Only the Perfect Man can be
the Savior of the World
The Biblical teaching on One True God and One Perfect Man
Some years ago, motivated by a concern for the evangelizing of India, my wife and I, while traveling in that great country, were struck by the huge multitude of images of gods; only a few of these appeared to stand out as more prominent objects of worship. Larger and smaller temples were everywhere to be seen, often thronged by worshipful devotees. One question inevitably comes to mind: What need is there for such a multiplicity of gods? If there is one all-sufficient God who meets the needs of all, would that not render all gods redundant? Is it not because they have not found one such all-sufficient God that man must resort to a variety of gods to meet a variety of needs?
Indeed, if there is one such all-encompassing personal God, a second or a third divine person would be unnecessary. But evidently this one God is unknown to men, hence the need to look for others. This reminds us of Paul’s words in Athens regarding “the unknown God” (Acts 17.23). For someone like Paul who knows the wonderful God of Israel, Yahweh, the need for other gods was incomprehensible. What would he think of trinitarianism that goes so far as to attribute to him (Paul) the teaching of a second and even a third divine person besides Yahweh? The more one understands the OT with its 6828 references to Yahweh without any reference to any other divine person associated with Him, and the better one understands Paul’s teaching on salvation, the better we will realize that any suggestion that he taught Christ as being a second coequal divine person besides Yahweh would have ignited in him a towering wrath. Worse than that, it will ignite Yahweh’s own burning wrath (Ex.32.10f). But what the trinitarian may least expect is that, because their teaching is fundamentally contrary to Jesus’ own teaching, they will discover on the great and final Day not the “gentle Jesus meek and mild”, described so soothingly in a well known Christian song, but the awesome “wrath of the Lamb” (Rev.6.16; cf.14.10).
Gentile Christianity today no longer knows that “Jewish Christianity always insisted on the historical fact that the Messiah and the Lord Jesus of Nazareth was not a divine being, a second God, but a human being among human beings” (Hans Küng, Christianity, p.97).
No need for another God, but a desperate need for a perfect man
What was the essence of the NT teaching on salvation in general, and of Paul’s teaching in particular, which is so vital for mankind’s eternal well-being? The whole New Testament teaching on salvation is tied to the essential concept of the perfect man, without whom there can be no salvation. What is the perfect man? He is a man who, unlike Adam, was flawless and blameless (“a lamb without blemish or spot” 1Pet.1.19), and who for that very reason can be the savior of the world. Man does not need another God (Yahweh is more than sufficient), so man does not need Jesus as God, but what man desperately needs is a perfect man if he is to have any hope of being saved.
Being God does not make Jesus a perfect man; on the contrary, being God would not make him a real human being at all apart from having a human body. Is this not something which should be perfectly obvious? Or has our trinitarianism blurred our minds to the extent that we are unable to perceive even the obvious? What is at stake is this: If Jesus was not a human being as Adam was—and as we are—then all hope of our salvation vanishes into thin air. The reason we do not understand this is because we have not understood the fundamental principle of our salvation according to the Biblical revelation. Put in a nutshell, what this means is that if we are to be saved, God had to provide mankind with a perfect man who could undo the deadly effects of Adam’s (and man’s) sin. How does God save us through this perfect man? Paul puts it neatly like this:
“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5.19)
This one verse lucidly and concisely sums up the New Testament doctrine of salvation. To understand it thoroughly is to understand the way of salvation fully. But a huge amount of spiritual material is packed into, and condensed, in this verse.
This “one man’s obedience” by which “the many will be made righteous” was something established “through suffering”:
Hebrews 2.10: For it was fitting that he [the Father God], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation [Christ, the Son] perfect through suffering.
Hebrew 5.8: Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.
Hebrews 7.28: a Son who has been made perfect forever.
These important verses are a real problem for trinitarianism because trinitarians have been indoctrinated to read “God the Son” into every reference to “Son”. The notion, therefore, that the Son was in some sense imperfect and that the Father had to perfect him—and perfect him specifically through suffering—is theologically indigestible to the trinitarian. Any argument to the effect that this refers to the Son as man runs into the serious Christological problem of splitting up the “two natures” to make them function independently of each other, thereby bringing into question the unity of the two natures. And if the two natures cannot be separated to the extent needed to escape the sharp edge of these statements in Hebrews, it raises a trenchant question regarding the divine Son: What kind of a son is it that had not yet learnt obedience to his father? That a human son, even a good one, needs to learn obedience to his father is perfectly understandable; and his being good consists precisely in his obedience. But how is one to explain the case of the preexistent, eternal Son who has not yet learnt obedience to the Father, and only finally learns it when he comes to earth?!
What is also necessary to observe about these verses in Hebrews is that it is consistently stated that it is the Father God, Yahweh, who perfected the Son; it was not the Son perfecting himself, so reference to the alleged “two natures” is irrelevant. Thus in Hebrews 2.10 “make perfect” in the Greek is the one word “perfected” in the active form, because it is Yahweh God who was active in perfecting the Son. In the other two verses “being made perfect” is passive because the Son, not the Father, is the subject. The perfecting of Christ was the Father’s will, and initiated by Him for the sake of mankind’s salvation.
In Hebrews, as in the New Testament as a whole, the “Son” refers to the messianic titles “the Son of God” or “the Son of Man” but never to the trinitarian term “God the Son” for the simple reason that the title “God the Son” does not exist in either the New Testament or the Old.
The importance of the three passages in Hebrews, cited above, is found in the fact that all three passages illuminate the truth that God made the Son, the Messiah Jesus, perfect through the process of suffering so that he could be “the founder of their salvation” (2.10). What this means is that the perfecting of “the man Christ (which, let us remember, means “Messiah”, the Savior, Lk.2.11, etc) Jesus” was absolutely essential for man’s salvation. Only the Messiah as perfect man could be “the savior of the world” (Jo.4.42; 1Jo.4.14).
Put in sacrificial terms, only if the animal being offered up on the altar was “without blemish”, that is, perfect, could the sacrifice be acceptable to God. No imperfect animal, having even the slightest blemish, could be offered as a sacrifice. This point is repeatedly stressed in the Law of the Old Testament. Even someone who knows no Hebrew can see for him/herself that “without blemish” occurs in 17 verses in Leviticus and also 17 in Numbers in the ESV (English Standard Version) in regard to animals offered as a sacrifice. In some verses the phrase occurs more than once: e.g. Numbers 6:14, “and he shall bring his gift to the LORD (Yahweh), one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one ram without blemish as a peace offering”.
Accordingly, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Perfect Man, was able to offer himself up for the salvation of the world. In the words of Hebrews 9.14, “how much more (than the animal sacrifices, v.13) will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God”, and 1Pt.1.18,19, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
The Uniqueness of the Perfect Man Jesus Christ
The perfect man is a man perfect in his obedience to God. Such a man never existed in the history of the world. This is what Apostle Paul highlights in Romans 3.10, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’” (NIV), a verse often misused to argue for man’s “total depravity”, disregarding the fact that Paul does recognize that there are righteous and good people in the world, as can be seen from the following statement, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” (Romans 5.7)
Although there may be “good men” in the world, there has never been a perfect man as measured by Yahweh God’s standards. Yet nothing less than such a man was needed for man’s salvation. Only if Jesus is such a man can he save us. Had trinitarian theologians better understood Biblical soteriology (doctrine of salvation) they would have avoided the error of constantly harping on the theme of Jesus being God. Nowhere in the New Testament is faith in Jesus as God required for salvation. But it is essential to believe that “the man Christ Jesus” is the one mediator whom God appointed for our salvation (1Ti.2.5,6); he is the one and only perfect man who has ever appeared on the face of this earth; this is a new thing which God has done in order to accomplish the salvation of mankind.
The perfection of Jesus consisted precisely in his utter voluntary submission and total functional obedience to the Father God, Yahweh. It is for this very reason that his full voluntary subordination to the Father’s will is so constantly, almost repetitiously, emphasized by Jesus himself as described extensively in John’s Gospel, which we shall study later in this work.
But this leads us to consider the question: What is implied by the term “perfect man”? What needs to be perceived in this connection is that perfection in its absolute sense is an attribute of Yahweh God, not of man (“your heavenly Father is perfect” Mat.5.48). Thus, to be made perfect is to become like Him; it is to acquire His character. But can suffering, though necessary in the process of perfection, of itself make anyone perfect? Suffering, after all, is something which a large portion of mankind has had a great deal of experience of, and many have endured it with dignity and even outstanding heroism, but would that make them perfect persons in the sense in which Hebrews is speaking about? Some people who have suffered could perhaps have reached a high level of moral excellence; but reaching Christ’s perfection is not within the realm of human attainment.
Christ’s perfection rests on the fact of the unique divine involvement in his person as the one in whom the Word (Memra) was incarnate or “became flesh” (Jo.1.14); “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col.1.19); “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Co.2.9). This means that Christ’s perfection was attained through the unique indwelling presence and power of God in him. Yahweh God established a union with Christ at the deepest level of his being (“I and my Father are one”, Jo.10.30); in this union Christ was empowered to attain what no man could of himself attain. It was for this reason that he was called “the only son”, or “only begotten son” (Jo.1.14; 3.16,18; 1Jo.4.9); this is what distinguished him from Adam, the man “from the earth”, as “the man from heaven (i.e. from God)” (1Cor.15.47). Without Yahweh God’s unique indwelling in Christ, the necessary perfection could not have been achieved. The perfect man was the man in whom Yahweh’s fullness lived bodily here on earth among men to accomplish man’s salvation.
But it needs to be emphasized that Christ’s perfection as man was not something in which Christ was only a passive participant. For Hebrews 5.8 says, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” “Learned” is in the active form in Greek. This was no mere passive submissiveness, but wholehearted obedience to the Father; Jesus expresses it like this, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jo.8.29). He could fully echo the sentiments of the Psalmist, “My delight is to do your will; your law, my God, is deep in my heart” (Psalm 40.8, NJB); he could speak of God’s will as his food (Jo.4.34), from which it can be seen that he certainly knew what it meant to “delight yourself in the LORD (Yahweh)” (Ps.37.4; Isa.58.14).
Perfect man as perfect teacher
We often speak of “the teaching of Jesus” without taking due note of the fact that his teaching originates from the Father, it is not his own. What Jesus taught was the Father’s teaching of which he was the channel, as he himself affirmed unequivocally in John 7:16, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” It is the Father speaking to us in all of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus repeats this point many times. In addition to John 7.16, there are the following:
3.34: For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
12.49: For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
14.10: The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
14.24: Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
17.8: For I have given them the words that you gave me.
Jesus was the perfect man also for this reason, namely, he always “utters the words of God” (3.34) and was, therefore, perfect in speech. As it is written in James 3.2, “For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”
Without Jesus we would not have the Father’s teaching; we therefore thank the Father from the depth of our hearts for Jesus. But we must not forget that his message is the Word of God, the God whom Jesus repeatedly referred to as “Father”.
The Word which Jesus declared and embodied is truth and life precisely because it is the Word of God, the Father. The Word of God is God’s self-revelation, which is the means by which all men are drawn to Him. The Father draws through His word. This is consistent with what we saw earlier, namely, that Jesus as the embodiment of God’s word is the Way to the Father. Put in another way, he is the Bread sent down by the Father that men may have life through the process of “eating” it. All the other metaphors similarly portray the picture of Jesus as the instrument of the Father’s revelatory and saving work. This comes out particularly strongly in John’s Gospel, in which the truth that Jesus is the one sent by the Father and functioned in total subordination to, and dependence on, the Father, is more strongly emphasized than anywhere else in the NT. We shall now consider the evidence for this statement.
Jesus’ emphasis on his having been sent by the Father and therefore acting under His authority in all that he does
On the Father sending Jesus, a look at the statistics will immediately reveal its importance in John. Two Greek words are translated as “send”:
Matthew: 3 (if 21.37, in a parable, is counted)
Mark: 2 (if 12.6, in a parable, is included)
Synoptic Gospels: 0
Apostellō and pempō, in reference to the Father sending the Son, together add up to a total of 41 times in John.
This emphasis is striking. What is also striking is not only that they appear in John’s Gospel, but that the references are all in Jesus’ own teaching in that Gospel. And as though to ensure that we do not miss the point, Jesus says in 13.16, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant (doulos, slave, as applied to Jesus see Phil.2.7) is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”; hence, “the Father is greater than I” (14.28).
This huge number of 41 references in the Lord’s sayings in John’s Gospel shows that it constitutes the heart and essence of his teaching. A study of each of these sayings would give the details of Jesus’ teaching in John. But that would be beyond the scope of this book.
I shall not here attempt to analyze the semantic differences (if any) between apostellō and pempō, except to provide a quotation from A Treasury of New Testament Synonyms (Stewart Custer, Bob Jones University Press, Inc., 1975) where he gives the summary of his discussion of the two words as follows, “The word ἀποστέλλω (apostellō) denotes ‘I send with a commission’ or ‘I send officially.’ Πέμπω (pempō) is a general term for ‘I send.’ In some contexts it certainly means ‘I send officially,’ but by no means always; the context must decide.”
But Custer’s study is more strongly based on classical Greek than on NT Greek where the distinction between the two words appears to be less marked, though some such distinction as given by Custer can still be admitted, though to a lesser extent. For example, both apostellō and pempō appear in John 20.21 where the difference does not seem at first to be very obvious; it disappears altogether in the various translations. But are the two different words used merely for literary variation? Or could it be that the Lord (in Jo.20.21) did not want to put his sending out the disciples on the same level as the Father’s sending him into the world, and thus again honoring the Father as greater than he?
Jesus’ total dependence on the Father as seen in his teaching
He who sends is obviously greater than he who is sent by him. Hence, to be sent in itself expresses the subordination of the one who is sent to the one who sends him (Jo.13.16). But Jesus affirms even more than that: he expresses himself as being totally dependent upon the Father. John 6.57 “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” Our relationship to Jesus, our dependence on Jesus for life, mirrors his dependence upon the Father for life.
According to Jesus’ own teaching in John 6.57, just as we cannot live without Jesus, so also Jesus cannot live without the Father. C.K. Barrett (The Gospel According to St. John, Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text, SPCK) puts it like this, “The life of the Son is entirely dependent upon the Father (διὰ τὸν πατέρα) [dia ton patera], he has no independent life or authority, and it is because he abides in the Father that men may live abiding in him” (p.248, on Jo.6.57; italics mine). M. Dods, “The Father is the absolute source of life; the Son is the bearer of that life to the world; cf. 5.26, where the same dependence of the Son on the Father for life is expressed” (Expositor’s Greek Testament, on Jo.6.57; italics mine).
John 5.26: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” The Son has life in himself, but only because the Father has granted (ἔδωκεν, edōken aor. of didōmi) it to him. And because the Father has given the Son this life, the Son can also give it to others: “just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (5.21). The Son has been granted full authority to pass on the life which the Father gave him.
Didōmi in John
Didōmi (give) is another statistically significant word in John’s Gospel; it occurs more frequently in John than in any other book in the NT (Jo: 75 times; Mt: 56; Mk: 39; Lk: 60); it is frequent also in the Apocalypse of John, the Revelation (58 times).
For most Christians, probably the best known instance of “give” in John is found in 3.16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave (didōmi) his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is what Paul described as “God’s unspeakable (inexpressible, indescribable) gift” (2Co.9.15) to us. It was God who gave Jesus to us for no other reason than that He loved us. For basically unloving, self-centered people such as we are, it is hard enough to understand that anyone should love us so deeply and genuinely, but it is well nigh incomprehensible (unless, of course, we are extremely conceited, which is possible) that God should have any reason to love us. But the point being made in this verse is not only that God loved us, but that He loved us to the extent of actually giving His Son. What gratitude do we have for the Father in return? We love the Son (rightly), but we marginalize the Father as though He was less involved in our salvation.
Jesus emphasized his obedience to the Father
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me’” (Jo.8.42, ESV). As we have seen, Jesus emphasized not only his subordination to the Father as the one sent by Him, but also his complete dependence on the Father for life. In this verse (8.42) he underlines his obedience to the Father: his coming into the world was not primarily a matter of his own choice or initiative, but it was in obedience to the Father’s will. On this verse C.K. Barrett (The Gospel According to St. John) comments, “Once more the mission of Jesus is emptied of every suggestion of self-will or self-seeking. This is a very common and essential Johannine emphasis; see especially 5.19-30. Jesus did not come into the world of his own accord; he came because he was sent. His ministry has significance not in any wisdom or virtue of his own, but in the fact that he is the delegate of God himself.”
It is clear that with the words “I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” (8.42), Jesus established firmly that his coming was an act of obedience to the Father, not an act of his own will. Presumably, he could have disobeyed, and in that act of disobedience (like Adam) clutched at equality with God. Yet, do we not read Phil.2.6f as though his coming was of his own initiative, an act of his own volition? This, as it turns out, is wrong, and distorts our understanding of that important passage.
Romans 5.19, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (NASB). Obedience, if it is to be meaningful, must involve choice. Jesus repeatedly maintained that he had made that choice to obey the Father: John 4.34 (NIV), “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work”; the Father’s will is like food to him, he lives on it. John 5.30, “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 6.39 “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
His subordination and dependence
John 14.10, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”
John 5.19, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’”
John 12.49, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given (didōmi) me a commandment (entolē)—what to say and what to speak.”
In this last verse Jesus makes it clear that he always lives by the commands (entolē) the Father has given (didōmi) him. As we might now come to expect, the word “command” (entolē) appears more often in John as compared to the synoptic gospels (Jo: 10 times; Mt: 6; Mk: 6; Lk: 4). Jesus refers to the Father’s commands repeatedly:
John 10.18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 15.10, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
Compare this with the following verse (the NIV translation is given because it helps to bring out the meaning more clearly):
John 14.31, “but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded (entellomai) me.”
Jesus always does the Father’s will
God’s will (thelēma) is another key word in John, again occurring more frequently than in the other gospels (Jo: 11 times; Mt: 6; Mk: 1; Lk: 4). Here we cite only those verses directly relevant to what is being discussed in this section. Apart from 4.34, quoted earlier, there are the following:
John 5.30, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
John 6.38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
John 7.17, “If anyone's will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” Only those who live according to God’s will are granted to know Jesus—the one who teaches and lives according to God’s will. The Word of God and the will of God cannot be separated.
We note that Jesus did not simply say in a dogmatic way: If you want to be saved, you have to believe me and accept whatever I say or teach (this is the way we are used to hearing the Christian church speak). How does anyone know whether he (or the Church) is really speaking God’s word, God’s truth? That is surely a fair question. Jesus’ answer is: If you are truly willing to live totally and uncompromisingly according to God’s will, God will surely grant you to know whether I—and my teaching—am true or not.
Knowing the truth is not a matter of theory or dogma, it is a matter of life (or death)—and life is no mere theory or dogma. If our lives are lived in the light (i.e. not in darkness) through doing God’s will faithfully, He will certainly grant us to see His light, just as it is written in Psalm 36.9, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
John’s Gospel is written in a clear and uncomplicated style. If in spite of this fact we still cannot understand the message it contains, then we must examine our spiritual condition (“Let a person examine himself”, 1Co.11.28). Those who search in it for proof-texts, which they take out of context to support their unscriptural ideas and doctrines, do well to consider the consequence: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). “Their deeds were evil” does not necessarily mean that these people are robbers or fornicators, but that they live according to their own (or men’s) will, rather than live wholly in glad obedience to God’s will. Doing or not doing the will of the Father God is what, in Jesus’ teaching, defines good or evil; how each person lives in relation to the will of God is what determines whether it will be evaluated as good or bad, whether it will lead to life or to death.
Christ’s true and full humanity is essential for man’s salvation
There is another important observation that we need to take note of in view of the foregoing points: If the humanity of Christ is in any way called into question or compromised, we likewise compromise our salvation, for as we have noted, if Christ is not truly man he cannot be our savior. But trinitarianism has done precisely that; it compromises Christ’s humanity by dogmatically asserting that Christ is both “truly man and truly God”. If we had not been blinded by the twisted logic of trinitarianism, it should not have taken us more than a moment to see that this is logical nonsense. The plain fact is that no one can be truly man who is truly God. No one can be 100% man and also be 100% God, for that adds up to 200%—two persons.
Is there anything impossible with God? The answer is ‘Yes’ if what is involved is logical contradiction or nonsense. It is like asking: can God make something both 100% black and 100% white all over at the same time? Can 100% salt also be 100% sugar? The point is that self-contradictory nonsense can never be attributed to God; He is the God of truth, not irrationality and falsehood.
Yet this is precisely the kind of self-contradictory Christology which results in Christians saying “Jesus is God”; these Christians generally have a weak concept of his humanity. The fact is that we cannot hold two contradictory ideas about Christ in balanced tension without the one dominating over the other, and since God must be the One who dominates, therefore the humanity of Christ is eclipsed by that dominance.
Also, this dogmatic God-man notion about Jesus results in Christians having to engage in the art of double-speak: one moment we may speak of him as God and then at another moment we talk about him as man, without even noticing the contradictions involved. We are hardly conscious of this swinging to and fro, having become immune to self-contradiction in a thought world in which truth and falsehood, reason and irrationality, are forced into coexistence.
This mental “achievement” has come at a terrible price: we need only look around in the world and see that, far from the church being “the light of the world” (Mat.5.14) as it is meant to be, it has become irrelevant, because it has itself fallen into the darkness of error. How can the church function as light unless it is delivered from the bondage of error? In view of the evil of error, the relevance of the words which Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “deliver us from evil”, begins to become strikingly clear.
Let us take one example: the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. How is trinitarianism to explain these passages in the light of the principle stated in James 1.13, “God cannot be tempted by evil”? This means that if Jesus cannot really be tempted, then he is not man; and if he can be tempted, he is not God. To argue in the usual double-talk way, as trinitarians unashamedly do, that he can be tempted as man, but not as God, is to reduce sense to nonsense, and truth to falsehood, for when it comes to temptation, he is not God—but if he were God, then he could not be tempted and the temptation of Christ would be an exercise in meaninglessness. What happened to the claim that he was both 100% God (true God) and 100% man at one and the same time? How can one properly and responsibly interpret the Scriptures with this kind of teaching?
Trinitarianism wants to have it both ways: Jesus, the God-man, is one person yet functionally he is really two persons simultaneously, i.e. God and man. So when there is the question of facing temptation, Jesus who is God, is instantly switched to being man. This constant switching back and forth as the situation requires is the inevitable way in which the trinitarian Christ functions, but which immediately reveals the fact that he cannot be both God and man simultaneously. For the truth of the matter is that no one can both be tempted yet not tempted simultaneously, as this is both logically and factually impossible, and to maintain that it is possible is simply to insist on speaking nonsense. Is it really that difficult to see that any statement to the effect that Jesus can be tempted but at the same time and in the same sense cannot be tempted is nonsensical? Yet it is this kind of double talk that trinitarians are obliged to engage in to argue for the God-man doctrine. Their “yes” is “no”, and their “no” is “yes” (cf. Mt.5.37; 2Cor.1.17,19; Jas.5.12)—whatever suits their purpose to sustain a dogma which in the end proves sustainable neither by Scripture nor by logic.
The origins of Trinitarianism
In the light of Scripture, the origin and development of the trinitarian error can be analyzed in three steps:
(1) The misinterpretation of “the Word” to refer to “God the Son”, who exists nowhere in the Scriptures (or anywhere else) yet who is created by trinitarianism as a result of the mistaken interpretation, in particular of John 1.1. Because of the importance of this matter and its serious consequences for the church, careful attention will be given to examining it in the following chapters.
(2) “Incarnation” is interpreted to mean that two different and distinct persons, one who is said to be “God”—namely, “God the Son”—and the man named Jesus, are quite literally compressed or condensed into becoming one person, one individual. Two persons are made to become one person! This is not meant as a metaphorical union such as that of husband and wife becoming “one flesh” (Gen.2.24; Mat.19.5, etc), but actually becoming one person! By this doctrine two persons are conflated into one—without any concern whether this is logically or factually possible. But this raises the problem that such a “person” ends up being neither truly human nor divine, being some kind of combination of both. But, worst of all, there is absolutely no basis for any of this in Scripture. It is nothing more or less than a misguided trinitarian fabrication. Yet this is the sort of doctrine that Christians are expected to believe in!
(3) The Western church failed to see that it was Yahweh God who was “in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2Cor.5.19) in spite of the fact that, as Jesus himself had clearly stated, the Father, Yahweh, is “the only true God” (Jo.17.3), being “the only God” (Jo.5.44); who else but He who was “in Christ reconciling the world”? Yet Western theology closed out this option because, under the influence of the Hellenistic (Greek) philosophy which maintained that God was transcendent, they thereby made unthinkable the possibility that Yahweh could come into the world in Christ. Apparently, “the Word” was actually thought of as being less than transcendent, perhaps as some kind of intermediate being (as in Philo); otherwise, how could the Word avoid the man-made ban on God’s coming into the world because of His “transcendence”? It did not seem to occur to trinitarians that the Word’s exemption from this ban in itself calls into question their claim about the full deity of the Word, since it would be an admission that he was not transcendent to begin with.
Jesus’ own teaching
That “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2Cor.5.19) was not Paul’s invention (Paul is often wrongfully accused of being the originator of later Christian doctrines); it was undoubtedly Jesus’ own teaching. As we shall see when studying his teaching in John’s Gospel, Jesus consistently maintained that it was the Father, Yahweh, who was the dynamic power at work in him, enabling him to fulfill the mission of accomplishing the salvation of mankind. This can be clearly seen summed up in the words “the Father who dwells in me does His works” (Jo.14.10).
There does not exist in Jesus’ teaching any notion that Yahweh’s transcendence prevents Him from coming into the world in Jesus; Jesus can even speak metaphorically of earth as Yahweh’s “footstool” (Mat.5.35)—His feet are firmly planted on this earth which He created! No philosophy, Greek or otherwise, will be permitted to ban Him from His world, over which He reigns. “The Kingdom of God” is one of the central elements of Jesus’ teaching.
It can, therefore, easily be seen in the light of Jesus’ teaching that the three points on which the trinitarian dogma is based find no support in his teaching. In regard to the first point, “the Word” as a metonym for “Yahweh” was something familiar to Jesus and the Jews of his day because it was rooted in the OT and in the Aramaic Bible (Targums) which were commonly used in the synagogues in Israel. This will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapters.
Regarding the second point, that in Jesus, God and man were “condensed” into one (how else does one describe two persons being reduced to one person?!), such an idea is totally foreign to Jesus’ teaching, and incompatible with it. Once we begin to understand something about the fundamentals of Jesus’ teaching we begin to feel an uncomfortable queasiness about the trinitarian idea of reducing God and man into one person; it seems to border on the blasphemous. But how else can we deal with this falsehood without mentioning it? What is strange is that, as trinitarians, we had no qualms about this dogma of the merging of God and man into one person. This is probably, in part at least, because few of us had any real idea what such a merging really meant or entailed; the concept was extremely vague to us, and hence its real implications did not strike us. But the other reason is that most people have an extremely shallow concept of God; the lofty awe-inspiring majesty of the living God is very remote from most people’s thoughts about Him. So it simply did not occur to us that we may be saying something which is deeply displeasing to Him. Moreover, if people believe anything about God at all, it is often the idea that anything is possible with him, and this makes it possible to speak even of absurdities as though these might also be possible for God.
Jesus warned us about how we make reference to God. This, for example, is what lies behind his warning not to swear:
“But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Mat.5.34-37; NIV).
What is striking about what Jesus says here is his warning that even though direct reference to God is avoided when swearing “by heaven”, or “by earth”, etc, your oath (usually made to support what you want to affirm) still unavoidably has reference to God, so you will answer for it before Him, and you could be “subject to judgment” or even to “the hell of fire” (Mat.5.22) because it “comes from the evil one” (Mat.5.37). This is a level of reverence for God in daily life and speech which is far beyond the concept of the average Christian, and is almost inconceivable to him. It is hard to imagine, therefore, what Jesus must think about the merging of God and man into one person as dogmatically defined in trinitarianism!
This trinitarian reduction of two persons into one in no way represents what Jesus meant by being “one” with the Father and our becoming “one” with both him and the Father through a similar union. This union is always spoken of in terms of “abiding” or “living” in one another, not some kind of quasi-physical absorption into one another. The identity of each person is fully ensured in this union, and indeed enriched and enhanced by it.
Jesus never engaged in ‘double talk’, that is, sometimes speaking as man and at other times as God. Anyone who does this could rightly be considered schizophrenic, if not something worse. But throughout John’s Gospel, as we shall see, he speaks consistently as “the son” who lives in total love and obedience to his Father. But trinitarianism, in its determination to maintain the Scripturally (and logically) untenable idea of Jesus as being both ‘true God and true man’, finds that they cannot do this without resorting to alleging that Jesus would in one place speak as God yet in another place as man (e.g. “I thirst”, Jo.19.28). They thus admit that he functioned schizophrenically, but unavoidably so, because of his dual natures. There is absolutely no basis for this kind of notion in the gospels.
It must be clearly borne in mind that, from the point of view of the salvation of mankind, the deity of Christ does not matter, but the reality of Christ’s humanity is of the greatest importance. If we do not wish to be misled, we must keep this in our minds: Nowhere in the NT is faith in the deity of Christ required for salvation. These facts will become clearer to the reader as we proceed through the present study.
Perfect Man as Mediator
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 2.5)
Moses served effectively as a mediator between Israel and Yahweh. On several occasions rebellious Israel was saved from God’s wrath through Moses’ intercessions. But who stands between mankind and God? “All have sinned” (Ro.3.23), all have disobeyed God, all are in the clutches of death and condemnation; who is there to speak on mankind’s behalf in the way that Moses did for Israel? This is where the necessity of Christ’s ministry as the “one mediator” becomes evident. Not surprisingly, therefore, Christ is compared with Moses as mediator (Gal.3.19-22). Even in John’s Prologue there is reference to Moses (John 1.17), for through him the Word (logos) of God came to Israel in the form of the Law.
The Letter to the Hebrews discusses in detail Jesus’ mediatorial role in terms of being the great high priest. The function of the high priest is explained in Hebrews 5.1, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God [i.e. act as mediator], to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God” (v.4). “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’ [Ps.2.7]” (v.5). “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf (huper hēmōn)” (9:24). “On our behalf” crystallizes the character of the mediator’s role, and especially that of the high priest as mediator. But “on our behalf” is just one translation of huper hēmōn, which is literally: “for us”. These words appear many times with reference to Christ’s work as high priest and savior; there are too many references to study here, but the following are the occurrences in Romans:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (5.6)
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (5.8)
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (8.32)
“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (8.34)
It is important to notice from the foregoing references that it was Yahweh God who provided the mediator by appointing Jesus as high priest (Heb.5.5), and that He also provided the sacrifice for sin by giving up His own Son (Ro.8.32), so “Christ died for us” (Ro.5.8). These are the reasons why Yahweh is called “God our Savior” (1Tim.1.1; 2.3; etc). These provisions for man’s salvation remind us of what happened at the sacrificing of Isaac by Abraham. When Isaac asked his father where the animal for the sacrifice was, Abraham, “the father of all who believe” (Ro.4.11), replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Gen.22.8). This foreshadowed a faith that could and would believe in Yahweh’s provision of “the Lamb of God” (Jo.1.29,36; and, in Rev., “the Lamb”); the phrase means: a Lamb that God Himself provided—to make possible the salvation of mankind.
What is also important for us to know is that “for us” (huper hēmōn, and therefore, “for you”, huper sou) has its roots in the language of redemption in the OT. The following is an example from Isaiah 43:
3 For I am the LORD (Yahweh), your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead [LXX, huper sou, “for you”]. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you [LXX, huper sou], and people in exchange for your life.” (NIV)
This passage illustrates several significant points:
(1) Yahweh is the Redeemer of His people. This is an important theme in the Hebrew Bible, but is given special emphasis in Isaiah. “Of thirty-three passages in the Old Testament in which gō’ēl [redeemer] is applied to God, nineteen occur in Isaiah… In spiritualizing the term gō’ēl [redeemer], Isaiah (49.26; comp. Psa.19.14) places it on a par with ‘savior’”. (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “Redeemer”)
(2) Redemption involves the paying of a “ransom”. In this case, since Egypt also belongs to God, He chose to give it as a ransom to liberate His people from the bondage they were subjected to there. The ransom is the “price” (timē) paid to redeem a slave. Hence Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price (timē). So glorify God in your body.” (1Cor.6.19,20; also 7.23)
(3) A ransom is something given in exchange for the prisoner or slave for whom the ransom is paid. Thus, when we read in Romans 5.6 that “Christ died for the ungodly”, we understand that he gave his life as a ransom for us in order to secure our life through his death. He gave himself in exchange for us. Jesus himself put it like this, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20.28, NIV) Jesus was the ransom who freely gave himself for us (Gal.2.20). But, unlike Paul, we usually overlook the fact that it was Yahweh God who gave His Son as that ransom; it was “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Ro.8.32). In other words, Yahweh God is the Redeemer-Savior, and Jesus is the ransom that He paid for us. The beauty of the mediator is that he is the willing ransom-sacrifice. The beauty of Yahweh is that He was willing to “give up” His “beloved son” for our salvation-liberation from sin and death. From the fact of Jesus’ willing self-giving we can appreciate why he is Yahweh’s “beloved son”.
The Apostle Peter put it like this, “knowing that you were ransomed [by God] from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1Pet.1.18,19) Why does he speak of Christ’s blood as “precious”? Is it not because it is the blood of God’s “beloved Son” (2Pet.1.17; Mat.3.17; 17.5, etc)? Notice, too, as a matter of relevance to this section, that “blood” speaks of Jesus as man, and “without blemish or spot” describes him as perfect; hence it speaks of him as the perfect man.
(4) Those who have been ransomed become the possession of the one who redeemed (or ransomed) them. This is stated with exquisite intensity in Isaiah 43.1, “And now, thus says Yahweh, he who created you, Jacob, who formed you, Israel: Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine.” (NJB) This sentiment was expressed already much earlier in Deuteronomy 14.1,2: “You are the sons of the LORD (Yahweh) your God… For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession.” So also Deuteronomy 26.18, “And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession.” These same sentiments are applied to the church in the New Testament, as in 1Peter 2.9,10:
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
It is for this reason, too, that the church is called “the church of God” (7 times in the NT). In our “Christ-centered” trinitarianism we always spoke of “the church of Jesus Christ”. How great was my surprise to discover that the term “the church of Christ” cannot be found in the New Testament! This reminds me of Matthew 22.29: “Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’”—and I had assumed that I knew both reasonably well!—a stinging but much needed lesson in humility!
In God’s loving kindness and tender mercy He redeemed us through Christ and made us His own. But what we have forgotten (or have chosen to disregard?) as trinitarians is that it is not only we ourselves who belong to Him, but that Christ Jesus our Lord is also Yahweh’s own possession, just as the Apostle states so clearly yet so concisely in the words, “you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1Cor.3.23). I finally understood something which, because of my trinitarian Christology, I had never understood before: Christ was not an independent mediator standing between God and man; he is and always was God’s. That is to say, he is not a third party who came to act as an arbiter or negotiator between God and man. He was indeed a mediator, but only in the sense of someone sent by God and appointed by Him to be both high priest and sacrifice; for it was God Himself who “was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2Cor.5.19). “He spared not His own Son but gave him up for us all” (Ro.8.32) in order to secure our redemption. The whole initiative was Yahweh God’s from the beginning; it was He alone who provided the mediator.
Finally I began to understand what the Apostle was saying in Galatians 3.20. Understandably, all the translations try to make sense of this highly condensed sentence, but they seem hardly successful in their attempts. A literal word for word translation would read, “Now a mediator is not of one; but God is one.” What does this mean? As we have seen, the entire initiative for the salvation of mankind came from God alone; man had no part in it, he made no contribution to it whatever; it came only from the one God—there was no other party involved in the planning and implementing of man’s salvation, it was of God’s grace alone. So in Galatians 3.20, while Paul agrees that usually a mediator is not put forth or provided by one side only, yet in the case of man’s salvation, Christ the mediator was indeed provided by only one side: the one God, the one who alone is God. “God is one” echoes Deuteronomy 6.4 and Mark 12.29; it is here applied to the specific matter of salvation.
Jesus’ God-given name “Yeshua”
As is (or should be) generally known, Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua. This is rendered in English as “Jesus”, following the Greek form, not the Hebrew. “Yeshua” means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is Savior”. It would be extremely strange if the one whose very name proclaims Yahweh as Savior should substitute Him as savior! Indeed, it would not only be strange but false, and even evil.
The meaning of the name “Yeshua” was, clearly, that Yahweh would save in and through the person who was given that name. At various times in Israel’s history Yahweh saved His people through deliverers or saviors whom He raised up. For example:
Nehemiah 9.27: “Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies” (ESV).
Obadiah 1:21: “Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be Yahweh’s.”
Jesus, too, was a Savior sent from God, as it is written in 1John 4:14, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” Moreover, as we recall, Jesus constantly affirmed that it was the Father who did the work through him: “the Father who dwells in me does his works” (Jo.14.10; cf.5.19); “His works” here are, above all, what is needed to be done for the salvation of mankind.
“God my Savior” (or “God my Salvation” in other translations) is frequent in the OT. The words “God” (elohim) and “save” (Yasha, the Hebrew root from which the name “Yeshua” is formed) occur together no less than 70 times in the OT; and “Yahweh” occurs together with “save” 131 times. Ultimately, there is no other savior apart from Yahweh: “And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isa.45.21).
The glory of Christ—as man
The glory of Christ consists not in his allegedly being “God”, but in his being the “last Adam” (1Cor.15.45), the climax of God’s creation: the new man. The new man Jesus is “the first fruits” (1Cor.15.23) as also its final fruit, its apex, the “perfect man” (Eph.4.13; KJV, NKJ), to whose “stature” we are to attain. This is why he is “the first and the last” (Rev.1.17; 2.8), the beginning and the climax of the new creation.
The reference to Ephesians 4.13 requires fuller explication. This is how this verse reads in the New King James Bible: “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. A look at other translations will show that most of them translate “perfect man” as “mature man” or “mature manhood”. What the Greek text has are the two words “anēr” and “teleios”. The basic meaning of anēr is “an adult human male, man, husband” (BDAG); so the word is not anthrōpos, the word for man as a human being. Why is the specific word for an adult male used here in Ephesians and not the word for man in a general sense? The answer should be obvious: the “perfect man” here has specific reference to Christ, which is confirmed by what immediately follows: “the stature of the fullness of Christ”. As for “teleios” its primary meaning is “1. pertaining to meeting the highest standard, perfect”, but it can also mean “2. pertaining to being mature, full-grown, mature, adult” (both quotes are from BDAG). The point in Ephesians 4.13 is surely not that we are to grow up spiritually into maturity in a general sense, but specifically to grow up into the full stature of Christ as the “perfect man”. The New Jerusalem Bible combines both points by translating the Greek word ēlikia as “maturity” instead of “stature” (which is possible): “until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself” (italics added).
Another striking point to observe about this verse in Ephesians is how “the Son of God” is understood. “The Son of God” is none other than the “perfect man”! The two phrases are clearly linked to each other in the text, and cannot be correctly understood separately.
The perfect man was no mere human puppet, but one who in total obedience and devotion to Yahweh carried out His saving purposes in joyful submission (“who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross”, Heb.12.2). We can exclaim from the heart, “What a savior!” All the more so when we understand that it was possible for him to be tempted and fall in the way Adam did (which would not have been possible if he were God), but he “triumphed over them” (Col.2.15; cf. Rev.5.5) in his steadfast obedience to the Father (Yahweh) dwelling in Him, who sustained him, constantly empowering him in everything he said and did, thus ensuring his triumphal success.
Christianity’s negative view of man
The Augustinian and Calvinistic degradation of man as being nothing more than a wretched, “depraved” sinner, made it seem unworthy for Christ to be “mere” man. (He could not have been an angel or archangel, or it would have to be said that man was saved by an angel!) And if Christ—so the logic goes—had to be more than man and more than an angel, how could he be less than God? Paul’s teaching of man as “the image and glory of God” (1Cor.11.7) was swept aside by this Christian Gentile dogmatism which selectively quoted verses such as those found in Romans 3.10-18, which is a collection of OT verses describing the level of vileness to which men who choose to be evil can, and do, descend. But to suggest that the dregs of humanity are representative of all mankind is not true to fact (such as the numerous instances of people such as fire fighters, who even if they are non-Christians, risk life and limb, and even die, to save others in times of natural and other disasters), nor is it true to Paul’s statement about man being (present tense) “the glory of God” (1Cor.11.7)—a rather strong statement, is it not? Why then is speaking of Christ as man something that degrades him?
“Glory” in John: Jesus does not accept glory from men—declined to be made king by force
A person whose life has God’s will as its one and only overarching concern is, consequently, utterly unconcerned about receiving glory from men. Jesus began his teaching ministry with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5); these delineate the principal ways in which a person who lives according to the will of God functions in daily life. It is this kind of person who is the object of God’s blessings. In the last section of the Beatitudes Jesus says:
“10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Those who seek the reward or glory that comes from God alone, because their only desire is to live for God and to please Him, are unconcerned about the hostility of men. To be reviled and persecuted is cause to “rejoice and be glad”. By the end of the gospel the reader knows that it was not only the prophets who were persecuted but above all Jesus himself; and so will all those who do the Father’s will and seek only His glory.
“Glory” (doxa, δόξα) is a statistically significant key word in John’s Gospel where it occurs 19 times compared to 13 times in Luke (which is more than 20% longer than John), Matthew 7 times, and Mark only 3 times. The only book in the NT where doxa occurs almost as frequently as in John is the Johannine book of Revelation, where it appears 17 times.
A look at the place of doxa in Jesus’ teaching reveals something of great importance about the mind of Christ which few have noticed:
John 5.41: I do not receive glory from people.
John 5.44: How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (Notice monotheism as the motivating factor: from “the only God”, monos theos)
John 7.18: The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
John 8.50: Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.
John 8.54: Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’”
John 12.43: For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
All this is summed up by Jesus’ action in John 6:15, “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”
We may have read the Gospel of John many times but have we ever really understood its message and, in particular, the significance of these words and actions of Jesus? Do we think that we please Jesus by forcibly crowning him as our king, just as the people in John 6 sought to do because they recognized him to be “the Prophet who is to come into the world” (6.14), the great Messiah they had been expecting? They may have wanted to crown him because they saw that he could meet their physical needs; but are we better than they because we don’t have such urgent material needs (‘bread’ or food) as they had but desire for ourselves the bread that gives us eternal life? Are spiritual desires necessarily less selfish than material ones? Is the desire for happiness, for example, necessarily less selfish than the desire for food?
But the whole point here is that Jesus refuses to be crowned as king by anyone—except by God alone. We sing such hymns as “Crown Him, Crown Him” with great enthusiasm as though this is something which glorifies him and pleases him. But is it possible that he would no more accept it from us than from those in John 6.15? It never crossed our minds because we have never understood his mind—“the mind of Christ” (1Cor.2.16). It was always his desire first and foremost that the Father God be glorified, and never that he should be glorified apart from the Father. This is also something which finds clear expression in the Revelation. Jesus accepts the glory of kingship only from the Father, and from absolutely no one else. How little we understand him.
The Christian error is even more serious than that
In John 6.15 the people wanted to make Jesus king “by force”. Can the king of Israel ever be appointed by popular acclaim, or is he appointed by God alone? Can God’s people ever arrogate to themselves the authority to choose their own king in God’s kingdom? The Israelites had done this before in their history when they chose Saul to be their king—with disastrous consequences. Do we dare to do the same thing as they did? Do we suppose the Kingdom of God to be a democracy rather than a theocracy? If so, then we have not even begun to grasp the nature of salvation which is inseparable from God’s kingship. Nor have we really grasped the fact that Jesus proclaimed God’s Kingdom, i.e. His kingship, as the central message in his teaching, as can be seen in the Synoptic Gospels. According to God’s eternal plan, Jesus was appointed by God as king in His kingdom and thus, as all the kings of Israel were meant to be, he would be (and now is) God’s regent.
It is worth noting that in Revelation the greatest of spiritual beings cast their own crowns before the Lord’s feet. Unlike us, they are never so presumptuous as to imagine that they have the right (by reason of their spiritual status) to crown anyone, least of all the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus is king, or even king of kings, that is only because Yahweh elevated him to that position, not because he seized that position for himself, much less because we accorded him that dignity.
But trinitarian Christianity has gone very much further than the Jews in John 6 ever did. We have deified Jesus to the level of equality with God the Father, Yahweh Himself—and Jesus’ own affirmation of the Father being “the only true God” is ignored. We have consequently made Jesus the object of our worship and our prayers. As a result, the Father has been consigned to a relatively marginal place in both worship and prayer. Indeed, for many Christians even the word “Father” is a form of addressing Jesus (Isaiah 9.6 being used as a justification for so doing).
If Israel’s arrogating to themselves the right to choose their own king, as the neighboring nations did, was regarded as an act of rejecting Yahweh (“they have rejected me from being king over them”, 1Samuel 8.7), what words are left to describe what the Gentile Christian church has done to Yahweh?!
 For those who would like to study these references, you might like to know that if you have the Modern Concordance of the New Testament (M. Darton, Ed.), all 41 references are conveniently listed under “Send”, section 1 of both apostellō (17 refs.) and pempō (24 refs).
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church