I always say at the onset to those who make the incorrect uninformed assertion regarding the triquetra symbol being derived from Wicca, paganism, etc. that that calendar in your office and/or house and/or in the rooms of your children, — are filled with symbols of pagan gods (all days and names of months were named after pagan gods). Thus, any objection to the triquetra as use by Christians would be inconsistent and historically ignorant lacking any meaningful basic research on the triquetra and its origins in religious and non-religious usage.  

In terms of the triquetra (Trinitarian symbol), you should not base an argument on ignorance, and unaccredited internet articles. Primarily, KJV Onlyists and anti-Trinitarian groups (esp. JWs, and unstudied Oneness advocates) chiefly utilize the pagan-triquetra arguments against it. So Christians should strive to do the objective research, in order that they not provide bad untruthful arguments and appear unread. In point of fact, The triquetra is a very old symbol and dates back perhaps to around 500 BC. But its actual origins are unknown. Some scholars believe it to be Celtic in origin, and it is sometimes called the Irish Trinity Knot.

The triquetra symbol is also found in Norse Viking artifacts such as combs and saddles; found on a Norwegian coin from around the 11th cent.; and there is a Japanese form, again with no religious significance. Further, the triquetra has been found on Indian heritage sites that are over 5,000 years old; found on carved stones in Northern Europe dating from A.D. 8th cent. as well as found on early Germanic coins-with no religious significance at all. It is certainly possible that various cultures developed the basic design arrangement independently. But in spite of where or when it first appeared, it has been associated to a vast number of meanings through time.

However, to early Christians (and many today), the triquetra symbolized the Trinity (one God, three persons). For example in the late 8th cent. Book of Kells was an exemplified manuscript book in Latin containing all four Gospels together with various prefatory texts contained also figures of triquetras. The triquetra symbol has been found in Norwegian churches dating to the 11th century.

In conclusion, the triquetra has been used historically by all kinds of groups to mean different things. As with other Christian symbols and Christian holidays (e.g., Christmas, Easter, cross, etc.), we embrace the Christian significance—not its origin. In spite of the (unclear) origins, the triquetra has a rich meaning that has been used by the early church to signify the Trinity. No Christian used it as a pagan symbol, in the same way no Christian uses a calendar today on their wall to exalt the pagan gods of the days and months it represents—thus, calendars were factually derived from pagan in origins.

Historically, for Christians, the Triquetra represents the Trinity, not its supposedly pagan origins. And those who object (due to a mass of misinformation) to this Trinitarian symbol, since they do not have a problem with pagan-origins calendars in their homes, do they have a problem with the Apostle Paul’s quotations of pagans writers to make a biblical point, viz., Epimenides of Crete in Titus 1:12 and Acts 17:28 (referring to Zeus); Aratus of Cilicia in Acts 17:28 (also referring to Zeus); and Menander in 1 Cor. 15:33?  

In point of fact, for hundreds of years Christians have been using the triquetra a symbol that proclaims the doctrine of the Trinity.

       

 

 

“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.

 

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).

 

             

“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.).

 

Aside from the Book of Mormon not containing the so-called “precious truths” that were allegedly lost, of LDS essential doctrines (e.g., LDS polytheism [i.e., the idea that many true Gods exists, technically, henotheism], Exaltation, Eternal Progression, the idea of Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, sealing, eternal marriage et al.), the LDS doctrine has always rejected the biblical revelation of Christ.        

In spite of who authored it, the Book of Mormon contains significant contradictions both historical and theological (and logical). Of the abounding material objectively demonstrating this (from its inception in 1830), we have documented a vast amount of erroneous teaching contained in the LDS so-called scriptures (i.e., the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price).

Also, my friends at Institute for Religious Research have provided a simple short article, Seven Contradictions Between The Book of Mormon and the Bible. Although, as pointed out above, many of the fundamental heresies of the LDS Church such as polytheism and Exaltation, which are post-Book of Mormon, this article addresses seven significant false LDS doctrines, which are in fact currently contained in the Book of Mormon.

In fact, it is easily proven that Smith’s early teachings as contained in the Book of Mormon (and early sections of D&C) controvert present- day LDS theology on many accounts. See Early Teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, which Contradict Present- day LDS Theology – See Early Teachings of Joseph Smith.

Although there are many more contradictions and factual errors in the Book of Mormon (and in the other LDS scripture) than seven, they sufficiently and objectively demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is untrustworthy patently contradicting God’s revelation contained in the biblical content. See our expanded article on the Book of Mormon here Book of Mormon

Note, Aside from the seven contradictions briefly listed below by IRR (and many others can be shown), one additional Book of Mormon false teaching is its repeated affirmation of Modalism, that is,  Oneness theology – see Modalism and the Book of Mormon 

IRR article:

There are many serious objections to the claim of Joseph Smith and the LDS church that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired Latter-day scripture supplemental to the Bible.* However, none are more significant than the numerous contradictions between Book of Mormon teaching and the Bible. This list is illustrative only, not exhaustive.

(1) The Book of Mormon teaches that little children are not capable of sin because they do not have a sinful nature (Moroni 8:8). In contrast, the Bible in Psalm 51:5 clearly teaches that we have a sinful nature from birth: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (NIV). (This does not mean that those who die in infancy are lost.**)

(2) The Book of Mormon teaches that the disobedience of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit was necessary so that they could have children and bring joy to mankind (2 Nephi 2:23-25). In contrast, the Bible specifically declares that Adam’s transgression was a sinful act of rebellion that unleashed the power of sin and death in God’s perfect world (Romans 5:12; 8:20-21). There is no Biblical support for the view that Adam and Eve could only fulfill the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) by disobeying God’s command regarding the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). The Book of Mormon teaching that these divine commands are contradictory, and that God expected Adam and Eve to figure out that in reality He wanted them to break the latter command (“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it”) in order to keep the former (“be fruitful and multiply”), has no basis in logic or the Biblical text, and attributes equivocation to God.

 

(3) The Book of Mormon teaches that black skin is a sign of God’s curse, so that white-skinned people are considered morally and spiritually superior to black-skinned people (2 Nephi 5:21). In contrast, the Bible teaches that God “made of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26, KJV), that in Christ distinctions of ethnicity, gender and social class are erased (Galatians 3:28), and that God condemns favoritism (James 2:1). [NOTE: See our article, Mormonism and Black Skin, for an documented and expanded look at the LDS views both delineated in the LDS scriptures and by way of sermon or statements by LDS General Authorities (LDS Presidents, Apostles, etc.) regarding people with dark skin, which the LDS has seen, for almost 200 years, as “cursed”].      

(4) The Book of Mormon teaches that, “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23; see also Moroni 10:32). In contrast, the Bible teaches that apart from Christ we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1,5) and unable to do anything to merit forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation is wholly of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5-6), not by grace plus works. Good works are a result, not the basis, of a right relationship with God (Ephesians 2:10).

(5) According to the Book of Mormon, about 600 years before Christ, a Nephite prophet predicted that “many plain and precious parts” (1 Nephi 13:26-28) would be removed from the Bible. In contrast, from the Bible it is clear that during His earthly ministry, Jesus himself constantly quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures, and showed full confidence in their completeness and accurate transmission as they had survived down to His time. Jesus declared that “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31; see also Matthew 5:18), and promised His disciples who were to pen the New Testament that the Holy Ghost “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26); Jesus further promised the apostles that they would “bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16). These promises clearly imply that the fruit of the apostles — the New Testament Scriptures and the Christian church — would endure.

(6) According to a Book of Mormon prophecy (Helaman 14:27), at the time of Christ’s crucifixion “darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days.” In contrast, the New Testament gospel accounts declare repeatedly that there was darkness for only three hours while Jesus was on the cross (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:24).

(7) The Book of Mormon teaches that there were many high priests serving at the same time (Mosiah 11:11; Alma 13:9-10; 46:6,38; Helaman 3:25) among the Book of Mormon people who are described as Jewish immigrants from ancient Israel who “kept the law of Moses” (e.g., 2 Nephi 25:10; Jacob 4:5; Jarom 1:5). In contrast, it is clear from the Bible that only one individual at a time occupied the office of high priest under the Old Testament dispensation (see, for example Leviticus 21:10; Matthew 26:3; Hebrews 8:6-7). (The mention in Luke 3:2 of “Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests” is not a real exception — in Christ’s time Israel was under the domination of the Romans, who intervened to change the high priest at will. See John 18:13, which describes Annas as “father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.”)

CONCLUSION: The contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Bible constitute a most serious obstacle to accepting the Book of Mormon as Latter-day scripture supplemental to the Bible. The Bible came first, not the Book of Mormon. And whereas the Bible is organically linked to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ by extensive surviving manuscript evidence going back as far as A.D. 125-30, the Book of Mormon is wholly lacking in any such evidences of ancient origin. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to make the Bible the standard for judging the Book of Mormon, and not the other way around? If we accept the Bible as our “measuring stick” for spiritual truth, the Book of Mormon must be rejected.

Unfortunately, a vast number of “professing” naïve Christians, that may be seriously seeking a biblical education, will willingly be proselytized to the false doctrines of T. D. Jakes—esp. his distorted Oneness anti-Trinitarian teachings of God, his prosperity nonsense, women pastors, and many more bad doctrines.   

–          

As for all the uninformed and biblically dim who still insist that Jakes is Trinitarian, note the current Faith Statement posted on the school’s website, which defines God as “existing in three manifestations” (same as the Potter’s House), which is patently Oneness-unitarian. See – https://jakesdivinity.org/about-jds/faith-statement/

 

Using “manifestations” to describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is neither a biblical nor a historical definition of God (it never has been for the “Christian” church)—words do matter.  “Manifestation” is not a semantic (nor ontological) parallel to “person.” A manifestation is a mere appearance of a thing, and not the thing itself. Manifestation does not have an ontological reference.

 

Again, and as pointed out by many, If Jakes now embraces the basic biblical definition of the Trinity, then, these questions must be answered,

 

1) Why does he still hold to a Oneness description of God (“existing in three manifestations”) found on the faith statement of both his church (Potter’s House) and his new school?   

 

2) Why is Jakes presently (for many years) the Vice Prelate of the decidedly Oneness organization, Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies? 

https://www.highergroundaaa.com/national-officials?fbclid=IwAR2Zktzsp3fsG6HOQSAoC_W76SNTfXEFbBcIVqLs3hdkjS5hgbPJrd10n0Q And, 

 

3) What of all Jakes’ previous affirmations of Oneness doctrine? He has never recanted those.

Such as in an interview with Jakes on the LA radio show, KKLA, Living by the Word, hosted by Jim Coleman (August 23 and 30, 1998). Coleman had asked Jakes “How important it is for Christians to believe in the Trinity.” Jakes responded, “I think it’s very, very significant that we first of all study the Trinity apart from salvation. . . . The term ‘Trinity,’ is not a biblical term, to begin with. . . . When God got ready to make a man that looked like him, he didn’t make three. He made one man. However, that one man had three parts. He was body, soul, and spirit. “We have one God, but he is father in creation, son in redemption, and Holy Spirit in regeneration.”

 

This last statement is a standard and historical Oneness phrase (found in many Oneness doctrinal statements), “Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration,” which is historically congruent with Sabellius’s (early third cent.) “successive” Modalism.          

 

Or in 2000, Christianity Today also posted a response by T. D. Jakes, in which his statements show clearly that he is indeed, a Modalist.

Regarding the questions of the Trinity, Jakes had stated, “While I mix with Christians from a broad range of theological perspectives, I speak only for my personal faith and convictions. I am not a theologian, and I avoid quoting even theologians who agree with me. To defend my beliefs, I go directly to the Bible. . . . I believe in one God who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I believe these three have distinct and separate functions. . . . I do not believe in three Gods” (Feb. 2000; Jakes, “My Views on the Godhead,” Christianity Today, online ed.).

Or, when Jakes expressed his consistent view of God in “Spirit Raiser” (in Time Magazine, Sept 17, 2001). Note his clear Oneness definition: “And God said, ‘Let us. Let us . . . .’  One God, but manifest in three different ways, Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration.” Again repeating the standard and historical Oneness phrase, “Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration,” which is congruent with Sabellius’s (early third cent.) successive Modalism.          

Since, all evidence (much more than provided here in this terse article) reveals clearly that Jakes holds to and teaches a Oneness doctrine of God, and to date, no evidence exists showing that Jakes unambiguously believes in the Trinity, – unless he,    

 

1) Removes his Oneness description of God contained in both his church’s Belief Statement and school’s Faith Statement,

 2) Openly renounces his numerous and unequivocal Oneness affirmations of God in literature and interviews,

 3) Resigns as Vice Prelate from the Oneness organization, Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, and

 4) Positively affirms a basic biblical definition of the Trinity, we must see Jakes as a consistent heretic embracing Oneness-unitarian theology, which rejects the triune nature of the only true God of biblical revelation—thus denying Christ and His gospel.                

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”).        

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.