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Appendix 10. Jesus is the Son of God; not God the Son

Table of Contents:

Introduction
1) Basic Problems with the doctrine of the Trinity
2) There is no Trinity in the Old Testament
3) The Old Testament foretold that Jesus would be a human being.
4) The New Testament teaches that Jesus was a man
5) Jesus was like Adam
6) Jesus has a God
7) Jesus called God “the only true God.”
8) Jesus was part of God’s creation
9) God is eternal, but Jesus had a beginning
10) The Bible teaches that Jesus and God are two distinct beings.
11) The Bible teaches that the Father is God
12) God is greater than Christ
13) Major differences between Jesus and God
14) God is spirit, but Jesus is flesh and bone
15) Jesus never taught the Trinity
16) Jesus’ miracles do not prove he was God
17) The dual-nature of Jesus is never called a “mystery”
Conclusion
Helpful books

Introduction

The Bible teaches that there is one God, the Father, and one Messiah and Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the divinely conceived Son of God. Those are very important truths, and this appendix will give evidence that supports them. In doing so, this appendix will also show that Jesus Christ is the fully human “Son of God,” and not “God the Son,” and thus it will also give evidence that shows that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity.

For clarity’s sake, it is helpful to understand what the Trinity is. The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and the three of them are co-equal, co-eternal, and share the same essence, and together those three individual “Persons” are one triune God; also, Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man, and both Jesus’ divine nature and his human nature live together in his flesh body. The doctrine of the Trinity, though widely believed, is never stated in the Bible.

We do not present this appendix to antagonize or attack anyone, but rather because we believe an honest and rigorous examination of the biblical evidence will support that the Father alone is God and Jesus is His created Son. Furthermore, we think it is important for Christians to know the truth about God, Jesus, and the holy spirit (for information on the holy spirit, see Appendix 11, “What is the Holy Spirit”).

There is value in truth, and God and Jesus deserve to be known for who they really are. Knowing that there is only one God, and that He is not triune and thus sharing His identity with two others, elevates Him to His rightful position as the one God of the Bible, the Creator of the universe, and the One who we love with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Similarly, knowing that the Lord Jesus is who Peter said he was, “a man approved of God” (Acts 2:22 KJV), elevates him to his rightful position. He is the only begotten Son of God, who loved so much that he lived a sinless, obedient life and died on the cross for us, whom God raised from the dead and who now stands at God’s right hand as God’s second in command, administering the things of God.

Something that is openly admitted by theologians but not known by many Christians is that the doctrine of the Trinity is not stated in the Bible but is actually “built” by piecing together statements that are said to support it. But since most Christians believe that the Trinity is a mystery and no one can understand it, doctrinal discussions about it are often avoided or brushed aside and ignored. Worse, the teaching that the Trinity is a “mystery” has been used as a club to beat down doubters and dissenters, and those people are often branded as “heretics” and their role in Christianity minimized (the idea the Trinity is a mystery is covered in section 17 below).

Thus, the Trinity stands as an unchallengeable but never-understood fortress in the center of Christianity. But Christians should get their doctrine from the Bible. What if a careful examination of the Bible showed that there was no Trinity? What if careful study showed that Yahweh was the one God of the Bible, and Jesus was who Peter said he was, “a man approved of God” and not a “God-man”? What if the “mystery” of the Trinity was not a mystery at all, but an erroneous doctrine that was formulated over time? This study will show that Jesus was indeed a fully human man approved by God.

This short appendix can only summarize some of the major points about who God and Jesus Christ really are. For further study, a bibliography of some of the books on the subject is included at the end of this appendix. Also, it is not the intention of this appendix to explain the verses that are traditionally used to support the doctrine of the Trinity, such as John 10:30 or John 8:58. Each of those verses can be understood in a way that supports the Biblical Unitarian position, and they are covered in the REV commentary on those individual verses.

1) Basic Problems with the doctrine of the Trinity

The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. Although that does not rule out the possible existence of the Trinity, it is supporting evidence that the doctrine is unbiblical.

Trinitarians differ, sometimes greatly, in their definitions of the Trinity. The Eastern Orthodox Church differs from the Western Church on the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. Also, Trinitarians who hold to the “classic” definition of the Trinity, that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man while on earth, believe differently from Kenotic Trinitarians, who believe that Jesus set aside his godhood while he was a man on earth. Oneness Pentecostals say the classic formula of the Trinity is completely wrong. Yet all these claim that Christ is God and that the Bible supports their position.

A study of the history of the Christian Church shows a definite development in the doctrine of the Trinity over the centuries. For example, the early form of Apostles’ Creed, believed to date back to shortly after the time of the apostles themselves, does not mention the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. Furthermore, it only states, “I believe in ‘the holy spirit,’” which could just as easily refer to the gift of holy spirit as it could to a third “Person” in the Trinity. The Nicene Creed, written in 325 AD and modified later, added the material about Jesus Christ being “eternally begotten” and “true God,” and about the Holy Spirit being “Lord.” But it was the Athanasian Creed, most likely composed in the late 400s or early 500s AD, that was the first creed to explicitly state the doctrine of the Trinity, and it includes that if a person does not believe it, he is not saved but will perish everlastingly. Yet saying that a person who does not believe in the Trinity is not saved contradicts the Bible. For example, when Peter addressed the Jews on the Day of Pentecost he did not mention the Trinity or that Jesus was God in the flesh, yet about 3,000 people in the audience were saved (Acts 2:41).

It seems that if the doctrine of the Trinity was genuine and central to Christian belief, and especially if belief in it was necessary for salvation as many Trinitarians teach, it would have been clearly stated in the Bible and in the earliest Christian creeds.

2) There is no Trinity in the Old Testament

God gave the Scriptures to the Jewish people, and the Jewish religion and worship that comes from that revelation does not contain any reference to, or teachings about, a triune God. Since God gave the Old Testament to the Jews, surely they were qualified to read and understand it, but they never saw the doctrine of the Trinity in it; in fact, quite the opposite. Throughout their history, the Jews fiercely defended the fact that there was only one God.

Jesus himself tied the greatest commandment in the Law together with there being only one God. An expert in Old Testament law asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important one. Jesus said to him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God….” (Mark 12:29-30 KJV). The Jewish scholar, in accordance with the teachings of the Rabbis and the revelation and practices given to the Jews, would have believed that Yahweh was the only true God. But Jesus never corrected him or tried to modify his beliefs, he simply reinforced what this man already believed—that only Yahweh was God.

Furthermore, the pronouns in the Bible that refer to “God” are singular, and there are lots of them. “The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament contain well over twenty thousand pronouns and verbs describing the One God” (Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-inflicted Wound, International Scholars Publications, New York, 1998, p. 17). Singular pronouns include “I,” “my,” and “he.”

We would expect that the pronouns that refer to the “Father,” to Jesus, and to “the Holy Spirit” would be singular if there were a Trinity, but since the Trinity teaches that “God” is triune and consists of three “Persons,” that the pronouns associated with “God” would be plural. This is especially the case because according to Trinitarian doctrine, each “Person” in the triune God is individually omnipresent, individually all-knowing; individually all-powerful, and each individually has his own will, his own mind (which is why Jesus could say to the Father, “not my will but yours be done”). John 3:16 (REV) reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have life in the age to come.” But if “God” were composed of three co-equal beings who each had their own mind and together agreed to send Christ, we would expect it to say, “For God so loved the world that they gave the Father’s only begotten Son….” The fact that the pronouns in the Bible refer to “God” as a singular being is evidence that there is no Trinity.

3) The Old Testament foretold that Jesus would be a human being.

The Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah foretold that he would be a human being. He would be the offspring of Eve (Gen. 3:15); a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18), a descendant of Judah (Gen. 49:10); a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15); a son of David (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Isa. 11:1); a king ruling under Yahweh (Ps. 110:1); and a ruler from among the people of Israel (Jer. 30:21). That explains why the people were all expecting a human Messiah.

Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, was expecting a human Messiah and did not know how she could give birth to the Messiah without having sex with a man (Luke 1:34-35). Although some Trinitarians claim that there are a few Old Testament prophecies such as Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:2 that show that Jesus is God, it’s important to note that the ancient Jews, to whom those prophecies were given, never understood them to mean that their Messiah would be both God and human. Those few prophecies can be translated and understood in a Biblical Unitarian way.

Psalm 110:1 merits special attention because it is especially clear but has been misunderstood and misrepresented. Most English versions read like the ESV: “The LORD says to my Lord….” The word “LORD” is Yahweh, but then many Trinitarian commentators argue that “my Lord” in this verse is the Hebrew word adonai, another name for God, and is therefore proof of the divinity of the Messiah. But the Hebrew text does not use adonai, it uses adoni (pronounced “a-do-nee”), which is always used in Scripture to describe human masters and lords, but never God.

The Hebrew words adoni and adonai have the same root, adon, and that is the word listed in the concordances and most lexicons, which is one reason that we must use the actual Hebrew text to see what Psalm 110:1 is saying. The difference between adon (the “root” word), adoni (“lord,” always used of men or angels) and adonai (which is used of God and sometimes written adonay) is critical to the understanding of Psalm 110:1. The fact that the Hebrew text uses the word adoni of the Messiah in Psalm 110 is good supporting evidence that the Messiah is not God, and is one reason the Jews were expecting the Messiah to be a human ruler like the other kings who ruled under Yahweh.

The Old Testament also refers to the Messiah as “one like a son of man.” The phrase “son of man” was a Semitic idiom for a human being and it is used that way throughout the Old Testament. But when Daniel referred to the Messiah as a “one like a son of man” (Dan. 7:13), the phrase “son of man” also became a title of the Messiah. That explains why Jesus called himself “the son of man” many times (cp. Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 40; 13:41; 16:13, 27, 28; etc.). The use of “son of man” in reference to the Messiah is one more piece of evidence that Jesus was fully human and one more reason that people were expecting the Messiah to be human.

4) The New Testament teaches that Jesus was a man

The New Testament teaches that Jesus was a man. For one thing, Jesus himself said so. For example, in John 8:40, Jesus said he was “a man who has told you the truth” [emphasis ours]. Jesus was not being disingenuous and hiding his “divine nature.” He was making a factual statement that reinforced what the Jews were expecting of the Messiah—that he would be a fully human man.

The apostles also taught that Jesus was a man. For example, in his sermon to the crowds gathered on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter made a very clear declaration that Jesus was a man approved of God: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you…” (Acts 2:22 KJV). Here Peter clearly taught that Jesus was a man, and that God did miracles “by him.”

It seems if the Trinity did exist, that when Peter had thousands of devout Jews gathered together on the Day of Pentecost would have been a good time to introduce it to them. But instead Peter told the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah they had been expecting: a man approved of God.

Like Peter, Paul also taught that Jesus was a man. For example, when he was in Athens, Paul taught a crowd of unsaved Gentiles about Jesus Christ and said that God would judge the world “by the man whom He has appointed” (Acts 17:31). Paul never said or implied that Jesus was anything but a “man.” But especially since Paul’s Greek audience was polytheistic, it seems that if there was a Trinity that Paul would have taught it to the crowd. Whereas the Jews would have likely been very upset if someone taught there was a Trinity, these polytheistic Greeks would almost certainly not have been upset, so this would have been a perfect time to introduce the subject to people. But instead, Paul said that Jesus was a man appointed by God.

There are a number of other New Testament verses that state that Jesus was a man. For example, Romans says that a man, Adam, caused sin to enter into the world, and also that a man would have to redeem it from sin. Romans 5:15 (ESV) says, “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Some theologians teach that only God could pay for the sins of mankind, but the Bible specifically says that a man must do it. The book of Corinthians makes the same point Romans does. It says, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21 NASB).

1 Timothy 2:5 says that it is Jesus, the man, who was the mediator between God and men. 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This verse calls Jesus Christ a “man” even after his resurrection.

Trinitarian doctrine tries to explain the verses that say Jesus was a man by saying that he was a man, but he was also 100% God at the same time. But there are problems with that. One is that there is no single verse that says Jesus was both God and man. The God-man doctrine is built from many verses. Furthermore, scholars admit that there are only about eight verses in the entire New Testament that can be understood to say that Jesus is God, and every one of them can either be translated in a way that supports the Biblical Unitarian position, or disputed textually, or can be explained from the use of the word “God” in the culture. In contrast, the clear verses where Jesus is said to be a “man,” such as when Peter or Paul taught their audiences that Jesus was a man appointed by God, are not disputed and in the context there does not seem to be any good reason those men would not have said that Jesus was a God-man if in fact that is what he is.

Actually, the book of Hebrews seems to clear up the subject when it says that when Jesus was on earth, he was made like us in every way: “Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Heb. 2:17 ESV). This verse shows that Jesus was not both fully human and fully God at the same time. If he was, he would not be like us in every respect. If we believe that Jesus was a fully human man, this verse can be seen to be completely true, but if Jesus is fully God and fully human, it is confusing at best. None of us would have the doubts, worries, and fears, that we do if we were God. Saying that Jesus was made like us in every way is the Bible saying in a very straightforward way that Jesus was not “both God and human.”

5) Jesus was like Adam

Adam, the first man, was fully human and by his sin brought sin into the world. Jesus is called the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), but it seems that designation would not be appropriate if Jesus was not fully human in the same way that Adam was. Also, Adam is called a “type” of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:14). The word translated as “type” in many English versions is the translation of the Greek word tupos (#5179 τύπος), which can be defined as “a type, pattern, model, or example of something else.” Although the KJV translates tupos as “figure,” most of the more modern versions say “pattern” (NIV), “prototype” (HCSB), or “type” (ESV, NAB, NASB). Adam was a type, prototype, or pattern of Christ because he was fully human and began without a sin nature—and Jesus was the same: fully human and made without a sin nature. The reason that no other human male after Adam could be a “type” of Christ is that we are all born with a sin nature. But if Jesus was 100% man and 100% God, then Adam could not be a “type” of Christ, because Adam did not have a “God-nature.”

6) Jesus has a God

The Bible says in many verses that there is only one God, and “God” does not have a God. For example, in Isaiah 44:6, God says, “…there is no God besides me,” and Ephesians 4:6 says that there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all.” In contrast to “God” who alone is God and does not have a God, Jesus has a God.

Before his death and resurrection, when he was on the cross, Jesus called out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Later, after his resurrection, he spoke of his God to Mary Magdalene, saying, “…I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God” (John 20:17). Then, after his ascension into heaven when he was standing at the right hand of God, Jesus still called God, “my God.” Jesus said about those who are victorious that he will “write on him the name of my God” and “the name of the city of my God” that comes down out of heaven from “my God.” (Rev. 3:12). Revelation 1:5-6 also says that Jesus is a faithful witness and ruler and has made us priests to “his God.” In the Old Testament, the prophet spoke of the coming Messiah and said he would shepherd the people “in the strength of Yahweh, in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God” (Micah 5:4).

Also, there are verses in the New Testament that clearly speak of “God” being the “God” of Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6 says, “...you can, with one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3, Ephesians 1:3, and 1 Peter 1:3 all say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 1:9 speaks of how God blessed Jesus: “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you [Jesus] with the oil of gladness.”

Who is the “God” of the Lord Jesus Christ? The New Testament makes it clear: “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” (Eph. 1:17), and “and [Jesus] has made us to be a kingdom, as priests to his God and Father. So the “one God and Father” (Eph. 4:6) is the God of Jesus Christ. In contrast to Jesus, who both Scripture and Jesus himself testify that Jesus has a God, the “one God” of the Bible never says He has a God. He is God, the Father, the Creator, “the Most High God,” and He has no equals. Jesus is not “God,” he is a man, the Last Adam, the created Son of God, and Jesus’ God is God the Father.

7) Jesus called God “the only true God.”

Jesus called the Father “the only God” (John 5:44 ESV). The New American Standard Bible goes so far as to translate it as “the one and only God.” The straightforward reading of this verse is that Jesus did not think of himself as God.

Similarly, on the night he was arrested, Jesus prayed to God that people would “know you, the only true God” (John 17:3). It seems disingenuous, or at least confusing, that Jesus would refer to his Father as “the only true God” if he knew that both he and “the Holy Spirit” were also “Persons” in a triune God, and that the Father shared His position as “God” with them. It seems much more likely that Jesus spoke the simple truth when he called his Father “the only true God.”

8) Jesus was part of God’s creation

Colossians 1:15 (ESV) calls Jesus “the firstborn of all creation.” Scholars disagree on what this phrase means, but that is primarily because the doctrine of the Trinity obscures its simple meaning. Trinitarian doctrine states that Jesus is “eternal,” but if that is true then he cannot be the firstborn “of all creation,” because that would make him part of the creation—Jesus would be a created being. But the simple reading of Colossians 1:15 seems clear: Jesus is a created being. The BDAG Greek-English lexicon [entry under “creation”] explains the Greek word translated “creation” as “that which is created…of individual things or beings created, creature.” Not only was Jesus a created being, he is also called the “firstborn” from the dead because he was the first one in God’s creation who was raised from the dead to everlasting life—a point that is also made in Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5.

9) God is eternal, but Jesus had a beginning

God was not born; He is eternal. In contrast to the eternal God, Christ is “begotten,” that is, born. Jesus Christ had a beginning. Jesus is never called “God the Son” in the Bible, but he is called the “Son of God” more than 50 times, and a “son” has a beginning. The very fact that Jesus is the “Son of God” shows he had a beginning. Trinitarian doctrine denies this and invents the phrase “eternally begotten.” But “eternally begotten” is not in the Bible, it was invented to help explain the Trinity but is actually a nonsensical phrase; the words are placed together but they cancel each other out. “Eternal” means without beginning or end, whereas something that is “begotten,” by definition, has a beginning.

We cannot approach the Bible with wisdom and “reason together” with God (Isa. 1:18) if we must invent and use non-biblical phrases to support our theology. Also, additional evidence that Jesus had a beginning is provided in verses such as Matthew 1:18, which speaks of the “beginning” of Jesus Christ (see the commentary on Matthew 1:18), and Colossians 1:15 (covered above), which says that Jesus is part of God’s creation. The Bible calls Jesus the “Son” of God for the simple reason that he had a beginning. Jesus had been part of God’s plan since the foundation of the world, but he began his actual life when God “fathered” him and Mary conceived him in her womb.

10) The Bible teaches that Jesus and God are two distinct beings.

There are many verses where Jesus and God are portrayed as two separate beings. There are too many examples to list, but for example, in Mark 10:18, Jesus told the rich young ruler that he was not good, but “God” was good; in Luke 2:52, Jesus grew in favor with “God” and with men; Jesus said to the Jews that he was “a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (John 8:40 ESV); and he told his disciples, “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 ESV).

Also, the Church Epistles were authored by both God and Christ. For example, 1 Corinthians 1:3 (ESV) says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Book of Revelation shows both God and “the Lamb” ruling in the eternal city (Rev. 22:1, 3). In all these examples, Jesus is shown to be separate and distinct from “God,” which is what the people of the time believed and expected.

The Trinitarian explanation of these verses is that Jesus is God, so when Jesus speaks of himself and “God,” then “God” means “the Father.” But the Bible never says that. It is only because Trinitarian doctrine asserts that Jesus is God that the assumption is made that when Jesus and God appear together, “God” means “the Father.” But the simple and straightforward reading of Scripture is that there is Jesus and there is “God,” so Jesus is not God.

Jesus and God have separate wills. Jesus prayed to God, “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV; cp. John 5:30). If Jesus and the Father are the same “one God,” then they would have one will. Trinitarian doctrine claims that Luke is referring to Jesus’ human will, not his divine will, but that is problematic. For one thing, the Bible never says anything like that, it is an invented explanation. It would also mean that Jesus had two wills in conflict with each other inside him, one human and one divine. But that surely cannot be the case: Jesus himself taught that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24).

The Bible says that Jesus is an “heir” of God (Heb. 1:2), and a “joint-heir” with us (Rom. 8:17). But if Christ is a co-eternal “Person” in the “Godhead,” then he cannot be an heir “of God” because, being God, he would be full owner of everything and there is nothing he could “inherit.” Jesus cannot be God and an heir of God at the same time.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the “image of God” (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4). But if Christ is the image of God, then He cannot be God, because a person cannot be himself and an image of himself at the same time. Jesus can be called the “image” of God because he always did the will of God and acted like God Himself would act. The fact that Jesus was the image of God is why Jesus could say that if you had seen him, you had seen the Father.

Ephesians 4:4-6 is recognized by many Christians as listing seven of the most essential doctrines of the Christian Faith. It says there is one God and one Lord and one spirit. This verse teaches exactly what the Jews expected based on the Old Testament, and what Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others taught: that there was one God, one Lord, the Messiah, and one spirit of God (see Appendix 11; “What is the Holy Spirit?”). There are three separate things being spoken about here, but not “one God” composed of both Jesus and God, and “the Holy Spirit” as well.

11) The Bible teaches that the Father is God

1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) says, “for us there is one God, the Father…and one Lord, Jesus Christ.” This simple and straightforward language elucidates that the Father is God and the Son is “Lord,” making a clear differentiation between the two. Furthermore, that distinction is even clearer when we consider that in the Greek culture the word “God”—although it was used more loosely than we do in English and was used of pagan gods and even human rulers—was used in a more restricted manner than was the word “Lord,” which was used of many different kinds of people in authority.

1 Corinthians 8:6 starts out, “for us there is one God,” and if the doctrine of the Trinity were true, we would expect it to finish in a typically Trinitarian fashion, such as, “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We would certainly not expect it to name only the Father as “God” and omit “the Holy Spirit” altogether.

12) God is greater than Christ

Jesus said: “…the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28 ESV). In contrast, the orthodox formula of the Trinity says that the Father and the Son are “co-equal.” We see no reason not to believe Jesus’ simple statement.

God is greater than Christ, just as Christ is greater than we are. 1 Corinthians 3:23 (KJV) says, “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” When the Bible says, “you are Christ’s,” it is saying, “you belong to Christ” and many English versions say exactly that (i.e., CJB; HCSB; NASB; NET; NJB; NLT). So the verse is saying, “and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (NASB). It seems apparent that Jesus cannot be God and belong to God at the same time.

The Bible teaches that God is the “head” of Christ, that is, He is Christ’s leader: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3 ESV). The Trinitarian explanation of this verse is that God was the head of Christ only while he was on earth, but the Bible never says that. In fact, the Bible shows us the opposite: God is still the head of Christ and directing him even after he ascended into heaven (Rev. 1:1; 14:14-15).

God can be seen to be greater than the Messiah in Psalm 2. In that Psalm, God’s Messiah is called “his anointed” (Ps. 2:2), and God says, “I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Ps. 2:6 ESV emphasis ours). The Messiah is not being shown to be a co-equal ruler with God, but God’s under-ruler. Furthermore, God says He fathered the Messiah: “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Ps. 2:7 ESV). Although commentators argue about which day “today” refers to, it is clear that the Messiah is begotten at a specific time in history, he is not “eternally begotten.”

God “made” Jesus Lord. In Peter’s teaching to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, he taught that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36 ESV). In order to make Jesus Lord, God must have greater authority than Jesus. Furthermore, if Christ was God, then he was already “Lord”—in which case God would not need to “make” him Lord.

It has also been taught that because Jesus is called “Lord,” he must be God. But “Lord” (the Greek word is kurios) is a masculine title of respect and nobility, and many others besides God and Jesus are called “Lord,” However, that can be hard to see in English Bibles because many times kurios is not translated as “Lord,” and that confuses the issue.

  1. property owners are called Lord (Matt. 20:8, kurios is “owner” in NIV)
  2. heads of households were called Lord (Mk 13:35, owner=kurios).
  3. slave owners were called Lord (Matt. 10:24, master=kurios).
  4. husbands were called Lord (1 Pet. 3:6, master (NIV) =kurios).
  5. a son called his father Lord (Matt. 21:30, sir=kurios).
  6. the Roman Emperor was called Lord (Acts 25:26, His Majesty=kurios).
  7. Roman authorities were called Lord (Matt. 27:63, sir=kurios).

Christians take Jesus as their “Lord,” but that is not the same as saying he is “God.”

The Bible says that even in the future, the Son will be subject to the Father. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him [God] who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28 ESV). If Jesus is subject to the Father in the eternal future, then it seems the teaching that the two of them are “co-equal” is wrong.

Jesus was consecrated (sanctified) by God. John 10:36 (ESV) says: “do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (Jn. 10:36 ESV). The fact that Jesus was consecrated, or as it is translated in other versions, “sanctified,” by God shows he is not God, because God does not need to be sanctified.

Philippians 2:6 (ESV) says that Christ “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (cp. NAB; NASB; NET; NIV; NJB; Rotherham). There is some disagreement among scholars as to how to translate the Greek text, so other English versions translate the verse somewhat differently. Nevertheless, the point of the verse is that Jesus Christ was highly exalted by God because he was humble and did not seek equality with God. If Jesus was God, then he would never have needed to seek equality with God in the first place—it would have been inherent in him.

Jesus received his direction and his doctrine from his Father, God. In John 5:19 (ESV), he said: “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.” Jesus repeated that in several different ways. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge…because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John. 5:30 ESV). “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16 ESV). “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (John. 8:28 ESV). “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49 ESV). If Jesus was God, and co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, then he would not have needed to be directed by his Father.

The Old Testament referred to the Messiah as the servant of God. For example, in Isaiah 52 and 53, which speak of the suffering and death of the Messiah, the Bible refers to the Messiah as God’s “servant” (Isa. 52:13). When the disciples prayed to God in Acts, they called King David God’s “servant” (Acts 4:25), and later in that same prayer they called Jesus “your holy servant” (Acts 4:30 CSB; ESV; NAB; NASB; NET; NIV; NJB). They equated the Messiah as a servant of God just like David was, rather than referring to Jesus as if he was God himself (cp. Matt. 12:18; Acts 3:26). Jesus is not God but the servant of God, just like the Bible says.

There are many verses that indicate that Jesus’ power and authority were given to him by the Father. If Jesus was the eternal God, then he would have always had those things that the Scripture says he was “given.” Christ was:

These verses and others like them make no sense if Christ is “co-equal” with the Father. Taken at face value they show Jesus is a man approved of God.

A rich young ruler came to Christ and called him, “Good Teacher” (Luke 18:18 ESV). Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19 ESV). If Jesus was telling people that he was God, why did he not complement this young ruler for calling him “good?” That Jesus gave the man a mild rebuke and said that no one was good except “God” is evidence that Jesus was not teaching people that he was God. Jesus was very quick to make the distinction between himself and God, and in doing so affirmed what this Jewish man would have already believed: that there is one God, and Jesus was certainly not that one God.

Luke 2:52 says that Jesus grew in favor with “God.” But if Jesus were God and part of the Trinity, he could not grow in favor with himself or the Father or the Holy Spirit. The mutual love and blessing among the members of the Trinity would have been eternal and unchanging. Jesus could only grow in favor with God if he himself were not God.

When it comes to assigning positions of authority in the coming Kingdom of Christ, Jesus said that who will sit next to him as people with authority “is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matt. 20:23). If Jesus were God and co-equal with the Father, those positions of authority would be his to give.

Despite the popularity of the term “Deity of Christ,” the phrase never appears in the Bible, nor is Christ ever called “Deity” in the Bible. “Deity” is from the Latin “Deus,” which means “God,” and the phrase “the Deity of Christ” as it is popularly (but not biblically) used means the “Godness” of Christ.

Colossians 2:9 (ESV) says that in Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This verse is stating that God (the Deity) placed all His fullness in Christ, which is quite different from saying that Christ is himself a Deity. Earlier in Colossians, the concept is made clear: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (Col. 1:19 NIV84). That is true. But the fact that Christ has “all the fullness” of God does not make him God. Ephesians 3:19 says that Christians should be filled with “all the fullness of God,” as well, but that does not mean Christians will somehow become God.

13) Major differences between Jesus and God

If Jesus Christ was God, he would have to have the attributes of God. Most theologians agree that some of God’s attributes are: unoriginated, self-existent, immortal, all wise, all good, all-powerful and omnipresent. But Jesus had none of those attributes.

14) God is spirit, but Jesus is flesh and bone

God is Spirit (John 4:24) yet even after his resurrection, Jesus said about himself that he was not a spirit, but flesh and bone. When Jesus appeared to his apostles, he said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39 ESV). That Jesus is still flesh and bone today is exactly what we would expect if Jesus is a “man approved of God.” Part of the great hope that we Christians have is that in the future Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21 ESV). So in the future we will have bodies like Jesus’ body, but that hardly seems appropriate if Jesus is God in the flesh.

15) Jesus never taught the Trinity

John 1:18 says that Jesus made “God” known to people. But if “God” is a triune God composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then Jesus did not make God known. Jesus never taught the Trinity, even when he had good opportunities to do so. For example, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42), he told her that he was the Messiah, but nothing more (John 4:26). Similarly, when Jesus asked the Apostles who they thought he was, and Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus did not take that opportunity to teach them the Trinity (Matt. 16:17-20). Also, when Jesus healed the man who had been blind from birth, he told him that he was the Messiah but did not say a word about the Trinity (John 9:35-38). When the rich young ruler called Christ, “Good master,” Jesus not only did not teach the man the Trinity, he rebuffed him and said the only one who was good was God (Mark 10:17-18).

Other examples could also be given, but the point is that even when Jesus had the opportunity to teach the Trinity, he never did. That is astounding if the doctrine of the Trinity is correct, because the people were expecting a human Messiah, not “God in the flesh.” So when Jesus told them he was the Messiah but did not say anything about there being a Trinity, he was only reinforcing what they already thought. There does not seem to be any compelling reason not to take Jesus’ words at face value; that he was the human Messiah the Jews were expecting.

Trinitarians also commonly say that Jesus claimed to be God, and for that reason the Jews hated him and tried to kill him. But that is not the case. Jesus had been stating in various ways that he was the Messiah, and that is what the Jews were upset about. Throughout their history, the Jews made a clear distinction between “God” and the “Messiah.” They did not think the Messiah was going to be God or a “Person” in a triune God, and if Jesus had walked around saying he was God the Jews would have considered him insane, but not a threat. But for Jesus to claim to be the Messiah of God and also do miracles, now that was a threat. Jesus had not been claiming to be God in the flesh, so at his trial the Jews never asked Jesus, “Are you God in the flesh?” Instead, they asked Jesus about what he had been claiming to be: the Messiah.

At his trial, the High Priest said to Jesus, “‘I charge you under oath by the living God, that you tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Yes, it is as you say’” (Matt. 26:63-64). The conversation would have been somewhat protracted, and Mark records the High Priest asking, “‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am’” (Mark 14:61-62, cp. Luke 22:67-71). When Jesus stated that he was the Messiah, “Then the high priest tore his garments, saying, ‘Defaming talk! What further need do we have of witnesses? See! Now you have heard the defamation. What do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death’” (Matt. 26:65-66). So from the trial of Jesus we see that the Jews correctly assessed that Jesus had been claiming to be the Christ, also that Jesus indeed said he was the Christ, and also that the Jews thought Jesus’ claim was worthy of the death penalty. The trial gives good evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, but not God in the flesh.

16) Jesus’ miracles do not prove he was God

It is sometimes said that the miracles Jesus did proved that he was God. But almost every miracle that Jesus did on earth was done in some form by earlier prophets or by the apostles. These include healing the sick, raising the dead, multiplying food, and even walking on water. In fact, the Old Testament prophets did some amazing miracles that Jesus did not do, including splitting an ocean apart (Moses), stopping a river (Joshua), making the sun stop in the sky (Joshua), and calling down fire from heaven (Elijah). God was the one who worked the miracles through the prophets, and He worked them through Jesus also (Acts 2:22).

17) The Trinity and the dual-nature of Jesus is never called a “mystery”

It is said that no human can understand the doctrine of the Trinity because it is a mystery. But the Bible never even uses the words “Trinity” or “dual nature” of Christ, much less defining them as mysteries. Furthermore, the Greek word mustērion (#3466 μυστήριον), which is translated as “mystery” in most English Bibles, does not mean “mystery” in the modern sense of the word, but rather refers to a “secret” in the religious or sacred realm. The Emphasized Bible by Rotherham correctly translates mustērion as “sacred secret.” That mustērion does not mean “mystery” can be documented from any number of lexicons or Bible dictionaries, and it is also clear in the Bible itself. The Bible says that many of the mustērion of God have now been made known, which shows that they were not actually unknowable “mysteries,” but were God’s secrets that are now revealed (e.g., Rom. 16:25, 26; 1 Cor. 2:7-10; Eph. 3:4, 5, Col. 1:26).

The reason why many English Bibles continue to translate mustērion as “mystery” in spite of the fact that the scholars and many clergy know that “mystery” is an inaccurate translation is due in large part to the many unbiblical and even self-contradictory doctrines that have crept into the Church over time. When even the clergy could not explain or understand these doctrines, the translation “mystery” became generally accepted because the concept of a “mystery” was a handy way to present inexplicable doctrines to the average Christian. People who challenged the inexplicable doctrines and other traditions of the Church were quickly labeled “heretics” and persecuted, so the translation “mystery” went mostly unchallenged.

Although the Bible says that certain things were secrets, like the Gentiles being included in the Church (Rom. 11:25; Eph. 3:4-6), or the way that living believers would be changed in the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51), there is no verse that says the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ is a mustērion (secret). But if the doctrine of the Trinity or of the dual nature of Christ were true, we would certainly expect that the Bible would include them among God’s mustērion. To us, the most logical reason the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ are not referred to in the Bible as a mustērion (a secret) is that they are not biblical doctrines in the first place.

Not only are the Trinity and dual nature of Christ not “mysteries,” they are contradictions. Doctrinal statements such as “eternally begotten,” “three ‘Persons’ in One God,” and “Jesus is both 100% human and 100% God,” are actually just simple contradictions. This has been recognized for a very long time, and more than a hundred years ago William G. Eliot wrote: “Mystery and contradiction are very different things. The former is something beyond our sight, or seen imperfectly. The latter is plainly seen to be untrue. …we know enough to see that two contradictory statements cannot both be true. …So when Christ asserts that he did not know of a certain future event (see Mark xiii. 32), the assertion that he was nevertheless Omniscient, is evidently a denial of what he said” (Discourses on the Doctrines of Christianity, American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1870, p. 6).

The supposed “dual nature” of Christ is never stated in the Bible and contradicts the Bible and the laws of nature that God set up. Nothing can be 100% of two different things. Jesus cannot be 100% God and 100% man; that is not a “mystery,” it is a contradiction and nonsense talk. As was stated earlier in this appendix, the Bible clearly says in many places that Jesus Christ was a man, and the few verses that seem to say he was God are either disputed textually or can be translated and/or understood from a Biblical Unitarian perspective. Furthermore, earlier in this appendix we saw that the miracles and amazing acts that Jesus did only showed that he walked by the power of God, he did not need to be “God in the flesh” to do them.

A fatal flaw in the “dual nature” theory is that both natures in Jesus would have had to have known about each other. Jesus’ God nature would have known about his human nature. But according to Trinitarian teaching, Jesus’ human nature knew he was God, which explains why Trinitarians say Jesus taught that he was God. But if Jesus knew he was God, then Hebrews is wrong when it says that Jesus was “made like his brothers in every respect” (Heb. 2:17). If Jesus was 100% God and 100% human at the same time, then he was not made like other humans in every way. In fact, he would have been very different from other humans in many respects. For example, in his God nature he would not have been tempted by anything (James 1:13) but since his human nature had access to that knowledge and assurance, then his human part would not have been tempted either. But Hebrews says he was tempted in every way like we all are (Heb. 4:15). Furthermore, God does not have the problems, uncertainly, and anxieties that humans do, and if Jesus knew he was God then he would not have had those either. Also, Luke 2:52 says Jesus grew in wisdom, but Jesus’ human part would have had access to his God part, which would have given him infinite and inherent wisdom. Also, Hebrews says Jesus “learned obedience” by the things that he suffered, but again, the human part of Jesus would have accessed the God part of him and he would not have needed to learn anything.

Kenotic Trinitarians claim that Jesus put off or limited His God nature, but that theology only developed to try to reconcile some of the verses about what Christ experienced on earth, such as we have seen in Hebrews. The idea that God can limit what He knows or experiences as God is not taught or explained in Scripture, and Kenotic Trinitarianism has been rejected by orthodox Trinitarian for exactly that reason. The very simple way to explain the “difficult verses” that Kenotic Trinitarians are trying to explain about Christ’s human experiences is to realize that Jesus was a fully human being, not both God and man at the same time.

[For more on mustērion, see commentary on Ephesians 3:9. Some people assert we have to take the Trinity “by faith,” but that is not biblical either. For more on faith, see Appendix 16, “Faith is Trust”].

Conclusion

In order to fully love and worship God and Jesus, it is important to know who they really are. God, the Father, is the Creator of the universe, the Author of the plan of Salvation, the Father of Jesus Christ, and our One God, and removing Him from that exalted position and having Him share His position as “God” with two other “Persons” diminishes who He really is and what He alone has done. Furthermore, making Jesus into God, instead of elevating him, actually diminishes who he was and is, and what he accomplished and is still doing. It demeans Jesus because his courage, mental tenacity, love, and great faith are unparalleled in human history. He went through life like each human does, with doubts and fears and concerns, and with the possibility of sin. His true greatness is lost if he is God, because “with God all things are possible.” Believing Jesus is God also demonstrates disbelief in Jesus’ own words when he made statements such as “my father is greater than I” and when he prayed to the Father as “the only true God.” Also, it makes it impossible for us to identify with him and strive to be like him, for how can we ever hope to live like God?

By restoring the Father to His unique and singular position as God, He receives all the worship, credit, respect and awe He deserves as the One True God. By restoring Christ to his position as the man approved of God—the only-begotten Son of the Father, the last Adam, the one who could have sinned but voluntarily stayed obedient, the one who could have given up but loved us so much that he never did, and the one whom God highly exalted to be our Lord—then Christ receives all the worship, credit, respect and awe that he deserves, and we can draw great strength and determination from his example.

[For information on what the Holy Spirit is and that there is no third “Person” in the Trinity known as “the Holy Spirit,” see Appendix 11, “What is the Holy Spirit?” For information on verses usually used to support the doctrine of the Trinity, see the commentaries on John 8:58, 10:30, and Romans 9:5].

Some very helpful books:

Broughton, James and Southgate, Peter. The Trinity, True or False? The Dawn Book Supply, 66 Carlton Rd., Nottingham, England, 1995.

Buzzard, Anthony F. and Hunting, Charles F. The Doctrine of The Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. International Scholars Publications, Lanham, MD, 1998.

Dana, Mary. Letters Addressed to Relatives and Friends. James Munroe and Co., Boston, 1845, reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.

Eliot, William G. Discourses on the Doctrines of Christianity. American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1870.

Farley, Frederick. Unitarianism Defined: The Scripture Doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. American Unitarian Association, Boston, MA, 1873. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151.

Graeser, Mark; Lynn, John; and Schoenheit, John. One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith. Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 2010. Fourth edition.

Hyndman, J.S. Lectures on the Principles of Unitarianism. Alnwick, 1824. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.

Morgridge, Charles. True Believer’s Defence Against Charges Preferred by Trinitarians. Boston: Benjamin Greene, 1837. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.

Navas, Patrick. Divine Truth or Human Tradition. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN, 2011.

Newton, Sir Isaac. An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture. London: John Green, 1841.

Norton, Andrews. A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians. American Unitarian Association, Boston, 10th Edition, 1877.

Rees, Thomas. The Racovian Catechism. London: 1818. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.

Snedeker, Donald R. Our Heavenly Father Has No Equals. International Scholars Publications, San Francisco, 1998.

Zarley, Kermit, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. Servetus the Evangelical, 2008.


Additional resource:

Video expand/contractDoes John 1:18 say that Jesus is God or Son? (12:40) (Pub: 2013-03-22)

Various translations over the years have confused “God” and “Son” in John 1:18. As we study the Bible, it is of utmost importance to use a good translation, as translators promote the doctrines they believe.

Verses: John 1:18; 3:16, 18

Teacher: John W Schoenheit

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