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 May 19, 2010 10:27 am

The wikipedia article summarizes most of the Johannine dating issues well. The one thing it leaves out is the issue of being aposynagogos ("cast out of the synagogue") in 9:22 and 12:42. Many see this as the situation in life that generated the Gospel (I think Raymond Brown put forth this theory). Jewish/Christian relations had deteriorated so that people confessing "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (20:31) would be cast out of the synagogue. Thus Jesus instruction, "remain in me, and I will remain in you" (15:4)is a call to persevere under pressure. The earliest evidence we have of such Jewish hostility toward Christians isn't until the late first century (90s I think).

That being said, there is no consensus that the aposynagogos verses represent the purpose of the book, and there is no consensus on how widespread Jewish hostility toward Christians was, even in the 90s.

I find that dating schemes are only helpful in that people use them to push their theological/sociological constructions. There are some dates that you can't push (the wikipedia article mentions that we have quotes of John from the early second century, so you can't argue that the book is late-second century). But, we don't really know if it was written in 50 or 90 or 120. Most of the time, people make a decision based on theology/sociology, and then cite why the "evidence" supports their construction.

If someone needed John to come before Paul for their view to hold up, they could probably find some external evidence for that to be the case. The only problem is that all of the other scholars who have constructs that demand Paul to be before John (not to mention George and Ringo) will have to reject the reconstruction because it would contradict their own scholarship. They would probably respond, "The idea that John came before Paul is highly unlikely. The scholarly consensus is that John was written in the mid-90s because A, B, and C . . . ."
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby JustJim » Wed May 19, 2010 3:34 pm

Matt wrote:I find that dating schemes are only helpful in that people use them to push their theological/sociological constructions. There are some dates that you can't push (the wikipedia article mentions that we have quotes of John from the early second century, so you can't argue that the book is late-second century). But, we don't really know if it was written in 50 or 90 or 120. Most of the time, people make a decision based on theology/sociology, and then cite why the "evidence" supports their construction.

If someone needed John to come before Paul for their view to hold up, they could probably find some external evidence for that to be the case. The only problem is that all of the other scholars who have constructs that demand Paul to be before John (not to mention George and Ringo) will have to reject the reconstruction because it would contradict their own scholarship. They would probably respond, "The idea that John came before Paul is highly unlikely. The scholarly consensus is that John was written in the mid-90s because A, B, and C . . . ."

Well said, Matt. Besides, what was written is immensely more important than when it was written, even though the chronology is interesting and not of no importance at all.

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

Postby ChristianHeretic » Wed May 19, 2010 11:50 pm

Goodness, I can’t keep up with you guys. I try to get some work done for 2 days and you guys take off without me! Nice to see we have others participating at this point though.

mitchellmckain wrote:As for 1 Cor 8:6 I have already told you what I think of your attempt to twist this comment of Paul's
mitchellmckain wrote:Like I said before, "God, the Father" is how we call that one of the three persons we know as God
mitchellmckain wrote: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.

"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 [it] to say and so I took a look at 1 Cor 8:6." So let’s take your advice and re-read 1 Cor 8:6. I see what you’re saying now (sorry, I took my Trinitarian-colored glasses off for a minute). You’re claiming what Paul is saying is that some believe “there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’--yet for us there is one…..[God the Father]…..and one [Lord Jesus Christ]…..” You mean as opposed to the popular misinterpretation of the day that there were many [God the Fathers] and many [Lord Jesus Christs]. Why is it that EVERY SINGLE Orthodox translation butchers your interpretation by adding those pesky commas, which define the "one God" AS "the Father" and the "one Lord" AS "Jesus Christ"? Take your glasses off and look at the grammar, that may help. I'd love some input from someone who doesn't have Trinitarian glasses on with this grammar. Who knows, maybe I'm wrong and need to go back to the 3rd grade to relearn Trinitarian English grammar rather than good ole basic English grammar!

Based on the context, and the fact that, other than your 2 grammatically ambiguous verses that you can solicit for your cause, Paul exclusively refers to Jesus’ Father over 500 times with this title of “God,” Paul is obviously saying exactly what it looks like he’s saying in English, some believe “there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’--yet for us there is one God, the Father….and one Lord, Jesus Christ.” Unfortunately, you have to take off your glasses first to see Paul’s truth. I understand that if given the trinity as “The Sole Truth of the Universe,” and you say “find this in Scripture,” I could find it too. There are plenty of grammatical ambiguities that I can recruit for my cause. But these ambiguities are the rare exception, not the rule. The trinity never was my “Sole Truth,” Scripture is. The trinity is solely a theory derived from an honest (although potentially subconsciously biased) look at the data, and a relatively poor theory at that. There are many more, if not more appropriate theories that can be derived from the same data. So I'm fine if you want to subject yourself to this poorly sourced theory, I'm just not fine with speculative comments showing your allegiance to this theory like "Are you a new creation in Christ?" which presume that agreeing with your theory is necessary for salvation.

mitchellmckain wrote: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.

Cut away what pieces I cannot relate to? I’m just cutting away the pieces of a religion that aren’t Biblical. I know this is a common accusation by Trinitarians for those disagreeing with them, but surely agreeing with Paul that the title of “God” should only be applied to the Father doesn’t mean that I’m “cutting away pieces?” Let’s assume for a second that you’re right and the KJV is wrong, Paul does call Jesus “God” 2 times out of 543 or so that he uses the title. Surely I’m not the one “cutting away pieces” because I choose the other 541 times?

mitchellmckain wrote: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.

So obviously you would endorse the Council of Ariminum of 359 where “churches around the world gathered in an eccumenical council to put down on paper what it means to be Christian?” Oh, you just agree with the Councils that agree with your theology? Yes, obviously popular opinion eventually fell with the trinity, but as Jim pointed out, "popular opinion" also fell to the Pope, indulgences, confession to a priest, transubstantiation, etc. Also, your trinity did not come out of Nicea. It started there, but was not fully developed there. Trust me, you don’t fully agree with Nicea either unless you are a Subordinationist or you believe that Jesus and the Father share the same persona, or ‘hypostasis.’

mitchellmckain wrote:The most that you can say is that the divinity of Christ was not the focus of Paul's ministry

Not the focus hugh? How about the fact that he "no where explicitly discusses the 'divinity of Christ'." Yes, he seems to believe that Jesus pre-existed his earthly form. Yes, he without a doubt has a high Christology, even that He participated somehow with "God" in "creation." But you still have to hypothesize that this means he thought he was "God" in spite of the fact that he never calls Him "God." He not only refers exclusively to Jesus' Father and false gods as "God," but also claims numerous times as stated above that this "God" is also the "God" of our Lord Jesus Christ.

matt wrote:Both Paul and John recognized that Jesus was the divine logos...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.

I'm sure I'll be accused of the one selectively choosing my theology here as well, but why do we choose one of the handful of verses from antiquity to verify our belief that Paul thought "Jesus is the divine logos" rather than looking at Paul's actual use of the term 'logos?' Not that I don't appreciate your excellent data mining, but surely Paul's actual use of the term 'logos' 84 times is more relevant than a verse that resembles another of Paul's where he doesn't even mention the 'logos'?
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word <LOGOS>: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
-Galations 5:14 {ESV}

Let the word <LOGOS> of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
-Colossians 3:16 {NASB}

If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words <LOGOS>, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,
-1 Timothy 6:3 {NASB}

namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word <LOGOS> of reconciliation.
-2 Corinthians 5:19 {NASB}

Paul uses this term throughout his letters simply as the truth of God, the message, sayings, etc. He also believes its the 'logos' OF Christ, his "doctrine," not the 'logos' AS Christ. Literally "'God' was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" through this 'logos'. Again, I'm fine with the theory that Paul believed in this 'logos' or 'wisdom' Christology, however, the evidence for it is extremely week at BEST.
mitchellmckain wrote:Paul taught from the gospel of John

Really? I’m going to let Jim and Matt handle this one.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu May 20, 2010 3:05 am

ChristianHeretic wrote:I'm just not fine with speculative comments showing your allegiance to this theory like "Are you a new creation in Christ?" which presume that agreeing with your theory is necessary for salvation.

No, I don't believe that we are saved by any work of man, whether it be good deeds or "correct beliefs". We are saved by the grace of God alone. It is the apostle Paul who talks about being a "new creation in Christ". I never said that you had to agree with either Paul or me.

You want to argue for your demi-god Christology and I can only repeat that I am not interested. You can pretend that you can prove your case by quoting scripture and argue that your demi-god Christology is Biblical until you are blue in the face and I will continue to see no more merit in it than I see in all the arguments of creationists that evolution is not Biblical. As I said before, you are welcome to see whatever meaning in the Bible that you can. But there simply is no argument possible that will make me see the meaning that you or the creationists see in the Bible for the simple fact that both your demigod Christology and the anti-evolution ideas of the creationist have no meaning for me. You might as well be arguing that the Bible is meaningless.

Before I was a Trinitarian, I had an adoptionist Christology, and believed that Jesus was simply a man like Adam and became one with God as we are all meant to become one with God. That is a Christology that I found meaningful, but one which I eventually rejected as pragmatically flawed. It is also a theology that just like your theology, tried to overlook parts of the Bible declaring the divinity of Christ and focus on the many parts that emphasize the human nature of Christ. So I can well understand that sort of approach. But this has changed for me. I now see the reconcillation of God and man in Christ as something that comes from God first. I do not agree with the Nicean council because they decided that is the way it is, I have merely come by my own reasoning and study of the Bible to the same conclusion that they did and thus acknowledge that I am thus Christian according to the Nicean definition.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Thu May 20, 2010 9:16 am

I'm assuming this is the point in the conversation where we begin avoiding the facts because they don't correspond to our theology. Where we close our eyes and ears and recite the chant "God is triune. God is triune." And I'm not trying to convince you, I'm fine if you want to believe whatever you want to believe, but hopefully, you're a little closer to acknowledging that there are possible beliefs outside of your own that are actually Scripturally based. Obviously, we have concentrated on Paul here, but the same inconsistencies in your thought can be shown with John, or any other author of the NT. I'm fine if you want to believe what you want to believe in spite of the fact that you cannot answer the points I've made above...but try to refrain from questioning someone's allegiance to Christ as their Lord because they choose to agree with Paul and refrain from calling Him "God." I confess with my mouth that Jesus is "Lord" and believe in my heart that the one true God raised my Lord from the dead.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu May 20, 2010 1:09 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:I'm assuming this is the point in the conversation where we begin avoiding the facts because they don't correspond to our theology. Where we close our eyes and ears and recite the chant "God is triune. God is triune." And I'm not trying to convince you, I'm fine if you want to believe whatever you want to believe, but hopefully, you're a little closer to acknowledging that there are possible beliefs outside of your own that are actually Scripturally based. Obviously, we have concentrated on Paul here, but the same inconsistencies in your thought can be shown with John, or any other author of the NT.

Sorry but although I will acknowledge that the scripture is not unambiguous, perspicuous nor self-interpreting, I see NO inconsistencies with Trinitarian doctrine and frankly I see clear inconsistencies with your demigod Christology.

Your previous post left rational argument behind and started ranting as if commas which are NOT in the original text actually proved something. It was becoming absurd, so I have tried to make you aware of the bigger picture to show the silliness of what you are doing. Your pretenses that you can prove your position is ridiculous. You hide behind games thinking that if you can "win" such inane arguments that you are accomplishing something, but you are not. You cannot prove your position on this issue and I don't see why you are getting so upset about it anyway.


ChristianHeretic wrote:I'm fine if you want to believe what you want to believe in spite of the fact that you cannot answer the points I've made above...but try to refrain from questioning someone's allegiance to Christ as their Lord because they choose to agree with Paul and refrain from calling Him "God." I confess with my mouth that Jesus is "Lord" and believe in my heart that the one true God raised my Lord from the dead.

I believe what I think is correct and I refuse to indulge your pretensions. Whether they satisfy you or not, I have answered the points you have made and the fact that you have excuses to ignore the scriptures which do not agree with your opinions does not mean that you have answered anything to my satisfaction either. You have mentioned Trinitarian glasses and I quite agree that although I started with no perceptual filter coming from religion but rather one from science, through which I read the scriptures I know very well how much of an influence tradition plays in understanding scripture. You have not shown to me that you are aware of the glasses which you are using and your pretense that you can prove your position only demonstrates the opposite.

You remind me of people I have met who think that they can disprove the theory of evolution. But this is unreasonable. The theory of evolution works and no amount of rhetoric accomplishes anything unless one has something that can be shown to be equally effective. Your attempts to disprove the doctrine of the Trinity are equally pointless unless you can demonstrate some value and meaning to this Christological positon of yours. How does it fit into a larger picture. What is its significance? I hold to Trinitarian doctrine because it does connects to things of importance, and since I don't see yours connecting to anything of importance your arguments are pointless.

Instead of ignoring the wider context and issues as you have been doing over and over again in this thread you should addressing them to establish the value of your argument and the significance of your Christology. Because frankly, it sounds like the silliest sort of legalism imaginable, and I would reject a legalist motivation out of hand anyway. I reject this nonsense about calling things by the correct names as if this had ANY significance whatsoever. You are welcome to call anything by any name you want and your strawman about challenging allegiance is purile. I asked you the question, "are you a new creation in Christ?" because you were talking like you did not even know what this means. Your reaction to that question is strange as if the answer should be assumed or something. Anyway, I do not think that you agree with Paul and according the gospel of John you do not agree with Jesus either. But frankly, I strongly begin to suspect that this is all a smokescreen.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Thu May 20, 2010 2:56 pm

mitchellmckain wrote:Your previous post left rational argument behind and started ranting...
It was becoming absurd...
to show the silliness of what you are doing...
Your pretenses that you can prove your position is ridiculous...
You hide behind games thinking that if you can "win" such inane arguments ...
I reject this nonsense about calling things by the correct names as if this had ANY significance whatsoever...
You cannot prove your position on this issue...
Your attempts to disprove the doctrine of the Trinity are equally pointless...
it sounds like the silliest sort of legalism imaginable...
I refuse to indulge your pretensions...
You remind me of people I have met who think that they can disprove the theory of evolution...
Your reaction to that question is strange...

Those are all really well thought out and strong arguments using the facts...it's going to take me a while to come up with a response to your extensive research rather than just responding in kind and saying something silly and irrelevant like "But your mom is a terrible cook" or throwing out a straw man like "You remind me of those 'evolutionists' that insist on their Theory of Evolution as the truth of the origin of species."

Obviously, this is an extensive topic so I can not convey all of my beliefs here, nor do I have the desire to at this point as I recognize your method of rebuttal and your closemindedness. The only topic at hand right now is whether it is appropriate for us to refer to Jesus as "God." And my opinion is that it is not because people like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter, Ruth, and yes even John, don't refer to Him as "God," (and I choose not to base my entire faith on the opinion of the steller theology of Thomas Jn 20:28). So unless successfully rebutted, the fact remains though that Paul does not call Jesus "God" except in your rare grammatically ambiguous 2 of 543 verses, so the only method of debate you have remaining is to hurl Ad Hominem's out to disguise the actual data. I am more than willing to discuss the ENTIRE topic, but I suspect it will be more of the same from you. Your opinion is true in spite of data, not because of it. Yes, obviously you have quite a bit of Church history to draw from for your corruptions (1Tim 3:16) misinsterpretations (1Cor 8:6, Phil 2:6) and speculations (Rom 9:5), each of which I have commented on with no response from you. But avoiding responding to verses like 1Cor 8:6 because your previous interpretation doesn't work with the grammar Paul uses obviously is not going to get you any where either.

And for the record, "demigod" presumes that he was at least partially "God." Obviously based on everything I've written thus far, I do not believe that any part of Him was "God," because he's not called God. God resides within Him, as He does us, but that is the extent of it.

-2 Corinthians 5:19 {NASB} wrote:God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself...
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Thu May 20, 2010 6:50 pm

ChristianHeretic wrote:throwing out a straw man like "You remind me of those 'evolutionists' that insist on their Theory of Evolution as the truth of the origin of species."

Is it a strawman? I am one of those evolutionists that insist that the theory of evolution is the truth about the origin of the species. This is hugely relevant because that makes a huge difference in how I view and understand scripture -- not so literal and authoritative that I blindly believe what it says in contradiction to the realities of human existence. So when it says in Genesis chapter 2 that God formed Adam out of dust and Eve out of a rib I do not read this in the blind manner that would understand "I am the vine" to mean that Jesus is some sort of plant life or "I am the bread of life" to mean that Jesus is a bakery product.


ChristianHeretic wrote: The only topic at hand right now is whether it is appropriate for us to refer to Jesus as "God." And my opinion is that it is not because people like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter, Ruth, and yes even John, don't refer to Him as "God," (and I choose not to base my entire faith on the opinion of the steller theology of Thomas Jn 20:28). So unless successfully rebutted, the fact remains though that Paul does not call Jesus "God" except in your rare grammatically ambiguous 2 of 543 verses,

And as I have said I reject your selective (or "statistical") approach to scripture. I reject your effort to make the title "God" and "Lord" to mean two different kinds of being. The titles and names used for God and Jesus in old and new testaments are numerous and the original texts are in different languages with different numbers of words making different types of distinctions, and reading too much into this seems rather deceptive to me. I think the overall message is that the different names and titles do not change the fact that there is only one lord God and not many and that includes no hierarchy of beings either. So, I don't recognize what you subjectively decide to call "data" as anything of significance whatsoever.


ChristianHeretic wrote: so the only method of debate you have remaining is to hurl Ad Hominem's out to disguise the actual data.

I find that the accusation of ad-hominem's is quite often in fact the first real ad-hominem in a discussion -- an excuse to ignore what is said because you don't like how it is said. You see that is at root what an ad-hominem really means -- It is an argument from an irrelevance. An ad-hominem does NOT refer to the fact that you don't like what is said or are angry about how it is said or are offended by the use of certain words. These are irrelevant, and have nothing to do with the validity of the argument - if it is even an argument that is being made.


ChristianHeretic wrote:I am more than willing to discuss the ENTIRE topic, but I suspect it will be more of the same from you.

Yes. If you are going to approach a discussion with this absurd attitude that you can prove the truth of your claim then I GUARANTEE it will be more of the same from me. If debate and proving your position is your method and goal in a discussion then you will certainly be fustrated and disappointed because I think such a goal is unrealistic in the extreme.


ChristianHeretic wrote:Your opinion is true in spite of data, not because of it.

That is my impression of your approach. Just because you edit the data to fit what you decide to believe does not mean that you have proven it and the fact that I reject your editing only means that I do not let you pull such wool over my eyes. So YES I most certainly stick by what I judge to be the case from my own reasoning and study of the scripture, in spite of the your editing which of course means nothing to me.


ChristianHeretic wrote:And for the record, "demigod" presumes that he was at least partially "God." Obviously based on everything I've written thus far, I do not believe that any part of Him was "God," because he's not called God. God resides within Him, as He does us, but that is the extent of it.

No, by "demigod" I meant something that is neither fully God nor fully human but something else -- something partaking of the nature of both in different ways, such as being created like man but with power and authority like God (e.g. an angel). You reject that Jesus is fully God but His participation in the creation of the universe makes Him something other than fully human. So you make a big deal of calling Him "Lord" and see this as meaning that He is a different sort of being -- insisting on a translation to the preposition "through" rather than "by" so that you can make Jesus out to be another party other than God involved in the act of creation -- kind of like the "Demiurge" of the Gnostics.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby cramnella07 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:29 pm

check out Philippians 2:5-11
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby mitchellmckain » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:56 pm

cramnella07 wrote:check out Philippians 2:5-11


YES! Excellent point! This kenosis passage is one of my favorites in the Bible. It tells the whole story right there. This passage probably had more to do with my reconcilliation with the doctrine of the Trinity than any other! This I decided was the God in which I believed.
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Re: Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God

Postby ChristianHeretic » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:01 pm

Just to chime back in after a few months, Phil 2:5-11 is without a doubt an interesting verse in Paul's theology. Pre-existance?, worship?, equality?, Incarnation?, etc, and as mitch pointed out, the controversial theory of kenosis. But what is clear throughout this passage, is that Paul believes "God" is still uniquely the Father. This may be hard to see depending on which English translation you're using. For instance, the NLT and the NIV butcher the text...."though he was God"..."in very nature God." 'Theos' here is in the genitive case, which means that it is possessive. It means “God’s form,” so Jesus was originally in God’s external form, which is what the term 'morphe' means, not "nature" as the NIV proposes. Look at any other English translation who all understand this grammatical issue and Greek term. And so Paul uses the term “God” in these verses, as he does throughout Philippians and the rest of his letters, as exclusively the proper name of the Father. This is most obvious in verse 6 in any translation where Paul is saying something about how Jesus feels about claiming “equality with God.” And then in verse 9, “God” exalts Jesus. Even Augustin understood this:

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 we can discuss all of the other issues in this text if you'd like, but for the topic at hand "Did the authors of Scripture believe that Jesus was "God?", the answer in this verse is the same as the rest of his writings. No, Paul did not believe Jesus should be referred to as "God." Now, you can argue that because of other qualities that Jesus possessed addressed in this verse, Paul subconsciously believed we should use this title for Jesus, in spite of the fact that he didn't say it, but of course, now you are interpreting for Paul rather than interpretting from Paul.
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