BibleConflations.com

Refuting erroneous conflations of Scripture used to infer Jesus is ontologically God
BibleConflations.com

BibleConflations.com

Refuting erroneous conflations of Scripture used to infer Jesus is ontologically God

Refuting erroneous conflations of Scripture used to infer Jesus is God

Introduction: Conflation, Ambiguities, and Fallacious Syllogism

Rather than to affirm those Scriptures that are explicit in showing a distinction between Jesus and God in personal identity and ontology (1Tim 2:5-6), many Christian apologists conflate verses together, use syllogisms, and argue that Jesus is God by inference (the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former). A common error is presuming that because Jesus is closely associated with God and has been given divine titles, authority and powers, this proves that he God in a literal ontological sense (in his being and personal identity). These apologists continually overlook the Jewish law of agency – a key concept of the Bible (see https://biblicalagency.com)

Conflation

Conflation is the merging of two or more sets of information, texts, ideas, etc., into one, often in error.  In logic, it is the practice of treating two concepts or a similar concept in two different contexts as if they were equivalent resulting in error.  Common type of conflation is combining an Old Testament passage about the LORD God with a New Testament passage pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ, forming a syllogism between the two, and drawing conclusions by inference.  Incongruent conflation occurs when the expressions do not mean the same thing, but share a common word or theme. This is often employed by overly simplistic Bible teachers who are so fixated by common words and themes that they fail to appreciate the context that they are used.

A principal example if a incongruent conflation is presuming Jesus is claiming to God, the “I am that I am” of Exodus 3:14, when he identifies himself using the terms “I am” (ego eimi in Greek) in the gospels. They do this without reference to the context and clarifications that Jesus makes when describing himself. For example, Jesus said in John 8:28, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he (ego eimi), and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. Here Jesus is identifying himself as the Son of Man (who does nothing on his own authority) and is also distinguishing himself from the Father who taught him. In John 9:9, a blind man that was given sight says I am using the same Greek terms “ego eimi.” It it most spurious to conflate such as generic a praise as “I am” used of the Son of Man (the Messiah) with Almighty God. For more on how Jesus identifies himself in the Gospel including a review of the “I am” statements, see https://iamstatements.com. 

Ambiguities

Ambiguities often are at the root of fallacious Bible interpretations, conflations and faulty syllogisms. An Ambiguity occurs when a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible. Principal types of ambiguities that open the door for error are lexical and semantic ambiguities. A lexical ambiguity occurs when a word or phrase has more than one meaning in the language to which the word belongs.  A Semantic ambiguity occurs when a word, phrase or sentence, taken out of context, has more than one interoperation. Typically where there are such ambiguities, particular apologists will impose the meaning they want on the verse rather than trying to resolve the ambiguity by looking at the surrounding context. In this article we will address the typical conflations of those who argue that Jesus is God and resolve apparent ambiguities by appealing directly to context. 

Although not the focus of article, it should also be mentioned that there are also many syntactic ambiguities in the Bible which arise when a sentence can have two (or more) different meanings because of the structure of the sentence (its syntax). Some verses are rendered to imply Jesus is God include Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, and 2 Peter 1, and 1 John 5:20. Different translations may render these verses differently because the syntax in the original language is ambiguous and there are multiple options for structuring the sentence. These verses exhibit significant syntactic ambiguity and are often translated in the way most favorable to “orthodoxy”. It should be noted however,  even if a verse might refer to Jesus as God, it is not necessary in a literal ontological sense. Agents of God can be called God based on the law of agency. The wide body of Scripture demonstrates that Jesus is a representative of God – the human Messiah. (see https://onemediator.faith)

Fallacious Syllogism

syllogism is a kind of logical argument to arrive at a conclusion based on two propositions asserted or assumed to be true. There are over a dozen types of fallacies associated with syllogisms. Many Christian apologists widely employ the use of syllogisms and do so in a fallacious manner. A fallacy is the use of faulty reasoning, often with wrong moves, in the construction of an argument. A fallacious argument may be deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. Some fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, while others are committed unintentionally due to carelessness or ignorance.

An example of a fallacious syllogism is 

P1: God is king

P2: David is king

C: David is God or God is David

The erroneous conclusion assumes that order to be a king you must be God and that the title king is exclusive to God. There may be an aspect to God being king which is special but that doesn’t necessitate that another must be king in the same sense. Christian apologists often employ similar syllogisms in their attempt to infer Jesus is God. In the above example other words can be used in exchange for “king”  including “lord”, “judge”, and “savior”. When parallel language (the same or similar language) is applied to two different entities, it does not make them the same person, power or authority. We will address the common conflations of Jesus with God using these types of fallacious syllogisms. First lets briefly cover the concept of agency as well as ultimate vs. proximate (primary vs. secondary causes).

BibleConflations.com

Proximate and ultimate causation

proximate cause is that which is closest to, or immediately responsible for causing, some observed result. This exists in contrast to a higher-level ultimate cause which is usually thought of as the “real” reason something occurred.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximate_and_ultimate_causation)

The general theme of the Bible is that God is always the ultimate cause and that God uses agents to effect his purposes which are the proximate or secondary cause. Lets take the example of 2 Samuel 3:18 below. The LORD (the principal) is the first/ultimate cause of salvation while David (his agent) is the secondary/proximate cause as it says, “By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel.” Both God and David are saviors with respect to Israel. Now God has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus as he promised (Acts 13:23)

2 Samuel 3:18 (ESV), “By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel”

18 Now then bring it about, for the LORD has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’”

Acts 13:22-23 (ESV), God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus as he promised

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised

BibleConflations.com

Law of agency

In Hebrew thought, the first cause or ultimate cause is not always distinguished from secondary or proximate causes. That is to say, the principal is not always clearly distinguished form the agent (the one commissioned to carry out an act on behalf of another). Sometimes the agent standing for the principal, is treated as if he were the principal himself, though this is not literally so. Principal and agent remain two distinct persons. The agent acting and speaking for the principal is the principal by proxy (a person authorized to act for another). 

The Hebrew term for agent or legal emissary is Shaliach which is comparable of the Greek world Apostolos and the English word Apostle. An apostle is an agent commissioned by a principal. We read in Hebrews 3:1-2, Jesus is the apostle and high priest of our confession and was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses was also faithful in all God’s house. Indeed the testimony of Scripture is that Jesus is an agent of God. For more on this see https://biblicalagency.com

Agent, Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, R.J.Z Werblowski, G Wigoder, 1986, p. 15.

Agent (Hebrew. Shaliach); The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum,  “a person’s agent is regarded as the person himself” (Ned. 72B; Kidd, 41b) Therefore, any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal, who therefore bears full responsibility for it. 

“Origin & Early History of the Apostolic Office,” T. Korteweg, in The Apostolic Age in Patristic Thought, ed. Hilhorst, p 6f.

The origin of the apostolic office lies… for example in Mishnah Berakhot 5.5: ‘a man’s agent is like to himself.’ the nucleus not only of the Jewish designation of shaliach, but also of the Christian apostolate as we find it in the NT…the specific Semitic and Jewish concept of representative authority which is implied in the designation of shaliach.

Hebrews 3:1-2 (ESV), Jesus the apostle (shaliach) and high priest (mediator) of our confession

1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.

BibleConflations.com

I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior

God is the ultimate and first cause of salvation. Apart from God there is no provision for salvation. However God works through human agents to accomplish his plans and they can be said to be saviors as well. These human agents are the proximate or secondary cause of salvation. God’s saviors are those selected by God to implement his directives including those who operate as servants of God to implement God’s plan for salvation. Despite the efforts of human agents, there is no salvation apart from God. 

The testimony of Scripture is that God has given us saviors. This is clearly the case as stated in Nehemiah 9:27. Again, the important thing to understand is that God is the ultimate cause of salvation and that those who God anoints are agents and also saviors within the framework of God’s purposes. Isaiah 43:10 says “You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen.” In a similar sense, Revolution 1:5-6 identifies Jesus as,  “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth” and then refers to him as, “him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” God our savior exalted Jesus to his right hand as leader and savior (Acts 5:30-31).

Isaiah 43:10-11, “I am the LORD (YHWY), and besides me there is no savior”

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. 11 I, I am the LORD,  and besides me there is no savior.

Isaiah 45:21, “A righteous God and a Savior; there is none beside me”

21 Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me

Hosea 13:4, You know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior

4 But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.

2 Samuel 3:18, “By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel”

18 Now then bring it about, for the LORD has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’”

Nehemiah 9:27, You gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies

27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies.

Luke 2:11-14, Unto you is born this day a Savior, who is  Christ the Lord. (who is Lord Messiah)

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviorwho is Christ the Lord12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Acts 5:30-31, God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 13:22-23, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.

1 John 4:14, The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the  world

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Revelation 1:5-6, Jesus Christ the faithful witness – who made us priests to his God and Father

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

BibleConflations.com

Jesus Christ – he is Lord over all

Lets take for example the statement “Jesus is Lord of All.” This is a statement that applies as a general rule with one important exception – the One God and Father. Thus we should understand that the statement “Lord of all” is missing the qualifier “creation.” That is Jesus is “Lord of all creation” not “Lord of all” in an absolute sense without exception.  There are a number of verses to demonstrate the exception to the generalization.

Acts 10:36-43 (ESV), Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all

36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

  • Analysis
    • Within the context of this passage we see that Jesus “is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead”
    • The contextual meaning of “Lord of all” = judge of the living and the dead
    • The exception to the generalization “he is Lord of All” is the God who appointed him judge

1 Corinthians 15:25-27 (ESV),  God has put all things in subjection under his feet

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.

  • Analysis
    • We can say Jesus is “Lord of All” because God has put all things in subjection under his feet.
    • God is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. (verse 27 explicitly says this) 
    • The contextual meaning is that Jesus is Lord of all things except the God who subjected all things to him.

Acts 2:34-36 (ESV), God has made him both Lord and Christ

34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

  • Analysis
    • The Messiah is the Lord of David
    • The LORD God made him both Lord and Christ (Messiah)
    • The LORD God is the Lord of Jesus

Philippians 2:8-11, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • Analysis
    • God exalted him (Jesus) and bestowed on him the name that is above every name
    • Those that should bow to him are  generalized as those “in heaven and on earth and under the earth”
    • Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord ( Jesus is Lord Messiah) to the glory of God (the Father)
    • God (the one who exalted him) is exempted from those who should bow to Jesus

Additional verses that clarify the exception are as follows

Acts 5:30-31, God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

1 Corinthians 11:3, The head of Christ is God

3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

BibleConflations.com

King of kings and Lord of lords

God who “dwells in inapproachable light” and who “no one has ever seen or can see” is referred to as “the only Sovereign, the Kings of kings and Lord of lords” in 1 Tim 1:15-16. In Revelation 14:14 and Revelation 19:14, Jesus (the Lamb) is also referred to as King of kings and Lord of lords.  As we saw in the previous section Jesus being “Lord of all” has the exception of God who made him lord. Likewise it is the case that both God and Jesus can be called “King of kings and lord of Lords” since this generalization applies to both God and Jesus. However in the case of Jesus, God remains the exception (1 Cor 15:27). We see in Revelation 12:10-10 that, “the kingdom of our God authority of his Christ have come. We see in this passage that Christ is distinguished from God and that the authority that Christ (Messiah) did not always exist.

It would be a syllogistic fallacy (of accident) to conflate the personal identity and ontology of Jesus with God because of the terminology is used for God in an absolute sense but also applies to Jesus in a sense that is slightly limited (with God being the exception). In the Bible, “king of kings” is also used for those preeminent rulers on earth including Artaxerxes in Ezra 7:12, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in Ezekiel 26:7 and Darnel 2:37.

1 Timothy 6:15-16 (ESV), only Sovereign, the king of kings and Lord of  lords

15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Revelation 12:10-11 (ESV), The kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come

10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Revelation 17:14 (ESV), the Lamb, he is Lord of lords and King of kings

14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

  • Analysis
    • Christ is distinguished from God in Rev 12:10
    • Christ is the lamb Rev 12:11
    • The Lamb is distinguished from God
    • The Lamb of God is the “Lord of lords and King of kings” with the exception of God

Revelation 19:16(ESV), A name written, King of kings and Lord of lords

16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Ezra 7:12 (ESV), Artaxerxes, king of kings

12Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace.

Ezekiel 26:7 (ESV), Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings

7 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, and with horsemen and a host of many soldiers.

Daniel 2:37 (ESV), the kings of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom

37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory,

BibleConflations.com

The LORD said to my Lord, Psalms 110

Psalms 110:1 ” is cited in several places in the New Testament including Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34 and Hebrews 1:13.  This phrase the “LORD says to my Lord” seems to designate there are two Lords and some may presume this is evidence that Jesus is God. However, Psalms 110 pertains to what YHWH says to the human Messiah.

Psalms 110:1-4 (ESV), The LORD says to my Lord

1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalms 110:1-4 (LSV), YHWH to my Lord

A declaration of YHWH to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, || Until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” YHWH sends the rod of Your strength from Zion, || Rule in the midst of Your enemies. Your people [are] free-will gifts in the day of Your strength, in the honors of holiness, || From the womb, from the morning, || You have the dew of Your youth. YHWH has sworn, and does not relent, “You [are] a priest for all time, || According to the order of Melchizedek.”

Translation to the word Lord

In our English Bibles, the same word “lord” translates several distinct Hebrew words. A long established “translators’ convention” uses different combinations of upper and lower case letters (“LORD,” “Lord,” and “lord”) to differentiate between the original Hebrew words. When we see “Lord” written with an upper case “L,” those of us who don’t read Hebrew rely on the established convention that it is, most often, a translation of “Adonai.” The problem is that in this verse the original Hebrew word is not “adonai” but rather “adoni,” In the Hebrew there is a difference in the words translated “LORD and Lord” in these two cases. Young Concordance lists eleven Hebrew words which are translated “lord.” The four which concern us here are as follows:

YHWH

(Yahweh or Jehovah) This word is the first “LORD” in Psalm 110:1. It is the Divine Name considered so sacred by the Jews that it is never pronounced. Instead when reading from the Scriptures they substitute the word “Adonai.” The accepted convention is that in English translations it always appears as either LORD, or GOD (all upper case) thus enabling us to recognize that the original word is “Yahweh.”

ADON

This word is formed from the Hebrew consonants Aleph, Dalet, Nun. It appears often in this form (without any suffix). Apart from about 30 occasions where it refers to the Divine Lord, all of the other occurrences refer to human lords.

ADONAI

In its main form, it always refers to God, and no one else. The accepted “translators’ convention” is that in this form, it always appears in English as “Lord” (with an upper case “L”)

ADONI

This is formed by adding the suffix “i” to “adon.” With this suffix it means “my lord.” (It is also sometimes translated as “master.”) It appears 195 times, and is used almost entirely of human lords (but occasionally of angels). When translated “lord,” it always appears with a lower case “l” (except for that one time in Psalm 110:1) A pdf list of the 195 occurrences of adoni in 163 verses is here: https://focusonthekingdom.org/adoni.pdf?x49874

The actual Hebrew word used for “Lord” in reference to Jesus, “The LORD said to my Lord” is ADONI. This word refers to human lords. It speaks of the HUMANITY of Jesus — not Deity. In the Greek the word kyrios is used in both instances. Kyrios, translated “lord” is a  generic term meaning master and is not a term used only for God. We know that there many so-called “lords” but in terms of our faith Jesus is the one Lord through which we receive salvation being provision from the one God and Father – from whom are all things and for whom we exist (1 Cor 8:5-6).

In the context of Psalms 110:1-4, we see that the Lord (adoni) is made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. This is also an important clue. High priests are agents of God who are selected from men. Hebrews 5 Makes a direct connection with Psalms 110:

Hebrews 5:1-10 (ESV), Christ was appointed by him who said to him, “You are a priest forever”

1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

James Dunn, The Christ and the Spirit, Volume 1: Christology, 315-344, p. 337

For Paul the kyrios title functions most often as a way of distinguishing Christ from the one God. This we see clearly in the repeated phrase “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3, 11:31; Eph. 1:3, 17; Col. 1:3); also in 1 Cor. 8:6,where Christ is professed as one Lord alongside the Shema’s profession of the one God; and most notably in 1 Cor. 15:24-28, where Christ’s lordship in terms both of Ps. 110:1 and Ps. 8:6 climaxes in the Son’s own subjection to God the Father, “that God may be all in all. ” Even the Philippians hymn must be mentioned here; for in my judgment it is an expression of Adam christology, so that Phil. 2:10 is best seen as a confession of Christ’s lordship as (last) Adam, where, Paul makes it plain, all creation acknowledges Christ’s lordship “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11)

BibleConflations.com

Call on the name of the Lord

The phrase “call on the name of the Lord” is used both for the LORD God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Some attempt to conflate Psalm 116:4 or Joel 2:32 with 1 Corinthians 1:2 to infer that the Lord Jesus is the LORD God. However we have demonstrated that they are both saviors (Jesus is God’s provision for salvation) and that the LORD God is the Lord of our Lord Jesus. Jesus, the human Son of God is the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5-6). Christ as stands in as a proxy for God being the Lord that God put in position to mediate between himself and men. Jesus is our high priest through whom we have reconciliation with God (See Hebrews 8:1-6, Hebrews 9:11-14, and Hebrews 9:23-28). 

Calling on the name of the Lord has a different implication in the old covenant than it does now the new covenant. In the old covenant the LORD God was primarily identified as Lord according to the creed of Israel, “Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deut 6:5) With respect to the word Lord translated from the Greek word kurios, this is a generic word for “lord” and does not necessarily pertain to the LORD (YHWH) God Almighty in Psalm 116:4. What is happening here is conflation of the specific name of the Lord God with the generic word for lord in Greek. Below is the definition from the BDAG lexicon for the Greek word κύριος (translated lord).

κύριος , (Gk-EnLex_NT) BDAG

 The primary mng. relates to possession of power or authority, in various senses: ‘strong, authoritative, valid, ruling’; then to that which is preeminently important principal, essential

1 one who is in charge by virtue of possession, owner

2 one who is in a position of authority, lord, master

Summary

In the new covenant God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). Νow there is a mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5-6). He is the one who God exalted to his right hand as leader and savior (Acts 5:31). Within this new paradigm, although there be many so called “gods” and many so called “lords,” for us there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:5-6). In the category of “gods” – there is one God the Father. In the category of “lords” – there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. Although God the Father remains the LORD (YHWH) over all (in an absolute sense), he made Jesus Christ Lord as the one who will judge the world in righteousness and to reign in the kingdom that will be established. That is, Jesus is the human Messiah who will be given and everlasting kingdom. However this authority comes from the one God and Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist (1 Cor 8:5-6).

Psalms 116:4, Called on the name of the LORD

4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Romans 10:12-13, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Joel 2:32, Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved

32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Acts 2:20-21, Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

1 Corinthians 1:1-3, Call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:36, God has made him both Lord and Christ 

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

1 Corinthians 8:5-6, For us there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ

5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

1 Timothy 2:5-6, One mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

BibleConflations.com

Judgement seat of God/Christ 

Some conflate Romans 14:9-12 and 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 to infer that judgment set of God is used in one instance and judgment seat of Christ is used in the other to suggest Christ is God in his ontological identity. This yet another example of a fallacy related to the lack of understanding that God has appointed Jesus to Judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31). Although Jesus Christ will do the actual judging, God is the authority behind him (God gave it to him) as it says Acts 10:42, “he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” Accordingly it makes perfect sense that the Judgement seat is associated with both God and Christ, the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5-6). 

Revelation 20:11-13 describes the white throne judgment. Although the one doing the judging is not stated, we can tell from the balanced testimony of Scripture that it is Jesus Christ (the more accurate Greek texts read “throne” in Rev. 20:12, not “God”). In Biblical Jewish thinking, there is no reason to be confused by the concept that the judgment seat of “God” is the judgment seat of “Christ.” The concept of Agency is sufficient. God is the power behind the judgment, accomplished through his agent that he exalted to his right hand, Jesus Christ. Thus, it is God’s judgment seat because it has His ultimate authority. However, it is Christ’s judgment seat because he does the actual judging. Jesus Christ made it clear that he would be doing the actual judging when he said: “the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:22, 27, 30).

Romans 14:9-12 (ESV), Judgement seat  of God

9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,  “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (ESV), Judgement seat of Christ

9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Acts 10:42 (ESV), He is the one appointed by God to be judge

42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV), God will judge the world by a man whom he has appointed

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

John 5:25-29 (ESV), He has given him authority to execute judgement – the Son of Man

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Revelation 20:11-12 (ESV), Standing before the throne (earliest manuscripts)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

Revelation 20:11-12 (KJV), Stand before God (later manuscripts)

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

BibleConflations.com

I am he who searches the mind and heart

Revelation 2:23, “I am he who searches the mind and heart, will give to each of you according to your works,” pertaining to Jesus, is often conflated with 1 Chronicles 28:9, “The LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought” or with Jeremiah 17:10, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” People infer because the LORD (YHWH) searches all hearts and Jesus now does as well that they are one in essence and that Jesus is God in an ontological sense. While it is true in the Old Testament that God was the active judge of mankind, the one God and Father no longer judges anyone but has given all judgement to the Son. (John 5:22)

It is explicit in Acts 10:42, “Jesus is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead,” and in Acts 17:32, “God… has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” This is perfectly consistent with the Biblical Unitarian understanding of 1 Tim 2:5-6, “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” Although there are many so called ‘gods’ and so-called ‘lords’ yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (i.e., through whom we have salvation). (1 Cor 8:5-6). God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)

Clearly, Jesus has been put in a position of judgement (searching hearts) and he can do this because he is empowered by God – not because he is ontologically God. The powers to give life and to judge are given to him by the one God and Father (John 5:25-29). It is on account that he is the Son of Man, that he has been given the authority to execute judgement. (John 5:27). By the power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus has been endowed with, hearts can be searched, as it says in Romans 8:27, “He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 

The messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-4 is clear that the Messiah will be being given the authority to judge but is also clear that he will judge righteously on account of being empowered by God’s Spirit to do so, as it says, “the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” (Isa 11:2) Jesus, our Lord Messiah, will not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness, by the Spirit of the LORD (YHWH), he will judge. (Isa 11:3-4) 

Revelation 2:23 (ESV), I am he who searches the mind and heart

3 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

1 Chronicles 28:9 (ESV),  the LORD searches all hearts and understands  every thought

9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.

Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV),  I the LORD search the heart and test the mind

10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

John 5:19-22 (ESV), The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son

Acts 10:42 (ESV), He is the one appointed by God to be judge

42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV), He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV), There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (ESV), There is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ

5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Acts 2:36 (ESV), God has made him both Lord and Christ

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

John 5:25-29 (ESV), He has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Romans 8:26-27 (ESV), He who search hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Isaiah 11:1-4 (ESV), The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him

1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

BibleConflations.com

Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess

Some claim that bowing and confessing as Lord is something that is exclusive to God and thus Jesus is God by inference. This is based on some passages that indicate bowing and confessing God with others that indicate bowing and confessing to Jesus Christ (Messiah). The problem with this reasoning as that that every knee will bow and every tongue confessing a person as Lord does not only apply to God, but can also apply to the representative of God who is at God’s right hand.

God exalted Jesus and made him leader and savior (Acts 5:31). We read in Philippians 2:8-11, that on account of Jesus being obedient to the point of death, that God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name (authority above every authority). We read in John 3:35, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand” and in John 5:22-23, “the Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” Yet Jesus clarified that he is not God when he said, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” (John 8:54)

Revelation provides important details of how Jesus is identified and the context to which he is praised and honored. First Jesus is identified in the introduction (Revelation 1:5-6) as “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings on earth.” and then in verse 6 as “him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” This is an identification of Jesus as the exalted Messiah who is a servant of God. This is further affirmed in Revelation 5:6-14, where in verse 9-10, the Lamb is addressed in song  by, “you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God… you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Notice that the lamb isn’t addressed as God. Subsequently in verse 13, all creatures are saying “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” In this context, God who sits on the throne is distinguished from the Lamb yet the both are honored and praised. This corresponds to the proclamation of there being one God, The Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:5-6).

Isaiah 45:22-23 (ESV), “To me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear allegiance”

22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Romans 14:11 (ESV), Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God

11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

Philippians 2:8-11 (ESV), Every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

John 3:35-36 (ESV), The Father has given all things into hand

35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 5:22-23 (ESV), The Father has given all judgement to the Son

22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.

Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

John 8:54 (ESV), If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing

54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

John 15:10 (ESV), Keep my commandments as I have kept my Father’s commandments

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Acts 5:30-31 (ESV), God exalted Jesus at his right hand as leader and savior

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Revelation 1:5-6 (ESV), Jesus Christ, the ruler of kings on earth

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 5:6-14 (ESV), To him who  sits on the throne and to the Lamb

6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (ESV), There is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ

5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

  • “through whom we exist” = through whom we receive salvation and an inheritance in the kingdom of God
BibleConflations.com

Lord God – the Almighty,  Revelation 1:8

When John speaks a blessing “Grace to you and peace” of Revelation 1:4-8, he  invokes three parties including (1) from him who is and who is and who is to come, (2) from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and (3) from Jesus Christ the faithful witness. “Him who is and who was and who is to come” in verse 4 is distinguished from Jesus the faithful witness of verses 5-7. As shown in the diagram below, verses 5-7 apply to Jesus while both verse 4 and verse 8 apply to the one who is and who was and who is to come, the God and Father of Jesus. Thus it is the Lord God Almighty that is being called the Alpha and Omega in this context (not Jesus the faithful witness). It should also be noted that Jesus made us “priests to his God and Father” and that His God and Father is  the Lord God the Almighty.

BibleConflations.com

Alpha and Omega, Revelation 1:11 

“Alpha and Omega, first and last” was later added to Revelation 1:11. It is not in the critical text that is reflective of the earliest Greek manuscripts. It is also not in the Majority text representing the Koine tradition proper. This is clearly an interpolation that was added later. For this reason, the majority of modern translations does not include this. This fact is a great example of how, despite the curse of Revelations 22:18-19, the books of the New Testament have been corrupted in various ways to prop up “Orthodox” dogma. See more at https://kjviscorrupt.com

Revelation 1:10-11 (ESV), without interpolation

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Revelation 1:10-11 (KJV), with later interpolation

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

BibleConflations.com

First and Last, Revelation 1:17

Often “first and last” in Isaiah 44:6 is conflated with Revelation 1:17. These however are two different books with two different contexts. The meaning of “first and last” is understood in reference to the context and does not necessarily have a fixed meaning. In Isaiah 44, God, the LORD of hosts is “first and last” in respect to being the one and only God. In Revelation 1:17 Jesus is “first and last” in respect to being the living one who died and is alive forevermore, and has the keys of Death and Hades. In context it is clear that Jesus is “First and Last” in the sense that he is God’s provision for salvation for all mankind from the beginning to the end.

This assessment is consistent with the fact that one of the earliest Greek manuscripts from the 5th century, reads “I am the firstborn and the last” rather than “first and last” (Codex Alexandrinus).

Isaiah 44:6-8 (ESV), besides me there is no god

6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. 7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people.  Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. 8 Fear not, nor be afraid have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Isaiah 48:12-13 (ESV), My hand laid the foundation of the earth

12 “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. 13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.

Revelation 1:12-18 (ESV), I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Revelation 1:17b-18 (Codex Alexandrinus, 5th Century), “firstborn and the last”

 “Fear not, I am the firstborn and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

“I am the first and the last”, REV Commentary

The phrase, “the first and the last,” is a title that is used five times in the Bible, twice in Isaiah of God (Isa 44:6; 48:12), and three times in Revelation of the Son (Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13). Trinitarians sometimes make the assumption that since the same title applies to both the Father and the Son, they must both be God. However, there is no biblical justification on which to base that assumption. When the whole of Scripture is studied, we can see that the same titles are used for God, Christ and men. Examples include “Lord,”  “Savior,” and “King of kings.” If other titles apply to God, Christ and men without making all of them into “one God, ” then there is no reason to assume that this particular title would mean God and Jesus were one God unless Scripture specifically told us so, which it does not.

In the Old Testament, God truly was “the first and the last.” The meaning of the title is not specifically given, and so scholars debate it, but it seems that a key to its meaning is given in Isaiah 41:4, in which God says He has called forth the generations of men, and was with the first of them and is with the last of them. Isaiah 41:4 says, “Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, Yahweh—with the first of them and with the last—I am he.” Thus, the Bible connects the phrase “the first and the last” with calling forth the generations.

While God was the one who called forth the generations in the Old Testament, He has now conferred that authority on His Son. Thus, it is easy to see why the Lord Jesus is called “the first and the last” in the book of Revelation. It will be Jesus Christ who will call forth the generations of people from the grave to enter in to everlasting life. God gave Jesus authority to raise the dead (John 5:25-27). His voice will raise all dead Christians (1 Thess. 4:16-17), and he will change our bodies into new glorious bodies (Phil. 3:20-21). However, even when Jesus said he had the authority to raise the dead, he never claimed he had that authority inherently because he was God. He always said that his Father had given authority to him. While teaching about his authority, Jesus Christ was very clear about who was the ultimate authority: “The Son can do nothing by himself…the Father…has entrusted all judgment to the Son…For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in himself. And He has given him authority to judge” (John 5:19, 22, 26-27). If Jesus had the authority to raise the dead because he was in some way God, he never said so. He said he had his authority because his Father gave it to him. With the authority to raise the generations came the title associated with the existence of the generations, and so that is a major reason that after his resurrection Jesus Christ is called “the first and the last.”

Another way that we can tell that the title “first and last” does not make Jesus God is simply the way Jesus used it. Note what the verse in Revelation says: “I am the first and the last, and the Living One, and I was dead, and Look! I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of the grave” (Rev. 1:17, 18). Patrick Navas observes:

“Jesus is the one who ‘was dead’ but now lives…. In two out of three instances where Jesus describes himself as ‘the First and the Last’ in the book of Revelation, the statement is made in association with his death and subsequent resurrection. …If ‘the First and the Last’ in this case means, or ultimately implies, ‘God (Almighty), the Eternal One,’ in what way would it make sense for Jesus to say, in effect, ‘I am the Eternal God, I died but came to life’? How strange and how unlikely—if not impossible—would it have been for God to have died or said that he died? Even many Trinitarians teach that ‘God,” or the ‘divine nature/aspect of Christ,’ did not die, in any way. …So Trinitarians would have to argue, ultimately, that Jesus is identifying himself as God by calling himself ‘the First and the Last’ and, immediately after, switching to, or speaking out of, his ‘human nature,’ due to the fact that he died. This would clearly be a case of ‘playing fast and loose’ with Scripture.” (Divine Truth or Human Tradition, pp. 585, 586).

The fact that when Jesus used the title “the first and the last” he connected it with his death and resurrection shows us that, far from a claim to being God, it showed how, as the Son who obeyed his Father all the way to the cross and death, Jesus now had authority from God to even raise the dead. We can see this especially since he finished Rev 1:18 by saying that he had the keys to death and the grave, which would only make sense for him to say if his having those keys was not inherently part of his nature. If he were God, why say he had the keys to death and the grave. Of course God has those keys, but the human Son of God would only have them if God the Father gave them to him.

Much of the above commentary is taken from the REV (Revised English Version) Bible Commentary, https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Revelation/chapter1/17, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship International

Summary

Jesus being “first and last” is in the sense that there is salvation in no one else and that his sacrifice is once and for all time. As it says in Hebrews 10:12-13, “Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sin, for by a signal offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” And it says in Hebrews 10:10, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”. We see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). God, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of our salvation perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source (Hebrews 2:11).

Moreover, God predestined us to be conformed to the images of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29, 1 Thes 5:9-10). Christ is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:20-22). The mystery of God’s purpose is what he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him (Eph 1:9-10). The plan hidden for ages in God is the manifold wisdom of God  – the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:9-11).  There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). He is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:43). The hour is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live (John 5:26). And he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man (John 5:27). There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all (1Tim 2:5-6). The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand (John 3:35).

Hebrews 2:9-11 (ESV), he might taste death for everyone

9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.

Hebrews 10:10-14 (ESV), through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all – for all time

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

BibleConflations.com

The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, Revelation 22:13

Many apologists presume that “the Alpha and Omega” is title that only only applies to the Lord God, the Almighty. However this is just another way of saying “first and last” or “beginning and end” these terms appear to be interchangeable and ways of saying the same thing. This evidenced by the fact that some early manuscripts have different word orders for Revelation 22:13. “Alpha and Omega” applies to Christ in the same sense that “First and Last” applies to Christ (see the detailed notes in the previous section, First and Last, Revelation 1:17). There is no reason to believe that “Alpha and Omega” only applies to God and like other concepts and titles that can also apply to Christ. A common fallacy is to presume that because a title or concept is applied to God, that it necessarily only applies to God.

Revelation 22:13 (ESV)

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

 “The Alpha and the Omega”, REV Commentary

A popular commentary on Revelation (Bullinger) says that the phrase “is a Hebraism, in common use among the ancient Jewish commentators to designate the whole of anything from the beginning to the end; e.g., ‘Adam transgressed the whole law from Aleph to Tau’ (Jalk. Reub., fol. 17.4).” That would make the expression the figure of speech. The best scholarly minds have concluded that the phrase has something to do with starting and finishing something, or the entirety of something. Norton writes that these words, “denote the certain accomplishment of his purposes; that what he has begun he will carry on to its consummation” (A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians; 1877, pp. 479, 480).

Since both God and Jesus Christ are “the Alpha and the Omega” in their own respective ways, there is good reason to believe that the title can apply to both of them, and no good reason why this title makes the two into “one God.” The titles “Lord,” “Savior,” and “king of kings apply to both God and Christ, as well as to other men. As with “Lord,” “Savior” and “King of kings,” this title fits them both. God is truly the beginning and the end of all things, while Christ is the beginning and the end because he is the firstborn from the dead, the Author and Finisher of faith, the Man by whom God will judge the world, and the preeminent one of the new ages to come.

(Revised English Version (REV) Bible Commentary,  https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Rev/1/8, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship)

“first and the last”

See the previous section in reference to “first and last” in Revelation 1:17.

“Beginning and the end”, REV Commentary

“Beginning and the end.” The phrase appears twice: here and Revelation 22:13. The exact meaning of the phrase “the beginning and the end” is not given. Scholars give differing explanations of the phrase, but the meaning must be closely associated with the concepts of “Alpha and Omega” and “First and Last” because these titles are associated together (cp. Rev. 22:13). We have seen from the study of the title “Alpha and Omega” that it refers to the start and finish of something, and we have seen from the title “First and Last” (Rev. 1:17) that Christ will raise up the generations of people unto everlasting life. It is clear why Christ would be called the “beginning and the end” in association with these concepts. He is the firstborn from the dead, and he will be the one to call the last people out of their graves, he is both the Author and Finisher of faith, he is the Man by whom God will judge the world and he is the one who will then create and bring to completion the next ages (see the commentary on Heb. 1:10). There is no compelling reason to assume Jesus is God simply because of the title, “the Beginning and the End.” It is common for people of similar status to use the same title.

(Revised English Version (REV) Bible Commentary,  https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Rev/21/6, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship)

BibleConflations.com

He shall be called mighty God, everlasting father, Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah 9:6 is another Old Testament text often used to suggest that Jesus is God on account of the things he shall be called. Looking on the context it is  clear that the subject of this passage is not God himself but the Messiah. 

Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV), For us a child is born, to us a son is given

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NETS Septuagint), a child was born for us, a son also given to us

because a child was born for us, a son also given to us, whose sovereignty was upon his shoulder, and he is named Messenger of Great Counsel, for I will bring peace upon the rulers, peace and health to him. His sovereignty is great, and his peace has no boundary upon the throne of Dauid and his kingdom, to make it prosper and to uphold it  with righteousness and with judgment from this time onward and forevermore The zeal of the Lord Sabaoth will do these things.

“to us a child is born, to us a son is given”, REV Commentary

Isaiah 9:6 gives us the reason why, in the preceding verses, “there will be no more gloom for those who were in anguish” (Isaiah 9:1), the people who walked in darkness will see great light (Isaiah 9:2) people will rejoice (Isaiah 9:3),  the yoke of their burden and the rod of their oppressor will be broken (Isaiah 9:4), garments used in war will be burned (Isaiah 9:5). It is because the Messiah will come and rule the earth in righteousness forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).

The Hebrew text reads, “a child has been born…a son has been given.” In English we would say, “a child will be born,” because the birth of Jesus Christ was still more than 700 years in the future. The Hebrew text is an example of the Hebrew idiom of the prophetic perfect, which occurs when a future event is spoken of as if it had already happened because it absolutely will happen. The prophetic perfect idiom was a way of letting people know a future event was not in doubt but would absolutely happen.

“and the government will be on his shoulders”, REV Commentary

Isaiah 9:6-7 is one of the many verses in the Old Testament that portray the Messiah as being born and then growing up to destroy the wicked and rule the world in righteousness without saying anything about his death, resurrection, ascension, or the Great Tribulation and Battle of Armageddon. There are many Scriptures in the Old Testament that speak of the coming of Christ and God’s vengeance on the wicked as if they were going to happen at the same time (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; 61:1-3; Micah 5:2; Zech. 9:9-10; Mal. 3:1-3; 4:1-3). 

“Mighty God”, REV  Commentary

The phrase is usually mistranslated as “Mighty God” in most English Bibles. Actually, “mighty god” would not be a bad translation if people realized that in the Hebrew language the word “god/God” (Elohim; also El) had a much wider range of application than it does in English. People familiar with the Semitic languages know that a man who is acting with God’s authority can be called “god.” An alternative translation of Isaiah 9:6 for the English reader would be “mighty hero,” or “divine hero.” Both Martin Luther and James Moffatt translated the phrase as “divine hero” in their Bibles.

A clear example showing that the word translated “God” in Isaiah 9:6 can be used of powerful earthly rulers is Ezekiel 31:11, which refers to the Babylonian king. The Trinitarian bias of the translators of most English versions can be clearly seen by comparing Isaiah 9:6, where the Hebrew word e is translated “God” with Ezekiel 31:11, where el is usually translated as “ruler.” Whether the word el refers to God or a human ruler has to be decided by context, and the Messiah is not God. If simply calling the Messiah el made him God, then the Babylonian king would be God also. Isaiah is speaking of God’s Messiah and calling him a mighty ruler, which of course he will be.

The phrase in Isaiah 9:6 that most English versions translate as “Mighty God” is el gibbor in the Hebrew. That very phrase, in the plural form, is used Ezekiel 32:21 of “heroes” and mighty men. The NIV translates the phrase in Ezekiel as “mighty leaders,” and the KJV and NASB translate it as “the strong among the mighty.” The Hebrew phrase, when used in the singular, can refer to one “mighty leader” just as when used in the plural it can refer to many “mighty leaders.”

Isaiah 9 refers to God’s appointed ruler. The opening verse of the chapter foretells a time when “there will be no more gloom for those who were in anguish.” All war and death will cease, and “every boot of the tramping warrior…and the garments rolled in blood…will be fuel for the fire” (Isa. 9:5). How will this come to pass? The chapter goes on: “for to us a child is born” (Isa. 9:6).  The Messiah was going to be a man anointed by God. He would start as a child, which of course YHWH the eternal God, could never be. And what a great ruler this man would grow to be: “the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty Hero, Father of the Coming Age, Prince of Peace.” Furthermore, “he will reign on David’s throne (Isa. 9:7), which could never be said of God. God could never sit on David’s throne. But God’s Messiah, “the Son of David,” could (Matt 9:27). Thus, a study of the verse in its context reveals that it does not refer to God in an ontological sense, but to the Messiah, the son of David and the Son of God.

“Mighty God” refers to the power and supreme authority that he will have in this kingdom that is established and upheld by him. Representatives of God can be called “God” based on the concept of agency. The messiah is not literally God but has divine authority as God’s chosen agent to rule the world in righteousness.

The Septuagint reads “Messenger of Great Counsel” rather than “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father”

“Everlasting Father”, Rev Commentary

Almost every English Bible mistranslates Isaiah 9:6. A good place to have caught the mistranslation of Isaiah 9:6 was in this phrase, which almost all English Bibles translate as “Everlasting Father,” because Jesus is never called the “Everlasting Father” anywhere else in Scripture. Furthermore, Trinitarians correctly deny that Jesus is the “Everlasting Father.” It is a basic tenet of Trinitarian doctrine that Christians should “neither confound the Persons nor divide the Substance” (Athanasian Creed). So, if “Everlasting Father” is the correct translation of the Hebrew text, then Trinitarian Christians have a real problem. However, “Everlasting Father” is a mistranslation.

The Hebrew word translated “age” (or “everlasting” in most Bibles), refers to something that lasts a long time or forever, or something that endures for an age or ages, and that can be of the past or future. Thus, when Habakkuk 3:6 speaks of the mountains that will be shattered at some point in the future, they are called “the ancient mountains” in some translations (NAB; NET), or by hyperbole, “the everlasting mountains” (KJV). Of course, when it refers to God it means everlasting, and the coming Age is everlasting as well, although if this verse in Isaiah only had in mind the first phase of the future reign of Christ, then Age-long or even “long enduring” would be more accurate. 

Since the Word of God shows the two ages, the present evil age and the Messianic Age to come, an excellent translation is that Jesus will be called “father of the [coming] age.” In the culture of the Bible, anyone who began anything or was very important to something was called its “father.” For example, because Jabal was the first one to live in a tent and raise livestock, the Bible says, “he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock” (Gen. 4:20). Furthermore, because Jubal was the first inventor of musical instruments, he is called, “the father of all who play the harp and flute” (Gen. 4:21). Scripture is not using “father” in the sense of literal father or ancestor in these verses, because both these men were descendants of Cain, and all their descendants died in Noah’s flood. “Father” was being used in the cultural understanding of either one who was the first to do something or someone who was important in some way.

The Messiah will be the one to establish the age to come, raise the dead into it, and rule as king in it, so he is rightly called “the father of the coming age.” Adam Clarke, the noted Methodist minister and author of Clarke’s Commentary, noted what is usually translated “everlasting Father” should be “the Father of the everlasting age” which is also an excellent translation. “Everlasting Father” relates to him establishing this kingdom (being the founding father) and being the ruler (patriarch) of the kingdom that he will uphold.

(Revised English Version (REV) Bible Commentary, https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Isaiah/chapter9/6, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship)

BibleConflations.com

Shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)

Some people believe that because Jesus was to be called Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) that he must therefore be God incarnate. That is not the case. The name “Immanuel” means “God with us,” and it was symbolic of the fact that God would be with His people to support and deliver them. The name “Immanuel” fits the double prophecy well both at the time of Isaiah and at the time of Jesus. Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy with two separate fulfillments separated by over 700 years. It was a prophecy about a young woman in the time of Isaiah and Ahaz, and it was a prophecy about the birth of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew text has many words that can have two meanings, which is one reason there are so many different English translations of the verse. Of course that makes sense when we realize that it applies to a present-tense prophecy of what is happening at the time, and is also conflated in Matthew as a future prophecy that occurred in another 700 years.

Isaiah 7:13-16 (ESV)

13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.

Matthew 1:22-23 (ESV)

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

“Immanuel”, REV Commentary

One of the names of Jesus Christ is “Immanuel,” which can be translated as, “God with us” or “God is with us.” We know that God was with us in Jesus Christ, and Jesus himself said that if one had seen him, he had seen the Father. Names are often symbolic, the meaning of the name importing some characteristic that God wants us to know. When Jesus is called the Lion of Judah, the Lamb, or the tent peg (Zech. 10:4), God is importing characteristics about Jesus that He wants us to know. When it comes to Immanuel, God wants us to know that through Jesus Christ, God was with us. Not with us literally, but acting powerfully through His Son, just as 2 Corinthians 5:19 indicates: “That God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” It is important to read exactly what was written: God was in Christ, not God was Christ.

In the time of Ahaz and Isaiah, things looked bad for Judah. Syria and Israel were both larger nations than Judah, and Judah would not stand much of a chance in a war against them. But Isaiah foretold Judah’s deliverance, bolstered by the fact that God would be with them to deliver them, symbolized by the birth of a child who would be named “Immanuel,” and indeed God was with Judah and they were delivered from the enemy. Then, more than 700 years later, at the birth of Christ, the name Immanuel was again symbolic and appropriate because God was working powerfully in Christ to support and deliver His people and make salvation available to everyone, which Jesus did.

Symbolism in names can be seen throughout the Bible, it is not something that is unique to Jesus Christ. Many people were given names that would cause great problems if they were believed literally. Are we to believe that Bithiah, a daughter of Pharaoh, was the sister of Jesus because her name is “daughter of Yahweh?” Are we to believe that Eliab was the real Messiah since his name means “My God [is my] father?” Of course not. It would be a great mistake to claim that the meaning of a name proves a literal truth. We know that Jesus’ name is very significant—it communicates the truth that, as the Son of God and as the image of God, God is with us in Jesus, but the name does not make Jesus God. 

(Revised English Version (REV) Bible Commentary, https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Matthew/chapter1/23, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship)

This corresponds closely to the Biblical concept of Agency where agents of God are considered God by proxy. see more at https://biblicalagency.com

“Virgin”, REV Commentary

Although many English versions of the Bible have “virgin” instead of “young woman,” the Hebrew word refers to a young woman, either of marriageable age but not yet married (and therefore presumably a virgin), or a young woman who is married. There is good evidence that in Isaiah 7:14, ‘almah should be translated “young woman” and not “virgin.” One is that the “sign” of the young woman was specifically given to Ahaz that Israel and Syria would be shortly defeated in war. Isaiah said, “…the Lord himself will give you [king Ahaz] a sign. Behold, the young woman will conceive and bear a son, and will call his name Immanuel…before the child knows to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you abhor [Israel and Syria] will be forsaken” (Isa. 7:14, 16). That event took place around 730 BC, long before Christ was born. The implication again is that the son given in the time of Ahaz is called Immanuel in additional to Jesus.

(Revised English Version (REV) Bible Commentary, https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Isaiah/chapter7/14, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship)

BibleConflations.com

I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me

Malachi 3 speaks of the messenger of the covenant preparing the way for God, and then the Lord would suddenly come to his temple. This verse is often used to suggest that because the messenger “will prepare the way before me,” says the LORD of hosts, and since John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord Jesus, by inference, Jesus is the Lord God. However this a conflation in which there is a misunderstanding of how “preparing the way of the Lord” is to be understood.  

Malachi 3:1-3 (ESV), “I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me”

1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

Isaiah 40:3-6 (ESV), “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD”

3 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Analysis

Isaiah 35:8-10 and Proverbs 10:29-30 are key to understanding that “the way of the LORD” is “the Way of Holiness” and that the “way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless.” Accordingly, “the way of the LORD” is referring to the way of righteousness and holiness. John the Baptist and Jesus were holiness preachers and holiness is the way of the Lord! Preparing the way of the Lord is the preparing of the way of holiness corresponding to the preaching of the Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Both Jesus and John the Baptist were messengers of God and Jesus declared such in Luke 4:16-21, Matthew 12:18, John 4:34, John 5:30, John 7:16-18, John 8:26-29, John 8:40, and John 12:49-50. Revelation 1:5 identifies Jesus Christ as the faithful witness (messenger).

“Way of the Lord” in this context does not indicate that Jesus Christ (Messiah) is the Lord God. The “Lord” of Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 pertains to YHWH (the one God and Father). Yet many apologists claim this verse pertains to Christ and that Jesus is the Lord being spoken about with the implication being that is Jesus is YHWH. However, it is wrongheaded to read Malachi 3:1 or Isaiah 40:3 as John preparing the way of Jesus. Both men are servants of YHWH. Jesus is not YHWH himself but rather he is referred to as the horn of salvation raised in the house of David. John’s task was to prepare the people to receive the Father. And this was done by getting their hearts right through repentance.

The correct understanding is confirmed again by Luke 1:93-79 which is spoken pertaining to John the Baptist who “will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God.” Clearly, Lord in this context is the Most High God. Again, John was preparing the way for the Lord to come to the people by telling them to repent and become righteous. In ancient cultures, a forerunner is sent ahead before the king’s visitation to proclaim his impending arrival. John was that forerunner, sent to herald the Lord God’s visitation.

When John was baptizing with a baptism of repentance to purify them and refine them as silver, Jesus came also to be baptized, and the Lord God Almighty suddenly entered Jesus. When God actually visited his people, he did so by taking up residence, dwelling in his son Jesus, and using him as a mobile temple. God met the people whom Jesus met. Those who saw Jesus, the Son of God, also saw God. Jesus called his body the temple of God. You yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:37-38)

Isaiah 35:8 (ESV), the Way of Holiness

8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

Proverbs 10:29-30 (ESV), The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless

29 The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers. 30 The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.

Proverbs 12:28 (ESV), In the path of righteousness is life

28 In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

Mark 1:1-4 (ESV), Behold, I send my messenger before your face

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 1:73- 79 (ESV), And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High

73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 3:2-6 (ESV), “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”

2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Luke 3:21-22 (ESV), The Holy Spirit descended on him

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 4:16-21 (ESV), The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me”

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Acts 10:37-38 (ESV), God anointed Jesus of Nazareth – God was with him

37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

Matthew 12:18 (ESV), Behold my servant whom I have chosen

18Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

Revelation 1:5-6 (ESV), Jesus Christ the faithful witness

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 12:18 (ESV), Behold my servant whom I have chosen

18Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

BibleConflations.com

Hebrews 1:8-12 in reference to Psalms 102:25-28

A common misreading is conflating Hebrews 1:10 with Psalms 102:25 in such a way where Jesus is inferred to be the one who “of old laid the foundation of the earth,” and thus Jesus is creator God. However this is to misrepresent the the association of Hebrews 1:8-9 with with Hebrews 1:10-12. Lets look at verses of Psalms quoted in Hebrews and the quotation of Hebrews 1:8-12.

Psalms 45:6-7 (ESV), God, your God, has anointed you

6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

Psalms 102:25-28 (ESV), Like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

Hebrews 1:8-12 (ESV), like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed

8 But of the Son [he says], “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever”, REV Commentary

Hebrews 1:8 is a reference to Psalm 45:6 which has possibilities for the translation of “Your throne is from God,” or “Your throne is a throne of God” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary). “Your throne is God forever” means that God is the authority, the “throne” of the king, and the king reigns with the authority of God. This king, and by extension the Messiah, the true king of Israel, has been graced and blessed by God (Ps. 45:2). In that light, it is appropriate that this king recognizes that God is the source of his kingly authority, which is the point of Psalm 45:9. Psalm 45 is a royal wedding psalm for a Davidic king, perhaps even Solomon, and by extension, some of it applies to the Messiah. He is called “the king” and “Solomon” in this commentary entry for ease of understanding, but another Davidic king may be in mind.

The Hebrew text of Psalm 45:6 is open to a number of different interpretations and translations. Allen Ross writes: “…there are at least five plausible interpretations” (Kregel Exegetical Library: A Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2). Given the possible translations, we may never be able to say, “This is the single correct interpretation,” but we can give evidence for what seems to be the most viable translation and interpretation. Robert Alter, in The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, translates Psalm 45:7 as “Your throne of God is forevermore,” and he writes in the commentary, “Some construe the Hebrew here to mean, ‘Your throne, O God,” but it would be anomalous to have an address to God in the middle of the poem because the entire psalm is directed the king or to his bride.”

To understand Psalm 45:6, we must first learn some facts about it. For example, the speaker is the psalmist, not God. The psalmist speaks about God in the third person, for example, “God has blessed you forever” (Ps. 45:2), and “God has anointed you” (Ps. 45:7). Some people think God is the speaker, but the text argues against that. Also, the psalm is a “dual prophecy” psalm. The subject of the psalm is the king of Israel, both the Davidic king who reigns on David’s throne (likely Solomon), who marries and has children (see commentary on Ps. 45:9) and also the Messiah, the “greater David” who will eventually inherit the throne forever. Thus, some verses in the psalm more clearly point to the Messiah while others more clearly point to the Davidic king, such as the ones about him having a queen, being married and having sons. Since Psalm 45 contains dual prophecies (as we saw above), and Psalm 45:6-7 apply both to Solomon and the Messiah, if the verse is calling the king “God,” then that would make both Solomon and the Messiah God, which is untenable, and there is no internal reason to apply Psalm 45:6 to the Messiah without verse 7 applying to the same king

Psalm 45 was God’s revelation to the Jews to inform them about their king, and the Jews read the Psalm for centuries and knew it was ultimately about their Messiah, but never concluded that the Messiah was “God in the flesh” or part of a Triune God. That the Jews knew that Psalm 45 ultimately referred to their Messiah is preserved in their writing. For example, the Targum (an Aramaic commentary on the Old Testament) interprets Psalm 45:2 as, “Thy beauty, O king Messiah, is greater than that of the sons of men” (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI. Part two, p. 718). So if God gave the revelation to His people to tell them the Messiah would be God, His effort was an epic failure, and that is good evidence that the psalm is not saying the Messiah was God in the flesh.

There are a number of statements in Psalm 45 that show that the king in the psalm is not God, but is a human being. For example, Psalm 45:2 says, “You are the most beautiful of the sons of men,” thus identifying him as a human by using the common idiom for a human, “son of man,” and then going on to say, “God has blessed you forever.” In saying that this “son of man” (human being) has been blessed by God, the psalm gives even more evidence that the king being referred to is not God. There is no evidence in Scripture for God being blessed by God, and there does not seem to be a reason or need for that, but humans do need to be blessed by God and are often so blessed in Scripture. More Evidence that the psalm is speaking of a human king is in Psalm 45:7, which says, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation above your peers.” That the text calls God, “your God,” i.e., the king’s God, shows that the king is inferior to God. “God” does not have a God.

Furthermore, the king’s God “anointed” him, setting him above his “peers.” This is evidence against a Trinitarian interpretation of the verse for a number of reasons. One is that “God” does not have any peers to be set above, whereas the human king of Israel, including the Messiah, does have peers. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, did have peers because he was completely human and not a God-man as Trinitarian theology asserts. Also, Psalm 45:7 says this king loved righteousness and hated wickedness, and “therefore” God anointed him. This makes perfect sense if the king is human, but if this king is “God,” was he really anointed because he loved righteousness? It makes no sense that “God” needed to be anointed at all and neither does it make sense that God was anointed because he “loved righteousness.” Since by definition God is righteous and loves righteousness, it makes no sense to say God was anointed because He loved righteousness. In summary, Psalm 45 is not God speaking to God. It is the psalmist speaking, and the subject is a human king.

Many Biblical Unitarians accept a translation of Psalm 45:6 that is very similar to the common Trinitarian translation. However, they recognize that “Elohim” (“God” or “god”) can refer to a human being, and in this case they apply it to a human king and human Messiah. A common Biblical Unitarian translation is: “Your throne, O god, is forever and ever.” Agents of God can be called God. (John 10:34-36, Psalms 82:6-7, Exodus 7:1, Exodus 21:6, Exodus 22:8-9). The one who is being Called God here is applied to the one anointed by God. The term God refers to the power and supreme authority that he will have in this kingdom that is established and upheld by him. The messiah is not literally God but has divine authority as God’s chosen agent to rule the world in righteousness. This is evident in verse 9 where it says “God, your God, has anointed you”. That is, the one anointed by God is “God” in the sense he is the one chosen by God to rule. He is God by proxy but not by ontology. For more on this see the Biblical concept of Agency see https://biblicalagency.com

Much of the above commentary is from the REV (Revised English Version) Bible Commentary: https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Psalms/chapter45/6 , used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship

“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth – like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed”

Hebrews 1:10-12 is a reference of Psalm 102:25-28. The verse in Hebrews is quoted from the Septuagint text of the Old  Testament, which differs somewhat from the Hebrew text. Verses 10-12 are associated with verses 8-9 by the “and” but the association is not specified. Trinitarians conflate the “you, Lord” who laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning with the “of the Son” of verse 8. However, the correct association is “God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” with “like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.” That is, God’s plan is to use his anointed one to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31). Through Christ, God’s appointed agent, God will reconcile all things to himself. (1 Cor 15:24-28)

Hebrews 1:10-12 is a prophetic reference that refers to the new creation rather than the original creation. If we simply continue to read Hebrews, remembering that the original text had no chapter breaks, Hebrews 2:5 provides the clarification, “It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.” Accordingly, the subject of this section of Hebrews is not the current heavens and earth, which God created, but the future heavens and earth, that the Son will oversee. The reader must remember that the word “beginning” does not have to apply to the absolute beginning of time, but rather the beginning of something the author is referring to.

Many Old Testament and New Testament references tell us that there will be a new heavens and earth after this one, that we are currently inhabiting, passes away. First the heaven and earth of Jesus’ 1000 year Millennial Kingdom, which will perish (Isaiah 65:17; Rev. 20:1-10), and then the heaven and earth of Revelation 21:1-22:21, which will last forever. The context would suggest that Hebrews 1:10 is speaking of these future heavens and earth. Hebrews 1:6, which says, “when He again brings the firstborn into the world”, is a reference to Jesus’ function as founder of the coming world of the Kingdom. Occasional verses which may have an ambiguous association with each other must not override the plain evidence distributed through Scripture.

Much of the above commentary is from the REV (Revised English Version) Bible Commentary: https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Hebrews/chapter1/10, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV), God will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (ESV), God has put all things in subjection under his feet.

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Hebrews 2:5 (ESV), God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.

Isaiah 65:17 (ESV), “I create new heavens and a new earth”

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

Revelation 21:1-2 (ESV), I saw a new heaven and a new earth

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.d

BibleConflations.com

They will look on him who they have pierced, Zechariah 12:10

Some read into Zechariah 12:10 that the Lord God is the one being pierced, because  some English versions of Zechariah 12:10 read: “They will look on me, the one they have pierced…” However, there are textual issues involved in the transmission of the Hebrew text that to examine so that we have the right translation and meaning of the verse. Some translators supply a first person pronoun (“me”) because they see this verse as referring back to God and hence they translate “they will look on me.” But other translators supply a third person pronoun (“him,” or “the one”) because they see the phrase referring to someone other than God. Both the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New American Bible (NAB) translate the phrase as “so that when they look on him….”  The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament, heavily quoted in the New Testament) lacks any reference to one being pierced. 

Zechariah 12:10 (ESV)

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12:10 (RSV)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.

Zechariah 12:10 (NETS, Septuagint Translation)

10 And I will pour out a spirit of grace and compassion on the house of Dauid and on the inhabitants of Ierousalem, and they shall look to me because they have danced triumphantly, and they shall mourn for him with a mourning as for a loved one, and they shall be pained with pain as for a firstborn.

John 19:37 (ESV), They will look on him whom they have pierced

37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

“they will look on the one whom they have pierced”, REV Commentary

Translators and commentators who believe that the word “pierced” should refer back to the pronoun “him” cite textual variants that more clearly read “him.” This agrees with the flow of the sentence that continues with the word “him” in the phrases “they shall mourn for him” and “grieve bitterly for him.” The Jewish understanding of this verse has always been that the one pierced was one in an intimate relationship with God, but there is no record of any early Jewish commentator understanding Zechariah 12:10 to be saying that somehow Yahweh Himself would come into the flesh and be “pierced.” Instead, this verse relates to the piercing of the promised Messiah, whom many in Jerusalem would mourn and weep for, and thus it is apparent that the RSV and NAB offer a better translation of the verse in order to convey this meaning.

Another important reason to believe that “him” is the correct reading of the original text of Zechariah 12:10 is the way it is quoted in John 19:37, after the Roman soldier thrust his spear into Christ’s side. The Greek text of John 19:37 reads: “and again, another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they pierced.’” Different English versions may disagree on whether the Hebrew text of Zechariah 12:10 says “me” or “him,” but none of them disagree on the translation of the Greek text in the New Testament. None of the versions include a first person pronoun (“me”), and most of them supply the word “him” as does the KJV, NAB and RSV. If the original reading of Zechariah 12:10 read “me” instead of “him,” then “me” would almost certainly be the reading of John 19:37. On the other hand, the New Testament quotation in John 19:37 agrees with the reading of Zechariah 12:10 in the RSV and other versions. Therefore the proper reading of Zechariah 12:10 is “him,” and that is reflected in John 19.

Not only is Zechariah 12:10 quoted in John, but also it is alluded to in Revelation. Revelation 1:7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” Commentators freely admit that this verse alludes back to Zechariah, and it uses the pronoun “him” and not “me.” This is more evidence that the Hebrew text of Zechariah should read “him,” or “the one,” and thus we conclude that the internal evidence of Scripture suggests that the one who is pierced in Zechariah is not God Himself but one who is in an intimate relation with God, i.e., the Messiah.

(Revised English Version (REV) Bible Commentary, https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/Zechariah/chapter12/10, used with permission, Spirit and Truth Fellowship)

BibleConflations.com

Main Site

Basis of Scripture Sites

Apostolic Doctrine Sites

Biblical Unitarian Sites