Jesus is God in the flesh and as fully God, His atoning work had infinite value; and as fully man, Jesus was the perfect representation of man; thus, He was the perfect sacrifice. Paul states that Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse huper hēmōn [‘for, on our behalf of’]” (Gal. 3:13; cf. also Rom. 8:32).

 

Essential Gospel Element

So important was the incarnation of God the Son that the Apostle Paul tells Timothy to, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant [spermatos] of David, according to my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8). The Christ that Paul taught was the incarnate God, the two natured person, “the Lord of glory” (2 Cor. 2:8). Thus, a gospel presentation that omits the deity and perpetual incarnation of Christ would be an incomplete presentation.

The covenant of redemption among the persons of the triune God established that the Son would step into His own creation through His self-emptying—namely, His “being made in the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:7-8). The incarnation of our Lord was perpetual—namely, He is forever God in the flesh (Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Tim. 2:5). So essential was the perpetual incarnation that the Apostle John sees it as a defining mark of true Christianity and a denial of it as a distinguishing characteristic of ho planos kai ho antichristos (“the deceiver and the antichrist,” 2 John 1:7; see also 1 John 4:2-3).

 

Accomplishments of God Incarnate:

1. As God-Man, Christ provided a real propitiation.[1] The atoning work of the divine Son accomplished all that was necessity to secure our justification (Rom. 5:6-10; Gal. 2:16, 20; Heb. 10:11-14). His work was definite, eternal, and infallible, “Not dependent on the one willing, or the man running but on the eleōntos theou (‘the mercying God,’” Rom. 9:16). His reconciliatory work was accomplished vicariously on behalf of God’s predestined elect. God the Son satisfied both the penalty required for sin and the requirements of the law perfectly:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [‘from the wrath of God,’ v. 9] by His life” (Rom. 5:10).

The Son was God incarnate, the perfect sacrificial offering, who performed a definite atonement in His physical body:

having made peace through the blood of His cross. . . . 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col. 1:21, 22).

The Gospel of John unequivocally highlights the Son’s deity and personal distinction from the Father and Holy Spirit. However, it also features in the same robust way, the Son’s definite atonement (esp. John 1:29; 3:14-18; 6:37-39, 44; 8:43, 48; 10:15). John also enunciates the same in his Epistles. For example, 1 John 2:2: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” John begins in verse 1, with the affirmation that Jesus Christ “the Righteous” is our Advocate when we sin. It is in light of this affirmation that John then assures his readers that the Righteous Christ “is the propitiation for our sins.”

The term “propitiation” (“atoning sacrifice,” NET, NIV) is from the Greek noun, hilasmos, from the verb hilaskomai, which has the linguistic idea “an appeasing, propitiating” (Thayer); “appeasement necessitated by sin, expiation” (BDAG); “a means by which sins are forgiven, sin-offering” (Newman); “atoning sacrifice, sin offering” (Mounce). The noun is only used here and 1 John 4:10 (verb used only at Luke 18:13 and Heb. 2:17).[2]

The real death of Christ appeased God. The first clause reads, Kai autos hilasmos estin (lit., “And He Himself propitiation is”). Note that the verb “IS” (estin) is in the present tense (“He is”), not a future tense (denoting possibility—as “He will be.” The present action of the verb along with its indicative mood (i.e., a mood of certainty) specifies the definiteness of the propitiatory (atoning) action. This is in contrast to the Arminian notion of a universal, hypothetical atonement, which did not redeem anyone specific.

The Son’s cross work was accomplished in His incarnate state. The NT affirms very plainly that the atoning sacrificial work was accomplished in His physical body (Rom. 7:4-6; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 10:10; 1 Pet. 2:24), in His life (Rom. 5:10), through His blood (Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:2, 18-19; 1 John 1:7), on the cross (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20; 2:14-15), and in His death (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 2:9-10, 14; 9:15).

 

2. As God-Man, Christ is both a priest and a sacrificial lamb simultaneously (esp. Heb. chaps. 8-10). There are only two recognized priesthoods in the Bible, the Aaronic (Levitical) and Melchizedek. Regarding the Aaronic priesthood, in Leviticus we find specific requirements and functions of this exclusive priesthood, which include: 1) Being a literal descendent of Aaron and from the tribe of Levi, 2) Providing sacrifices to God for all the people (Heb. 5:1) and for themselves (Heb. 9:7), 3) Cleansed by way of a special ritual (5:3); 4) Chosen by God for their office (Heb. 5:4).

According to Hebrews, Jesus was considered an eternal priest, in the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:13-17).

Contrasting human priests with the Son, who is the eternal Priest, the author of Hebrews explains that since the human Aaronic priests died, it was a temporary priesthood (Heb. 7:23). Further, the Aaronic priesthood did not nor could it bring perfection (Heb. 7:11). Like Melchizedek, Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi nor was He a physical descendent of Aaron. According to Jewish Law then, Christ (and Melchizedek) would not be qualified for the priesthood (Heb. 7:14).

However, Jesus was distinct and superior from that of Aaron and his successors: “So much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22). As God-Man, Jesus’ priesthood, unlike the Aaronic priests and Melchizedek, is eternal:

but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25; cf. Ps. 110:4).

Note, Jesus’ unique priesthood, which only Jesus and Melchizedek possessed, was nontransferable: “He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.” The term translated “permanently” (“not transient,” Young’s; “unchangeable,” KJV) is from aparabatos, which carries the lexical semantic of “without a successor, unchangeable, nontransferable,” etc.

Only as incarnate God is Jesus able to abide forever as an intercessory Priest in the order of Melchizedek. As fully God, His priesthood is permanent, eternal, and “without successors”—through which He can save us completely and eternally—“to the utmost.” As fully man, He is the High Priest who offers Himself as the atoning sacrifice and the only intermediary between the Father and man: “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). And as man, Jesus identified with man in His weakness and sufferings:

He [Christ] had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18).

Only as the incarnate God is Christ priesthood eternal, “a mediator of a new covenant” providing the elect with His “promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). God the Father “offering the body of Jesus Christ once for all”— who is both High Priest and the propitiation.

 

3. Christ is our intermediary between God and man. In 1 Tim. 2:5, Jesus is said to be the mesitēs (“mediator, intermediary”), between God and man: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” An intermediary represents two parties. Jesus is the two natured person, fully God and fully man functioning as both eternal Priest and Mediator (and propitiation). Christ the Son is not merely a representation of God and man, rather His state as eternal Priest and Mediator (or Intermediary) between God and man consists of the Son as God-Man ontologically.

Chalcedonian Creed: “That is, that “the eternal Son of God took into union with himself in the one divine Person that which he had not possessed before–even a full complex of human attributes–and became fully and truly man for us men and for our salvation.”

 The Apostle Paul informs us in his glorious Carmen Christi (Phil. 2:6-11) that God the Son emptied Himself by taking the nature of a servant having been made in the likeness of men and having been found in the appearance as a man (Phil. 2:6-8).

The eternal Word became flesh in order to propitiate the Father, thus redeeming (through His perfect life and sacrificial death) all those that the Father gave Him (John 6:37). The incarnation of God the Son is an essential doctrine, since it is a vital part of the gospel (2 Tim. 2:8), it should be included in our evangelism. The propitiation, priesthood, and mediatorial role is accomplished by Christ, as the two natured person—the God-Man.

 

Rejoice, because of God-Incarnate you now have eternal life!

Hallelujah! Amen.


Notes

[1] Or “atoning sacrifice.”

[2] The verb is frequently used in the LXX (i.e., the Septuagint, Lev. 25:9; Ps. 65:4; 78:38 et. al.).