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Chapter 11 ... continued

The deification of Jesus and anti-Semitism

A fearful consequence of Jesus’ deifi­cation is a rabidly anti-Semitic charge that Melito of Sardis had hurled against the Jews: that of the murder of God. It is not hard for us to imagine the consequences of this accusa­tion made by Melito and some other early church fathers, notably the hatred and violence against the Jews it later incited in Europe. The deifica­tion of Christ with its radical departure from Jewish mono­theism became a breeding ground for anti-Semit­ism. Surely the early roots of the Holo­caust are to be found here.

Some have noted that anti-Semitism among the early church fa­thers grew markedly more hostile starting from the 4th century.[1] This was the century in which took place the Council of Nicaea of 325 (which decreed binitarian­ism) and the Council of Constanti­nople of 381 (which decreed trinit­arian­ism, the first time in history such a thing had happened). Whether there were other reasons for the in­crease in anti-Semitism can only be sur­mised, but there is no­thing else of historical or religious import in the 4th century that could plausibly account for the marked rise in anti-Semitism.

Some early trinitarians and church fathers, both Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene (“Ante-Nicene” means before Nic­aea), made strongly anti-Semitic statements in their writings and public declarations. An import­ant work on the anti-Semitism of the early church fathers is Robert Michel’s Holy Hatred: Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust. Here are a few excerpts from the book regard­ing some of the pro­minent church fathers of that period:

… [to most of the early church fathers] all Jews were forever res­ponsible for murdering God. And so the Jewish people were abhorrent and any injust­ice done to them, short of murder, according to August­ine, was justified—and even murder was sometimes justified. (p.2)

Jerome claimed that all Jews were Judas and were innately evil crea­t­ures who betrayed the Lord for money. John Chrysostom called Jews deicides [murderers of God] with no chance for “atonement, excuse, or defense.” (p.5)

The fourth-century theologian Ephraem of Syria called the Jews cir­cum­cised dogs; John Chrysostom called them cir­cum­cised beasts… Tertul­lian suggested that God intended that the circumcision would identify the Jews so that they could never reenter Jerusalem. (p.22)

Like most of the fathers, Tertullian’s anti-Jewish conclu­sions were often both emotional and cruel. In his De Spectaculis, he gloated and exulted, imagining how Jesus would punish the Jews. (p.26)

[Jerome] argued that God had given the Jews their Law delib­erately to deceive them and lead them to their destruct­ion. (p.26)

One Sunday, Ambrose [4th century archbishop of Milan, one of the four original doctors of the Catholic Church] preached a sermon on the Church and Synagogue attended by Emperor Theodosius, who had recently been excom­muni­cated by him and was now repentant and very much open to his influence. Face to face with the emperor, Ambrose re­proached him for his action in support of the Jewish claims, arguing that it was a moral act to burn syna­gogues and if the laws forbade it, then the laws were wrong. Refusing him commun­ion, he threat­ened that the em­peror and his sons would be excom­muni­cated again unless he rescinded his pen­alties against the in­cen­diary bishop. In the end, Theodosius pro­mised to do what Ambrose demanded. (p.33)

John Chrysostom was an enormously influential preacher. Hitler ex­pressed his admiration for the anti-Jewish ideas of “all genuine Christ­ians of outstanding calibre,” among whom he counted John Chryso­stom. (p.35)

Chrysostom wanted these useless Jews killed. Just as ani­mals that refuse to pull the plow are slaughtered, so Jews “grew fit for slaught­er. This is why Christ said: ‘As for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.’” Lest we miss his point about murdering the “useless” Jews, Chrysostom repeats it, adding a reference to Luke 19:27, which, he claims, refers specifically to a command of Jesus that the Jews be mur­dered. Chrysostom later justified such an atrocity by arguing that “what is done in accordance with God’s will is the best of all things even if it seems bad… Suppose someone slays another in accordance with God’s will. This slaying is bet­ter than any loving­kind­ness.” (p.35)

It should be noted that the author of this book, Robert Michel, bears no hostility to Jesus Christ, and in fact speaks positively of him, express­ing high admiration for his teaching of the cross, self-denial, and love for fellow man:

… the theology of the cross (theologia crucis) is based on Jesus’ state­ment in the Gospel of Matthew (16:24–5): “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For who­ever would save his life will lose it, and who­ever loses his life for my sake will find it.” This belief required the Christian faithful to follow the moral teachings of Jesus concern­ing all human beings even at the risk of their own lives … the theology of the cross underscores the solidarity of suffer­ing among all hu­man beings, Gentile and Jew. Analysis of Christ­ians who helped Jews during the Holocaust, for in­stance, reveals many different motivations for their behavior, but most of these motives derive from the model of human behavior found in the Judeo-Christian moral­ity of Jesus of Nazareth.

The anti-Semitic statements of the early church fathers can be found in scat­tered places in Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols) and Ni­cene and Post-Nicene Fathers (28 vols). A few anti-Semitic state­ments, expressing mainly theolog­ical hostility, are included on pages 375-378 of David Bercot’s Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs; here are a few state­ments by the early church fathers (with volume and page numbers from Ante-Nicene Fathers):

The Jews had formerly been in covenant with God. But being after­wards cast off on account of their sins, they be­gan to be without God. Tertullian (c.197), 3.247

A sign that she [Israel] has received the bill of divorcement [from God] is this: that Jerusalem was destroyed along with her what they called the sanctuary. Origen (c.245), 9.507

Since the coming of Christ, no prophets have arisen among the Jews. For they have confessedly been abandoned by the Holy Spirit. Origen (c.248) 4.614

The wicked synagogue is now cast off by the Lord God. He has rejected His own house. As He says: “I have forsaken my house; I have left my inheritance.” Apostolic Constitu­tions (c.390), 7.451

The temptation of Jesus

As regards the crucial topic of temptation, trinitarianism reduces it to mean­ingless­ness in the case of Jesus because Jesus, who is supposedly God, can­not be tempted to sin at all. As James 1:13 states unequivocally, “God cannot be tempted by evil”. The trinitarian understanding of the temptation of Jesus collides with the biblical fact that he was “tempted in all respects as we are” (Heb.4:15). In making the tempt­ation of Jesus mean­ingless, even far­cical, we were so blinded by trinit­arian­ism that we could not see the obvious.

But the New Testament declares that Jesus is a man, a true hu­man being who was tempted like us in every respect. That being so, how could Jesus have faced every tempta­tion in life without having once failed? The trinitar­ian’s answer to this question has the effect of reduc­ing it—and the cen­tral struggle of human life—to mean­inglessness, for if Jesus is God, then he can­not be tempted, much less succumb to sin. It would be uncon­vin­cing to say that Jesus empathizes with our moral and spiritual strug­gles, or with our painful defeats in these struggles, when he himself can never fall and doesn’t even need to struggle, since no tempt­ation can ever bring down God. This makes Jesus’ humanity irrele­vant for us.

The protestations of trinitarians notwithstanding, their Jesus is really nothing more than a human body taken over by the second person of the Trinity. The Jesus of trinitarian­ism has no human will, but even if he had one, it would have been so dominated by the will of “God the Son” that the hu­man will can only operate within the divine will. So even if Jesus had an inde­pend­ent human will (which in any case is generally denied in trin­ita­rian­ism), it would make no difference be­cause it is im­possible, within the same person, for the human will to operate independ­ently of the divine will of the second person of the Trinity. In church history, theological problems such as this arose from the supposed God-man constit­ution of Jesus, and led to bitter conflicts within trinita­rian­ism, not­ably over Nestorius’ teaching of two per­sons, human and divine, in Christ.

But temptation—a life and death struggle with sin—is an ines­capable part of the believer’s daily life. It is when we triumph over sin by the po­wer of God’s indwelling Spirit that we move to­wards the perfect­ion to which we have been called. And Jesus is the perfect man precisely be­cause of his total victory over sin.

But this powerful truth is reduced to shambles in trinitar­ian­ism. If the Christian is asked why Jesus is perfect and sinless, the usual an­swer would be, “Be­cause he is God, and God is perfect”. No mat­ter how hard trinita­rians try to decor­ate Jesus’ humanity to make it look more like ours, the fact remains that in trinitarian dogma, the human Jesus is really just the human body of the incarnate God the Son. If asked whether this sinless Jesus could in theory have sinned as a human being, most trinita­rians would ans­wer “no” because it is impossible for God to be tempted, much less to sin. In any case, Jesus is already perfect in both his natures because of his God-man union, so any attempt to spoil his perfection by tempt­ing him to sin would be futile and point­less. Satan must have been stupid even to try! That is why we say that trinitarian­ism reduces the temptation account into some­thing farcical.

But the real Jesus—the biblical Jesus—is very different because he bat­tled sin to the point of sweat and tears, which wouldn’t have been necessary if he were the God-man of trinita­rianism.

The biblical Jesus, in his pleas to his Father Yahweh, “was heard in that he feared” (Heb.5:7, KJV). What did he fear? Physi­cal death? Cer­tainly not, for Jesus was the one who said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt.10:28) What Jesus feared was not death but the mor­tal danger of succumbing to sin and thus failing the mission of re­deeming man­kind from sin. I am confident that whatever fear Jesus had, it was not for himself, just as Paul (who had the mind of Christ, 1Cor.2:16) was willing to be accursed for the sake of his fellow Jews, ex­changing his soul for theirs (Rom.9:3).

But with the weight of mankind’s redempt­ion resting on his shoulders, Jesus could still fail on his part, notwith­stand­ing the benefit of Yahweh’s indwell­ing presence in him. We might not be able to under­stand the weight of responsi­bility that rested on his soul, but we are fully aware of the fright­en­ing possi­bility of moral failure even in the case of one who is indwelt by Yahweh’s Spirit and can therefore avail of God’s power for victory over sin. We thus have a glimpse of the wonder and magni­ficence of Jesus’ triumph over sin. It was through the sufferings from many trials and temptations over the years that he attained perfection to become the perfect man.

Jesus is the victorious Last Adam in contrast to the First Adam. His victo­ry over sin secured the redemption of man­kind, hence the resur­rected Jesus became a “life-giving spirit” (1Cor.15:45).

Finally, to appreciate the confusion typical of the trinitar­ian under­stand­ing of the temptation of Jesus, here is an eye-opening excerpt from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduc­tion to Biblical Doc­trine (which has the distinct­ion of being the top selling sy­stem­atic theology in the world today).

Excerpt from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, chapter 26, section A4:

We also must affirm with Scripture that “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13). But here the quest­ion be­comes difficult: if Jesus was fully God as well as fully man … then must we not also affirm that (in some sense) Jesus also “could not be tempted with evil”?

… At this point we are faced with a dilemma similar to a number of other doctrinal dilemmas where Scripture seems to be teaching things that are, if not directly contradictory, at least very difficult to combine together in our under­standing. For example, with respect to the doctrine of the Trin­ity, we affirmed that God exists in three persons, and each is fully God, and there is one God … The Bible tells us that “Jesus was tempted” and “Jesus was fully man” and “Jesus was fully God” and “God cannot be tempted.”

… the following solution is more in the nature of a suggested means of combining various biblical teachings and is not directly supported by explicit statements of Scripture. With this in mind, it is appropriate for us to say: (1) If Jesus’ human nature had existed by itself, independent of his divine na­ture, then it would have been a human nature just like that which God gave Adam and Eve. It would have been free from sin but nonetheless able to sin. There­fore, if Jesus’ human nature had existed by itself, there was the abstract or theoreti­cal possibi­lity that Jesus could have sinned, just as Adam and Eve’s human natures were able to sin. (2) But Jesus’ human nature never existed apart from union with his divine nature. From the moment of his conception, he existed as truly God and truly man as well. Both his human nature and his divine nature existed united in one person. (3) Although there were some things (such as being hun­gry or thirsty or weak) that Jesus experienced in his human nature alone and were not experienced in his divine nature (see below), none­theless, an act of sin would have been a moral act that would apparently have involved the whole person of Christ. There­fore, if he had sinned, it would have involved both his human and divine natures. (4) But if Jesus as a person had sinned, involving both his human and divine natures in sin, then God himself would have sinned, and he would have ceased to be God. Yet that is clearly impossible because of the infinite holi­ness of God’s nature. (5) There­fore, if we are asking if it was act­ually possible for Jesus to have sinned, it seems that we must con­clude that it was not possible. The union of his human and divine natures in one person pre­vented it.

But the question remains, “How then could Jesus’ temptat­ions be real?” The example of the temptation to change the stones into bread is helpful in this re­gard. Jesus had the abili­ty, by virtue of his divine nature, to perform this mir­acle, but if he had done it, he would no longer have been obeying in the strength of his human nature alone, he would have failed the test that Adam also failed, and he would not have earned our salvation for us. There­fore, Jesus refused to rely on his divine nature to make obedience easier for him. In like manner, it seems appro­priate to conclude that Jesus met every temptat­ion to sin, not by his divine power, but on the strength of his human nature alone (though, of course, it was not “alone” because Jesus, in exercis­ing the kind of faith that humans should exercise, was per­fectly depending on God the Father and the Holy Spirit at every moment). The moral strength of his divine nature was there as a sort of “back­stop” that would have prevented him from sinning in any case (and there­fore we can say that it was not possible for him to sin), but he did not rely on the strength of his divine nature to make it easier for him to face temptations, and his refusal to turn the stones into bread at the beginning of his ministry is a clear indication of this …

What then do we say about the fact that “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13)? It seems that this is one of a number of things that we must af­firm to be true of Jesus’ divine nature but not of his human nature. His divine nature could not be tempted with evil, but his human nature could be tempted and was clearly tempted. How these two natures united in one person in facing tempta­tions, Scripture does not clearly explain to us.

[End of excerpt from Grudem’s Systematic Theology]

What more can we say? In the final analysis, Grudem’s attempt to arrive at a solution to the problem that he himself raises is not really a solu­tion at all but merely an extended delineat­ion of the nature of the pro­blem it­self. In other words, the more Grudem tries to resolve the problem, the more he exposes the irresolvable nature of the problem. The illustrat­ions that he uses, such as that of the human Jesus strug­gling by him­self with some assistance from the divine Jesus who serves as a back­stop, still portray Jesus as two persons, human and divine, even if Grudem uses the lan­guage of “two natures” rather than “two persons” in conformity with trinitarian orthodoxy.

The Son does not know the time of his coming

What about Jesus’ supposed omniscience? As God the Son, does he know every­thing? Questions have actually been raised in Bible stu­dies as to how Jesus might sit for a univer­sity exam on physics or chemistry without study­ing (to use a modern-day scena­rio) or whe­ther an omniscient Jesus would need to learn any­thing at all. Did the baby Jesus know Sanskrit, Ugaritic and an­cient Chinese? Or a future lan­guage such as English? We must bear in mind that in trinitarian dogma, the infant Jesus was fully God and fully man. Wayne Grudem says, “From the moment of his conception, he existed as truly God and truly man” (Systematic Theology, 26A4). But how can one who knows every­thing be a true hu­man being when it is imposs­ible for any man to know every­thing? Jesus himself provides a clear answer to our question:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in hea­ven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mt.24:36, NIV, also Mk.13:32)

The Son doesn’t even know the time of his own coming! If Jesus is indeed “God the Son” who is coequal in every respect to the Father and is therefore omniscient, this verse would be inex­plicable.

Only the Father knows the day and the hour because He is the one who determines Jesus’ coming. This fact presents no diffi­culty to those who un­derstand that Jesus is true man, but is pro­blematic to those who insist that Jesus is God. If there is just one detail that Jesus doesn’t know, then he is not omni­scient and not God. The trinitarian argument that this is some kind of inter­nal arrangement within the Godhead for the passing of knowledge does not make sense. It also makes no sense to say that Jesus’ human nature does not know everything his divine nature knows, within the same person! This explanation is common in trinitar­ianism. For exam­ple, Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology (section 26C3a) says:

On the one hand, with respect to his human nature, he had limited knowledge (Mark 13:32; Luke 2:52). On the other hand, Jesus clear­ly knew all things (John 2:25; 16:30; 21:17). Now this is only under­stand­able if Jesus learned things and had limited knowledge with respect to his human nature but was always omniscient with respect to his divine nature, and therefore he was able any time to “call to mind” whatever information would be needed for his min­istry. In this way we can understand Jesus’ statement con­cerning the time of his return: “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). This ignorance of the time of his return was true of Jesus’ human nature and human consciousness only, for in his divine nature he was certainly omniscient and certainly knew the time when he would return to the earth.

The fatal problem with Grudem’s argument is that Jesus specifi­cally said “only the Father” knows. Jesus wasn’t talking about his own divine na­ture versus his human nature. His declaration that he does not know the day or the hour would, in trinitarianism, be true of both his natures—div­ine and human—since “only” the Father knows. The word “only” is problematic to trinitarians for yet another reason: It rul­es out the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, as one who knows the day and the hour.

We are then left with two possibilit­ies: either Jesus is not God, or God is not omniscient! The former is biblically correct but unac­cept­able to trinita­rians, whereas the latter is blasphe­mous.

Moreover, in the way Grudem depicts Jesus’ two natures, the hu­man and the divine, they are functionally two separate persons, even two separate spirits, within the one Christ. Although Grudem speaks of two natures, the more accurate term for his depiction of Christ is “two persons”. The manner in which trinitarians switch back and forth so glibly between Jesus’ human nature (which can be tempted and does not know the hour) and his divine nature (which cannot be tempted and knows the hour) is clear proof that Jesus cannot be both God and man simultaneously. But in trinitarianism, the two natures coexist in Jesus continuously without inter­ruption.

If the Father knows the hour, why shouldn’t the Son also know? It is not just a question of why Jesus functionally doesn’t know, but why he shouldn’t know. But the biblical picture clarifies everything. Just as the Father deter­mined when Jesus will be born into the world in “the full­ness of time” (Gal. 4:4) and in accord­ance with God’s promise (v.23), so Jesus’ return will be at a time the Father deter­mines according to His own eternal purposes; it is not a matter of the Son coming to earth whenever he chooses.

Communicatio idiomatum: an attempt to explain the God-Man

To understand the trinitarian idea of the incarnation by which the sec­ond person became the God-man, we need to give a brief account of the trinitar­ian attempt to explain how a person who is both God and man at the same time can even be functional. This question had led to much debate and con­trov­ersy, even violence, in the early days of the church. The history of this con­flict is not directly relevant to our discuss­ion; we will only say that in the end, one side defeated the other, but not without entailing consi­der­able conflict. [2]

We now briefly examine the idea, proposed by some early church lead­ers, of communicatio idiomatum, a Latin term which means “the communi­ca­tion of idioms,” with “idioms” meaning the innate or essent­ial character­is­tics of a person.[3] J.N.D. Kelly says that communicatio idiomat­um is the means by which “human and divine attributes and experiences, etc. might properly be exchanged” (Early Christian Doctrines, p.143).

How do God and man relate to each other within the God-man Jesus Christ? How do they identify with each other if they are diff­erent in essence or substance or nature, since one of them is divine and the other is human, the two united as one person? The idea has been pro­posed that the character­is­tics of the one nature are trans­ferred or “commun­i­cated” to the other nature in this union, reciprocally.

It is hard to arrive at a precise definition of communicatio idiomat­um because the ancient writings which originally proposed the concept gave little explanation of it beyond the bare state­ment that the divine attributes of God the Son are communi­cated to the human Jesus in whom he is incarnate, and also in the reverse direction from the man Jesus to the divine Christ. If one is pressed for the speci­fics of the communication of attributes, one can say at most that the qualities (“idioms”) of the second person of the Trinity are transferred to the human Jesus, includ­ing qual­ities such as God’s power, wisdom, justice, and so on.

But one of the inalienable attributes of the divine essence is immortal­ity. This fundamental attribute would have to be trans­ferred to the man Jesus, for is it possible to communi­cate only some of the divine qualities and not the others? From what is known of the commun­ication of idioms, there is no suggest­ion that on­ly some of the qual­ities are trans­ferred while the others are not, if this is even possible in one integrated person.

We see ever more clearly the problems of the idea of the communication of idioms. For example, if the man in whom the sec­ond per­son is incarnate was made immortal by that union, then ob­viously he could not have died for our sins, in which case God’s plan of salvation would have been sub­verted. In the attempt to re­solve the contradic­tion of death and immortality in the same person, the Gentile church lead­ers went so far as to say that the second person of the Trinity, who is fully God, died for our sins in any case. It turns out that to these Christians, the immortal God is not so immortal after all!

Another example: Since God Almighty is omni­potent, would it not be blasphemous to speak of Him as weak? Conversely, if God the Son is of the same sub­stance as God the Father, he would also be om­nipotent and could not in any sense be described as weak. The point is sim­ple: If Jesus is weak, he is not God. If Jesus is Almighty, he is not man. If he is mortal, he is not God. If he is immortal, he is not man.

In the skewed logic of trinitarianism, God the Son is really two in­com­patible opposites thrown together into a bipolar Jesus who is both mortal and immortal, both man and God, and there­fore both mortal man and im­mortal God. Anyone who can be­lieve this twisted and contradict­ory doctrine will not find it hard to believe any error that comes along his way. It must have taken an impressive power of persuasion to pull off this decept­ion, not just on a few individuals but on great multitudes throughout church history. This causes one to wonder if the persua­siveness of the deception comes from some supernatural force. We are reminded of the words in Revelation: “that ancient ser­pent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev.12:9). What it means is that no one, no matter how intelligent or educated, can escape from the para­lyzing grip of spirit­ual deception. Spirit­ual perception, on the other hand, involves “hav­ing the eyes of your hearts enlight­ened” by God (Eph.1:18), enabling the heart to see the liberat­ing light of His truth.

The second person of the Trinity—the one who sup­posedly died on the cross—clearly cannot be God who in Scripture is most definitely immor­tal. That being the case, who exactly is this God called the second person of the Trinity? And who have trin­itarians been worshipping ever since their dog­ma be­came the official doctrine of the church in the fourth century? This quest­ion is becoming ever more fright­en­ing.

Few Christians know anything about the frightening theo­logy that under­girds trinitarianism. There are other aspects of this theolo­gy that make little or no sense, but I won’t go into them at this time except to ask: In the exchange or intercommu­nication of qualities, which human attri­butes can be trans­ferred from man and added to God? Does man have any quality in his essence and nature to communi­cate to the es­sence and nature of God? Can anything be added to God in any way? How can man’s weakness, for exam­ple, be trans­ferred to an omnipo­tent God whose very omnipo­tence would, in any case, neutralize the weakness? This is an exam­ple of what I mean by the absurd nature of the doctrine of the communicatio idioma­tum.

The idea of the God-man was frankly unin­telligible even to the trin­it­ar­ians who proposed it, and who then tried to explain the relation­ship of Jesus’ two natures with concepts such as hypostatic union and commu­nicatio idioma­t­um to make sense of the contradict­ion. This is the sort of thing that we trinitarians vainly expended much time and effort in.

But the nature of the biblical Jesus makes perfect sense. He is some­one we can iden­tify with and look up to as our trium­phant example who inspires us. Weak though we are, God will strengthen us in the inner man, and em­power us to triumph over all ob­stacles through Jesus Christ even though given our many weak­nesses, we will not attain perfection in this life as Jesus did. Even the great apostle Paul acknow­ledges, “Not that I am already per­fect … but I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ” (Phil.3:12,14).

From all this, we can only stand in awe at the magni­ficent triumph of Yahweh in Christ, who attained what was hither­to impossible to any human. While all believers, through God’s mercy, have been given the privilege in Christ of be­coming the sons and daughters of God, only Jesus can be rightly called “the only Son of God.”

The distinction of wills within the Trinity

Whereas the self-giving love of the biblical Jesus is straight­forward in terms of his voluntary act of the will, the same cannot be said of the Jesus of trini­ta­rianism. It would, for exam­ple, be pro­blematic if it is the trinitarian Jesus who says in Gethsemane, “Not my will but yours be done.” Who is the one utter­ing the words? The divine God the Son in speaking to God the Father? If so, this would create the problem of a dis­tinction of wills within the Trinity, where the second person submits to the will of the first per­son after an in­tense struggle. With such a sharp distinct­ion of wills within the Trinity, how can we still speak of the three persons as being of one essence when there are three distinct wills that are not necessarily in perfect align­ment un­til an inner strug­gle unites them as at Geth­semane? By contrast, the words “Not my will but yours be done” would be easy to understand if they had come from the non-divine, wholly human Jesus in speaking to his Father who had sent him to ac­com­plish the salvation of mankind.

The problem doesn’t stop there because in trinitarianism, the obedience of “God the Son” to God the Father is strictly internal to the one-essence God, and cannot be pro­perly described as “obedience to God”. This internal obedience has no bearing on the important statement in Romans 5:18-19 that what is crucial for man’s salvation is an obedience in man’s relationship to God rather than an internal relation­ship within the Trinity.

If trinitarians say that the one speaking at Gethsemane is the human Jesus in whom “God the Son” is incarnate, the result is equally disastrous: Who is Jesus speaking to when he says “Your will be done,” God the Son or God the Father? In either case, there are two dis­tinct wills within Jesus: the will of the man who said “Your will be done” and the will of God repres­enting Jesus’ divine nature, lead­ing to the imposs­ible situation of two independent wills within the God-man. And since the will can­not exist with­out a person, this would mean that Jesus is not one person but two. [4]

This is precisely one of the intractable problems that the early trinitar­ians got entangled in and tried to get out of. To avoid the unacceptable idea of two independent wills (where the human will is not subsumed in the divine will) and therefore two persons in the God-man, which would create a schizophrenic Jesus, it was decreed that it is the divine God the Son rather than the man Jesus who is central to the God-man constitut­ion and whose will was dominant in Jesus at Gethsemane. This doesn’t solve the dilem­ma be­cause it would mean that Jesus’ human nature lacks a true operative will, in which case he (or it) would not be a com­plete human being since every human being has a true and independent human will. (Trinitar­ians say that Jesus Christ is fully man, an assertion that requires him to have a human body, a human spirit, and an independent human will.) This illus­trates what we have been saying all along, that the trinita­rian Jesus is not a human being as we know human beings to be. This takes us back to our obser­vation that the obed­ience of God the Son to God the Father is internal to the Trinity, and has no bearing on the crucial matter of man’s sal­vation that is said in Ro­mans 5:18-19 to hinge on man’s obed­ience to God.

In the Alexandrian theology which triumphed over the Antio­chene theo­logy in the early church, there is no separation within the God-man between the divine God the Son and the human Jesus.[5] Yet in trinitarianism, it is God the Son who consti­tutes the real person in the God-man whereas the man does not repre­sent the will of the God-man. As a fervent trinitar­ian puts it, “He had the appear­ance and flesh of a man, but the charact­eristics, power and nature of God.”[6]

Again trinitarianism is caught on the horns of a dilemma for which there is no resolution, thereby exposing the falsity of the doctrine, for all falsehood contains within itself the inevitable self-contradiction that be­comes the seed of its own destruction once it is examined and brought to light.

The tragedy is that most Christians don’t know that the trinita­rian Jesus, the God-man, is a man-made fabrication con­structed from bits and pieces of the New Testament, creating a divine per­son who does not exist in the Bible, namely, God the Son which is “Son of God” violently turned upside down or the wrong way around. In short, trinita­rians have constructed a theolog­ical idol that they bow to in wor­ship, and demand that others do the same.

Dear trinitarians, if Jesus Christ is God as you say he is, then you and I are still in our sins without the hope of salvat­ion, for an essential attribute of God is immortality, which means that he cannot die for our sins. But if God could die, he would not be God. Yet he cannot be true man because you say that he is also God, in which case Jesus’ death cannot atone for your sins or mine.

Why are so few saved?

After having taught the Bible for several de­cades, one day it came to me as a shock to realize that neither I nor any other trini­tarian could quote one verse from the New Testa­ment or the Bible as a whole, in which the central trini­tarian title of Jesus, “God the Son,” is found—not one verse! The same is true of the other major trinitarian title of Jesus: the second person of the Trinity. That this title is not found in the Bible is to be expected since the word “Trinity” itself does not exist in the Bible. In short, the very existence of “God the Son” can­not be demon­strated from the pages of the Bible. Yet the amazing thing is that we could talk about, preach about, teach about, think about, and write vol­umes about, a person whose very existence in the pages of Scripture we could not dem­onstrate!

How had this come about? I was wondering about this when I looked back at a long career of preaching and teaching and writ­ing. It is said that hindsight is 20/20, and this particular instance of hind­sight sends a chill down one’s spine when one looks back at the pages of history. Looking at the early centuries of the church, we see a faith being built on a Jesus who exists no­where in the Bible and who was subtly fabri­cated in a manner that steadily strips him of his Jewish mono­theistic roots. It reminds us of what Jesus said about the last days, that believers must be on their guard because even the elect, the chosen ones, will be deceived (Mt.24:24).

There are approximately two billion Christians in the world today, and they make up one third of the world’s pop­ula­tion. [7] Given the triumph of Christianity in the world, at least in terms of the number of adherents, why does Jesus say that only a “few” will be saved (Lk.13:23-24)? How do we under­stand his state­ment? For all the talk of the domin­ance of trinita­rian Christ­ianity, I have never heard any trinitarian address this spine-chill­ing quest­ion: Why of all the billions will only a “few” be saved?

The question is not hard to answer if we grasp the appall­ing fact that the vast majority of believers in the world today have been de­ceived in a most tragic way. Is there any other answer to this dreadful question that aligns with Jesus’ state­ment that only a few will be saved? How can the multi­tudes be saved or go through the narrow gate of life if they place their faith, their trust, their hope, on a trinitarian Jesus, God the Son, whose existence can­not be found in the Scriptures of life?

Faith in the trinitarian Jesus will nullify the hope of salvation. This is not a blanket statement to say that all trinitarians will be condemned and all non-trinitarians will be saved, for there are other spiritual principles involved in divine judgment (e.g., Lk.12:48). Yet it would be foolhardy to ignore the biblical fact that idolatry—including trinitarian idolatry—will have spiritual conse­quences.

Our present discuss­ion is not just an academic debate over doctrines that have no bearing on our eter­nal welfare; we are dealing with a vital spirit­ual matter in which one small error will have eternal conse­quences. The fearful truth about trini­tarian error, prop­erly called heresy, is that it diverges com­pletely from the biblical truth.

All the fullness of the deity

In trinitarianism, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, became incarnate as Jesus Christ. But God the Son is only one of three persons and there­fore cannot embody “all the full­ness of the Deity” which is mentioned in Colossians 2:9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (NIV).

Only the biblical Yahweh, the one true God, has “all the full­ness of the Deity”. And only the indwelling of Yahweh in the man Christ Jesus correct­ly ex­plains Colossians 2:9. Once again the trinitarian error is exposed.

Paul’s statement that the fullness of God—indeed all the fullness of the Deity—dwells in Christ bod­ily, is paralleled in the fact that God’s people are also filled with God’s entire full­ness: “that you may be filled with all the full­ness of God” (Eph.3:19). God’s dwelling or indwelling in Christ is “in bodi­ly form,” a re­mark­able truth that comes out also in Colossians 1:19: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”.

The “bodily” indwelling of God in Christ is totally different from the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, the divine and the hu­man, in one person. The latter concept has led to the problem of how a God-man can even be functional, a dif­ficulty that in turn led to the doc­trine of the com­muni­catio idiom­at­um, a highly philo­sophical con­cept that attempts to explain how the two natures interrelate with each other. This doctrine is not based on anything in the Bible but is a man-made concept invented to solve a man-made dilemma.

Scripture offers no support for the doctrine of the two na­tures, the div­ine and the human, united inseparably in Christ, by which Jesus is true God and true man. In 451, this unbibli­cal doctrine was promulgated by the creed of the Council of Chalcedon (the town of Chal­cedon was located in the region of Bithynia, in today’s Turkey). The attempt to prove this idea using John 1:14 (“and the Word became flesh”) is erro­neous be­cause trinita­r­ians assume without ba­sis that the Word (logos) refers to the supposedly pre­existent Christ. The fact is that the logos is nev­er identified with Jesus in either John’s Prologue or the rest of the New Testament. [8] The supposed equival­ence of the logos and Jesus is sim­ply forced on the word of God.

The concept of the hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures, the divine and the human, is not only unbiblical but also unintelligible. Wikipedia art­icle “Hypostatic Union” puts it politely: “this union is held to defy finite hu­man compre­hen­sion”. But nonsense in its formal sense also defies com­pre­hen­sion, for if something makes logical sense, it can be com­prehended. But the incomprehen­sibility of the hypostatic union is not something that would seriously trouble the trinitar­ian be­cause he would usually shunt the issue into the realm of “mystery” despite the fact that unin­telligibility is not the biblical meaning of mystery. Paul uses the term “mystery” to speak of things hidden in the past but which are now re­vealed by God clearly.

Only two types of union of persons are found in the Bible: the marriage union of man and woman by which they be­come one flesh, and the spiritual union of God and man by which they become one spirit (1Cor.6:17). The Bible never speaks of a hypo­static union, a trin­it­arian invention that in itself created much bitter conflict in the early church over what it means.

Scripture, on the other hand, gives us a wonderful vision of God dwell­ing in His people, whose bodies serve as His temple on earth. God is found in His people, for the fullness of Yahweh that indwells Jesus also indwells His people: “to know the love of Christ that surpasses know­ledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph.3:19). As is often the case in Paul’s teaching, what is true of Jesus is also true of God’s children.

“I am”

In our trinitarian days, when we saw the “I am” sayings of Jesus in John’s Gospel, we immed­iately assumed that Jesus was de­clar­ing himself God. In our minds there is no need to prove that Jesus is God, for Jesus declared it himself. Of course none of us thought that the blind man healed by Jesus was claiming to be God when he said “I am” to those who asked him if he was the blind man they had known all along (John 9:9). The most discussed “I am” state­ment in John’s Gospel is the one in the last verse of the following passage:

51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If any­one keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 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.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:51-58, ESV)

The disputation with the Jews [9] started with Jesus’ declar­ation, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (v.51). The key statement is, “if anyone keeps my word”. The word which Jesus spoke, as he pointed out many times, was not his own but the Father’s. To obey God’s word is life, to dis­obey it is death, as the Jews would know from their own Law. In Jesus’ dis­cussion with the Jews, the key message was the keeping of God’s word. Jesus had the authority to proclaim God’s word because he kept it: “I do know Him and I keep His word” (v.55). Like Moses, Jesus pro­claimed God’s word, but at a high­er level than Moses. Jesus’ age, which the Jews overestim­ated to be nearly fifty, was irrelevant to the issue; Moses was around eighty when he con­fronted Pharaoh (Ex.7:7).

The main theme of this incident is God’s word delivered to the Jews through Jesus. Yet trinitarians are inter­ested only in what they suppose are the key words, “Before Abraham was, I am”.

A proper reading of John 8:58 would take into considerat­ion the fact that the standalone “I am” in John 8:58 (with­out an explicit predicate nom­inative) is also found in verses 24 and 28 of the same chapter. In the follow­ing verses (all from ESV), the underlined word “he” is not in the Greek text.

Verse 24: I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins

Verse 28: When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me

Verse 58: Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

In verses 24 and 28, the word “he” (see the underlined) is not in the Greek. Hence all three verses here have the standalone “I am” in the Greek. Most Bibles (ESV, KJV, NET, NIV, NRSV) legitim­ately and plausibly add “he” to verses 24 and 28 to complete the intended meaning of the “I am” state­ments (“I am he”). Yet these Bibles don’t do the same for verse 58.

What is Jesus saying about himself when he says “I am he” in verses 24 and 28? A few trin­itarians take it to mean “I am God,” but others are aware that this reading would be prob­lematic in v.28 because it would make the “I AM” come under the “authority” of another person, which cannot possi­bly be true of the Almighty “I AM”. Hence some trinita­rians (plausibly) read verses 24 and 28 to mean, “I am the Mess­iah,” which would align with the expli­citly stated objective of John’s Gospel, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (Jn.20:31). John Calvin, a trinitarian, says that it would be a “mistake” to take “I am” in v.24 as a reference to “the divine essence of Christ”; Calvin emphatic­ally takes it as “I am the Messiah”.

If in fact verses 24 and 28 declare Jesus to be the Messiah, what about verse 58 (“before Abraham was, I am”)? Could it likewise be a declaration that Jesus is the Messiah? This is reinforced by the immediate context: “your father Abraham re­joiced that he would see my day” (v.56), a statement which most trin­itarians take to mean that Abraham had a vision of the future Messiah.

 

But if we take John 8:58 as a reference to Yahweh, name­ly, the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14, then there would be two main ways of understanding this. One way is to say that Jesus is identical with Yahweh the “I AM”. But this would be problematic to those trinitar­ians who rightly see Yahweh as being God the Father and not God the Son. If Jesus is indeed Yahweh, that would ex­clude the Father as Yahweh (in view of Dt.6:4 which says there is only one Yahweh) and even as God (in view of Isa.45:5, which says there is no God besides Yahweh).

“I AM” is not a general name of God but the specific name of Yahweh (“I AM has sent me to you,” Ex.3:14). If Jesus claimed to be the I AM, he would be claiming to be Yahweh God. Jesus who did not grasp at equality with God (Phil.2:6) would now be publicly declaring himself the only true God of Israel! Any such intent­ion on the part of Jesus can be ruled out by Phil.2:6, but equally by the fact that only Yahweh is God (Isa.45:5).

The other way of explaining the “I am” of John 8:58 as a reference to Yahweh is one that har­monizes with the entire John’s Gospel: In John 8:58, Yahweh is speak­ing directly through Jesus to say to the Jews, “Before Abra­ham was, I AM”. This is a direct reference to what Yahweh had earlier said to Moses about His Name:

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Ex.3:14)

In John 8:58, Yahweh spoke His Name to Israel, not from a burning bush but through Jesus the one sent by God. This is strengthened by v.28 of the same chapter in which Jesus says that he “speaks just as the Father taught me”. This is similar to the case of John 2:19 in which God spoke directly through Jesus: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (this special case will be discussed in the next chapter).

All this harmonizes with the fact, repeated many times in John’s Gospel, that Jesus speaks the very words of the Father:

“The word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:24, ESV)

“For I have not spoken on my own author­ity, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a com­mandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his command­ment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:49-50, ESV)

The Jews misunderstood the Lord Jesus when he said to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (Jn.8:56) So they asked him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abrah­am?” (v.57)

But Jesus never said he had seen Abra­ham, but that “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day”—namely, the day of Jesus’ exalt­ation as God’s Messiah (a view that is held by many trinitarians). Abraham was given a glimpse of the fu­ture Messiah and rejoiced at what he saw. Abraham was, after all, a man who looked “to the city with found­ations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb.11:10). This is the heaven­ly city from which Jesus Christ will reign over the universe as Yahweh’s regent.

Jesus never said that Abraham had seen him with his physical eyes but that Abraham saw “my day,” which is taken uncontroversially by trinita­rians and non-trinitarians alike to mean that Abraham, by faith, caught a glor­ious vis­ion of the coming Messiah’s ministry of salvation.[10]

A comparison of “before Abraham was, I am” with the other “I am” say­ings in John’s Gospel [11] shows that the form­er is funda­mentally different from the latter. The general “I am” say­ings are por­traits of Jesus as the light, the door, the resurrection, and so on, but the “I AM” statement in John 8:58 is unique and stands on its own.

Supplementary comment (optional reading)

Many take Jesus’ “I am” declaration in John 8:58 as a claim to deity because of its similarity to the words, “I am who I am,” spoken by Yahweh in Exodus 3:14. If we limit our analysis to the Greek text (the NT and LXX) and not the Hebrew (the MT), then the equa­ting of the “I am” of John 8:58 (“before Abraham was, I am”) with the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14 cannot be sustained purely on the basis of similar vocab­ulary.

Among the many instances of “I am” in John’s Gospel, one was spoken by the blind man who had been healed by Jesus. When the people asked him if he was the blind man they had known all along, he answered, “I am” (John 9:9). Most English trans­lations expand this into something like “I am he” or “I am the one” or “I am the man”. In the Greek, egō eimi (ἐγώ εἰμι) which the man spoke is the same as the “I am” spoken by Jesus in John 8:58. In the LXX, a similar use of the stand­alone egō eimi is found in 2Sam.2:20 (Asahel said “I am” to Abner).

But there is another Greek construction for “I am”—ho ōn (ὁ ὤν)—which is diff­er­ent from the egō eimi spoken by Jesus. In Ex.3:14 of the LXX, when Yahweh said “I am who I am,” the first “I am” is egō eimi whereas the second “I am” is ho ōn. Yahweh did not simply say egō eimi (“I am”), He said egō eimi ho ōn, usually translated as “I am that I am” or “I am who I am,” i.e. “the existing One”. In other words, Yahweh’s “I am who I am” in Ex.3:14 is long­er than Jesus’ “I am” in Jn.8:58. In the “I am who I am” of Ex.3:14, the first “I am” (egō eimi) merely introduces the second and defin­itive “I am” (ho ōn). Historic­ally it is the se­cond “I am” (ho ōn) and not the first (egō eimi) that was appa­rently a byword for “God” among some Greek-speaking Jews (e.g., Philo’s Life of Moses, and Cambridge Compan­ion to Philo, p.198).

Similarly, in Exodus 3:14, when Yahweh instructed Moses to say to the Is­rael­ites, “I AM has sent me to you,” the “I AM” is the definitive ho ōn rather than the egō eimi that Jesus spoke in John 8:58.

Since our distinction between egō eimi and ho ōn is based on the Greek and not the Hebrew, does it have any relevance for Exodus 3:14 (“I am who I am”)? Perhaps, and for an unexpected reason. In Rev­elation 1:4 (“who is and who was and who is to come,” which is uttered by God and not by Jesus), John appends ho ōn in the nominative to the prepo­sition apo even though apo calls for the genitive. This strik­ing grammatical anomaly may be an intended allusion to Exodus 3:14. The possibility that John is making a height­ened distinct­ion between the common egō eimi and the (pos­sibly) theo­logically significant ho ōn in Revelation 1:4 means that Jesus’ use of egō eimi rather than ho ōn in John 8:58 may be signifi­cant, and may give less support to the trinitar­ian view of this verse than is supposed by trinitarians.



[1] David Rokeah’s Antisemitism Through the Ages (p.57) and Robert Michel’s Holy Hatred: Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holo­caust (p.19).

[2] For an account of this pro­tracted con­flict, see Philip Jen­kin’s Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christ­ians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years. The book’s long subtitle is not meant to be facetious or comical but fact­ual; the author holds professor­ships at two universities.

[3] Some theologians define communicatio idiomatum as “the communication of the propert­ies or predicates” (e.g., Westminster Dictionary of Theo­logians, ed. Justo L. González, p.256), which is equivalent to “the communication of idioms”.

[4] The Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) says that Jesus has two wills, the divine and the human, and condemned monothelitism, the doctrine of one will in Christ (The Popular Encyclopedia of Church History, p.129, Ecumenical Councils). For an in-depth account of this council, see chapter 7 of Truly Divine and Truly Human: The Story of Christ and the Seven Ecumeni­cal Councils. But from the official creeds (see Creeds, Councils and Controversies: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church, AD 337-461), it is hard to see how Jesus’ human will can function indep­endent­ly of his divine will. The difficulty with the doctrine of two wills in Christ (dyothelit­ism) is that it implies either two persons in Christ or one schizophrenic person in Christ. This may be why dyothe­li­tism is rarely mentioned today outside his­tory books on the church councils.

[5] “Eutychianism and Nestorianism were finally condemned at the Council of Chalcedon (451) which taught one Christ in two natures united in one person or hypostasis, yet remaining ‘without confusion, without conversion, without division, without separation.’” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, article Christology, p.225).

[6] Clarence M. Beard, The Only True God, p.179, 1956. This book, which is written from a trini­tarian perspective, is largely concerned with the issues of science and relig­ion that were current more than half a century ago.

[7] This number comes from two encyclopedias of religion, both dated 2007. The Encyclopedia of World Religions (p.87) says: “At the beginning of the 21st centur­y, Christianity was the world’s largest religion. Some 2 bill­ion people, about a third of the world’s populat­ion, were at least nominally Christian or of Christian cultural back­ground.” World Religions: Almanac (vol.1, p.119) says: “In addition to being possibly the most divided religion in the world, Christian­ity is the world’s largest religion, with 2.1 billion followers. Believers live around the globe, but the heaviest con­centration of Christians is in Europe and North and South America. The United States contains the most number of Christians, with 85 per­cent of the popula­tion, or 225 million people, who claim to be Christ­ians. Other major areas of Christian population include Europe, with about 550 mill­ion; Latin Ame­rica, with about 450 million; Africa, with about 350 million; and Asia, with about 310 million.”

[8] Not even in Rev.19:13 where the “Word of God” refers not to Christ but to God in the familiar OT picture of God as the “Lord of Hosts” or “Lord of Armies”. The word “blood” in the same verse refers not to Christ’s blood but the blood of God’s van­quished ene­mies. In fact, the next two verses (14,15) portray the Word of God as the One who leads “the armies of heaven” and whose sword is used to “strike down the nations,” culminating in the corpses of kings, captains, mighty men, and horses (v.18). The title “Lord of Hosts” (literally “Yahweh of Arm­ies”) occurs about 240 times in the OT, and in each case “the Lord” is literally “Yahweh”. (On Rev. 19:13, see TOTG, Appendix 6.)

I.H. Marshall, trin­itarian, suggests that “the Word of God” in Rev.19:13 does not refer to Christ: “After [John’s] prologue, Jesus is no long­er referred to as ‘the Word’” (A Concise New Testament Theology, p.187). On p.220, Marshall says: “The unique use of the title the Word of God (Rev 19:13) reminds us of John 1:1-14 and 1 John 1:1-4, but it is not clear whe­ther the rich back­ground of these two verses is needed to under­stand the usage in Revela­tion.”

[9] Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon, Ioudaios (Jewish, Judean), says that John “ascribes to Jesus and his apostles language in which they distin­guish them­selves from the Jews, as though the latter sprang from an alien race”. We need to be careful about making excessive statements of this kind which can have unde­sir­able and even danger­ous ethnic and religious implications. We should bear in mind some­thing that Jesus said about the Jews: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (Jn.4:22)—hardly a statement that is hostile to the Jews. Paul evid­ently did not see anything in Jesus’ teaching that was hostile to the Jews, for in Paul’s thinking it is always “the Jews first” (Rom.1:16; 2:9,10), both in reward and in punishment.

[10] Most trinitarians hold this view of John 8:56. NIV Study Bible says, “Jesus proba­bly was not referring to any one occasion but to Abraham’s general joy in the fulfill­ing of God’s purposes in the Messiah, by which all nations on earth would receive bless­ing.” Thomas Constable says that Jesus “ful­filled what Abraham looked forward to” and that Abraham’s vision was a “pre­diction that God would bless the whole world through Abraham”. Expo­sitor’s Bible Commentary says, “Abraham had a preview of Jesus’ ministry and rejoiced in it.”

[11] I am the bread of life (John 6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the door of the sheep (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11), the resur­rection and the life (11:25), the way and the truth and the life (14:6), the true vine (15:1).

 

 

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