Trinity in the Bible – Chapter 4 – Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity!

Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity bookCHAPTER 4: TRINITY IN THE BIBLE

DOES MONOTHEISM (BELIEF IN ONE GOD) SUPPORT THE TRINITY?

“THE Bible teaching that God is one is called monotheism. And L.L. Paine, professor of ecclesiastical history, indicates that monotheism in its purest form does not allow for a Trinity….‘Here, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.’ Those words are found at Deuteronomy 6:4.…In the grammar of that verse, the word ‘one’ has no plural modifiers to suggest that it means anything but one individual.…Thousands of times throughout the Bible, God is spoken of as one person. When he speaks, it is as one undivided individual. The Bible could not be any clearer on this….Surely, if God were composed of three persons, he would have had his Bible writers make it abundantly clear so that there could be no doubt about it.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, pp. 12-13

The Watchtower quotes Levi Leodard Paine in support of their claims that monotheism rules out trinitarianism, but just like other authors the Society has quoted, Paine is a liberal scholar who does not believe the Bible is “of a divine miraculous origin and character, differentiating the Bible from all other religious literature.…”1. Therefore, one must conclude that he is not a reputable source that one should consult for information on the Bible. After quoting Paine, the Society quotes Deuteronomy 6:4, stating that the word “one” should not be interpreted to mean “anything but one individual.” While Deuteronomy 6:4, known as the Hebrew Shema, is a clear declaration from God stating that He alone is God, the Hebrew word echod translated “one” in this passage can refer to plurality within unity. Notice how echod is used in the following passages:

· GENESIS 2:24: “…and they shall become one flesh.”
· GENESIS 29:20: “…served seven years…they seemed to him but a few days….”
· 1 CHRONICLES 12:38: “…all the rest also of Israel were of one mind.…”2.

The Society argues that since God is often spoken of in singular terms, such as “He,” “Him,” “I,” and “Myself,” He cannot be a Trinity. While Trinitarians agree that God speaks of Himself in singular terms, this does not contradict the fact that He is a composite being of three persons. Even in the Old Testament, shadows of the Trinity can be seen when God speaks of Himself in the plural form as is demonstrated by the following verses:

· GENESIS 1:26-27: “…‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;’…And God created man in His own image.…”3.
· ISAIAH 48:16b: “And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”4.
· 2 SAMUEL 23:2-3: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke.…The God of Israel said…The Rock of Israel spoke.…”5.
· ZECHARIAH 2:8-11: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘…Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.…behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ declares the LORD. ‘…and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.’ ”
· ZECHARIAH 12:10: “…they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him.…”

The Society makes the claim that “…if God were composed of three persons, he would have had his Bible writers make it abundantly clear so that there could be no doubt about it.” Let’s now take a moment and observe how “abundantly clear” God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. The doctrine of the Trinity is based on three premises which are distinctly revealed in the Scriptures.

1. THE THREE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY ARE SHOWN TO BE DISTINCT: As noted earlier, by using the term “person” to represent the uniqueness of the individuals of the Trinity, one must not perceive that we are implying that these persons each have bodies of flesh an bones.6. The term “person” is used to designate the qualities and attributes of personhood that they manifest as they relate to each other. For example, note how the Son prays to the Father (John 17), the Father sends the Son (John 3:16-17; Matthew 3:16-17), and the Father “knows” the “mind” of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:27), while the Holy Spirit “searches” the depths of God and “knows” the thoughts of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11).

2. WHILE EACH OF THE THREE PERSONS POSSESS THE ATTRIBUTES OF DEITY, THEY ARE EACH ADDRESSED AS “GOD”: The following charts illustrate some of the passages from which the doctrine of the Trinity is derived. Take note of how each member of the Trinity has the attributes of Deity and each performs tasks that only God can do.7.

DIVINE QUALITY THE FATHER THE SON THE HOLY SPIRIT
OMNIPRESENCE Jeremiah 23:24;
1 Kings 8:27
Matthew 28:20; 18:20;
John 1:48
Psalm 139:7
OMNISCIENCE Psalm 147:5;
1 John 3:20;
1 Kings 8:39
John 16:30; 2:24-25 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
OMNIPOTENCE Jeremiah 32:17,27; Matthew 19:26;
Luke 1:37;
Psalm 135:6
Matthew 28:18;
John 16:15;
Hebrews 1:3
Romans 15:19
HOLINESS Revelation 15:4 Acts 3:14 Romans 1:4
ETERNITY Psalm 90:2;
Romans 16:26
Hebrews 7:3;
Isaiah 9:6;
John 8:58
Hebrews 9:14
Each described as TRUTH John 7:28 John 8:32,36; 14:6;
Revelation 3:7
John 16:13;
1 John 5:6-7
LORD Luke 1:32; 10:21 Romans 10:9;
Philippians 2:11
2 Corinthians 3:17
GOD 1 Peter 1:2;
Philippians 2:11
2 Peter 1:1;
Titus 2:13;
John 1:1; 20:28;
Hebrews 1:8
Acts 5:3-4;
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
ALMIGHTY Genesis 17:1 Revelation 1:8; 22:12-13, 20 Zechariah 4:6

DIVINE WORK
THE FATHER
THE SON
THE HOLY SPIRIT
CREATION Genesis 2:7;
Psalm 102:25;
Isaiah 44:24
John 1:3;
Col. 1:16;
Hebrews 1:2
Genesis 1:2;
Job 33:4;
Psalm 104:30
INCARNATION Hebrews 10:5 Hebrews 2:14;
Philippians 2:7
Luke 1:35;
Matthew 1:18
CHRIST’S RESURRECTION 1 Thessalonians 1:10;
Romans 6:4;
Ephesians 1:20
John 10:17-18;
John 2:18-22
Romans 1:4; 8:11
THEY SANCIFY Exodus 31:13;
Jude 1
Hebrews 2:11; 10:10 1 Peter 1:2
THEY ARE LIFE Deuteronomy 30:20 Colossians 3:4;
John 14:6
Romans 8:10
GIVE ETERNAL LIFE Romans 6:23 John 10:28 Galatians 6:8
RAISE THE DEAD John 5:21a;
Deuteronomy 32:39
John 5:21b Romans 8:11
INSPIRE PROPHETS Hebrews 1:1 2 Corinthians13:3 Mark 13:11;
Acts 28:25-27

3. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD: While it is clear that only God can possess the attributes of Deity, the Bible is very explicit in its revelation that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6, 8, 24; 45:21-22; 46:9; 1 Timothy 1:17), and all other so-called “Gods” are in reality false gods (1 Corinthians 8:5-6; John 17:3; Galatians 4:8). Throughout this publication as we continue to respond to the Society’s claims, it will become more and more evident that the doctrine of the Trinity is definitely revealed “abundantly clear so that there could be no doubt about it” being a Biblical teaching.

“JESUS called God ‘the only true God.’ (John 17:3) Never did he refer to God as a deity of plural persons. That is why nowhere in the Bible is anyone but Jehovah called Almighty. Otherwise, it voids the meaning of the word ‘almighty.’ Neither Jesus nor the holy spirit is ever called that, for Jehovah alone is supreme.…In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word ’elol’ah (god) has two plural forms.…These plural forms generally refer to Jehovah, in which case they are translated in the singular as ‘God.’ Do these plural forms indicate a Trinity? No, they do not…. ‘It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God.’ ” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 13

The phrase “only true God” in John 17:3 is not intended to contrast the Father and the Son, but rather, to contrast the one true God with that of false gods (Jeremiah 10:10-11; 1 John 5:20). The Society has a valid point when they claim that Jehovah is the only one who is called “Almighty.” This is one reason why Trinitarians believe that Jesus is Jehovah. At Revelation 1:8, the “Alpha and the Omega” is called “Almighty,” and when we compare this with Revelation 22:12-13, 20, we find that this “Alpha and Omega” is Jesus Christ. Since we know that Jehovah is Almighty and that there can only be one Almighty, it is obvious that Jesus is Jehovah God!

Concerning the Hebrew plural term ’elo-him’ which is translated “God” in the Old Testament, it is true that various scholars feel that this term is used only to express God’s “fullness” of power rather than the persons of the Trinity. While this debate exists among recognized scholars, one should not accept or deny the Trinity solely on his personal interpretation of this term, because support for the doctrine of the Trinity is far more extensive than this.

ANSWERING WATCHTOWER PROOF TEXTS

In the section found on page 14 of the Watchtower brochure, the Society discusses three “proof-texts” they twist to deny the Deity of Christ (Colossians 1:15-16; Revelation 3:14; Proverbs 8:12, 22-23). We will now examine each of these:

COLOSSIANS 1:15-16

“And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.
For by Him all things were created.…”

The Society argues that the fact that the Bible calls Jesus “first-born” proves that Jesus had to be created. They then assert that because Scripture teaches that God created the universe “through” Jesus, he cannot be God, but merely the instrument that God used in creation.

3 REASONS WHY THE SOCIETY’S ARGUMENTS BASED
ON THIS VERSE ARE UNSOUND:

1. “FIRST-BORN” MEANS SUPREMACY OF POSITION:

· PSALM 89:27: David, who was the last born son of Jesse,8. is called “first-born.”
· JEREMIAH 31:9: Ephraim, who was born after Manasseh,9. is called “first-born.”
· EXODUS 4:22: Israel is called God’s “first-born” son.
· JOB 18:13: An illness is called “the first-born of death.”

It was the Hebrew custom that the position of the “first-born” son held special privileges within the family. “He received the special family blessing, which meant spiritual and social leadership and a double portion of the father’s possessions—or twice what all the other sons received (Deut. 21:17). He could lose this blessing through misdeeds (Gen. 35:22) or by selling it (Gen. 25:29-34).”10. Context determines whether the term “first-born” in a particular passage should be interpreted as referring to supremacy of position as the preeminent one or the first one physically born. Since the whole context of Colossians chapter one is speaking about the supremacy of Christ as being the Creator rather than being of the creation,11. it is in this sense that Christ is called the “firstborn” or preeminent one over creation. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words explains:

“FIRST-BEGOTTEN, FIRSTBORN prōtotokos (πρωτότοκος, 4416), ‘firstborn’ (from prōtos, ‘first,’ and tiktō, to ‘beget’) is used of Christ as born of the virgin Mary, Luke 2:7; further, in His relationship to the Father, expressing His priority to, and preeminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the ‘first’to be born. …The five passages in the NT relating to Christ may be set forth chronologically thus: (a) Col. 1:15, where His eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means both that He was the ‘Firstborn’ before all creation and that He Himself produced creation….”—Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, (Thomas Nelson Publishers), pp. 240-241

Indeed, “…He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him.…” —Colossians 1:18-19

2. PAUL USED THE GREEK TERM PRŌTOTOKOS RATHER THAN PRŌTOKTISIS:

If the Apostle Paul had intended to convey the concept that Jesus was the first creature created by Jehovah, he would have used the term prōtoktisis(πρωτόκτίσις) which means “first-created” rather than the term prōtotokos (πρωτότοκος) which means “firstborn” or “preeminent one.” Regarding this term used at Colossians 1:15, Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. editor of The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible states:

“The other word to which we must turn our attention and which is used twice in this context is the word prōtotokos (4416), translated as ‘first born’ or as ‘first begotten.’  It is used twice in Col. 1:15, 18. …What it means here is that Christ holds the same relation to all creation as God the Father and that He is above all creation. It does not mean that He is part of the creation made by God, but that the relation of the whole creation to Him was determined by the fact that He is the cause of the creation of all things (Jn 1:1; Rev. 3:14) and that without Him there could be no creation (Jn. 1:3,4; Col. 1:16).  It is not said of Christ that He was ktstheis, ‘created,’ from ktizō (2936) ‘to create,’ a verb used of the creation of the world by Him in Col. 1:16.  We never find this verb ktizō as referring to Jesus Christ as having been created.” —The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, 1990, New American Standard Bible (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 37422 USA), p. 1579

Also, according to Hebrews 7:3, Melchizedek, who was a picture of Christ, had “neither beginning of days nor end of life…like the Son of God.12. Indeed, our eternal High/Priest Mediator, Jesus Christ, has no “beginning of days,” for nothing that was created came into being “apart from Him.” (John 1:3)

3. “ALL THINGS” WERE CREATED “THROUGH” BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON:

Because the universe is said to have been created “through” Christ, the Society endeavors to argue that Jesus is not the Supreme Creator but only the instrument that Jehovah used to accomplish His act of Creation. While the Society makes an issue of the universe being created “through” (dia—dia) Jesus, they neglect the fact that at Romans 11:36 and Hebrews 2:10 all things are said to be created “through” the Father. Since it is untenable to argue that the Father is not the Supreme Creator because all things were created “through” Him, it is untenable to argue that Jesus is not the Supreme Creator simply because all things were created “through” Him.

ISAIAH 44:24B
JOHN 1:3
I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.…”13.
“All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

REVELATION 3:14

“…the Beginning of the creation of God.”

The Society argues that the word “‘Beginning’ [Greek, ar-khe’] cannot rightly be interpreted to mean that Jesus was the ‘beginner’ of God’s creation. In his Bible writings, John uses various forms of the Greek word ar-khe’ more than 20 times, and these always have the common meaning of ‘beginning.’ Yes, Jesus was created by God as the beginning of God’s invisible creations.” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 14

At Revelation 21:6 and 22:13, John quotes God Almighty as stating that He is “the beginning and the end.”14. Why is Jehovah God called the “beginning”? Is this passage teaching that Jehovah God had a “beginning”? Obviously, Not! So, what is He the “beginning” of? It is obvious that He is the “beginning” of the created universe. Thus, if Jehovah God is called the “beginning” of the created universe and He is not regarded as being part of what He began, why can’t Jesus be called the “beginning” of creation and He not be regarded as being part of the creation that He began?

If the Greek word “arche” is used in Scripture to indicate Almighty God’s power and authority as the originator and “beginner” of creation, is it reasonable to argue that arche cannot be applied to Christ to indicate His power and authority as the “beginner” of creation? Obviously, Not! Contrary to the Society’s claims, the Greek word arche (arch) is used to denote not only someone who is an originator, but also someone who is a ruler or magistrate. In fact, it is from this Greek word that our English words “architect” and “archbishop” are derived.15. Notice how arche is translated in the following passages found in the King James Version of the Bible:

· LUKE 12:11: “And when they bring you…unto magistrates, and powers….”
· LUKE 20:20: “…deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.”
· 1 CORINTHIANS 15:24: “…put down all rule and all authority and power.”
· COLOSSIANS 2:10: “…the head of all principality and power.…”

As far as arche being used to signify the originator of something, notice how archegos (archgoV), a derivative of arche, is translated in the following passages found in the New American Standard Bible:

· ACTS 3:15: “but put to death the Prince of life.…”
· HEBREWS 2:10: “…to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.”
· HEBREWS 12:2: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith….”

As is evident by the way arche is translated in these passages, the Watchtower Society’s assertion that arche cannot be applied to Christ as the “‘beginner’ of God’s creation” is entirely without merit. At Revelation 3:14, Scripture is actually teaching that Jesus Christ is the Architect and Ruler of creation, for all creation began with Christ.

PROVERBS 8:12, 22-23

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence….The LORD possessed me at the beginning of
His way….From everlasting I was established….”

The Society’s New World Translation translates Proverbs 8:22 as “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way.…” They use these verses in Proverbs 8 attempting to prove that Jesus was created and thus has not always existed. Although the Society admits that these verses in context are speaking of wisdom personified, they claim that this passage is “actually a figure of speech for Jesus as a spirit creature prior to his human existence.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 14

If the “wisdom” in Proverbs 8 is actually referring to Jesus, who is the “prudence”16. that Jesus (as wisdom) dwells with? If wisdom had to be created (was “produced”), are we to conclude that God had no wisdom until a certain time when He created it? It is obvious that God wouldn’t be God if there was a time when He was without wisdom. Therefore, we must recognize that wisdom is just as eternal as God is. In fact, the same Hebrew word translated “everlasting” or “time indefinite” (owlam) which is used to express God’s eternal nature at Psalm 90:2 is used to express the eternal nature of wisdom at Proverbs 8:23. The New American Translation better translates these passages as it states that God “possessed” wisdom, rather than “produced” wisdom. These passages reveal how God brought forth wisdom to take part in His creation.

PROVERBS 8:22-23
PSALM 90:2
“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. From everlasting [owlam] I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.”
“…Even from everlasting [owlam] to everlasting, Thou art God.”

At Proverbs 1:20-21, wisdom is personified as a woman who cries in the streets. As is seen by examining the context, there is no indication in this passage that the wisdom which is being discussed in Proverbs 1-9 is to be associated with Christ. Nevertheless, even if one takes the position that the Watchtower Society maintains (that this wisdom is referring to Christ), one would have to come to the conclusion that Jesus is just as eternal as God is, since it is obvious that wisdom could not have been created. Proverbs 8:22-23 cannot be used to prove that Jesus is a created being. In fact, quite the opposite is true, for by utilizing the Society’s position, one can argue for the eternal nature of Christ from these passages!

“HOW MUCH WAS THE RANSOM?”

“AT MATTHEW 4:1, Jesus is spoken of as being ‘tempted by the Devil.’…But what test of loyalty would that be if Jesus were God? Could God rebel against himself? No,.…So if Jesus had been God, he could not have been tempted.— James 1:13.…Jesus, no more and no less than a perfect human, became a ransom that compensated exactly for what Adam lost— the right to perfect human life on earth.…The perfect human life of Jesus was the ‘corresponding ransom’ required by divine justice—no more, no less.…If Jesus, however, were part of a Godhead, the ransom price would have been infinitely higher than what God’s own Law required.…How could any part of an almighty Godhead— Father, Son, or holy spirit— ever be lower than angels?”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, pp. 14-15

The Society is correct when they state that God cannot be tempted (James 1:13). This is why Jesus Christ, who has the nature of God, took on an additional nature—that of a human who yet retained His full Deity as God (Colossians 2:9). Although Jesus took on the nature of a man, His two natures did not merge into one nature so that he would become some sort of a half-man/half-God being; but rather, He retained His full Divine nature as God while laying aside some of His Divine qualities in order to experience all of the temptations of a human. The books of Philippians and Hebrews explain:

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross….Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;…For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.…For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”—Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:14, 16-18; 4:15

This is the beauty of Trinitarian theology. Our God not only cares deeply for each one of us and graciously supplies all our needs; but our God is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” as He took on our nature, He lived the perfect life in our place, endured all the trials we endure, paid the ultimate price for our sins through a torturous death, and He now offers us His perfection in exchange for our sin. As the God-man, his death has infinite value and eternally covers not only the sin of Adam but each one of our sins if we personally accept His “free gift” of redemption.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 6:23

“…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.…If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:7, 9

“And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”—1 John 5:11-13

A “CORRESPONDING RANSOM”?

The Watchtower Society claims that Jesus cannot be “part of a Godhead” because if He were God, the ransom value of Christ would be too great to correspond to the value of what was lost when the perfect man, Adam, sinned.  Thus, the Watchtower Society claims that all that was necessary for the ransom sacrifice to “correspond” to Adam’s loss of perfect life was the death of another perfect human, Jesus Christ.  This is why they argue:

“The perfect human life of Jesus was the ‘corresponding ransom’ required by divine justice—no more, no less. …If Jesus, however, were part of a Godhead, the ransom price would have been infinitely higher than what God’s own Law required.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 15

If a “perfect human” was all that God required for the ransom, why didn’t God create one human from scratch instead of sending His own Son?  Psalm 49:7 states, “No man can by any means redeem his brother, Or give to God a ransom for him…”  Thus, we see that a mere human would not have been sufficient.  Romans 5:15-17 describes how Jesus’ sacrifice was far greater than Adam’s transgression because His sacrifice covered not just the one sin of Adam, but the sin of “many” people.  Romans 5:16 emphasizes:

“The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.”

Did you catch that? The gift is “not like” what was lost in Adam’s sin.  In the death of God’s Son, there is nothing “corresponding” to the loss of Adam’s perfect life.  Rather, Jesus’ value as God’s Son is “infinitely higher” than the value of one perfectly created human because as Romans 5:16 explains, the ransom had to cover “many transgressions” to bring about the “justification” of all who put their trust in Christ for salvation.

Furthermore, Galatians 1:1 states that Paul was an apostle “…not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father.…” At this passage, Paul plainly communicates the fact that Christ is more than just a human, and he ranks Jesus on the same level with God the Father in position and authority. Note the exclamation of the disciples at Matthew 8:27: “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Jesus is more than just a mere human, for He desires that all mankind render to Him the same honor and worship that they render to the Father.17.

Contrary to the claims of the Society, the Greek word for ransom “antilutron” (antilutron) merely involves the idea of “substitution”—not necessarily a strict “no more, no less” type of correspondence. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words states:

“In these passages the preposition is anti, which has a vicarious significance, indicating that the ‘ransom’ holds good for those who, accepting it as such, no longer remain in death since Christ suffered death in their stead. The change of preposition in 1 Tim. 2:6, where the word antilutron, a substitutionary ‘ransom,’ is used, is significant. There the preposition is huper, ‘on behalf of,’ and the statement is made that He ‘gave Himself a ransom for all,’…”—Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, pp. 506-507

Mark 10:45 in the Society’s New World Translation states, “For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom [lutron] in exchange [anti] for many.”

JESUS THE “ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON”

“THE Bible calls Jesus the ‘only-begotten Son’ of God. (John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) Trinitarians say that since God is eternal, so the Son for God is eternal. But how can a person be a son and at the same time be as old as his father?…Does that sound logical to you? Can a man father a son without begetting him?…Hebrews 11:17 speaks of Isaac as Abraham’s ‘only-begotten son.’…The basic Greek word for ‘only-begotten’ used for Jesus and Isaac is mo-no-ge-nes’, from mo’nos, meaning ‘only,’ and gi’no-mai, a root word meaning ‘to generate,’ ‘to become (come into being),’ states Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.…So Jesus, the only-begotten Son, had a beginning to his life. And Almighty God can rightly be called his Begetter, or Father, in the same sense that an earthly father, like Abraham, begets a son. (Hebrew 11:17)….Hence, the phrase ‘Son of God’ refers to Jesus as a separate created being, not as part of a Trinity. As the Son of God, he could not be God himself, for John 1:18 says: ‘No one has ever seen God.’—RS, Catholic edition. The disciples viewed Jesus as the ‘one mediator between God and men,’ not as God himself. (1 Timothy 2:5) Since by definition a mediator is someone separate from those who need mediation, it would be a contradiction for Jesus to be one entity with either of the parties he is trying to reconcile.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, pp. 15-16

Concerning Jesus’ claim to be “Son of God,” the Watchtower Society argues, “Can a man father a son without begetting him?…Almighty God can rightly be called his Begetter, or Father, in the same sense that an earthly father, like Abraham, begets a son.” What is the Society implying? Are they implying that Jehovah literally begot Jesus in the “same” way humans beget their children? If so, who is Jehovah’s wife? Are they saying that Mary was literally the wife of God, and therefore, could not be a virgin? Although every Jehovah’s Witness would cringe at the implications of these assertions, these are the logical conclusions one can draw if he reasons the way the Society does here. Bowman comments:

“The JWs are employing an argument having the following logical form: (a) All sons are begotten; (b) the prehuman Jesus was a son; therefore (c) Jesus was begotten; but (d) all who are begotten also begin to exist at some point in time, and are thus creatures; therefore (e) Jesus, having been begotten, must also be a creature. This sounds good, and it is logically valid, meaning that if the premises, or assertions of fact on which the argument is based, are true, then the conclusion would also have to be true. But consider the following parallel argument: (a) All sons had mothers; (b) the prehuman Jesus was a son; therefore (c) the prehuman Jesus had a mother. The argument may also be put this way: (d) All who are begotten have a mother; therefore (e) Jesus, having been begotten, also had a mother. There are only two ways to escape this argument. The first is to point out that the Bible does not say that Jesus had a heavenly Mother. This does not actually refute the argument, but it shows that biblically there may be something wrong with it. The second is to argue that what is true of earthly fathers and sons need not be true of the divine Father and his divine Son. What this does is to show that the statements ‘all sons had mothers’ and ‘all who are begotten had mothers’ are hasty generalizations—they are only true of earthly beings.…Moreover, what is true of earthly fathers and sons (that the sons are always younger than the fathers and are born in time) is not necessarily true of the eternal Father and his Son.”—Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, pp. 82-83

Contrary to the Society’s arguments, the Jewish people in Jesus’ day understood the term “son of…” to mean “of the order or nature of…” Therefore, when Jesus claimed to be the “Son of God,” the Jews understood Him to be claiming to be “of the order and nature of God.” Note the following passages:

· 1 KINGS 20:35: “Sons of the prophets” means “of the nature of the prophets.”
· NEHEMIAH 12:28: “Sons of the singers” means “of the order of the singers.”
· EPHESIANS 2:2: “Sons of disobedience” means “having a disobedient nature.”
· JOHN 6:62: “Son of Man” means “of the order and nature of Man.”18.
· JOHN 5:18: “Son of God” means “of the order and nature of God.”

“For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”—John 5:18

“The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.’ ”—John 19:719.

Scripture refers to Jesus as the “only-begotten” Son of God. While it is true that Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance does render the Greek word monogenes as “only-born, i.e. sole:—only (begotten, child)”20. , under the section “Plan of the Book” found on page 5, Strong’s Concordance notes that these definitions are merely “the different renderings of the word in the Authorized English Version.” Therefore, these renderings found in Strong’s Concordance do not necessarily convey the complete definitions of the Biblical words. Concerning the term monogenese, James White observes:

“The translation ‘only-begotten’ is inferior to ‘unique.’ It was thought that the term came from monoV (monos), meaning ‘only’ and gennaw (gennao), meaning ‘begotten.’ However, further research has determined that the term is derived not from gennaw but fromgenos), meaning ‘kind’ or ‘type.’ Hence the better translation, ‘unique’ or ‘one of a kind.’ See Louw and Nida, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains (1988) p. 591; Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John, 1980, p. 24; and Moulton and Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, 1930, pp. 416-417.” 21.

Likewise, The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon provides the following meaning for monogenese:

“…only-begotten, unique, one of its special kind.”   22.

At Hebrews 11:17, Isaac is called Abraham’s “only-begotten son.” Since Isaac was not the only son born to Abraham23. , it is clear from the context of Hebrews 11 that Isaac is called Abraham’s “only-begotten” in the sense of his uniqueness as God’s covenant purposes were to be carried out through Isaac and his descendants. In the same way, Jesus is called the “only-begotten” Son of God in the sense of His uniqueness as the second person of the Triune God.

Endeavoring to argue that by virtue of the fact that people have visibly “seen” Jesus, this proves that He cannot be God, the Society quotes John 1:18 which states that “No man has seen God at any time.…” Is this a valid argument? Didn’t Isaiah see Jehovah in His temple (Isaiah 6:1-5)? By cross-referencing John 12:41 with Isaiah 6,24. it becomes evident that the Jehovah that Isaiah saw is Jesus!

ISAIAH 6:1, 3-5
JOHN 12:36-37, 41-42
“In the year King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted….And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined!…For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ ”
“These things Jesus spoke.…yet they were not believing in Him; that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled….These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him….”

Since no one has seen God the Father, He has revealed Himself in the unique, one and only God—Jesus Christ. “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”—John 1:18, New International Version

“ ‘Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.’…Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, “Show us the Father”?’ ”—John 6:46; 14:9

At 1 Timothy 2:5, Jesus is said to be the mediator between God and men. The Society argues that Jesus cannot be God because He is the mediator “between” God and man and “a mediator is someone separate from those who need mediation.” Is this a tenable argument? If we take the Society’s statement to its logical conclusion, we would also have to draw the connection that Jesus, by virtue of His “mediator” role between God and man, cannot be a man. When we consider this fact, it is evident that the Society’s reasoning falls apart on account of the latter part of the verse which demonstrates that although Jesus is the mediator between God and man, He is sill a man: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

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1. See page 269 of Levi Leonard Paine’s book, A Critical History of The Evolution of Trinitarianism, 1900, (Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, Boston and New York; The Riverside Press, Cambridge)
2. Note in the King James Version and the Watchtower’s New World Translation “one mind” is rendered as “one heart.”
3. Here we see that the “our image” was the image of God Himself! (Genesis 5:1) Other Old Testament passages that could be cited as cases where God speaks in the plural form are Genesis 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8.
4. The context of Isaiah 48:12-16 reveals that Jehovah God is the one who is speaking about sending Himself in the person of Christ.
5. Jesus is called the spiritual “rock” of Israel at 1 Corinthians 10:4.
6. God is spirit John 4:24.
7. Regarding the Deity of Christ, take note of Mark 2:7,10 and Luke 24:47
8. 1 Samuel 16:11
9. Genesis 41:51-52
10. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, (Thomas Nelson Publishers), p. 83 (Hebrew portion of this one-volume edition)
11. In order to make this passage compatible with their doctrine of Christ having been created, the Society inserts the word “other” four times into their translation of Colossians 1:16-17 found in their New World Translation, thus reading that “all [other] things” were created through Christ.” Nevertheless, at John 1:3 we read that Christ created “all things” —not all other things .
12. Melchizedek king of Salem was a high priest of God to whom Abraham bestowed his tithe (Genesis 14:18-20). Melchizedek’s name means “Righteous King” Priest of Salem (Peace). Thus, he is one of the people in the Old Testament that God used to be a picture of Christ to the Israelites. Just like Jesus Christ as God has always existed, so Melchizedek was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” in the sense that this information was not recorded in Scripture so that Melchizedek would better represent the eternal nature of Jesus Christ our High Priest/Mediator.
13. At this verse, the Society’s New World Translation states: “I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?
14. At Revelation 1:8, Almighty God is revealed to be the “Alpha and the Omega.” At Revelation 21:6, the “Alpha and the Omega” states that He is the “beginning and the end.” Thus, it is Almighty God who is speaking here at Revelation 21:6 and 22:13.
15. See Ron Rhodes’ book Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1993, (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR) pp. 123-125
16. In the Society’s New World Translation the word is “shrewdness.”
17. See John 5:23 and compare Revelation 4:10-11 with Revelation 5:11-14
18. Jesus was not begotten by a man. God is not a Man (Hosea 11:9), and Mary was a “virgin” (Matt 1:23-25). Therefore we conclude that Jesus is called the “Son of Man” in the sense that He has the nature of Man.
19. Compare with Leviticus 24:16 where Jewish law required stoning for those who claimed to be God.
20. The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA) p. 49
21. The King James Only Controversy, by James White, 1995, (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN), p. 259
22.  The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon, by Jay P Green, 1982 (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA ), p. 579
23. Genesis 16 recounts the story of how Ishmael was born to Abraham through Sarai’s handmaid Hagar.
24.The Society’s New World Translation also cross-references this passage here at John 12:41 to Isaiah 6:1

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