I'm involved in an e-mail discussion with an individual who I won't name since I don't have his permission, regarding whether or not Jesus is YHWH the God of the Bible or merely the Son of YHWH and human man designated as the Messiah, but not God. The individual gave me a link to an article that was Written by Dan Mages called "Trinity and Christology in Light of Modern Scholarship." The individual whom I am interacting with via e-mail said that this represents His view. I read the article and I will give you a link to do the same. I then wrote the following to the unnamed individual as my response to the assertion that the Bible teaches Jesus to be a human son of YHWH that is Israel's savior, but not God in flesh. If you have the time, read both Mages article and my response carefully and study the Scripture yourself to see what indeed the Bible teaches.
Here is the link to Mages article:
And here is my response:
I apologize that my letter to you was put off for so long. It has been quite a week getting moved into a new home and starting a new job with the anticipation of attending school once again this next month. But at last I have internet set up again and I have found time to take a seat in front of my laptop to write a response to you.
I took the time to read the article that you pointed me to by your friend Dan Mages. While I found the article interesting, I also found it to be seriously flawed and guilty of committing logical fallacies. We will talk more about that later.
In our brief exchange previously we discussed a few issues that you wished for us to take up. One was the issue of whether or not Jesus is "most certainly Yahweh." I of course contend that He is and you contend that He is merely the Son of Yahweh but is not indeed God Himself. So let’s go ahead and start our exchange on that point. The following reasons are why I believe that Jesus is indeed Yahweh, the God of the Bible.
1. The Scripture Clearly Refers to Jesus as God.
John 1: 1-3;14
"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."
"14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Interestingly enough there is a clear distinction made here. The Word was with God, which tells us of more than one person, but also the Word was God. Note that the Scripture does not say that the Word "was a God" it says that the Word "was God." So the word is both distinct in some way from God in order to be "with God" and yet the Word is also that same God.
Verse 14 clarifies any confusion one might have about who "the Word" is. He is Jesus. God become man taking on Human flesh. Jesus was with God in the beginning and was God from the beginning.
"27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Note that Thomas not only calls Jesus "Lord" but also "God."
"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."
"19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,"
"3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,"
and the father speaking of the Son says,
"8But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. '
The Father himself refers to Jesus as "God"!
2. Jesus is Called the Creator, A Title that Alone Belongs to Yahweh.
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."
"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
Hebrews 1:10-12, the Father says to the Son,
"10And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;11they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end."
All of this and yet clearly we are told in Genesis 1 during the creation account that "In the
beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen. 1:1) From your position, the God who created Heaven and earth could only be Yahweh whom you say is the Father alone and not the son, but the Scripture clearly attributes the work of creation to the Son. As we have seen the Son is referred to as God, and is now credited with the work of creation which God does in Genesis 1. I think the Scripture has already painted a very clear picture about whether or not Jesus is indeed Yahweh, the God of the Bible. But there is more to see, let us look.
3. The Problem of Worship.
One thing that you and I agree on is that Judaism and Christianity are strictly monotheistic.
That is to say they worship only one God. Faithful Jews would recite the following several times a day:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." (Deut. 6:4)
Also when the Lord Jesus rebukes Satan when Satan offers Him everything He sees in exchange for Jesus’ worship of him, the Lord says:
" Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" (Mt. 4:10)
So clearly in Both the Jewish faith and the Christian faith that’s foundation is in Judaism, there is but one God, and only He is to be worshiped. If this is the case and Jesus is not Yahweh as you contend then why is it that Jesus is worhiped, readily receives worship, and is commanded to be worshiped in Scripture?
"1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
"11And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and
"33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
Matthew 28:8-9, 17
"8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and
took hold of his feet and worshiped him."
"17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted."
"52And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,"
‘6And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God’s angels worship him."
"6Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to
those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water." (Remember who we were told the Creator was?)
Revelation 5:13-14, Jesus receives worship along with the Father.
"13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" 14And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped."
So one of a few things has just happened here. 1. A bunch of Jews blasphemed God and gave worship to another. 2. The Bible is fallible and inconsistent. 3. God changed His mind about worshipping only Him. 4. Jesus was a sinner who sought to take worship away from God.
Jesus is Yahweh in the flesh and there is no problem with what has taken place in these passages.
It’s noteworthy that Angel’s rebuke people for trying to worship them: Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9.
Peter rebukes people for trying to worship him: Acts 10:25-26.
Paul and Barnabas stop people from worshiping them: Acts 14:11-15.
King Herod dies because he receives worship that is due to God alone: Acts 12:22-23.
And yet Jesus, whom you say is not God but only the God’s son, receives worship and welcomes it, what a conundrum unless Jesus actually is Yahweh as much as the Father is.
4. The Problem of Preexistence.
Some of the verses we are going to look at, I have already mentioned here, but there is another side to them that I believe is worth mentioning. The other side is the fact that they teach Jesus existed before He came to earth.
"5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
"57So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"
58Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." 59So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple."
Not only does Jesus clearly say that He existed before Abraham, but also He clearly asserts Himself to be the Great I AM of the Bible. YHWH.
The issue of Jesus being said to preexist before becoming a man is another real problem for the position that denies His deity. Those who deny Jesus as Yahweh must decide whether Jesus is another God like the Mormons claim, perhaps an angel like the Jehovah’s Witness claim, or that He is just a man who happened to preexist. Although no man has ever been called God and the Creator of all things beside Jesus.
5. Jesus demonstrates God’s Attributes:
Jesus shows His omniscience:
Jesus knows the thoughts of man: Mt. 9:4; 12:25; Luke 5:22; 11:17.
Jesus shows His omnipotence:
By Walking on Water: Mt. 14:22-33
By Raising the Dead: Lk. 7:11-17; Jn. 5:21; 11:43-44
Cursing the fig tree: Mt. 21:18-19
Calming storms: Lk. 8:22-25
And need I remind yet once again that Jesus is attributed the work of Creation?
6. The Old Testament Alludes to the Trinity:
In Genesis 1 we see that the Spirit of God hovers over the face of the water’s (Gen. 1:2) showing a distinction between God’s Spirit and the Father. Also we se that is says:
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...." (Gen. 1:26a)
God, singular, said "Let us", plural. Well who is He speaking to? Angels? Are we made after the likeness of God and angels? Is He speaking to preexistent human beings? Are we made after the likeness of God and man? No that wouldn’t work would it? Perhaps there is more to God than one might think. And that is exactly what the Scripture goes on to reveal as Scripture begins to unfold and more is revealed by God’s Prophet’s and Apostle’s.
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." (Deut. 6:4)
Interestingly enough, the monotheistic Shema that is foundational to the Jewish and Christian faith, alludes to the trinity. Lord is the Hebrew word "Adonai" and God is the Hebrew word "Elohim". Elohim is actually a plural word for God, and yet it is used in this monotheistic statement.
7. Closing Thoughts:
I have some serious disagreements with the article your friend wrote, as you can tell. And here are a few more problems I have with his logic and argumentation.
First of all the title of the article throws out serious red flags. "Trinity and Christology in Light of Modern Scholarship." That kind of phraseology always makes me cringe. Whenever someone says, "yeah, you know that thing that faithful Christians have believed for 2,000 years? Well in light of modern scholarship, I’ve found that all of those theologians are wrong. Not to mention the people only a generation or two removed from the time Christ actually walked the earth."
Honestly, the assertion that Mages makes in his opening statements that there is "much confusion" surrounding "the question of how Jesus is related to YHWH, the God of Israel" is ridiculous. In fact the majority of denominations and even the Roman Catholic Church who I otherwise disagree with on much, have clearly defined in their doctrinal statements that Jesus is YHWH, part of the trinity. Mages makes it sound like there is a massive split in Christendom about whether Jesus is God or not. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This has always been a foundational truth of Christianity, taught from New Testament times until now.
It is a big red hearing to act as if nothing was ever said about Jesus being God until the 3rd Century when Athanasius was battling it out with Arius about whether or not Jesus was of the same or similar essence to the Father. That fight came about because Arius, a wolf in sheep clothing, was challenging what had been taught since Christ came to earth. As we have seen the New Testament clearly calls Jesus God, presents Him as Creator, gives Him worship and commands that He be worshiped as God, demonstrates His God attributes, Etc. And such teaching continued from the 1st century until now.
Mages asserts that there would be much confusion and riotous response against the message of Jesus being God. Has he read the New Testament? They try and stone Jesus when He tells them "Before Abraham was, I AM." (Jn. 8:58) The Apostles message was constantly ignored, got them beaten and stoned and all but one of them (John) eventually killed.
Not only were their logical fallacies in the arguments made but also it seemed more as though Mages was arguing against polytheism rather than the doctrine of the trinity. This leads me to wonder if Mages, or perhaps you yourself understand the Trinitarian position. In no way shape or form is the Trinitarian position suggesting that Jesus is a different God than the Father, we believe that the Bible teaches them to be the same God, yet different persons. 1 being shared by three persons.
Therefore Mages whole section entitled "Follow the Pronouns" is quite irrelevant to this discussion. If you were speaking to someone who believed that Jesus was a separate God from the Father, that would be different, but we who hold to the doctrine of the trinity do not in any way shape or form believe that. God may speak of Himself in personal pronouns all day long and that doesn’t contradict the Trinitarian view of God.
The teaching of the Bible is clear, Jesus is YHWH. I pray that you will study further, be convicted by the Spirit of God and repent and believe in the Biblical Jesus.