Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God"?

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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God"?

Postby Matt » Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:22 pm

The shema:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deut 6:4)

Paul's twist on the Shema:
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 Cor 8:6)

Paul (or whoever originally composed this ancient creed) seems to have inserted Jesus into the shema as equal to YHWH.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God"?

Postby Exrev » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:46 pm

I know there are some atheist and even gosh some Christians (well my grandmother was one) who don't think Jesus was God. But that he was a good prophet and good teacher. Well, as much as i've studied the Bible and much of it was with my former evangelical glasses on, seems to be pretty obvious that the New Testament teaches that Jesus was God or equal to God. Although, I guess the question is who di Jesus think he was. Man I wish i could ask him, but I have yet to come across a 2000 year old Jew walking around. Maybe that question is lost in history. Reading the gospels, I can see both sides of the arguement.

Like this in Mark Mark 10:18 (New International Version)
18"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.

Was that a retorichal question I don't know?

Then there is this

67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.

68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

70Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

But yet never states that he is God.

Then there is this
John 8:58 - "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'"

I can see both sides. But I do tend to side that Jesus proably never though he was God, I think that was added later by his later "followers" The Idea that man can be God seems more of Roman and Greek thought than Jewish thought. But of course, any "good" Christian would totally disagree with that.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God"?

Postby Exrev » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:47 pm

Opps sorry I forgot this was the Christian rooom so sorry for that.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Tue May 11, 2010 9:51 am

Matt, are you telling me that in Paul’s view, ‘the one God, the Father’ + ‘the one Lord, Jesus Christ’ = ‘the one God?' How can the one God plus anything still equal the one God as the otherwise intelligent theologians you are regurgitating propose? Is Paul actually redefining the term THEOS for us mid-sentence with no clarity whatsoever? When you are forced to fit Scripture into your paradigms rather than defining those paradigms based on Scripture, oftentimes we make poor justifications for nonconforming verses, and there is no better example of that in Scripture than this verse.

So you're arguing that Paul decides to rearrange this cornerstone of the Jewish faith for the church at Corinth in an obscure comment he simply throws in as if his readers were already aware of this complicated “truth.” Your argument is that after Paul summarizes the original Shema, he proceeds to redefine it, identifying the Old Testament “one God” as a new collective entity combining the previously uncompounded “one God,” the Father, and the newly introduced second “person” of this collective God, the “one Lord,” Jesus Christ. So now, you argue, the Shema’s theme of “one God” now includes both the “one God” and the “one Lord?”

Is that really your belief or is it simply just the best answer you've got given your required belief system with the trinity as a base? Would it help that nowhere else in Paul's letters does he call Jesus "God" other than the grammatically ambiguous Rom 9:5 and Titus 2:13? And this is even though he uses the title for the Father and false gods over 540 times?
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby Exrev » Tue May 11, 2010 10:21 am

The nice way trinitairaians get around this contradiction is they say that God is one, with 3 persons the father son and holy spirit. The doctrine of trinity never defines what a person of the holy trinity, they never give the essenes of what person means. While the idea that there are 3 persons of 1 being is really hard to understand, but i guess if you don't define what you mean by person it can't really be argued a contradiction.

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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue May 11, 2010 11:49 am

ChristianHeretic wrote:Matt, are you telling me that in Paul’s view, ‘the one God, the Father’ + ‘the one Lord, Jesus Christ’ = ‘the one God?' How can the one God plus anything still equal the one God as the otherwise intelligent theologians you are regurgitating propose?

1. God the Father and Jesus are only one being so there is no addition involved. The two are inseperable and so talk of adding them is nonsensical.
2. God is an infinite being and thus any talk of addition would only bring to mind the following facts, infinity + any number (including infinity) = infinity.

God's infinitude simply represents a lack of any limitations to His own being except those which He chooses for Himself. Trinitarian doctrine simply extends this to a realization that this includes a lack of limitation to singular personhood -- He is a transpersonal being, whom we happen to be acquainted with via three distinct persons. This is in fact a very logical position when you consider modern objections to the idea of a personal God. These objections do not make a lot of sense, when you think of this in terms of God lacking the things like intellegence, feeling and will that the creatures He has created have. But if the root of these objections are really about the limitations of personhood then it makes a bit more sense, but then a transpersonal God becomes a very rational answer to such objections.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Tue May 11, 2010 1:16 pm

Yep, all that jargon sounds great, it just doesn't sound anything like Paul. The problem is, for Paul, "there is only one God, the Father...and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 8:6), "there's one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 2:5), there's only "one God and Father of all" (Eph 4:6), and this "one God" is both the Father and "the God" of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17, Rom 15:6, 2 Cor 1:3, Eph 1:3, Col 1:3).

Now, if the trinity is your truth that Paul's theology MUST be based on, your justification makes sense, and Paul's thoughts need to be conformed to those of Nicea and Chalcedon. However, if Paul's theology is rather the starting point, and the trinity was simply a formulation of what people thought Paul and John and others were saying, then there is no reason to make horrific justifications for this verse or any of Paul's other clear interpretations above of Jesus' relationship to His God.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby Matt » Tue May 11, 2010 2:25 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:Matt, are you telling me that in Paul’s view, ‘the one God, the Father’ + ‘the one Lord, Jesus Christ’ = ‘the one God?' How can the one God plus anything still equal the one God as the otherwise intelligent theologians you are regurgitating propose? Is Paul actually redefining the term THEOS for us mid-sentence with no clarity whatsoever? When you are forced to fit Scripture into your paradigms rather than defining those paradigms based on Scripture, oftentimes we make poor justifications for nonconforming verses, and there is no better example of that in Scripture than this verse.

So you're arguing that Paul decides to rearrange this cornerstone of the Jewish faith for the church at Corinth in an obscure comment he simply throws in as if his readers were already aware of this complicated “truth.” Your argument is that after Paul summarizes the original Shema, he proceeds to redefine it, identifying the Old Testament “one God” as a new collective entity combining the previously uncompounded “one God,” the Father, and the newly introduced second “person” of this collective God, the “one Lord,” Jesus Christ. So now, you argue, the Shema’s theme of “one God” now includes both the “one God” and the “one Lord?”

Is that really your belief or is it simply just the best answer you've got given your required belief system with the trinity as a base? Would it help that nowhere else in Paul's letters does he call Jesus "God" other than the grammatically ambiguous Rom 9:5 and Titus 2:13? And this is even though he uses the title for the Father and false gods over 540 times?


I am not sure that Paul had a fully Nicean understanding of God. I think that if you showed him the creed and asked him if he believed it, he would affirm it, but I am not sure that he had systemetized his beliefs to that point. That really wasn't his calling.

That being said, I think he believed in the deity of Christ, the deity of the Father, and the deity of the Holy Spirit, but only in one God. How he reconciled these ideas, I don't know. He didn't leave us an explanation. Like I said, that wasn't his calling.

I am curious--what is so ambiguous about Romans 9:5 and Titus 2:13? Do you read koine? How would you suggest we translate those verses?

Perhaps my Trinitarian presuppositions cloud my judgment--but you'd be naive to say that you're any different.

I don't see anything in the verses you listed (1 Cor 8:6, Eph 4:6, Eph 1:17, Rom 15:6, 2 Cor 1:3, Eph 1:3, Col 1:3) that contradicts Trinitarian theology. Calling the Father "the God of Jesus Christ" does nothing to discount Jesus' divinity. Trinitarian theology grants Jesus' submission to the Father. He prayed to the Father, he submitted to the Father's will, and he worshipped the Father. In every way conceivable the Father functioned as "God" to the earthly Jesus. Trinitarians have room in their system for this behavior, so your proof texts don't really help you.

Do you have an exmple of Paul explicitly denying Jesus' divinity? One as clear as his affirmation of it in Titus 2:13 and Romans 9:5?
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby Matt » Tue May 11, 2010 2:27 pm

Oh, and abut 1 Corinthians 8. It has all the markings of an early credal statement. (Plus it's indented in NA27 so it MUST be an early hymn or creed :).)
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue May 11, 2010 3:06 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:Yep, all that jargon sounds great, it just doesn't sound anything like Paul. The problem is, for Paul, "there is only one God, the Father...and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 8:6), "there's one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 2:5), there's only "one God and Father of all" (Eph 4:6), and this "one God" is both the Father and "the God" of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17, Rom 15:6, 2 Cor 1:3, Eph 1:3, Col 1:3).

I don't see the poblem. Not unless it is the problem with taking these verses in isolation and trying to make them prove something in contradiction to the rest of what Paul says let alone the rest of the Bible. For example, besides the gospel of John, there are these from Paul in complete agreement with it:

Philipians 2:5-8 "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross."

Timothy 3:15-16: but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

Hebrews 1:1-9 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You, With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

Shall we summarize these: Jesus was in the form of God and through Him all things were made, but then He emptied Himself of all this power and knowledge to become a helpless human infant, to live and die just as a human being lives and dies. Thus God was manifested in the flesh, through the Son, whom the Father Himself says is God. Thus just as the Son continually testified to God the Father so also has the Father testified that the Son is God.


ChristianHeretic wrote:Now, if the trinity is your truth that Paul's theology MUST be based on, your justification makes sense, and Paul's thoughts need to be conformed to those of Nicea and Chalcedon. However, if Paul's theology is rather the starting point, and the trinity was simply a formulation of what people thought Paul and John and others were saying, then there is no reason to make horrific justifications for this verse or any of Paul's other clear interpretations above of Jesus' relationship to His God.

So unless you want to do a judicious editing or make your own canon of Holy Scripture, we have three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each of which the Bible in various places declares to be God. So regardless of the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity is explained nowhere in the Bible, it is nevertheless the understanding of God which is most consistent with the totality of the unedited text -- and the one that does NOT require "horrific justfications".
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Tue May 11, 2010 3:16 pm

Matt, I would propose translating Romans 9:5 the way the NASB, KJV or ASV do. I agree with modern Trinitarian scholars like Gordon Fee that Paul was not referring to Jesus as "God" here. I also agree with him on Titus 2:13:

Fee, G. (2007). Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study. p. 443 wrote:“We may dismiss as most-highly unlikely the attempt by the translators of the KJV, followed by the NASB and NIV (and the NET Bible), to overcome some of the difficulty by viewing the genitive ‘of the glory’ as adjectival (‘the glorious appearing’). There is hardly a thing in favor of this view, and nearly everything against it. Not only is it out of sync with Paul’s usage elsewhere, but also it puts the present emphasis in the wrong place.”

This prominent Orthodox textual critic believes they should have rather translated the verse “the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior’s glory, Jesus Christ” defining Jesus as the glory of our great God and Savior rather than our great God and Savior Himself. This view is supported by Paul’s parallel language in v. 11 preceding this verse and Titus 3:4 following it described above which collectively define Jesus as the “grace” of God, the “kindness” of God, and His “love” which all “appeared:”
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
-Titus 2:11 {NASB}

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
-Titus 3:4 {NASB}

But the more compelling evidence regardless of which interpretation you hold of these verses is that the only 2 verses that Trinitarians can find out of the over 500 times that Paul uses the term 'theos' are two grammatically questionable verses, and questioned by Trinitarians. Outside of these 2 verses, Paul is EXTREMELY clear who he believes "God" is. He believes he's exclusively the Father. So to say that Paul would agree that Jesus can be referred to as "God" in spite of the fact that he NEVER uses this title for him in all of his 13 letters is a remarkable claim to make.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Tue May 11, 2010 3:37 pm

So mitch, I give you a small subsection of Paul's writings (8 verses) where Paul makes clear that he believes "God" is solely and uniquely Jesus' Father, and you respond with 1 legitimate verse from Paul that has been questioned for centuries (Phil 2:6), one corruption of Scripture (1 Tim 3:16) and one not even written by Paul (Heb 1:8-9) and I'm the one "making my own canon of Holy Scripture." I can go back and quote the other 500+ times he uses the term "God" if you'd like to show you that I'm not actually the one mining his letters to conform a predetermined theology.

Yes, Paul says that Jesus was in the form of God. The only "God" that he references throughout all of his letters, the Father. Augustine understand's what he's saying here:
Augustin, On the Trinity, Book 1, Chpt 6 wrote:“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;’ using here the name of God specially of the Father; as elsewhere, ‘But the head of Christ is God.’”

So, if you're willing to make the argument, "because Jesus was in the form of the Father, even though Paul doesn't refer to Jesus as 'God,' it's still a requirement for our faith because that's what they decided at Nicea," that's up to you. But if that's the case, I sure would hate to be those "Christians?" at Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia, or Colossae that Paul forgot to convey this to.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby Matt » Tue May 11, 2010 4:13 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:I also agree with him on Titus 2:13:

Fee, G. (2007). Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study. p. 443 wrote:“We may dismiss as most-highly unlikely the attempt by the translators of the KJV, followed by the NASB and NIV (and the NET Bible), to overcome some of the difficulty by viewing the genitive ‘of the glory’ as adjectival (‘the glorious appearing’). There is hardly a thing in favor of this view, and nearly everything against it. Not only is it out of sync with Paul’s usage elsewhere, but also it puts the present emphasis in the wrong place.”

This prominent Orthodox textual critic believes they should have rather translated the verse “the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Savior’s glory, Jesus Christ” defining Jesus as the glory of our great God and Savior rather than our great God and Savior Himself. This view is supported by Paul’s parallel language in v. 11 preceding this verse and Titus 3:4 following it described above which collectively define Jesus as the “grace” of God, the “kindness” of God, and His “love” which all “appeared:”
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
-Titus 2:11 {NASB}

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
-Titus 3:4 {NASB}

Interesting points by Fee. Grammatically, iesou christou coule be in apposition either to tes doxes or tou megalou theou kai soteros hemon, so it is somewhat ambiguous. But, it is not completely ambiguous. In fact, tes doxes is pretty far from iesou christou for the two to be in apposition. It is possible, but it is not as likely as the view that iesou christou is in apposition to tou megalou theou kai soteros hemon. Here, Titus 2:11 and 3:4 do not provide a parallel, because Jesus isn't named in either of them. Sure, Paul speaks of "the grace of God," "the glory of God," "the goodness of God," and "the lovingkindness of God" all appearing, but the Triniatarian interpretation that Jesus=God in 2:13 preserves this parallel just as strongly as the view you are proposing, only without the baggage of having iesou christou stand in apposition to a word so far removed from it in the verse.

Ironically, in God's Empowering Presence, Fee uses Titus 3:4–7 as proof that Paul was Trinitarian. He sees soteriological Trinitarianism at play--Father, Son and Holy Spirit are involved in salvation, and both theos and Jesus are called "Savior" (3:4, 3:6).

Regardless of the outcome of the grammatical discussion, calling Jesus "the glory of God" rather than "God" does not defeat the Trinitarian position.

But the more compelling evidence regardless of which interpretation you hold of these verses is that the only 2 verses that Trinitarians can find out of the over 500 times that Paul uses the term 'theos' are two grammatically questionable verses, and questioned by Trinitarians. Outside of these 2 verses, Paul is EXTREMELY clear who he believes "God" is. He believes he's exclusively the Father. So to say that Paul would agree that Jesus can be referred to as "God" in spite of the fact that he NEVER uses this title for him in all of his 13 letters is a remarkable claim to make.

You're way overstating your case here. First, this is an argument from silence. Do you have a verse in which Paul explicitly says Jesus is not God? That is what you need to defeat the Trinitarian position. Second, one of Paul's favorite designations for Jesus is kurios, which is a translation of YHWH in the Septuagint. Just because Paul doesn't like to refer to Jesus as theos doesn't mean that he doesn't use divine titles in reference to him.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Tue May 11, 2010 4:51 pm

I'm fine acknowledging that Jesus was "kurios," just not so comfortable acknowleding that he is "theos." Why do you think that Paul used the term "kurios" so often for Jesus (as well as others) yet chose never to refer to Him as "God?" And why do you think he consistently separated "kurios" from "theos" (1Co 6:14, Rom 10:9, etc)? Was it because he saw them as interchangeable terms?

And to say that because he uses the term "theos" exclusively for the Father and for false gods over 500 times is an "argument from silence" is silly. How do you know that Jesus wasn't the Archangel Michael? Paul never says he wasn't? I understand the fact that Paul doesn't believe Jesus should be referred to as "God" doesn't hurt the Trinitarian position. In fact, not much does make a dent in a theory that is "beyond logic" to begin with, so you would be hard pressed to find ANY verse that would hurt the Trinitarian position. Does Jesus refer to His Father as the "only true God?" Yes. Does Paul say consistently that Jesus has a "God?" Yes. Does the fact that the God of Trinitarianism has a God identify polytheism. Nope. Does the fact that Paul doesn't refer to Jesus as God matter? Nope. Does the fact that Jesus' God had to abandon Him as He was dying on the cross mean that this "trinity" was somehow split? Nope!

Sorry man, I just wasn't willing to subject myself to a theory that is true in spite of Scripture anymore.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue May 11, 2010 6:04 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:So mitch, I give you a small subsection of Paul's writings (8 verses) where Paul makes clear that he believes "God" is solely and uniquely Jesus' Father

No you did not. That may be what you want them to say, but not one of the verses you quoted said any such thing. You can question and edit the Bible all you want but the fact is that is that I gave you three passages from letters and an entire gospel in the Bible which most definitely do say that Jesus is God who took upon himself human form. Since you are going to edit and change the Bible in this way, you might as well go ahead and rewrite these verses of yours as well as any verses inconvenient to your theology and make them all say what you want them to say, or make your own cannon and throw out the books you don't like.


ChristianHeretic wrote:So, if you're willing to make the argument, "because Jesus was in the form of the Father, even though Paul doesn't refer to Jesus as 'God,' it's still a requirement for our faith because that's what they decided at Nicea," that's up to you. But if that's the case, I sure would hate to be those "Christians?" at Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia, or Colossae that Paul forgot to convey this to.

No I do not make any such argument. I am not a Christian Gnostic, such that I believe that we are saved by believing in correct dogmas. You are free to believe whatever you judge to be case, and I will draw no conclusion from that except perhaps what group or category of believers (such as non-Trinitarian) you belong to.
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