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The Essence of God and Deity of Christ

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Question #1:

Dear Robert,

I have just discovered your site, which looks to be an amazing resource. I will start with your "basics" series, as it looks like the most sensible place to start. I have not had the luxury in life to acquire a university education, and this resource looks to be a well structured entry into some of the weightier matters of our faith. Although this will not be my first ever read of such things, I am sure it will be a fruitful one.

I have been a Christian for many years, converted in a Church of England setting, and slowly moving into a non-denominational setting. I love the Lord with "all" my heart (who can truly know?), and am currently serving Him in Malaysia through a local church body, under the leadership of the Pastor here. I am committed to (local) church as the expression of Christ, and only want good things for the Church, the bride of Christ.

But, for most of that time as a Christian I have wrestled in my heart and spirit over a few key matters, and have been praying for God to lead me to someone who might be able to help me answer my questions. My purpose in asking is most definitely not to undermine the faith. Far from it, it is to understand it, to strengthen it, and to find answers as to where the true life of the Church has disappeared to over the centuries.

So, in my impatience (I'm not getting any younger ;-), I wondered if I could fire off my first question even before I've had a chance to read any of your material? As my question involves the interpretation of some language, I will say now that I have no real knowledge of Greek I accept that this is dangerous, but anyway, these questions come prompted by the thoughts of others who have raised them in my mind.

Logos - In John 1:2 the Strong's word G3778 is, in many bibles, written as "He". As far as I can see there is no linguistic reason for this; it seems purely interpretive to me. Is that correct? If one were to write, as the KJV does (I am not a King James man, so don't panic), "The same", or perhaps "This (logos)" which is what it is really referring to (no?), then there is no reason to use "He" all the way through verses 2-4? Those uses of G846 alter in Scripture depending on the context; if there is no "he", and John is talking purely about the logos in it's actual intended meaning (communicated thought, reason) then G846 would be written here as "it", in the same way it is in verse 1:5 "the darkness comprehended it not".

As you will quickly gather, my struggles are around the subject of the trinity, and the deity of Jesus. I struggle with these doctrines for a number of reasons, and of course once I have taken your "Basics" course, will turn straight to your emails and other writings on the same. But those reasons are easily summarised as being my spirit (it doesn't sit well in my "heart"); my mind (it doesn't make sense to me, and I don't accept the argument that God cannot be understood by man - as if He is unable to explain Himself); my reading of the Bible (limited, with no Greek, but focusing heavily on context for self-interpretation; it is in the area of "out-of-context" interpretation where I feel most the teachings (of any kind) seem to stray from the real message of the Bible); my limited knowledge of church history - in particular the involvement of the Roman Catholic church in forming Christian dogma that we have had to live for so long. I realise the idea of the trinity was around before the Council of Nicea, however so were it's opposing views - and I struggle to accept that any one group of individuals has the authority (right) to wipe away early church history and teachings over what were essentially political causes.)

I do not believe that removing the trinity and the deity of Christ undermines anything in the life of Christ, the effectiveness of His amazing saving work on the cross, or in our "ability" to follow Him into the very heart of the Father. And it is this fear that many have (including the Roman Catholic church) suffered from which prevents us from reading the Bible in it's original, more straightforward meaning. BUT, I am far more interested in getting this matter straight in my own mind and heart, than I am in defending any one perspective. Hence the reason for my question. I have only told you these things so that you understand my heart a little better, not to commence a wide-reaching debate over which many have fallen in the past.

I would so dearly appreciate it if you could help me. I don't have the eyes, or the ears I need in Greek terms, or in the learning I might need, and hope you might feel willing to help me answer some of my own questions.

God's blessings to you,

Response #1:

Very good to make your acquaintance – and thank you for your email. The Basics series is perhaps poorly named in that it not only has many things which are fairly advanced but also in that many of the studies are somewhat long so as to be comprehensive. I had originally intended to make them "pithy", but they ended being a sort of systematic theology instead. The Peter Series (see the link), is actually the place I recommend new readers to begin (combined with a systematic perusal of the many email responses), but you are certainly free to start anywhere. Part 1 of Basics, Theology, does treat the Trinity in some detail, albeit not from an apologetic standpoint. Some of the email responses deal with various questions readers have – or outright objections – both of which may be helpful for someone like yourself who is looking for perspective on this important doctrine. Here are some of those links:

The Trinity (in BB 1)

Explaining and Defending the Trinity and the Person of Christ.

Explaining and Defending the Trinity and the Person of Christ II

Apologetics and the Trinity

The One True God and the Trinity in the Old Testament.

Questioning the Trinity.

The Trinity in Isaiah 63:10-15.The Trinity in Scripture

Let me assure you that I am certainly not interested in defending "orthodoxy" as it is traditionally defined merely for the sake of tradition. In my life and in this ministry I have always made it my policy to pursue the truth and to seek out the truth of what scripture actually teaches. Where that has caused me to part company with tradition, I have parted company. Where that has caused me to modify tradition, I have modified it. And where that has caused me to accept tradition, I have embraced it – not for tradition sake but for the sake of what the Bible actually says and means.

Many people have questions about the Trinity. The word itself, of course, does not occur in the Bible, but that is true of many doctrinal truths which are nonetheless true. The Bible is not an academic text book, and the sometimes seemingly obscure or obscured nature of the truth it contains is by no means accidental:

He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' "
Mark 4:11-12 NIV

True Christianity is all about choice: to seek the truth and believe it or fail to do so. If we didn't have to "knock", there would be no testing of our hearts and of our genuine will in these matters. But if we do "knock" we do receive answers, even if it sometimes takes persistence (Mk.7:7; Lk.11:9; 18:1-8). So I appreciate your persistence, and I will do my best to help you to come to the truth in this matter.

To begin with your language questions, in John 1:2 the word translated by most English versions "He" is the Greek demonstrative pronoun houtos (οὗτος). In Greek, nominal words have case, gender and number, and the pronoun here is masculine, not neuter (that would have been touto, τοῦτο). The reason for the "this" being masculine may be because the word Logos is a masculine noun. Later, in verse 5, Jesus is described as "the Light", and since the word for light is neuter (to phos, τὸ φῶς), the pronoun which picks it up later in the verse is also neuter (auto, αὐτὸ). However, for John, the Logos, the Light, and Jesus Christ are all one and the same, with the first two being symbols which illustrate who He is, namely, the very Word of God, the very Light of the world. If not already obvious to the reader, this is made unmistakably clear in verses 9-10 when the Light is then described as "Him" in verse 10 – a masculine pronoun even though the reference is to the Light, a neuter word. So while John starts off with these figures, it is clear at this point and everywhere following this point in his gospel that he is referring to the transcendent nature of the Son with the use of these two figures of the Word and the Light.

I would not confuse the Roman Catholic church (which in its current iteration cannot date to much before the sixth century) with early Church efforts to defend against attacks on basic Christian truths. Their formulation of many things may be less than perfect, but on the Trinity the basic proposition of three Persons sharing one divine essence is completely consistent with everything scripture has to say on the issue. From your email, it seems to me that your questions revolve around the deity of Christ rather than the humanity of Christ. In the history of the Church, both have been attacked. Gnosticism was one of the earliest attempts to confuse these issues. In the early going, most were willing to accept that Jesus was God, but had problems accepting that God had really taken on genuine humanity. For this reason what there is of an apologetic nature in the New Testament regarding the Person of Christ mostly defends His humanity rather than His deity (which was being taken for granted). Here are a couple of links I would suggest you peruse before anything else:

The Divinity of Jesus Christ

Jesus is God

Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God?

Jesus is God and Man

I do have to quibble with one thing you say here: "I do not believe that removing the trinity and the deity of Christ undermines anything in the life of Christ". Salvation rests upon the solid Rock of Jesus Christ: who He genuinely is and what He has done for us in dying for our sins, and the two are inextricably related. For without appreciated Jesus' deity, we cannot truly appreciate the sacrifice He made by becoming a human being (Phil.2:5-8); and without appreciating Jesus' deity, we cannot truly appreciate what He did in dying in the darkness of Calvary being judged for the sins of the world (i.e., it is not His physical death which expiated our sins but His spiritual death, which would in turn have been impossible if He were not both God and man; see the link).

I am sure that you have other questions (and will have more when you have a look at some of the links given above). Do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:

Hi Bob,

I have taken a first look at half the series on Peter, and scanned some information regarding the trinity, including a few emails and the first stage of the Basics series. I have read documents of a similar nature in the past, and will again go through as we get into the relevant details, although there is so much there that it would take me some time to get into it, as you know from having "penned" the material. And I must say I was very excited to read about your views on eternal security ... I think that's great, and I also think such doctrines point to the heart of church slumber. But for now, my response to your very kind language tuition.

Please forgive my simplicity on this matter, but there is so much background built into your response that I really do need to take this step by step in order to make sure I am putting one brick atop another in the right way. So perhaps we could just start with the logos.

Firstly, you say that "this" may be referring to the masculine pronoun "logos". You seem a little unwilling to commit yourself to this point; but I can see no other explanation. If the writer wanted to use the masculine pronoun, as in verse 10, wouldn't he have done so?

Secondly, if this should be properly written as "this", then am I right in saying that all the G846 uses in vs 2-4 should also reflect this – they are all referring to the logos, not a person, and should read "it".

Many thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you again,

Response #2:

Good to hear back from you. As to your latest questions, Greek is a highly inflected language which makes trying to decipher it without knowing it a very risky proposition. Strong's can only take a person so far. Without considering dual forms (which are rare in 1st century ancient Greek), the near demonstrative pronoun "this/that" has 24 separate forms to take account of case, gender and number (some of which are duplicative in that they may refer to more than one possibility). So for any pronoun, adjective or participle, using Strong's to figure things out is, in view, harder than learning Greek (and a much less reliable method).

As to the specifics, the form of the Greek pronoun which occurs at John 1:2 is houtos (οὗτος), and it is definitely masculine. The neuter would have been touto (τοῦτο), and the feminine haute (αὕτη). So it is completely justifiable to understand this pronoun as referring to Jesus and translate "this man" or "He". My point is that in my opinion the direct reference is really to the noun, Logos (i.e., "this [Logos] was in the presence of God [the Father] before creation"). With that in mind, whether to translate "He" or "it" is an English question, not a Greek question. If one understands that the Logos is referring to Jesus, which in my view is not open to serious debate, then, since Jesus is masculine (except perhaps in the distorted view of Gnostics), translating "He" is perfectly fine. If someone wanted to translate the pronoun which leads off John 1:2 as "it", this would indicate to me that 1) the translator understands Logos as the subject of verse two (I have no problem with that), but also thinks that there was some distinction between the Logos and Jesus – since Jesus is clearly not an "it" – and I see no way to make that work linguistically (let alone theologically). After all, John very clearly connects the Logos to the life-giving "Light of the world" not only throughout this section of chapter one where John is said to be a "witness to the Light" who "came to His own but His own did not receive Him (masculine – and here the "him" is in the masculine and has to be Jesus grammatically because the word "light" is neuter), but also throughout his gospel:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12 NIV

"While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
John 9:5 NIV

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."
John 11:25 NIV

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6 NIV

And, after all, John's gospel is about Jesus. Since the gospel is about Jesus, to have the introduction refer to something entirely different from the subject of the work would be completely unparalleled in all of ancient literature. I am confident that there are no secular scholars who would be willing to say that the Logos here is not Jesus. They may not believe in Jesus; they may not believe in God; but what the text is saying here is very clear to anyone reading the Greek (and most of the English versions reflect what the Greek means pretty well – John's Greek is not very difficult as Greek goes).

Finally, it will be helpful to remember, as our Lord points out repeatedly in this gospel, that the Father "sent Jesus into the world" (Jn.3:34; 4:34; 5:23-24; 5:30; 5:36-38; 6:29; 6:38-39; 6:44; 6:57; 7:16; 7:18; 7:28-29; 7:33; 8:16: 8:18; 8:26: 8:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 12:44-45; 12:49; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:8; 17:18; 17:21; 17:23; 17:25; 20:21):

"What about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?"
John 10:36 NIV

Since only God could have been around since the beginning – as the Logos was – and since only God could be "sent into the world" having existed since before the world began, clearly, Jesus is both God (as One who preexisted creation) and man (as One who was actually sent into the world by the Father). This ties this in precisely with John 1:9:

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
John 1:9 NIV

I am happy to hear that you are digging into the Trinity links. I would encourage you also to have a look at the links which deal with divinity of Christ. To me, that is the first and most important truth to be discovered and accepted in inquiries of this sort. Once it is clear that Jesus is God, the hows and wherefores of the Trinity make much more sense for people having this issue than trying to thread the needle the other way around.

Yours in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

Once again, many thanks for taking the time and spending the effort to answer me.

On this very important point, I really would like to separate out the language issue from the interpretation issue, to help me understand it better. As I understand it you are saying the following: houtos in vs. 2, is definitely masculine; it is masculine because logos in vs. 1, is masculine; and because John is using logos to refer to Jesus, "he" is a reasonable English word to use to reflect John's meaning, because logos (being Jesus) also implies "he". And, for full clarity on the language issue, if logos were not referring to Jesus, but to a more general statement such as, say, the general purpose of God in history, one would still be able to use the same Greek language, but the English could not be written as "he", it would have to read "the same" - is this correct?

Many thanks, and blessings.

Response #3:

You are very welcome, and, yes, you seem to have understood what I was trying to say very well in the main. I would only have two small caveats on your synopsis:

On houtos, this is my understanding of the issue. Many would argue that Jesus Himself is the subject of verse two and that the houtos refers to Him specifically and directly (as opposed to indirectly). In my view, it's really one and the same thing because Jesus clearly is the Logos (i.e., "the Word"), and the Logos is Jesus, for Jesus is the Word of God:

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
Revelation 19:3

On the issue of an alternative interpretation of logos, first, this is an impossible hypothetical here given the text as it stands. In order for ho logos here not to refer not to Jesus but to "the general purpose of God in history" (as you put it), the entire first chapter of John would have to be drastically changed (not to mention the rest of the gospel too). According to all canons of logic and literature, the Logos is represented here as Jesus and Jesus as the Logos (regardless of any theological concerns). Secondly, in my view changing the English translation to "the same" from "He" – or even to "it" – would, while less smooth and potentially somewhat confusing – nonetheless lead any objective reader to the same conclusion before reaching the end of the chapter. That is to say, there would still be no way around the fact that the "it" referring to the Logos is Jesus, because the Logos is still "God" (v.1), still "the Life" (v.4), still "the Light" (v.5), still witnessed to by John (v.8), and still becomes a man who is described as he/him (in v.10). As all of these metaphorical descriptions of Jesus are reconfirmed later in the gospel, and as the gospel is about Jesus, there is not a single glint of daylight for seeing the Logos as anyone (or anything) else.

In Him who is the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

G'Day Brother!

Hope your doing well! I was speaking to a Jehovah witness today who tried to attack the deity of Christ. He referred to Revelation 3:12, 14 & Proverb 8:22-31; using these verses to suggest Jesus was created. What is your take on these verses? Is there any verses that support such claims that Jesus was created. I believe Jesus is Jehovah God in the flesh.

Thanks in advance.

God Bless

Response #4:

Jesus is the Creator, the One who created the universe as the Agent of God's Plan (Jn.1:3; Heb.1:1-3; 1:10):

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:16-20 NIV

And of course it was God who created the world (Gen.1:1). Please see the link: "Jesus is God"

As to these verses, first, Revelation 3:14 states that Jesus is the arche of creation. I translate that "the originator of creation". The Greek word arche has to do with beginnings, and so can mean "ruler" (i.e., "first citizen") or "creator" or "beginning". The last definition is clearly an incorrect way to understand Revelation 3:14 unless we understand it as subjective and not objective, that is, "the one who made the beginning" rather than "the One who was made in the beginning" (which is clearly wrong). The former is acceptable Greek usage and clearly what John means here (although the JW Bible's "the beginning of the creation by God" is ambiguous enough to allow their desired incorrect meaning to be alternatively understood).

As to Proverbs chapter eight, I don't quite see the point. This is talking about Wisdom (a key theme throughout Proverbs) which in this chapter is personified as a female. This personification is a literary device (there is no actual person; rather, wisdom is being described as if it were a person, a "she"), and certainly nothing in the context should make us think Jesus is in view. He is a male. And He was not created. And He existed "with the Father" before creation (Jn.1:1).

As to your other question, "oneness doctrine" sometimes refers to the heresy of monarchism, the false teaching (which has been around since the beginning of the Church) that only the Father is God. The Trinity is the biblical position – for those who are interested in the Bible (see the link: "The Trinity").

In my experience, people who do not accept the divinity of Christ are not worth arguing with (unless one's particular gift and area of ministry for the Lord is that of apologetics). They are not going to be convinced, and, since this is their "hobby horse" issue, they are well-versed in how to spin into lies all of the solid proof to the contrary, while at the same time being generally little interested in the Word of God for its own sake. That, by the way, is always a good way to tell if you are dealing with a cult or a legitimate Christian group, with an indoctrinated automaton or with a genuine Christian who is merely misguided on one point: ask about other areas of scripture and see if it doesn't all come back to the central false truth that is being peddled.

Hope this helps – feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

THE ESSENCE OF GOD.

The "ESSENCE OF GOD" is composed of: "Physical AREA OF THE UNIVERSE" occupied by an "INTELLIGENCE" of the highest degree of perfection, to the origin in time and space for all forms of "ENERGY", that move, from the atom, with its structures infinitesimal dimensions, until all the heavenly bodies that make up the cosmos in perfect harmony and balance in his movements, and the purity of his feelings of "LOVE" consisting of "piety", "JUSTICE "and "LOVE "gives us the existence of life.

Response #5:

Dear Friend,

Respectfully, God is "bigger" than the universe in every respect. After all, He created it – so that ipso facto He existed before it and exists independently of it:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 NIV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:1-3 NIV

The essence of God is His being, and in that being He is infinite in nature and perfect in character, unlimited and unbounded in every positive way. Being infinite in His nature, God is spiritual, eternal, immeasurable, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent – the one unique God. Being perfect in character, God is good, holy, faithful and true, love, just, life – the one sovereign God. For further description and explanation of these characteristics, please see the link: in BB 1: Theology: "The Essence of God".

In Jesus Christ, the God-man who died for us and through faith in whom alone we have eternal life,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6:

Hello--I've been meaning to ask you as theological question that would involve Hebrew, I imagine...you know in Is. 9:6, where Jesus is called "everlasting Father"? How does one reconcile that with the fact that the Son is NOT the Father, though both are the One God? The only explanation I have run across is that "father" here can mean "originator" such as in "father of mercies," so, this could mean "originator of eternity."

But anyway, I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks and have a nice weekend.

Response #6:

Yes, this is exactly how I take the Hebrew here in Isaiah 9:6: 'abi'adth (אֲבִיעַד): Jesus is the originator or "bringer in" of eternity, the One who "fathers it", so to speak. So "Father of Eternity" is the translation I prefer, referring to our Lord's reign "until all enemies are put under His feet" (Ps.110:1) and "then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power" (1Cor.15:24 NIV). That is when eternity will begin.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Bob,

Thank you very much for your response. Perhaps you are the one I have been searching for to answer my questions. You say the original new testament uses the name Iesous. What is that version called, I would very like to see a copy. Also, my dilemma is in the meaning of this name, as I have stated before it is important obviously to the FATHER so it is important to me as well. Do you have a Greek/English dictionary that gives the specific meaning of the name Iesous and if so would you give me the name of it. What I have found is convoluted. Any dictionary that I get into gives who Jesus was, not the meaning of the name and any reference to Iesous is directed back to Jesus. As the Hebrew name Y'oshua, is Elohim saves, my search is for the same for these other names. Can you help?

No sir, I do not find fault with anyone who uses the name Jesus. Quite the contrary, we have been persecuted for using the name Yeshua but I would never do likewise. What if in my search I found solid proof that justifies that name? I would feel horrible! What I'm looking for Bob, is a Greek dictionary that will give me the root form of the name Iesous and its definition. What could be simpler right? Not so, at least for me. If you can do this, you will be my go to guy from now on.

In the name of our Messiah,

Response #7:

Good to hear back from you – I appreciate your spirit. As to dictionaries and lexica, they are descriptive rather than dispositive. That is to say, a lexicon written millennia after the fact cannot dictate to people eons earlier what their language may or may not have meant. It is merely a tool for us today which attempts to distill scholarly opinions as to the meanings of words, and, like all tools, has to be used carefully by skilled hands in order not to be mis-used. Here is a link to "Jesus" which includes both Strong's and Thayer's renderings (both of which are close but not perfect in my view; see below); also Vine's (see the link; these all take the yasha element as noun; I prefer seeing it as verbal; see below). There are many other such lexica, but most of them are under copyright and not available online.

The name "Jesus" (Ἰησοῦς / Iesous) is the standard Greek transliteration for the Hebrew name "Joshua". We know this from a plethora of evidence. For example, long before the New Testament, during the 3-4th century B.C., the standard Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures was produced. This translation, known as the Septuagint (or LXX), obviously had to represent all manner of Hebrew proper names in Greek. One such name was Joshua. If one goes to any place in the Greek version where the name Joshua occurs in the nominative or subject form (e.g., Josh.1:10), the word Ἰησοῦς / Iesous will be found. This word/name is identical in spelling and diacritical marks to the name "Jesus" wherever it occurs in the New Testament. Not only that, but in the book of Hebrews, at 4:8, the KJV has "if Jesus had given them rest" whereas all of the other version have "if Joshua had given them rest". The reason is that in the Greek here we have Ἰησοῦς, Iesous, which can be translated either "Jesus" or "Joshua", depending upon who is meant. Why the difference between KJV and other versions? Because KJV rendered all instances the same as "Jesus" which is closer to the pronunciation of the Greek rendering of the name, but since "Joshua", which is closer to the pronunciation of the Hebrew rendering of the name, is the person actually meant at Hebrews 4:8, other versions make this clear by using the Hebrew transliteration. Still, in Greek the names are identical so that one has to realize that in Hebrews 4:8 Joshua son of Nun is the person meant, not our Lord Jesus.

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Ἰησοῦς / Iesous)."
Luke 1:31 NIV

It is certainly possible that this command was given to Joseph by the angel Gabriel at the Father's behest originally in Hebrew, but this incident is recorded for us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit only in Greek. The New Testament was written in Greek almost exclusively, and not in Hebrew (there are a very few Aramaic phrases also included; e.g., Marana, tha!). This was obviously by divine design as Greek was a language spoken throughout the Levant, the Middle East, and, most significantly, throughout the entire Mediterranean world of that time. By putting the New Testament in Greek, our Lord guaranteed that it could be quickly and easily disseminated and understood in virtually every small town and city in most of the inhabited world (see the link: "Biblical Languages"). So we are not talking about a "version" here: the New Testament in its original language is a Greek document, and all serious Bible scholars must as a result learn Greek in order to be able to access the New Testament in its original form. There are a number of scholarly editions of the Greek New Testament available, as well as interlinear versions and the like. The basic Greek text is easily accessed on the internet (see my Bible Study Links for some sites; Blue Letter Bible is also an excellent resource for this purpose).

I certainly have no problem with someone wanting to call Jesus "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua" or "Yoshua" or "Joshua" or "Yeesous", and I am glad to hear that you are fine with those of us who prefer the traditional English "Jesus". All of these name-forms go back to the original Hebrew form of the name through one route or another and one theory of pronunciation or another (see the link below for the details). It does seem to me, however, that if the pronunciation were the important thing, the New Testament would not have left us with the traditional Greek transliteration of the Hebrew without further comment. And some considerable further comment would be necessary too. For one thing, there is more than one form of the name "Joshua" (i.e., Yashua: ישוע; and Yahoshua: יהושע), although the LXX uses "Jesus" to transliterate them both, and no inkling of any possible distinction between the two can be found in the New Testament. Nor can we be absolutely sure what the precise ancient Hebrew pronunciation was. Modern Hebrew is pronounced somewhat differently from Rabbinic Hebrew (and there are several varieties of that as well). And as to ancient Hebrew, we have to guess about some things (e.g., how was letter 'ayin vocalized or was it ever vocalized at all?). Take for example at Judges 12:6 the means used by Jephthah's men to determine whether or not a person was an Ephraimite, namely how they pronounced the letter shin. That incident documenting alternative pronunciations took place before the vast majority of Old Testament books had been written, let alone the New Testament. And of course the actual pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, YHVH, is unknown (it is traditionally vocalized as 'Adonay when the Hebrew scriptures are read aloud). I think that if precise pronunciation were important, therefore, we would not be left in the dark about it: God provides us with everything we truly need to know.

It strikes me, therefore, that what is really important about the Name is what it means – and that is clear enough in all the various forms of Jesus' Name: "YHVH saves" (the Name being a combination of Yah, the shortened form of YHVH, and yasha', the root meaning to save or deliver). See the link: The Name "Jesus".

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Ἰησοῦς / Iesous), because he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21 NIV

As I say in regard to this name in BB 4A, Christology:

Jesus: This primary name is a transliteration of the Hebrew name often vocalized "Joshua" (יהושע), meaning "The LORD saves", and is the name which Joseph and Mary are instructed to use "because He will save His people from their sins" (Matt.1:21; Lk.1:31). Therefore this name is clearly expressive of the work which our Lord accomplished on the cross in dying for the sins of the entire world. As such, it represents Him as both human and divine, since only God could remit our sins, and only a perfect human being could die for them (cf. Matt.9:2-6; Mk.2:9-10; Lk.5:20-24; 7:48-49).

This meaning is blessed indeed, and I think that if we Christians kept in mind every time we hear "Jesus" the fact that Jesus' very name means that He has provided us with salvation through His blood, we would be doing well – no matter how the Name is pronounced.

I hope I have answered your questions here, but do feel free to write me back about any of these matters.

In Jesus, the One who saved us by dying for all of our sins on Calvary's cross,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I've heard people say that God's name in the biblical Hebrew is Yahweh, and then I've also heard that His name is Jehovah. Are both His names or is one a proper title for God?

God Bless,

Response #8:

This is the same name. In Hebrew, the tradition is not to pronounce the most sacred name for the Lord, the so-called "tetragrammaton" (i.e., the four consonant name: YHVH). So wherever the Name appears in scripture, the word 'adonay (lit., "my Lords", a plural of majesty) is substituted and read instead. If we use these same vowels of 'adonay with the consonants YHVH, we may get "Jehovah" (depending upon who is doing the hypothesizing – there are a number of variant ideas on this); if we just look at YHVH and hypothesize about what might be the most likely original vowels based upon the spelling, we might get Yahweh (and again, there is no universal agreement on this either). KJV (followed by many other versions) has LORD (note the all caps, a useful convention I suppose, but one that is not to my taste) wherever YHVH occurs; whereas "Lord" in the versions most often indicates the actual word 'adon. In Greek, they use kyrios for both LORD and "Lord" with no distinction (Greek does not have pronoun suffixes as Hebrew does).

You can find out more at these links:

The names LORD and God.

The Divine Name

Divine Names in the Bible

Changing the Name of God?

Please do feel free as always to write back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

While we're at passages whose interpretation is debated, can you please handle Philippians 2:9-10? A historian used this passage to argue that Jesus Christ never existed, since, according to his interpretation of this passage, this passage implies that Jesus' name didn't exist until after he ascended into heaven. Was Jesus named Jesus on earth, or is this a name given to him after resurrection?

Sincerely,

Response #9:

I've never heard that this passage is a matter of any debate. Since that is my impression, I conclude that this particular historian does not exist, at least by whatever name he is presently called. A ridiculous conclusion, but not as much so as the one you report. I don't think that this kind of logic will get this person tenure.

Given what we have in the four gospels, Acts, all of the epistles, and the later extra-biblical evidence on this, we are more certain that "Jesus" was Jesus' name than we are that Pericles or Socrates were named what they were named. As to His name, here is what I read in the gospel of Matthew:

"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:20b-21 NIV

The name Jesus is indistinguishable from Joshua and means "YHVH saves". This was always to be His name, is His name throughout the Bible, and, yes, continues to be His name after the ascension.

Philippians is speaking of the glory / glorious reputation that Jesus won through His victory on the cross. After all, even in English we have the idiom, "he made a great name for himself", and no one is under the impression that in doing so the person's name was changed or became different. In English and Greek both, the idiom merely means to have one's name glorified.

In Jesus' whose Name is truly glorious,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi,

I had a question regarding your page with one of the answers for your question found on http://ichthys.com/mail-divinity%20of%20Christ.htm. I have been struggling with this for a while. How could Jesus be God when James 1:13 says, "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;" and according to Luke 4:1-14 Jesus is tempted in the wilderness? Another verse says, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18

Another question I have on the same subject is when Jesus prayed He prayed to the Father but why would he pray to Himself if He is God?

Thanks,

Response #10:

Very good to make your acquaintance.

As you know, all human beings are mortal and would face nothing but death and condemnation were it not for the grace of God. But God cannot just pardon sin for nothing (that is why, for example, the sacrifices of the Law all involve the shedding of blood: e.g., Heb.9:22). Ignoring sin would be contrary to His righteous character. In order to forgive us our sins, an absolute necessity if we are going to be saved, God had to judge those sins somehow. Our sins had to be atoned for if we were going to avoid the second death and live with Him in eternal bliss instead. And of course we Christians know very well how that atonement was made and who made it: our Lord Jesus Christ did so through His death for us on the cross, bearing all of our sins and "washing them away" through being judged for them in our place (i.e., His spiritual death; see the link). In order for salvation to occur, there had to be a Substitute.

The two-fold problem, of course, is that since the fall no mere human being was worthy to stand in our place, since we are all born in sin, and no mere human being could or would be able to bear the sins of the world, even if he/she were sinless. The other side of the problem is that God cannot die, cannot suffer, and cannot have direct contact with sin. God in His boundless wisdom and ineffable mercy found the solution – indeed He ordained it eternity past: God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, would take on true humanity. Being true God and sinless man, Jesus was capable of bearing our sins and worthy to do so.

Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
Hebrews 7:26 NIV

The other question you ask has to do with the nature of the Person of Christ since the incarnation. Jesus suffered, but in His humanity; Jesus was tempted and tested, but only as a human being. In order for Him to be a true Substitute and in order for Him to offer Himself as an acceptable sacrifice, our Lord had to come into the world as a human being – no less God but now also a genuine man. And He had to walk through this world as a man, bearing the brunt of suffering and satanic opposition beyond what we can know or even really imagine, culminating with the ordeal of His condemnation and the judgment of all sin in His body on the cross. Therefore all of these issues you bring up have to do with the human nature of Christ, not His divine nature, and during the first advent there is an important distinction between the two in the way our Lord had to relate to the world. Uniquely, Jesus Christ, while always and eternally one Person, has two distinct natures since the incarnation, divine and human. During the first advent, in order for His sacrifice to be acceptable, there were self-imposed limits on what His deity could do to help His humanity. Theologically, this principle of limitation which was necessary for Jesus to secure our salvation is called the doctrine of kenosis (see the link). This doctrine explains how Jesus, though God as well as man, was allowed to feel pain, got tired and hungry, had to wait, had walk, had to endure, and even had to pray. As the Suffering Servant, the "ground rules" of the first advent required Him to make His way through this world as we all do. Clearly, He did better than anyone ever has (perfectly, in fact), but He also had more trouble and opposition than anyone else ever has. The miracles He performed were always for the benefit of others, not for Himself. This explains why we are called upon to have His earthly life as our example and to share the sufferings of Christ. It's a very important doctrine; properly understood it brings us to a better realization of just how much Jesus gave up for us and did for us . . . and how much He loves us.

Apologies for the brevity of the answer; I have given you the gist of it above, but you will find much more on all these points at the links below:

When Did Jesus Realize He Was the Son of God?

Kenosis: Our Lord's Self-Limitation during the 1st Advent

The Hypostatic Union and Kenosis

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #11:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I know I've asked this question before, but it seems as if Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians keep bringing this passage up to defend their false theology. I run in JW's a lot and try to convince them that their beliefs are false, and that belief in the Deity of Jesus is essential for Salvation. They quote:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

I would respond to them by saying, "if Jesus is not the true God, then He must be a false God."

They'll respond by saying that angels are referred to as gods, and so is Satan. How do I give a defense to this?

God Bless,

Response #11:

Always good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you are doing well.

There are two issues here, namely, the exegetical one and the apologetic one. To meld them into one, there are many places where the Bible teaches the deity of Jesus Christ, e.g.:

But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom."
Hebrews 1:8 NIV

You can find more at the links: "Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God", "Jesus is God", and "Jesus Christ is truly Divine" in BB 4A.

On the one hand, John 17:3 does not say that Jesus is not God (please see the link: "the One True God", for a detailed discussion of the meaning of that passage); and on the other hand there are plenty of passages where it is made clear that He is God. Of course the JW's have convenient answers for them all, but not as convenient as they feel they have in John 17:3 – which is why they use that passage for snappy comebacks. I think I would reply with something like this:

". . .of course God is the only true God". There is only "one God" – that is what all Trinitarians believe. We do not believe in three gods but in one God – a God in three Persons. So calling the Father "the one true God" does not mean that Jesus is not God – which He is. Rather it shows that there is only one God, and that is what we believe. But if Jesus were not God, how then could the Father send Him – clearly from heaven? That is why in Hebrews 1:6 it says that God "brings his firstborn into the world" – clearly from heaven – and then calls Jesus "God" in Hebrews 1:8: "your throne, O God". That is why John 1:1-2 says that the Son was with the Father before the creation which the Son Himself effected (Jn.1:3) – impossible if He were not God. Etc."

As with many things in scripture, it takes some consideration, explanation, examination of other passages, etc., to bring out the truth. And the problem with JW's and the like is that they are not really interested in the truth and are not likely to be convinced by anyone pointing out the truth to them, even if it is done effectively. That is why I personally have so little patience with apologetics: I'd rather spend my time on and with those who are genuinely interested in searching for and understanding the truth of scripture – but we all have our own gifts and our own ministries from the Lord (and we all should pursue them with the strength and grace God provides). There are a number of correspondents to this website who do have that particular gift and calling. It is also true that all of us are responsible to be able to "give a good answer" to those who ask for the faith that is in us (1Pet.3:15). The main thing is for those of us who do not have the gift or the ministry of apologetics to be able to quickly discern when we are only casting pearls before swine and disengage quickly after a brief and direct statement of the truth.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

This is not a question!!

I am just blown away by all the implications of what you have written on the subject of Jesus' words: "My God My God Why have you forsaken me?"

I've been ploughing through everything I can find in commentaries and translations recently, to appreciate exactly what was meant/was actually happening. You are the only person (so far) who has drawn out the connection between the last phrase in Ps 22 and Jesus' words "It is finished". If you are right, it is truly amazing - wonderful - that Jesus, with limited capacity to speak, should begin and end this "proof" psalm and thus imply to all who would know its full content, His utter living out, of its every nuance. And you (perhaps uniquely.. so far) emphasize the actual intent of those words as being FOR US! That makes so much sense. That is a novel thought!

There are wonderful commentators (eg Matthew Henry, John Gill) who bring great depth and richness, but who nevertheless reiterate a notion that I am coming to seriously question - or disbelieve, namely, that God turned away, or forsook, or abandoned, the Son. That very same Psalm, 22, expressly says He did not hide His face!

Anyway, it is a truly challenging thing to consider, especially because there is such widespread sentimentalism in the church over this terrible event. I am suddenly struck by the conviction that God, who delivered His Son to this prosecution and death, and to whom the Son showed utter obedience and devotion, could not actually abandon Him. Is it possible that so many of us have been wrong all these years? I have also been mulling over a sermon by Ligon Duncan on Ro 8:32 and the very real cost to the Father. It seems that the relationship must at that moment in history have been at its most profoundly concrete and certain.

The thing that got me looking into this was a sermon this Easter in my (Presbyterian) church by a young minister who troubled me by stating that on the cross "the relationship between the Father and the Son was totally annihilated".

I'll keep searching, and keep pondering. I need to think through the ramifications of believing that the Father turned away/looked away/ abandoned His Son, and that the Father did not stint/look away/ turn away/close His eyes/abandon Him.

Thank you so very much for your helpful insights!

God bless,

(Melbourne, Australia)

Response #12:

You're most welcome.

Incidentally, inasmuch as your text seems to indicate that you have read the email response on this issue, let me give you the links to where these matters are discussed in greater detail:

in BB 4A Christology: "Kenosis and the Cross"

in BB 4A Christology: "Christ died Spiritually" (includes His final statements)"

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #13:

Hi Robert,

You don't need to answer these emails brother. I can see from your articles on this subject of the Trinity, that some people simply refuse to see it in Scripture, and they are therefore unbelievers and have hardened their hearts from the truth. One man who was trying to help this lady with these wrong beliefs tried to explain to her (in a similar way that you have explained), that the Bible is not like an encyclopedia, but must be understood as a whole, and from this we should clearly see the plurality of persons in the Godhead. But no matter what anyone says, people who don't want to know the truth or see it simply will not. I sent him a message and shared your website with him and he said he was vaguely familiar with you, but that he is looking forward to checking into your teachings deeper in the days ahead. So I am just thankful to have the opportunity to share your website with others. I hope you are doing well and have a good week!

In Jesus Christ whom we praise, thank, love, and live for,

Response #13:

Thanks,

I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment (a little under the weather, deadlines looming, have to go out of town this week, etc.). I do want you to know how much I appreciate your support and encouragement, and also your ministry efforts for the sake of the Body – and those who are marginally in or out especially. I have no doubt that there will be those at the last judgment who will plead ignorance only to receive the reply "What about this email you received? Spells it all out pretty clearly." In the mercy of the Lord may there be more at Christ's judgment seat who are able to say, "Thank goodness I read that email!"

Your brother in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Why does Jesus have the title KING OF KING AND LORD OF LORDS on his thigh?

Response #14:

The Greek says "written on His tunic and on His thigh", which I take to mean "written on His tunic [as a border along] His thigh". In other words, this gives the location of the name on His garment. It was common in the Roman system, for example, for men to have a badge of rank emblazoned on their tunics in the form of clavi or stripes in this very location (wherein one's rank was indicated by the width of the stripe, with equestrians having narrower stripes than those of the senatorial class). Instead of a mere stripe, our Lord has His rank emblazoned there for all to see (in a vertical script, as I envision it). For the name itself, here is what I have written in CT part 5 in loco:

As mentioned in our discussion of verse twelve above, our Lord has many names, as many as there are races and tribes and peoples and nations or ever have been. For He is Sovereign over them all. Therefore this Name is given out as the common Name by which He may be known: "King of Kings and Lord of Lords". For this title sums up His total rule over all (1Tim.2:16; Rev.17:14; cf. Deut.10:17; Ps.136:2-3; Dan.2:47).

(4) John, to the seven churches which are in Asia [Minor]: Grace to you and peace from the One who is and was and is coming (i.e., the Father), and from the seven spirits (i.e., the Holy Spirit) which are before His throne, (5) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth.
Revelation 1:4-5

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord – and in anticipation of that wonderful day!

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I've heard many who deny the Deity of Jesus use the passage where Jesus responds to the rich young ruler, "why do you call me good?" when the rich young ruler asks Jesus, "Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?". Those who defend the Deity of Jesus would respond by saying that Jesus wanted to let the young man know who He was dealing with, that is, God. I interpreted that passage a different way, that there is more to the context than that; although I also would agree with their interpretation too.

I see it as the rich man wanting to know how he can "earn" his way to heaven (what must I do to "inherit" eternal life?). And calling Jesus Good, as in the young man believing that being "good" is a way to earn heaven. Jesus responding, "why do you call me good"? is letting the young man know that "good works" is not how one inherits eternal life. Jesus let the young man know this by responding, "go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor." That is, the first commandment (Love God with all your heart and have no gods before Him) is the commandment that is above all. I don't believe that anyone is truly keeping the first and greatest commandment if their love for God isn't genuine. Therefore keeping the first commandment is the key to eternal life. I'm not sure if this makes sense. Maybe I'm confused. Is this biblical?

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #15:

I certainly agree with you about the fact that none of us is really living up to the standard of loving God as much as we should! There will always be room for improvement on this score, and we should all strive to love Him more day by day. After all, Jesus died that we might live. What else or who else is there in this world that can compete with that! We just have to get into the habit of thinking that proper way at all times.

As to the rich young ruler, yes, I think you are onto something. And I would say that I too don't disagree with the standard interpretations nor with you. I would also add that our Lord's question to him cuts right to the quick of the issue of the gospel. This person was not yet saved. That means ipso facto that he had not yet accepted Jesus for who He really is: the God-man who came to die for the sins of the world. Therefore this person's tossing out of the gratuitous compliment "good" was just what our Lord used to make him realize what he was doing: if Jesus really was "good", then He was also God; but if He wasn't God, then this person did not really mean it when he said "good". Our Lord always cut through the baloney and made the issue crystal clear for anyone who was willing to be instructed in the truth. We can learn a lot from this example! See also the link: Luke 18:19: "Why do you call Me "good"?"

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

You wrote: This title [Alpha and Omega], used of our Lord at Revelation 22:13, is also used for the Father (i.e., at cc). Could you explain how do we know that 'Alpha and Omega' in Rev.1:8 and 21:6 refer to the Father?

Response #16:

Revelation 21:6 is the Father based upon verse 5 of His being seated on the throne. Given that therefore Alpha and Omega can refer to the Father, I take Revelation 1:8 as also referring to Him as a validation of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (see the link: Revelation 1:8). I realize that there is no "smoking gun" for Revelation 1:8, but the description, its location in the chapter, and the thrust of its effect as an imprimatur for Christ's Revelation all say to me that this is the Father.

Question #17:

Could you please explain Luke 1:51: "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart."

How do we know that the title 'His arm' refers to Jesus? Also, does Mary here refer to things already achieved by our Lord (through Old Testament epiphanies), or is it prophetic perfect referring to things about to happen (during incarnation and afterwards)?

Response #17:

"The Arm of the Lord" is a perfect title for our Lord Jesus because the arm is often the instrument, metaphorically speaking, with which we human beings perform our tasks (on this title in a Trinity passage see the link: "The Trinity in Isaiah 63"). Our Lord Jesus is called "Arm of the Lord" in at least one place where He specifically is in view: Isaiah 53:1, the passage that speaks most clearly about the sufferings of the Messiah to come. As to Mary's prophecy, as is often the case in prophecy, it has multiple applications: 1) historically there are innumerable instances of the Lord's humbling the proud and exalting the righteous; 2) in the contemporary situation the Lord has exalted her from her humility (v.48); 3) you are correct that Jesus will humble all the proud on the day of His great return (see the link: in CT 5, "The Humbling of the Wicked").

Question #18:

You wrote: He is the One who has saved us from eternal condemnation by personally coming into the world as a human being and dying in our place for our sins (Is.53:1 in the context of chapter 53; cf. Jn.12:37-38). Although Is.53:1 is cited in Jn.12:37-38, why do you link it to the death on the cross? Or is it just a passage used to illustrate our Lord's 'coming into the world as a human being' ('to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed')?

Response #18:

Yes. "Arms" are made of flesh, so that this title calls attention to the coming of the Messiah as a true human being.

Question #19:

In 1 Corinthians 11:3: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ."

Does 'God' being the 'head of Christ' refer to God the Father having the authority over the Son in His humanity only? Is there any other meaning to this passage?

Response #19:

You are correct. As I have mentioned, Christ's voluntary subordination to the Father within this creation is His chosen role and does mean or imply that He is any less God. The Trinity share the same essence and have the same purpose "without any shadow of turning".

Question #20:

You wrote: and this title emphasizes our Lord's status as Commander in Chief of the angelic armies ("host" being a translation of the Hebrew tsabhah, צָבָא, "army"; cf. Ps.84:3; Is.6:5; Am.5:14-16; Zech.1:3-17). Could you briefly explain how do we know that all these passages apart from Isaiah 6:5 refer to Jesus?

Response #20:

Rather than being passage specific, it is the fact that Jesus is the head of the heavenly armies (as in Revelation 19:14; cf. Matthew 26:64). These passages are places where the phrase "Lord of Hosts" appears rather than being proof that this term refers to Jesus. However, it is true that both Ps.84:3 (where David refers to the altar in the temple and as the Father never has appeared on earth since the fall of Satan, David's communion has been with Jesus representing the Father) and Zech.1:3-17 (where the Lord of Hosts is likewise represented as being on earth and so must be Jesus in His capacity as the revealed Person of the Trinity) can be construed this way independently of the title.

Question #21:

Does Isaiah 50:4-5 refer only to our Lord, or does it also refer to Isaiah himself? The same question could refer to Psalm 1:1-2 and Psalm 16:8, among other passages (Psalm 119:9-16 & 57-64). Is there a pattern here (i.e., these words do or do not refer to their author) that repeats itself, or should each case be taken individually?

Response #21:

I take Isaiah 50:4 as referring to the Messiah, our Lord in His first advent (see the link). Psalm 1 has the same subject throughout (the believer in pilgrimage through the world), and Psalms 16 and 119 are the same (perhaps your version is different?). I do take your point. It is frequently the case in prophecy that there will be an abrupt shift of subjects especially in Hebrew poetry (e.g., Ps.32:7 vs. 32:8; Is.8:14 vs. 8:18), analogous to the shifting focus in terms of the members of the Trinity at times (e.g., Is.63:8-16 where all three members are visible). The question of pattern is an interesting one. In my experience one has to take these sorts of passages as unique situations. Finding a pattern would be a dissertation type of exercise (assuming there is one present).

Question #22:

Could you please clarify Zechariah 12:10: "And I will pour out on the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and repentance. For they will look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they will grieve for Him like the grieving for an only son, and they will [weep] bitterly for Him like the bitter [weeping] for a firstborn son."

Why does the passage say 'they will look upon Me' and later in the sentence 'they will grieve for Him' and not 'grieve for Me'?

Response #22:

Probably because from God's point of view the Messiah is both "Me" (Jesus our Lord) and "Him" (the Son of the Father). The rather common alteration of pronouns in this way one would think would have disposed the Jewish people toward accepting the Trinity, but for the most part that is not the case . . . yet.

Question #23:

You wrote: Therefore, in our appreciation of the Trinity, we should be careful to restrict ourselves to learning what such scriptures actually teach us, and not build dispositive doctrinal principles solely on deductions stemming from them. What do you mean by 'building dispositive doctrinal principles solely on deductions stemming from them'? Do by 'them' you mean scriptures?

Response #23:

Yes. The scriptures are the evidence. Deductions which come from scripture may be valid. Building doctrine on such deductions, however, should be avoided if possible, and especially when it comes to the Persons and essence of God, inasmuch as this area is one of the prime places of satanic attack throughout the history of the Church.

Question #24:

You wrote: Collectively, the Trinity refer to themselves as God (cf. Gen.1:26). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for God, `Elohiym (אלהים), translated in the New Testament by the common Greek word for God (theos: θεός), is technically a plural of a word originally meaning "mighty one"; collectively then, the Trinity share this appellation, pluralized to express additional majesty.

I thought that this plural name is not used to express additional majesty, but rather as a result of there being 3 members of the Trinity?

Response #24:

What I mean is, there is one Trinity, yet the name is pluralized. I believe the distinction to be important because it is not as if there are three "gods"; there is only One God. So while the plural of 'elohiym does reflect that plurality, it is to the majesty of the Trinity – of which there is only one – that the plural most properly refers. This is why we translate the word (and the Greek New testament translates the word) as "God" (sing.).

Question #25:

You wrote: "For while at times this title seems clearly to represent the Father (Is.9:7; Zech.6:12-13)." How do we know that it's the Father who's represented in Is.9:7? Is it thanks to the previous verse or is there something in the verse you quote which directs us?

Response #25:

Because these verses are speaking of the Messiah and the establishment of His Kingdom, the introduction of this sentence provides a contrast. If the Messiah Himself were the subject, then the change of subject would be hard to explain. I.e., "He Himself, who is the Lord of Hosts as well, will accomplish this", would seem to be necessary, and even here the addition of the title is strange under the circumstances. But since it is appropriate for the Father to validate the prophecy of His Son's Kingdom in such a way, that is by far the best interpretation in my view.

Question #26:

Again regarding Isaiah 9:7, I wanted to ask why do you think this sentence provides a contrast? Could the sentence 'The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this' not be considered as including another title of the Messiah? I can see how it can be considered a contrast (introduction of a new subject suggests this), but I would just like to know why it cannot be a sentence with another title of the Messiah, and also why in verse 6, which, as far as I understand, talks about the Messiah, uses the title 'Eternal Father'?

Response #26:

The contrast between "You" in verses 3-4 and "a child" in verse 6 and "He" throughout seems to me unmistakable. The Father is the "You" and Jesus is "He", the "child", who is then described in verses 6-7. Since the child seems throughout to be the recipient of "Your" power and grace (i.e., the Father's), the finishing part "the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this" seems to describe this gift of grace and power to the child/He/Jesus. In other words, it seems better by far to take "the zealous Benefactor" as different from the One receiving the benefaction. As to "Father of Eternity", the better translation of the phrase in verse 6, the meaning is "the One who engenders eternity", and Jesus is certainly the One who brings all prophecy and history to its destined end.

Question #27:

Could you please clarify Hebrews 1:8-9:

But of the Son He says, "YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. 9 "YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS."

Why does God (the Father) addresses His own Son with words 'O God'?

Response #27:

Because Jesus is God (in addition to being human since the incarnation), and the Father uses this appropriate honorific at the point of installing the Son as the Regent of the Millennium. During the first advent (and to a degree now as well), it was important for there to be the ability to deny Jesus' deity (to preserve human free will and choice about whether or not to accept Him). When He returns in glory, He will rule as the God-man with no further veil over His glory and no further parables interpreting the truth.

Question #28:

Could you please clarify the following:

(5) For to which of the angels did He ever say, "You are my Son. Today I have begotten you (Ps.2:7)." And again, "I will be a Father to Him, and He will be my Son (2Sam.7:14).

Why is 2Sam.7:14 used here, if it says:

2 Samuel 7:14: (NASB): I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,

No sin was committed by our Lord, hence I cannot understand why this citation is used here.

Response #28:

This is another example of double applicability – to David's direct heir (Solomon), and to His greater Heir, our Lord Jesus. The portion of 2 Samuel 7:14 you mention, "when he commits iniquity", applies only to Solomon, and does not apply to Jesus who, of course, "committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth" (1Pet.2:22 NIV).

Question #29:

Could you please clarify Ps. 45:6-7:

"Your throne, O God, is from eternity to eternity, and rod of your kingdom is the rod of uprightness. (9) You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. For this reason God your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions (Ps.45:6-7)"

It says 'for this reason', the reason being 'you have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness'.

Since Jesus existed with the Father from the beginning and from the beginning was to complete the sacrifice He completed, I don't know why in the Psalm it says 'for this reason'.

Response #29:

What you say is entirely true, yet scripture often puts things in terms of our human frame of reference and does so without apology. So when in Genesis six it says "it repented the Lord that He had made mankind" we do not find a parenthesis wherein Moses explains that God actually knew what was coming before He began creation; that is something we are expected to be able to fill in for ourselves (at least, after some measure of spiritual growth and good teaching). Grammatically, the "therefore" does provide a connection between having the perfect standard in His heart and being given unlimited power. The conclusion I draw is that in God's economy the two go together inseparably: total power is only given to the One who is totally able to wield it in perfect justice. This is one of the reasons that the Millennium will be so wonderful: absolutely perfect law and order perfectly administered.

Question #30:

Jesus' becoming a human being was an incredible sacrifice – but how much more His death for us was such we cannot fully understand at present. Paul's point is that this was not something Jesus, being God, was compelled to do.

In your reply regarding the passage you said: 'Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for', you seem to refer to our Lord not having to become a human being and a voluntary nature of his sacrifice - what I would like to know is the nature of 'grasping for equality with God' and why it such a wording is used by Paul?

Response #30:

That is the crux of the passage, namely, another very widespread mistranslation. Translating the word harpagmon as "something to be grasped" (or sim.), conveys the wrong notion entirely. A harpagmon is something seized illegitimately, "stolen goods", we might say. Jesus did not consider equality with God "something stolen" because He already possessed it from eternity past. Therefore Jesus did not come to earth in order to "win His divinity" as some have blasphemously suggested: He was already divine and did what He did entirely out of love and sacrifice for us. That is Paul's point (however we choose to translate the verse).

Question #31:

A last clarification on 'grasping'. Am I correct to understand that the difference is between 'something to be grasped' and 'something illegitimately seized'?

Response #31:

Yes, that would convey the distinction. The translation "something to be grasped" is not wrong as a translation; it is problematic because of what it leads people to believe about what the passage means. Paul's whole point in using this phraseology is that Jesus had no need of gaining anything, being God before the incarnation. Given the wide ranging doctrinal pitfalls many have blundered into in taking this verse wrongly, making the point emphatically is important.

Question #32:

John 12:28: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

What does God specifically mean by saying that He has 'glorified it (already) ' and how specifically will He glorify it again (is it about Christ's second coming)?

Response #32:

I think you are correct: God's glorification is all about the manifestation of His glory, who He really is, and it is Christ who is the "radiance of God's glory" and the "exact representation" of the Father (Heb.1:3), the One who, as the Son of God, possesses all of God's glory (Jn.17:5). Manifesting this to the world overtly would then indeed be the first and second advents respectively. Nicely done!

Question #33:

Could you explain:

Jeremiah 23:5: "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.

If the passage is about our Lord, why does it say 'for David'?

Response #33:

Jesus is the Son of David and that lineage is often remembered in messianic passages (e.g., Rom.1:3).

Question #34:

You wrote: 'unappreciated in His first advent (Is.11:1), but glorious in His second coming (Is.4:2).' Although there is certainly glory described in Is.4:2, the lack of appreciation is not expressed in Is.11:1 - I assume this is supposed to become evident when these two passages are compared?

Response #34:

Isaiah 11:1 expresses the growth of our Lord (i.e., His growing up, something He did in near complete obscurity) as a natural process analogous to a sprout growing up. The nation of Israel expected the Messiah to come directly in a blaze of glory and, as we know from the gospels, did not expect Jesus to come the way He came; one of the reasons He was under-appreciated. I could quote more verses. What do you think?

Question #35:

Could you please clarify:

Exodus 17:6: Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Why was the 'rock' not written in capitals in this passage? Is the rock here a symbol of our Lord, or is it actually an epiphany?

The same question could refer to Numbers 20:8.

Response #35:

It certainly could be. My guess is that your version does not do so because the rock here is in the first instance an actual rock, though it stands symbolically for THE Rock, Jesus Christ.

Question #36:

In Daniel 2:45: "And in that you saw that a Stone was cut out without [human] hands from the [living] Rock [of a mountain]" . . . does the prophet mean our Lord by 'a Stone' and the Father by 'the Rock'?

Response #36:

Yes. This passage symbolizes the Oneness of the Son with the Father: they share the same divine essence.

Question #37:

You translated:

And all of them (i.e., the Exodus generation) drank the same spiritual drink (i.e., divinely provided water). For all of them drank from the spiritual[ly significant] Rock which followed them – for that Rock was Christ.
1st Corinthians 10:4

Could you explain why you add 'spiritual[ly significant]'? I haven't seen it in other translations.

Response #37:

The Greek says pneumatikos or "spiritual". But by a "spiritual rock" Paul does not mean that the rock was not really a rock or that this is all meant in "a spiritual sense only"; that, however, is what a "literal" translation without the explanation provided might be taken to mean. Paul is saying that the rock is not just a rock but is actually also THE Rock, Jesus Christ.

Question #38:

Could you please explain Isaiah 42:2: "He will not cry out", in light of

Matthew 27:46: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?"that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

I assume there must be a difference in meaning here, but I don't know what it is.

Response #38:

When our Lord quotes Psalm 22:1 it is after He has accomplished eternal salvation by dying in our place. These words, far from being a cry of desperation, are a victory proclamation given for our benefit – and so do not contradict Isaiah 42:2 (please see the link: "Psalm 22:1, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"").

 

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