γώ εμι, Egō Eimi (“I Am”)

Matt. 14:27: “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I [egō eimi, ‘I am’]; do not be afraid’” (NASB et seq.).  

Mark 6:50: Same Greek phrase as in Matt. 14:27: ἐγώ εἰμι, μὴ φοβεῖσθε, egō eimi, mē phobeisthe (lit. “I am, do not be afraid”).  

John 6:20: Same Greek phrase as in Matt. 14:27 and Mark 6:50.    

John 8:24: “…for unless you believe that I am [egō eimi], you will die in your sins.”

John 8:28: “So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [egō eimi]. . . .”

John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am [egō eimi].”

John 13:19: “From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I am He [egō eimi].”

John 18:5, 6 (repeat by narrator), 8: 5 “They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, ‘I am He’ [egō eimi]. And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 Now then, when He said to them, ‘I am He’ [egō eimi], they drew back and fell to the ground. . . . 8 Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am He; [egō eimi] so if you are seeking Me, let these men go on their way.’” Note, in 13:19 and 18:5, 6, 8, the pronoun “He” was added by translators – indicated by italicization.

 Jesus’ unpredicated ἐγώ εἰμι, egō eimi (“I am”) Jesus’ unpredicated[1] egō eimi (“I am”) claims are some of the clearest affirmations of the Son’s deity and eternality. As mentioned below, in the OT, this title was a reoccurring claim of YHWH alone denoting His eternal existence (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; and 46:4). So of course, virtually all unitarian groups  (esp. Muslims, Oneness advocates, and JWs) deny this truth of the distinct person of the Son, Jesus Christ as being coequal coeternal and coexistent with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit).

However, as pointed out repeatedly, even if one rejects Jesus’ “I am” claims as claims of deity, the deity of Christ, the Son of God, are well established in the content of John’s literature (John 1:1, 3, 10, 18; 3:13; 5:17-18; 6:20; 9:38; 10:27-30; 17:5; 20:28; 1 John 1:1-2; 5:20; Rev. 1:7-8, 17; 2:8; 5:13-14; 22:13).        

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.). Some standard translations add either a predicated clause or the pronoun “He” after the “I am” phrase (cf. KJV, NIV, AMP[2] et al.). However, all extant NT Greek manuscripts containing John 8:24 have no stated predicated clause or predicate such as “He” after the Greek phrase egō eimi. This is true of all Jesus’ egō eimi affirmations.[3]

Additionally, there is clear textual and contextual justification to support that Jesus’ claims of being the unpredicated “I am” and thus, true God and true man. Any added predicate is merely a decision made by the Bible translator. Although the unpredicated divine declaration, “I am,” in John 8:58 is accepted universally as a divine claim among most biblical scholarship (esp. in light of v. 59), not all scholars agree that 8:24 is a divine claim, which is reflected in various translations.

Some translations, however, see the “I am” claim in 8:24 in the same sense as in John 8:58—namely, an unpredicated divine title, such as the NASB 2020 ed. Also note, the ISV 2008 ed. reading: “That is why I told you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM, you’ll die in your sins” (caps. theirs); and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English 2010 ed.: “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). In fact, this translation translates every one of Jesus’ egō eimi phrases as, “I AM THE LIVING GOD.” So Vincent sees 8:24, 28, 58; and 13:19 as a “solemn expression of’ Jesus’ ‘absolute divine being’” (Word Studies).   

It should also be noted that these particular occurrences of Jesus’ “I am” claims are not syntactically the same as other claims, which include the phrase “I am,” such as, “I am the door,” “I am the shepherd,” “I am the bread,” etc., which all contain a clear and stated predicate contra the several unpredicated “I am” statements of Christ. Thus, the burden of proof would rest on the one attempting to show otherwise.

Sometimes, JWs appeal to John 9:9 where the blind man uttered, “I am” (egō eimi). However, the clause is neither syntactically nor contextually equivalent to the unpredicated egō eimi statements of Christ in the gospels. – See our article on John 9:9 and the JWs also see The NWT and John 8:58

 

The Egō Eimi OT Septuagint (LXX) Background

Many associate Jesus’ egō eimi (“I am”) declarations with God’s declaration to Moses in Exod. 3:14: “God said to Moses, I am that I am.’[4] Although, the phrase in the Greek LXX of Exod. 3:14 (egō eimi ho ōn, “I am the One”) is not syntactically equivalent to Jesus’ unpredicated egō eimi claims, it does denote the same semantic: YHWH’s eternal existence.[5]     

Notwithstanding, there are places in the OT, where YHWH alone claimed to be the unpredicated egō eimi, which were syntactically equivalent to that of Jesus’ egō eimi claims— clearly denoting His eternal existence (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; and 46:4, from the Hebrew, ani hu). Further, in Isa. 41:4, YHWH’s claim of being the “I am” is joined with His claim to be “the first, and with the last” (cf. 44:6; 48:12). While in the NT, only Christ claimed to be “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17, 2:8; 22:13). Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the unpredicated egō eimi, in John 8:58, for example, which was sandwiched between other divine implications and syntactical features,[6] the Jews, against the backdrop of the LXX, clearly recognized the semantic force of what Christ was claiming: “They picked up stones to kill Him” (John 8:59).

This was a legal stoning according to Jewish law (Lev. 24:16). In fact, the Jews understood and responded in the same way (wanting to kill Christ), when Jesus made other unique claims of deity—as in Mark 14:61-64- claim: Son of God and Son of Man, “coming with the clouds of heaven”; John 5:17-18– claim: Son of God, “making Himself equal with God”; John 10:26-33- claim: giving eternal life to the His sheep, being essentially one (hen) with the Father, and being the Son of God.

 Marked Progression. Christ’s claims of being the “I am” were not isolated. In John 8, in which most of Jesus’ “I am” claims were recorded, there are many additional claims of Christ as to His preexistence and deity (cf. 8:12, 19 [esp. the “I am” clams in vv. 24, 28, 58], 40, 51), which led up to His crowning claim of being the absolute, “I am,” that is, I am the Eternal One who spoke to Moses in the burning bush. It is when we examine all the “I am” statements do we see the consequence of His claim. Thus, contextually, Jesus’ “I am” claims were unambiguous claims of being the eternal God, the YHWH of Deut. 32:39 et al. And the Jews knew this—for they wanted to kill Him for blasphemy (John 8:59)!  

 

Conclusion

The unambiguous claims of Christ to be ontologically equal with God, God in the flesh, and yet distinct from the Father are abounding both in the OT (esp. as the angel of the LORD) and in the NT (e.g., Exod. 3:6, 14; Matt. 12:6; 14:27-33; Mark 6:50; 14:61-64; John 8:24, 58 et al.; 3:13; 5:17-18; 10:26-30; 17:5; Rev. 1:8, 17; 2:8; 5:13-14; 22:13 et al.)    

However, as pointed out repeatedly, Even if one rejects Jesus’ “I am” claims as claims of deity, the deity of the Son of God are well established in the content of John’s literature (John 1:1, 3, 10, 18; 5:17-18; 8:24, 54 et.; 9:38; 6:20; 10:27-30; 17:5; 20:28; 1 John 1:1-2; 5:20; Rev. 1:7-8, 17; 2:8; 5:13-14; 22:13 et al.).  When Jesus declared He was the “I am” at John 18:5, 6 (repeated by the narrator), and verse 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.  

Believing that the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, is truly God and that His cross work is the very ground of justification (apart from works), is essential for salvation.

  

“You will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM, you’ll die in your sins” (John 8:24, ISV).


Notes 

[1] Unpredicted, i.e., no supplied predicate modifying the subject, “I am.”      

[2] However, in Mark 6:50; John 6:20, the Amplified trans. reads: “Take courage! It is I (I AM)! Stop being afraid.”

[3] Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; 8:24; 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8.

[4] Hebrew, ehyeh aser ehyeh.  

[5]. In Exod. 3, the angel of the LORD (viz., the preincarnate Son) appeared to Moses and spoke to him from the burning bush (v. 2). He had identified Himself to Moses as YHWH and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 4, 6). In response to Moses’s question regarding His “name” (v. 13), verse 14 of the LXX reads: “And God spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I am the Being’” (γ εμι ν, egō eimi ho ōn). As mentioned, this phrase is not an exact syntactical parallel to Jesus’ unpredicated egō eimi claims (John 8:24, 28, 58 et al.), but the semantic consequence is the same—namely, expressing eternal existence. Also note, the articular participle ho ōn (“the one being, existing”) follows the egō eimi phrase in Exod. 3:14. The present tense participle ōn (from eimi, “I am, exist”)—linguistically denotes, “existing, being, subsisting” (context and grammatical features determine its durational aspect). Thus, with the article, “the One who is always, timelessly existing.” So the egō eimi phrase is intensified by the subsequent articular participle: “I am the One being, timelessly existing.”   

In warranted contexts, the articular participle can denote timeless, eternal existence. It is used of God the Father in Rev. 1:4 and the Son in 1:8 (and Father or Son in 4:8). However, aside from Rev. 1:8, the articular participle is applied specifically to the Son at John 1:18: “… the one and only God who is [ho ōn, lit., ‘the One who is always, timelessly existing’] in the bosom of the Father. . . .”); 3:13 (M, TR); 6:46; and Rom. 9:5. In these passages, the articular participle denotes the Son’s timeless existence. Regarding John 1:18, Robert Reymond remarks, “The present participle ὁ ὢν [ho ōn] . . . indicates a continuing state of being: ‘who is continually in the bosom of the Father’” (Systematic Theology, 1998, 303). So Vincent sees the articular participle in John 1:18 as “a ‘timeless present’ expressing the inherent and eternal relation of the Son to the Father.” The anarthrous participle ōn (“being, subsisting”) can also carry this linguistic force. Robertson observes the participle in Heb. 1:3 [hos ōn, “who is”] as denoting “Absolute and timeless existence (present active participle of eimi) in contrast [as pointed out above] with γενόμενος [genomenos] in verse 4 like ἦν [ēn] in John 1:1 (in contrast with ἐγένετο [egeneto] in 1:14) and like ὑπάρχων [huparchōn] and γενόμενος [genomenos] in Php 2:6f” (Robertson, Word Pictures). Therefore, although the phrase in the LXX of Exod. 3:14 (egō eimi ho ōn) is not an exact syntactical equivalent to John 24, 28, 58 et al., it is semantically equivalent YHWH claim of eternal existence. Whereas the exact syntactical parallel (i.e., the unpredicated egō eimi) is found in the LXX of Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; and 46:4—, which are exclusively applied to YHWH.

[6] To laser light His eternal existence as God, in John 8:58 for example, Jesus asserted a sharp verbal contrast between Abraham, who had a beginning denoted by the aorist verb, genesthai (“was born.” from ginomai, “to come to be”), and His eternal existence denoted by the present indicative verb, eimi (“am,” as in egō eimi, “I am”). Thus, a “came to be” vs. “I am always being” contrast. The same verbal contrast can be seen in the prologue of John, where the imperfect verb ēn (“was,” from eimi) denoting the Word’s unoriginate eternal existence, which is exclusively applied to the Word in verses 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10. This verb is contrasted with the aorist egeneto (“became”) which is also from ginomai, which refers to all things that came into existence or had a starting point (e.g., the creation, vv. 3, and 10; John the Baptist, in v. 6). It is not until verse 14 that egeneto is applied to the Word (pertaining to His incarnation): Kai ho Logos sarx egeneto, “And the Word became [ginomai] flesh.” The same verbal contrast (Christ as eternal vs. created things) is found in Hebrews  1:3-4, where the present tense participle ōn (“always being”) is set in contrast with the aorist epoiēsen (“He made”) in verse 2 and participle ōn being in contrast with the aorist genomenos (“having become”—referring to the incarnation) in verse 4.

And the same in Philippians 2:6-7 where the present participle huparchōn (“existing/always subsisting”) in verse 6 is set in contrast with the aorist verbs, ekenōsen (“emptied”) labōn (“by taking”), genomenos (“having been made”) and heuretheis (“having been found”) verses 7 and 8. In each case, there is an outstanding contrast between the eternal preincarnate Son and all things created. See also 2 Corinthians 8:9 where we find a syntactical parallel with Philippians 2:6-7—viz., participle vs. aorist. Participles— ōn, “rich being” (2 Cor. 8:9) – huparchōn, “in the nature of God being (Phil. 2:6). Aorist indicatives— eptōcheusen,He became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9) – ekenōsen,emptied Himself” (Phil. 2:7). Hence, Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “that You, through His poverty [i.e., His incarnation], might become rich” (in glory and righteousness). Also, the same linguistic contrast is found in the LXX of Psalm 90:2 (89:2)—namely, the aorist ginomai is set in contrast with present indicative eimi:

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

 

             

“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.     

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 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.

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:

 

Dan. 7:13-14 [LXX, Swete, Rahlfs eds.]: 13 I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man [anarthrous s huios anthrōpou] was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom and all the nations of the earth according to their kind, and all glory to Him worshiping [λατρεύουσα, latreuousa, present act. participle of latreuō, trans from the imperfect Arm. verb pelach], and the dominion of Him is an everlasting dominion, which ou mē arthē [‘never never, not even a possibility, shall pass away’], and the kingdom of Him, which ou mē phtharē [never never, not even a possibility, shall be destroyed].”  

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 [legontes – pres. participle], ‘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.

Spanish edition Here- 

 

John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (cf. John 4:24). The one true God has revealed Himself as three distinct persons, the Father and the Son, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Unbiblical Teachings of Oneness-Unitarian Theology

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. Similar to Islam, it teaches a unitarian/unipersonal (i.e., one person) concept of God. Hence, the chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

1. Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality and deity of the Son. It teaches that “Jesus” is the name of the unipersonal deity. Accordingly, the “Son” merely represents the human nature of Jesus, while “Father/Holy Spirit” represents the divine nature of Jesus—thus, the Son is not God, only the Father is (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252).

2. Along with the deity, Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son, and thus, His role as the Creator (cf. ibid., 103-4; Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is The Godhead in Jesus?, 1988: 25). By denying the preexistence of the person of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh, and that “flesh” was called “Son” (cf. Bernard, 106, 122).

In sharp contrast to Oneness Christology, Scripture presents clearly and definitely that the distinct person of the Son 1) is fully God (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:18; 5:17-18; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 8, 10; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:8, 22:13), 2) was the Creator of all things (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1: 2, 10-12), 3) eternally coexisted with and is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Gen. 19:24; Dan 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; John 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14), and 4) became fully man in order “to give His life a ransom for many” (cf. John 1:1, 14; Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:6-11).

This is the Jesus of biblical revelation. Jesus Christ is the only mediator and intercessor between God the Father and human beings. Jesus is the divine Son, the monogenēs theos (“unique God”) who is always in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. In contrast to Oneness Christology, Jesus is not the Father, but “the Son of the Father” (2 John 1:3; cf. John 17:5ff.; 1 John 1:3).

Worshiping the unipersonal God of Oneness theology is not worshiping the true God in spirit nor truth. The Oneness concept of God is fundamentally the same as Islam and the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses): a unipersonal deity with no distinction of persons. The true God of biblical revelation is triune—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

See Oneness Tract
See Isaiah 9:6: Oneness Refuted
See Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century?

 

Oneness Theology (Modalism)[1]

 Oneness churches are characterized by and go by many names such as Jesus Only, Apostolic church, Oneness Pentecostal[2] etc. Today, the largest Oneness denomination is the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI). All Oneness advocates reject the Trinity. Rather they believe God is unitarian or unipersonal (one person). The name of the one God is “Jesus,” who is both the Father/Holy Spirit and Son. Oneness advocates claim that Jesus has two natures (or modes, manifestations, roles, etc.), divine as the Father/Holy Spirit and human as the “non-divine,” “non-eternal” Son, whose life started in Bethlehem. In this sense, the “Son” was created in the womb of Mary and is not eternal. In the Oneness doctrinal system then, the terms “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are not three persons, but rather the three roles or modes in which Jesus manifested.

Although not all Oneness advocates agree on every point of Christology, all forms are a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. Oneness doctrine rejects the personhood, deity, and incarnation of the Son. Many Oneness denominations also reject that justification is through faith alone, not by works, by teaching that the work of water baptism is necessary for salvation (e.g., UPCI). 

The chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

 

  • Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality of the Son, Jesus Christ.

 

  • Oneness Christology denies that the person of the “Son” is God. As stated, Oneness theology teaches that Jesus’ divine nature represents the Father and Holy Spirit, but not the Son, that is, the “Son” is not God; the Son is merely the human nature/mode of the unitarian deity, Jesus.[3]

 

  • Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the person of the Son and His role as the agent of creation, hence, the Creator of all things.[4]By denying the preexistence of the person of the Son of God, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh (while not actually becoming flesh), and that flesh body was called “Son.”[5]

 

  • Oneness Christology claims that Jesus is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (same person), hence denying the concept of the Trinity[6] Oneness theology is “unitarian” seeing God as a unipersonal deity.  

 

Since Oneness theology maintains that only Jesus as the Father is God (for “Son” only represents the humanity of Jesus), it clearly denies the Trinity and deity and preexistence of the Son. As said, God is defined from a unitarian perspective: Only the Father is God (i.e., Jesus’ divine nature). Clearly, Oneness theology is heterodox embracing a false Jesus, different from the Jesus of biblical revelation: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father” (1 John 2:23). Oneness doctrine indeed denies both the Father and the Son.

 Response: The three weakest points of Oneness theology are as follows:

 1) The places where Jesus interacts with the Father especially where He prays to the Father and where the Father loves Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17; Luke 10:21-22; John 10:17; 17:1ff.).

2) The places in the OT and NT that teach the preexistence of the person of the Son (the angel of the LORD appearances; Gen. 19:24; Isa. 9:6; Dan. 7:9-14; Mal. 5:2 et al.; John 1:1; 3:13; 6:38; 16:28; 17:5; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:10-12; Rev. 1:8, 17; 2:8; 22:13).

This would include the places that present the person of the Son as the Creator of all things (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10-12).

3) The places that present the person of the Son as God, and distinct from God the Father (Mark 14:61-64; John 1:1, 18; 5:17-18; 8:24, 58 et al.; 10:28-30; 17:5; Phil. 2:6-11; Titus 2:13[7]; Heb. 1:6, 8-12; 1 John 5:20; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14 et al.). Moreover, in NT, there are numerous passages where all three persons are shown as distinct from each other, either in the same passage or same context (esp. Matt. 28:19; Luke 10:21-22; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 2:18; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 1:21-22). The NT explicitly teaches that Jesus is the “Son” of God, and not once is He called or identified as the “Father”[8] (cf. 2 John 1:3).

Further, consider this, Trinitarians, not Oneness believers, conducted all of the major revivals worldwide. Virtually all of the great biblical scholars, theologians, and Greek grammarians, historically have been and presently are Trinitarian, not Oneness—for obvious reasons. The church has branded Oneness theology as heretical since the days of Noetus at the end of the second century. Moreover, when it found its way in the twentieth century, departing from the Trinitarian Pentecostals, it was again rejected by the church.

There are many more biblical objections that could be mentioned. But these do suffice in showing that the Bible affirms that God is triune, and militates against Oneness unitarianism. Modalism rips the heart out of Christianity—it denies Christ by misrepresenting Him. To be sure, Modalism embraces another Jesus, another Gospel, and another Spirit. There is only one true God. The Apostle John was very concerned as to the false beliefs and teachings of Jesus Christ, as he gives this warning:

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23).

 

By promoting the Son as a temporary mode or a role of the unitarian deity whose life started in Bethlehem, denies the Son, as well as the Father.

  1. Oneness theology rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, for they are unitarian (i.e., believes that God exists as one person—unipersonal).
  2. Oneness theology rejects the eternality of the person of the Son.
  3. Oneness theology rejects that the Son was the actual Creator.
  4. Oneness theology rejects the personhood of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Oneness theology distorts and thus rejects the biblical concept of the Son being Mediator (Intercessor) between the Father and men (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). For if Jesus is the Father, then, between whom would He Mediate since by definition a mediator/intercessor represents two distinct parties, other than Himself. Biblically, only Jesus, God the Son, can rightfully represent the Father (because He is God a distinct person from the Father), and represent man because He is fully man. Again, in its proper sense, a “mediator” is one who is other than or distinct from the parties, which are being mediated. However, since in Oneness theology Jesus is both Father and Son, Jesus cannot be properly “Mediator” between two parties–God the Father and man.
  6. Many Oneness churches especially the UPCI rejects justification through faith alone by teaching that one must be water baptized (“in the name of Jesus” only) to be saved—with the evidence, as the UPCI teaches, of speaking in other tongues.
  7. Virtually all Oneness churches reject that water baptism should be done in the *triune* formal as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 28:19, rather, as they insist, it should be dome in the name of Jesus only.

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

NOTES

[1] Historically, Oneness philosophy first emerged around the early second and early third century being popularized by Noetus of Smyrna and Praxeas (Asia minor). It was also called Modalism since all forms of the Oneness idea saw God has merely appearing in three modes (or roles) as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but not in three persons. Subsequently, Sabellianism became a popular brand Modalism. Sabellianism was coined after its chief proponent, Sebelius, the Libyan priest who came to Rome at the beginning of the third century A.D. However, he taught successive Modalism, which saw the modes as successive, that is, “Jesus” (the name of the unipersonal God) first was the Father in creation, then, the Son in redemption, then the Holy Spirit in regeneration. In distinction to simultaneous Modalism, which teaches that all three modes exist at the same time. But the fact is, fundamentally, all forms historically and today are as unitarian (seeing God as one person), as with Islam’s view of Allah and JWs’ view of Jehovah.

[2] Generally, there are two kinds of “Pentecostal” churches – Oneness (such as the UPCI) and Christian Pentecostal, which are Trinitarian (such as the AOG, Foursquare et al.).          

[3] As defined by the UPCI authority and Oneness author, David Bernard in his most recognized book, The Oneness of God (1983), 99, 103, 252.

[4] Cf. ibid., 103-4; Gordon Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is The Godhead in Jesus? (1988), 25.

[5] Cf. The Oneness of God, 106, 122.

[6] Cf. The Oneness of God, 57; T. Weisser, Three Persons from the Bible? or Babylon (1983), 2.

[7] Jesus as “the God” is grammatically affirmed at Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1.  

[8] Oneness advocates typically appeal to John 10:30 (“I and the Father are one”). However, as seen above in detail, this passage in its context systematically refutes the Oneness unitarian interpretation and positively affirms the distinction between the Jesus and the Father: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it back (John 10:17). For more information on John 10:30; 14:9 and other passages used by  Oneness advocates to promote a unitarian Oneness God, see, A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism, 4th ed. by Edward L. Dalcour >www.christiandefense.org<             

See Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century?

Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advanced than that of the Trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil (Reconciliation [Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1928], p. 101).

Since the beginning of human history, the nature of God (i.e., how He revealed Himself) has been furiously attacked (esp. ontological monotheism).[1] Though, one of the first heresies that emerged in first century church was that of the Judaizers.[2] And the second heresy that the early church dealt with was that of the Gnostics.[3] Both of which were thoroughly refuted by the apostles in there writings.[4]

Jesus was clear on the subject: eternal life is to have “knowledge” of the true God (cf. John 17:3; 8:24; 1 John 5:20). And Scripture presents that there is one true God who revealed Himself in three coequal, coeternal, and coexistent *distinct* persons—thus, God is Triune. The biblical data is undeniable. But many today (and historically) deny, in some way, shape, or form, the doctrine of the Trinity. We are not speaking of some peripheral, non-essential doctrine here: The belief in the doctrine of the Trinity is essential to ones salvation, for it is how God revealed Himself—the very nature or essence of His essential Being, the only true God.

If one removes the Son from the Trinity (in any way), the Son is reduced to either to a created being (as with, for example, Oneness believers and Jehovah’s Witnesses [JWs]) or the Son becomes a “separate” God (as in Mormonism). The Trinity is the biblical explanation of how there is one God and yet the Son is presented as both Creator[5] and “God” (theos)[6] distinct from the Father and Holy Spirit who are likewise presented as God.[7]

 

Main Objections to the Trinity 

 

1) The term “Trinity” is not found in the Bible.

2) The Trinity teaches three Gods.

3) The Trinity was invented in the fourth century (viz. at the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325) and thus, it is not taught in the Bible.

First objection. This argument is nonsensical for many reasons. It is true that the exact word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible. If the individuals using this argument were consistent, then, they would not believe that God is “1 person” either, because the word “unitarian” does not appear in the Bible. In point of fact, Christians today (as well as the early Christian church, as noted above) use the doctrinal term Trinity to describe God because it simply adequately denotes the teaching and concept of a triune multi-personal God presented throughout Scripture. Consider that the terms: incarnation, coequal, coeternal (with the Father), and the phrases: hypostatic union, God the Son, substitutionary atonement, etc., which are all true of Christ, do not appear in the Bible. Also, the terms omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, self-existent, etc., which are all ascribed to God, do not appear in the Bible; however, the teachings or concepts of these doctrinal words and phrases do. They are clearly expressed in the biblical content.

Here are some of the doctrinal (nonbiblical) words mentioned above with their corresponding biblical passages expressing the teachings and concepts of these words:

Incarnation. This defines the teaching of God the Son becoming flesh – John 1:14 et al. God the Son (Mark 14:61-64; John 1:1, 18; Heb. 1:8, 10; 1 John 5:20 et al.). Hypostatic union of Jesus Christ. This describes the two natures of Christ, God and man (John 1:14; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:6-7-8; 2 Tim. 2:8). The Son’s coequality and coeternality with the Father (Gen. 19:24; John 1:1c; 5:17-18; 10:30-33; 17:5; Heb. 1:3, 6, 8-12; Jude 1:4; Rev. 1:8, 5:13-14; 22:13).

Substitutionary atonement. This describes Jesus’ atoning cross work as a literal substitution for and on behalf of the elect (John 6:37-39; 10:17; Mark 10:45; Rom. 8:32; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 2:6).

Omnipresent. An attribute ascribed to God (Ps. 139:6-10; John 14:23 et al.).Although there are many more doctrinal words that can be mentioned that are not contained in the Bible, they all do indeed express the biblical teachings and concepts they represent.

Second objection (The Trinity = 3 separate Gods.): To say that the Trinity teaches three Gods is a gross misrepresentation of the doctrine. As noted, the very foundation of the Trinity is monotheism—namely, the Bible teaches that there is only one true God.
 
Three Gods/gods is not biblical trinitarianism rather, it is polytheism (many true Gods/gods. Or henotheism (hen, “one” Theos, “god”), which is the belief that although many true Gods/gods exist, worship and devotion is to only one God. Hinduism and the LDS Church, that is, Mormonism hold to this view. Mormons acknowledge the existence of many true Gods of other planets, but they only worship and the God for this planet. See our article: Are Mormons Christians? Contra to the many “true” Gods of Mormonism, both the OT and NT condemns that (Exod. 20:5; Isa. 43:10; 45:5; Mark 12:28-29; 1 Tim. 2:5 et al.). As shown above, the Bible teaches that there are three distinct persons who share the nature of the one true God. Or, there is one true God (one Being) who is revealed in three coequal coeternal coexistent distinct persons—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As delineated above, the three biblical propositions or truths affirm the Trinity.

1. There is one true eternal God (viz., one Being).

2. There are three persons referred to as God, YHWH, and the Creator of all things— the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

3. These three persons are distinct from each other.

Third objection (The Trinity wasn’t invented until the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325). First, the issue at the Council of Nicaea was not the Trinity, that had already been established in the early church decades before Nicaea. In point of fact, there are no primary source documents that came out of Nicaea that even mention the term “Trinity” or specifically discuss it. Instead, the Council primarily addressed the heretical teachings of Arius who openly taught that the Son was created, “a god,” but not “Almighty God,” similar to what the JWs teach. Arius taught that Jesus was of a “different substance” than that of the Father in direct opposition to the orthodox position, which taught that Jesus was of the “same substance” (homoousios, viz. coequal, consubstantial) as that of the Father, but not the same person. So, the chief issue at Nicaea was the question of the ontological relationship between the Father and the Son—not the Trinity per se

See Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century?


 

NOTES

[1] Ontological (by nature) monotheism (one God) is the doctrine that there exists only one God by nature (cf. Deut. 4:35; Jer. 10:10-11). Mormons, although, claim that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one God,” but only in the sense of “unity,” not one in essence. But, as they assert, these three are three “separate” Gods, with the Father as the head God in whom they worshiped alone—thus, the Mormon view of the Godhead. But whether one or more Gods are worshiped is irreverent, the question is: how many true Gods exist? The fact that the Mormons believe that many “true” Gods exist, therefore, categorizes the Mormon people as overt polytheists (the belief in many true Gods) and hence, non-Christian. Not only in the OT, but in the NT as well, strict monotheism was strongly asserted (e.g., Mark 28:29; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5).

[2] Simply, the Judaizers taught that one had to practice the OT law, rituals, ordinances, etc. (esp. circumcision), to obtain salvation. And this, was the primary reason as to why Paul wrote to the Galatians.

[3] The Gnostics (from gnōsis, meaning “knowledge”) held to a dualistic system: spirit was good and all “matter” (esp. flesh) was inherently evil; some even taught that “matter” did not exist; it was illusory—as with the theology of Christian Science today. Both the Apostle John and Paul specifically refuted this teaching (esp. in Col. and 1 & 2 John).

[4] As seen above.

[5] E.g., Isa. 9:6; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17)

[6] E.g., John 1:1, 18; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:3, 8-10

[7] Of course, the OT and NT teaching of “one God” (i.e., monotheism) does indicate or equate “one person” as *unitarian* groups such as Jews, Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals, etc. presuppose. Monotheism simply means “one God” (viz. “one Being”). To argue that “one God” equals “one person” is to argue in a circle. It assumes what is meant to be proven.

 

It is usually alleged by unitarian/unipersonal (i.e., groups that believe God exists as one sole person, thus denying the Trinity[1]) that the OT is entirely unconscious to the idea that God is multi-personal—the one God. Remember, that the divine truth and the way in which God unfolded that truth in the history of redemption has been progressive. Thus, as it has been asserted that the OT is the NT concealed, whereas the NT is in fact, the OT revealed.

So while such truths as the incarnation, the substitutionary atonement of the Redeemer exist primarily in the shadows of OT narrative, poetry, prophecy and their fulfillment in the fuller revelation of the NT, is perfectly consistent in the singular theme of God’s purpose among men: His work of salvation in Christ, to the praise and glory of His grace (cf. Heb. 1:1-2). The doctrine of the Trinity as defined in the fourth and fifth-century creeds is not contained in the OT, in terms of the specific doctrinal language. But, it does not follow to assert that because the OT utilizes different language than that of post-Nicene language, that this somehow militates against the notion that the Jews did, in fact, envisage God as multi-personal.

Monotheism & the Word “One”

As stated, groups such as Jews, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and of course, Oneness believers are functionally defined as unitarian, for their commitment to absolute unipersonalism/unitarianism, which maintains the notion that God is unipersonal (i.e., one divine Person). This is, of course, why these groups flatly reject the doctrine of the Trinity—thinking that the Trinity is three separate Gods. However, in Hebrew there were various words that could be translated as “one” and the word that speaks of God being “one” (in the OT), every time, is echad (אחר, e.g., Deut. 6:4).

As many have pointed out, the term echad can indicate compound or composite unity—not necessarily absolute solitary oneness, as in Genesis 2:24, for example: “Adam and Eve became one [echad] flesh” (also see Gen. 11:6; 2 Chron. 30:12). Further, the word in the OT lingua franca, which does strictly signify absolute solitary oneness, is yachiyd (cf. Ps. 68:6), but this term is never once applied to God. If God were an absolute lone unipersonal Deity, as anti-Trinitarians assume, surely the biblical authors would have used the term yachiyd to say that God is “one,” but they did not, they exclusively used echad.

The Plurality of Persons Expressed

Aside from the first person plural verbs, adjectives, and prepositions used of God in the OT (i.e., “Let Us,” “Make Our,” “[One] of Us,” et al; Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; 11:7-9; Isa. 6:8; 11:7; Isa. 6:8; 54:5 [lit. Heb., “Makers,” “Husbands”]; also “Maker” is plural in Ps. 149:2 and Job 35:10; Prov. 30:3 [qadoshim, lit., “Holy ones”; same with LXX–hagiōn]; Eccl. 12:1 [lit. Heb. “Creators”]) to underscore the multi-personality of God.

Similar with Jesus’ usage of first person plural verbs (eleusometha, “We will come,” and poiēsometha, “We will make”) to both Himself and His Father, in John 14:23 clearly distinguishing Himself from His Father). Note both Gen. 1:26 (LXX) and John 14:23 contain the same plural verb of poieō (“to make”). Thus, OT clearly presents Yahweh as multi-personal. Thus, because God is tri-personal He can be described as both “Maker” and “Makers” and as “Creator” and “Creators.” He is one Being, not one Person—a point that is repeatedly demonstrated by the OT authors.

The idea that God is an undifferentiated unipersonal Being is simply foreign to the OT message itself. Note some examples below: poieō

 

Yahweh to Yahweh

In Genesis 19:24, we read of the LORD’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah:

The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD [Yahweh] He rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD [Yahweh] out of heaven (vv. 23-24). 

Notice that it was the Yahweh, who rained brimstone and fire from the Yahweh out of heaven. Two distinct divine Persons called “Yahweh,” nothing more nothing less, if of course, you take Scripture on its own merit. But Unitarians cannot do so; their allegiance to their prior assumption that “God is unipersonal precludes even the possibility that such evidence might be considered objectively.

Psalm 45:6-7: Elohim to Elohim

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.

Not only do we have a clear multi-personal reference of Elohim (“God”) speaking to Elohim in direct address, but, the writer to the Hebrews applies this very text to the “Son” (not the Father), who Oneness teachers say is not God—only the Father is God. 

The author of Hebrews quotes the Father directly addressing the “Son” as ho Theos, “the God.” For God (the Father) speaking to God (the Son) is consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity; two divine Persons differentiated from one another, yet each equally identified as “God.” God the Father speaking to God the Son.

Also see Daniel 7:9-14

The Angel of the LORD

We also see clear multi-personal references of God as we read of “the angel of the LORD [Yahweh]”. This angel was not some indefinite angel, one among many. This angel, who was called “the angel of the LORD,” claimed that He was “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exod. 3:6). When Hager encountered the angel of the LORD (cf. Gen. 16:7ff.) being frightfully responsive (due to of Exod. 20:19: “for no man can see Me and live”), said to Him, “You are a God who sees . . . Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” (16:13). There are many “angel of the LORD” references (e.g., Gen. 22:9-14; Exod. 23:20-21; Num. 22:21-35; Judg. 2:1-5; 6:11-22; etc.). Most significant is the account recorded in Judges 13:1-25 where Manoah and his wife (Samson’s parents) dialogued with this angel. And when Manoah discovered that it was “the angel of the LORD” he declared to his wife, “We will surly die, for we have seen God” (v. 22).

The “angel of the LORD” was clearly identified as Yahweh to those who interacted with Him. Yet in Zechariah 1:12, however, we find the angel of the LORD (who claimed to be Yahweh throughout the OT) praying to the “LORD [Yahweh] of hosts,”—Yahweh praying to Yahweh.

 

All these OT plural descriptions of the one Yahweh can only be consistent with monotheism in the context of Trinitarianism.

 

The biblical doctrine of the Trinity is arguably the pinnacle of God’s self-disclosure to mankind. From the multi-personal references of God in the OT to the personal distinctions between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit expressed in the NT (cf. Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), the triune nature of God has been well established. Despite this evidence, however, it seems that the preaching and teaching of the truth of the Trinity is largely absent from many Christian pulpits. Moreover, though some notable scholars have produced worthy contributions on the subject there appears to be a definite lack of ecclesiastical material, apologetic literature and other resources affirming and defending the doctrine of the Trinity.

The biblical conclusion: God in three Persons

When we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ we must proclaim the truth of God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When the person of the Son is detached from the Trinity, the very Being of God is confounded. To deny the Trinity denies the person of the Son, and thus, the very essence of God: 

22 “Who is the liar but 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] E.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc. etc.

NOTE: many of the Trinitarian objections made by the JWs are typical of virtually every anti-Trinitarian group. This section does however focus on the Watchtower’s booklet Should you Believe in the Trinity. For more exegetical responses to other anti-Trinitarian objections and assertions see: Oneness Objections to the Doctrine of the Trinity.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (i.e., the corporate name of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; hereafter JWs) prints enormous amounts of books, pamphlets, and literature teaching their members that the doctrine of the Trinity is a false doctrine. The JWs are taught that the Trinity doctrine originated from the Devil, and promulgated by the Catholic Church. To be sure, JWs have a gross misunderstanding of the doctrine, hence, since the early twentieth century the Watchtower has consistently taught that the Trinity is a false:

How strange that any should attempt to misuse and pervert these our Lord’s words, to make them support the unreasonable and unscriptural doctrine of a Trinity–three Gods in one person (Studies in the Scriptures, 5:76).

Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advance than that to of the Trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil (Reconciliation, 101).

Most JWs carry around with them their most popular handout booklet (and study guide) called: Should you Believe in the Trinity (hereafter SYBT). If you have ever discussed the Trinity with them, you probably have been given this booklet. The booklet provides the bulk of most arguments that they use against the “deceived Trinitarians” thus many dedicated JWs memorize the arguments stated in the SYBT.

Thirty-one pages of arguments against the “dreaded” doctrine of the Trinity. Chalk-full of misquotes and selective citations from various Encyclopedias, Dictionaries and biblical scholars. Additionally, the SYBT contains a mega-dose of blatant misrepresentations of early church Fathers, historic revisionism and doctrinal deviations. But yet to the JWs, the SYBT booklet is their gun-of-choice study guide to annihilate the “evil” Trinitarians. You might ask, why would they take this booklet seriously when it contains so much disinformation? The reason being: JWs do not practice independent research outside the libraries of their Kingdom Halls (the place where the JWs assemble). At the end of the SYBT booklet, it concludes by saying:

There can be no compromise with God’s truths. Hence, to worship God on his terms means to reject the Trinity doctrine. It contradicts what the prophets, Jesus the apostles, and the early Christians believed and taught. It contradicts what God says about himself in his own inspired Word (31; under the title “Reject the Trinity”).

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: OBJECTIONS TO THE TRINITY

(Based on the Watchtower publication: SYBT and other standard arguments used by JWs).

 

OBJECTION #1: THE WORD TRINITY

The SYBT says that the word, “Trinity” is not in the Bible.”

RESPONSE: As mentioned above In point of fact, virtually all anti-Trinitarian groups make this same objection.

To assume: what is not stated must not be true is an argument from silence. Further, to say that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true because the exact word “Trinity” is absent from the Bible is self-refuting. For if that kind of reasoning were true, it would then follow, that Watchtower doctrine could not be true, for in the original Hebrew and Greek text Watchtower terms like, “theocracy,” (which they claim their under), “Jehovah,” (Note: “Jehovah” is an Eng. transliteration. Orig. Heb. had no vowels only consonants. Thus, the English term “Jehovah” is not contained in Scripture either. It also does not follow that because a particular word is not contained in Scripture that we cannot use that word to communicate a truth of God.

What is not at all considered is that even terms like, “Bible,” (a Lat. term) or “self-existent,” are not mentioned in Scripture and both are biblical truths, which all JWs agree upon. If we were only limited to strict biblical words, then, we would have to, when teaching out of the New Testament, use only Koine Greek words that the NT authors utilized! Employing unbiblical words does not violate the rules of sola-Scriptura, which says Scripture alone is the sole infallible “rule of faith” for the church, as long as the unbiblical words are wholly consistent with Scripture. Holding firm to Scripture, the early church would use unbiblical words to explain and define the biblical data revealed within the pages of the Holy Writ.

In other words, “Trinity” is merely a precise doctrinal word that defines the biblical revelation that is so overwhelmingly found in Scripture: God the Father sent God the Son; the Eternal Word, in which He became flesh (cf. John 1:1; 6:37-40; 17:5). After which God the Son died in the place of the believer whereby His death provides full atonement for the sins of His people (cf. Matt. 1:21; Rom. 8:32), and God the Father and God the Son sent the God the Holy Spirit to empower the church, and dwell with believers: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (John 15:26).

Again, this point must be understood: We cannot confuse biblical data with doctrinal words that merely define that data. The doctrine of the “Trinity” was derived from the Scriptural data. Biblical scholar Benjamin B. Warfield explains the difference:

Precisely what the New Testament is, is the documentation of the religion of the incarnate Son and the outpoured Spirit, that is to say, of the religion of the Trinity, and what we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity is nothing but the formulation in exact language of the conception of God presupposed in the religion of the incarnate Son and out poured Spirit (Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1929, 146.)

Thus the Tri-Unity of God is based on biblical data. The formulation of doctrinal words, however, came later when Christians, developed the precise term “Trinity” that simply defined the biblical data, because of the heresies that denied the biblical data in some way or other. As with the doctrinal terms like “substitutionary atonement,” “incarnation,” hypostatic union,” “omnipresent,” et al. All these terms came later after the apostolic age, which the church used to define the revelation or data that is clearly contained in Scripture.

Moreover, salvation is completely dependent on the Tri-Unity of God (i.e., soteriological Trinity). Example: The Covenant of Redemption, that is, all that the Father gives to Christ will come and He will raise them up at the last day (cf. John. 6:37ff). That Jesus is the Mediator between God (the Father) and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5) can only be true if Jesus is God and is a distinct Person from the one He is mediating for. Again, this point must be understood: we cannot confuse the Scriptural data of the Trinity with the doctrinal word, “Trinity” that defines the biblical data.

OBJECTION #2: PAGAN ORIGINS

The book also asserts, as do most anti-Trinitarians, that the doctrine of the Trinity is derived from pagan sources.

RESPONSE: This is a fallacy of false cause (misrepresents the cause). The Trinity is an utterly unique Christian doctrine. Pagans worshipped and believed in many gods (as with the Mormons) hence, the references in SYBT to the so-called parallelisms of the pagans were to THREE separate gods NOT one God in existing in three distinct persons.


OBJECTION # 3: CHURCH FATHERS

The SYBT booklet asserts that the early (Anti-Nicene; before the Council of Nicene; A.D. 325) church Fathers did NOT believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. The JWs booklet quotes from the Anti-Nicene church Fathers: Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 160); Irenaeus (c. A.D. 180); Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 195); Hippolytus (c. A.D. 205); Tertullian (c. A.D. 213); and Origen (c. A.D. 225).

However when we refer to actual statements contained in many works (e.g., The Anti-Nicene Fathers, found at most city libraries and seminaries) clear is the fact: the SYBT booklet grossly misquotes or misrepresents what they said and believe. Not surprising is that the SYBT does not provide the addresses of the citations; for obvious reasons.

RESPONSE: This an argument from ignorance. They all, unequivocally, believed in the full Deity of Christ (the quotes below are from the Ante-Nicene Fathers [hereafter ANF], (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887; reprint, 10 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994).

Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 105). The SYBT does not quote him, however, Ignatius was an early church Father that was a disciple of the Apostle John who constantly affirm the full deity of Christ and distinction from the Father and Spirit. See The Christology of Ignatius

 

Justin Martyr (A.D. 150). The SYBT booklet says that Justin called Jesus “a created angel” (p. 7). Justin did call Christ an angel, however only in the sense that He came as a messenger, to the people of the Old Testament (e.g., the angel of the LORD who spoke to Moses and claimed to be the “I AM”; cf. Exod. 3:14ff; see ANF, 1. 223). The English word “angel” has the denotative meaning, in both Hebrew and Greek, as simply “messenger.”

Jesus certainly was active in the Old Testament as a “messenger,” and that is what Justin meant. John 1:18 says: “No man has ever seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Jesus in the Old Testament interacted with the people of God (e.g., angel of the LORD; the Rock that accompanied the Israelites, see 1 Cor. 10:4).

Never once did Justin say or infer that Christ was created only the converse is asserted: Jesus Christ was the Eternal God. But again the quotes in the SYBT booklet are without addresses. Let us read what Justin really said:

He deserves to be worshipped as God and as Christ (Anti-Nicene church Fathers, 1:229).

For Christ is King, Priest, God, Lord, Angel and man (ibid., 1:221).

The Father of the universe has a Son. And He, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God (ibid, 1:184).

David predicted that He would be born from the womb before the sun and moon, according to the Father’s will, He made Him known, being Christ, as God, strong and to be worshipped (1:237).

Next, the SYBT cites Irenaeus bishop of Lyons (c. A.D. 185), as saying that Jesus was inferior and not equal with the Father. However Irenaeus clearly believed and defined the full Deity of Christ:

I have shown from the Scriptures that none of the sons of Adam are, absolutely and as to everything, called God, or named Lord, But Jesus is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, Lord, King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word.… (1:449). 

Thus He indicates in clear terms that He is God, and that His advent was in Bethlehem… God, then, was made man, and the Lord Himself save us (1:451).

He is God for the name Emmanuel indicates this (1:452).

Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers (1:467).

He was man, and He was God. This was so that since as man He suffered for us, so as God He might have compassion on us (1:545).

Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 195) who is cited as saying that Jesus, was not equal to the Father. But read what he actually said:

He is God in the form of man. . . the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father’s right hand. And with the form of God, He is God (ibid., 2:210).

The Word itself, that is, the Son of God, is one wit the Father by equality of substance. He is eternal and uncreated (2:574).

Hippolytus (c. A.D. 203) is cited as believing that prehuman Jesus was created. But notice what this great Christian apologist really stood for and believed:

Having been made man, He is still God for ever. For to this effect, John also had said, ‘Who is and who was, and who is to come–the Almighty.’ And he has appropriately called Christ the ‘Almighty’ (5:225)

They killed the Son of their Benefactor, for He is co-eternal with the Father (5:220)

For, as the Only-Begotten Word of God, being God of God, He emptied Himself, according to the Scriptures… (5:167)

The Logos alone of this One is from God Himself. For that reason also, He is God. Being of the substance of God. In contrast, the world was made from nothing. Therefore, it is not God (5:151).

Therefore, a man . . . is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God–who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject (Himself excepted)–and the Holy Spirit; and that these are three [Persons] (5:226).

“Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” By this, He showed that whoever omits any one of these three, fails in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, and the Spirit manifested (5:228).

Tertullian of Carthage (c. A.D. 213) is cited next as saying, “there was a time that the Son was not” ( 7). However, what Tertullian meant (in his argument against the Modalism of Praxeas) was that he believed the Word was the Eternal God but yet distinct in His person from God the Father, and that the Word took on the title “Son” which was a common belief among many church Fathers (esp. the apologists). That Tertullian said that Jesus was created or came to be (in terms of His existence as a person) is completely and diabolically distorting what Tertullian meant. In fact, it was Tertullian that first coined the word “Trinity” (Lat. trinitas, the cognate of Gk. triados) in the West. Odd that the SYBT booklet would even cite this church Father. Tertullian taught:

For the very church itself–properly and principally–the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity [trinitas], of the One Divinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (4:99; cf. Against Praxeas).

This opens the ears of Christ our God (3:715).

Surely I might venture to claim the very Word also as being of the Creator’s [Father] substance (3:356).

Now, if He too is God, for according to John, ‘The Word was God,’ then you have two Beings– One who commands that the thing to be made, and the other who creates. In what sense, however, you ought to understand Him to be another. I have already explained: on the ground of personality, not of substance. And in the way of distinction, not of division. I must everywhere hold only one substance, in three coherent and inseparable [persons] (3. 607).

It should be noted as well that in the East, as early as A.D. 180, church apologist Theophilus bishop of Antioch first uses the term “Trinity” to describe God: “In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [triados] of God, and His Word, and His wisdom” (Theophilus To Autolycus 2.15, in ANF, vol. 3).

Origen (c. A.D. 228) was also cited by SYBT as denying that Jesus was God. However, Origen contradicts these Watchtower assertions: The Word that was in the beginning with God (who is also very God) may come to us (4:449). Also, 

The Son is not different from the Father in substance (9:336).

Saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all. That is, it is made complete by naming the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this, we join the name of the Holy Spirit to the Unbegotten God (the Father) and to His Only-Begotten Son (4:252).

The above is a mere set of examples of the massive collection of the libraries of quotations and apologetic works of church Fathers teaching and defending the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity are massive. To the church Fathers, teaching, and defending the Deity of Christ and the Trinity was extremely important to them. Many of them spilled their own blood defending these doctrines. Why? Because in Trinity is how God revealed Himself to man: FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT.

The SYBT ends this page entitled: “What the Ante-Nicene Fathers Taught” by this: “Thus, the testimony of the Bible and of history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter” (p. 7).- – See, Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century? 

 

OBJECTION #4: THE TRINITY DOCTRINE DID NOT EMERGE
UNTIL FOURTH CENTURY:- – Also see 

RESPONSE: See Was the Trinity Conceived in the 4th Century? 

 

OBJECTION #5: THE CHURCH FELL INTO TOTAL APOSTASY

JWs assert that the Early Christian church fell into Complete Apostasy after the death of the Apostles.

RESPONSE: This is an argument from ignorance. When did so-called apostasy happen? What year? In point of fact, there is not a shred of anything that would indicate or even infer that the entire Christian church fell into apostasy. The verses that they use say that only “some” will fall away or that “many” will abandon the faith but never once does Scripture say that ALL will apostatize. To assert this notion is an “easy-out” for JWs that say that: The original Christian Church did not teach Jesus was God. Both Mormons and JWs maintain this idea of a total apostasy only to avoid the truth that the early Christians taught what Christians believe today: THERE EXIST ONE TRUE GOD and JESUS IS THE ETERNAL GOD DISTINCT FROM HIS FATHER.

If the early Christian church apostatized, why do we read in Revelation 2:1ff. that the Ephesus church was commended by God for not tolerating wicked men and testing those who claimed to be apostles but were false. And we read of six other functioning Christian churches. The point is this: the Apostle John wrote Revelation, in or around A.D. 70-90!– no more than forty or sixty years after the resurrection Christ!

So, did the entire Christian church fall after that? How could this happen? What does that say about the condition of the early Christians? Where they so spiritually bankrupt that they suddenly fell to paganism? Or suddenly just quit believing? What does that say about God? Could He not hold His own church together? Where is the evidence for this?

That the whole Christian church is even able to fall-away is notion that is sharply refuted by the apostles and Jesus Christ Himself:

Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. . . . And Jesus answered and said unto him. . . . “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:16-18; KJV).

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus promised that He would never leave His church, nor would the gates of hell come against her. Likewise, the apostle Paul explains: “To him [Jesus] be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph. 3:21). In contrast to the assertions made by the JWs, that His teachings were somehow lost, Jesus made a clear promise that His teachings would indeed last: “You did not choose me, but I choose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last” (John 15:16; emphasis added). As seen above, the church Fathers from Ignatius, to the great defender of the Trinity, Athanasius, and after, believed and taught that: Jesus Christ was the eternal God Creator of all things.

Think about it, if there were no true Christians until the JWs emerged (1870), then, would it not follow that we would find distinctive Watchtower theology somewhere in church history? We have records of virtually every teaching that was prorogated from the first century. Where in church history though were the teachings of the JWs? And of course the Mormons (who make the same church fell in total apostasy claim) have the same problem: where was distinctive LDS doctrine before Joseph Smith (1830)?

Historically, we do have records of virtually every promulgated theology. However we do not have ANY historical record of distinctive Watchtower theology. Hence, are we to believe that for over 1800 years Jehovah did not have a witness until Charles Taze Russell (JW’s founder) came on the scene? The only teaching that even resembles Watchtower theology (esp. Jesus as a created being) was Arianism.1 Accordingly, the Christian church roundly and sharply condemned Arianism because it denied Jesus Christ as eternal God, as the JWs teach.

 

OBJECTION #6: THE TRINITY IS THREE GODS

Most JWs grossly misrepresent the doctrine of the Trinity by asserting that the Trinity is three separate Gods.

RESPONSE: Again, this a typical straw man argument. The doctrine of the Trinity is not three Gods. The doctrine of three Gods is tritheism, not Trinitarianism. Three Gods is how Mormons view the Godhead. The foundation of the Trinity is pure ontological monotheism: ONE GOD. One Being revealed in three distinct Persons, coexistent, coequal, and coeternal.

OBJECTION #7: THE TRINITY IS ILLOGICAL

The SYBT says that the Trinity is, “Beyond the grasp of human reason” (4). And that God is, “Not a God of confusion” (ibid.). From that line of thought, JWs will argue that Trinity cannot be true, it too confusing.

RESPONSE: For something to be illogical, it would have to contradict reason. The doctrine of the Trinity does not contradict reason. The Trinity is not 1 person in 3 persons or 1 God in 3 Gods. It does not follow that because something is not completely explicable that it cannot exist or cannot be true. For example, many of the formulations in physical science, not contrary to reason, and may be apprehended (though it may not be comprehended) by the human mind.2 Does anyone completely understand how light travels? Does it travel as a wave, corpuscular or quantum phenomenon? Yet, we believe in the reality of light, even though we cannot totally comprehend it.

The Trinity may not be totally comprehendible, but we can surely apprehend how God has revealed Himself to us through Scripture: There is ONE TRUE GOD; the Father is God the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. And the three are clearly differentiated. One God revealed in three distinct Persons. We cannot simply put God in easy-to-understand categories to gratify our feeble minds. We are called to worship God how He revealed Himself to us in His Word, anything less, is not worshipping, or honoring the true God.

The JWs reject the Trinity and hence they reject God. God is tri-personal He is not a unipersonal God as taught by the JWs. They are without excuse:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isa. 40:28).

 

Notes

1, Early in the fourth century, Arius of Alexandria, postulated his teaching that Jesus was a different substance (heteroousios) than that of the Father. He used some of the same argumentation that the JWs use today. And of course, Arianism was completely refuted as heresy at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325).

2, Example taken from: Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses (Baker House Books, Grand Rapids Michigan), 17.