Who is Jesus-Christ? by Serge N. Sala-Diakanda
Jesus-Christ is Not God A book written by Victor Paul Wierwille October 2013
Our Heart: Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 - Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Some (of many) intriguing passages: John 6:46 - Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he (Jesus-Christ) which is of God, he hath seen the Father. John 17:5 - And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. Philippians 2:6,7 - Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: Hebrews 1:7-9 - And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Our Conclusions from This Study: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Jesus-Christ is the Son of God Jesus-Christ is “The Word” “The Word” existed from the Beginning God created everything “through” The Word Jesus-Christ is the Beginning of the creation of God Therefore, Jesus-Christ existed from the Beginning In the beginning, Jesus-Christ had the “form” of God and was known as “The Word” 8. On earth, Jesus-Christ (The Word) had left His form of God and had taken the form of man, and became known as the man “Jesus-Christ” 9. Today, Jesus-Christ has maintained the form of man (but it is a new body), and He is seated at the right hand of His Father.
Foreword May the peace of our Lord Jesus-Christ, the only begotten Son of the Most High God be with you. This article is a critique of the book entitled “Jesus-Christ is Not God” written by Victor Paul Wierwille (i.e. hereto referred as the author). The scriptures do indeed provide more than enough evidence that 1) Jesus-Christ is not God and that 2) Jesus-Christ is in fact the Son of God. However, while it would have already been commendable and sufficient for the author to provide a listing of the many verses attesting to these two facts (which he did in Chapter 2 of his book), he also deemed it necessary to explain the few verses which, on the surface, appear to suggest that Jesus-Christ is God. Chief among those verses is John 1:1, which has long been a source of great controversy. John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In his book, the author postulates and attempts to demonstrate that Jesus-Christ, before His conception in the Virgin Mary, existed only in God’s foreknowledge. On page 30 the author states: Jesus-Christ existed only in the foreknowledge of God. This study is a critical review of the arguments the author used to defend the aforementioned position. From our study, we came to the conclusion that the author’s arguments are flawed and not supported biblically. Although undoubtedly closely related, the reader should understand that the primary objective of this study (and therefore this document) is not to demonstrate who Jesus-Christ was (or was not) before His virgin conception, but instead to assess the validity of the author’s arguments in postulating that Jesus-Christ existed only in God’s foreknowledge. In other words, we do not need to have a final answer ourselves on this subject before performing a critique of this book. This study is certainly not perfect and if we made some mistakes, we take full responsibility. In fact, our greatest hope is that you the reader will scrutinize our work, just as we scrutinized the author’s work. To that end, as you read this document, we strongly encourage you to have both a copy of the Bible (preferably of the King James Version) as well as a copy of the author’s book right next to you. Although our opinion as reflected in this study often contradicts the opinion of the author, we think he would have been proud to read this document, because he himself had to go to the same process of finding for himself whether those things he had been taught were so. And in some cases, he found that those things were not so. We have learned many things thanks to him, and while many of those things he taught us are so, we are also finding out that some are not.
Table of Contents 1.
John 1:1 - logos and The Figure of Speech Antanaclasis ..................................................................... 5 1.1.
Antanaclasis: Three instances but only two meanings? ............................................................ 6
John 1:1 - In the beginning was “God”? ................................................................................... 7
John 1:1…and the Word was with God .................................................................................... 8
1.3.1. 1 Peter 1:20 – ...“foreordained” before the foundation of the world..................................... 8 1.3.2. 1 Peter 1:20 –… but was “manifest” in these last times for you ........................................... 9 2.
In the Beginning was the Word .......................................................................................................... 12 2.1.
Problematic with the translation “In the Beginning was God” ............................................... 12
2.1.1. Sequence of Events in John 1:1 .......................................................................................... 12 2.1.2. Contrasting John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 ................................................................................. 13 2.1.3. The Definition of the One and Only True God ................................................................... 14 2.1.4. A Comparison Between John 1:1,2 and 1 John 1:1,2 ......................................................... 15 3.
Digging Deeper into John 1 ................................................................................................................ 16 3.1.
John 1:3 ................................................................................................................................... 17
3.1.1. All things were made “by” Him… ...................................................................................... 18 3.1.2. …and “without” him was not any thing made… ................................................................ 19
John 1:4-9................................................................................................................................ 20
John 1:10-12............................................................................................................................ 22
John 1:13 – Who “was” born? ................................................................................................ 23
John 1:14,15 ............................................................................................................................ 25
So, is John 1:1 saying that Jesus-Christ is The God Himself?............................................................ 26 4.1.
Reactions from Jesus claiming to be the Son of God.............................................................. 26
The all-important article “The” ............................................................................................... 28
The possible meaning of…“and the Word was God” in John 1:1 .......................................... 30
Philippians 2:6,7 ................................................................................................................................. 31 5.1.
Context of Philippians 2:6....................................................................................................... 31
Philippians 2:6 – …“being” in the form of God ..................................................................... 33
Voices of Verbs in Philippians 2:6,7....................................................................................... 34
Reflections & Conclusion: .................................................................................................................. 36
1. John 1:1 - logos and The Figure of Speech Antanaclasis John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos] was with God, and the Word [logos] was God. In this section and the next (Section 2) we focus on the word logos, used three times in John 1:1. We investigate the author’s claim that John 1:1 contains the figure of speech antanaclasis so that the meaning of the repeated usage of logos is not the same. With this figure of speech in place, the author affirms that the first logos refers to God, while the second refers to “both” the Son of God (i.e. Jesus-Christ) and His written Word 1. It is however difficult to discuss this topic without addressing the author’s claim of the existence of Jesus-Christ only in the foreknowledge of God before His virgin conception. As a result, both topics will be touched upon as appropriate in both this section and the next. True, Antanaclasis is a well-established figure of speech that is used to give different meanings to the same word in the same statement. However, as a first observation, just because the same word appears more than once does not mean that this figure of speech is present. This statement may be obvious, but is necessary to evaluate the author’s argument. An example is the word “sons” in Jeremiah 29:6. Jeremiah 29:6 - Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. There is little reason to believe that the different instances of “sons” have different meanings in this verse. They all have the exact same meaning. On the contrary, here is one instance in the scriptures where the presence of this figure of speech is quite evident 2. 1 Samuel 1:24 - And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young. In this verse, referring to Samuel, “child” and “young” are actually the same word in Hebrew (naar), so that the verse can be read “…and the child was a 1 2
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child”. Therefore, one can readily see that the word “child” changes meaning from one instance to the next. The first simply states that Samuel was a child, while the second emphasizes that he was young. Someone may be a child without necessarily being young! In the case of John 1:1, it is unfortunate that the author provided no justification for his claim that the figure of speech Antanaclasis is present. Here is a second observation. The author makes reference to the book entitled “Figures of Speech Used in the Bible” 3 written by Bullinger, even recounting that Bullinger cited 34 examples of this figure of speech from page 286 to 293 of his book 4. These examples span from the book of Judges to 1 Peter. Two of the 34 examples are in John 1 (i.e John 1:10 and John 1:11). It is interesting to note that Bullinger does “not” cite John 1:1 as containing this figure of speech. Critics will argue that Bullinger’s decision not to include John 1:1 was influenced by his belief, as he was a Trinitarian. Yet, one cannot discount the significance of his work on figures of speech. It is also regrettable that our author did not highlight this important omission from Bullinger, a biblical scholar he obviously held in high regard. 1.1. Antanaclasis: Three instances but only two meanings? Yet, a third observation can be made. To the best of our understanding, in Antanaclasis, the word changes meaning every time it is used 5. Since logos is used three times, it must have three different meanings. But the author is completely silent on the third use of logos in John 1:1. Nevertheless, from his writings, it seems to us that his position is that it must mean “God”, not “Jesus-Christ”, since the whole point of his book is to demonstrate that JesusChrist is not God.. It results therefore that if the author’s interpretation of the first two instances of logos is correct, then the last segment of John 1:1 is saying “…and the God was God”. Not only does the rule of this figure of speech appear to be violated (i.e. two meanings for three different instances of the word), but understanding logos to be “God” makes the last segment of John 1:1 quite a strange expression, wouldn’t you agree?! God is still God, so why is not the present tense (i.e. “is”) being used here? Is God no longer God? And what would be the point of such statement anyway? That God “is” God should be obvious to anyone! 6
E.W. Bullinger (1898) “Figures of Speech in the Bible”, London Page 162 5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antanaclasis 6 In the Foundational Class syllabus, Segment 6, the third instance of logos of John 1:1 is actually understood to be referring to “the written Word”. This bears mentioning since the 4
1.2. John 1:1 - In the beginning was “God”? Let us now return to the first section of John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word [logos]” where the author claims that here logos is referring to “God” so that this section can literally be understood as “In the beginning was God”. This sounds rather logical doesn’t it? But here is the problem: From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, there are 192 verses (including John 1:1) where both the words “God” and “Word” are used. In “none” of these verses (saved “perhaps” the last portion of John 1:1 itself) is God “ever” called the “Word”. Instead, the “Word” is always presented as something that “belongs” to God (e.g. the Word of God, the Word of the Lord). Therefore, we cannot claim that God is the Word! Isaiah 55:11 states that God “sends” His Word which accomplishes that which He sends it for. Interestingly, the argument we are using here is the same argument the author uses to demonstrate that JesusChrist is not God throughout his book. On page 29 he states “At no place does the expression “God the Son” occurs. Without “God the Son”, Jesus-Christ cannot be God”. So why doesn’t he apply His own principle here? In addition, the author fails to apply another of his principles. The author states 7 “…when there is an abundance of clear scriptures regarding an identical situation or person and only a few apparently contradictory scriptures, the many clear ones must not be subordinated or rationalized while the few are exclusively adhered to or allowed to dominate; but rather the few must fit with the many”. -Victor Paul Wierwille There is an abundance of scriptures where the relationship between God and the Word is established. Whether we search for Word and God or Word and Lord, we find no evidence that supports the author’s claim. If our count is correct, the two words “Word” and “Lord” appear together 517 times in the scriptures, and in 274 of these verses, they are used in the expression “Word(s) of the Lord”, clearly showing the “Word” as being a “possession” of the Lord, rather than being the Lord himself. Additionally, the scriptures are also remarkably devoid of any of the following expressions: “the Word is the Lord”, “the Word is God”, “God is the Word”, “God was the Word”. The only expression one can find is “the Word was God” which occurs one time only and it is right here in John 1:1. Shouldn’t this abundance of evidence on one
material from this class is based heavily on the work of Weirwille. And here too, the argument remains: If the written Word was God, is it no longer the case today? 7 Page 32
hand (e.g. the Word of the Lord) and the remarkable absence of the aforementioned expressions from the scriptures cause us to use extreme caution when interpreting the one verse that might appear to contradict the rest? From this study, we can only conclude that the first logos in John 1:1 is not God. Now, if the first logos is not God, as we conclude here, what is it? JesusChrist? A more profound study is in order to answer this question, something we do in Section 2. But for the moment, let’s turn our attention to the second segment of John 1:1. 1.3. John 1:1…and the Word was with God Here the author states that the “Word” refers to Jesus-Christ and the written word. However, the author also stipulates that Jesus-Christ did not actually exist per say, but existed only in the foreknowledge of God 8. To support this claim the author uses 1 Peter 1:20 which states that Jesus-Christ was foreknown of God, and Romans 8:29 which states that God foreknew us. 1 Peter 1:20 is a cornerstone verse in the author’s support of the claim that Jesus-Christ existed in God’s foreknowledge only. 1 Peter 1:20 - Who (Jesus-Christ) verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you Romans 8:29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. The author writes “We did not exist before the world began. Neither did JesusChrist” 9. But is this claim supported by 1 Peter 1:20? 1.3.1. 1 Peter 1:20 – ...“foreordained” before the foundation of the world The Greek word translated “foreordained” in 1 Peter 1:20 and “foreknow” in Romans 8:29 is proginóskó which means “to know beforehand”. This verb is used 5 times in the New Testament, the 3 other places being Acts 26:5, Romans 11:2, and 2 Peter 3:17. In Acts 26:5, the statement from the Apostle Paul shows quite clearly that foreknowledge does not necessary imply “lack of existence”.
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Acts 26:4,5 – 4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 5 Which knew (proginóskó) me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. Clearly Paul existed at the time he was “foreknown” of the Jews, yet he uses the verb proginóskó. Matter of fact, Paul states that the Jews have known him from his youth! Therefore, since there is at least one instance (among the five) which proves that foreknowledge does not necessary imply lack of existence, it follows that just because Jesus-Christ was foreknown of God before the foundation of the world does not necessarily mean that He did not exist before the foundation of the world. Nevertheless, it is true that this finding does not prove that Jesus-Christ existed before the foundation of the world. And it does not prove either that the author’s claim is incorrect. But what this finding does prove is that the author’s claim is not fully supported by either Romans 8:29 or 1 Peter 1:20. However, a look at the second segment of 1 Peter 1:20 further undermines the author’s claim. 1.3.2. 1 Peter 1:20 –… but was “manifest” in these last times for you Note: For a quick read of the review of the book, you can skip this section and go directly to Section 3: Digging Deeper into John 1 (p.16)
The Apostle Peter says in this verse that Jesus-Christ was manifested in these last times for us. The Greek verb translated “manifested” is the word phaneroó, which is “to make visible” or “to make clear”. It is used 49 times in the New Testament. Here are some instances. Mark 4:22 - For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested [phaneroó]; neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad. Mark 16:12 - After that he (Jesus-Christ) appeared [phaneroó] in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13And they went and told [it] unto the residue: neither believed they them. John 2:11 - This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested [phaneroó] forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. John 3:21 - But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest [phaneroó], that they are wrought in God.
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John 9:3 - Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest [phaneroó] in him. Romans 3:21 - But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested [phaneroó], being witnessed by the law and the prophets Romans 16:25 - Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest [phaneroó], and by the scriptures of the prophets… 2 Corinthians 7:12 - Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear [phaneroó] unto you. Colossians 1:26, 27 - Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest [phaneroó] to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 1 John 4:9 - In this was manifested [phaneroó] the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him Now, the reader will certainly agree that the following statements are true: The reason why something that is hid (as described in Mark 4:22) can be manifested is “because it already exists”. It was possible for Jesus-Christ to appear in another form (as described in Mark 16:22) “because he already existed”. The glory of Jesus-Christ “already existed” before the first miracle, and that is why it could be manifested at the first miracle (as described in John 2:11). The righteousness of God without the law “already existed” (as described in Romans 3:21) but only now was it shown. Indeed, this is precisely what Galatians 3:6 affirms: Abraham was declared righteous more than four hundred years before the law was given (as described in Galatians 3:17). The revelation of the mystery could be manifested (as described in Romans 16:25) “because it already existed” but was kept secret up to that point. One cannot keep secret something that does not exist. And one cannot unveil that
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which does not exist. The mystery was hid (as described in Colossians 1:26, 27) means precisely that “it already existed”. It was a piece of information which, in due time was unveiled to God’s saints (as described in 1 Peter 1:1012). God’s love toward us was manifested (as described in 1 John 4:9) because His love “already existed”! The overwhelming majority of uses of the verb phaneroó refer quite clearly to elements that “already exist”. If something does not exist then it needs to be made or even created, but not manifested. The fact of the matter is that the all-knowing God has foreknowledge about everything! He knows the past, the present and the future. He had foreknowledge of us, just as He had foreknowledge of the heavens and the earth, and of Jesus-Christ Himself. But He “created” (not “manifested”) the heavens and the earth because they did not exist yet. If God meant “manifested” the heavens and the earth, then we believe that this is what He would have said. But He meant “created” and we believe that is the reason He said it. “Manifested”, “created” and “made” are three significantly different verbs; they are not synonymous. And of JesusChrist in 1 Peter 1:20, referring to the time He was seen on earth, God said “manifested”. There is no question that Jesus-Christ was created, but His virgin conception is not that time. According to Revelation 3:14, He is the first that was ever created, placing the beginning of His existence before anything else in history. Revelation 3:14 - …These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God Yet, one might still make the argument that God did not “create” Jesus-Christ because He had already “created” man, and Jesus-Christ was a man. First, one should note that Revelation 3:14 disproves this completely. Jesus-Christ was created. Additionally, one should note that Jesus-Christ is called the “onlybegotten” Son of God. This expression “only-begotten” is one Greek word (monogenés) which literally means one of a kind, or one of a class. It is used only 9 times in the New Testament, and in 6 of those cases it is referring to Jesus-Christ. The other three cases are all used to indicate that the parent had one and only one child. So effectively, this unique child is one of a kind, there is no other like him. Jesus-Christ is one of a kind, and though He was a man, He is clearly different, in a class of its own, at least if we have to go by God’s usage of the word monogenés. Clearly, God is drawing the attention to the uniqueness of His Son. Yet, while being one of a kind, the scriptures still refer to that time of His birth (or even the time when He started His ministry) as the time He was “manifested”, or “made visible”, not “created”. To us, this is
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further evidence that He already existed, and therefore only needed to be manifested! So we conclude that it is hard to think that 1 Peter 1:20 is saying that JesusChrist was manifested although he did not already exist before. And when was Jesus-Christ manifested? Since 1 Peter 1:20 set the time he was manifested in contrast with the time He was foreknown of God, we believe that it is referring to the time since His birth, since the scriptures clearly show that from his first day on earth, some people already knew who He was, starting with his own parents. Before His birth people only knew of His coming, but from the day of His birth, He could now be seen, He was made visible, He was manifested! Therefore, we conclude, contrary to the author’s claim, that 1 Peter 1:20 offers virtually no support in favor of the notion that Jesus-Christ did not actually exist before the world began. 2. In the Beginning was the Word Note: For a quick read of the review of the book, you can skip Section 2 and go directly to Section 3: Digging Deeper into John 1 (p.16)
It was necessary to discuss the Greek verb phaneroó (manifested) before returning to the first segment of John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word”. Could the “Word” here refer to who came to be known as Jesus-Christ? Our belief is that it is, and this segment will lay our reasoning for holding this belief. 2.1. Problematic with the translation “In the Beginning was God” First, let us address specifically a prevailing argument that because God, in the beginning, was alone (since even Jesus-Christ was created as mentioned in Revelation 3:14), the only correct understanding of John 1:1 should be “In the beginning was God…”. Those who defend that “In the beginning was God…” is the true meaning of the first segment of John 1:1 interpret “In the beginning” as that time when God was alone, and so “the Word” can only mean “God”. However, this interpretation is flawed for at least three specific reasons, which are discussed here. 2.1.1. Sequence of Events in John 1:1 John 1:1 continues as such “…and the Word was with God”, where “the Word” is appropriately understood to be referring to who came to be known as Jesus-Christ. To this statement “…and the Word was with God” one is allowed to ask the question, “When was the Word with God?”. And to that question there is one and only one correct answer: “In the beginning”. Which
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beginning? The same beginning being referred to right here in John 1:1. Therefore, if one interprets that beginning as the time when God was alone, then doesn’t the second segment of John 1:1 immediately disprove that very notion, since it affirms that the Word was actually there, with God 10? This bears repeating; if one interprets “the Word” as “God” in “In the beginning was the Word” on the basis that God, alone, was in the beginning, isn’t John 1:1 affirming the exact opposite by saying, “No, the Word was there too, God was not alone!”? And we know this cannot be true, since according to Revelation 3:14 Jesus-Christ was created. Additionally, please note that John 1:1 does not say “In the beginning was the Word, then the Word was with God” which would clearly imply a sequence of events, a first event followed by a second one. Instead John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” which means that the two events – the first and the second – were happening at the same time! In other words, if the first “Word” refers to God, and the second one refers to Jesus-Christ, then John 1:1 is stating that both God and Jesus-Christ were both present from the very beginning. Therefore, on the basis of this argument alone, we believe that one should not interpret “In the beginning was the Word…” as “In the beginning was God”. 2.1.2. Contrasting John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 Let us contrast John 1:1, Genesis 1:1, and Revelation 3:14. Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Revelation 3:14 - …These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God We understand that by the time the heavens and the earth were created, God was already there because He is the One who created them (Genesis 1:1 itself says it). Yet, Genesis 1:1 places the creation time of the heavens and the earth at “In the beginning”. Therefore, Genesis 1:1 is showing rather clearly that “In the beginning” is not referring exclusively to that “beginning of time” where 10
One could make the argument that Jesus-Christ was not actually there, but that this verse is saying “Jesus-Christ was with God in His foreknowledge only”. But this is “highly unlikely” to be the meaning as we have shown before. In addition, what information would this statement add if indeed it were true? The fact is “everything”, “absolutely everything” was in God’s foreknowledge. If anything, such argument only renders Christ no more special than any other creation of God, since we were “all” in His foreknowledge.
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God was alone. Instead, “In the beginning” refers to the starting point of the heavens and the earth, God being there already. Now, Revelation 3:14 tells us that Jesus-Christ is the beginning of the creation of God, effectively placing Jesus-Christ before the heavens and the earth 11. If the heavens and the earth started in the beginning, then “at the very least” Jesus-Christ’s starting point is also in that very same beginning, and clearly not after! So why is stating “In the beginning was Jesus-Christ” 12 in John 1:1 problematic while “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is not? The fact of the matter is that whatever the scriptures say about what happened “In the beginning”, it must be understood that God was already there since He, God, created all things, and He, God, does not have a beginning (more on that in the next argument). 2.1.3. The Definition of the One and Only True God Interpreting “In the beginning” in John 1:1 as the time when God was alone violates the very definition of God. God does not have a beginning. God IS “the beginning” (the Alpha). God is the definition of “the beginning”. God does not have an end, God IS “the end” (the Omega). Revelation 1:8 - I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 21:6 - And he said unto me, they are come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. Revelation 22:13 - I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. These verses do not say “God was in the beginning”. They say “God IS the beginning”. Since God is eternal, what is the beginning point in eternity, so that one would be allowed to state “In the beginning was God” as if that beginning point in time could be identified? What is the end point in eternity? How does one identify those two points? One cannot! Therefore, when one states “In the beginning was God…”, one actually gives a starting point to God (i.e. the beginning) when God actually does not have one! On the contrary, Jesus-Christ does have a starting point since He was created. And 11
Which, as we will see in Section 3.1, makes our interpretation of John 1:3 logical…all things were made “by” God “through” the Word. 12 Technically, it should be left as “In the beginning was the Word” since Jesus-Christ is not formally introduced until verse 14. But the Word should be understood as referring to who came to be known later as Jesus-Christ.
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that point is the very “beginning” mentioned in John 1:1 and 1 John 1:1 (more on this in the next section). So, “In the beginning” cannot be attributed to God since this would imply that He has one, a beginning. In Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning” is attributed to the beginning of the heavens and the earth (not to the beginning of God), and we believe that similarly, in John 1:1, “In the beginning” is attributed to the beginning of Jesus-Christ. 2.1.4. A Comparison Between John 1:1,2 and 1 John 1:1,2 A parallel comparison between John 1:1,2 and 1 John 1:1,2 brings, to our opinion, additional critical insight. Interestingly, the books of John and 1 John were written by the same author, the Apostle John. In addition, the verses to be compared are both introductions to these respective books, and the similarities are noteworthy to say the least. One cannot help but note the similarities between the two introductions. In 1 John 1:1, the Apostle leaves “no room” for misinterpretation. That which was “from the beginning” was heard, seen with physical eyes, looked upon, and handled. John 1:1,2
1 John 1:1,2
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 The same was in the 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have beginning with God seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
This cannot be referring to God, but instead to His Son Jesus-Christ. John calls Him here the “Word of life”. Compare that with John 1:4 (Section 3.2) where the Apostle states “in Him was life” 13. In 1 John 1:2, this very “life” (i.e. Jesus-Christ) was “with the Father”, a statement that is in perfect agreement with what the Apostle says in John 1:1 (the Word was with God). And it is not God who was manifested, but Jesus-Christ (remember 1 Peter 1:20?). And guess what? Referring to the time Jesus-Christ was on earth, 1 John 1:2 states that this life was “manifested” (not “created”), because, as 1 13
The author claims that “Him” refers to God, but we find no basis for that. We address John 1:3-15 in Section 3.
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John 1:1 says, He existed from the beginning. This also we believe is in agreement with 1 Peter 1:20. That Jesus-Christ is a creation of God is not being questioned here. He was indeed created as Revelation 3:14 asserts. Yet, the Apostle does not seem at all agitated to state that Jesus-Christ was from the beginning. Is he therefore, by stating such, saying that Jesus-Christ is God? No, he is not. Matter of fact, he says quite clearly that Jesus-Christ was “with” the Father. In summary of what we have studied and discussed thus far, we arrive at the following conclusions: Both the first and second occurrences of logos in John 1:1 refer to Jesus-Christ, and not to God. From our research, we simply see no evidence for the figure of speech Antanaclasis in John 1:1 and we find no evidence for “the Word” being used as a name for the Father Himself. Interestingly, Bullinger did not see Antanaclasis in John 1:1 either. We believe that the meaning of “In the beginning was the Word” is “In the beginning was God” is immediately disproved by John 1:1 itself. Lastly, a parallel comparison between John 1:1,2 and 1 John 1:1,2 indicates to us that “In the beginning was Jesus-Christ” does not violate the presence of God before Christ Himself since God created Him. We addressed the third instance of logos in John 1:1 in Section 4. 3. Digging Deeper into John 1
Note: Resume here for a quick read of the review of the book
John 1 discusses a specific subject, the introduction of which is given in John 1:1. If one misinterprets John 1:1, then he or she is, in our opinion, bound to encounter significant difficulties in understanding the rest of this chapter. From the evidences we bring in this section (and we could be wrong), we believe that this is precisely what took place with the author of this book. Let’s recap the first 15 verses he addresses. The words in brackets are the interpretation of the author. John 1: 1-15 1 In the beginning was the Word [God] 14, and the Word [Jesus-Christ and the written Word] 15 was with God, and the Word [God] 16 was God. 2 The same [the revealed Word in the foreknowledge of God] 17 was in the beginning with God.
Page 84 Page 86 16 We already established that this is most likely what the author maintained. 17 Page 88 15
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3 All things were made by him [God]; and without him [God] 18 was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him [God] 19 was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light [God] 20 shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same [John] 21 came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light [God], that all men through him [John] might believe. 8 He [John] was not that Light [God], but was sent to bear witness of that Light [God]. 9 That was the true Light [God] 22, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He [God] was in the world [by the revealed Word], and the world was made by him [God], and the world knew him [God] not. 11 He [God] 23 came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him [God], to them gave he [God] power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name [namesake, Jesus-Christ] 24: 13 Which were born [was conceived] 25, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word [revealed Word, Jesus-Christ] 26 was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 (John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.) 27 3.1. John 1:3 We already discussed the first two verses, and our conclusion is that the “Word”, everywhere it is mentioned in those two verses, refers to JesusChrist, not God. We discuss “…and the Word was God” in section 3.6. But for now, let’s turn to verse 3. We shall argue that here, as well, “Him” refers to “Jesus-Christ” and not to “God”, so that John 1:3 could be understood as 18
Page 93 Page 95 20 Page 96 21 Page 97 for John 1: 6-8 22 Page 98 for John 1: 9,10 23 Page 99 24 Page 100 25 Page 101. The author claims that this should be in the singular, not the plural. 26 Page 103 27 Page 108. The parentheses in verse 14, and from verse 15 to 17 are added by the author. 19
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John 1:3 - All things were made by him [Jesus-Christ]; and without him [Jesus-Christ] was not any thing made that was made. 3.1.1. All things were made “by” Him… The two words “by” and “without” in John 1:3 deserve particular attention. The first, “by” is the Greek word dia which means “through”. For example, we know that God spoke “by” the mouth of His holy prophets. It is well understood that the proper meaning is that God spoke “through” His holy prophets. Here are some examples: Luke 1:70 - As he spake by [dia] the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began Acts 3:18 - But those things, which God before had shewed by [dia] the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Acts 3:21 - Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by [dia] the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Hebrews 1:1 - God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by [dia] the prophets. The scriptures say that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). We understand in each of the verses quoted above that the Mastermind, the real Author, was God, not the prophets. God spoke “through” the prophets. This statement certainly does not in any way, shape or form diminishes God’s role, nor does it attribute what was spoken “to” the prophets. Quite the contrary! The expression “spake by the mouth of His holy prophets” brings the attention, the focus back to the Source, the Author, who is God. The fact that God chose those people certainly speak highly of them. But this selection does not make these people the authors in any way. Just like the examples above, John 1:3 is not saying that the Word made all these things, but that God “through” the Word made all these things! Therefore, it should be clear that the verse is not saying “all things were made through God” (as the author translates), because it is God who made all things, but instead that “all things were made (by God) through the Word”. The focus is clearly on God, with the Word occupying a central position in God’s master plan of creation, just like the prophets held a central position as God communicated with His people.
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3.1.2. …and “without” him was not any thing made… The author claims that “him” here refers to God, so that it can literally be read “and without God was not any thing made…”. This brings the word “without” into focus. “Without” is the Greek word chóris which means “separate from” or “apart from”, and therefore it implies that there must be at least two entities which can either be separate or together. It is the reason why in the English language we can ask “separate from whom?” or “apart from what?”. We understand by the use of this word that there must be at least two entities involved. We argue therefore that “and separate from God was not any thing made…” is not grammatically correct, because it makes God the only entity in this verse. To illustrate, one need not look further than some of the many other places where choris is used: John 15:5 - I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without [choris] me ye can do nothing. Philippians 2: 14 - Do all things without [choris] murmurings and disputings 1 Corinthians 11:11 - Nevertheless neither is the man without [choris] the woman, neither the woman without [choris] the man, in the Lord. In John 15:5, the two entities involved are “the vine” (i.e. Jesus-Christ) and “the branches” (i.e. us), and Jesus-Christ is saying that without Him, or “separate from” Him, there is nothing the branches can do. In Philippians 2:14, the two entities are “the things we do” and “the murmurings and disputings”. We can do things “with” murmurings and disputings, but here in Philippians we are exhorted do things “without” them. In other words, let’s not involve either murmurings or disputings as we do anything. In 1 Corinthians 11:11, the two entities are “the man” and “the woman”, which can be together or separate. If “Him” refers to God in John 1:3 then, according to the author, this verse is saying literally “All things were made through God; and separate from God was not anything made that was made”. In our opinion, neither the first nor the second segment of this verse makes any grammatical sense when interpreted as such. Who made things through God? And who did not do anything separate from God? Additionally, isn’t this verse so interpreted indicating that there is one “before”, or “above” God, who did things through Him? We believe therefore, that the evidences point to the following interpretation:
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John 1:3 - All things were made through him [Jesus-Christ]; and without him [Jesus-Christ] was not any thing made that was made. It is God who made all things; He is first and above all! But He made all things, absolutely all things through the Word, His Word (i.e. the Word of the Lord). That was His choice. He (God) could have (conceptually) done all things without His Word, but He chose otherwise by making everything “through” the Word. 3.2. John 1:4-9 John 1: 4-9 - In him [God] was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light [God] shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same [John] came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light [God], that all men through him [John] might believe. 8 He [John] was not that Light [God], but was sent to bear witness of that Light [God]. 9 That was the true Light [God], which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The author’s interpretations are identified in brackets in the verses above. According to the author, the beginning of verse 4 should be understood as “in God was life”. There does not seem to be something much shocking here. Matter of fact, it is even an interesting proposition. Unfortunately, the author offers no supporting evidence. Additionally, how does he explain 1 John 5:11? Unfortunately, the author does not discuss 1 John 5:11 either. Remember that the books of John and 1 John were written by the same person, the Apostle John. 1 John 5:11 - And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. This verse states in no-ambiguous terms not only who the author of this life is, but also where that life is to be found. 1 John 5:11 states that the life is in Jesus-Christ, but that this life was given by God! It is therefore our belief that neither 1 John 5:11 nor the context of John 1:4 gives support to interpreting “In Him was life” in John 1:4 as “In God was life”. Instead, we believe the correct understanding is “In the Word was life”, the reason being that later in John 1:14, we are informed that the Word became flesh, and that we know that it is the man Jesus-Christ, the Son of God. Now concerning the light, mentioned in verses 4 and 5, the author believes that God is the light being referred to. However, a look at the broader context
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– specifically verses 7 through 9 and verses 14 and 15 – gives us critical information which can help us identify the light. John 1:14,15 – 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him28, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. According to verse 15, who did John the Baptist bare witness to? God? Obviously not, and to this conclusion the author actually agrees! Who is John the Baptist speaking of in verse 14 and 15? Jesus-Christ of course! It is not God who came, but Jesus-Christ. Furthermore, John 1:8 states (the author’s interpretations are in brackets): John 1:8 - He [John] was not that Light [God], but was sent to bear witness of that Light [God]. If the first chapter of the book of John is to be consistent, then there should not be any contradiction within it. If verse 15 identifies Jesus-Christ as the one that John the Baptist bore witness of, then we must understand that John 1:8 – when speaking of the light that John was sent to bear witness of – is referring to Jesus-Christ, not God. In addition, it is rather hard to believe that the apostle John thought for a moment that there could be people out there mistaking John the Baptist for God Himself. What would have been the point of the Apostle making the statement that John was not God when he wrote “He was not that Light” in verse 8? It is our belief that the reason the apostle made the statement “He was not that Light…” is precisely because there was indeed a definite possibility of people mistaking John the Baptist for the Light; the Light being Jesus-Christ. No one can mistake someone for God, but mistaking someone for Jesus-Christ, who was another man, that is possible. Look at what John the Baptist says Himself: John 1:20 - And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. John the Baptist did not confess “…I am not God”; he confessed “…I am not the Christ”! John the Baptist confessed that He was not the Christ because he
Page 108. The book is absolutely silent on this first segment of the verse. But from the author’s comments, it is obvious that He understands that it cannot be God, and that it is referring to Jesus-Christ. We address the author’s take on this apparent discrepancy in Section 3.5.
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could have been (and probably was at time) mistaken for Him… for Christ, the Light he was supposed to bear witness of! 3.3. John 1:10-12 Here is the passage, with the author’s interpretation in bracket: 10 He [God] was in the world [by the revealed Word], and the world was made by him [God], and the world knew him [God] not.11 He [God] 29 came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him [God], to them gave he [God] power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name [namesake, Jesus-Christ] 30: The scriptures say that it is Jesus-Christ, not God, who came into the world 31. Because of this undisputed fact, the author, by interpreting in verse 10 “He” as “God” had to add “by the revealed Word” so as not to violate this basic truth. We discussed that everything was made (by God) “through” the Word in verse 3, thereby rendering verse 10 in perfect agreement with verse 3 when understood as follows: 10 He [the Word] was in the world, and the world was made by (through) him [the Word], and the world knew him [the Word] not. With respect to verse 11, Matthew 21:42 tells us that it is Jesus-Christ who came unto His own, and His own rejected Him. When looking at verse 12, we believe that it is appropriate for it to say that it is Jesus-Christ who gave us power to become the sons of God, since it is through His faith that we can become sons of God, as recorded in Galatians 3:26. It is in the name of JesusChrist that we believe! Looking again at verse 12, if it is God (and not JesusChrist) who is really the object of this passage, why didn’t the apostle simply write “to them gave he [God] power to become His sons”? When we realize that verses 10 to 12 are referring to the Word and not God, we find that there is no need to add “…by the revealed Word” in verse 10, or to translate “his name” in verse 12 to “his namesake”. All these additions and changes by the author become necessary if one maintains that the passage is speaking of God, and not Jesus-Christ. Therefore, we believe this passage should be understood as below:
Page 99 Page 100 31 John 16:28, John 18:37, 1 Timothy 1:15 30
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10 He [the Word] was in the world, and the world was made by [dia, through] him [the Word], and the world knew him [the Word] not. 11 He [the Word] came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him [the Word], to them gave he [the Word] power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name 32: 3.4. John 1:13 – Who “was” born? The author claims that the first verb in verse 13 is really in the singular, thereby referring to Jesus-Christ. The author’s interpretation is in brackets. John 1:13 - Which were born [was conceived] 33, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Interestingly, the author does concede that there is not a single Greek text which has this verse in the singular. But he defends his position by quoting “several” Aramaic manuscripts 34. However, here is a problem. 1 John 5:6 states 1 John 5:6 - This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. Now, we will be the first to concede that we do not fully understand 1 John 5:6. But it does strike us as very odd that the Apostle John who wrote both books (John and 1 John) insists, here in 1 John 5, that we understand that Jesus-Christ came by water and blood. If the author’s interpretation is to be believed, then John 1:13 and 1 John 5:6 are really speaking of two entirely different things. However, we see no evidence to support this position, and we would be very interested to hear from you the reader. Furthermore, 1 John 5:1 is even more direct, especially when compared to John 1:12, 13:
It is our belief that “the Word” and “Jesus-Christ” are truly interchangeable terms. But since, technically, the Word is not yet formally introduced as Jesus-Christ until John 1:14, it is probably more accurate to state “the Word” instead of “Jesus-Christ” in this passage. 33 Page 101. The author claims that this should be in the singular, not the plural. 34 Page 102. While we are sure they exist, we were not able to find any of them from the references the author gave in the book.
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1 John 5:1
12 But as many as received him [Jesus-Christ], to them gave he [Jesus-Christ] power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Doesn’t 1 John 5:1 bring beautifully John 1:12 and 13 together? Those who receive Jesus-Christ (as described in John 1:12) are those who believe on Him. And those who believe on Him are born of God (as described in John 1:13). Doesn’t it look like 1 John 5:1 is a perfect combination of John 1:12 and 13? Magnificent! Simply magnificent! But when “were born” is changed to “was born”, this perfect combination is all but completely lost! And yet, there are more evidences against the author’s position (i.e the verb in the singular). The second evidence, a secular one, comes from an unlikely source. The author is known to have worked very closely with George Lamsa 35, author of the Aramaic Peshitta Bible (i.e. Lamsa’s Bible), which he apparently completed in the author’s home 36. Now, that is working closely! Wouldn’t be interesting to see how Lamsa’s Bible translates John 1:13? John 1:13 – Those who are not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but born of God. 37 There is sharp discrepancy between Lamsa and our author, despite the fact that both are credited to have co-produced the first American Aramaic grammar. Did the author discover new evidences since his days with Lamsa? We believe this passage is referring to us, the born-again who believed that Jesus is the Christ. Us, when we are born again, we are not born of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of the Spirit. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, and it is not by our own will but by the will of God that we are born again. This is to our best understanding the meaning of this passage, as it is translated in all Greek texts. 35
http://eternallyblessed.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Paul_Wierwille 37 http://www.lamsabible.com/Lamsa/4_John/John1.htm 36
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A last piece of evidence against the author’s point of view can be found in the extensive paper by Maurice Case (page 1343) 38 published in 2011. This paper gives at least one well-documented historical origin of the mistranslation our author defends, dating to the early 1900s (not to some earlier Aramaic texts). It is a very interesting read that we highly recommend. 3.5. John 1:14,15 The fact that the author agrees that verse 15 is stating that John bare witness of Jesus-Christ raises a significant discrepancy between this verse and his interpretation of verse 7 “John…bare witness of God”. But the author eliminates this discrepancy via the use of parentheses, which he places in various places in verse 14 and 15, without justification, as shown below: John 1:14, 15 - And the Word [revealed Word, Jesus-Christ] 39 was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 (John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.) 40 Now, parentheses are used to deviate temporarily from a main subject, perhaps to give emphasis to a particular point. The author states the following regarding the parentheses he placed in verse 15 41: “verses 15-17 are truly parenthetical and further elaborates on verse 14” 42. Since he agrees that verse 14 is speaking of Jesus-Christ, he can – with the aid of parentheses – states that verse 15 also speaks of Jesus-Christ (and that includes “John bare witness of Him”), without drawing a clear contradiction with verse 7. Therefore, the first “bare witness” in verse 7 can refer to God, while the second in verse 15, which is in parentheses, can refer to Jesus-Christ. According to the author, verse 14 starts with no parenthesis, then one appears in the middle of the verse and closes before the end. This is then followed by a new parenthesis in verse 15. Yet, he offers no supporting evidence for these assertions. With parentheses having the powerful ability of completely altering the meaning of a passage, shouldn’t the assertion of their presence be supported by some kind of evidence?
http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/hist_jes.pdf Page 103 40 Page 108. The parentheses in verse 14, and from verse 15 to 17 are added by the author. 41 The parentheses continues to verse 17, all referring to Jesus-Christ 42 Page 108 39
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Unfortunately, the evidences appear to suggest quite strongly that these parentheses were an attempt to make this passage fit with the rest of the “author’s” interpretation of the previous verses. We instead contend that there is no need for parentheses. The narrative about the Word (now formally introduced as Jesus-Christ in verse 14) which started in John 1:1 simply continues up to these verses, completely uninterrupted. 4. So, is John 1:1 saying that Jesus-Christ is The God Himself?
Note: For a quick read of the review of the book, you can skip Section 4 and go directly to Section 5: Philippians 2:6, 7 (p.31)
There is only one obvious answer to this question: NO. We do not need to look further that the sayings of the Apostle John Himself. Here is just one of the many places where John confirms that Jesus-Christ is the Son of God. 1 John 3:23 - And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. Now, we are not claiming that we fully understand the last segment of John 1:1. But we do think that the scriptures themselves give us some good leads toward understanding it. In this section, we will argue that most likely, the statement “and the Word was God” neither means nor was it understood by the people at the time to mean that “Jesus-Christ was the God Himself, the one called the Father, the creator of all things, the Alpha and the Omega”. However, we will also postulate on its meaning. First, we shall look at instances where Jesus claimed to be Son of God, and the kind of reaction this claim generated (Section 4.1). Then we will focus on the all-important article “the” which is often missing in many biblical translations, including the King James Version (Section 4.2). Lastly, we will return to John 1:1 to postulate its meaning (Section 4.3). 4.1. Reactions from Jesus claiming to be the Son of God Let us start by looking at three instances where Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and let us pay particular attention to the reaction this claim generated in the people 43 who heard it. These instances are recorded are in Luke 22:66 to 71, John 10:29 to 39, and John 5:17 and 18. Luke 22:66-71 - And as soon as it was day, the assembly of the elders of the people was gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away into their council, saying, 67 If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not 43
We are obviously referring to those who did not believe in Him
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believe: 68 and if I ask you, ye will not answer. 69 But from henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God. 70 And they all said, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. 71 And they said, What further need have we of witness? for we ourselves have heard from his own mouth. It is clear from the record above in Luke 22 that the people understood loud and clear that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God. And it is precisely this very claim that was most revolting to them as they so expressively responded “…what further need have we of witness? for we ourselves have heard from his own mouth” in verse 71. We now turn to the incident of John 10. John 10: 29-39 - My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one. 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. 39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, The record of John 10 is most revealing. Some have argued that the people sought to stone Jesus because they misunderstood Him, thinking that He was claiming to be the God Himself. They support this argument by referring to verse 33 where the people accused Him of making Himself God, and verse 36 where Jesus apparently correct them by clarifying that He is the Son of God. However, a careful reading of this passage shows that this interpretation is incorrect. One only needs looking at the reaction of the people even after the “so-called” clarification that He is the Son of God. In verse 38, Jesus restated the same thing He said in verse 29, that He is the Son of God. And if what He meant wasn’t clear before, it certainly was clear this second time around. By this time, the people understood quite clearly. Yet, look at the reaction of the
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people after this so-called clarification: it is “exactly” the same it was before it. They still sought to hurt Him! If indeed this was a clarification, then we see that it had absolutely no effect on the people. In other words, for the people, it was still blasphemy! Here, just like in Luke 22, claiming to be the Son of God was the real problem! There was no misunderstanding from this people 44. The same reasoning applies in John 5. John 5:17,18 - But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. In John 5 above, is it that the people misunderstood Jesus? No, not at all! They understood Him loud and clear if we read John 5:17, 18 correctly. They understood clearly that He called God His Father. But it is precisely the implications of His statement (i.e. that God is His Father) that angered the Jews. The reaction from the people here in John 5 is absolutely identical with the reactions of the people in the two previous records. To claim to be the Son of God was considered blasphemy, punishable by death! Nevertheless, there is still more to be understood from these three records. A close examination of them give the reason why claiming to be the Son of God was so revolting to the people. We discuss this in the next section. 4.2. The all-important article “The” We are not Greek scholars. Yet, even with the most basic of knowledge we possess, we cannot help but notice the precision of the Greek texts that is often lacking in English translations. We now return to the same three passages discussed in Section 4.1, paying this time particular attention to either the omission (by poor translation) or simple absence (by correct translation) of the article “the” when Greek texts were translated to English. Wherever the article “the” has been omitted in the translations, we have included them, along with its Greek counterpart. Luke 22:70 - And they all said, Art thou then the Son of the [tou] God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
Please note as well, that Jesus never corrected these people for stating “…thou, being a man, makest thyself God”. If they were making a grotesque mistake, why didn’t Jesus-Christ correct them?
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John 10:33 - The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John 5:18 - Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that the [ton] God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Why is the article “the” present before some instances of God, but not before others? Does it matter actually? Let’s see the nuances: In Luke 22, the people asked Jesus if He was the Son of the God, and He is said, “yes”. In John 10:33, the people did not accuse Jesus of making Himself the God, but of making Himself God (note how the article “the” is not present). In John 5:18 the Jews sought to kill Jesus because He claimed the God to be His Father, thereby making Himself God, not the God (note how the article is present in the first instance but not in the second). Now lets’ look at John 1:1, where include “the” wherever it has been omitted: John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the [ton] God, and the Word was God. Interestingly, we see the same feature here John 1:1. Note that there is the article “the” before the first instance of God, but not before the second! The Apostle John states that the Word was with the God (i.e. the Father). But he does not say that the Word was the God (i.e. the Father). He simply stated that the Word was God. Let us use some examples to illustrate the important implications of the article “the” being either placed or omitted in front of the word “God”. The scriptures say that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). But this is not equivalent to “God is the Spirit” from which we would understand that the statement is referring to a very specific Spirit. Likewise, it is not equivalent to “the spirit is God”. Why? Because there are many spirits and a spirit is not necessarily God! “Mr. Jones is the President” is not the same as “Mr. Jones is President”. “Mr. Jones is the President” is equivalent to “The President is Mr. Jones”, because we understand that there is only one President per country. But “Mr. Jones is President” is not equivalent to “a President is Mr. Jones” because a President is not necessarily Mr. Jones since there are many presidents in the world. Therefore, if the Scriptures are perfect, then we should not understand “…and the Word was God” in John 1:1 to be meaning “…and the Word was the God” because this is not what it says. Likewise, we should not understand in John 5
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“…making himself equal with God” to be meaning “…making himself equal with the God” because this is not what it says, or in John 10 “…makest thyself God” to be meaning “…makest thyself the God” because this is not what it says. Very interestingly, one will note that neither in John 5 nor in John 10 does Jesus rebuke the people for their accusation. Let’s think about it: Of all people, would not have Jesus been the first to correct the people of their mistakes if the people truly thought that He had been claiming to be the God Himself? Think about it! Throughout His teaching, Jesus always made a very concerted effort to draw the distinction between Himself and the Father, showing how He is “fully” dependent on Him. How could Jesus-Christ stay quiet if truly the people thought He was claiming to be the God Himself? The only logical conclusion is that Jesus-Christ did not disagree with their accusation because 1) that is not what the people thought, and 2) whatever they understood (although they did not agree) was actually correct (and we might add, blasphemy to them). The people understood correctly that Jesus was claiming to be God’s Son. But what did such a claim actually mean in order to cause, each time he made it, such uproar in the unbelievers? Again, the answer is found in those same verses we already visited: It meant that Jesus was claiming to be God…not the God, but simply God. So the real question is “what does it mean to be God (not the God, because that is rather clear!)? What does it mean in John 1:1? What does it mean to be equal with God in John 5:18? What does it mean to make oneself God in John 10:33? 4.3. The possible meaning of…“and the Word was God” in John 1:1 One of the ways to answer the fundamental question formulated in the previous section, and interpreting John 1:1 is to study Philippians 2:6,7. Philippians 2:6 - Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men As we already demonstrated, the people never accused Jesus of claiming that He was the God Himself, the one He Himself affectionately calls the Father. But as John 10:33 so clearly shows, the problem with the Jews was that by Him claiming to be the Son of God, He “being a man, made himself God”. In other words, “how come you, evidently “man” by nature, claim to be “God” by nature. Isn’t it the same contrast that Philippians 2:6,7 is drawing? The
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form of God contrasted with the form of man. We discuss Philippians 2:6,7 more extensively in Section 5 45. We may therefore at this point postulate the following about the statement “…and the Word was God” in John 1:1. Based on the evidences brought up thus far in this study, we believe John 1:1 is simply referring to “the form” that the Word had in the beginning. In the beginning, “the Word” was in the form of God (which is perfectly consistent with Philippians 2:6…the Word is Christ). But when the Word was made flesh (John 1:14), the Word was made in the form of man (which is perfectly consistent with Philippians 2:7). And therefore, it is also appropriate that the past tense be used “…and the Word was God” because once the Word became flesh, He no longer had that form of God…the Word was no longer God, the Word was man. We believe this to be perfectly consistent with the statement of Philippians 2:7…“But made himself of no reputation” which means “emptied Himself”. Emptied Himself of what…? Of that original, higher form called God, to take on the new, lower form called man! 5. Philippians 2:6,7
Note: Resume here for a quick read of the review of the book. You only need reading Section 5:1 Context of Philippians 2:6
The records in the second chapter of Philippians have additional pieces of information that further establish the actual existence of the Christ (not barely His existence in God’s foreknowledge) before His virgin conception. In his book, Wierwille does quote Philippians 2:6 as well. However, his handling of the verse is in our opinion entirely flawed. Therefore, we shall address the author’s interpretation first (Section 5.1) before returning to some of those additional pieces of information this passage contains (Section 5.2). Philippians 2:6 - Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 5.1. Context of Philippians 2:6 Surprisingly, the author is “completely” silent on the statement “who, being in the form of God…”. In addition, it is also our belief that the author completely misunderstood this verse, ignoring even its immediate context. According to the author, Philippians 2:6 is an exhortation for us to have the same thoughts that Jesus-Christ had, so that “we will bring ourselves up to that level of 45
The interested reader may want to read the following source as part of his or her quest for an answer, just as we are doing here. We are not claiming that this source has the definite answer, but rather that it is a worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the subject. http://vintage.aomin.org/JOHN1_1.html
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equality as sons of God” 46. In other words, from the best of our understanding of the author’s write-up, this verse is about beholding our “elevated” positions as sons of God. He adds, “what a tremendous lever for the more abundant life when we put on the thoughts of Christ”. But what were thoughts of Christ? That he saw Himself as a son of God, as the author implies? We believe this interpretation is incorrect, and that reading the immediate context of this verse does much to avoid such misinterpretation. Philippians 2: 3-8 - Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The immediate context of Philippians 2:6, starting from verse 3 and ending in verse 8, shows clearly what is to be understood in verse 6. What were the thoughts of Christ “in this context”? Christ Jesus did not think it robbery to be equal with God, and instead made Himself of no reputation. This is what He thought. He “lowered” Himself! This entire section is an exhortation to “humility”. This section is not about “bringing ourselves up to that level of equality as sons of God”, as the author claims. This section is an exhortation to “humility and service”. Looking at the context, the point of Philippians 2:6 is to remind “anyone” who might be tempted to pride him- or herself (as described in verse 3) instead of being occupied with serving others (as described in verse 4) to imitate JesusChrist (as described in verse 5), who while he was in the form of God (as described in verse 6) showcased the greatest level of humility by emptying Himself completely, then taking the form of a servant, and becoming in the likeness of men (as described in verse 7). And not only that, even obeying until death (as described in verse 8)! No wonder the Father was well-pleased in His Son (Matthew 3:17). The context gives clarity to the need of the statement “…being in the form of God” in verse 6, as it contrasts the form of God with the form of a servant, thereby highlighting the magnitude of the humility that was evidenced.
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Furthermore, verse 6 becomes very problematic when one maintains that the genesis of Jesus-Christ was at the virgin conception. And perhaps this is precisely why the author never addresses this statement. Nevertheless, whatever the statement “…being in the form of God” means, it is certainly here to highlight the “humility” that Jesus-Christ demonstrated by emptying himself of that form in order to take a much lower form…that of a servant! Therefore, to the best of our understanding, this passage is not about JesusChrist “raising” His mindset to, as the author says “that level of equality as Son of God”, but instead about Jesus-Christ “lowering” His state for the purpose of service. The one and only Son of the one and only true God took the form of a servant (as described in verse 7)! Is not this the highest level of humility? The whole point of this passage is that we should not forget what the only begotten Son of God did, let’s we be tempted to think highly of ourselves (as described in verse 3). 5.2. Philippians 2:6 – …“being” in the form of God Note: For a quick read of the review of the book, you can skip Section 5.2 & 5.3 and go directly to Section 6: Reflections and Conclusion (p.36)
Now, let’s return to those additional pieces of information. What does “being in the form of God” in verse 6 mean? The verb translated “being” is the Greek verb huparchó. This verb is truly interesting because it emphasizes that something is already under one's discretion or possession. Properly, it means “already have”, not just “have”. It can also be rendered “pre-exist”, not just “exist”. It is used 60 times in the New Testament. Here are two examples. Luke 8:41 - And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was [huparchó] a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: Acts 2:30, 31 - Therefore being [huparchó] a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne… spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell… In Luke, the emphasis via this verb translated “was” is that Jarius was “already” a ruler of the synagogue by the time he came and fell down a Jesus’ feet. Likewise, in Acts, one of the reasons for using this verb was certainly to establish that King David was “already” a prophet by the time he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. Therefore (and in the same vein), what we believe we are to understand in the record of Philippians 2:6 is that Christ was “already” in the form of God by the time He did not think it robbery to be equal with God. Indeed, the passage
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could probably be translated…“already being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” or “pre-existing in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”. This statement could not be clearer regarding Christ. 5.3. Voices of Verbs in Philippians 2:6,7 Now, let us turn our attention to the voices of the verbs in this passage. If this statement “…being in the form of God” is not enough to convince some that the argument set forth by Wierwille that Jesus-Christ existed only in God’s foreknowledge is not supported by the scriptures 47, how does one explain the voices with which the verbs in verse 6 and 7 are conjugated? 48 Let’s look at them. Philippians 2:6,7 - Who, being [Present Participle Active] in the form of God, thought [Aorist Indicative Middle] it not robbery to be equal with God: But made [Aorist Indicative Active] himself of no reputation, and took [Aorist Participle Active] upon him the form of a servant, and was made [Aorist Participle Middle] in the likeness of men All the verbs in these two verses are either in the “active” or the “middle” voice. None of the verses is in the “passive” voice. The passive voice is used to highlight the fact that the subject of the verb is being “acted upon” by an outside force or power 49. For example, in Luke 17:15, when it says “…when he saw that he was healed…”, was healed is in the passive voice to emphasize the fact that the person did not heal himself but was healed by an outsider, an outside force. On the contrary, the active voice is used to picture the subject performing the action (as in “he made himself of no reputation”). The main emphasis is on the action performed “by” the subject. The middle voice can be considered similar to the active, but here the main emphasis is placed on the subject performing the action, not the action itself. So when Philippians 2:6 states “…thought [Aorist Indicative Middle] it not robbery to be equal with God” the emphasis is on the subject performing the thinking…which in this case is Christ! The middle voice is also used to indicate that subject perform the action upon himself (known as a reflexive action). Therefore, we see that in Philippians 2:6,7, the focus (regardless of the voice used) is clearly on Christ, about what 47
In addition to the other evidences already brought forth. The author does not address the tenses of the verbs in this verse either, something that we believe would have been very valuable. 49 http://www.preceptaustin.org/new_page_40.htm 48
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He accomplished and what became of Him. It is important to recognize that this passage does not negate the Father’s role (as we shall see below); it simply highlights the Son. Therefore, there seems to be only one way to interpret this passage: It is Jesus-Christ Himself who did not think it robbery to be equal with God. It is Jesus-Christ Himself who made Himself of no reputation. It is Jesus-Christ Himself who took upon Himself the form of a servant. And Jesus-Christ Himself experienced the result of being made in the likeness of men. But when did all this occur? Obviously “before” He was manifested (revealed) on earth! When He was seen on earth, He “already” was in the form of a servant! He was a man. Now, we do know from the scriptures that it is the Father who sent His only begotten Son. Indeed, God was involved in the whole process, as confirmed in Hebrews. Matter of fact, it was God’s plan all along! Hebrews 2:9,10 - But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Nevertheless, what we see in Philippians 2:6,7 is that there was also consent and active participation of the Son Himself. The voices used for the verbs in this passage are here to highlight clearly the active role of the Son in accepting and embracing this God-given responsibility, that of being the captain of our salvation. No wonder the Father is well pleased in the Son! Now, are we claiming that we fully grasp the deep truths of these two verses? No, absolutely not! But we believe we are getting a glimpse! Matter of fact, we are not surprised that we do not grasp this whole truth! 1 Timothy 3:16 says that this whole account is a great mystery! Not just a mystery, but a great mystery! 1 Timothy 3:16 - And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifest [phaneroó] in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. So why feel bad if we do not fully grasp its meaning? Even though we may not fully understand a verse, evidences from other sections of the scriptures
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and little studies like the one just made here can at least help us determine whether a given interpretation cannot be correct. According to all the rules of verb tenses, mood and voices, Jesus-Christ was Himself actively active in the process described in Philippians 2:6,7. So how could Jesus-Christ be thus involved in the process without actually existing? How can one defend the claim that, before His virgin conception, Jesus-Christ existed only in God’s foreknowledge? Perhaps this is the reason the author chose to remain remarkably silent on this verse. 6. Reflections & Conclusion: The objective of this study was to provide a scripture-based critique of the book entitled “Jesus-Christ is Not God” written by Victor Paul Wierwille. Specifically, this study evaluated the arguments set forth by the author in asserting that before His virgin conception, Jesus-Christ existed in God’s foreknowledge only. Although the validity of these arguments could not be assessed without answering the basic question of whether Jesus-Christ existed before His virgin conception, the reader should understand that answering this question was not the primary objective of this study. It is the reason why there was not a deliberate effort to go after those verses which prove that He existed. Instead, the primary focus was on the same verses the author used to defend his position. Nevertheless, we believe this study brought strong evidence that Jesus-Christ, then known as the Word, did exist before His virgin conception, and that He had a different form. We also believe that it is God’s good will that we know it. We came to the conclusion that “none” of the arguments set forth by the author is substantiated by the scriptures, no matter how appealing some of them actually are. We believe that this study, which reflects our current understanding on the subject, provided ample evidence that the verses used by the author were wrongly interpreted. Ironically, we also believe that the very same verses used by the author actually assert quite strongly that Jesus-Christ “did exist” before His virgin conception in Mary, in a form that was different than his known human form. We agree with the author that Jesus-Christ is the Son of God, and that He was created by God. His book would have stood as a remarkable piece of work had it focused on the sonship subject alone, rather than tackling the genesis of the Son as well. Contrary to the author’s claim, it is our belief that the evidences strongly suggest that Jesus-Christ was indeed from the beginning, and that God did everything through Him, even placing our eternal life in Him.
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The fact that the truth regarding the Christ might be hard to fully grasp – but not “hard to accept” – does not surprise us. Indeed, the scriptures declare themselves that the mystery of godliness is a great mystery. Nevertheless, the scriptures bring sufficient clarity on this great mystery to prevent anyone from advancing theories which have, in our opinion, no biblical basis, among which we find both the Trinitarian view on one hand of the spectrum, and the view denying Jesus-Christ’s former existence in the form of God on the other. These theories seat on opposite ends of a spectrum regarding what is believed regarding godliness. In the Trinitarian view, God is not one, but a three-part being, commonly referred to as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Opposite to that view is the one refuting the existence of the Son of God prior to His virgin conception in Mary. We believe that the scriptures support neither of the two views. Our God and heavenly Father is indeed One, not three, and there is none like Him. The Father was not created while His Son, who was in the form of God and was then known as the Word before His virgin conception, was created by the Father. This in itself is a significant difference between the Father and the Son. Today, the Son, who is known as the man Jesus-Christ, is seating at the right hand of His Father. This proclamation of the great mystery was done for us, those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, those who endeavor to grasp the magnificence of God, and of His Son, Christ-Jesus. The author of this book was certainly among those who love His name, for his quest for answers is precisely what our Father expects of us. Therefore, we believe that the author of this book, as a workman of the scriptures, would have been proud as well. Whether this study we performed is right or wrong, we believe our Heavenly Father is proud of our attempt to understand the Truth. But if we are wrong, we pray the Father through Jesus-Christ that He will not leave us in darkness regarding this subject. To God be the Glory, majesty without end! Amen! Jude 24,25 - Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.