Patristics (early church Fathers) are not a valid hermeneutic to interpret the content of the NT. However, we do know that contained in the vast quantity of pre-Nicaea literature, the early fathers did hold consistently and decisively (within the limitations of their cultural vernacular and doctrinal expressions), the Christological essentials of the apostolic teaching particularly regarding monotheism and Jesus Christ as God incarnate within a trinitarian concept. We also we find significant theological descriptions as to Son’s atoning cross work.  

For example, note a few of many remarkable theological terms and phrases that the apostolic Father, Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 107) applies to Christ in his “genuine” letters:


Ἀγέννητος
(agennētos, “There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn [ἀγέννητος], God in man, true life,” Ephesians 7:2). Ἀγέννητος was technical term meaning unbegotten, unborn, unoriginated (Kelly, BDAG, Liddell et al.) distinguishing God (here, the incarnate God) from creatures.    


Ὁ γὰρ
θεὸς ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (Ho gar theos hēmōn Iēsous Christos, “For our God, Jesus Christ,” Romans 3.3). Ignatius frequently referred to Christ as θεὸς (theos, “the/our God”) or similar phrases, and does so in distinction to the Father (e.g., Rom. prologue; Eph. 18; Polycarp 8.3 et al.). Further, contra the erroneous claims of Oneness advocates, there is no place in the Greek of Ignatius’s genuine letters where grammatically he says Jesus is the Father; rather Ignatius always differentiates Jesus from the Father—as two distinct divine persons.


Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς πρὸ αἰώνων παρὰ πατρὶ ἦν
(Iēsou Christou, hos pro aiōnōn para patri ēn, “Jesus Christ, who before the ages was with the Father,” Magnesians 6.1). In affirming the preexistence of the person of the Son, in distinction to the Father, note the syntactical similarity of Magnesians 6:1 and John 17:5.

First both John and Ignatius use the prepositional phrase, παρὰ (para, “with, alongside of”) + the dative case indicating a clear distinction of persons (John 17:5- παρὰ σεαυτῷ, παρὰ σοί, “together with Yourself,” “with You”; Magnesians 6:1- παρὰ πατρὶ, “with [the] Father”).

Second, both passages use the preposition πρὸ (“before”) indicting the actual preexistence of the person of the Son (John 17:5- πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἴναι, “before the world was”; Magnesians 6:1- πρὸ αἰώνων, “before [the] ages”).         


ἐν αἵματι θεοῦ
(en haimati theou, “by the blood of God”; “being imitators of God, and having your hearts kindled in the blood of God, you have perfectly fulfilled your congenial work,” Ephesians 1.1). This most interesting phrase resembles Paul’s statement in Acts 20:28: “the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”  

Although the phrase in Acts 20:28 (διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, lit., “with the blood of His own”) could be translated as “with the blood of His own Son” (possessive genitive, NET, CEV), Ignatius’s meaning is unambiguous (pre-Nestorian). In his Intro to the same letter (Ephesians), he refers to Jesus Christ as τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν (“our God”). Thus, for Ignatius, the “by the blood of God” would be the blood of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.            

Many more statements of Ignatius could be cited. Although Ignatius, along with other important apostolic Fathers (and subsequent ones), lacked modern articulation of doctrinal words and phrases, Ignatius did indeed clearly hold to an essential Christology, where salvation is through the blood of incarnate God the Son, preexisting before the ages, παρὰ πατρὶ (“with the Father”).        

 

The greatest tragedy in the church, as seen in a majority of Christian conferences and revivals is the systemic abuse and absence of accurate doctrinal content. However, we are extremely thankful to God, for the minority of pastors who are bound and devoted to the Lord being biblically competent truly understanding their biblical responsibility to boldly teach Christian doctrine to their flock and refute those who oppose it.

 

To demonstrate this point: Think back in the last 10 years at church (or at any conference/revival) have you heard a specific teaching on the Trinity, the deity of Christ, or justification by faith alone?” I have asked this question at churches around the world and rarely do I ever see a single raised hand in affirmation.

 

Along with basic Christian apologetics, ethics, and stressing the importance biblical accuracy (esp. to those who preach and teach), these essentials were a priority with NT church discipline. See, John 1:1, 18; 20:28; 8:58; Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1; 9:5; Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:14, 16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13-14; Heb. 1:3, 8-12; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Jude 1:4; Rev. 5:13-14; 22:13 etc. In sharp contrast, much of the content in today’s’ Sunday morning sermons and evangelism has become a hodgepodge of biblically disconnected anecdotal stories and textual abuse (esp. misinterpreting and misapplying passages).

Interestingly, we find the opposite with non-Christian cults. When one becomes, for example, a Oneness Pentecostal, Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, within a month or so, he (or she) becomes boldly equipped to communicate their distinctive theology and committing to memory particular biblical passages to “prove” their position.

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18)

Christians should faithfully acknowledge Scripture as Theopneustos (“God breathed out,” 2 Tim. 3:16). Thus, the commandment to “grow”[1] in the knowledge of God and to always be “ready to give a defense” and reason for the faith is vital (1 Pet. 3:15; cf. also 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Only through a continuous proper study of the Bible does one “grow” theologically, which ensures not only effectiveness in proclaiming an accurate gospel, but also the ability to biblically to discern between true and false teachings.

 

All Christians (esp. pastors) are called to be theologians (i.e., constantly studying God [biblical doctrine], 2 Pet. 3:18), apologists (i.e., defenders of the faith, 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 1:3), and evangelists (proclaimers of the gospel, Matt. 28:19; Rom. 10:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 4:2[2]).

 

Loving God with all Our Mind!

We are commanded to love God “with all” our mind (Mark 12:29-30). A lack of proper biblical study always results in a dislodged and erroneous doctrine. What is more, when church leaders fail in their biblical responsibility to teach doctrine, completely and accurately, the consequence is this: churches filled with biblically incompetent members, neither able to coherently defend nor affirm from a basic level the essentials of the Christian faith. Thus, they become targets and picture-perfect candidates and devotees of non-Christian false religious and false teachings.

 

The Biblical Pastor

The Apostle Paul does not encourage Christian pastors to assign themselves as mere “motivational” speakers cloaking Sunday morning sermons with entertaining stories and erroneous mottled interpretations of the Bible; so when this occurs in the Christian pulpit, it should utterly pierce our spirit (cf. Acts 17:16).

 

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

 

So necessary are the more than two dozen qualifications of a NT pastor that three major sections in the NT are devoted it—1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9; and 1 Peter 5:1-3. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul stresses specifically to pastors (and indirectly to us) the importance of doctrinal precision:

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God [how?] as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

 The phrase, “accurately handling” comes from the Greek verb, orthotomeō, which literally means, “to cut straight” (from temnō, “to cut” and orthos, “direct, straight”; cf. Prov. 3:6, LXX). The term carries the idea of precision. Consequently, pastors (and teachers) have a God mandated responsibility to teach and explain Scripture with precise accuracy.

 

Perils of Inaccurate Teachings

 Note Paul’s instructions to pastors in 2 Timothy 4:2-4: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

The five verbs in verse 2 (“preach,” “be ready,” “reprove,” “rebuke,” and “exhort”) are in the aorist imperative—grammatically denoting the strongest way to express an urgent commandment, a “do it now” verb! These critical actions both protect and encourage the church. In the next two verses, Paul warns what will happen when these urgent commandments are not implemented:

 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

 

“Sound doctrine” is derived from the content of the written Word. In Peter 3:16, Peter underscores the importance of biblical study. He refers to Paul’s letters and says they “contain some things that are hard to understand, which the UNTAUGHT [or ‘unstudied,’ from amatheis] and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). Naturally, unstudied people distort Scripture.

 

A Doctrine of Tolerance

When pastors abdicate their biblical responsibility of expository teaching, the church body writhes and relishes in distorted theology—, which effects their view of the nature of God and virtually every dimension of their spiritual, psychological, and physical life. Due to a laxity of proper biblical study and/or a recurring attendance at non-teaching churches, it is not surprising that many professing Christians severely lack theological discernment in which bad theology and, in many cases, immoral worldly behavior is tolerated and accepted. Observably, many clear biblical mandates are rejected by professing Christians merely because they are incompatible with one’s lifestyle or comfortable ideology.

 

For example, why is it that T. D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX, one of most popular “Christian” voices and authors followed, read, endorsed, and praised by literally millions of professing Christians, yet he still embraces a Oneness view of God rejecting the Trinity? Why would any “Christian” pastor endorse him, and/or keep silent while naïve members uncritically follow him? [3]

Acute biblical ignorance of fundamental doctrine is not a satisfactory excuse before God—He is a God of precision.

 

In point of fact, confronting and refuting biblical error is a divine command to all Christian pastors (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-4:1-4; Titus 1:9, 13). Jesus Himself openly commends the pastors of Ephesus for it (Rev. 2:2-3). Today, too many pastors and leaders are more accepting of those who are talented in their speaker abilities than those who communicate doctrinal truth and precision. Pastors have an enormous responsibility before God to diligently lead, equip, and guard the people of God from destructive bad theology and heresies that shame the Lord. In the first century, as Paul says: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrine taught by demons….” (1 Tim. 4:1).

 

We too, as Christians, have an obligation and responsibility: Since we follow a God that calls Himself “Truth,” we must therefore provide to all men an accurate and substantive presentation of the gospel and boldly contend earnestly for that faith, “which was once for all handed down to the saints.” It is a terrible thing to hear an unread Christian offer a mushy incomplete gospel to the unsaved—and when a pastor does this to his church, it is absolutely disgraceful.

 

Evangelizing the Saved & Unsaved

Romans 10:15: “just as it is written [Isa. 52:7], ‘How beautiful [or timely] are the feet of those gospelizing good things.” The same participle (euaggelizomenoi, “gospelizing”) appears in Luke 9:6 when Jesus sent out the Twelve: “Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel [lit., ‘gospelizing’] and healing everywhere.” Note, the gospel is simply the atoning work of the Son in His perfect vicarious life, substitutionary cross work, and resurrection.

 

Romans 1:1, 3: “the gospel of God….3 concerning His Son.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance … 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 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

Paul’s definition of the gospel, which evangelists must proclaim, was exclusively focused on the work of the Son, not man—namely, His nature (as incarnate God, viz. God-man) and person, His death (justification), and His physical resurrection. This, according to Romans 1:16, is the power of God for salvation. However, note the previous verse. Paul says to these Roman “Christians” that he is “eager to preach the gospel [from euaggelizō].” It seems clear that Paul was eager to “evangelize” the Christians in order for them to grow in biblical accuracy regarding the gospel and general theology—as should be the task of all pastors.

 

Finally, brothers and sisters we are in a spiritual war both foreign and domestic, and as such – we must satisfactorily train and arm our fellow members before we can hope to engage our foes. Put on the “whole armor” of God!

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NOTES

[1] In 2 Peter 3:18, the term translated “grow” is from the Greek, auxanō. The verb is in the imperative mood (auxanete), thus, a commandment.

[2] Although 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus are directly applied to pastors, there are indirect applications relevant to all believers.

[3] To those assuming that Jakes changed his Oneness position, consider 1) Jakes is still the Vice-Prelate and National Executive Board of Senior Bishops of – Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, which is a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches, and esp. 2) on the Potter’s House Belief Statement, Jakes still defines God as existing in “Three Manifestations,” which is Oneness not trinitarian. See >> http://thepottershouse.org/explore/belief-statement <<.

Aside from the Christological affirmation in v. 6 (“who always subsisting/existing in form/nature of God”), one of my favorite sections of the Hymn is found in vv. 7-8: “But He EMPTIED Himself [reflexive – a self-emptying], TAKING [the means of His self-emptying] the form/nature of a bond-servant BEING MADE in the likeness of men. 8 BEING FOUND in appearance as a man, He HUMBLED Himself [reflexive – a self-humbling] by BECOMING obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”   

Paul in vv. 10-11, concludes his hymn by showing that Jesus is indeed the YHWH and prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 45:23—before whom every knee shall bend and every tongue confess.                   

In Paul’s hymn, he provides an illustration of the ultimate example of humility (viz., God becoming flesh), the entire gospel is presented in this brief hymn (the deity and preexistence of the person of the Son in distinction from the Father, His incarnational emptying and perfect obedience, atoning cross work, and exaltation).

Thus, this is a good diagram of content for Christians (esp. evangelists) in their proclamation of the gospel.  

Definition: Three persons who share the nature of the one God, or, one God revealed in three coequal coeternal coexistent distinct persons (not people).

 
One God – Monotheism (monos, “one, only” + theos, “God”)

 

It is a basic straw-man to imply monotheism opposes the Trinity—the foundation of the Trinity is ontological monotheism, it seems you may not be familiar as to the basics of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Unitarian or unipersonal groups (such as Muslims, Oneness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses et al.) assume that every place “one,” “alone” etc. (in word or concept) are applied to God (e.g., Deut. 6:4; Isa. 44:24; Mark 12:29; 1 Tim. 2:5), the unitarians read into these passages a meaning of “one person” reinterpreting monotheism to mean unipersonalism, although, there is no passage in the OT or NT, which clearly identifies God as “one person.”

Unitarians are deeply confused between “being” and “person.” Simply, “being” (an ontological reference) is What something is, while “person” is Who something is. Scripture presents one eternal God (one Being) revealed in three distinct persons, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, naturally and historically, the Christian church has steadfastly held to and affirmed the glorious Trinity and preexistence of the person of God the Son, Jesus Christ. 

 

 The Trinity is Essential Doctrinal

Essential doctrine is any doctrine that involves the person, nature, and finished work of Christ (gospel). Hence, since Jesus is God in the flesh, second person of the Trinity, the nature of God is the utmost highest essential doctrine (Hosea 6:6; John 4:24; 17:3; 1 John 2:22-23).    

The Trinity is The Foundation of The Gospel, it is the Mutual Operation of the three Persons that infallibly accomplishes the work of salvation—it is therefore the Triune God that Saves   

 

Biblical Data

 

  1. The OT presents a multi-personal God, not a unitarian one.

 

For example:

  1. The angel of the Lord (who was identified as YHWH (or YHWH- e.g., Gen. 22:9-14; Exod. 3:6-14; 23:20-21; Num. 22:21-35; Judg. 2:1-5; 6:11-22; 13:9-25; Zech. 1:12; etc.).
  2.  YHWH and interacted with YHWH (cf. Gen. 19:24).

  3. The places where YHWH/God speaks in first person of YHWH/God in the third person (such as in Gen. 22:11-12; Isaiah 13:17-19; Jer. 50:40; Hosea 1:7; Amos 4:10-11).
  4. The numerous places where Plural terms are used of the one true God. Plural nouns, verbs, adjectives, and plural prepositions are used of God (cf. plural nouns – Gen. 1:26 [“Our image, likeness”]; plural verbs – Gen. 1:26; 2:18 [LXX]; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; 54:5 [Heb., “Makers,” “Husbands”]; Psalm 149:2 and Job 35:10 [Heb., “Makers”]; Ecclesiastes 12:1 [Heb., “Creators”]; plural prepositions – Genesis 3:22 [“one of Us”]; and plural adjectives– Proverbs 30:3 [Heb. and LXX, “Holy Ones”]; Daniel 7:18, 22, 25, 27 [Heb., “Most Highs” or “Highest Ones”]; and many more could be mentioned. These examples can only be consistent with OT monotheism in the context of Trinitarianism—namely, three persons who share the nature of the One God.             

 

  1. The NT presents a triune God.

 

 Biblical Data Three Biblical Truths

  

I. There is only one God.  

II. There are three Persons or Selves that are presented as and called God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  

III. The three divine persons are distinct from each other.

 

CONCLUSION: The three distinct persons share the nature or Being of the one true God – only Regenerate will accept (John 8:43, 47; 1 Cor. 1:18).

Scriptural References

I. There is one eternal God (cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; Jer. 10:10-11)—Not unitarianism, unipersonalism (monotheism means one God, not one person).

II. The three persons (or self-aware subjects) are presented as fully God—namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

The Father – – (God and unipersonal; cf. Rom. 5:10; Gal. 1:3).

The Son, Jesus Christ, is called and presented as theos, Kurios, and YHWH in a religious context in both the OT and NT (unipersonal).

The biblical evidence of the deity of the Son:  

 

 Old Testament—Jesus as God

 Angel of the Lord.

 Daniel 7:9-14—Son of Man.

 Isaiah 9:6: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father [lit., ‘father eternal’], Prince of Peace.”

 

New Testament—Jesus as God-man

  

  • Jesus was referred to as God/Lord, or being equal with God: John 1:1, 18; 20:28 (Ps 35:23, LXX); Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 2;8; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:3, 8; 10-12 (Ps 102:25-27); Jude 1;4, 5

 

  • The Son is presented as Creator: John 1:3 (panta di’ autou egeneto, “all things through Him”); Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:10-12 (Kurie, “Lord”—Ps. 102:25-27 LXX; see also 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2; 2:10).

 

  • Jesus claimed to be God: Matthew 12:6; John 5:17-18 (eluen, “breaking, loosing,” elegen, “kept calling”); John 10:30; Egw Eimi—John 8:24, 28, 58, 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8 (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 48:12); First and the Last—Revelation 1:17, 2:8; 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (cf. Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).      

 

  • Jesus was worshiped in a religious context: Matthew 14:33: “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son.’”; John 9:35-39. Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:13-14: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 

The Holy Spirit is God (unipersonal):

The Holy Spirit also possesses the attributes of God:

  • Eternal, having neither beginning nor end (cf. Heb. 9:14),
  • Omnipresent, being everywhere at the same time (cf. Ps. 139:7).
  • Omniscient, understanding all things (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11).
  • Omnipotent (cf. Luke 1:35).

 

The Holy Spirit is a Person: – The Holy Spirit communicates and personal pronouns (“I,” “He”) are applied to Him. Acts 10:19-20: “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit eipen autō, [“said to him”] – “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for egō (“I”) have sent them Myself” (cf. Acts 13:2; Heb. 3:7-11; 10:15-17).

Personal Pronouns (e.g. John 16:13-14); – Possesses “personal” attributes (e.g., He has a will (cf. 1 Cor. 12:9-11); Emotions (cf. Eph. 4:30); Intelligence in that He Investigates (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Rom. 8:27); He intercedes/prays (cf. Rom. 8:26); He can be lied to (cf. Acts 5:3); He can be blasphemed (cf. Mark 3:29-30); Again as seen above- He issues commands (cf. Acts 10:19-20; 13:4; Acts 16:6]; He gives love (cf. Rom. 15:30: “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me”; He is also our paraklētos (“Advocate; cf. John chaps 14-16). 

 
 III. The Three Persons are Distinct from each other

 To recall: The Three Biblical Truths:  1) There is only one God 2) There are three Persons or Selves that are presented as and called God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and 3) The three divine persons are distinct from each other.

  The three Persons are Distinct from each other: Angel of the Lord; John 1:1b. 17:5; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:3; Revelation 5:13.

Passages such as Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:3; and Revelation 5:13 (and are many others) all distinguish the persons in the Trinity from each other. This is due to their grammatical construction—namely, the repetition of both the article (ho, “the”) and conjunction (kai, “and”).

 

Matthew 28:19: “Baptizing them in the name of the [tou] Father, and [kai] the [tou] Son, and [kai] the [tou] Holy Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ and [kai] the love of the [tou] God and [kai] the fellowship of the [tou] Holy Spirit with all of you.”

1 John 1:3: “Indeed our fellowship is with the [tou] Father and [kai] with the [tou] Son of Him Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 5:13:The [] One sitting upon the throne and [kai] to the [] Lamb, the blessing and the honor and the glory and the dominion into the ages of the ages.”

Lastly, note, we find at several places, NT authors citing Old Testament passages referring to YHWH and yet applies them to the Son (e.g., compare Ps. 102:25-27 with Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 6:1-10 with John 12:39-41; Isa. 8:12-13 with 1 Pet. 3:14-15; Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10-11; Joel 2:32 with Rom. 10:13). 

 

                                                                               In conclusion 

Scripture presents a tri-personal God. There is one God, and there are three distinct, coequal, coeternal, and coexistent, self-cognizant divine persons or Egos that share the nature of the one God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is God’s highest revelation to mankind.

“I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat. . . . I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one, which will not be destroyed (vv. 9, 13-14).

 

Daniel 7:9-14 offers additional evidence to the preexistence of Christ. It additionally indicates that the Messiah would receive true worship in the same sense as the Father. In Daniel’s vision, he describes two distinct objects of divine worship—the Ancient of Days and the “Son of Man” particularly in verses 9, 13-14. These passages are quite problematic for unitarian groups such as Oneness Pentecostals who deny any real distinction of persons between the Christ and the Father. The grammar of the passages denoting this distinction cannot be missed: two objects of praise, religious worship, and real interaction between the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man.

Verse 9: “I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat.” Note that Daniel sees “thrones” that were set up, rather than one single throne. Apparently, both the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man each have thrones as also indicated in the New Testament. This is not an isolated occurrence. In Revelation 3:21 both God the Father and the Lamb have thrones: “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (cf. Heb. 1:8) We also see that God the Father and Lamb share the same throne (cf. Rev. 5:13; 22:1, 3), but yet they are always presented as distinct persons.

 

Verse 13: behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming and He came up to the Ancient of Days.” Daniel sees the Son of Man coming up to the Ancient of Days. First, note how the Son of Man is coming: “with the clouds of heaven.” In the Old Testament, only YHWH is said to be coming in/with the clouds of heaven (cf., Exod. 19:9; Lev. 16:2; Isa. 19:1; Jer. 4:13). In the New Testament, only the Son, Jesus Christ, is said to be coming the clouds of heaven. In Mark 14:62 (cf. Matt. 26:64), when the high priest asked Jesus if He were the Messiah, the Son of God, He answered as affirmed:

“I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (also see Matt 24:30-31; John 3:13; Rev. 1:7). 

 

“Ancient of Days.” Unquestionably, the identity of the Ancient of Days (Aram. Atik Yomin; LXX, palaios hēmerōn) is God Himself. The CEV translates the title of “Ancient of Days” as “the Eternal God” and the TEV translates it as “One who had been living for ever.”

 

“Son of Man.” In the Old Testament, the title “son of man” (Heb., ben adam) is a common phrase used at times to underline the difference between God and human beings; used primarily though as a synonym for “man” or mankind in general (cf. Num. 23:19; Ps. 8:4; Isa. 51:12 ). It is used almost exclusively of Ezekiel. The Prophet Ezekiel is addressed as “son of man” by God at least ninety times in the Old Testament (e.g. Ezek. 2:1). Thus, predominately, the usage is used of the Prophet Ezekiel. However, in the New Testament, “Son of Man” was exclusively applied to Christ. Thus, it is well established that the phrase, “Son of Man,” as applied to Christ, was derived from Daniel 7:13f.

Jesus used this epithet of Himself more than any other title (in the gospels, it was used of Christ about eighty-eight times). Further, in the Gospels or gospels, the title is connected with both His humanity and His deity. In Mark 14:61-62, when the high priest had asked Jesus is He were the Messiah, the Son of the God, Jesus said: “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Note these New Testament references related to the divine nature of the “Son of Man.” That is, things that are attributed to the Son of man that only can be attributed to God:   

  • The Son of Man has authority “to forgive sins” (Matt. 9:6)
  • The Son of Man is “greater than the temple” (Matt. 12:6)
  • The Son of Man is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:8)
  • The Son of Man is the King of a kingdom and the angels and elect are His indicating that He rules over them (cf. Matt. 13:41)
  • The Son of Man is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:13-17; Mark 14:61-62)
  • The Son of Man as to be killed and physically raised (resurrected) from the dead (cf. Matt. 17:9, 26:2; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 2:19-22)
  • The Son of Man gave His “as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)
  • The Son of Man “descended from heaven” (John 3:13)
  • All who believe in The Son of Man will have eternal life (cf. John 3:14-15)
  • The Son of Man accepted religious worship (cf. John 9:35-38)

 

“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom.” In Matthew 28:18-19, the Son of Man declares: “All authority has been given to Me, in heaven and earth.” He had stated this after “they worshiped Him” (v. 17). Thus, it seems that Daniel prophetically envisaged Matthew 28:18, the Son of Man not only receiving all authority, honor, and sovereignty, but, as we will see below, as in Matthew 28:17, Daniel sees the Son of Man being worshiped “by all people, nations, and languages.” The parallel here to Matthew 28:17-19 are striking.  

In Daniel 7:9-14, Daniel presents two objects of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man who “was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom.” First, we read in in verse 9 that Daniel saw “thrones,” not a single throne: “I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat.” Second, in verse 13, Daniel sees the Son of Man coming “with [LXX, epi] the clouds of heaven . . . to the Ancient of Days.”[1]

In especially verse 14, the deity of the person of the Son of Man is most expressed. After the Ancient of Days gives to the Son of Man “dominion, Glory and a kingdom,” then, He decrees that “All the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve [“worship,” Holman, NLT, NIV et al.] Him.” In verse 14, the LXX translates the Aramaic pelach as latreuō (cf. Isa. 56:2; Jer. 50:40; Ps. 8:4; 80:17; 146:3; Job 25:6). In a religious context the term denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; Matt. 4:10; Acts 26:7; Rom. 1:9; 12:1; Gal. 4:8; Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14; Rev. 22:3; etc.).[3] Although in some editions of the LXX, have the term douleuō (“to serve”), but as with latreuō, in a religious context (which Dan. 7:9-14 undeniably are), douleuō denotes religious worship, signifying service or worship reserved for God alone.[4] ” (Gal. 4:8). [5]

Since Daniel’s vision was clearly within a religious context (i.e., in the heavens), the worship (latreuō/douleuō) that the Son of Man receives from the “peoples, nations and men of every language” is religious worship reserved for YHWH alone (cf. v. 27). That the Messiah, the Son of Man, rightfully received religious worship here is wholly consistent to the New Testament revelation  there are many places where the Son was worshiped in a religious context (e.g., Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14). It is the Son of Man that is coming in the clouds whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed” (cf. Eph. 1:20-21; Heb. 1:8-12).

Furthermore, to avoid the implications of the Messiah receiving true religious worship, some have argued that the title “Son of Man” refers exclusively to humanity collectively In response, however, it is true that many places in the Old Testament does convey  that meaning—but only where the context warrants. However, in Daniel 7:9-14 this designation cannot be true contextually. The Son of Man in Daniel receives “dominion, Glory and a kingdom,” and “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” This description cannot be said of men collectively.

More than that, while modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish exegetes (cf. the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96b-97a, 98a; etc.).   Further, as noted, the testimony of early church Fathers connected the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with Jesus Christ— and not with men collectively.  

 

Conclusion  

In Daniel 7:9-14, Daniel presents two objects of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man who “was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom.” In Revelation 5:13 and 22:1, 3 the Father and the Lamb are presented as distinct persons. According to the rules of Greek grammar (viz. Sharp’s rule #6), tou theou (“the God”) and tou arniou (“the Lamb”) are two different/distinct persons. Each noun is preceded by the article (tou, “the”) and both nouns are connected by the copulative conjunction (kai, “and”; as in Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 1:3; etc.; see Edward L. Dalcour, A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism, 4th Edition, Revised, Updated, and Expanded [NWU, Potchefstroom, SA, 2011], 88, note 5).         


 

Notes 

[1] In the OT, only YHWH is said to be coming in/with the clouds of heaven (cf., Exod. 19:9; Lev. 16:2; Isa. 19:1; Jer. 4:13). In the NT, only the Son, Jesus Christ is said to be coming the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62).

[2] Cf. the LXX editions of H. B. Swete and Alfred Rahlfs.  

[3] Latreuō would have the same linguistic force as that of the frequently used term for “worship,” proskuneō in a religious context (e.g., Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; John 4:24; Rev. 7:11).    

[4] For example, in Galatians 4:8, Paul says, “When you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” The phrase “were slaves” (or “you served”) is from the verb douleuō. Paul was clear, “to serve” (douleuō) in a religious service, anyone other than God in a religious context is idolatry.  

[5] In the NT, there are many places where the Son was worshiped in a religious context (e.g., Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14).   

                                                                              

 

                                                                                                       

“Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). 

Let’s first note verses 1 through 9 and all the verbs expressing God’s blessing, electing/choosing, predestining, freely giving, lavishing the “riches of His grace,” “making know the mystery of His will,” obtaining an inheritance, etc. have God as the subject of the verbs (doing the actions) and man as the direct object (e.g., hēmas, “us”- receiving the actions).

 

Second, in 2 Thessalonians 2:13: “God has chosen you [humas] from the beginning for salvation….”). We have been claimed as God’s own possession within the context of our being chosen “in Him,” as seen in Ephesians 1:4-5. The phrase, “obtained an inheritance” is from the Greek term, klēroō. Used here, the term literally denotes receiving or giving a heritage or inheritance, or “the idea to allot, to assign in the sense of a privilege.” The TDNT[1] defines the term as, “an ‘appointment’ or ‘determination,’ which affects men in their being. It is also the goal, which is assigned to them in their calling. The term is exemplified in the OT signifying Israel as God’s klēros—namely, His heritage.

 

“Having been predestined according to His purpose.” The verb “predestined” also appears in verse 5. The term “purpose” is from the noun, prothesis—from pro (“before”) and tithēmi (“to place or set”). Thus, lexically, “to set or place before, for a particular purpose, predestined purpose” (see also in Rom. 8:28; 9:11; 2 Tim. 1:9). Additionally, the term is used to denote the setting forth of the consecrated bread in the temple before the Lord (Mark 2:26; Heb. 9:2).

“Who works all things after the counsel of His will.” The verb translated, “accomplishes” is energountosfrom the verb energeō, which is a compound word from ergon (“work”) and the preposition en (“in, by”), which intensifies the verb. The literal translation of the participle would be, “working, energizing, operating” (see the usage of the same verb at 1 Cor. 12:6; Eph. 2:2; and Phil. 2:13 [twice]). Hence, God is energizing all things after the council of His own will.

“All things.” The Greek reads, ta panta, “the all things.” Note that the article (ta, “the”) and adjective (panta, “all”) are in the neuter gender, thus denoting “the all things” inclusively. The same neuter phrase is used in Colossians 1:16-17: 16 “For by Him all things [ta panta] were created – all things [ta panta] have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things [ta panta] hold together.” Along with these passages, John 1:3, 10; Hebrews 1:10-12; and 2:10, robustly present, as Paul did, the Son as the agent of creation—namely, the Creator of all things. God is the ultimate cause of all things. There is nothing that exists outside of the category of ta panta, “the all things,” which God causes, ordains, decrees, and energizes after the council of His own will.

 

“After the counsel of His will.” The term “counsel” is translated from boulē. Here the term expresses the divine plan, purpose, and intention of God—namely, “according” to His sovereign counsel and predetermined purpose. Note Acts 2:23, which contains the same term (boulē), “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined PLAN [boulē] and foreknowledge of God.”

The one article (“the”) before the first noun (“plan”) and not the second (“foreknowledge”) grammatically shows that God’s “foreknowledge” is established in His hōrismenē boulē (“predetermined plan/decree”). In other words, “God’s decrees are not based on Him simply foreknowing what human beings will do; rather, humanity’s actions are based on God’s foreknowledge and predetermined plan” [2] (esp. Rom. 8:29-30). In fact, the same noun (boulē), with the same force, is used in Acts 4:27-28:

 

27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your PURPOSE [boulē] predestined to occur.

 

 Totally Sovereign Over All Things

What does sovereignty mean? Sovereignty simply means absolute control. Scripture presents that everything that happens, or that has happened, or that is going to happen is independently ordained and determined by God in that He has absolute control of all things. He doesn’t need to consult or ask permission from anyone, nor is He limited to anything outside of Himself. He acts to bring about His plan and nothing will, nor is able to, thwart it (Isa. 46:10-11).

 

So, because God “works [energizes] all things after the counsel of His will,” both good and evil then is likewise controlled by God, since evil is under the category of “all things” (Gen. 50:20; Isa. 53:4; Lam. 3:38; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28). As we saw with the crucifixion, many things God ordains does involve sin, but always for a higher good (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Rom. 8:28).

 

For example, God is Sovereign over,

 

  • All creation (Isa. 54:5; Dan. 4:17, 25; John 1:13, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:10-12; 2:10).

 

  • All calamities (Isa. 45:5-7; Amos 3:6).

 

  • All earthly authorities (Deut. 4:35, 39; Isa. 37:16; Dan. 5:18, 21; Hag. 2:22).

 

  • Man’s life, death, sickness, and disease (Deut. 32:39; Exod. 4:11 [cf. also John 9:1, 12:39-41]; 1 Sam. 2:6-7; Job 13:15; 14:5; 42:11; Ps. 139:16).

 

  • Evil (Prov. 16:4; Lam. 3:38-39).

 

  • The slavery of Joseph (Gen. 45:7; 50:20).

 

  • Samson’s marriage to the Philistine woman from Timnah (Judges 14:1-4).

 

  • Eli’s wicked sons (1 Sam. 2:22-25).

 

  • Judas’ betrayal of Christ (Matt. 26:23–25; 27:9-10; Luke 22:21–22; Acts 1:16, 20).

 

  • Our eternal destiny (John 6:37-39; 10:15; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 9:6-23; 2 Thess. 2:13).

 

It is God who puts men to death, gives them life—on His own prerogative (Deut. 32:39; Luke 10:20-22; John 5:21—[note in this passage that raising the dead and giving life to them are accomplished by both the Father and the Son]; 12:39-41; Rom. 9:16-24; etc.).

 

Arthur Pink rightly observes:

“It is strange, yet it is true, that many who acknowledge the sovereign rule of God over material things will cavil and quibble when we insist that God is also sovereign in the spiritual realm. But their quarrel is with God and not with us. We have given Scripture in support of everything advanced in these pages, and if that will not satisfy our readers, it is idle for us to seek to convince them.”[3]

 

How do Christians who do not embrace the full sovereignty of God pray for their lost loved ones? A prayer for the lost that is not based on God’s immutable, irresistible grace and power in salvation would be an impotent and ineffectual prayer, which would set man as the ultimate cause of one’s eternal destiny and not God.

 

The notion that God leaves the final decision of salvation in the hands of sinners is solidly against the biblical teachings both on the nature of man and on the doctrines of grace (Jonah 2:9; Luke 10:21-22; John 5:21; 6:37-40; 10:15, 25-28; Acts 13:48; Rom. 3:10-18; 8:7-8, 29-30; 9:16-23; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Eph. 1:4-5; 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 2:13 et al).

 

God “works all things after the counsel of His will.” YHWH speaks of His absolute sovereignty in Isaiah 46:8-11:

 

“Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. 9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.”

 

Again, Godworks all things after the counsel of His will.” What an assuring passage! “All things”- means just that. All things are in the control and hand of God, the unchangeable Creator, and not in the hand of His creatures. Therefore, we are comforted in knowing that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Only because God is undeniably sovereign can the commands in Philippians 4:6-7 be so encouraging:

 

6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

  • Psalm 34:8-10: “O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

 

  • Romans 8:37, 39: “But in all these things [viz. referring back to vv. 29-30] we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us!

 

  • Hebrews 13:5-6: 5 “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’”

 

Whether pandemics, personal calamity, victories, losses, or any other thing, – let us never lose sight of the sovereignty of God over “all things”— so Paul glorifies God in saying, nothing in all creation “will separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord!” (Rom. 8:39).

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Notes

[1] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Gerhard Kittel et al.).

[2] Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.

[3] Arthur Pink, Sovereignty of God, “Difficulties and Objections.”

 

Matthew 26:26-28: “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’”

 

In the NT, there are two Sacraments (or Ordinances), water baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both are signs and seals of the covenant of grace. Both are holy and biblically mandated for the church.[1] Jesus Christ first initiated the Lord’s Supper, and in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul provides some important details and instructions. Unfortunately and sadly, in far too many churches, the theological significance and spiritual value of these perpetual and sanctified ordinances have been radically cheapened and biblically mottled. Because of inaccurate teachings, the Lord’s Supper is practiced in a dishonorable and unworthy fashion before God eliciting unfavorable judgments, as we will see.

 

Fundamentally, the Lord’s Supper is (in brief)

  1. A Corporate Church Event. Paul’s instructions for partaking in the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11 presupposes that the Lord’s Supper is taken in the church—not in private: “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church. . . .” (1 Cor. 11:18). This, and other reasons, also shows that the Lord’s Supper is clearly restricted to believers who share in Jesus’ atonement as heirs of the “election of grace” (Rom. 11:5).

“Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread, which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

 

  1. A Memorial Ceremony. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, Paul describes the Sacrament as a time to remember the glorious and substitutionary atoning cross work: “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. . . . This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (vv. 24-25). The elements (bread and wine) “are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits” (WCF, 27:1).[2] They signify Christ and His benefits—especially in sharing in His body and blood (1 Cor. 10:16).

As seen, the NT church tradition of the Lord’s Supper begins in 1 Corinthians 11:23. Note in verses 24 and 25 that Paul uses the term “remembrance” twice. First, referring to the remembrance of Jesus’ body, and then, the memorial of His blood in the new covenant. This Holy Supper is a memorial of His great and glorious sacrificial cross work. As we will see in the following passages, partaking in the memorial celebration without devotion and solidarity of His atoning sacrifice is partaking in an unworthy manner—“guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. . . . For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number asleep” (vv. 27, 30).

  1. A Proclamation Event. After Paul cites the Lord Jesus in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, Paul indicates that the Lord’s Supper is a declaration of the sacrificial death of Christ: For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). 
  1. A Perpetual Event. As cited above, Paul instructs that the Lord’s Supper is to be continuously declared “until He comes.”

 

“Unworthy” Behavior

 There are many Christians today who take the Lord’s Supper in a disrespectful and “unworthy manner.” Similarly to those in the first century, 1 Corinthians 11:18 states: “When you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it” and continuing in the following verses:

 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 20 Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.

Some Corinthians were actually coming for the purpose of merely eating the food and/or drinking the wine to get drunk turning this holy Sacrament into a secular and unholy activity. No wonder Paul equates this kind of disrespect with despising the church.

Earlier, Paul had just expressed the holiness of the Lord’s Supper for the church saying: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16).

 

As stated, in 1 Corinthians 11: 27-30, Paul warns of the severe judgment that results from partaking in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way. Note that the first word in verse 27 is a Greek conjunction hōste (“therefore”) indicating that Paul is referring to his previous statements beginning in verse 18 regarding the inappropriate behavior at the Lord’s Supper. So, the reference of partaking in the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner” in verse 27 contextually refers back to verses 18-22, where Paul provides a description of what an unworthy Lord’s Supper looks like:

  1. There were divisions and factions existing among them (vv. 18-19),  
  2. They were not waiting for one another, which impeded some from partaking (v. 21), and  
  1. Some were coming to get drunk (v. 21).

Paul sees anyone that takes the Lord’s Supper inappropriately as despising the church (v. 22). They were not partaking in the Lord’s Supper in a reverent and earnest way, that is, in remembrance of the Lord’s sacrifice. In verses 27-28, Paul clearly warns the church, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Again, partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner” is a sin “guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (v. 27).

Since Paul’s command in verse 28 (“But a man must examine himself”) prior to participating. This command is contextually linked to Paul’s definition of taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Therefore, the self-examination involves the participant’s intention and mindset. In other words, is the intention and motivation of the person preparing to take the Lord’s Supper on the memorialization and proclamation of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus? Any other view of Paul’s commandment of self-examination would be a pretext.

 

This point must be stressed to many Christians (and esp. pastors) who misdefine the “unworthy manner” of taking the holy Sacrament as some other unspecified (out of context) sin such as unconfessed sin or a defect in one’s Christian behavior. These actions are sinful, but they are not the particular sins that Paul pointed to with regard to the Lord’s Supper and taking it in an “unworthy manner.” The result of this improper unworthy behavior is divine judgment:

 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

Paul then concludes in verse 33-44: “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.”

In conclusion, foreseeing His substitutionary death on the cross, Jesus Christ initiated the Lord’s Supper as recorded in the Gospels. As with baptism, this Supper is a high and holy Sacrament, not to be degraded and despised by inappropriate/unworthy behavior at this memorial. This Supper represents a “holy “sign and seal” of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits” (WCF, 27.1).

The Lord’s Supper is for us to remember and proclaim the Lord’s death. It is not a mere Sunday morning activity with no understandable devotion and remembrance of the vicarious cross work of the Lord on behalf of sinners, as many practice today. It is a holy and divine Sacrament surrounding the broken body and spilled blood of Christ. Too many pastors treat the Lord’s Supper in a cavalier fashion, rushing through it, providing no meaningful definition or warning of the judgment for partaking in an unworthy way—even going so far as to allow non-believers to partake. If pastors allow their church members to do exactly what Paul rebuked the Corinthians for doing – is that not highly sinful?!

 Proper participation in the Lord’s Supper should move us to a deep and genuine thanksgiving for the proclamation of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. It should bring us to a constant and devout worship of the triune God in spirit and biblical maturity and truth. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of our eternal life. It reminds us that Christ incarnated Himself becoming obedient to death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8) providing a real propitiation (1 John 2:2) on our behalf (Rom. 8:32; Eph. 5:25).

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that-

“While we were still helpless …  Christ died for the ungodly.”

“While we were yet sinners … Christ died for us.”

“While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son….” (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10).

Jesus Christ, and what He infallibly accomplished, is worthy to be remembered. His cross work is worthy to be proclaimed. He is our Savior in which we remember at the Lord’s Supper.

 

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. . . . ” (1 Cor. 10:31).

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Notes

[1] The Roman Catholic Church distorts the biblical teachings of these two Sacraments both in substance (arguing Transubstantiation and baptismal regeneration) and, in effect (making them a necessity for salvation).      

[2] Westminster Confession of Faith.

Hebrews 1:6 (last clause):

 

  • NASB: “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”

 

  • New World Translation[1] (NWT): “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.”

 

  • Greek NT (all eds.): Kai proskunēsatwsan autō pantes aggeloi Theou (lit., “And worship Him all [the] angels of God”).

 

  • LXX[2] (Deut. 32:43, the author’s OT source [also cf. Ps. 96:7]): Kai proskunēsatōsan autō pantes aggeloi Theou (Brenton’s ed., same rendering as Greek NT).

 

Last week, in our weekly First Love Radio Show, Pastor James Tippins (Grace Truth Church, Claxton, GA) and I had a fantastic discussion regarding some of the specific places in which “worship” (proskuneō and latreuō)[3] was applied to the person of the Son in a “religious” context[4] (esp. Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; John 3:38; Heb. 1:6 and Rev. 5:13-14).

 

Hebrews 1:6 – a few noteworthy points:

 

  1. The Father’s command to all the angels to worship the Son was in the aorist imperative (proskunēsatōsan). Linguistically, this was the strongest and most “urgent” way to issue a command in biblical Greek—appearing in both the Greek NT (all eds.) and in the LXX (see above).

 

  1. The NWT. As most of us know, that the JWs’ unique and distorted translation, the NWT, replaced the word “worship” (as in virtually all recognized Bible translations) with “obeisance” (honor, respect, etc.).

 

  1. Lexically. The verb proskuneō is from pros (“toward”) and kuneō (lit., “to kiss”). Thus, “prostrating oneself before persons and kissing their feet. . . . to express … submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance … do reverence to, welcome respectfully” (BDAG).

 

  1. Context. The verb could mean either religious “worship” (reserved for God alone, cf. John 4:24) or “obeisance” with no connotation of religious worship at all. But as we know: Context always governs!—thus it determines the verb’s meaning.

    The defining and surrounding context of Hebrews 1:6 is clearly in the heavenlies (it does not get more “religious” and holier than that!) and the affirmation of the eternal Son. Moreover, in the prologue of Hebrews (viz. chap. 1), the author presents a vivid contrast between all things created (angels, heavens, and the earth) and the eternal Son, Creator of all things (vv. 2, 3, 10-12[5]). It is this defining context, therefore, that indicates the meaning of proskuneō in verse 6—namely, divine religious “worship.”        

 

The JWs argue in a theological circle, which starts with unitarianism and ends with a denial of the deity of Christ. Hence, the NWT arbitrarily removes “worship” at the places applied to Christ (e.g., Matt. 2:11; 14:33; 28:8-9; John 9:38; and of course, Heb. 1:6). Interestingly, from 1950 to 1970, in Hebrews 1:6, the NWT read, “And let all God’s angels worship him.” Consequently, for over twenty years, the JWs actually taught that “all the angels” worshiped Jesus (who they identify as Michael, the “created” archangel)—a frustrating fact they cannot deny. It was not until the 1971 ed. that “worship” was finally removed being replaced with “obeisance” in Hebrews 1:6.

 

Furthermore, from 1898 to 1964, the Watchtower (the JWs leadership), has taught that “worship” is properly given to Jesus—it’s a matter of (accessible) record. Note these examples: 

 

 “Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so. It was proper for our Lord to receive worship in view of his having been the only begotten of the Father and his agent in the creation of all things, including man” (Zion’s Watch Tower, 1898, July 15, p. 216).

 

“Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah….”  (Watchtower, 1939, Nov 15, p. 339).

“[W]hosoever should worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah’s Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Christ Jesus….” (Watchtower, 1945, p. 313).

 

In the 1945 Yearbook, it clearly defines the purpose of the Watchtower Society (in part):

“The purposes of this Society are…. to go forth to all the world publicly and from house to house to preach and teach Bible truths. … and send out to various parts of the world Christian missionaries, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature and for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus.”

 

In 1964, they finally changed their view and taught that worshiping Christ was idolatrous: “It is unscriptural … to render worship to the Son of God” (Watchtower, 1964 Nov 1, p. 671). The inconsistencies of the Watchtower are and have been astounding! 

 

Jesus Worshiped as God

Jesus received “worship” in a religious context[6] on several occasions. These are some of the clear and explicit examples of the Son receiving religious worship by both men and angels:

 DANIEL 7:14: “And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might SERVE Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one, which will not be destroyed.” The term “serve” (“worshiped,” NIV) is from Aramaic word, pelach (Heb. palach). When this term appears in the OT where God is the object, it carries the idea of religious worship, services, or rituals performed in honor to the true God.

The same term (pelach) applied to the Son of Man in verse 14 is applied to Yahweh in verse 27: “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve [pelach] and obey Him.” Further, the LXX translate pelach in verse 14, as latreuō, which, in a religious context, denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; see also Matt. 4:10; Rom. 1:9, Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14). Even though some editions of the LXX, pelach is translated as douleuō (“to serve”), but in a religious context (which vv. 9-14 undeniably are), douleuō like latreuō denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (cf. Gal. 4:8).[7]

 

MATTHEW 14:33: “And those who were in the boat worshiped [proskuneō][8] Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:22-34 is a narrative of the Jesus’ miraculous walking on the water. This event is also recorded in Mark 6:45-51 and John 6:16-21. What is remarkable is that the narrative supplies ample references to the deity of Christ (i.e., His repeated “I am” claims and the religious worship given to Christ by the men in the boat). This event follows the feeding of the 5,000. In verse 26, we read that after the disciples who were in the boat saw Jesus “walking on the water,” they were terrified for they thought they saw a phantasma (“ghost/ apparition”). At which point Jesus comforted them by stating: Tharseite, egō eimi, mē phobeisthe (lit.Take courage, I am, [do] not [be with] fear” (v. 27).

 

Jesus declares His deity in contrast to their fear. Jesus is the One who created all things, the eternal God, who controls the winds and the sea (cf. Matt. 8:27)—why be afraid? In verses 28-32, Matthew provides additional information. However, we read that Peter attempted to walk on the water to meet Christ, but sank due to his weak faith. When Jesus helped him get back into the boat, verse 33 indicates, “Those who were in the boat worshiped [proskuneō] Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” Note that act of worshiping is connected with the affirmation of Jesus being “God’s Son.”

The unique way in which Jesus claimed to be the Son of God was tantamount to claiming He was God the Son—, which was clearly understood by the Jews (cf. Mark 14:61-63; John 5:17-18; 10:30-36; 19:7), the apostles (cf. Matt. 16:18; Rom. 1:1, 3); the author of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 1:1-3); the devil (cf. Matt. 4:3-7); God the Father (cf. Matt. 3:17; Heb. 1:5-12); and the OT prophets (cf. Ps. 2:7; Dan. 7:9-14; Acts 10:43 et al). 

 

JOHN 9:35-38: “[Jesus] said [to the blind man that He healed], “’Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.’ 38 And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped [proskuneō] Him.” As in Matthew 14:33, the worship was combined with the blind man’s affirmation that Jesus was the “Son of Man” and “Lord”—thus, a religious context (cf. Dan. 7:9-14).

 

REVELATION 5:13-14: “And every created thing … I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped [proskuneō].” Here the Father and the Lamb received the same kind of blessing, honor, and glory and thus, the same kind of worship, from “every created thing.” Hence, the Lamb (Jesus) is excluded from the category of a “created thing.” Rather, as in Hebrews 1:6 et al, the Son was worshiped in a religious context. This revealing truth shows that the Son shares the very essence of God the Father. He is God in the same sense as that of the Father (cf. John 1:1, 18; Heb. 1:3).

 

In spite of the NWT’s devaluation of the Son, the denial of His cross work and a denial of the triune nature of the only true God, both the OT and NT affirm that Jesus Christ was properly worshiped as God. The Son is “the great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13); “the only Master and Lord” (Jude 1:4); the Theos-Christos (“God-Christ”) who saved a people out of the land of Egypt (Jude 1:5) whose atoning cross work is the very cause of our justification.

 

Let us, along with all the angels, worship Jesus Christ, “the Lord of glory,” unceasingly.


NOTES

[1] The NWT is the Bible translation of the JWs—published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (i.e., the corporate name for the JWs).

[2] LXX is the abbreviation of the Septuagint (i.e., the Greek OT).

[3] These terms are the primary terms denoting worship or reverence, honor depending on the context (e.g., John 4:24; Rom. 12:1). 

 [4] A religious context is any such context where spirituality, holiness, and/or divinity exists.  

[5] Verses 10-12 is a citation of Psalm 102:25-27 (LXX). Thus, the Father directly addresses the Son (cf. v. 8) as the Yahweh (LORD) of that Psalm—the unchangeable Creator of all things.    

[6]  See note 4 above. 

[7] Many modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage. However, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish sources (cf. the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96b-97a, 98a; etc.). Furthermore, the testimony of early church Fathers connect the Son of Man in Daniel 7:9ff. with Jesus Christ— and not with men collectively.

[8] The Greek word proskuneō means divine worship in a religious context (as with Matt. 4:10 and John 4:24) or it can also mean to fall prostrate in front of another in honor and respect, thus, “obeisance.” Only the context determines the meaning. In Hebrews 1:6, the setting is in the heavenlies—hence, the Father commands “all the angels” to give religious worship to the divine Son.

 

When we speak of the Holy Spirit – we are speaking of the Third Person of the Trinity – God the Spirit. Thus, the Holy Spirit in the NT is the same person as the Spirit in the Old Testamentdifferent only in scope, not person or nature. Let’s review some of the important activities of the Spirit in the life of the believer:

 

The Spirit Indwells all Believers

JOHN 14:17: “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be “in you”(cf. Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3:16), In John 14:23. As the Spirit dwells with/in us, the Father and the Son dwells with/in us (cf. John 14:23; 1 John 1:3).

 

The Necessity and Benefits of the Holy Spirit


Dwelling Within Us

  1. That the Spirit indwells us shows that we are children of God, heirs of Him, and “fellow-heirs with Christ”—Romans 8:16–17: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

 

  1. The indwelling Spirit gives us the wisdom and knowledge of the testimony of God and the crucifixion of the Son—1 Corinthians 2:12: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.”

 

  1. The indwelling Spirit leads and guides us—Romans 8:14: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”; 1 John 4:4: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

 

The Holy Spirit accomplishes regeneration in the hearts of sinners—John 6:63: It is the “Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” Titus 3:5-7: “He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace – we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Observe the emphasis of all three persons of the Trinity here. The same combination of words are found in Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Isaiah 44:3.

 

The Holy Spirit Sanctifies us at Conversion

1 Corinthians 1:2: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:30-31; 6:11).

 

2 Thessalonians 2:13: “But we should [imperative mood] always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and faith in the truth” (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1-2).

 

1 Peter 1:1-2: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those . . . who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

 

He is our Paraklētos (“Advocate”)

 John 14:16: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [paraklētos, lit., “advocate”], that He may be with you forever.”[1]

 

The Holy Spirit Intercedes on Our Behalf

 Romans 8:26-27: “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

 

The Holy Spirit installs Pastors

Acts 20:28: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

 

The Holy Spirit Provides the Opportunities and the Results

Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (cf. Acts 8:29; Acts 10:19-20; Acts 13:2). The Holy Spirit also hinders evangelism (cf. Acts 16:6).

 

We Fellowship with the Holy Spirit in the context of the Triune God 

  2 Corinthians 13:14: “The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

 

The Holy Spirit Gives Love to the Elect

 Romans 15:30: “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”

 

The Spirit enables us to carry out the Fruit of the Spirit in our Christian life
(cf. Gal. 5:22-23)

 First note the starting context in the verse 16 (syntactical literal reading): “walk [‘behave, live’] by means of the Spirit [pneumati] and the lust of the flesh, never never, not even a possibility shall you gratify [‘fulfill, complete’].” The Spirit here in verse 16 is the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit that is spoken of in verses 18 and 22, thus, not the “spiritual” part of our nature, nor our spirit in union with the Spirit.

 

Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Interestingly, the term “fruit” (karpos) is singular, although there are nine characteristics. Grammatically, the term “love” (agapē) could have the semantic idea of the affixed English colon (“love:”). If this is the intended meaning, Paul would be indicating that the fruit of the Spirit is love, and the eight following characteristics is how Paul defines love. Thus, the fruit of love consists of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 

The Filling and Baptism of the Spirit

As seen, the indwelling of the Spirit refers to the eternal relationship (“in you”) we have with the Triune God at conversion—permanent and perpetual. Whereas “being filled,” as in Acts and Paul’s literature, was not permanent (and spontaneous in Acts). This particular phenomenon only occurred in special circumstances, usually producing boldness in the proclamation of the gospel—namely, as in Acts, the resurrection of Christ: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31) and rarely did it result in tongues.

 

Further, being filled with/by the Spirit in Acts is not the same as the command to be filled with the Spirit in, for example, Ephesians 5:18. Notice that the verbal actions are present tense, in contrast to the single isolated accounts in Acts (which Paul could have achieved by using past tenses): “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled [present imperative] en pneumati [lit., “by means of the Spirit”]. Syntactically, the preposition en (in, by, with) followed by the dative pneumati (“Spirit”) indicates instrument (means), not “content.”[2] The two imperatives (commands), which are in the middle/passive voice, are, do not “get drunk” and “be filled” by means of the Spirit.

 

Thus, believers are to be filled (perhaps a reference to God’s moral attributes, or joy) by Christ (who is the agent) by means of the Spirit.[3] Moreover, note the five participles in verses 19-21, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing,” “making melody,” “always giving thanks,” and being subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” These are semantically participles of result—indicating the result of being filled by the Spirit. This filling is not connected with speaking in tongues. Further, Spirit filling in Acts was never commanded as in here in verse 18. In Acts, it was special inoculation or saturation of the Spirit for a particular work of service (similar to the Spirit’s activity of filling in the OT). Thus, Paul says that we must be continually filled with the Spirit, not just once or twice.

 

Spirit Baptism

It was John the Baptist who first prophesied Spirit baptism: “I baptized you with water; but He [Christ] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8). This prophecy was reiterated in Acts 1:4-5. Notice also that Mark 1:8 and Acts 1:5 contain the same syntactical construction– “baptized, en pneumati hagiō (lit., “with [the] Spirit Holy”). As seen in Ephesians 5:18, en (in, by, with) followed by a noun in the dative case (here, pneumati) can denote “means”—thus, “by means of the Spirit.” So according to this prophecy, Christ is the agent of the baptism (i.e., the one doing the action) and the Spirit is the instrument (i.e., the means, which Christ uses to perform the action)

 

When was this prophecy fulfilled? First, no exact time stamp is provided, but the first occurrences are in Acts. However, 1 Corinthians 12:13, does express a fulfilled action among all Christians: “For en heni pneumati [“by means of one Spirit”] we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” As in Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5; and Ephesians 5:18, we find en + dative indicating that the baptism was “by means of” the one Spirit (Christ being the agent). And note the double usage of pan (“all”) indicting that ALL Christians were baptized by the Spirit (at conversion), not merely a special class of so-called “anointed” or mature believers.

Spirit baptism is a gift promised by the Father – given first in Acts, which happens at conversion to ALL believers.

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The Holy Spirit is active in our lives – He is our paraklētos, that is, He is called to be alongside of us. He regenerated us and caused us to be born again having sealed us for the day of redemption (cf. Eph. 1:13). And the same Spirit that hovered over the face of the waters (cf. Gen. 1:2), dwelled with David, came upon Samson and other judges and prophets, led Jesus into the wilderness, poured out upon all of His people at Pentecost, and filled Peter – lives with us and fills us—and helps us in our weaknesses. He provides us “fruit” to edify and move us to a life of love, relationship, and works of service – ultimately to glorify the Triune God.

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Notes 

[1] Paraklētos appears five times in the NT – John 14:16, 26, 15:26; 16:7 and once in 1 John 2:1 with in reference to the Son.

[2] See exegetical discussion of this passages in Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 93,374-75,375 

[3] Ibid.