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 ChristianHeretic » Wed May 12, 2010 3:04 am

We must not be reading the same verses, let me see if underlining will help:

NASB wrote:yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.-1Cor 8:6

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, -1Tim 2:5

one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. -Eph 4:6

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. -Eph 1:17

so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Rom 15:6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, -2Cor 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, -Eph 1:3

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, -Col 1:3

Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. -1Cor 6:14

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; -Rom 10:9

But if we are reading the same verses, whew, that's a relief! Here I thought because I agree with Paul that there's only "one God, the Father," who is "over all" and also happens to be "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ," that I was somewhat heretical. And if that didn't do it, for my salvation, I also believe as Paul instructs that this "God raised [Our Lord Jesus Christ] from the dead." Oh yah, and to push my theology over the ledge, I also refrain from referring to Jesus as "God" as Paul does and rather choose to refer to Him as my "Lord." Glad to hear none of this precludes me from being a Trinitarian.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Wed May 12, 2010 1:00 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:We must not be reading the same verses, let me see if underlining will help:

NASB wrote:yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.-1Cor 8:6

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, -1Tim 2:5

one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. -Eph 4:6

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. -Eph 1:17

so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Rom 15:6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, -2Cor 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, -Eph 1:3

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, -Col 1:3

Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. -1Cor 6:14

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; -Rom 10:9

But if we are reading the same verses, whew, that's a relief!


Same verses different brain. You see when I read these, my brain does not change a single one of these to say "God is solely and uniquely Jesus' Father" but instead they continue to say what is actually written there in complete agreement with Trinitarian doctrine, that there is but one God, one God the Father, one mediator between God and men, one Lord Jesus the Christ, and one God and Father of our Lord Jesus. Some of these are the same person and all of these are the same being, in agreement with other passages that you choose to question, edit and dismiss, but I do not. I am sure that this is not the only disagreement that we have and however historically significant this particular disagreement may be it is far from what I would see as the most significant disagreement between us, but it IS a disagreement which our position on does serve to put myself in the category of historical Christianity and you in various other groups hostile to historical Chrisitanity like the Jehova Witnesses.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Wed May 12, 2010 5:32 pm

Enlighten me. In which one of the above verses is Paul, in your opinion, by using the term 'theos,' referring to your alleged triune trinitarian God rather than "solely and uniquely Jesus' Father" as I assert? Please, anyone chime in, I'm open to being shown that needle in the haystack that allegedly governs the rest of Paul's theology. I'm even open to any one of the other 500 verses of Paul's for that matter where he refers to 'theos' and you believe he's referring to your triune God rather than the one he refers to here, specifically the Father. (with the obvious exceptions of Rom 9:5, Tit 2:13 and Phil 2:6 which prominent Trinitarians can't agree on because of there grammatical ambiguity; surely I can't be accused of "changing" or "editing and dismissing" Scripture by agreeing with the KJV interpretation of these verses?) And the fact still remains, without these verses (and your quoted corruption of 1 Tim 3:16 discovered by Isaac Newton and now conceded on by the rest of academic Orthodoxy), Paul never once chooses to refer to Jesus as "God" in his 13 letters. That to me is significant, but that's because my faith is not based on the trinity or the most popular opinion of the Historic Church, it's based on Scripture. If you can find a verse for me where Paul is specifically referring to Jesus as 'theos' (not Lord or 'kurios,' which he also uses for others), I'll eat my words. But until then, I agree with Paul that Jesus should not be referred to as "theos" or "God."

And I understand the need to reside "in the category of historical Christianity." Persecution sucks! However, if given a choice, I'd rather reside with Paul's theology than with the really bright guys who gradually conceived of your theory on the way from Nicea to Chalcedon.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Wed May 12, 2010 5:44 pm

I find it interesting to look at the context of a verse that someone chooses to abuse by pretending that it says what they want to say and so I took a look at 1 Cor 8:6.

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


The context is a discussion of the question of eating food offered to idols. He says that the knowledgeable Christian knows that there is only one God and that these idols are nothing and so eating the food offered to these idols is therefore no different than eating any other food. But Paul explains that knowledge puffs people up with self-importance but love builds up one another and so we should not be preoccupied with knowledge as we should be acting according to a love for one another.

As a result it is utterly absurd to think that passage could possibly be meant to dispute with the understanding that Jesus is God when in fact it is criticizing the over-emphasis on knowledge about such things. At most one can take this as an off-hand comment meant at most to explain why the Christian would not have regard for any kind of divinity of an idol. But even so it does not say what ChristianHeretic wants it to say.

Trinitarian Christians believe in one transpersonal God which we know as three distinct persons, that they call God, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The latter two persons are also signified by a number of different names and titles, but this is not the case for the first one who is only known as "God, the Father". Names such as the tetragrammaton "Yaweh" or name "Elohim" are like the title "God" itself usually thought to refer to this being without distintion between these three persons. The upshot is that 1Cor 8:6 simply does not mean what you would like it to mean, that the Father is the only one of the three who is God. This just isn't consistent with other passages in the Bible, however much you may choose to question, edit and dismiss those parts of the Bible.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Wed May 12, 2010 10:19 pm

I understand it's a difficult truth of Scripture to reconcile, that Paul doesn't feel like Jesus should be referred to as "God." But avoiding it isn't going to get you any closer to the truth. Unfortunately every argument you make for your trinity has this BIG FAT HUGE WHITE ELEPHANT sitting in the middle of the room.

I'm fine with your justification that by saying the Father is for us the "one God," Paul doesn't actually mean that he's the entire "one God." Doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm fine if you want to subject yourself to this speculation. The problem with your trinity is that because the theory is foreign to Scripture, it must be defined by Scripture first before you can continue quoting it as "truth." And you've got a long way to go from the one option where Paul is explicitly acknowledging the Father as the one and only God here in this verse to your theory that he is actually defining Jesus as "theos" in verses like this one, given of course the WHITE ELEPHANT.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu May 13, 2010 12:11 am

ChristianHeretic wrote:I understand it's a difficult truth of Scripture to reconcile, that Paul doesn't feel like Jesus should be referred to as "God."

Why would that be difficult to reconcile? Jesus did not refer to Himself as God. Jesus always pointed to God, the Father. He never did anything that we could not or should not do, ourselves. He lived in the way that He intended us to live. He came not to be served but to serve. We are not dealing with a simple minded truth here. That Jesus was fully human in every way is as important a part of Christianity as the doctrine of the Trinity.

ChristianHeretic wrote:I'm fine with your justification that by saying the Father is for us the "one God," Paul doesn't actually mean that he's the entire "one God."

Paul doesn't even say, "the Father is for us the one God". You continually change the words of Paul to suit yourself.

I have given you the whole gospel of John, Hebrews 1, Philipians 2 and 1Timothy 3, which you have already said that you choose to question and ignore. Those are the ones that say most directly that Jesus is God, but here is another that I see as very signifcant because it assigns to Jesus a role that has always been attributed to God -- a role in the creation of all things.

In Col 1:15-17, Paul explicitly agrees with the first chapter of the gospel of John and the first chapter of Hebrews that it is "by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers." This is the most universal and significant role of God -- that of the creator. To say that Paul believed that Jesus was the creator and then to suppose that you can edit these other passage you quote to make them say "the Father is for us the one God" is just ludicrous. But of course you are free to believe whatever you want and to make whatever use of the Bible that you want -- no one can stop you, so I have no doubt that you will find a way to ignore, dismiss, or rewrite Colosians to suit yourself as well.

To me at least this is abundantly clear. Although there is very little evidence that the writers of the synoptic gospels thought that Jesus was God, for at most they called Him the Son of God (which was not all that uncommon of a title for a king or man of great faith), the writer of the gospel of John, the writer of Hebrews and the apostle Paul as he writes in many of his letters, most certainly DID make it clear that this is exactly what they thought. At first I thought that this was pretty much a marginal sort of opinion on their part because it does not seem to be the focus of what any of these writings were trying to get across.

It certainly seems quite obvious to me that the doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible. For me this fact is cause for pointing out the hypocrisy of Trinitarian Christians acting like the Bible is the source of all truth. I certainly did not begin as a Trinitarian Christian. I did not begin as any kind of Christian. It has in fact been a source of amazement for me how much of historical Christianity that I have independently come agree with and the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ is one of the most significant milestones on that path. But the fact is, that I have been led, as many Christians before me, to the inevitable conclusion that if one seeks a consistent theological understanding of it all then the divinity of Christ and consequently the doctrine of the Trinity is more central than it might first appear.

You have to understand that whether I agree with historical Christianity or not is really of little consequence to me personally. There are a number of issues where I completely reject traditional views and an argument from orthodoxy has no import to me at all. My response to such an argument is, "fine, disagree that I am Christian, orthodox or whatever", because that is irrelevant to me. What matters to me is what make sense. If you want to embrace the totality of the New Testament canon then the doctrine of the Trinity makes sense, and quite apart from that a transpersonal God also makes sense. I in fact believe in an infinite God -- a God with no limitations whatsoever (except that of logical consistency) -- and that would include limitations to singular personhood.

Smaller gods not only fail to impress me but they actually sound a lot like some kind of alien to me rather than God. If you want to worship some kind of alien like this, they go ahead. It is none of my business. If you want to believe that God created some kind of demi-god to create the world for Him, knock yourself out. I actually believe that God created the angels as a kind of tool to help Him in the creation of the universe. But however god-like in their knowledge and power, the angels are not children created for their own sake but servants or tools created as a means to an end. All of the universe was created for the purpose of life and to fullfill God's ultimate objective to bring His children into being, and without the physical universe this just isn't possible.

Jesus as anything less than God and creator of the universe, just doesn't work for me at all. It is God Himself who sees being God and all the power and knowledge of God as nothing so that He set it all aside in order to become a helpless human infant. It is God Himself who bore the consequences of our sins on the cross to suffer our abuse and hatred all because He spoke the truth. Otherwise Jesus is just another innocent victim in a long long history of such victims. No, all of these things, God Himself did -- to reveal how much our creator and parent loves us and would do anything to rescue us from this nightmare we have created for ourselves. That is the gospel. That is Christianity.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Mon May 17, 2010 8:18 am

mitchellmckain wrote:Jesus did not refer to Himself as God.

Yes, that was an issue for me as well. Why didn't "God" let us know that He was God? Why didn't He let His apostles know? But I would have been open to the idea that Jesus didn't know He was God, didn't want to convey it because people would be confused, whatever. But remember, Paul was the one charged with conveying Christian truths to the Gentiles, so to say that, as an advocate for Christ, he wouldn't know or teach this fundamental truth of "Christianity" was too much for me to subject myself to. For instance, did those who were first given the name of "Christians" at Antioch understand this "truth" in spite of the fact that Paul wasn't teaching it? And if not, were they really "Christians" if this is a necessary confession of our faith?
mitchellmckain wrote:Paul doesn't even say, "the Father is for us the one God". You continually change the words of Paul to suit yourself.

Forgive me, you are right, Paul does not say:
"the Father is for us the one God"
--He says:--
"for us there is but one God, the Father"

I completely butchered that one!?
mitchellmckain wrote:I have given you the whole gospel of John, Hebrews 1, Philipians 2 and 1Timothy 3, which you have already said that you choose to question and ignore

Last I checked, the 'whole gospel of John' wasn't written by Paul, but regardless, we are addressing John's Christology here. Neither was Hebrews, but we can address that as well if you'd like. I've already shown you that Phil 2:6 is not referring to Jesus as "God" and neither is 1 Tim 3:16 as the version you are using that does was discovered to be a corruption long ago (check out a recent translation).

Regarding Colossians, Paul nowhere refers to Jesus as "God" in Colossians, but I will address your point that Jesus somehow participated in "Creation." First of all, if you don't know Greek, you've got to pick up a more recent translation of Col 1:16 to see how this verse has been translated incorrectly:
TNIV-Col 1:16 wrote:For in <'en'> him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through <'dia'> him and for him.

The "by" used in many translations gives some like yourself the perception that Jesus was actually the Creator, literally "All things were created 'by the hand of' Jesus. However, this Greek term 'en' literally means "in, next to, with, by the side of." So it can mean "by," but it does not mean 'by the hand of' as you are interpretting it. Same with the end of this verse and many other verses that use the Greek preposition 'dia' which means 'through' and again, does not mean 'by' as it's translated many times regarding Jesus' role in Creation. The best verse to show you Paul's theology on this has already been discussed, 1 Cor: 8:6. Even though he assigns both Jesus and God a role in Creation, all things came 'from' God, but 'through' Jesus, he still explicitly separates our Lord Jesus from the one he still chooses to refer to simply as "God." And he even goes a step further and identifies this "God" for those that would question it later as explicitly "the Father."

Now, one more verse to round off Paul's theology:
-Ephesians 2:10 {NIV} wrote:For we are God's workmanship, created in <'en'> Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

He says that “God” created us, and he chooses the phrase again that he uses in Colossians 1:16 that we were created “in Christ Jesus.” But when was I “created” in Christ? At The Creation, at my birth or at my conversion? And when did “God” begin preparing these good works for me? Before The Creation, before my creation, or after my creation but before I performed the works? This verse tends to muddy the waters on Paul’s perception of when we were “created,” and how Jesus participated in that creation with God, who was the sole Creator. Jesus was the means/vessel/purpose of Creation in Paul's view, but "for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came."
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Mon May 17, 2010 5:06 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:
mitchellmckain wrote:Jesus did not refer to Himself as God.

Yes, that was an issue for me as well. Why didn't "God" let us know that He was God? Why didn't He let His apostles know?

He did. He did let us know. That is the position of every Christian who holds the gospel of John to be an accurate account of things which Jesus said. But there is a difference between letting us know and making an unambiguous declarartion that would be in conflict with His purpose for coming to the earth. Jesus made it quite clear that He spoke in ways that would be understood differently by different people. Some people don't like this, because they like reality to be simple, black and white, and one dimensional -- but that is the limitation of their own imagination and intellect -- or just contrary to their desire to turn religion into a tool which they can use.

It seems to me that you want to simplify Christianity -- cut away the pieces you cannot relate to and only accept the parts that you can. The whole of Christianity is that Jesus is fully man AND fully God. You are welcome to find whatever meaning you can in scripture, of course. But I will not confine myself to your fragment.


ChristianHeretic wrote:But I would have been open to the idea that Jesus didn't know He was God, didn't want to convey it because people would be confused, whatever. But remember, Paul was the one charged with conveying Christian truths to the Gentiles, so to say that, as an advocate for Christ, he wouldn't know or teach this fundamental truth of "Christianity" was too much for me to subject myself to.

But I don't agree with your idea that Paul did not know or teach this. I think it is clear that he did. I think that it is clear that his teaching was one that considered the gospel of John correct and authoritative. The most that you can say is that the divinity of Christ was not the focus of Paul's ministry any more than it was the focus of the ministry of Jesus or any of the other apostles.


ChristianHeretic wrote:For instance, did those who were first given the name of "Christians" at Antioch understand this "truth" in spite of the fact that Paul wasn't teaching it? And if not, were they really "Christians" if this is a necessary confession of our faith?

I find it pointless to make judgements about whether some group in the first century were Christians or not. They do not speak for themselves either way -- either to say what it meant to them or what they in fact believed. What we know with certainty is that when the churches around the world gathered in an eccumenical council to put down on paper what it means to be Christian, the Nicean creed was the result. And it agrees with the teachings of Paul and the gospel of John, that Jesus was fully God as well as fully man.


ChristianHeretic wrote:
mitchellmckain wrote:Paul doesn't even say, "the Father is for us the one God". You continually change the words of Paul to suit yourself.

Forgive me, you are right, Paul does not say:
"the Father is for us the one God"
--He says:--
"for us there is but one God, the Father"


I completely butchered that one!?

Yep, you certainly did and in a completely self-serving manner too, to make what Paul said seem like it was not consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity. Whether you understand this as saying that there is one God, or as saying that there is one Father, what is actually said is entirely consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity which also says that there is only one God and that there is only one Father. Like I said before, "God, the Father" is how we call that one of the three persons we know as God, so to say that there is only one such person, just as there is only one Jesus and only one Holy spirit. You may want to believe that Jesus is some sort of demigod signified by making a distinction God and Lord, but I do not think that this is consistent with the rest of the Bible.


ChristianHeretic wrote:Regarding Colossians, Paul nowhere refers to Jesus as "God" in Colossians, but I will address your point that Jesus somehow participated in "Creation." First of all, if you don't know Greek, you've got to pick up a more recent translation of Col 1:16 to see how this verse has been translated incorrectly:
TNIV-Col 1:16 wrote:For in <'en'> him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through <'dia'> him and for him.

The "by" used in many translations gives some like yourself the perception that Jesus was actually the Creator, literally "All things were created 'by the hand of' Jesus. However, this Greek term 'en' literally means "in, next to, with, by the side of." So it can mean "by," but it does not mean 'by the hand of' as you are interpretting it. Same with the end of this verse and many other verses that use the Greek preposition 'dia' which means 'through' and again, does not mean 'by' as it's translated many times regarding Jesus' role in Creation. The best verse to show you Paul's theology on this has already been discussed, 1 Cor: 8:6. Even though he assigns both Jesus and God a role in Creation, all things came 'from' God, but 'through' Jesus, he still explicitly separates our Lord Jesus from the one he still chooses to refer to simply as "God." And he even goes a step further and identifies this "God" for those that would question it later as explicitly "the Father."

I don't really care whether you translate the preposition as "by" or "through". The latter is in fact consistent with the gospel of John and only confirms as I said before that Paul taught from the gospel of John. As for 1 Cor 8:6 I have already told you what I think of your attempt to twist this comment of Paul's about whether idols can be considered legitimate gods, into some kind of justification of your demigod theology.

I think that the most important thing here is that I do not have any interest in your demigod theology and I do not think it is justified. There is no more theological justification for a demigod made flesh theology than a theology of aliens creating life on the earth. It is not interesting. You try to argue that God created a demigod and made it flesh and I can see absolutely no reason why God would do such a thing and it would for me reduce all of the Bible to a meaningless story with no more relevance to me than the horror stories of HP Lovecraft.

You might as well try to convince me of the truth of Islam or Hinduism. All I can say to you is, by all means find what meaning you can in life however you can. But it means nothing to me.


ChristianHeretic wrote:Now, one more verse to round off Paul's theology:

Now that is hilarious. You pick verses out of context like 1 Cor 8:6 and think that these can "round off Paul's theology. LOL Sorry but I can read the writings of Paul for myself and I am not going to round anything off to make it fit some simplified picture like yours.


ChristianHeretic wrote:
-Ephesians 2:10 {NIV} wrote:For we are God's workmanship, created in <'en'> Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

He says that “God” created us, and he chooses the phrase again that he uses in Colossians 1:16 that we were created “in Christ Jesus.” But when was I “created” in Christ?

When indeed? Are you a new creation in Christ?

Ephesians 2:1-10 "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

From the beginning of the chapter this is all about redemption and the "created in Christ Jesus" in verse 10 refers to us being a new creation in Christ. Reading this verse in context with as well as 1 Cor 5:16-21 and Romans 6:4-11, Paul's theology here is quite clear. As Jesus was buried and rose again so can we be buried with him and rise again to new life as a new creation in Christ, "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus".

Collosians 1:10-20 "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. "

Paul prays for the people of the church of Collosae because they have converted to a faith in Christ Jesus and so Paul confirms them in this faith by giving the description of Jesus not only as creator and head of the church, but having been born among us as a man in whom all the fullness of God dwelled, he was firstborn of the dead to reconcile all things of heaven and earth within Him. The whole point is that Jesus reconciles God and man because He is both and it is absurd to change this to Jesus reconciling demgod and man because he is both of these things.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby JustJim » Tue May 18, 2010 3:58 am

Mitch wrote:The latter is in fact consistent with the gospel of John and only confirms as I said before that Paul taught from the gospel of John.

Not to distract from this discussion, which I'm finding very interesting reading, but since most conservative biblical scholars put the dating of the Gospel of John toward the end of the first century (80's - 90's CE), and the Pauline letters earlier than that (mid-50's CE thru the last third of the first century), in what way did Paul teach from the Gospel of John? Do you hold to a different dating of John and the letters of Paul that would allow for Paul to be familiar with the Gospel of John? Or some other reason?

Thanks.

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

Postby Matt » Tue May 18, 2010 10:22 am

JustJim wrote:
Mitch wrote:The latter is in fact consistent with the gospel of John and only confirms as I said before that Paul taught from the gospel of John.

Not to distract from this discussion, which I'm finding very interesting reading, but since most conservative biblical scholars put the dating of the Gospel of John toward the end of the first century (80's - 90's CE), and the Pauline letters earlier than that (mid-50's CE thru the last third of the first century), in what way did Paul teach from the Gospel of John? Do you hold to a different dating of John and the letters of Paul that would allow for Paul to be familiar with the Gospel of John? Or some other reason?

Thanks.

Jim


Jim,

You don't really need Paul to be familiar with John here--you just need both John and Paul to be familiar with a common theology. In this case, it is logos christology. Both Paul and John recognized that Jesus was the divine logos. (John calls Jesus the logos in the prologue to the Gospel--it is usually translated 'Word" in English Bibles.) In Colossians 1:17, Paul says "In him [Jesus] all things hold together." Sirach 43:26 says, "In His [God's] word [logos] all things hold together." Thus to both John and Paul, Jesus is the divine logos. Since most scholars think that Paul and John represent different streams of early Christianity, this would imply that logos christology was pretty widespread in the early movement.

This is actually an important step in the development of Trinitarian theology. One of the questions that Christians have to wrestle with is how Jewish monotheists could conceptualize the Trinity. Where would that doctrine come from? How could it be palatable to monotheists? One answer is that even before Jesus, the Jews expressed concepts like the divine logos or divine wisdom that in some places represent God, but in other places seem to stand beside God. The early Christians just interpreted Jesus as this logos or wisdom.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby Matt » Tue May 18, 2010 10:50 am

Not that I think anyone will convince you, but here is another one:

Compare the commissioning of Isaiah in Isaiah 6 and Paul's commissioning in Acts, especially the version in Acts 26.

There is a biographical problem in Pauline theology--why did Saul the Pharisee become Paul the Apostle? What happened to him to convince him that Christianity was true?

Every recount of Paul's life mentions that something happened to him on the road to Damascus (even Paul himself mentions it in Galatians 1)--he received some kind of "revelation." Paul calls it a "revelation of Jesus Christ" in Galatians 1:12. He says that it meant he was supposed to preach Jesus among the Gentiles (Gal 1:16). Both of these elements are also featured in Acts.

So, in what way was Paul's experience on the road to Damascus a "revelation of Jesus Christ" that commissioned him to preach to the Gentiles? Notice in Isaiah 6 that Isaiah received a revelation of YHWH and then was commissioned to preach to the Jews. The two commissions are similar. Later, in Isaiah 42, the Lord speaks of his servant who has been commissioned to preach to the nations. Paul seems to think that he has fulfilled these verses, quoting them in his defense before Agrippa in Acts 26 (Isaiah 42:6–7, Acts 26:17–18).

It makes sense, then, that the "revelation" was the deity of Christ (YHWH=Jesus). When Paul saw Jesus in his glory on the road to Damascus, he thought of Isaiah's vision of YHWH. Just as Isaiah's vision resulted in a commission, Paul thought that his revelation of "the Lord" resulted in a commission. It was convincing enough to convert him to "preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue May 18, 2010 12:01 pm

Matt wrote:
JustJim wrote:mitchellmckain: "The latter is in fact consistent with the gospel of John and only confirms as I said before that Paul taught from the gospel of John."

Not to distract from this discussion, which I'm finding very interesting reading, but since most conservative biblical scholars put the dating of the Gospel of John toward the end of the first century (80's - 90's CE), and the Pauline letters earlier than that (mid-50's CE thru the last third of the first century), in what way did Paul teach from the Gospel of John? Do you hold to a different dating of John and the letters of Paul that would allow for Paul to be familiar with the Gospel of John? Or some other reason?


You don't really need Paul to be familiar with John here--you just need both John and Paul to be familiar with a common theology. In this case, it is logos christology. Both Paul and John recognized that Jesus was the divine logos. (John calls Jesus the logos in the prologue to the Gospel--it is usually translated 'Word" in English Bibles.) In Colossians 1:17, Paul says "In him [Jesus] all things hold together." Sirach 43:26 says, "In His [God's] word [logos] all things hold together." Thus to both John and Paul, Jesus is the divine logos. Since most scholars think that Paul and John represent different streams of early Christianity, this would imply that logos christology was pretty widespread in the early movement.

This is actually an important step in the development of Trinitarian theology. One of the questions that Christians have to wrestle with is how Jewish monotheists could conceptualize the Trinity. Where would that doctrine come from? How could it be palatable to monotheists? One answer is that even before Jesus, the Jews expressed concepts like the divine logos or divine wisdom that in some places represent God, but in other places seem to stand beside God. The early Christians just interpreted Jesus as this logos or wisdom.

The gospel claims to be written by one of the apostles of Jesus, and since that claim is supported by the Catholic church, it is upheld by majority of Christianity. In my case, my seminary education has shown me that the arguments used for this kind of the thing are the flimsiest things I have ever heard. A typical one is assuming that a prediction of the destruction of the temple must mean that it was written afterwards. That causes me to laugh with great hilarity because I would hold that anyone with any intellegence aware of the socio-political forces at the time could see that this was where Israel was inevitably headed.

But even though I don't see any substantial reason to doubt its claim of who authored it and much reason to doubt this dating, this isn't a faith breaker anyway. Whatever arguments are given for dating John as 80-90AD would only apply to dating it in the form we have it now. And as Matt observes the point is the theological consistency bewteen the gospel of John and the writings of Paul. That suggests that if this was written by one of the 12 apostles then either that apostle joined the work of Paul or that apostle only provided the source material and Paul or one of his followers supplied some of the theology. There is no doubt that the differences from the synoptic gospels are rather significant.

As far as the discussion with Christian Heretic is concerned, it matters not whether Paul got his material from the gospel of John or the gospel of John got its material from Paul.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby JustJim » Wed May 19, 2010 3:19 am

mitchellmckain wrote:The gospel claims to be written by one of the apostles of Jesus, and since that claim is supported by the Catholic church, it is upheld by majority of Christianity.

True, they have the numerical majority, but, as you know, there are a lot of things "supported by the Catholic Church" that most of the rest of Christianity rejects, and it might be a tad misleading to say those things are therefore upheld by a majority of Christianity (just because there are so many of them). That's why I said "most conservative biblical scholars" - which wouldn't include the average Catholic individual. But I don't mean to imply I have any solid reasons for dating the Gospels or Paul's letters any particular ways. I've read many accounts and explanations for dating various books various ways, and so far as I'm concerned - as best I can tell - it's probably safest to say that nobody really knows for sure, and they all have pretty good-sounding reasons for their opinions.

When I wrote my initial question, I forgot to include the possibility that the author of John and Paul each happened to write similar things and express some things in similar ways, which makes it appear that Paul may have had access to the Gospel of John, when it might also have been just coincidental. IOW, they both saw things the same way and used similar ways to express their views. I agree with you and Matt when you said,
Mitch wrote:And as Matt observes the point is the theological consistency bewteen the gospel of John and the writings of Paul. That suggests that if this was written by one of the 12 apostles then either that apostle joined the work of Paul or that apostle only provided the source material and Paul or one of his followers supplied some of the theology.

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

Postby mitchellmckain » Wed May 19, 2010 7:32 am

JustJim wrote:That's why I said "most conservative biblical scholars" - which wouldn't include the average Catholic individual.


But if you mean conservative in that sense, then I would dispute this with you on this point.

Conservative scholars consider internal evidences, such as the lack of the mention of the destruction of the Temple and a number of passages that they consider characteristic of an eyewitness, sufficient evidence that the gospel was composed before 100 and perhaps as early as 50–70.


Recently, interpreters have suggested an earlier date, somewhere around A.D. 50 but no later than A.D. 70. It is argued that this view does not contradict Clement's statement. Furthermore, a more developed theology does not imply a later date. For example, the theology of Romans is very developed, nevertheless it is dated around A.D. 57. Lastly, attention is given to John 5:2 where John uses "is" rather than "was" concerning the pool near the Sheep Gate. This may suggest a time before 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed.


The statement by Clement refered to here is one where he said that the gospel of John was written to supplement the other gospels which means that it was written later than these others.

The catholic encyclopedia gives a date of 96AD.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby JustJim » Wed May 19, 2010 9:19 am

Mitch, quoting from Wikipedia, wrote:Conservative scholars consider internal evidences, such as the lack of the mention of the destruction of the Temple and a number of passages that they consider characteristic of an eyewitness, sufficient evidence that the gospel was composed before 100

I see what you mean there. I stand corrected.

The whole of that part of the Wikipedia article wrote:There is no certain historical evidence as to the date of its (the Gospel of John) composition. Scholars most often date it to c. 80–95, decades after the events it describes. Bart Ehrman argues that there are differences in the composition of the Greek within the Gospel, such as breaks and inconsistencies in sequence, repetitions in the discourse, as well as passages that clearly do not belong to their context, and these suggest redaction.
The so-called "Monarchian Prologue" to the Fourth Gospel (c. 200) supports A.D. 96 or one of the years immediately following as to the time of its writing. Most scholars agree on a range of c. 90–100. The gospel was already in existence early in the 2nd Century. John was composed in stages (probably two or three). There is credible evidence that the Gospel was written no later than the middle of the second century. Since the middle of the second century writings of Justin Martyr use language very similar to that found in the Gospel of John, the Gospel is considered to have been in existence at least at that time. The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, which records a fragment of this gospel, is usually dated to the first half of the second century.
Conservative scholars consider internal evidences, such as the lack of the mention of the destruction of the Temple and a number of passages that they consider characteristic of an eyewitness, sufficient evidence that the gospel was composed before 100 and perhaps as early as 50–70. In the 1970s, Leon Morris and John A.T. Robinson independently suggested earlier dates for the gospel's composition.
Some modern scholars question the mainstream view. The non-canonical Dead Sea Scrolls suggest an early Jewish origin, parallels and similarities to the Essenne Scroll, and Rule of the Community. Many phrases are duplicated in the Gospel of John and the Dead Sea Scrolls. These are sufficiently numerous to challenge the theory that the Gospel of John was the last to be written among the four Gospels and that it shows marked non-Jewish influence.

Like I said, no one knows for sure, and they all have pretty good-sounding reasons for their educated guesses.

Mitch wrote:The catholic encyclopedia gives a date of 96AD.

Which, of course, would place the Pauline letters earlier than the Gospel of John, making it unlikely he had access to John when he wrote his letters. That's why I think I'd lean more toward a view that they both thought and wrote along lines so similar as to make it appear one may have seen the other's hand, even though that is almost certainly not the case.

Jim
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