Is Jesus God? Plus More

The simple answer is yes… if you understand what the word god means. This idea may be a bit difficult to grasp for people who were raised in a monotheistic society where God refers to just One. However, remember that the Greeks (whose language we are translating) were a polytheistic society (they worshiped many gods), and to them the word theos referred to a large group of individuals who were simply more powerful than men. So, theos just meant powerful one, not Creator (which is what the Hebrew name Jehovah implies – He who causes to be).

To prove that translating the word Theos as powerful is correct, notice how the Bible calls men gods at Psalm 82:6 (which Jesus also quotes at John 10:34-36), where it says, ‘I said You are gods; of the Most High you’re sons!’

Also, notice that at Exodus 7:1, God told Moses, ‘Look! I’ve made you a god to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron is your prophet.’

So, the terms god and gods just refer to the powerful. And even men can be gods… that is, in the truest sense of the word’s meaning (powerful ones). Thus, a word-for-word literal translation of John 1:1 can read, ‘In ancient time was the Word; and the Word was toward the Powerful One; and powerful was the Word.’

Then, why did we use the term God, rather than Powerful One, at John 1:1? We’ve left the first term (God) in place, because that’s what people call the Divine One today.

So, is the Logos the God or just god (powerful)? From the context of John 1:1, it appears as though Jesus (the Logos) is theos – powerful – but not The God (gr. ton Theon). For notice that Jesus described himself as simply God’s son (gr. Uios tou Theou eimi) at John 10:36.

Also notice that (at John 1:1) Logos (λογος) and Theon (θεον) are both preceded by the definite article the (ο λογος and τον θεον), except in the case where the Logos is referred to simply as theos (θεος). By employing such wording, John was obviously differentiating Jesus from The God. You can clearly see the differences in the words when you read John 1:1, 2 in Greek: ‘ αρχη ην ο λογος, και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον, και θεος ην ο λογος. Oυτος ην εν αρχη προς τον θεον.’

That the early Christians didn’t view Jesus as the God is supported by the fact that Christians still worshiped at the Temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem until shortly before it was destroyed in 70-C.E. (see Acts the Twentieth chapter). This is because Christian Jews didn’t consider Christianity to be a new religion with a new god, but rather, that it was the natural outgrowth of the old, and Jesus was the promised ‘Messiah’ or ‘Anointed One of God’ who was to assume ‘the throne of David his father.’

For more information, see the document, Who Was Jesus? Also for more information, see the linked Note in Psalms ‘The Gods of Psalm 82.’

To see how Jesus was described at John 1:1 in the most ancient Coptic texts, see the link  http://depts.washington.edu/cartah/text_archive/coptic/coptjohn.shtml, and to see why the Coptic texts are relevant, see the link http://www.integlogic.com/sahidica/pages/sahidicpaper1990.html.

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Only Created God

Jesus was referred to (herein) as the only-created son at John 1:14 and as the only-created god at John 1:18. However, that isn’t exactly what the scriptures say. The Greek word that is translated only created is monogenea (mono means only; genea means generated). So, the verses literally call him the only generated son or god. However, translating it as only generated could be a bit confusing to readers.

In other Bibles, this word is rendered as only begotten, but begotten isn’t exactly a word that you would read in the newspaper today (where ‘common’ American English may be read), so not everyone will understand what that means either. Remember that the goal of these translators to choose words that are common, easy to understand, and which carry the proper nuance in contemporary American English.

We also might have used the terms only fathered, or, only conceived, or, only born. However, none of those words accurately describes the situation of Jesus. For, while he was the only son ever born through a woman to God, He was also the only creature (son, god, or powerful one) that was directly created by God. For, John went on to elaborate on what he actually meant at Revelation 3:14, where he referred to Jesus as ‘the earliest creation of God’ (gr. he arche tes ktiseos tou Theou – or – the most/ancient creation of/the God). And John wrote of Jesus at John 1:3, ‘Everything [else] came into existence through him’ (gr. panta di autou egeneto – or – all by him generated).

So, although the term only created may not be exactly what was said in a word-for-word translation, it appears to be what John meant in this case.

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Forever or for the Ages?

The Greek word aionos is what the English word eon is derived from. It means an indefinite period. However, there is no exact English word to translate it. The best equivalents are age(s) or era. Please note that where the plural form of the word (ages) is used, it refers to a long time, at least multiple generations. However, where the singular form is used (age or era), this appears to mean a much shorter period, such as a lifetime, generation, or era. And where the term ‘ages of ages’ is used (such as at Ephesians 3:21), which is usually said in reference to God, we would assume that this truly means forever.

It is noteworthy that aionos is the word that is used in the Greek Septuagint in place of the Hebrew word ohlam, which is also translated as forever and time indefinite in popular versions of the Hebrew Scriptures. So, this one word (aionos) is translated as forever, everlasting, eternal, system of things, time indefinite, [end of] the world, long ago, from of old, etc. Obviously, something is very wrong here, because the word can’t mean a period having a definite end in one place and infinity in another.

Take for example, the unique way that aionos is used in the question that Jesus’ Apostles asked him, which is found at Matthew 24:3, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? What will be the signs when you are near and this age will finally end?’

The word aionos (which we have translated as age here) is also translated as world (KJ) and as system of things (NW) in other Bibles. However, if the Apostles had meant any of those words, they would have used the Greek word cosmos, not aionos for world or system of things.

You can see that the word aionos obviously doesn’t mean forever, everlasting, or eternal in this case, nor did it mean world or system of things. It simply meant the age or time before the end would come. And for them, that meant the age when the Temple at Jerusalem would be destroyed, because that’s what Jesus just told them.

The ancient Hebrews viewed everything (and rightly so) as having a beginning and an end. For that reason, you will only find three places in the Bible where words are used that imply no end and none that imply no beginning. An interesting possible insight on the reason for this can be found at Hebrews 1:10-12, which says:

‘Long ago, O Lord, You laid the foundation of the earth and Your hands made the heavens. They will destroy themselves, but You will remain. They will grow old just like clothes do. Then, as [You would do to] a robe, You will wrap them up and repair them like clothes. Yes, You are the One, and Your years will never run out.’

The problem with most Bible translations is that when they encounter the word aionos in all its different tenses, they interpret it according to accepted doctrine, not according to the way that Jesus and his disciples used it. So, the common renderings forever, eternal, and everlasting are used even when the word is in its singular form (aioni, aiona, aionos, aioniǒn, aionian, aionios, aioniou), and this totally distorts the meaning of the text.

Take for example, the scripture at John 5:24, where Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth; the one who hears what I say and believes in the One that sent me will have life in this age. He won’t have to be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.’

Most Bibles translate Jesus as saying that those who believe in the One who sent him will have everlasting life (or the equivalent). However, the words that Jesus used there were, zoe aioniŏn (life agesingular), not zoe aioniōn (life agesplural).

Notice how Jesus explained the meaning of these words with his next statement, ‘He won’t have to be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.’

So, what Jesus was saying here, wasn’t that they would have everlasting life, but that they would (in their current life) be considered among the ‘living,’ not among the ‘dead’ (see Revelation 20:12). This doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t live forever; it’s just that Jesus wasn’t really saying that.

From consideration of the evidence found in the bulk of Jesus’ words about life, the conclusion might be logically reached that he never taught the hope of ‘life eternal,’ ‘everlasting life,’ or ‘immortality,’ in those specific words. However, the concept is still there. What he taught was that (unlike those whom God considers to be ‘dead’) living people would receive ‘life in the age,’ meaning, they will be considered worthy of life by God during their lifetimes. How long these ages will last is unclear from the references. Yet, as Jesus said, everyone who puts faith in him will be given this life.

Two words imply infinity in the Bible. One is the Greek word athanasia, which means undying or immortal(ity) and is only found in two places, 1 Corinthians the Fifteenth Chapter (where it mentions resurrected ones as clothing themselves with immortality) and at 1 Timothy 6:16 (where it speaks of Jesus as having received it). The other Greek word, aidios, which is found at Romans 1:20 and at Jude 6, is used to describe God’s Power and Might as eternal.

For more information, select the linked document, The Hereafter.

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Soul or?

The Greek word psyche (as in psychology) has been translated many ways, including soul, life, etc. However, psyche actually means something that breathes. It is used in the Bible to describe both breathing animals and breathing humans. So, by definition, a soul cannot leave the body, because a soul is what the living body (whether human or animal) is (see Genesis 2:7).

In ancient Greece, philosophers eventually added another meaning to psyche: The inner person (as opposed to the person that others see and come to know). And with time, the pagan religion of Greece started to teach that this inner person is its own entity and can never die (is immortal). Over the centuries, this pagan Greek doctrine crept into the Christian religions.

However, such Greek philosophical thought never influenced Jesus and his Apostles. So, they consistently used psyche to indicate a living person or animal. The teaching that the soul is immortal stands in direct conflict with Jesus’ promise of a resurrection, because, if a person is immortal (can never die), he/she can never be resurrected (brought back to life).

In addition, the teaching of the immortality of the human soul is totally without support from the Bible. The word immortal(ity) (Gr: athanasia or undying) is only mentioned in the Bible in two places, and it isn’t used with or applied to the word soul in either case. Both of these scriptures show that immortality is only given by God as a reward for righteousness. And as Ezekiel 18:4 says, ‘The person (gr. psyche or ‘soul’) that is sinning will die (gr. apothaneitai).’

Of course, there are places in the Bible where the word soul means more than just a living, fleshly body. For example, God is recorded to have spoken of ‘My Soul’ in several places. Obviously, God is much more than just a ‘soul’ as most people think of that term, and He surely wasn’t talking about His having a human body. So, we must conclude that what He was referring to is His life.

Then there are Jesus’ words found at Matthew 10:28, which read, ‘Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the person (psyche). Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both the person and the body in the garbage dump.’ Here, Jesus is using the word psyche (soul) to refer to the value of life that remains with God until the resurrection. And he obviously isn’t referring the soul as immortal here, because he says God will destroy (gr. apolesai) the [unrighteous] soul or person.

Unfortunately, no single word that can be used to translate psyche in every possible Bible application, so various terms are used herein, depending on the circumstances, but always in an attempt to harmonize with the meaning.

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Breath

The Greek word pneuma (as in pneumonia, a breathing disease) means breath or wind – the movement of air. In other Bible translations, this word is often translated as spirit or ghost – as in Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. However, spirit is just a shortened form of the Latin word espiritu, which (again) means breath. And ghost conveys another meaning altogether.

The most common use of the word pneuma in the Bible is to imply an unseen force (such as breath or wind). And the problem with translating it as spirit or ghost is that many people have started believing that the unseen force that is called [God’s] Holy Breath herein, is another God-like person and part of a Divine ‘Trinity.’ This can’t be true, because the only scripture that can be used to support this theory (that is, where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Breath are supposed to be ‘one’) is found at Matthew 28:19, which simply says that baptism should be done ‘in the name of’ (or, in recognition of) these three. All other scriptures that are used to prove the Trinity theory fail to mention the Holy Breath as part of that group. And the King James wording of  1 John 5:7 (which was used for years to attempt to prove the Trinity) is spurious (something that was added to the Bible).

So to prevent confusion, the Greek word pneuma is usually translated as breath here. The only exceptions would be in instances where the Bible refers to demons as ‘spirits.’ Translating pneuma as breath in these cases, although correct, might just be confusing.

Another important use of the word pneuma is in the phrase, ‘Breath of Life.’ This phrase means more than just breathing, it refers to the entire mechanics of life itself. It’s the unseen force of life for all creatures. It’s what makes each cell alive. However, nowhere does the Bible describe the ‘pneuma’ as immortal, nor is it the same as the soul (a breathing thing), so it can (figuratively) ‘return to God’ at death,’ because all hope of future life depends on God and His promise of a resurrection. For more information, see the attached link, The Powers of God’s Holy Spirit.

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What does In Mean?

The Greek word en simply means in. However, it is translates as in, one, in union with, and as other words, depending on the context. Especially in the book of John do we find the question raised, was Jesus really the same person as the God? This question is raised because the text at John 10:38 literally says, ‘… the works believe you in order that you should know and you may be knowing that in (en) me the Father and I in (en) the Father.’

The text above is often translated as, ‘I and my father are one.’ Is this the true sense of what John wrote? Is Jesus ‘in’ or ‘one with’ (the same as) the Father? That could be a correct translation – however, not in the context of the way the book of John was written. For example, notice how another scripture, John 14:20 reads literally, ‘In that the day you will know that I in (en) the Father of me, and you in (en) me, and I in (en) you.’

So, if John 10:38 means that Jesus is the same person as his Father, then John 14:20 means that all of Jesus followers are the same person and that they are also the same persons as Jesus and his Father. Is this a logical conclusion? No, because it doesn’t harmonize with numerous other scriptures that show his followers to be individuals, but at one with (or in unity with) Jesus and God.

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Cross or Pole?

The Greek word stauros simply means pole. So, regardless of popular tradition and doctrine, there is no mention of a pole with a cross piece (cross) in the original Bible. Also, the Greek word staurotheto, which is translated crucified (hung on a cross) is translated impaled (put on a pole or stake) here, because that’s what it means.

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The Kingdom

The word Kingdom is translated from the Greek word basileia, which refers to the realm of a king (basil).

A common misconception about this Kingdom is the idea that it isn’t real – that it’s just a state of mind. This conclusion is based on Jesus’ words found at Luke 17:21 which say (in Greek), he basileia tou Theou entos hymon estin (the Kingdom of the God in you is). These words are then translated as, ‘for God’s Kingdom is within you.’ However, this couldn’t be the correct meaning, because, notice that (at Luke 17:20) Jesus said these words in reply to a question that was raised by the Pharisees, and he certainly didn’t believe that the Kingdom was in their hearts.

So, what did Jesus mean? He was saying that he, the king of that Kingdom, was there in their midst, and that the hope of becoming kings in that Kingdom was being offered to them. And while it’s true that real Christians ever since that time have in fact been members of that Kingdom in their hearts, the word Kingdom (an area of rulership) implies that there will be an actual time of rulership and a realm for Jesus and his ‘anointed.’ And, because the kings will rule from heaven, the place where they rule from is called ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.’

This Kingdom of Heaven appears to refer to rulership from heaven and not to the place where those who are ruled will live. We draw this conclusion from Jesus’ words as found at Matthew 8:11, which read: ‘Many from the sunrise and sunset will come and recline [at the table] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of the Heavens.

That such faithful individuals as Abraham weren’t really in heaven at the time Jesus spoke these words (but they were alive in God’s memory), is confirmed by what Jesus said at John 3:13: ‘Nobody has gone to heaven other than he who came from heaven, the Son of Man.’

So, Matthew 8:10-12 must be referring to Abraham and his descendants living under the rule of a heavenly Kingdom government. These faithful ones don’t appear to qualify to be rulers in heaven themselves, because they weren’t ‘born again’ to receive the value of a spiritual life, nor were they part of the ‘Sacred Agreement for a Kingdom’ (Luke 22:29) that Jesus made with his Apostles just prior to his arrest and execution.

However, there is a definite time for this Kingdom to start its rule. This is made clear by the words of Revelation 12:10. For there we read, ‘Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, This is the moment when the salvation, the power, the Kingdom of our God, and the authorization of his Anointed One began. Because the one who has been accussing our brothers has been thrown down… the one who has been complaining about them day and night in front of our God!

So, when the Opposer and his messengers are/were expelled from heaven, God’s Kingdom begins there. However, it must await the end of the ‘short period of time’ before God’s opposers are destroyed at ‘Armageddon’ and any of its effects will be seen on earth. For more information, see the linked document, The ‘Seed’ – God’s Kingdom.

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 Satan, Devil, Lucifer, BeelZebub

It is appropriate that the heavenly name of the great Opposer and Slanderer of God is never given in the Bible. However, several terms (and one mistakenly) have been used to describe him. Here is a list of those descriptions:

Satan: This is a Hebrew word meaning, opposer, resistor, a smart person who does things to serve his own interests, and/or a person who can’t be fooled. It was applied to the Evil One because of his opposition to God. To prevent people from thinking of it as a name, it is translated as ‘the Opposer’ herein.

Devil: This is the only Greek word (Diabolos) used in the Bible to describe the evil one. It is often used in the Septuagint as a synonym for Satan. The first part of the word, dia, means through. Bolos means throw (it’s where we get the English words ball and bowl). So, Devil means one who throws through, as with a spear, which implied Slanderer in Greek, so that’s the way it’s translated herein.

Lucifer is a Hebrew word, but it isn’t really a name for the Slanderer. This is a translating error that created a myth. A prophecy found at Isaiah the Fourteenth Chapter is speaking of the King of Babylon, but these words also seem to be a subtle reference to the Wicked One. So, an ancient translator took the word lucifer, found in verse 12, and rather than translating it correctly as ‘shining one,’ or ‘son of the dawn,’ he just left the word untranslated because he assumed Lucifer to be the proper name of the Slanderer. It isn’t.

BeelZebub: There are eight references in the Bible to this Hebrew word, and it does refer to the Slanderer. However, once again, this is not a proper name. It appears to be a title. Beel (like Baal) means Lord. Zebub appears to refer to flies (the insects). So, BeelZebub likely means Lord of Flies.

Is the Opposer (Slanderer or BeelZebub) a real person? All one has to do is look at the titles he was given above to realize that he is. To deny his existence negates the rest of the Bible. For example, when dealing with Adam’s sin, why did God adhere so closely to a law when other options were available to Him? Why didn’t he just destroy rebellious Adam and create another man?

The fact is, He created men and His messengers with the ability to choose whether to serve Him or not, so none are automatons. And as a man failed in the Paradise of Pleasure, we can assume (and the Scriptures support) that there were failures (and rebels) in the heavens also. This is the reason why it became necessary to have a law that clearly outlined what rebellion against God constituted, and what the consequences of violating that law would be. It was obviously for the sake of the millions of millions of heavenly spirit (breath) creatures that the issue of rebellion here on the earth had to be resolved by legal means, and in a way that demonstrated the love and loyalty of God’s first-born son, which resulted in the painful need for a ‘ransom’ (Jesus’ death).

And other questions are raised. For example, while Jesus was being tempted in the desert, was he simply struggling with the bad inside himself rather than against a real, evil personality? If so, we would have to conclude that there was bad in Jesus.

Also, was the battle in heaven, as spoken of at Revelation the Twelfth Chapter, just figurative and not a real war against the Opposer and his messengers? If so, then ‘evil thoughts’ were rampant in heaven prior to that battle. And, in what sense would ‘the Opposer’ and his ‘messengers’ have lost the battle and have been confined to the earth? Also, why would internal evil be ‘angry’ in knowing that he just has ‘a short period of time left?’

And lastly, when the Opposer entered God’s presence and spoke to Him (Job the First Chapter), can we assume that this inherent evil was found in God? That isn’t likely.

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Resurrection

The English word resurrection comes from the Greek word, anastasia (that’s right, the female name Anastasia means resurrection). It means ‘to stand again.’

At John 11:24, we can see what Jesus’ disciples believed about the resurrection. Here, after Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died, his sister Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will stand again in the resurrection on the last day.’

So, she believed in a resurrection that would happen ‘on the last day’ (not in immediately, into heaven).

However, at John 5:25, it is recorded that Jesus said, ‘I also truthfully say that the time is coming – and it is now – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who listen will [start to] live.’

Now, Jesus’ words could be construed as meaning that the resurrection would happen immediately (which it did for Lazarus, but he died again). However, the ‘dead’ that Jesus is talking about here don’t appear to be the physically dead, but rather, sinful, dying, mankind in general who will listen to Jesus’ voice and ‘start to live’ by becoming his followers.

Then Jesus went on to sat at John 5:28, 29, ‘Don’t be surprised at this, because the hour is coming when everyone in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life and those who practiced what is bad to a resurrection of judgment.’

These two resurrections seem to refer to the different outcomes of those who ‘start to live’ and the multitudes of ‘the dead’ that the Bible says will also be resurrected. For more information, see the document, ‘the Resurrection.’

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Scroll of Life

At John 5:25 we read that Jesus spoke of people who ‘won’t have to be judged, but [will have] crossed over from death to life.’ What did he mean?

Well, at Philippians 4:3, Paul speaks of fellow Christians as already having their names written in ‘the Book of Life.’ So, it appears that Jesus’ reference is to them having their names written in that book while they are still living.

This seems to be the same as the scrolls that are spoken of at Revelation 20:12, which says, ‘Then I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing in front of the throne. Several scrolls were opened; then another scroll was opened, which was the Scroll of Life. The dead were then judged by the things that were written in the scrolls, by the things that they did.’

Since Christians who lived in the first century already had their names written in that book, we must assume that they were written there at the time of their baptism. And such writing assumes that they have already been approved by God (but that doesn’t mean that their names couldn’t be erased if they turned from a Godly course).

Notice that Revelation speaks of several ‘scrolls’ being opened and of the ‘dead’ being judged by the things that are written in those scrolls, before their names can be recorded in the Scroll of Life. Who are these ‘dead?’

Well, by the time that these events will have occurred, the resurrection will have already happened (see Revelation 20:4-6), so, these individuals won’t really be dead any longer, and they were seen to be standing. This must mean that they will still be under the condemnation of death as imperfect descendants of Adam, but not literally dead.

That ‘the dead were judged by the things written in the scrolls,’ could mean that they are judged by things they do after the resurrection and during the thousand-year period while the Slanderer is bound and thrown into the pit (see Revelation 20:2, 3 and verses 5, 6). If so, this means that millions of humans will be brought back in a resurrection on earth, and that they will be given a final opportunity to prove whether they are worthy of life without opposition from the Slanderer.

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Demons

The word Kingdom is translated from the Greek word basileia, which refers to the realm of a king (basil).

A common misconception about this Kingdom is the idea that it isn’t real – that it’s just a state of mind. This conclusion is based on Jesus’ words found at Luke 17:21 which say (in Greek), he basileia tou Theou entos hymon estin (the Kingdom of the God in you is). These words are then translated as, ‘for God’s Kingdom is within you.’ However, this doesn’t seem to be the correct meaning, because, notice that (at Luke 17:20) Jesus said these words in reply to a question that was raised by the Pharisees, and he certainly didn’t believe that the Kingdom was in their hearts.

So, what might Jesus have meant? Well, he, the king of that kingdom, was there in their midst. So, perhaps that’s what he s implying. At the same time, it’s true that real Christians ever since that time have in fact been members of that Kingdom in their hearts. But the word Kingdom (an area of rulership) implies that there will be an actual rulership and a realm for Jesus and his chosen ones. And, because the kings will rule from heaven, the place where they rule from is often called ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.’

However, not all scriptural references to people being in the Kingdom of Heaven necessarily refer to their being given rulership in heaven. For example, note Jesus’ words at Matthew 8:10-12, which read:

‘I say that many from the sunrise and sunset will come and recline [at the table] with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of the Heavens. However, the Sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There they will cry and grind their teeth.’

Since Jesus said (at John 3:13), ‘Nobody has gone to heaven other than he who came from heaven, the Son of Man,’ it would have been impossible for those ancient patriarchs to be in heaven at the time that Jesus said what he did in Matthew the Eighth Chapter. And since they weren’t ‘born again’ to receive the value of a spiritual life, and they weren’t part of the ‘Sacred Agreement for a Kingdom’ (Luke 22:29) that Jesus made with his Apostles just prior to his arrest and execution., the opportunity of going to heaven was never offered to them at all.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say that they would live in heaven in the Kingdom, but that they would live in the Kingdom of the Heavens. So, what Jesus said about Abraham and his descendants ‘reclining at the table’ probably means that they will live in the Kingdom, which will be ruled from the Heavens. And similar citations in other Bible verses could carry the same meaning.

However, as the result of the above scriptural citations, some have gone to the other extreme of arguing that the rulers of this Kingdom (those who are part of the Sacred Agreement for a Kingdom) will do so from the earth. But if this was true, such faithful ‘friends of God’ as Abraham could have no part in rulership on this earth, since that earthly position would have already been filled by the later ‘Kingdom heirs.’

And what hope would there be for John the Baptist of whom Jesus said at Matthew 11:11, ‘I tell you the truth, of those who have been born to women, there never has been anyone raised that is greater than John the Baptist. But a person who is the least in the Kingdom of the Heavens is greater than he is.’ If that Kingdom rulership were earthly, he would have had no hope of a resurrection at all.

That there is to be a definite time for this Kingdom to start its rule is made clear by the words of Revelation 12:10, which say, ‘Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, This is the moment when the salvation, the power, the Kingdom of our God, and the authorization of his Anointed One began. Because, he who accused our brothers has been thrown down, the one who complained about them day and night in front of our God!

So, when the Opposer and his messengers are/were expelled from heaven, God’s Kingdom begins there. However, any hope of a Kingdom over the whole earth must await the end of the ‘short period of time’ before God’s opposers are destroyed at ‘Armageddon.’

2 Peter 2:4 speaks of ‘messengers’ who were put into ‘Tartarus’ for bad acts they committed during the time of Noah. Genesis 6:3 speaks of these as ‘sons of God’ (gr. uioi tou Theou) and it tells of their coming to earth to marry ‘the daughters of men’ (gr. thygateras ton anthropon). However, these ‘sons of God’ don’t appear to be quite the same as the ‘messengers’ who are to be thrown out of heaven during ‘the Lord’s Day,’ mentioned at Revelation 12:7-9. Since the ‘sons of God’ who came to earth and assumed human bodies in Noah’s day couldn’t be destroyed by the downpour (flood) and they had forsaken heaven, they were apparently put into a prison-like state here on the earth, where they are no longer able to roam. This group is specifically referred to as the demons in the Bible.

It is interesting that, except among modern materialistic and scientific societies, demons are recognized as real throughout the world and by almost all of its religions, both modern and primitive. Such universal acknowledgement by diverse people with no cultural ties is one of the strongest arguments for their existence.

Demon is a Greek word that seems to be derived from diameno, which means fixed in one place. From other Bible accounts about demons, it appears that this ‘fixing in one place’ means that they must be associated with either living or non-living things, which is referred to as ‘possession.’

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The Day of ‘the Lord’ and of Jehovah

Throughout the Bible, we find references to ‘the Day of Jehovah,’ and ‘the Day of the Lord (Jesus).’ Are both of these references to the same time, and if so, how do we know?

There is no conflict between the two Days; in fact, they are the same. Notice what we are told in the Revelation, when it is speaking of the beginning of that Day (at Revelation 12:10), ‘This is the moment when the salvation, the power, the Kingdom of our God, and the authorization of his Anointed One began.’

As you can see, the purposes of that Day are tied together. The establishment of God’s Kingdom (with the battle in heaven and the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers) and the authorization for Jesus (the Lord) to rule, begin at the same time.

So, does the Lord’s Day begin when the Opposer and his messengers are thrown out of heaven? It appears so, because the Revelation (which covers these events) starts out with John’s words (Revelation 1:10), ‘Through the Breath [of God] I found myself in the Lord’s Day.’

What are some of the features of that Day? Well, apparently, almost all the things that were prophesied to happen in Revelation are included in that Day. They start with the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers from heaven (See Revelation 12), which is followed by the destruction of ‘Babylon the Great’ (See Revelation 17, 18). Then in rapid succession there comes the ‘marriage of the Lamb’ (acceptance of the rest of the chosen ones to heaven), the Battle of Armageddon, the abyssing of the Opposer and his messengers, and the resurrection of ‘the rest of the dead’ (see Revelation 19, 20). And finally, the Opposer is released for a short time, then comes the battle against Gog of Magog, which is followed by the descent of ‘New Jerusalem’ and the making of the ‘new earth and sky’ (see Revelation 20).

That the period of the Lord’s Day corresponds to Jesus’ prophecy of the time when Jesus would be ‘near’ (as he foretold at Matthew 24), is confirmed by the horsemen that were spoken of at Revelation 6:2-8. Notice that the one on the white horse (who pictures Jesus), is the first to begin his ride, followed by the plagues. This gives us a good picture of what Jesus’ ‘nearness’ really means. He starts his ‘ride’ in heaven with the ouster of the Opposer and his messengers, which is followed by the plagues of world war, famine, and disease.

Peter wrote in length about this period at 2 Peter 3:5-13, which says, ‘Then I saw a new earth and sky, because the previous earth and sky had disappeared, as did the sea.’ And although many misinterpret these words as describing just the destruction of the wicked at Armageddon, the context shows that he was looking at a much longer period of time, the total ‘Lord’s Day’ or ‘Judgment Day’ –  the ‘thousand-year’ period spoken of at Revelation Chapter Twenty. For what he said about the burning of the earth and sky and of the ‘new earth and sky’ corresponds exactly with the promises found at Revelation 21:1,

So, from the periods described in the Revelation, near the end of Jesus’ thousand-year reign, there will be a judgment of the wicked and they will be destroyed. Then there will be a ‘new earth and sky.’ In other words, all the wicked on the earth will be gone, as will the wicked who have ruled over the earth (the old ‘sky’), then the earth will come under the rule of a ‘new sky,’ the ‘New Jerusalem’ of Revelation 21:2.

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Bless or Praise?

This is a tough one and we won’t say that our position on the translation of this word can’t be changed. The Greek word that we are struggling with is eulogetos. The first part of the word eu, is Greek for good. The last part of the word, logetos (from logos), means words, or expressions. So, a literal translation is good words. Is this all that a blessing amounts to?

Yes, we know that this word has been translated as bless, blessed, and blessing in other Bibles. So, why rock the boat? Because, we have found too many errors in commonly accepted renderings. And here, for example, if eulogetos is properly translated as blessing every time (which carries the English nuance, ‘cause good things to happen’), then, how can humans ‘bless God?’ All we can really do is praise God.

Eulogetos is the word that we derive the English word eulogy from... that is, the kind words that are said of the deceased at a funeral. Such words aren’t said as a blessing (it’s a bit late for that) they are said in praise of the deceased individual. However, there are definitely places in the Bible where eulogetos can’t be translated as praise or praising. Perhaps the real meaning is (or is at least is similar to) praise… and when praises come from God, this results in blessings to the recipients.

Eulogetos isn’t the same word that we have rendered as blest in other portions of this translation, for example, at Matthew 5:5. The word in question there is makarios, which is rendered as happy in some other Bibles. However, we believe that blest is the proper translation of that word. See the Notes in Matthew under the topic, ‘Blest or Happy?’

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The Last Days

Throughout the Greek Scriptures (New Testament), we read of a time that is referred to as ‘the last days’ (gr. tas hemera eschata). These words seem to be speaking of the same period or periods, however, many religious groups prefer to identify them as separate and distinct eras. Take for example, the prophecy of Joel that Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost, 33-C.E. There we read (at Acts 2:17-21):

‘In the last days, I will pour out some of my Breath on all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will have visions and your old men will dream dreams. In fact, I will pour out some of my Breath in those days, and my male and female slaves will prophesy. And I will send omens from the heavens above and signs to earth below, blood, fire, and a smoky mist. Before the great and shining day of [Jehovah] arrives, the sun will be changed into darkness and the moon into blood. And everyone who calls on the name of [Jehovah] will be saved.’

Peter’s application of this prophecy clearly indicates its fulfillment as happening during the time that he was saying this, during and after Pentecost 33-C.E. So, many religions teach that Joel’s prophecy concerning the last days had its application just in the last days of ancient Jerusalem, before its destruction by Roman armies in 70-C.E. On the other hand, where these same words (last days) are found in other Bible verses, these same religions teach that the fulfillment comes just during ‘the Lord’s Day.’ For example, notice the words found at 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

‘Recognize that the last days will bring fierce times. People will love themselves and money. They will be braggers, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to their parents, unthankful and disloyal. They won’t love their families or be willing to agree on anything. They will be slanderers who don’t have any self-control. They will be wild and won’t love anything that is good. They will be betrayers who are headstrong and proud. They will prefer pleasures to caring about God. They will have some form of religion, but they won’t follow it.’

Obviously, at least in the prophecy of Joel, the last days do refer to the time between Pentecost of 33-C.E. and 70-C.E. However, notice that this prophecy also mentions its fulfillment as happening during ‘the great and shining day of [Jehovah],’ so it seems to also indicate another fulfillment as coming in these last days.

That there would be a future period of last days to come after Jerusalem’s destruction appears to be indicated by Jesus’ words as found throughout the book of John. For example, John wrote (some 29 years after Jerusalem’s destruction) that Jesus said (at John 6:39. 40), ‘This is what the Will of the One who sent me is: That I shouldn’t destroy anything He has given me, but that I should resurrect it on the Last Day. This is what my Father’s will is: That everyone who pays close attention to the Son and believes in him should have life in this age, and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.’

It is noteworthy that John didn’t then go on to explain that the resurrection had already started with the destruction of Jerusalem. So, apparently, it hadn’t and the resurrection was still to come during some future last day. In fact, John’s writing of the Revelation indicates that the resurrection wouldn’t come until after what is referred to as ‘the battle of Armageddon’ (Revelation 16-20). Such conclusions lead us to believe that there are actually two periods referred to in the Bible as the last days:

1.    The last days of Jerusalem

2.    The Lord’s Day in which we now appear to be living.

That both last days would see similar fulfillments is indicated by Jesus’ words as found in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. If you read these chapters and reference the linked Notes, it seems clear that both last days would see the fulfillment of many (but not all the same) prophecies. So, is there to be some fulfillment of the outpouring of God’s Breath and its gifts as seen at Pentecost in these last days? Although every religion has reached strong but differing opinions and doctrines on this, the answer isn’t totally clear.

That there will be (or has been) some special outpouring of God’s Breath in these last days appears to be indicated by Joel’s prophecy. However, while many religions that claim to experience these gifts usually express it through healing, snake handling, and speaking in tongues, notice that Joel’s prophecy speaks specifically of miraculous prophesying. And Paul, when speaking of such gifts at 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14, actually discouraged speaking in tongues. He put prophesying and developing Christian love as foremost. And although the early Christians actually did so, divine healing isn’t mentioned in Joel’s prophecy. So, if there is to be some modern fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, it seems to center on prophesying (more so than giving interpretations of Bible doctrines) and on an unusual expression of love.

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Cosmos or World?

John 1:10 says of Jesus, ‘He was in the world – and it was through him that the world began – but the world didn’t know him.’ So, just what was John saying that Jesus was responsible for doing?

In Greek, the word we have translated as world is cosmou, or arrangement. You may recognize that the English words cosmos and cosmetology come from this source. However (thanks to Carl Sagan), when we hear the word cosmos today we usually think of the universe of the heavens. So, why have we translated cosmos as world, and what is meant by the term world?

Actually, cosmos is used many times in the Bible and in many different ways. For example, when Paul urged Christian women to dress modestly, he used the word cosmos to describe well-arranged clothing, and arrangement is probably the closest English meaning of the word.

And although it is thought that the word world doesn’t appear at all in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), cosmos really does appear several times in the Greek Septuagint; however, it is variously translated in different Bibles and in different places as arrangement, ornamentation, honor, delight, universe, earth, army, etc.

However, in the Greek Scriptures, where the word appears several times, cosmos is usually translated as world… such as the world of Noah, the light of the world, the field is the world, etc. So, the term doesn’t apply to the earth, but rather to the arrangement of human society on the earth, or the world. And just when did this arrangement come about?

Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t give us a definitive answer. However, it seems likely that the arrangement that we call ‘the world’ came about after Adam’s sin in the Paradise, when man created for himself and all earthly creation a new set of circumstances, which was something other than what God had planned. We have come to this conclusion based on the many scriptures that refer to the world in a negative context, and the fact that it (the current set of negative circumstances) will soon be done away with. For we read at 1 John 2:17, ‘And the world with all its desires is passing away, but the one who does what God wants remains through the age.’

In the case of the words about Jesus at John 1:10, it appears as though this verse is saying that Jesus was there and witnessed the sin of Adam, and that he played an active part in creating this new ‘arrangement’ called ‘the world.’ Yet, John 1:3 says that ‘Everything came into existence through him.’ So, we must conclude that he was also with God much earlier, and was responsible for the creation of the universe (and our earth).

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Jehovah

Although there are no existing ancient Bible (Greek Scripture) manuscripts that contain the full name Jehovah, there are four reasons why we (and other Bible scholars and translators) believe that it existed in the original text. They are:

1.     &nbssp;          The Name is found in many of the Hebrew Scripture texts that are quoted by Jesus and his disciples (but it isn’t found in the existing Greek texts now)

2.     &nbssp;          Jesus mentioned God’s having a Name in ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ and at John 5:43, 10:25, 12:13, 17:26, and in numerous other places

3.     &nbssp;          The Name still appears in a combined form in Revelation where the word hallelujah is used (Hallel means praise, u implies second person, and Jah is a shortened form of Jehovah)

4.     &nbssp;          The fact that Christians who lived in Jerusalem were still worshiping at the Temple of Jehovah late in Paul’s ministry proves that they still viewed Jehovah as their God (see Acts 21:20-26)

In view of the fact that there is no evidence that early Christians ever used the name Jehovah, one might wonder why these translators have taken the unusual position of adopting it. Well, if you believe that there are two in the Bible who are spoken of as ‘the Lord’ – ho Theos (the God) and tas Christos (God’s Christ, Chosen, or Anointed One) (see also Psalm 110:1, 2) – it seems inconceivable that Bible writers would have left them without any differentiation. So, to help readers understand when each is being spoken of, we have elected to substitute [in brackets] the name Jehovah where ‘the Lord’ appears to be referring to God. Of course, no such change would be required if one accepts the Trinity doctrine (see the attached link ‘Who Was Jesus?’).

The word that is translated lord (gr. kyrios) is found throughout the Bible in Greek texts and is usually used as a term of respect for men, such as a king, governor, or homeowner… and it is also frequently translated as master. So, whenever you see the term master used in the Bible, recognize that it is translated from the same Greek word as lord. And as translators, it’s easy to see how inappropriate it is to refer to God as ‘the Lord.’ This was something that was started by later Jewish copyists, and the custom was adopted in English Bibles in the Fifteenth Century. Yet even then, the translators showed where God’s name once appeared in the Hebrew text by capitalizing all the letters, as in LORD (see Exodus 6:1). And in the King James Bible, the name Jehovah still does appear in four texts (see Exodus 6:3).

Some have objected to putting the name Jehovah in the Greek text, for they say that that use of the Name would have been offensive – and might have resulted in stoningif Jesus and his disciples had actually spoken it. Yet, the Name had to be used when preaching to the gentiles, or they simply wouldn’t have known which Lord the disciples were talking about (remember, they were polytheistic). And to call God the Lord when most gods (and many men) were also called lord would have been very confusing to everyone that Jesus’ disciples preached to, both Jews and Gentiles. So, we question whether the use of God’s name was considered as offensive prior to Jerusalem’s destruction by the Roman armies (70-C.E.).

The reason why the Name was removed from later copies of the Hebrew Scriptures was because Jewish Scribes had become so awed with God’s name that they refused to write it or say it, so, they started substituting the term ‘the Lord’ (the Master) wherever His name was found. And since all existing versions of the Septuagint come from the second century or later, it isn’t surprising that God’s Name has been omitted from such modern texts. The fact that the name Jehovah was once there is well substantiated from ancient Bible manuscripts, both Hebrew and Greek. In fact, a verse in the Jewish Talmud claims that Jesus received his miraculous powers because he had sewn the Holy Name (Jehovah) into his skin, which indicates both their (his enemy’s) recognition of Jesus’ miraculous powers and the common view of God’s name.

What about the Greek Scriptures? Recognize the fact that most early Christian Congregations (especially the one in Jerusalem where the Governing Body was located) were predominantly made up of Jews, and their traditions seemed to have a strong negative effect on Christian conduct and doctrine throughout the world. For example, almost all of Paul’s letters (Romans through Hebrews) contain strong references to Judaizers in the congregations, and this influence likely led to substituting Lord for God’s name in Christian writings after the deaths of the Apostles.

That the name Jehovah (which means, He who Causes to Be, or, The Creator) was originally in the Bible is documented in all ancient Hebrew texts. And it appears that the Septuagint translation that was available to Jesus and his Apostles carried that Name, but in the four Hebrew characters, YHWH.

Perhaps Christians would more deeply appreciate the need to use the name Jehovah, rather than the title ‘Lord,’ when referring to God, if they understood that the term ‘the Lord’ in the language of the Canaanites was ‘Baal’ or ‘Beel.’ And the same term in modern-day Arabic is ‘Allah.’

Then, what of those who prefer a more exact Hebrew pronunciation of the Name (which is Yahweh, Yahwah, or Yehwah)? That is commendable if their reasons are consistent. For if their concern is to properly pronounce Bible names (not a hatred for God’s name as it is pronounced in English), then they will also be found promoting the proper Hebrew pronunciation of His son’s name, Ieshuah, or Iehoshuah… or at least the proper pronunciation of his name in Greek, Iesous.

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What did John Mean by Jew?

Understand that the word ‘Jew’ is a uniquely English pronunciation of ‘Judean.’ And when John spoke of the Judeans, he was usually referring to people who came from or lived in the Roman Province of Judea.

Since Jesus and eleven of his Apostles (although of the Tribe of Judah) lived in the (northern) Province of Galilee, they were referred to by the Judeans as Galileans (see Luke 22:59), and the Galileans referred to the people around Jerusalem as Judeans (or Jews).

With the above said, it becomes easier to understand what John meant when said that the water jars at Cana were there for the ‘Judeans’ to wash in, and the ‘Judeans’ were looking to kill Jesus, and the ‘Judeans’ rejected Jesus. In these cases, he wasn’t referring to the nation as a whole, but to the people who lived in Judea (and in Jerusalem) specifically.

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God’s Chosen People

The idea that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that they will eventually rule over the earth from the City of Jerusalem is becoming popular among many fundamentalist religions today. However, such this concept appears to disregard the promises and teachings of the Bible.

For instance, notice Jesus’ words to the people of that city as found at Matthew 23:37, 38, ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem: The killer of prophets and the one who stoned those who were sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you didn’t want it. Look: Your house has been taken from you.’

So, their ‘house’ (the position of special favor with God) was removed from them due to their repeated rejection of God’s ways and His prophets, and for murdering His Son.

Notice how Jesus pictures this rejection of the Jews as God’s chosen people in his parable of the king who hired laborers to work in his vineyard at Matthew 21:33-41. The story ends when the cultivators killed the king’s son. And what was the result? Verse 41 says, ‘Then he will hire others to cultivate the vineyard who will give him the fruit when it’s due.’

In Chapter 22 (verses 1-10) Jesus repeats this theme with the parable of the king who invited guests to a grand meal, but none of those who were invited (the Jews) showed up. In fact, they killed his messengers. The account says, ‘So, he sent his army to destroy the murderers and burned their city.’ Then he sends his attendants out to invite ‘others’ to this great feast.

Who are these ‘others?’ Well, out of respect for His Sacred Agreement with Abraham, God continued to offer the opportunity to be ‘kings and priests’ in the Kingdom exclusively to the Jews (and the related Samaritans) for the next 3-1/2 years. Then the opportunity to become ‘Spiritual Jews’ was offered to the first ‘Gentile’ converts, Cornelius and his family. Thereafter, the Bible speaks of growing numbers of Gentile converts, as Paul was appointed the ‘Apostle to the Nations.’

Notice also Jesus’ words found at Matthew 8:12, where he foretold, ‘However, the Sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There they will cry and grind their teeth.’ Since the Jews were ‘the sons of the kingdom’ or the sons of the Abrahamic promise, the indication here is that they as a nation were being rejected.

Then in the letters of Paul, we read scripture after scripture that show these Gentiles were thereafter included in the promise to Abraham, and that they comprised a ‘New Jerusalem.’ Notice what Paul wrote at Romans 2:28, ‘So, a Jew isn’t what you are on the outside, nor is circumcision something that’s outside on the flesh.’

In other words, the Gentiles had become ‘spiritual Jews,’ or the symbolic ‘twelve tribes of Israel.’ So, it was to this ‘new nation’ that all the promises and Sacred Agreements apply, not to the earthly city of Jerusalem, for the earthly city of Jerusalem had been rejected. Why? Well notice what the people in that city replied to Pilate’s question when they were calling for the murder of God’s Son (at Matthew 27: 25), ‘At that, all the people said, May we and our children be responsible for his blood.’ And (at John 19:15), ‘We have no king but Caesar.’

So, the Jews were not only rejected by God, they verbally rejected God and asked for the blood of Jesus to be on them and their children (all future generations). This is why the prophecies regarding Jerusalem appear to have nothing to do with a literal city in Palestine today.

But what of Paul’s statement, found at Romans 11:25, 26, ‘Israel was allowed to become calloused until the full number of people from the nations came in. This is how all Israel is going to be saved.’

Doesn’t this mean that the entire nation will eventually be saved? No, for notice what Paul said at Romans 9:6-8 ‘Now, the word of God didn’t fail, because, not all who came from Israel are really Israel, nor are all of Abraham’s seed his children. For [it’s written], That which will be called your seed will come through Isaac. However, [Isaac’s] fleshly children aren’t the children of God. The children of the promise are that seed.’

Then he added at Romans 9:27 ‘Isaiah shouted this, about Israel, Although the sons of Israel may become as many as the sands of the sea, only a few will be saved.’

So, it appears as though Israel will be saved mostly through those ‘ethnics’ who have become Israel by accepting Israel’s God as their God.

And the fact is, those who believe that all of Israel will be saved also believe that this hope applies just to the Jews. However, ‘all of Israel’ covers all twelve of the tribes that are now scattered and intermarried throughout the nations of the world, whereas the Jews represent just two of the tribes (plus some of the Priestly tribe of Levi). So, for ‘all of Israel’ to be saved, countless millions – or even billions – who have traces of bloodlines to the other ten tribes of Israel would have to be included in this number, for such pure bloodlines no longer exist – even among the Jews.

But, couldn’t ‘all of Israel’ just refer to the Jews and/or to those who still practice Judaism? Notice what Paul wrote at Romans 9:30-33, ‘So, what can we say? That people of the nations (although they weren’t trying to become righteous) became righteous with the [type of] righteousness that comes from faith, while Israel (who was following a righteous Law) just didn’t make it. And why was that so? Because [Israel] didn’t look for it in faith, but in the things that they were doing. They tripped over the ‘stumbling stone. As it is written, {Look!} I’m putting a stumbling stone and a rock to trip over in Zion. But he who has faith in Him will never be ashamed.’

So, the Jews (those who practice Judaism) can never be considered righteous as long as they continue to trip over the ‘stumbling stone,’ their promised Messiah, Jesus.

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Eating Jesus’ Flesh

At Jesus’ ‘Last Supper,’ which fell on the Jewish celebration of the Passover, Jesus instituted a ritual that he told his Apostles to continue to do in memory of him and his death. At Luke 22:19, 20 we read, ‘Then he took a loaf [of bread], gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is my body, which is being handed over for you. Keep doing this in memory of me. And he did the same thing with the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new Sacred Agreement of my blood, which is being poured out for you.’

Notice that he didn’t say this means, he said this is (gr. es). However, contrary to the beliefs of some (that these emblems actually become flesh and blood), they were obviously just symbols. Partaking of Jesus’ ‘flesh and blood’ symbolizes that those who do so are expressing their desire to become a party to the ‘New Sacred Agreement.’

Speaking ahead of time of this ritual, Jesus said (at John 6:53-56), ‘I tell you the truth, if you don’t eat the flesh of the Son of Man or drink his blood, you won’t live. For, if you chew my flesh and drink my blood you’ll have life within yourself, and then I’ll resurrect you on the Last Day, because my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly a drink. Those who chew on my flesh and drink my blood will stay in me and I [will stay] in them.’

This was revolting talk to most Jews, whose dietary regulations (from the Law) forbade drinking any blood or eating human flesh. As the result, many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following him at that time. Surely, this was done as a test to cull out those who believed in his miracles, but wouldn’t understand his death and resurrection. However, Jesus’ Apostles stayed, because, as Peter said, ‘Lord, who should we go off to? You say the things [that lead to] life for the ages.’

When should this Memorial of Jesus’ Death be observed? The fact that it was instituted on the Passover, gives us a clue. This Jewish Observance was held annually on the night of the new moon closest to the Spring Equinox in Jerusalem. And what the Jews were celebrating was symbolic of Jesus’ death, namely, the saving of the Israelite ‘firstborn’ when God’s messenger brought the last plague on Egypt (which resulted in God’s people being set free).

So, it appears as though the most important time to observe this ritual would be at least once a year, after sundown, on the night of the new moon closest to the Spring Equinox in Jerusalem (which isn’t always the same as the date when Jews currently observe Passover).

Who should partake of the symbolic bread and wine at that time? The Scriptures say, those who want ‘life in the age and who wish to be resurrected ‘on the Last Day.’ For more information, see the linked document, ‘The New Covenant.’

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John

John (who wrote the Bible books of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation) was apparently one of Jesus’ earliest followers. It is thought that he was one of the two disciples of John the Baptist who followed Jesus after he was identified as ‘the Lamb of God,’ at John 1:35-37. In fact, whenever a disciple or Apostle isn’t identified by name in this book, it appears to be John speaking of himself.

John and his brother James, who were later appointed to be Apostles (or Sent Ones), were Galileans (considered ‘country bumpkins’ by people in Judea) who worked as fishermen for their father, in a business that seemed to be co-owned by Peter (Simon).

Although Jesus was particularly fond of John, and John is often thought of as a laid-back dreamer by some Bible critics, Jesus referred to him and his brother as ‘the Sons of Thunder.’ So, this common view of John’s personality doesn’t seem to be well founded.

It is interesting that John appears to have been known and liked by the Jewish Chief Priest, Caiaphas. For notice what the account at John 18:15, 16 tells us, ‘Now, Simon Peter (and another disciple) followed Jesus. The Chief Priest was familiar with that disciple, so he went into the High Priest’s courtyard along with Jesus, but Peter stood outside at the door. Then the disciple who knew the High Priest went outside and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in.’

So, many of the things that happened and were said inside the Chief Priest’s house (as well as in the palaces of Pilate and Herod after Jesus’ arrest) seem to have come to us as the result of John being there and serving as an eyewitness. Therefore, Peter wasn’t the only disciple who stayed with Jesus after his arrest.

It’s a fact that whenever Peter and John were together, as when they stood before the Jewish High Court, Peter did most of the talking. However, this doesn’t appear to have happened because Peter outranked John, or because John was tongue-tied or shy. Rather, it seems that John deferred to Peter because he was older and a friend and partner of his father. You will notice that later, John, Peter, and James (not John’s brother, who was an early Christian martyr, but James, the half-brother of Jesus and the writer of the book of James) were later referred to by Paul as the ‘pillars’ (or the leaders) of the early Christian Congregation. Thereafter, James served as the spokesman for the three when the matter of circumcising the gentiles had to be decided.

As Jesus prophesied, John lived the longest of all the Apostles, dying at around the age of 100, likely by execution. And it was shortly before his death that he did all his writing. So, the book of John is quite different in its format from the Gospels of Mark and Luke, which seem to be more based on and influenced by the book of Matthew.

For this reason, the Gospel of John provides us a far greater insight into who Jesus actually was and the things that he thought and did. John was obviously very impressed with the privilege he had of being ‘the loved Apostle’ of the most important individual who ever walked this earth, and of the privilege that he and others would have of becoming ‘one’ with Jesus and his Father in heaven. So, the opening words of the book of John reflect that awe, as he tries to impress us with the full meaning of who Jesus actually was in his prehuman life as ‘the only created’ son of God.

John’s three epistles (letters) were written to congregations to warn of the dangers that they were facing from within. This is because ‘the great turning away’ that Paul foretold, was already in progress. For, ‘Christians’ were starting to deny that Jesus was the ‘Promised One,’ or perhaps that there ever was a Jesus. So, John labeled them as the ‘Antichrists,’ and told Christians not to have anything to do with such individuals.

The book of Revelation that John wrote, recorded a vision of ‘the Lord’s Day’ that he received from God through Jesus. And although some critics have concluded that this was some sort of hallucination, it provides a fitting climax to the entire Bible by bringing together the four mysterious characters mentioned in the first prophecy in the Bible (at Genesis 3:16): the snake, its seed, the woman, and her seed. Then if fills in all the gray areas on who each of these individuals prove to be, and it shows the full meaning of the roles they will play in God’s purposes. Far from a hallucination, the Revelation explains in detail what is really happening to us today, what will soon happen, and what the hope is for all obedient mankind.

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The Dead

The Twentieth Chapter of Revelation speaks of the ‘dead’ ‘coming to life’ (in verse 5) and ‘standing before the throne’ and ‘being judged’ (in verse 12). Since they are able to stand for judgment, in what sense are they dead?

Note that at Matthew 9:60 Jesus said,Let the dead bury their dead.’ And at Romans 8:10, Paul speaks of the body being ‘dead’ because of sin. Then at 1 Corinthians 15:22 he explains that, ‘Because of Adam, all men are dying.’

So the conclusion we must reach is that all men are considered as dead and dying in front of God, due to inherited (and their own) sins. So, the scriptures in the Revelation Twenty appear to be speaking of living people (some of whom will have already been resurrected) who will stand before God and be judged, to either life for the ages or the permanent destruction of the ‘lake of fire.’

However, from the promises of Jesus, it does appear that people can be considered no longer dead even before the resurrection. For, notice what is recorded that he said at John 5:24, ‘I tell you the truth: The one who hears what I say and believes in the One that sent me, has life for the ages. He won’t have to be judged, but has crossed over from death to life.’

So, it appears as though a person is considered no longer ‘dead’ as of the time when his/her name is written in ‘the book of life.’ This doesn’t mean that they won’t die, but that they are considered as ‘alive’ in God’s eyes, and they will not be counted among ‘the rest of the dead’ in the resurrection (for more information, see the linked document, The Resurrection). This appears to be the meaning of Jesus’ words at Matthew 22:32, which say, ‘Haven’t you read what God told you about the resurrection of the dead, [when he said], I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living.’

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Who Are the Anointed?

Notice that in this Bible translation, 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22 (for example) says, ‘The One who guarantees that we all belong to the Anointed One, and He who anointed us, is God.’

So, why didn’t these translators just go ahead and render the word (Anointed) as Christ – as countless other translators have done? Because Christ has almost totally lost its meaning to most Bible readers today, and most have come to believe that ‘Christ’ was part of Jesus’ name. It wasn’t.

If you look at the above verse in Greek, you’ll see that it reads, ‘Ho de bebaion hemas syn hymin eis Christon kai chrisas hemas Theos.’

Notice that Christon (Christ) and chrisas are both derived from the same root word, which is Greek for olive oil. Why olive oil? Because, that substance was traditionally poured over the heads of those who God chose to be kings over Israel. For example, David and Solomon were both anointed (oil was poured over their heads) in proof of the fact that they had been chosen by God to be kings over Israel. So, the word means anointed.

Therefore, the above verse could be literally translated, ‘The of stabilizing us with you into Anointed and anointing us God.’

Notice that in both cases where the words Anointed and anointing appear, we have translated it just as it was written in the Bible.

Such a physical anointing with oil appeared to picture receiving God’s Holy Breath, which happened to Jesus at his baptism, to 120 of Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost of 33-C.E., and to other First-century Christians. So, Jesus didn’t really become the Christon (Christ, Anointed, or Chosen One) until he was anointed with Holy Breath at his baptism (when the ‘dove’ came down on him).

If you understand this nuance, you get the true meaning of the word Christ (Anointed) as it applies to Jesus; it means that he was the one who God chose to be king over His people. Also, Paul was telling the Christians in Corinth that they would become ‘christs.’ For when they were ‘anointed’ and sealed in their hearts by God’s Holy Breath, they were selected to be ‘kings over the earth’ (Revelation 5:10).

Notice also what can be learned from a proper understanding of the Greek words by looking at Matthew 24:5, because the true meanings of Jesus’ words in that verse (and at Matthew 24:24) is unclear. In Greek it reads, ‘polloi yar eleusontai epi to onomatimou legontesegi eimi ho christos kai pollous elanesousin’ or, ‘many come (or go) on the name/my saying I/am the anointed and many stray.

As you can see, Jesus wasn’t necessarily telling us that many would come saying they were ‘Jesus the Christ,’ he was saying that many would come ‘in his name’ saying they are ‘the anointed,’ or those who were chosen for heavenly life. So, although it is true that some have claimed to be the Christ, many more have falsely claimed to be God’s anointed and they have misled multitudes.

Also, he said something similar at Matthew 24:24, ‘Because false Anointed ones and false prophets will arise and they will perform great signs and omens to mislead (if possible) even the elected.’

But notice that Jesus used a different word that could also be translated as ‘chosen ones’ at Matthew 24:24, which we have translated as ‘elected.’ This comes from a different Greek word, eclectoi (the root for the English word elected), which likely means that among the called (or the nominated) they are the ones who have been elected by God.

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We are glad you are looking for information, clarification, or enlightenment (perhaps either substantiation or refutation) in regard to “the Trinity” and related issues, and we welcome you to our research website. We're very glad you found us, because we know what has happened for thousands of other dear folks who have taken the time to dig into our work.

First of all, please feel free not to believe everything you find here. We have no axe to grind, nor are we interested in trying to control your life or make you live up to any standard we impose upon you. We love God, our heavenly Father, we love the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, we love the truth, and we God's people. Our responsibility is to set forth the Word of God as we see it, and God's responsibility is to give the increase in the hearts of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

We certainly recognize how important, how volatile, and how potentially polarizing is the subject of the Trinity. In fact, though it is sad to say, throughout Church history from about 400 AD to about 1800 AD, countless people were put to death for refusing to believe in the idea of “one God in three persons.” One wonders why the proponents of this doctrine did not simply use reason and Scripture to convince those wayward people.

We want to believe whatever the Word of God says, and we hope that what you find herein is representative of that.

To read explanations of verses commonly used to support the Trinity, select one from the box or see the links below.

Old Testament

New Testament



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New Testament

Matthew 1:23

Romans 10:13

Matthew 4:10

1 Corinthians 8:6

Matthew 9:2 and 3

1 Corinthians 10:4b

Matthew 9:8b

1 Corinthians 10:9

Matthew 28:18

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Matthew 28:19

2 Corinthians 5:19

Matthew 28:20b

2 Corinthians 12:19b

Mark 2:7

2 Corinthians 13:14

Luke 1:35

Ephesians 1:22 and 23

Luke 1:47

Ephesians 3:9

Luke 5:20 and 21

Ephesians 4:7 and 8

Luke 7:16

Ephesians 5:5

Luke 8:39

Philippians 2:6-8

John 1:1

Colossians 1:15-20

John 1:3

Colossians 2:2

John 1:10

Colossians 2:9

John 1:14a

2 Thessalonians 1:12

John 1:15

1 Timothy 3:16

John 1:18

1 Timothy 5:21

John 2:19

1 Timothy 6:14-16

John 2:24

2 Timothy 4:1

John 3:13

Titus 2:13

John 5:18b

Hebrews 1:2

John 6:33

Hebrews 1:8

John 6:38

Hebrews 1:10

John 6:62

Hebrews 2:16

John 6:64

Hebrews 4:8

John 8:24b

Hebrews 7:3

John 8:58b

Hebrews 13:8

John 10:18

1 Peter 1:11

John 10:30

2 Peter 1:1b

John 10:33

1 John 3:16

John 14:11

1 John 5:7 and 8

John 14:16 and 17

1 John 5:20

John 17:5

Jude 4

John 20:17

Revelation 1:8

John 20:28

Revelation 1:11

Acts 5:3 and 4

Revelation 1:13-15

Acts 7:45

Revelation 1:17

Acts 7:59

Revelation 3:14

Acts 20:28b

Revelation 21:6

Romans 9:5

Revelation 22:13

Romans 10:9

 

 


The section above was taken from our book “One God & One Lord




One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith

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Other great articles related to this topic:

Most Common Trinitarian Verses

100 Arguments for the Unitarian Faith

47 Reasons why our Heavenly Father has no equals or co-equals

34 Reasons Why the “Holy Spirit” Is Not A “Person” Separate From the Father

Is Jesus God? - Logical questions that need answers

A Godly Way To Handle Persecution

To Contend without being Contentious

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Matthew 1:23
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is,
God with us.” (KJV)


 

1. The name can be translated as, “God with us” or “God is with us.” We know that God was with the people in Jesus Christ, and Jesus himself said that if one had seen him, he had seen the Father.

2. The significance of the name is symbolic. God was with us, not literally, but in His Son, as 2 Cor. 5:19 (NASB) indicates: “That God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” It is important to read exactly what was written: God was in Christ, not God was Christ. Symbolism in names can be seen throughout the Bible. It is not unique to Jesus Christ. Many people were given names that would cause great problems if believed literally. Are we to believe that Elijah was “God Jehovah,” or that Bithiah, a daughter of Pharaoh, was the sister of Jesus because her name is “daughter of Jehovah?” Are we to believe that Dibri, not Jesus, was the “Promise of Jehovah,” or that Eliab was the real Messiah since his name means “My God [is my] father?” Of course not. It would be a great mistake to claim that the meaning of a name proves a literal truth. We know that Jesus’ name is very significant—it communicates the truth that, as the Son of God and as the image of God, God is with us in Jesus, but the name does not make Jesus God. For more on the fact that calling something does not make it that thing, see the notes on Jeremiah 23:6.

 

 

 

 

John 20:28
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. (KJV)


 

1. Jesus never referred to himself as “God” in the absolute sense, so what precedent then did Thomas have for calling Jesus “my God”? The Greek language uses the word theos, (“God” or “god”) with a broader meaning than is customary today. In the Greek language and in the culture of the day, “GOD” (all early manuscripts of the Bible were written in all capital letters) was a descriptive title applied to a range of authorities, including the Roman govornor (Acts 12:22), and even the Devil (2 Cor. 4:4). It was used of someone with divine authority. It was not limited to its absolute sense as a personal name for the supreme Deity as we use it today.

2. Given the language of the time, and given that Jesus did represent the Father and have divine authority, the expression used by Thomas is certainly understandable. On the other hand, to make Thomas say that Jesus was “God,” and thus 1/3 of a triune God, seems incredible. In Concessions of Trinitarians, Michaelis, a Trinitarian, writes:

I do not affirm that Thomas passed all at once from the extreme of doubt to the highest degree of faith, and acknowledged Christ to be the true God. This appears to me too much for the then existing knowledge of the disciples; and we have no intimation that they recognized the divine nature of Christ before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I am therefore inclined to understand this expression, which broke out in the height of his astonishment, in a figurative sense, denoting only “whom I shall ever reverence in the highest degree”…Or a person raised from the dead might be regarded as a divinity; for the word God is not always used in the strict doctrinal sense” [Michaelis is quoted by Dana, ref. below].

Remember that it was common at that time to call God’s representatives “God,” and the Old Testament contains quite a few examples. When Jacob wrestled with “God,” it is clear that he was actually wrestling with an angel (Hosea 12:4—For more on that, see the note on Genesis 16:7-13).

3. There are many Trinitarian authorities who admit that there was no knowledge of Trinitarian doctrine at the time Thomas spoke. For example, if the disciples believed that Jesus was “God” in the sense that many Christians do, they would not have “all fled” just a few days before when he was arrested. The confession of the two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus demonstrated the thoughts of Jesus’ followers at the time. Speaking to the resurrected Christ, whom they mistook as just a traveler, they talked about Jesus. They said Jesus “was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God…and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:19-21). The Bible is clear that these disciples thought Jesus was a “prophet.” Even though some of the apostles realized that Jesus was the Christ, they knew that according to the Old Testament prophecies, the Christ, the anointed of God, was to be a man. There is no evidence from the gospel accounts that Jesus’ disciples believed him to be God, and Thomas, upon seeing the resurrected Christ, was not birthing a new theology in a moment of surprise.

4. The context of the verse shows that its subject is the fact that Jesus was alive. Only three verses earlier, Thomas had ignored the eyewitness testimony of the other apostles when they told him they had seen the Lord. The resurrection of Christ was such a disputed doctrine that Thomas did not believe it (the other apostles had not either), and thus Jesus’ death would have caused Thomas to doubt that Jesus was who he said he was—the Messiah. Thomas believed Jesus was dead. Thus, he was shocked and astonished when he saw—and was confronted by— Jesus Himself. Thomas, upon being confronted by the living Christ, instantly believed in the resurrection, i.e., that God had raised the man Jesus from the dead, and, given the standard use of “God” in the culture as one with God’s authority, it certainly makes sense that Thomas would proclaim, “My Lord and my God.” There is no mention of the Trinity in the context, and there is no reason to believe that the disciples would have even been aware of such a doctrine. Thomas spoke what he would have known: that the man Jesus who he thought was dead was alive and had divine authority.

5. For other uses of theos applicable to this verse, see Hebrews 1:8. [For further study, read Does the Bible ever refer to Jesus Christ as “God”?]

Buzzard, pp. 39-41,61 and 62,136 and 137

Dana, pp. 23-25

Farley, pp. 62-64

Morgridge, pp. 109 and 110 Norton, pp. 299-304

Snedeker, pp. 271 and 272, 426-430


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John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NIV)


 

1. It is imperative that the serious student of the Bible come to a basic understanding of logos, which is translated as “Word” in John 1:1. Most Trinitarians believe that the word logos refers directly to Jesus Christ, so in most versions of John logos is capitalized and translated “Word” (some versions even write “Jesus Christ” in John 1:1). However, a study of the Greek word logos shows that it occurs more than 300 times in the New Testament, and in both the NIV and the KJV it is capitalized only 7 times (and even those versions disagree on exactly when to capitalize it). When a word that occurs more than 300 times is capitalized fewer than 10 times, it is obvious that when to capitalize and when not to capitalize is a translators’ decision based on their particular understanding of Scripture.

As it is used throughout Scripture, logos has a very wide range of meanings along two basic lines of thought. One is the mind and products of the mind like “reason,” (thus “logic” is related to logos) and the other is the expression of that reason as a “word,” “saying,” “command” etc. The Bible itself demonstrates the wide range of meaning logos has, and some of the ways it is translated in Scripture are: account, appearance, book, command, conversation, eloquence, flattery, grievance, heard, instruction, matter, message, ministry, news, proposal, question, reason, reasonable, reply, report, rule, rumor, said, say, saying, sentence, speaker, speaking, speech, stories, story, talk, talking, teaching, testimony, thing, things, this, truths, what, why, word and words.

Any good Greek lexicon will also show this wide range of meaning (the words in italics are translated from logos):

  • speaking; words you say (Rom. 15:18, “what I have said and done”).
  • a statement you make (Luke 20:20 - (NASB), “they might catch him in some statement).
  • a question (Matt. 21:24, “I will also ask you one question”).
  • preaching (1 Tim. 5:17, “especially those whose work is preaching and teaching).
  • command (Gal. 5:14, “the entire law is summed up in a single command”).
  • proverb; saying (John 4:37, “thus the saying, ‘One sows, and another reaps’”).
  • message; instruction; proclamation (Luke 4:32, “his message had authority”).
  • assertion; declaration; teaching (John 6:60, “this is a hard teaching”).
  • the subject under discussion; matter (Acts 8:21, “you have no part or share in this ministry.” Acts 15:6 (NASB), “And the apostles... came together to look into this matter”).
  • revelation from God (Matt. 15:6, “you nullify the Word of God ”).
  • God’s revelation spoken by His servants (Heb. 13:7, “leaders who spoke the Word of God”).
  • a reckoning, an account (Matt. 12:36, “men will have to give account” on the day of judgment).
  • an account or “matter” in a financial sense (Matt. 18:23, A king who wanted to settle “accounts” with his servants. Phil. 4:15, “the matter of giving and receiving”).
  • a reason; motive (Acts 10:29 - NASB), “I ask for what reason you have sent for me”). [16]

The above list is not exhaustive, but it does show that logos has a very wide range of meaning. With all the definitions and ways logos can be translated, how can we decide which meaning of logos to choose for any one verse? How can it be determined what the logos in John 1:1 is? Any occurrence of logos has to be carefully studied in its context in order to get the proper meaning. We assert that the logos in John 1:1 cannot be Jesus. Please notice that “Jesus Christ” is not a lexical definition of logos. This verse does not say, “In the beginning was Jesus.” “The Word” is not synonymous with Jesus, or even “the Messiah.” The word logos in John 1:1 refers to God’s creative self-expression—His reason, purposes and plans, especially as they are brought into action. It refers to God’s self-expression, or communication, of Himself. This has come to pass through His creation (Rom. 1:19 and 20), and especially the heavens (Ps. 19). It has come through the spoken word of the prophets and through Scripture, the written Word. Most notably and finally, it has come into being through His Son (Heb. 1:1 and 2).

The renowned Trinitarian scholar, John Lightfoot, writes:

The word logos then, denoting both “reason” and “speech,” was a philosophical term adopted by Alexandrian Judaism before St. Paul wrote, to express the manifestation of the Unseen God in the creation and government of the World. It included all modes by which God makes Himself known to man. As His reason, it denoted His purpose or design; as His speech, it implied His revelation. Christian teachers, when they adopted this term, exalted and fixed its meaning by attaching to it two precise and definite ideas: (1) “The Word is a Divine Person,” (2) “The Word became incarnate in Jesus Christ.” It is obvious that these two propositions must have altered materially the significance of all the subordinate terms connected with the idea of the logos. [17]

It is important to note that it was “Christian teachers” who attached the idea of a “divine person” to the word logos. It is certainly true that when the word logos came to be understood as being Jesus Christ, the understanding of John 1:1 was altered substantially. Lightfoot correctly understands that the early meaning of logos concerned reason and speech, not “Jesus Christ.” Norton develops the concept of logos as “reason” and writes:

There is no word in English answering to the Greek word logos, as used here [in John 1:1]. It was employed to denote a mode of conception concerning the Deity, familiar at the time when St. John wrote and intimately blended with the philosophy of his age, but long since obsolete, and so foreign from our habits of thinking that it is not easy for us to conform our minds to its apprehension. The Greek word logos, in one of its primary senses, answered nearly to our word Reason. The logos of God was regarded, not in its strictest sense, as merely the Reason of God; but, under certain aspects, as the Wisdom, the Mind, the Intellect of God (p. 307).

Norton postulates that perhaps “the power of God” would be a good translation for logos (p. 323). Buzzard sets forth “plan,” “purpose” or “promise” as three acceptable translations. Broughton and Southgate say “thoughts, plan or purpose of God, particularly in action.” Many scholars identify logos with God’s wisdom and reason.

The logos is the expression of God, and is His communication of Himself, just as a “word” is an outward expression of a person’s thoughts. This outward expression of God has now occurred through His Son, and thus it is perfectly understandable why Jesus is called the “Word.” Jesus is an outward expression of God’s reason, wisdom, purpose and plan. For the same reason, we call revelation “a word from God” and the Bible “the Word of God.”

If we understand that the logos is God’s expression—His plan, purposes, reason and wisdom, it is clear that they were indeed with Him “in the beginning.” Scripture says that God’s wisdom was “from the beginning” (Prov. 8:23). It was very common in Hebrew writing to personify a concept such as wisdom. No ancient Jew reading Proverbs would think that God’s wisdom was a separate person, even though it is portrayed as one in verses like Proverbs 8:29 and 30: “…when He marked out the foundations of the earth, I [wisdom] was the craftsman at His side.”

2. Most Jewish readers of the Gospel of John would have been familiar with the concept of God’s “word” being with God as He worked to bring His creation into existence. There is an obvious working of God’s power in Genesis 1 as He brings His plan into concretion by speaking things into being. The Targums are well known for describing the wisdom and action of God as His “word.” This is especially important to note because the Targums are the Aramaic translations and paraphrases of the Old Testament, and Aramaic was the spoken language of many Jews at the time of Christ. Remembering that a Targum is usually a paraphrase of what the Hebrew text says, note how the following examples attribute action to the word:

  • And the word of the Lord was Joseph’s helper (Gen. 39:2).
  • And Moses brought the people to meet the word of the Lord (Ex. 19:17).
  • And the word of the Lord accepted the face of Job (Job 42:9).
  • And the word of the Lord shall laugh them to scorn (Ps. 2:4).
  • They believed in the name of His word (Ps. 106:12). [18]

The above examples demonstrate that the Jews were familiar with the idea of God’s Word referring to His wisdom and action. This is especially important to note because these Jews were fiercely monotheistic, and did not in any way believe in a “Triune God.” They were familiar with the idioms of their own language, and understood that the wisdom and power of God were being personified as “word.”

The Greek-speaking Jews were also familiar with God’s creative force being called “the word.” J. H. Bernard writes, “When we turn from Palestine to Alexandria [Egypt], from Hebrew sapiential [wisdom] literature to that which was written in Greek, we find this creative wisdom identified with the Divine logos, Hebraism and Hellenism thus coming into contact.” [19] One example of this is in the Apocryphal book known as the Wisdom of Solomon, which says, “O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy who hast made all things by thy word (logos), and by thy wisdom hast formed man…” (9:1). In this verse, the “word” and “wisdom” are seen as the creative force of God, but without being a “person.”

3. The logos, that is, the plan, purpose and wisdom of God, “became flesh” (came into concretion or physical existence) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) and His chief emissary, representative and agent. Because Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father, he represents everything that God could communicate about Himself in a human person. As such, Jesus could say, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). The fact that the logos “became” flesh shows that it did not exist that way before. There is no pre-existence for Jesus in this verse other than his figurative “existence” as the plan, purpose or wisdom of God for the salvation of man. The same is true with the “word” in writing. It had no literal pre-existence as a “spirit-book” somewhere in eternity past, but it came into being as God gave the revelation to people and they wrote it down.

4. The last phrase in the verse, which most versions translate as “and the Word was God,” should not be translated that way. The Greek language uses the word “God” (Greek = theos) to refer to the Father as well as to other authorities. These include the Devil (2 Cor. 4:4), lesser gods (1 Cor. 8:5) and men with great authority (John 10:34 and 35; Acts 12:22). At the time the New Testament was written, Greek manuscripts were written in all capital letters. The upper and lower case letters were not blended as we do today. Thus, the distinction that we today make between “God” and “god” could not be made, and the context became the judge in determining to whom “THEOS” referred.

Although context is the final arbiter, it is almost always the case in the New Testament that when “God” refers to the Father, the definite article appears in the Greek text (this article can be seen only in the Greek text, it is never translated into English). Translators are normally very sensitive to this (see John 10:33). The difference between theos with and without the article occurs in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with “the theos,” and the Word was “theos.” Since the definite article is missing from the second occurrence of “theos” (“God,”) the usual meaning would be “god” or “divine.” The New English Bible gets the sense of this phrase by translating it, “What God was, the Word was.” James Moffatt who was a professor of Greek and New Testament Exegesis at Mansfield College in Oxford, England, and author of the well-known Moffatt Bible, translated the phrase, “the logos was divine.”

A very clear explanation of how to translate theos without the definite article can be found in Jesus As They Knew Him, by William Barclay, a professor at Trinity College in Glasgow:

In a case like this we cannot do other than go to the Greek, which is theos en ho logos. Ho is the definite article, the, and it can be seen that there is a definite article with logos, but not with theos. When in Greek two nouns are joined by the verb “to be,” and when both have the definite article, then the one is fully intended to be identified with the other; but when one of them is without the article, it becomes more an adjective than a noun, and describes rather the class or sphere to which the other belongs.

An illustration from English will make this clear. If I say, “The preacher is the man,” I use the definite article before both preacher and man, and I thereby identify the preacher with some quite definite individual man whom I have in mind. But, if I say, “The preacher is man,” I have omitted the definite article before man, and what I mean is that the preacher must be classified as a man, he is in the sphere of manhood, he is a human being.

[In the last clause of John 1:1] John has no article before theos, God. The logos, therefore, is not identified as God or with God; the word theos has become adjectival and describes the sphere to which the logos belongs. We would, therefore, have to say that this means that the logos belongs to the same sphere as God; without being identified with God, the logos has the same kind of life and being as God. Here the NEB [New English Bible] finds the perfect translation: “What God was, the Word was.” [20]

5. It is important to understand that the Bible was not written in a vacuum, but was recorded in the context of a culture and was understood by those who lived in that culture. Sometimes verses that seem superfluous or confusing to us were meaningful to the readers of the time because they were well aware of the culture and beliefs being propounded by those around them. In the first century, there were many competing beliefs in the world (and unfortunately, erroneous beliefs in Christendom) that were confusing believers about the identities of God and Christ. For centuries before Christ, and at the time the New Testament was written, the irrational beliefs about the gods of Greece had been handed down. This body of religious information was known by the word “muthos,” which we today call “myths” or “mythology.” This muthos, these myths, were often irrational, mystical and beyond understanding or explanation. The more familiar one is with the Greek myths, the better he will understand our emphasis on their irrationality. If one is unfamiliar with them, it would be valuable to read a little on the subject. Greek mythology is an important part of the cultural background of the New Testament.

The myths were often incomprehensible, but nevertheless, they had been widely accepted as the “revelation of the gods.” The pervasiveness of the muthos in the Greco-Roman world of the New Testament can be seen sticking up out of the New Testament like the tip of an iceberg above the water. When Paul and Barnabas healed a cripple in Lystra, the people assumed that the gods had come down in human form, and the priest of Zeus came to offer sacrifices to them. While Paul was in Athens, he became disturbed because of the large number of idols there that were statues to the various gods. In Ephesus, Paul’s teaching actually started a riot. When some of the locals realized that if his doctrine spread, “the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty” (Acts 19:27). There are many other examples that show that there was a muthos, i.e., a body of religious knowledge that was in large part incomprehensible to the human mind, firmly established in the minds of some of the common people in New Testament times.

Starting several centuries before Christ, certain Greek philosophers worked to replace the muthos with what they called the logos, a reasonable and rational explanation of reality. It is appropriate that, in the writing of the New Testament, God used the word logos, not muthos, to describe His wisdom, reason and plan. God has not come to us in mystical experiences and irrational beliefs that cannot be understood; rather, He reveals Himself in ways that can be rationally understood and persuasively argued. [For further study read Can we really know God?]

6. In addition to the cultural context that accepted the myths, at the time John was written, a belief system called Gnosticism was taking root in Christianity. Gnosticism had many ideas and words that are strange and confusing to us today, so, at the risk of oversimplifying, we will describe a few basic tenets of Gnosticism as simply as we can.

Gnosticism took many forms, but generally Gnostics taught that there was a supreme and unknowable Being, which they designated as the “Monad.” The Monad produced various gods, who in turn produced other gods (these gods were called by different names, in part because of their power or position). One of these gods, called the “Demiurge,” created the earth and then ruled over it as an angry, evil and jealous god. This evil god, Gnostics believed, was the god of the Old Testament, called Elohim. The Monad sent another god, “Christ,” to bring special gnosis (knowledge) to mankind and free them from the influence of the evil Elohim. Thus, a Gnostic Christian would agree that Elohim created the heavens and earth, but he would not agree that He was the supreme God. Most Gnostics would also state that Elohim and Christ were at cross-purposes with each other. This is why it was so important for John 1:1 to say that the logos was with God, which at first glance seems to be a totally unnecessary statement.

The opening of the Gospel of John is a wonderful expression of God’s love. God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). He authored the opening of John in such a way that it reveals the truth about Him and His plan for all of mankind and, at the same time, refutes Gnostic teaching. It says that from the beginning there was the logos (the reason, plan, power), which was with God. There was not another “god” existing with God, especially not a god opposed to God. Furthermore, God’s plan was like God; it was divine. God’s plan became flesh when God impregnated Mary.

7. There are elements of John 1:1 and other phrases in the introduction of John that not only refer back in time to God’s work in the original creation, but also foreshadow the work of Christ in the new administration and the new creation. Noted Bible commentator F.F. Bruce argues for this interpretation:

It is not by accident that the Gospel begins with the same phrase as the book of Genesis. In Genesis 1:1, ‘In the beginning’ introduces the story of the old creation; here it introduces the story of the new creation. In both works of creation the agent is the Word of God. [21]

The Racovian Catechism, one of the great doctrinal works of the Unitarian movement of the 14th and 15th centuries, states that the word “beginning” in John 1:1 refers to the beginning of the new dispensation and thus is similar to Mark 1:1, which starts, “The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ.”

In the cited passage (John 1:1) wherein the Word is said to have been in the beginning, there is no reference to an antecedent eternity, without commencement; because mention is made here of a beginning, which is opposed to that eternity. But the word beginning, used absolutely, is to be understood of the subject matter under consideration. Thus, Daniel 8:1, “In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me AT THE FIRST.” John 15:27, “And ye also shall bear witness because ye have been with me FROM the beginning.” John 16:4, “These things I said not unto you AT the beginning because I was with you. And Acts 11:15, “And as I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us AT the beginning.” As then the matter of which John is treating is the Gospel, or the things transacted under the Gospel, nothing else ought to be understood here beside the beginning of the Gospel; a matter clearly known to the Christians whom he addressed, namely, the advent and preaching of John the Baptist, according to the testimony of all the evangelists [i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John], each of whom begins his history with the coming and preaching of the Baptist. Mark indeed (Chapter 1:1) expressly states that this was the beginning of the Gospel. In like manner, John himself employs the word beginning, placed thus absolutely, in the introduction to his First Epistle, at which beginning he uses the same term (logos) Word, as if he meant to be his own interpreter [“That which is from the beginning…concerning the Word (logos) of life.” 1 John 1:1]. [22]

While we do not agree with the Catechism that the only meaning of beginning in John 1:1 is the beginning of the new creation, we certainly see how the word beginning is a double entendre. In the context of the new creation, then, “the Word” is the plan or purpose according to which God is restoring His creation.

8. To fully understand any passage of Scripture, it is imperative to study the context. To fully understand John 1:1, the rest of the chapter needs to be understood as well, and the rest of the chapter adds more understanding to John 1:1. We believe that these notes on John 1:1, read together with the rest of John 1 and our notes on John 1:3, John 1:10, John 1:14, John 1:15, and John 1:18 will help make the entire first chapter of John more understandable.

For the most exhaustive work we have on John 1:1, click here.

Broughton and Southgate, pp. 238-248

Buzzard, pp. 111-119

Morgridge, pp. 107-109

Norton, pp. 307-374

Robinson, Honest to God, p. 71

Snedeker, pp. 313-326


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