THE AUTHOR OF THE ATONEMENT
The Almighty, Jehovah--The Savior of Sinners, Through Christ--"Worthy is the Lamb"--"The Self-Existing One"--The I Am--A False Tradition --Based on Forgery--The Unity of Father and Son Scripturally Shown--The Scriptural Usage of the Word Jehovah and the Title Lord--The word God in the Old Testament--In the New Testament-- The Harmonious Bible Testimony--"He that Hath Seen Me Hath Seen the Father"--He Thought it not Robbery to be Equal--"To Us there is One God, The Father, and One Lord, Jesus Christ."
JEHOVAH God claims for himself the authorship of the great plan of Atonement, which we have just seen is in progress of development; which began at Calvary and will not be complete until the close of the Millennial age, when the Lord Jesus Christ, the mediator of the Atonement, shall deliver up the dominion of earth, restored and in full subordination to the Father. In harmony with this are numerous statements of the Scriptures; for instance, "I am Jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior." Again, "I am Jehovah and beside me there is no Savior." Again, "I Jehovah am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Jacob." And again, "I am Jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me: for there is no Savior beside me." Again, "To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, amen." Again, "We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe." Isa. 43:3,11; 60:16; Hos. 13:4; Jude 25; 1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10
If this thought were fully received--that the Almighty Jehovah, himself, is the Savior, the Author of the great plan of salvation, and the executor of it, through his willing [E34] agents and representatives--it would deliver many from false conceptions of the relationship between the heavenly Father and his heavenly Son, in respect to the salvation of mankind. It would leave no room for the almost blasphemous view of the matter, held by a considerable number of professing Christians; viz., that the heavenly Father stood in wrath, seeking to slay or to torture the human sinner, and that the heavenly Son, our Lord Jesus, full of love and mercy (which according to this theory the Father lacked), interposed, and satisfied the heavenly Father's malice and anger by receiving the blow of wrath in man's stead: and that now Jehovah is placated, merely because, being just, he cannot require at the hands of the sinner, again, that which has already been paid through the precious blood of Christ. The sooner this terrible erroneous view of the Atonement is gotten rid of by those who hold it, the better will be the prospect for their progress in spiritual things--in the knowledge, in the grace, and in the love of the true God.
The proper view of the matter shows us the heavenly Father perfect in all the attributes of nobility of character: perfect in his justice, so that the just sentence of his righteous law cannot be infracted, even by himself: perfect in wisdom, so that his plan and arrangement, not only with respect to man's creation, but also with respect to man's salvation, the Atonement, etc., were all so complete that no contingency or failure could arise, nor any necessity for change of the divine plan; as it is written, "I am the same, I change not, saith the Lord," and, "Known unto the Lord are all his works, from the foundation of the world:" perfect also in his love, than which there could be no greater love possible, and yet that love in full balance and accord with the other divine attributes, so that it could spare the sinner only in harmony with the just program marked out by divine wisdom: perfect also in power, so that all his good purposes, and good intentions, and just program, and loving designs, fully co-ordinated, shall be executed, and bring the [E35] originally designed result; as it is written, "My word that goeth forth out of my mouth shall not return to me void; it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isa. 55:11; Mal. 3:6; Acts 15:18
When we thus see, from the Scriptural standpoint, that the great Jehovah himself is the Author of the salvation brought unto us by our Lord Jesus, it leads us to more fully and more properly honor and love our Almighty God, while it does not detract from the honor, love and esteem in which we properly hold and reverence our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For we see in the Heavenly Son the Heavenly Father's image, and recognize him as the "Messenger of the Covenant," through whom all the covenanted blessings of Jehovah are to be brought to mankind, and without whom none of the divine blessings are obtainable. In harmony with this thought, that our Lord Jesus in all matters acts as the representative of the Father, Jehovah, in the work of salvation, note the following statements of the Scriptures:
"The kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared ....He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy Spirit; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." Tit. 3:4-6
"Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Acts 5:31
"We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:14
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to an appointment of God our Savior and of Jesus Christ our hope." 1 Tim. 1:1
"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. ...For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Tim. 2:3,5
Note also our Lord Jesus' own words on this subject:
"The Father sent not the Son into the world to condemn [E36] the world, but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17
"I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge." John 5:30
"As the Father hath sent me, so likewise I send you [disciples]." John 20:21
"Of that day and hour [when the heavenly Kingdom should be set up] knoweth no man, no not the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only." Mark 13:32
"The times and seasons the Father hath put in his own power." Acts 1:7
"The works which I do in my Father's name bear witness." John 10:25
"I send the promise of my Father upon you." Luke 24:49
"I am come in my Father's name." John 5:43
"Whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." John 12:50
"My Father is greater than I." John 14:28
"I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." John 20:17
"Worthy the Lamb that Was Slain"
Our Lord Jesus himself has furnished us, in the last book of the Bible, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants" (Rev. 1:1), a most beautiful picture of this subject of the Atonement, illustrating the general plan of man's redemption from sin and its curse. This is found in Rev. 5. There the Heavenly Father, the Ancient of Days, is shown seated on the heavenly throne, and in his hand a scroll written inside and outside, sealed with seven seals. That scroll, representing the divine plan, known only to the Father, Jehovah himself, was kept in his own power--in his own hand--until some one should [E37] be proved worthy to know it, and become its executor as Jehovah's honored agent and representative. The symbolic picture proceeds to show that up to the time our Lord Jesus suffered for us at Calvary, "the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God," no one had ever been found (proved) worthy to take up the divine plan and even understand its contents.
But when our Lord Jesus had proven his loyalty to the Heavenly Father by his obedience, not only in humbling himself to take man's estate for the suffering of death, but also in his obedience "even unto death," and still further, "even unto the [ignominious] death of the cross," then and thereby he did prove himself worthy of every confidence and trust. As the Apostle declares, "Wherefore him hath God highly exalted and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, both of things in heaven and things on earth." (Phil. 2:9-11) It is at this point that the picture we are considering (Rev. 5:9-13) shows our Lord Jesus as the Lamb that had been slain, before whom obeisance was made, and who was proclaimed, Worthy the Lamb! "Thou art worthy to take the scroll and to open the seals thereof, because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation." Thus is pictured to us the high exaltation of the Heavenly Father's representative, the "Messenger [servant] of the Covenant." Because of his humility and complete submission and obedience to the Father's will he is proclaimed thenceforth the sharer of the Father's throne, and, by the Father's own arrangement, the proclamation was made throughout the heavenly hosts, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing"; and finally "every creature" shall catch the thought that Jehovah has very highly exalted his Only Begotten Son, even to association with himself in the Kingdom, and shout their approval, saying, [E38] "The blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne [of the universe-- Jehovah] and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever!" No wonder, then that we are instructed that thenceforth all men shall honor the exalted Son even as they honor the Father who thus highly exalted him. John 5:23
The Apostle declares that this glorification of Jesus furnishes an illustration of divine law, that "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." But let us also notice in this symbolic picture (vs. 13) that the exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ to glory and honor and power and dominion does not imply that the Heavenly Father abdicates the throne of heaven in his favor, nor that the Father and the Son are one in person, for both persons are recognized, the Father, as always, being given the first place in praise and honor. And this again reminds us of our Lord's words, "As the Father hath appointed unto me a Kingdom, so I appoint also unto you [my disciples] a kingdom." (Luke 22:29) And again he says to his faithful followers, "Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. 3:21
As a further evidence that the entire work of redemption is of the Father though through the Son, note the Apostle's declaration, that God "in these last days hath spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things [promised], by whom also he made the worlds, who... when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High [Jehovah], being made so much better than the angels." And again he declares of him: "We have such a High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty of the Heavens [Jehovah], a servant of holy things, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord [Jehovah] pitched, and not man." And again the same Apostle declares, "This man [our Lord Jesus] after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God." (Heb. 1:2-4; 8:1; 10:12) Again he exhorts us to continue "looking unto Jesus, the [E39] Author [starter] and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Again he exhorts us to consider "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory," and "what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the operation of the might of his power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet." (Heb. 12:2; Eph. 1:17-22) Again the Apostle Peter declares of our Lord Jesus that he "is gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him [by the Father]." 1 Pet. 3:22
All these various scriptures indicate most clearly the very high exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Father's reward for his wonderful obedience and manifestation of the Father's spirit of love, in the sacrifice of himself on behalf of sinners; but they neither indicate that the Lord Jesus was the Father, nor that he has been exalted to take the Father's place upon the heavenly throne, or in the affection and worship of his intelligent creatures. On the contrary, they expressly show the Heavenly Father as the superior in honor and power, as the Benefactor who thus glorified and exalted the Son, and set him at his own right hand, or place of chief favor, and made him a sharer in the throne or dominion of the heavenly kingdom, angels and all the hosts of heaven being subjected to him. Indeed, so strong is the language sometimes used in respect to the high exaltation of our Lord Jesus, and the plenitude of power bestowed upon him by the Father, that in one instance the inspired writer deemed it very proper to call attention to the fact that none of these statements of his high exaltation implied either that he was the equal with the Father nor his superior: hence he says, speaking of the Millennial reign of Christ, [E40] "He [Christ] must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he [the Father] hath put all things under his [the Son's] feet. But when he [the Father] saith, 'All things are put under him [the Son],' it is manifest that he [the Father] is excepted, which did put all things under him [the Son]. And when all things [earthly] shall be subdued under him [the Son], then shall the Son himself be subject unto him [the Father] that put all things under him [the Son], that God [the Father] may be all in all." 1 Cor. 15:25-28
"The Self-Existing One"
The Almighty God has appropriated to himself and declared his name to be Jehovah, which signifies the "Self-Existing One" or "The Immortal One." Thus we read his declaration to Moses, saying: "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob by the name of God Almighty [the superior or most mighty God], but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them." (Exod. 6:3) By this name, Jehovah, God was thereafter recognized amongst his people. The name is used hundreds of times throughout the Old Testament, but is covered, in a large degree, from the English reader, through an error of the translators, who have rendered it "LORD." It can, however, be recognized readily, being always printed in small capitals when used to translate their sacred name, Jehovah.
Thus in the first Commandment given to Israel the Lord said, "I am Jehovah, thy God...thou shalt have no other gods [mighty ones] before me [my equals]...for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God." Exod. 20:2-5
Again Moses declares, "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one--Jehovah; and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might." (Deut. 6:4,5) And this is the very passage of scripture which our Lord Jesus himself commended as the very [E41] essence of truth. When inquired of respecting the greatest commandment, he said, quoting this scripture, "Thou shalt love the Lord [Jehovah] thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the primary and great commandment." (Matt. 22:37,38) Again we read, "I am Jehovah; that is my name: and my glory [honor] will I not give to another." (Isa. 42:8) And let not the context escape our notice, for this positive declaration that the name Jehovah is exclusively that of "the Father of Lights with whom is no variableness" immediately follows his prophetic proclamation of Messiah as Jehovah's honored and elect Son-servant, saying:
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon him. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles....He shall not fail nor be discouraged until he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God, Jehovah, I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness and will hold thine hand and will keep thee, and will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison [death], and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house. I am Jehovah: THAT IS MY NAME." Isa. 42:1-8
The Name Jehovah
Applied Only to the Father of Glory
The claim is sometimes made that the name Jehovah is applied in Scripture to our Lord Jesus and hence that it is not the distinctive and special name of the Heavenly Father. This is a mistake; but for the benefit of all we will here examine the passages supposed by some to support this claim. We will show that they do not contradict the foregoing scriptures which declare it to be the proper and special name of the great "I AM." [E42]
(1) The text chiefly relied on to prove that Jehovah may properly be considered the name of Christ Jesus reads, "I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth....And this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." Jer. 23:5,6
Evidently our Lord Jesus and his Millennial reign are referred to; and the name in the Hebrew is Jehovah-Tsidkenu. What is the explanation? Merely this: the translators, in their zeal to find a place where the name Jehovah was associated with Jesus as a name, have given us a poor translation. No difficulty would appear if it had been translated, "This is the name with which he shall be called, Our Righteousness of Jehovah." And how appropriate is this name to the work and office of our Lord Jesus. Did he not stand as the representative of God's righteousness and suffer the penalty of Justice as man's ransom--that God might be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus? Surely no name could be more appropriate.
It should not be overlooked, that this same name precisely, Jehovah Tsidkenu, occurs again in the writings of the same Prophet. But our friends never call attention to it, and the translators, although rendering it by the same English words, do not put those words in large capital letters as in the other case. Why? Because the connections show that Jehovah Tsidkenu will be the name of the entire Church, the New Jerusalem; "And this is the name wherewith she shall be called [Jehovah Tsidkenu], our Righteousness of Jehovah." Jer. 33:16
And that this name will be appropriate to the glorified Church all can readily see: she not only shares her Lord's sufferings for righteousness "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" (Col. 1:24; 1 Pet. 5:9), but is also promised a share in all the glories of her Lord, as a wife shares her husband's honors and name: just as the Church bears the name of Christ as members of the body of Christ. Rev. 3:12; 19:7; 21:9 [E43]
Nor are these the only instances of the name Jehovah being used to compound another name. Note that the mount upon which Abraham offered Isaac and where God provided him a ram for sacrifice as a substitute for Isaac, was called by him, Mount of Jehovah's Providence--Jehovah-Jireh. (Gen. 22:14) Moses named an altar which he built Jehovah-Nissi or Banner of Jehovah. (Exod. 17:15) Gideon built an altar and called its name Jehovah-Shalom--The Peace of Jehovah. (Judges 6:23,24) Ezekiel prophesied of a city to come, whose name shall be Jehovah-Shammah--The Wonder of Jehovah--Ezek. 48:35.
(2) It is suggested that when it is recorded that Jehovah appeared to Abraham (Gen. 18:1), and again to Moses (Exod. 3:3-15), it must have been Christ Jesus in his pre-human condition; and hence that the name would be his. We answer that such reasoning is unwarranted: that if the name were applied to another it would merely indicate that such servant was highly esteemed of Jehovah and really treated for the occasion as a steward or representative-- commissioned to exercise divine power as well. In Exodus 3:2, we are distinctly informed that the one representing Jehovah and using his most distinguished name, "I am," was "the angel [messenger] of Jehovah." That this honored messenger was "the Word" of John 1:1, our Lord Jesus in his pre-human estate, we do not for a moment question. But the highest and most honored messenger should not be confounded with the one whom he represents and in whose name he speaks and whose power he exercised and bestowed upon Moses.
(3) Isaiah 40:3refers to John the Baptist's mission, "Prepare ye the way of Jehovah"; and we are asked to consider this a proof that Jesus is but another name for Jehovah. But again we answer, Not so! Jesus was indeed the honored servant of Jehovah, and his representative among men in the fullest sense; but he himself declares, "The Father hath sent me"; "As I hear I judge"; "Of mine own self I can do nothing"; "The Father is greater than I." And we must believe [E44] the messenger. The fact is, as we have already shown,* that John the Baptist but foreshadowed a greater Messenger, even the entire Christian Church in the flesh; which in turn will usher in the Christ, head and body, in spiritual glory, and the work of that glorified Christ will still be a further step in the same great work of preparing the way of Jehovah and making the place of his feet glorious. And this work, when closed at the end of the Millennium, will be the full accomplishment of this prophecy. See 1 Cor. 15:24-28; John 6:57; 5:30; 10:28.
(5) In two of the prophetic pen-pictures of Christ's Millennial Kingdom it is declared, "In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain [kingdom] of the house of Jehovah shall be established in the top of the mountains [overruling other kingdoms]...and many people shall say, Come ye, let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of Jehovah ...and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths...And he shall judge among the nations." Isa. 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3.
It is held that since Christ is to reign and judge and possess the Kingdom during the Millennium, the name Jehovah [E45] here should be considered as the name of Christ. We answer, Not so! It must not be forgotten that all blessings are of the Father though all are by the Son. (1 Cor. 8:6) And so our Lord Jesus taught us in his model prayer to say, "Our Father which art in heaven...Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven." (Matt. 6:10) This is shown also in the connections (Micah 4:8) where the Christ ("head" and "body"--the New Jerusalem) is referred to as the "Tower of the flock" to whom shall come the first dominion--lost by Adam in Eden, redeemed by Jesus at Calvary.
(6) "Bethlehem Ephrath...out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) These words we are asked to accept as proofs that Jesus was Jehovah --from everlasting to everlasting--because Moses declared, "Jehovah...from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." Psa. 90:1,2
We reply that this is asking that an unreasonable inference should be drawn--contradictory not only of the hundreds of instances of the use of the name Jehovah in other scriptures, but contradictory also of the connections in which these words are found. Reading onward to Micah 5:4, we find it stated of Messiah: "He shall stand and feed [Jehovah's flock--Psa. 23:1] in the strength of Jehovah; in the majesty of the name of Jehovah, his God."
Nothing could be more explicit on the subject. What then is meant by the words of Micah 5:2? We answer that they can be well understood thus--"Whose goings forth have been [foretold] from of old, from everlasting [his coming and Messiahship were purposed and provided for in the divine plan]."
(7) We are referred to the prophecy of the Millennial
Kingdom in Isaiah 25:6-9, and asked to consider this a
proof that the name Jehovah is applicable to our Lord Jesus:
because it is there stated that--"In the mountain [kingdom]
shall Jehovah of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat
things....He will swallow up death in victory; and my Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces."
No, we reply. This is far from being a proof of that. We must notice indeed that our Lord, the glorified Christ, is represented as the speaker, and his work of the Millennial age is briefly summed up in the first verse of this chapter-- "O Jehovah my God; I will exalt [honor] thee, I will praise thy name." This will be the result of the Millennial reign, and at its close all things will be back in subjection to Jehovah whose power it is, working in the Christ, that shall put all things under him. Messiah comes to earth as Jehovah's mighty servant and vicegerent, Immanuel, "God with us." This view is corroborated absolutely by the Apostle Paul, who after quoting from this prophecy and pointing to its fulfilment in the destroying of Adamic death during the Millennium says--"Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory [deliverance--triumph] through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57
(8) We are asked to consider as a proof that the name Jehovah properly belongs to our Lord Jesus, the fact that he is named--Wonderful, Counsellor [or guide, or miraculous pattern], Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6
We will examine the full meaning of this scripture later on, merely remarking under this head that nothing in it justifies us in applying the name Jehovah to our adorable Lord and Master, Jesus. Note, however, that if such had been the thought, no better place than this could have been found for adding the name Jehovah among the other titles. But, on the contrary, the very next verse declares, "The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will accomplish this [prophecy]." Verse 7
(9) "Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold my Lord [Adonai] Jehovah will come with strong hand; and his arm shall rule for him...He shall feed his flock like a shepherd." Isa. 40:9,10,11
We are told that here surely is one passage in which our [E47] Redeemer is called by the great name Jehovah. But we answer, No--he is here called the "arm" of Jehovah as in other places: the mighty Arm of Jehovah "shall rule for him," until he shall have put down all authority and power opposed to Jehovah and his righteous law--until he shall have brought forth judgment unto victory: until he shall have made the place of Jehovah's feet (the earth his footstool) glorious--and shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Matt. 12:20
Other instances in which our Lord Jesus is prophetically represented as the "right arm" or strength of Jehovah are:
"Who hath believed our report [preaching]? And to whom is the ARM of Jehovah revealed? [Few recognize the Lord's Arm during this age--"not many great," etc.]...He is despised and rejected of men." Isa. 53; John 12:38
"The isles shall wait upon me, and on mine ARM shall they trust." Isa. 51:5,9
"Jehovah hath made bare his holy ARM in the eyes of all nations [at the setting up of his Kingdom]; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." Isa. 52:10 "His [Jehovah's] ARM brought salvation for him....And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from ungodliness in Jacob, saith Jehovah." Isa. 59:15-20
(10) In John 12:41we read, "These things said Esaias [Greek for Isaiah], when he saw his glory and spoke of him." We are asked to concede that this probably applies to Isaiah 6:1. We reply that we believe it does: but notice that the Hebrew word rendered Lord in that verse is not Jehovah but Adonai; our present contention is that the name Jehovah does not properly apply to any one except the Heavenly Father --although it may be applied to his special messengers while they are speaking or acting for him representatively in his name.
Nor do we dispute that Adonai is sometimes used as one of the many titles of the Heavenly Father. We claim that in this text it does not apply to the Father but to the Son. Similarly [E48] the same word Adonai is used in referring to Christ and his Millennial kingdom in the second Psalm (4-9): "The Lord [Adonai] shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak to them in his wrath and trouble them in his sore displeasure ....The Lord [Jehovah] hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."
But some one may perhaps claim that Adonai of Isa. 6:1 must refer to the same person as Jehovah of verses 3 and 5. We answer, Not so: the "Messenger of the Covenant," the representative of Jehovah, might well be saluted with praise in the name of the Father whom he represented. Note again that in verse 8 it is not Jehovah that gives the message, nor that pronounces the judgment, but Adonai; for the Father "hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Matt. 23:34,36,38; John 5:22,27
Other instances of references to our Lord Jesus in close connection with the name Jehovah, and yet another word used in the Hebrew, but translated also Lord in our Common Version Bibles, might be cited. Note Malachi's statement, "Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord [Adon from the same root as Adonai] whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts.... He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord [Jehovah] an offering of righteousness." Mal. 3:1-4
Another familiar reference of this kind is found in the noble Messianic Psalm which declares, "Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured upon thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee forever....Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter. Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Then the Church is referred to as the daughter of the Father, and as the bride, the Lamb's wife, and she is exhorted to reverence the King's [E49] Son as her Lord--"So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord [Adon--not Jehovah] and worship thou him." Psa. 45:2-11; Heb. 1:8,9; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23; John 5:23
(11) We are asked to consider Isaiah's statement (8:13,14) a proof that the name Jehovah is properly applicable to our Lord Jesus. It reads: "Sanctify Jehovah of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." The stress is laid upon the next verse, which without specifying who, declares, "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel." We can not admit this as proof; for quite to the contrary the context shows a third party (besides Jehovah and the Prophet) even our Lord Jesus, who says, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon Jehovah....Behold I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me." Isa. 8:16-18; compare Heb. 2:13.
(12) Psalm 110is referred to as proof that our Lord Jesus is in Scripture called Jehovah. We reply that no argument could be farther fetched or more untrue. On the contrary, it proves the reverse. "Jehovah said unto Adon, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.... Adonai at thy [Jehovah's] right hand shall strike," etc. Again, "Jehovah hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." Psa. 110:1,4,5
Whoever cannot see that the one referred to is exalted to Jehovah's right hand or position of chief favor, and made a priest of a new Order, is surely blinded by his prejudice. We refer such, however, to our Lord's own interpretation and application of these words to himself; showing himself to be the Adon, David's Lord, exalted by his Lord, Jehovah. Matt. 22:44,45
The Apostle Peter, speaking under the influence of the holy Spirit at Pentecost, made the same application of these words. And the Apostle Paul also refers to them with similar import. Acts 2:34; Heb. 1:13; 10:12,13 [E50]
(13) Since our Lord Jesus is acknowledged to be the Great Teacher, it is claimed that he fulfilled the prediction --"All thy children shall be taught of Jehovah." (Isa. 54:13) In answer and contradiction we refer to our Lord Jesus' own words. He quoted these very words of the Prophet in his discourse, and clearly showed that he was not and did not claim to be the Jehovah of this prophecy. His words were, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." John 6:45
The Father himself, the great Jehovah, is not only the great law-giver but also the Great Teacher of his own law. His own great plan for human salvation will yet be seen by all of his intelligent sons to contain the grandest possible exemplifications of Justice, Love and Wisdom in combination, and yet each perfect, inviolate.
Our Lord Jesus was and still is the Great Teacher of men by the appointment of the Heavenly Father, the great Master Teacher above all. And this is precisely what our dear Redeemer claimed and taught. Did he not publicly declare that his teachings were of things he had already learned of the Father? saying, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father." "My doctrine [teaching] is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. ...He that seeketh the glory of him that sent him the same is true." "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." "I have given them thy word." "They have kept thy word." "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 7:16-18; 8:38; 14:24; 17:6,14,17
Likewise our Lord appointed special teachers under him, the Apostles; and still others in the church to be teachers and under-shepherds of the Lord's flock, instructing them, "Feed my sheep"; "feed my lambs." "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with blood of his own [Beloved Son]." [E51] (Acts 20:28) Yet none of these teachers were to teach doctrines of their own, which could be only "wisdom of this world." The people of God were to be all taught of Jehovah, and none can be true teachers save as they present to men the words and plan and character of Jehovah as the standards of truth and excellence. In doing this they necessarily call attention to "the doctrines of Christ" and "the Apostle's doctrines," all of which were but expressions and inculcations of the Father's grand and eternal law.
Unlike some who style themselves teachers today, neither our Lord Jesus nor his apostles attempted or claimed originality. Mark the humble words of our Lord Jesus, than which nothing could be more beautiful--"I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." (John 8:28) Can we wonder that one found so humble and so loyal to Jehovah could be and was entrusted with so great honor and power--so highly exalted to the Father's right hand? And that the lessons thus taught our Lord Jesus were well learned by him we have the inspired testimony-- "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Heb. 5:8; Phil. 2:8
Moreover, the Lord showed through the prophets that Jesus, the Great Teacher appointed by the Master Teacher, Jehovah, would be himself taught of Jehovah; and in order that he might become "a merciful and faithful High Priest" to humanity, and be proved worthy to be "the Captain of our salvation," it was needful that he be perfected in experiences through things which he suffered. (Heb. 2:9,10) Note how clearly the following prophecies declared long before that our Lord would be taught of Jehovah, and would learn well the lessons, and manifest love for the law and obedience to the Law-giver:
"My Lord Jehovah [Adonai Jehovah] hath given me the tongue of the learned [instructed], that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned [instructed]. My Lord Jehovah [Adonai Jehovah] hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither [E52] turned away back [from his teachings]. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." Isa. 50:4-10; Matt. 26:67; 27:26,30; Isa. 53:11
Hear further on this subject the word of the Lord's testimony respecting the preparation of our Lord Jesus for the grand office of Royal High Priest for mankind:
"The spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him--the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and of might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear [reverence] of Jehovah; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear [reverence] of Jehovah: so that he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes"; for he has been touched with a feeling of our infirmities and is therefore the better able to succor all who come unto God by him--his Church now, and by and by the world, during his Millennial Kingdom. Isa. 11:1-10; Heb. 2:18
Again prophetically Messiah is represented as saying: "Thou wilt show me [cause me to have knowledge of] the path of life." "I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel." These expressions occur in connections quoted by the Apostles as applicable to our Savior, "the man Christ Jesus." (Psa. 16:7-11) Thus is confirmed by prophecy the statement of the Evangelist, "And the child [Jesus] grew, and waxed strong in spirit [mind], filled with wisdom; and the grace [blessing] of God was upon him....Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:40,52
Having examined the strongest Bible texts presented on the subject, we are confident that the Scriptures do not authorize the use of the great name Jehovah as the appellative for any other being than our Heavenly Father: we are confident that they restrict its use and forbid its application to another.
All can see the propriety of the Almighty's decision that he shall be recognized as the center of authority, wisdom, justice, love and power; because this is the truth, and anything else would be untruth and to that extent evil, injurious. [E53] And we have seen from the foregoing quotations from our Lord's own words, and from the words of the Apostles, whom he specially instructed by word of mouth, and inspired after Pentecost with the holy Spirit, that none of them ever intimated either that the Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Son were one in person, nor that they are equal in glory and in power--as is, without divine authority, declared in the creeds and catechisms of men.
Nevertheless, the Heavenly Father has manifested no jealousy of the greatness of his great Chief Servant, the "Messenger of the Covenant whom ye delight in:" on the contrary he has highly exalted him to be next to himself in dignity and in power. Hearken to the words of our Lord Jesus himself: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up and makes alive the dead, so also the Son makes alive whom he pleases. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him." John 5:19-23
It is only as we get clearly in mind the Scriptural declaration respecting the great Author of the plan of Atonement, Jehovah, and see the distinction between him and his honored Servant, "The Only Begotten of the Father," his "Beloved Son," in the work of the Atonement, that we are properly prepared to understand the philosophy of the Atonement. It is in great measure because of the confusion of thought respecting the Father and the Son that very many Christian people are thoroughly confused respecting the Atonement, and therefore in danger of letting slip their faith in this fundamental and most important doctrine of divine revelation.
The Apostle Paul presents the matter of the relationship [E54] between the Father and the Son in respect to our redemption most clearly and most forcefully, saying: "There is no other God but One...To us there is but One God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (1 Cor. 8:4,6) That is to say, there is only the one eternal and Almighty God, the Author and Source of all things, to whom we belong, and there is only the one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom the Heavenly Father operates in respect to all the various features of his plan, and by and through whom alone we have had remission of sins, through faith in his blood, and access to the Father, and to the grace wherein we stand, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. Rom. 5:1
A Tradition of the Fathers Supported
by a Forgery--an Interpolation
We are leaving to following chapters for consideration the greatness and worthiness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the entire work of Atonement has been and will be accomplished--and the great honor bestowed upon him, not only since he redeemed the world, but also the great honor and dignity which were his before he became the world's Redeemer. We are now seeking to distinguish clearly something respecting the great Author of the plan: but inasmuch as the general thought of Christendom is greatly perplexed by what is known as "The doctrine of the Trinity," a doctrine which its most pronounced advocates admit they do not understand and cannot comprehend or explain, therefore it is appropriate that we here examine those texts of Scripture which are supposed to give some color or support to this confusing doctrine of men, for which no authority can be found in the Word of God. We have already called attention to various scriptures which emphatically state that there is but one Almighty God--not two, nor three, nor more. We now call attention to the fact that the word "Trinity" does not occur in the Scriptures; nor does any word occur there of equivalent meaning; nor is any [E55] statement made which even unreasonably could be interpreted to signify any such thing. Indeed, those who hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, in attempting to explain their own thought, hopelessly entangle themselves, as well as their hearers. They declare in one breath that there is only one God (because the Scriptures so positively emphasize this point that it cannot be ignored), yet in the same breath they declare that there are three Gods (because to this theory they are committed by "traditions of the fathers" handed down from earliest Papacy).
But how could there be three Gods and yet only one God? If there are three Gods, "equal in power and in glory," as the catechisms declare, then it is untrue to say there is only one God. If there is only "One God, the Father, of whom are all things," as St. Paul asserts; and if, as Jesus declared, the Father is greater than his honored Son; and if the Father raised his Beloved Son from the dead, and exalted him on high, honored him, and has appointed for him a Kingdom; and if ultimately the Son will deliver up the Kingdom again to the Father, that the Father may be all in all; then it cannot be true that there are several Gods of equal power. Nevertheless, we shall show conclusively in the succeeding chapter that our Lord Jesus Christ is a God, but that, while he is to be honored even as the Father is honored, and that in honoring him we honor the Father who exalted him, still the united voice of the Scriptures most emphatically asserts there is but one Almighty God, the Father of all. As the Apostle declares, "The head of the woman is the man, the head of man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God." 1 Cor. 11:3
There is one statement found in the Scriptures, and only one, which seems in the slightest degree to even imply the doctrine of a Trinity of Gods; and that passage is now admitted by all scholars to be spurious--an interpolation. It is therefore omitted from the Revised Version of the New Testament, although the translators of that Revised Version, so far as we are aware, were every one of them Trinitarians. While they would have liked to retain this passage, as the [E56] only Scripture support (and then very imperfect in statement), they could not retain it conscientiously.
Nor were the translators of our Common Version of the Bible blameworthy for inserting this interpolation, because at the time of that translation it was impossible to know of its spurious character. Since its translation hundreds of old Greek manuscripts have been found, but none of these of earlier date than the seventh century contains this clause, which favors the Trinity. It is therefore not denied by scholars, without respect to denominational proclivities, that the spurious words were inserted to give support to the doctrine of the Trinity, at a time when the discussion of that doctrine was rife in the Church, and when the advocates of the doctrine of the Trinity were perplexed before their opponents, because they had no Scriptural evidence to bring in substantiation of their theory. The spurious words were no doubt interpolated by some over-zealous monk, who felt sure of the doctrine himself, and thought that the holy Spirit had blundered in not stating the matter in the Scriptures: his intention, no doubt, was to help God and the truth out of a difficulty by perpetrating a fraud. But all such suggestions, to the effect that God has not given us a complete revelation, "sufficient that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished," and that it needs adding to, are of the Adversary, as was this suggestion that it would be proper to commit a wrong, a forgery, for the sake of doing good, and rectifying the mistake of the Almighty. The monk-scribe or priest who committed this forgery, apparently about the beginning of the seventh century, has much to answer for, in his addition to the Word of God, and the evil influence which it has exerted over God's people, who, seeking for the truth on this subject, were misled by his forgery.
The spurious interpolation is found in 1 John 5:7, and consists of the words, "in heaven the Father, the Word and the holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth." These words, omitted from the text, leave it [E57] simple and easy to be understood, and fully in accord with all the remainder of the Scriptures; but with these words in the text, as they have stood for centuries, confusion is produced; for nonsense is asserted. For instance, with these words remaining in the text, the sense would be that the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit agreed in bearing one testimony in heaven, namely, that Jesus is the Christ. How absurd! Who is there in heaven ignorant of the fact that Jesus is the Christ? To whom, therefore, would it be necessary for the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit to bear this record or testimony? None. But it was a convenient place for the Adversary to get in his work of corruption of the truth, and he found a servant willing to serve him.
Not only does the Revised Version omit this verse, but so also do all modern translations--the Emphatic Diaglott, Young's Bible translation, the American Bible Union translation, the Improved Version. The latter says:
"This text concerning the Heavenly Witnesses is not contained in any Greek MS. which was written earlier than the fifth century. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers; nor by any of the early Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treated would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority: it is, therefore, evidently spurious."
Lang's Critical Commentary, referring to this spurious passage, says:
"Said words are wanting in all the Greek codices; also in the Codex Sinaiticus [the oldest known Greek MS.], and in all the ancient versions, including the Latin, as late as the eighth century; and [in MSS. written] since that time they are found in three variations. Notwithstanding the Trinitarian controversies, they are not referred to by a single Greek Father, or by any of the old Latin Church Fathers."
Hudson's Greek and English Concordance says:
"The words are found in no Greek MS. before the 15th or 16th century, and in no early version."
The passage is pronounced an interpolation by the following Bible scholars of recognized ability--Sir Isaac Newton, [E58] Benson, Clark, Horne, Griesbach, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Lachman and Alford. The latter says:
"Unless pure caprice is to be followed in the criticism of the sacred text, there is no shadow of reason for supposing them genuine."
Dr. Constantine Tischendorf says:
"That this spurious addition should continue to be published as a part of the Epistle I regard as an impiety."
Prof. T. B. Wolsey inquires:
"Do not truth and honesty require that such a passage should be struck out of our English Bibles--a passage which Luther would not express in his translation, and which did not creep into the German Bible until nearly fifty years after his death?"
Dr. Adam Clarke commenting on this passage says:
"It is likely this verse is not genuine. It is wanting in every MS. of this epistle written before the invention of printing, one excepted--the Codex Montfortii, in Trinity College, Dublin. The others which omit this verse amount to one hundred and twelve. It is wanting in both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Ethiopic, Coptic, Sahadic, Arminian, Slavonic, etc.; in a word, in all the ancient versions but the Vulgate; and even of this version, many of the most ancient and correct copies have it not. It is wanting also in all the ancient Greek Fathers, and in most even of the Latin."
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, endeavored to support the doctrine of the Trinity, yet in one of his sermons from this text he quoted the words of Servetus: "I scruple using the words 'trinity' and 'persons' because I do not find those terms in the Bible"--and to this quotation Wesley added, "I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained, as they lie in the text." He labored to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, because he believed this spurious passage was genuine, positive information from the ancient MSS of the Bible being of recent acquisition. For instance, at the time of the preparation of our King James or Common Version Bible (A.D. 1611), the translators had the advantage of but eight Greek MSS, and none of those of earlier date than the tenth century. Now, however, there are about seven hundred MSS, some of which, especially the [E59] Sinaitic MS and the Vatican MS No. 1209, are very old, reaching back to about A.D. 350.
The Scripture Teaching Respecting the
Father and the Son and Their Unity
A sharp distinction should be drawn between a confession of faith in a Trinity, and a confession of faith in the Unity of the heavenly Father, Jehovah, and the heavenly Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity holds that the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit "are one in person, equal in glory and in power," as stated in the Church creeds. The Bible, while showing the absolute Unity between the Father and Son and holy Spirit in the various steps of the great plan of salvation, most positively contradicts the thought that the Father and Son are one in person, denies that they are equal in majesty and in power, except as before shown, that the Father has glorified the Son, has highly exalted him and given him a name above all others except his own, making him his agent and representative in the exercise of "all power in heaven and in earth." All the various scriptures agree in their statements to the effect that the Father sent the Son into the world; and that the Son, for the joy set before him by the Father, endured the cross, and despised the shame; and that he was the heavenly Father's first and only begotten Son; and that after he shall have accomplished the work which the Father has given him to do, he shall deliver up the Kingdom of earth, at the close of the Millennial Age, to the Father; and the additional statements already called to attention, in which the Son cheerfully and fully acknowledges that he "came forth from the Father," that he "came not to do his own will" but the Father's will; and that the power he used was not his own power, but the Father's power; also his statement, "The Father is greater than I," and the declaration of the prophecy, that he is the Messenger or servant of the Covenant, and not the Maker of the [E60] Covenant; together with the repeated declarations of the New Testament Scriptures, that he is the Mediator of the New Covenant--the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." These various scriptures all consistently and harmoniously teach a distinction of person and glory and power as between the heavenly Father and the heavenly Son; but a most absolute and profound unity of plan, will, purpose: for the Son was worthy to be the executor of the great plan of Jehovah, because he had no will of his own, but renounced his own will that he might be filled with the Father's spirit and do his will in every particular. John 6:38,39
Moreover, the very words "Father" and "Son" imply a difference, and contradict the thoughts of the Trinity and oneness of person, because the word "father" signifies life-giver, while the word "son" signifies the one who has received life from another. The heavenly Father received life from no one; he is the fountain, the source of life, not only to our Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, but through him the source of life to all others of his creatures. And all this is fully in accord with the scripture which stands at the head of this chapter, in which the Apostle plainly denies that the Father and the Son are one in person or in power, saying, "To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things...and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things."
The thoughtful reader will at once recognize the Scriptural harmony and simplicity of the view herein presented, while all will admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is impossible of reasonable understanding or explanation. Its most earnest advocates admit this, and instead of endeavoring to do the impossible thing of explaining it, they avoid discussion, claiming that it's "a great mystery," unexplainable. But, strange to say, this doctrine of three Gods in one God, which not only has no Scriptural support, but is opposed by the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, both directly and indirectly, and which is so opposed to reason as to be unreasonable, is nevertheless a strongly entrenched [E61] doctrine amongst Christians, even amongst Protestants-- those who profess faith in the Bible and to protest against any teachings not found therein. Why is this? We answer, that it is one of the dark mysteries by which Satan, through the Papacy, has beclouded the Word and character and plan of God. As it is written, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Cor. 4:4He has put upon the poor world utter blindness and doctrinal veils, darkening counsel and falsifying mysteries, to hinder those who have found the Lord from coming to a clear knowledge of the truth.
But how would Satan be interested in adding to the luster of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ? Would it not rather be his work to detract from the glory of Christ? We answer, that it has always been Satan's policy to misrepresent the truth, to misrepresent the Bible, and to make its teachings appear unreasonable and self-contradictory, in order to hinder mankind from seeing the great beauty and reasonableness and harmony which inhere in the divine plan and Word. The more absurdities Satan can get interwoven into man's views respecting the Creator, the better he will succeed in separating from the service of God those who are of reasonable and logical mind; and proportionately the more unreasonable he succeeds in making the creeds of men, the more does he destroy real faith amongst those who advocate those creeds, and the more he does to favor mere credulity, instead of genuine faith.
Thus for centuries the great Adversary has been working most successfully to rid the Church of all the most reasonably disposed, and to gather into it the more credulous and superstitious and unreasoning class. He has covered and hidden some of the most precious truths under the most specious and repulsive errors, and the progress of the Lord's people has been correspondingly slow. But, thank God, we are now living in the time when the veil of ignorance is being dissolved, and when the Lord's people are learning to [E62] look away from the creeds formed for their enslavement during the dark ages, and to look directly to the Word of God itself. But, alas, this comes too late for many, especially the worldly-wise: they have already so associated the creeds with the Bible that in rejecting the former they are rejecting the latter also; and instead of seeking true light from the Word of God, they are more inclined to ignore or reject it and to lean to their own understandings--to human philosophies.
Hence it is that Higher Criticism, Evolution, Christian Science, Theosophy and other Bible-denying theories, are today making rapid progress; while the old creeds are falling to pieces or being abandoned. Only the comparatively few have learned that the mistake is not in the Bible, but in the creeds, and are seeking the "old paths," and "the faith once delivered unto the saints." Jer. 6:16; Jude 3
But how could the doctrine of the Trinity ever become so widespread amongst Christians, if it were not the teaching of the primitive Church? Is it not one of the oldest doctrines in the Church, extending back to the third century? Yes, we answer: the doctrine of the Trinity had its rise, its small beginning, in the second and third centuries. It must be very evident to any one who will search the Scriptures with an unprejudiced mind that the doctrine of the Trinity was not received in any measure or degree during the first century, for this is clearly shown by the writings of the apostles in the New Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity arose in a very natural way--at first through combativeness.
The apostles, in their teachings during the first century, claim most emphatically for Christ, not that he was the Father, not that he was Jehovah, but that he was the Son of Jehovah, the Messiah, sent into the world to bless the world, and to establish God's Kingdom, and to finally bring order out of the present condition of sin and disorder. The claim that he was the Son of God was met by counterclaims: some claimed that Jesus was an imposter: some that he was merely a good man: some that he had a miraculous [E63] birth, but never had a pre-existence; and others held the truth, viz., that he had pre-existence as a Son of God on a spiritual plane, that he became the Son of God on a human plane, in order to redeem mankind and that now he is highly exalted, so that all are commanded to honor "the Son even as they honor the Father." But as is well known, the disposition to combat leads to exaggeration of claims; and hence it was that many of those who attempted to deny the various false views respecting our Lord went to the other extreme of claiming that he was the Father, Jehovah himself.
The Religious Dictionary, of which the Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott, a professed Trinitarian, was one of the compilers and editors, on page 944 says:
"It was not until the beginning of the fourth century that the Trinitarian
view began to be elaborated and formulated into a doctrine, and an
made to reconcile it with the belief of the Church in one God....Out of
attempt to solve this problem sprang the doctrine of the Trinity....Trinity is a very marked feature in Hinduism, and is discernible in Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Japanese, Indian and the most ancient Grecian mythologies."
The idea of more deities than one was very common in olden times, with all except the one nation, Israel. As everybody knows, Grecian mythology is full of deities, many of whom have practically the same power; and to these the Jewish idea of one God seemed ridiculous, and implied a scarcity of gods. Hence it would appear that the Trinitarian view would find ready acceptance amongst the Gentile converts: it was a compromise between the general view of the world, called Polytheism (the belief in more gods than one) and Monotheism (the doctrine of one God) held by Israel. The idea of claiming three Gods, and at the same time claiming that the three were only one God, was, no doubt, considered a masterstroke in theology, by which the views of many believers converted from amongst the Jews could be brought into closer accord with the general sentiments of the Gentiles, who, it was desired should be pleased and brought into the Church. Similarly Mariolatry--the worship of the Virgin Mary--was introduced to meet, to gratify [E64] and to attach itself upon, the superstition which had long prevailed amongst the heathen in respect to Isis, Diana, the other goddesses, who had their millions of worshipers. It should be remembered that at the time of the introduction of these doctrines the leaders of the Church had abandoned their hope in the second coming of the Lord to establish his Kingdom, and had obtained a new hope, namely, a hope of converting the world, and of thus establishing the earthly Church as a Hierarchy, or Kingdom of God, in which a representative or pope would reign instead of Christ, as his vicegerent.*
So firmly entrenched is this false doctrine, received by Protestants from Papacy during the dark ages, and still held with tenacious grasp, that belief in this incomprehensible, unreasonable and unscriptural doctrine is made a test of orthodoxy. Whoever disbelieves this is declared to be a heretic, not only by the Church of Rome, but [E65] by the greatest standard of authority amongst Protestants-- The Evangelical Alliance. Truth is mighty and shall ultimately prevail: nevertheless, meantime, the conditions which God has permitted are such as to form tests of character and of loyalty to God and his Word amongst those who profess to be his people and to be taught of God. It therefore behooves every truthseeker to deal honestly with himself and with the heavenly Father's Word, which alone is able to make us wise unto salvation. Let us remember that the truth alone sanctifies, and that error, on the contrary, always tends to evil.
God the Father and God the Son
This may be the proper point at which to introduce and examine a few scriptures supposed to favor the doctrine of the Trinity, although they do not state it.
(1) It is claimed that our Lord Jesus is spoken of as God, and that there is but one God, and that hence God the Father and God the Son must be two names for the one person. Let us examine this question in the light of the divine Word, taking nothing for granted, but proving every step of our way. We labor under the disadvantage that almost all translators of the Old Testament have not been exact or uniform in their translations of the several appellatives to deity.* For instance:
The Jew prefers and uses the word Lord, possibly in the hope that fellow Jews will recognize the word Lord as applicable only to Jehovah and therefore feel a resentment toward those who speak of Jesus as "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"--thinking this blasphemy.
The Trinitarian translators probably preferred to use the word Lord instead of Jehovah, in order that Christians accustomed to use the word Lord as a title for our Savior, Jesus, might in reading the Old Testament think that he, and not the Father, Jehovah, is usually referred to.
Appellations of Deity in the Old Testament
(1) The name Jehovah is properly rendered only four times, where it seemed impossible to do otherwise (Exod. 6:3; Psa. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; 26:4); it is rendered God 298 times, and Lord over 5,000 times. [E66]
(2) The title Adonai, generally properly rendered Lord, is once rendered God.
(3) The title Adon is rendered Sir, Master, Lord.
(4) The word elohim, with its modifications eloah, elah and el, occurs over 2,500 times. These most frequently refer to Jehovah; but in many instances with evident propriety are applied to others: hence the connections must determine who is referred to. We will give Scripture illustrations which will make the matter perfectly clear, and prove beyond a doubt that elohim signifies mighty. It is properly applied to Jehovah, because he is All-mighty, all-powerful. It is properly applied to any angel, for they are mighty, powerful, and in their visits to man recorded in the Old Testament they were specially mighty because representatives of Jehovah, the All-mighty. Great, influential men were also properly described as elohim--mighty. Like our English word "sheep," elohim is used either in the singular or plural as occasion may require.
These are facts, and our quotations from the Common
Version Bible will substantiate them thoroughly; and thus
will demonstrate the Scriptural propriety and consistency
in referring to our Lord Jesus Christ as God [elohim] and as
Adon [Master, Lord] and as Adonai [my Lord], and yet never
Elohim [Mighty] Translated "Angels"
Psalm 8:5--"Thou [Jehovah, vs. 1] hast made him a little lower than the angels [elohim], and hast crowned him with glory and honor."
That this is a proper rendering of elohim is proven by the fact that the inspired Apostle translated it thus into the Greek, angelos--when, referring to how our Lord humbled himself, he says--"Thou madest him a little lower than angels." Heb. 2:7,9
Elohim [Mighty] Translated "Gods"
In referring to false gods of the heathen, the word elohim [mighty] is used 196 times; and quite properly, too, for they were mighty or influential to their devotees.
Jehovah the [All-Mighty] Elohim Contrasted
With Other Elohim [Mighty Ones]
Psalm 86:6-8--"Give ear O Jehovah unto my prayer.... Among all the gods [elohim--mighty ones] there is none like unto thee."
Psalm 95:3--"Jehovah is a great God [el--mighty one] and a great King above all gods [elohim--mighty ones]."
Psalm 50:1--"The mighty God [lit. God of gods--el elohim-- the mighty of the mighty], Jehovah, hath spoken."
Psalm 29:1--"Give unto Jehovah O ye mighty [el--gods], ascribe unto Jehovah glory and strength. Give unto Jehovah the honor of his name; and worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness."
Genesis 17:1--"Jehovah appeared to Abraham and said unto him, I am the Almighty God [el]."
Exodus 15:11--"Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah, among the gods [el--mighty ones]." See margin.
Genesis 14:22--"Abraham said, I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, the most high God [el], possessor of heaven and earth." [E68]
Psalm 96:4--"Jehovah is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods [elohim--mighty ones.]"
These instances suffice as samples: others may be found by those who desire and seek them.
Elohim Applied to Men
In the aforementioned 196 translations of elohim by the word gods, probably fully one-half refer to men--mighty ones--kings, princes, nobles, etc., but now we notice a few instances in which elohim is applied to the Lord's people.
Genesis 23:6--Abraham is styled elohim, the word being translated mighty in our Common Version Bible. "Thou art a mighty [elohim] prince among us."
Exodus 7:1--Moses is denominated the god [elohim] of Pharaoh. "I have made thee a god [elohim] to Pharaoh."
Exodus 21:6--The judges [rulers, mighty ones] of Israel were styled elohim. "His master shall bring him unto the judges [elohim]."
Exodus 22:8,10--"If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought into the judges [elohim]. ...Both parties shall come before the judges [elohim]; and whom the judges [elohim] shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor."
Exodus 22:28--"Thou shalt not revile the gods [elohim-- margin, judges]." Note the Apostle's sanction of this translation. Acts 23:5
The Saints Called Elohim
Psalm 82:6,7--"I have said, Ye are gods [elohim--mighty ones], all of you sons of the highest, ye yet shall all die like [other] men, falling like one of the princes [heads]." The saints must all die, but like Christ Jesus their "head," sacrificially, and not as Adam for his own sin.
This passage was quoted by our Lord Jesus, and applied to those who received the word of God at his lips--those [E69] having ears "to hear": and it applies still to the same class.* "Beloved, now are we the sons of God," reckonedly, hoping by divine grace to "become partakers of the divine nature." John 10:34,35; 1 John 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:4
Elohim Rendered "Great," "Strong," Etc.
This word is sometimes rendered strong, power, great, etc., in connection with inanimate things; as "Great [elohim-- mighty] tremblings" (1 Sam. 14:15); "Great [elohim-- mighty] wrestlings" (Gen. 30:8); "Great [el--mighty] mountains" (Psa. 36:6); "The strong [el] among the mighty" (Ezek. 32:21); "It is in the power [el] of my hand." Gen. 31:29
"God" and "Lord" in the New Testament
In the New Testament the matter is simplified by the use of fewer words; but it may be said that nothing whatever in the words used distinguishes the Father from the Son in the [E70] words rendered Lord and God. The matter is left entirely to the judgment of the reader, and indicated only by the construction of the sentence--except that where the word Theos is used twice in the same clause the Greek Prepositive Article is sometimes used, so as to give the effect of the God in contrast with a God. An illustration of this is found in John 1:1-- "The Word was with the God [ho theos] and the Word was a God [theos]." But the careful student (freed from prejudice) will generally have no difficulty in determining the thought of the Apostle. Indeed, the language is so explicit that the wonder is that we were heedless of it so long.
The word God in our New Testament, whether in referring to our Heavenly Father or to his Heavenly Son, our Lord Jesus, or to false gods, is almost invariably the translation of the Greek word Theos. Exceptions are that the word kurios is once translated God when it should have been rendered Lord or Master, namely in Acts 19:20; and in Acts 17:18 daimonion is rendered gods, and should be demons.
The title "Lord," whether applied to Jehovah, or Christ, or man, or angels, is generally the translation of the Greek word kurios signifying Master, or Lord. It is frequently translated Sir and Master. Exceptions are that in five places Lord is the translation of despotes, where it would better have been translated Sovereign or Autocrat. The cases are:
(1) Luke 2:29--"Lord [despotes] now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace."
(2) Acts 4:24--"Lord [despotes] thou art God which hast made heaven and earth....The rulers were gathered together against the Lord [kurios] and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy Son Jesus, whom thou hast anointed,...were gathered."
(3) 2 Pet. 2:1--"Heresies, even denying the Lord [despotes] that bought them."
(4) Jude 4--"Denying the only Lord [despotes] God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." [E71]
(5) Rev. 6:10--"How long, O Lord [despotes], holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood?"
Rabboni [master] is once rendered Lord. Mark 10:51
Kurieno [to be lords] is once rendered lords. 1 Tim. 6:15
The translators of our New Testament were extremely unfortunate in selecting and using the word "godhead" three times to translate three different words--none of which have any such significance as comes from this word to the mind of the ordinary English reader: namely--a God with several bodies and but one head. Its occurrences are:
(1) Ho Theios is rendered Godhead in Acts 17:29 whereas it should be "the Deity,"--"We ought not to think that the Godhead [ho Theios--the Deity] is like unto gold or silver or stone." The same word is translated divine in the only two other instances of its occurrence in the New Testament; viz., 2 Pet. 1:3,4.
(2) Theiotes is rendered Godhead in Romans 1:20; whereas it should be translated Divinity or Deity,--"God hath showed it unto them,...even his eternal power and godhead [Theiotes--Deity]." This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.
(3) Theotes is rendered Godhead in Colossians 2:9; whereas it should be translated Deity,--"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [Theotes--Deity] bodily." This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.
In the glorified Christ, who is the head of the Church,
dwells all fulness; plenitude of wisdom, grace and power,
not only to guide all the affairs of the Church, his body, but
also as the Father's representative to do any and every thing
necessary to be done in carrying forward to successful completion
the great divine plan committed to his care.
"Thou Shalt Worship the Lord Thy God
And Him Only Shalt Thou Serve."
It is claimed by some that the fact that our Lord Jesus received worship without rebuke signifies that he is Jehovah. Our Lord's words above quoted are supposed to imply that for any being but Jehovah to receive worship would be wrong. We answer, Not so! To so interpret these words is to think into them a meaning which they do not contain, and to make them contradictory to the teachings of other scriptures. Jehovah's decree respecting Christ, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," had already been recorded through the prophets; and also his decree, "Let all the angels of God worship him." (Psa. 2:7; 97:7; Heb. 1:5,6) Our Lord Jesus knew this. He also knew that the angelic messengers of Jehovah had in the past been worshiped as representatives of Jehovah; and that he himself was the chief messenger, the Only Begotten Son, the "Messenger of the Covenant," whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world: he knew consequently that whoever honored him honored the Father also.
Indeed, his own words were, "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which sent him." John 5:23; Mal. 3:1
The Greek word translated worship in the New Testament is proskuneo, which signifies "to kiss the hand," as a dog licks the hand of his master. The significance is reverence.
The Hebrew word rendered worship in the Old Testament is shaw-kaw and signifies to bow down. The significance is reverence. The word occurs 170 times and only about one-half of this number refer to the worship of God. But this fact is hidden from the English reader by reason of its having been 74 times translated bow down, bowed himself, did reverence, did obeisance, etc., when referring to homage to great earthly beings. We will give examples: [E73]
Abraham "bowed himself [shaw-kaw] toward the ground, and said, My Lords [Adonai]...let a little water be fetched and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree." These words and acts were while he thought them merely "three men." Gen. 18:2-4
Lot "bowed down [shaw-kaw]" to two of the same three. Gen. 19:1
Abraham "bowed himself [shaw-kaw]" to the people of Canaan. Gen. 23:7,12
Isaac blessed Jacob, saying, "Let nations bow down [shaw-kaw] unto thee;...and let thy mother's sons bow down [shaw-kaw] unto thee." Gen. 27:29
"David stooped and bowed himself [shaw-kaw] to the earth" to king Saul. 1 Sam. 24:8
Abigail "bowed herself [shaw-kaw] to the ground" to David; and again to David's representatives. 1 Sam. 25:23,41
The woman of Tekoah "fell on her face...and did obeisance [shaw-kaw]" to king David. And Joab and Absalom did likewise, translated "bowed himself [shaw-kaw]." 2 Sam. 14:4,22,33
"When Mephibosheth...was come unto David, he fell on his face and did reverence [shaw-kaw]." 2 Sam. 9:6
From these evidences it will be apparent to all that the prohibition of the First Commandment--"Thou shalt not bow down thyself [shaw-kaw] to them nor serve them," was not understood, nor meant to be understood, as a prohibition of reverence, homage, etc., to the honorable, or to those in honored positions among men. Nor did the Jews err in doing reverence [shaw-kaw] to angels who came with messages in Jehovah's name and acknowledging him. And such reverence was approved--never reproved. The Commandment warns against image worship or any worship of any rival gods. This Jehovah cannot tolerate. Hence there was no impropriety for any Jew who recognized Jesus as the "Sent of God" to do him reverence, obeisance; and much more proper is it for all those who recognize our Lord Jesus according to his claims--as the Son of God. [E74]
Indeed, we may be sure that those Pharisees who took up stones to kill our Lord because he declared himself the Son of God would have been wild beyond bounds, and not only have stoned our Lord Jesus, but also his worshipers, claiming idolatry, had they entertained as a people any such extreme thought of worship, obeisance (proskuneo), as is entertained by those whose extreme views respecting this word we are combating and have proved erroneous.
Exceptions to this liberty would be in cases where the man to whom reverence, obeisance or worship is rendered is the recognized representative of a false god--as a pseudo-Christ or false Christ--Antichrist. Homage to the popes would, we believe, come under this head of false or wrong worship; because in his office he claims falsely to be "Vicegerent Christ." It was on this ground that our Lord Jesus refused to acknowledge Satan and his great power in the world. It was an actively evil power, designedly opposed to the laws of Jehovah. Hence the proposition that by not opposing evil, by respecting or reverencing evil customs already established under Satan's regime, Satan would cooperate with our Lord in the establishment of his kingdom, was at once declined and the answer signified--I am in full accord with Jehovah God and therefore in full accord with the prophetic declaration: "Thou shalt reverence Jehovah thy God and him shalt thou serve"--and since you are his wilful opponent I can render no reverence to you or your methods, nor could I either serve your cause or cooperate with you. Our causes are distinctly separate. I will have nothing to do with you. Compare Matt. 4:10; Deut. 10:20,21.
Had our Lord Jesus set himself as a rival to Jehovah instead
of as his Son and servant, any homage to him would
have signified disrespect to the Father and would have been
sinful--idolatrous. On the contrary, however, while accepting
homage reverence as the Son of God he declared most
positively and publicly, "The Father is greater than I," and
taught his disciples to make their petitions to the Father,
saying, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name,
he will give it you." John 16:23
"I and My Father Are One."
This text is considered a proof that our Lord Jesus is entitled to the name Jehovah--that he was both the Father and the Son; or that he had no Father and was not a Son.
Having vague, mysterious thoughts respecting "trinity," a remarkably large number of otherwise intelligent people seem to forget that there is any other kind of oneness than personal oneness. On the contrary, however, in all other uses of the word the thought is that of harmony--oneness of plan, purpose, will, mind. How blind a theory can make us is well illustrated by the fact that our Lord's own explanation and illustration of the manner in which he and the Father are one is very generally overlooked. He said in prayer to the Father--
"I pray not for the world but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine...neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which believe on me through their word; that they all may be ONE, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be ONE IN US...that they may be ONE, even as we are ONE: I in them and thou in me, that they may be MADE PERFECT IN ONE." John 17:9,20-23
Here the oneness of the Church, for which the Lord prayed, is specially stated to be exactly the same as the oneness between the Father and the Son. That the oneness of the Church is oneness of mind and not a personal oneness needs no discussion. Evidently the thought in the Redeemer's mind was oneness of heart, oneness of purpose, oneness of will, amongst his followers; and that oneness identical with the oneness between the Father and himself. And this oneness was to be attained on the part of the Church in the same manner exactly as the oneness between the Father and the Son was attained. The Son was at one with the Father because he fully accepted as his own the Father's will, saying, "Not my will but thine be done." So each member of the Church is to come into perfect harmony with the Father, and with the Son, by doing not their own wills, but by setting aside their [E76] own wills and accepting the will of Christ, which is the will of the Father. Thus, and thus only, will the Church ever come into the oneness for which our Lord here prayed, and which he refers to as of the same kind as the oneness between the Father and himself. How strange that any should attempt to misuse and pervert these our Lord's words, to make them support the unreasonable and unscriptural doctrine of a Trinity--three Gods in one person. On the contrary, how beautiful and reasonable is the Scriptural oneness of the spirit of the Father and Son and Church.
"He That Hath Seen Me Hath Seen The Father"
After our Lord had declared himself to be the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man could come to the Father but by him, and that whoever knew him would know the Father also, Philip said to our Lord Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Jesus answered him, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." John 14:7-10
We are asked to accept this statement by our Lord Jesus as proof that he is Jehovah (and not Jehovah's Son), and that as such the name Jehovah is properly applicable to him. But all should notice that the entire context shows a distinction between the Father and the Son, such as no reasonable person would use if he desired to give the impression which Trinitarians seek to draw from it. The whole question, therefore, is, What did our Lord wish us to understand by his words, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father?" We answer, he meant us to understand that it is impossible for man (a fleshy, earthly being) to see God, a [E77] spirit being. Thus the Apostle John testified, "No one has seen God at any time: the Only-Begotten God--the One existing within the bosom of the Father--he interpreted [him]." (John 1:18--Rotherham's Translation) He meant them to understand what the Lord declared to Moses, "No man can see my face and live:" and hence that if the Father would show himself to humanity, it could only be either by miraculously opening man's eyes to discern the spiritual glory (thus exposing man to death), or else by God's manifesting himself in a body of flesh;--in such a manner that men could discern something of his character by contact and intercourse.
And was not this exactly what God did do? God's mind, God's will, was fully represented in his Only Begotten Son, our Lord, when he was made flesh and dwelt amongst men. He therefore was the best, the closest, the most positive representation of God that it was or ever would be possible to give to mankind. In seeing and knowing the Lord Jesus intimately, Philip and the other Apostles knew the Father in the most absolute sense possible for humanity to know him. They knew him in the most absolute sense possible for the Father to reveal himself to mankind. There never was, there never would be, there never could be, a clearer, a more absolute, a more complete manifestation of God to man than in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; for when "made flesh" he was "God manifested [Greek, rendered apparent] in the flesh." (1 Tim. 3:16) Similarly the Apostle declares of the Church, the faithful members of Christ--We are delivered unto death, "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest [Greek, rendered apparent] IN OUR MORTAL FLESH." 2 Cor. 4:11
The perfect man is a perfect image of the invisible God, and hence the best conception or illustration that could be presented. Similarly during the Millennium the ancient worthies perfected will be the best representatives among men of the Heavenly Father, the Heavenly Son and the Heavenly Bride of Christ. Whoever sees them will see God manifest in [E78] the flesh--God's likeness in flesh. And it will be to this sublime condition that the entire groaning creation will be privileged to attain, if they will, under the guidance of the Royal Priest and his "brethren" the under priests, ministering through the ancient worthies who, as the fleshly representatives of the Kingdom, will be earth's "princes." Psa. 45:16
The Blessed and Only Potentate,
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Who
Only Hath Immortality
--1 Tim. 6:15,16--
Many consider this passage to signify that at his appearing, at his second advent, our Lord Jesus will exhibit or make known to the world the Heavenly Father's greatness. But although that view has some reasonable aspects, we incline on the whole to apply the statement to the glory and honor of Christ--dating from the beginning of the Millennial age. True, he will cause all who accept his way to recognize Jehovah God also, but this will not be at his appearing but at the close of his reign, when he shall "deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father." 1 Cor. 15:24-28
To apply the passage to the Father would be to deny that our Lord possesses immortality, whereas the Scriptures explicitly teach that he and all who share in the First Resurrection obtain therein immortality and that thus the Father, who hath life-inherent (self-existence--immortality), gave to the Son that he should have life-inherent (self-existence-- immortality). 1 Cor. 15:42-44,53,54; John 5:26
But to apply this scripture to the Son seems to fit every condition perfectly, and by no means ignores the Father, Jehovah--nor proves that our Lord Jesus is the Father, Jehovah--for we are in all such cases to remember the invariable [E79] rule laid down by the inspired Apostle--namely, that in comparisons, honors, etc., mentioned respecting the Son, the Father is always excepted as being inexpressibly above all comparisons. His words are, "It is manifest that he [the Father] is excepted," and not to be considered under or subject to our Lord Jesus and the various powers conferred by the Father upon him. For when the Son shall have subdued sin in the world, "then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [the Father] that did put all things under him [the Son]." 1 Cor. 15:27
Another very similar statement of the glory of our Lord Jesus' kingdom given him by the Father is that "He is at the head of all principality and power." (Col. 2:10) The answer to this is the same. The Father's government and authority are never contrasted with that of the Son; for the latter is at one with the former and is his representative.
"Thought it not Robbery to be Equal with God"
In Phil. 2:6our common English version represents the Apostle Paul as making the astounding statement that Christ, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." It should be noticed, first of all, that this passage surely does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity, nor that our Lord Jesus is the Father, Jehovah: for if so where would be the room for meditating a robbery or considering an equality? These words "robbery" and "equal" positively teach that the Father and the Son are not one in person, but two. But how strange it seems that the Apostle's words are so different from those of our Lord on this subject. He declares, "The Father is greater than I"; "Of mine own self I can do nothing." We ask, Did our Lord Jesus lose his humility that he later concluded to be equal with God the Father?
But, secondly, we notice how much such a view conflicts [E80] with the lesson which the Apostle was seeking to inculcate. Was the Apostle seeking to have the Church aspire to and grasp after the honor of the Father or the honor of each other? Surely not! On the contrary, he is urging against vainglory and in favor of lowliness of mind, and that each should esteem the other better than himself. He assures his readers that this humility of mind was our Lord Jesus' disposition, and says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." If the mind which was in Christ Jesus was to grasp the Father's glory and honor, and to think it not robbery to do so, then the same mind in the Lord's Church would mean that each one of us should be grasping after all the glory and honor possible to be attained, and should consider that the proper course, and that we thus would have the mind or disposition which Christ manifested.
But this is all wrong: It is the translation that is at fault. It is a wretched one, and gives the very opposite of the Apostle's meaning. The Greek word, harpagmos, here rendered "robbery," only occurs this once in the New Testament, and has associated with it the thought of robbery, or unlawful acquisition, but the Apostle's meaning is exactly reversed by the misarrangement of the sentence. His thought could be translated in almost the same words but with an opposite meaning, thus--"Who thought not by robbery to be equal with God." Our Lord Jesus' course is thus contrasted with that of Satan who did attempt to usurp God's position and honor. (Isa. 14:12-14) This is clearly shown by the context preceding and following--that nothing be done for vainglory--that Christ was very humble-minded, and that we also should be humble-minded and thus walk in his footsteps. Note the following translations of this word harpagmos, preferred by eminent scholars of various denominations:
"Did not think it a matter to be earnestly desired." Clarke.
"Did not think of eagerly retaining." Wakefield
"Did not regard...as an object of solicitous desire." Stewart [E81]
"Who in God's form subsisting, not a thing to be seized on esteemed the being equal with God." Rotherham
"Who being [margin, originally] in the form of God, counted it not a prize [margin, a thing to be grasped] to be on an equality with God." Revised Version
"Who existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped." Amer. Rev. Committee
"Thought not...a thing to be seized." Sharpe
"Did not eagerly grasp." Neeland
"Did not violently strive." Dickenson
"Did not meditate a usurpation." Turnbull
The last definition seems to fit best with the context, and is the translation preferred and given in the Emphatic Diaglott, which renders the entire passage thus:
"Who, though being in God's form, yet did not meditate a usurpation to be like God, but divested himself, taking a bondman's form."
This translation is consistent, not only with the facts of the case, but also with the Apostle's argument, of which it forms a part. Its statement, amplified, is that when our Lord Jesus was a spirit being, when he had a God-like form and nature, he was not filled with an ambitious spirit, and a desire to usurp divine authority and power and glory and homage--he was not of the spirit of Satan, who strove to exalt himself, saying, "I will be as the Most High." On the contrary, although he occupied the highest position, next to the Heavenly Father, he was so humble minded that, in obedience to the Father's will, he divested himself of the glories and majesty of his spirit condition, exchanging that higher nature and glory for a lower condition, a human condition, "a little lower than the angels." The Apostle then proceeds to show that not only was this humility manifested, but that subsequently a still greater humility was shown, in that our Lord Jesus, as the man Christ Jesus, became subject to death, even the ignominious death of the Cross. And all this humbling of himself, the Apostle declares, [E82] was in obedience to the divine will, the Father's will. Then the Apostle points out the result of this, saying, "Wherefore [on this account, because of his exhibition of loyalty, humility, and obedience even unto death] God [the Father] has highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess...to the glory of God the Father." Heb. 2:7,9; 1 Tim. 2:5,6; Phil. 2:11
Thus seen, this text, so far from being an aid or a comfort to the doctrine of the Trinity, most strongly opposes it, and places itself in full harmony with the entire Word of God, and with sanctified common sense and reason.
We leave this feature of our subject with an enhanced appreciation of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the Heavenly Father's greatness of person, character and plan, and with a greater esteem than ever for his great Son, whose wonderful love, loyalty and trust in the Father's wisdom, grace and power have been so royally rewarded; rejoicing, indeed, to "honor the Son even as we honor the Father." And after full, explicit examination of the revelation given us in God's Word, we fully concur in the Apostle Paul's inspired testimony: "To us there is but one [supreme] God, the Father, out of whom are all things and we for him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and we through him." 1 Cor. 8:6
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him ...having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself....The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." Eph. 1:2-17