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Biblical Answers To Trinitarian Questions


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#1 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 09:32 PM

Question #1:

If Jesus is not God, how can he forgive sins?
Because God gave him the authority to do so.

Thus:
Matthew 9:2-8.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
And he arose, and departed to his house.
But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
The multitudes understood this situation perfectly. They understood that God had given this authority to man.

That same authority - the power to forgive sins - was also granted to the apostles.

Thus:
John 20:21-23.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Clearly, it is not necessary to be God in order to forgive sins.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 09:49 PM

Question #2:

John 2:19 says

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

How could Jesus raise himself from the dead unless he was God?


He didn't. He speaks as if he will literally perform the act himself, but later passages will show that this was not what he meant. The language of agency and representation (see here) is clearly at work in this verse. As the Father's agent, the Son refers to an act of the Father as if he (the Son) will perform it himself.

The correct meaning of Jesus' words is more easily seen when we read John 2:19 in conjunction with John 10:18.

Thus:No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Here Jesus merely says that he has the power (or rather, the authority, since the Greek word in question is exousia) to receive his life again - not the power to raise himself to life again.

Thus, in the words of Trinitarian Greek scholar A. T. Robertson:Joh 10:18 - No one taketh it away from me (oudeis airei auten ap' emou).
But Aleph B read eren (first aorist active indicative of airo, to take away), probably correct (Westcott and Hort). “John is representing Jesus as speaking sub specie aeternitatis” (Bernard). He speaks of his death as already past and the resurrection as already accomplished. Cf. Joh_3:16.

Of myself (ap' emautou).
The voluntariness of the death of Jesus repeated and sharpened. D omits it, probably because of superficial and apparent conflict with Joh_5:19. But there is no inconsistency as is shown by Joh_3:16; Rom_5:8. The Father “gave” the Son who was glad to be given and to give himself.

I have power to lay it down (exousian echo theinai auten).
Exousia is not an easy word to translate (right, authority, power, privilege). See Joh_1:12. Restatement of the voluntariness of his death for the sheep.

And I have power to take it again (kai exousian echo palin labein auten).
Note second aorist active infinitive in both cases (theinai from tithemi and labein from lambano), single acts. Recall Joh_2:19 where Jesus said: “And in three days I will raise it up.” He did not mean that he will raise himself from the dead independently of the Father as the active agent (Rom_8:11).

I received from my Father (elabon para tou patros mou).
Second aorist active indicative of lambano. He always follows the Father’s command (entole) in all things (Joh_12:49.; Joh_14:31). So now he is doing the Father’s will about his death and resurrection.

Clearly, Jesus did not mean that he would literally raise himself from the dead. The Father would perform this work on his behalf.

Thus:Galatians 1:1.
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
See here for a detailed analysis of John 2:19.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 09:52 PM

Question #3:

If Jesus is not God, how can he know “all things”?
Because the Father has given him this knowledge.

Thus:
Luke 10:22.
All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
In the same way, Jesus taught his disciples all things:
  • Mark 4:34.
    But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
  • John 15:15.
    Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
The Samaritan woman understood this. She had been eagerly awaiting the Messiah:
John 4:25.
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
But Jesus did not literally mean that he knew everything, for he freely confessed his ignorance on certain subjects:
Matthew 24:36.
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Clearly, the phrase “all things” is qualified by the context.

Nowhere are we told that Jesus’ own knowledge is infinite.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 09:54 PM

Question #4:

How can Jesus search your heart and mind, unless he is God?
By the power of the Holy Spirit, just the prophets had done…

Thus:
II Kings 5:25-27.
But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed forever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
…and just as the apostles would later do:
Acts 5:3-4.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
The angels also possess this power, as we see from Genesis 18:13.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#5 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 09:59 PM

Question #5:

If Jesus is not God, how can he accept worship?
He doesn't. He accepts obeisance.

The Greek word that is translated "worship" in those instances where it is applied to Jesus, is proskuneo, meaning "to bow or prostrate oneself." It stands in contrast to the word that is used exclusively of religious worship (latreou), which is applied to the Father, but never to the Son.

The use of the word makes no implication as to the perceived humanity or divinity of the object. This is clearly seen from the use of proskuneo in Matthew 18:26 (the parable of the two debtors) where it is applied to the debtor pleading for mercy from his human lord.
Matthew 18:25-26.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”
Proskuneo is here translated “worshipped” in the KJV, but less archaically translated “begged” in the NIV, “imploring” in the RSV, “prostrated himself” in the NASB and “fell prostrate” in the NEB.

Christ also says that the enemies of the members of the church of Philadelphia will be forced to worship at the feet of the Philadelphian Christians. In this passage, where it is obviously not talking about the worship of God, the NIV and the NEB translate the phrase as “come and fall down at your feet.” The RSV and NASB both say, “come and bow down at your feet.”

Thus:
Revelation 3:8-10.
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
So we see that where the object of proskuneo is human, the modern translations have been unanimous in changing to a more modern English wording instead of “worship.”

For more on this topic, see here.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#6 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 10:05 PM

Question #6:

The Bible says that Christ will dwell in us. How is this possible, unless he is God?
It is possible if we understand that the reference is purely figurative. Remember, Christ "dwells" in us, even as we "dwell" in him.

Thus:
  • John 17:20-22.
    Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
    That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
  • I John 4:13.
    Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
There is clearly no need for anything supernatural here. The phrase "because he hath given us of his spirit" need not be a reference to the Holy Spirit, but only to the mind of Christ (which is elsewhere referred to as "the spirit of Christ.")

Even if we do take it as a reference to the Holy Spirit, this verse would still not prove that Jesus is God. It would only prove that he had given us the Holy Spirit.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#7 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 10:11 PM

  • Question #7:

    If Jesus is not God, how can he legitimately claim:

  • That if we honour Him, we honour the Father.
  • That we must honour the Son, even as we honour the Father.

Because Jesus is the representative of the Father, just as we are called to be the representatives of Christ.

Thus:
  • Matthew 10:40-41.
    He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

    He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

  • Matthew 18:5.
    And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

  • Mark 9:37.
    Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me:
    and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

  • John5:43.
    I am come in my Father's name
    , and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
These verses clearly reinforce two consistent principles of Scripture: agency and representation.

For more on this topic, see here.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#8 Evangelion

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 10:24 PM

Question #8:

Jesus claims that he can give us eternal life:

John 10:28
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

If Jesus is not God, how can he make such an offer?

Because this is one of the privileges that God extended to him.

Thus:
  • John 5:26-27.
    For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
    And hath given him authority to execute judgment also
    , because he is the Son of man.

  • John 17:2.
    As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
The Bible confirms that the Father is the source of this eternal life, while the Son is merely the agent through whom it is given.

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

  • Romans 6:23.
    For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Titus 1:2.
    In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

  • I John 5:11.
    And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Notice that in every case, God is clearly delineated from Christ, not equated with him.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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