A TEXT-BASED discussion of the Trinity

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  • reformedreformed Posts: 2,642

    @Bill_Coley

    Curious Bill, what was the criteria for choosing your selected passages?

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    @reformed posted:

    Curious Bill, what was the criteria for choosing your selected passages?

    I addressed this question to a degree in THIS POST near the beginning of this thread. I hope the following information adds to that explanation:

    My objective was to pick every text/scene/verse that had Christological consequences, whether due to the name/title people gave to Jesus or Jesus gave to himself, or the comments the disciples or bystanders made about him, or the conversations they had with Jesus, or the comments Jesus made about God or his relationship with God, or... just about anything.

    My selections from Matthew include 40% of the Gospel's verses. When the material Luke and Matthew share in common is added to the Lucan verses I'm including in my list, I'm guessing the Lucan percentage will be higher than 40%. I didn't include Marcan verses because all but a handful of them are found in Matthew and/or Luke.

    Bottom line: I intended to include EVERY verse or passage that had ANY Christological consequences, whether those consequences harmonized with my point of view or not. Imperfect person that I am, I'm sure I didn't succeed in that endeavor, but I know my intentions were inclusive.

    Our Sunday group has now held 21 sessions. We're about three or four sessions away from finishing our review of Luke, which means we've reviewed a total of about 90 of the 150 Gospels passages on the list.

    And I will tell you that this group is perhaps the most passionate, determined Bible study group I've ever led. Five guys and me every Sunday (89% average attendance rate so far) Fifteen minutes of personal sharing about life and the week that was, followed by 45 minutes of spirited, inquisitive, informed, and eager Bible study. It's an awesome experience, perhaps most of all because no one in the group reports any boredom, even after five months. Everyone comes ready to dig every Sunday, everyone always wants to know what's next. It's among the most satisfying teaching experiences I've had in 37 years of ministry.

    More than you asked for, I bet, but I'm intensely passionate about this study, as are our group members.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #7

    Matthew 11.1-6

    Having completed the instructions he has for his disciples on their mission, Jesus continues his preaching and teaching ministry. Disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist ask Jesus whether he is “the Messiah we’ve been waiting for, or should we keep looking for someone else.” Jesus doesn’t answer yes or no, but cites evidence the most sensible meaning of which is that he believes himself to be the Messiah. At the end of the scene, Jesus adds, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

    • As narrator, Matthew calls Jesus “the Messiah.”
    • John the Baptist’s disciples wonder whether Jesus is the Messiah, so clearly John believes it’s possible that’s who Jesus is.
    • Jesus has another opportunity to claim identity as God in response to the question of whether he is the Messiah. He declines the opportunity, appears to accept the Messiah role, and in the last verse distinguishes himself from God (“God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”) 


    Matthew 11.25-27

    In the aftermath of a lengthy presentation to a crowd (during which he calls himself the Son of Man, by the way) Jesus prays thanks to God whom he calls “Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” He then claims that his Father “has entrusted everything to me,” and asserts anew his intimacy with God in that “no one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 

    • Jesus calls his Father (who we know Jesus believes is God) the “Lord of heaven and earth,” which I take to be an affirmation that his Father is the one and only God. This is another opportunity for Jesus to place himself in the godhead alongside his “Father,” but Jesus doesn’t take it.
    • His description of his relationship with his Father in my view is a declaration of intimacy, not a declaration of deity. This seems particularly true in this scene where he has called God the “Lord of heaven and earth.”
    • Jesus says God has “entrusted” everything to him, a concept reminiscent of Jesus’ view of the origins of his authority to forgive sins. One who was or believed himself to be God would/could not need anything entrusted to him.


    Matthew 12.1-8

    In response to Pharisees who protest his disciples’ breaking off and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus tells about David and his hungry companions who ate of the sacred bread, about priests who work on the Sabbath, and that he is “even greater than the Temple.” At the end of the scene, Jesus says the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

    • Jesus again refers to himself as the Son of Man, which is clearly is most-frequent self-reference.
    • And he calls himself Lord over the Sabbath, which in my view is not a declaration of deity, but of personal authority. He has the authority from God to grant his disciples permission to eat on the Sabbath. The Sabbath day rules do not apply to the one who is Lord over the Sabbath. As is almost always the case when Jesus uses the word “Lord,” it refers to authority, not divinity. (c.f. John 13.13)


    --------

    NOTE: We've reached the 25 text point in this journey of biblical review. By my count, those texts report 15% of the Gospel of Matthew's total verses, and about 5% of Luke's content. Obviously, there is much left to be discovered.

    I invite your comments on any and/or all of the 25 texts, and your summary of what you think those passages tell us about the central question: Was Jesus God? I will offer my thoughts, but please don't wait for me to share yours.

  • PagesPages Posts: 74

    @Wolfgang

    I most likely was not communicating with you as clearly as I needed, given your responses thus far regarding προσκυνῆσαι. 

    Yes, I do believe Matthew used προσκυνῆσαι (Matt. 2:2) in it’s fullest most used sense, that of worship given to the divine; however, I do not believe the wise men had come to worship the Hebrew’s God – they came seeking “the king of the Jews”; in this I could have been more clear.

    I believe one function of Matthew’s using προσκυνῆσαι was to set up one of many contrasts found within the first several verses of chapter two; and secondly, it’s use fits well into the practice and culture of the surrounding ancient Near East nations in regard to kingship.

    The wise men, pagan gentiles, from the East most likely represented the occupations of magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers, high priest, (cf. Dan. 2:2, 5:7) as near as can be determined.  

    So, knowing this, I would ask myself this question. In the ancient Near East cultural practice of these pagan wise men, how would they understand the inherent nature of a king?  

    The available historical data regarding kingship in the ANE would see kings in the following manner.

    In general,

    1. The surrounding ANE cultures understood their king as having been anointed by their particular deity – with the king, in some way, partaking in that divinity. 

    2. The king usually is depicted as being at the right hand and sharing the deity’s throne so as to be honored and worshipped as king, savior, son of god, or god.

    3. Mediation, in both directions, between the people and the deity was the responsibility of the king who then often acted in the role of high priest to make atonement for himself and his people. 

    a. Under mediator, I would also include that of being an oracle or prophet as a sub-category.

    Clearly, in #1 and #2, the king participates in the divine and receives worship as divine.

    The above would not be unknown to Matthew or the Jewish people, as the Jewish nation, itself, existed and functioned in the ANE. And of course, much of this is found similarly in the OT as well (cf. 1Sam. 10:1, 16:12, Psa. 110:1, Psa. 2:7, Psa. 45:6-7, 2Sam 6:18, 24:25, Gen. 14:18, Psa. 110:4, Zech. 6:13, 1Sam. 18:10, 19:23).  

    So, in my view, Matthew exploits the use of προσκυνῆσαι for the specific reason of denoting what is proper and due to “the king of the Jews”, that of divine worship, given by pagan gentiles as was their custom right from the beginning – meanwhile, Herod representing the Jewish nation rejects the Messiah and plots to kill.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Pages wrote

    Yes, I do believe Matthew used προσκυνῆσαι (Matt. 2:2) in it’s fullest most used sense, that of worship given to the divine; however, I do not believe the wise men had come to worship the Hebrew’s God – they came seeking “the king of the Jews”; in this I could have been more clear.

    Hmn ... so the wise men came to worship a pagan god or a human king as a god?? In other words, their worship of a human king child as God was worship of a false god (as was the case with ancient cultures (Babylon, Egypt, etc. where the kings, pharaohs claimed to be a deity in human form??

    I believe one function of Matthew’s using προσκυνῆσαι was to set up one of many contrasts found within the first several verses of chapter two; and secondly, it’s use fits well into the practice and culture of the surrounding ancient Near East nations in regard to kingship.

    What "contrasts" do you have in mind and where are they actually in the text?

    See above for for the practice of human kings being worshiped as God ...

    The wise men, pagan gentiles, from the East most likely represented the occupations of magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers, high priest, (cf. Dan. 2:2, 5:7) as near as can be determined. 

    Instead of assuming such as you do above about the wise men who took upon themselves quite a long journey and came to Jerusalem, I would consider the context and what is said in the text about these wise men and also consider what we can know from the book of Daniel a bit more carefully. It seems to me far more that they wide men were NOT astrologers, sorcerers, magic practitioners, etc ... but rather some indeed God fearing men knowledgeable and involved in astronomy (NOT astrology) and observing stars and planets, etc. Furthermore, why would they be so deeply interested in the birth if this particular "king of the Jews/Judeans" whose birth was foretold in the heavens and stars? And their knowledge was no guesswork, but rather they were aware of a specific star or course of star(s) which was associated as a sign to indicate the coming of this specific king (not just any king in any place). From where or how did they have such TRUE knowledge?

    I would think their knowledge perhaps initially stemmed from the time of Daniel, for we know that he was known in the empire and among the high position folks at the royal court as a servant of the God in heaven, the God of the Hebrews, the God of the Judeans .... and most likely Daniel conveyed to others there the knowledge of a coming human Messiah whom God would sent and who would be king of the Judeans. Daniel also seems to still have known about the divine message in the stars in the heavens (cp Ps 19:1ff) which God had written in the stars and which was initially God's message to man about His plan of redemption and salvation, and only later after the giving of the written Word the knowledge of this message was pretty much lost and superseded by the Scriptures.

    This knowledge seems to have been kept alive in the group of these wise men (the magi - but not magician) sinec the time of Daniel ... and they faithfully passed it on from one generation to the next generation ... who were eagerly awaiting the coming of this Messiah king of the Judeans. And, behold, several centuries latter, while observing the stars in the skies, they noticed extraordinary constellations of certain stars and in particular of this king's star ... and started their journey to Jerusalem.

    It's indeed quite amazing that some non-Jews from far away who did not have the Scriptures but who read the message of the stars were the ones who believed anddd acted ... while the Jews in Judea for the most part seemed totally ignorant of what was happening.

    So, knowing this, I would ask myself this question. In the ancient Near East cultural practice of these pagan wise men, how would they understand the inherent nature of a king? 

    See above ... I do not think that they had come to worship a human king as a God ... and if that were the case, Christian preachers should certainly point out the error in this divine worship.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley wrote

    And he calls himself Lord over the Sabbath, which in my view is not a declaration of deity, but of personal authority. He has the authority from God to grant his disciples permission to eat on the Sabbath. The Sabbath day rules do not apply to the one who is Lord over the Sabbath. As is almost always the case when Jesus uses the word “Lord,” it refers to authority, not divinity. (c.f. John 13.13)

    A short side note on "lord of the sabbath" ... I tend to think that the expression as a whole is used in contrast to "sabbath being lord over man", in other words "Sabbath was made for man; man was not made for the sabbath"

    Any man had authority over the sabbath IF a need arose or existed where action was required. The true meaning of the sabbath did not prohibit saving someone's life, or helping someone in need on a sabbath day ...as such man was lord of the sabbath. Jesus recognized this, and as such was in stark contrast to the religious dudes who in essence with their commandments had made the sabbath lord over people, thereby breaking God's commandments of the sabbath in favor of their own ordinances.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215
    edited December 2019

    Jesus calls his Father (who we know Jesus believes is God) the “Lord of heaven and earth,” which I take to be an affirmation that his Father is the one and only God. This is another opportunity for Jesus to place himself in the godhead alongside his “Father,” but Jesus doesn’t take it

    This passage clearly shows that Jesus calls God, his Father, "Lord [of heaven and earth]". Obviously therefore the term Lord is used by Jesus as a reference to someone other than himself. On the other hand, in other scriptures the term Lord is used in reference to human beings, including the disciples calling their teacher Lord.

    One cannot define Lord as being a reference to God, and then - without regard to the context - claim Jesus is God, because the word Lord is used for him. The context determines who is being referred as Lord.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    Some comments about the first 25 texts cited in this review:

    The most striking observation I make about the first 25 texts in this review is that no one calls Jesus God. 

    • No recipient of one of his miracles does 
    • No religious leader does
    • None of his disciples does
    • And most importantly, Jesus himself doesn’t call himself God.

    No one.


    • As Gospel narrator, Matthew calls him “Messiah” and a “descendant of David”
    • God’s voice from heaven calls him “my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy”
    • Demons call him “Son of God”
    • His disciples call him “Lord,” but in context, that’s a term of authority, not deity
    • A prophecy which Matthew asserts is fulfilled in Jesus calls the Messiah “a Nazarene” and “Immanuel,” but in its original context, "God with us" did not refer to the arrival of God of human form, but rather to the arrival of a child who would assure Israel of God’s companionship with them.
    • And Jesus calls himself the “Son of Man” and the “Lord over the Sabbath”

    But no one - including Jesus - calls Jesus God.


    Granted, we’ve covered just 15% of Matthew’s Gospel and an even smaller piece of Luke’s. But we’ve examined basically every relevant text in the first ten chapters of Matthew and have yet to encounter the claim. Given its magnitude and consequence, surely by now Matthew would have told us if he believed it to be true.

    More to come!

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #8

    Matthew 12.15-21

    Another critical passage.

    In v.16, Jesus warns those he has healed “not to reveal who he was.” In v.17, Matthew tells us of the fulfillment of an Isaianic prophecy in which the prophet quotes God’s reference to “my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my beloved, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations....” 

    • For Matthew, Jesus is God’s servant, one God chose and on whom God put God’s spirit (c.f. Matthew 3.16-17) The distinction between God and Jesus here, at least for the Gospel writer, is quite clear.


    Matthew 12.22-29

    A healing story in which the crowd asks whether Jesus could be “the Son of David, the Messiah.” The Pharisees respond to the crowd by claiming that Jesus gets his power from Satan. Jesus objects to the Pharisees’ claim, and suggests (v.28) that he’s “casting out demons by the Spirit of God.”

    • Jesus’ healing miracles compel the crowd to wonder, NOT whether he is God, but whether he is “the Son of David, the Messiah”
    • The Pharisees understand Jesus’ power as coming from Satan
    • Jesus says his power comes from the Spirit of God (see previous passage)


    Matthew 12.31-32

    The “unforgivable sin” passage, in which Jesus distinguishes between “speaking against” the Holy Spirit and speaking against the Son of Man. Those who commit the latter CAN be forgiven, whereas those who commit the former cannot.

    • It seems reasonable to me to conclude that Jesus is saying that he, being the Son of Man, is not an equal to the Holy Spirit. Were he to consider himself as part of the Godhead, wouldn’t he be such an equal?


    Matthew 12.46-50

    Jesus defines his brother, sister, and mother as anyone who does the will of his Father in heaven.

    • Here’s another chance for Jesus to equate himself with God - to say, “Anyone who does my and the Father’s will is my brother and sister.” But he doesn’t. Again he defers to God and to God’s will (c.f. Matthew 26.39) I contend he does that because he doesn't believe he’s God and thus has no authority to call people to follow his will.


  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley wrote

    As Gospel narrator, Matthew calls him “Messiah” and a “descendant of David”

    Since neither the Messiah nor a descendant of David could be God, this clearly states that Matthew did not believe or teach that Jesus was God.

    God’s voice from heaven calls him “my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy”

    Since God would know that He ALONE is the true God, He would know that He did not somehow separate into two or more "God pieces/God persons" and thus it is clear that God Himself in heaven would not consider His son to be God.

    Demons call him “Son of God”

    Indeed ... they were smarter than many who call themselves Christian and who insist that Jesus was God, or rather "God the Son" which is their twisted version of "Son of God". Demons also know that there is only One (and not Two or Three) Who is true God.

    His disciples call him “Lord,” but in context, that’s a term of authority, not deity

    Exactly ... if one doesn't twist the meaning of "Lord" into meaning "God", one would have the simple truth.

    A prophecy which Matthew asserts is fulfilled in Jesus calls the Messiah “a Nazarene” and “Immanuel,” but in its original context, "God with us" did not refer to the arrival of God of human form, but rather to the arrival of a child who would assure Israel of God’s companionship with them.

    Indeed ... there is actually NO scripture which would state that there is something like "God in human form".

    And Jesus calls himself the “Son of Man” and the “Lord over the Sabbath”

    Obviously, Jesus himself did not consider himself to be God.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #9

    Matthew 13.36-43

    Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the wheat and weeds, in which the Son of Man plants good seed then sends angels to remove the “weeds” from his kingdom. Conspicuous in this passage is Jesus’ reference to both the Son of Man’s Kingdom (v.41) and “their Father’s Kingdom.” (v.43) It’s not clear in the text whether those are the same Kingdoms or different from each other, but my surmise is that Jesus means the Father will give authority for the Kingdom to the returning Son of Man. 

    • The principal reason for this text’s inclusion in the list is simply that Jesus again refers to himself as the “Son of Man.”


    Matthew 13.53-58

    Another critical text.

    A crowd from his hometown’s skeptical and disbelieving response to Jesus’ wise teaching and miracle working is to question how he could have learned so much given his relationship to a “carpenter’s son,” Mary, and other members of his family. Jesus then says “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.”

    • Jesus self-identifies as a prophet, not as God or part of a Godhead
    • Jesus does not question the crowd’s reference to his being a “carpenter’s son.” I find that curious, if not dispositive of anything. (c.f. Matthew 23.9) 


    Matthew 14.22-33

    Jesus walks on water, invites Peter to join him, saves the sinking Peter, and calms a storm. In his request for an invitation onto the water, Peter calls Jesus “Lord.” At the end of the scene, the disciples exclaim, “You really are the Son of God!” and worship him.

    • The disciples, who in Matthew 8.27 didn’t know how to identify Jesus, finally figure him out: He is the Son of God. Given that they call him the Son of God rather than God, in my view, their “worship” of him must be an expression of respect and adoration, not a declaration of deity.


    Matthew 15.21-28

    A woman whose daughter is possessed calls Jesus “Lord, Son of David” in her approach to him for healing. In response to the woman’s persistence, Jesus first says, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep - the people of Israel.” She then calls him “Lord” two additional times.

    • In this scene, I think we know “Lord” is a term of respect and recognition of authority/power rather than an acknowledgment of deity because “Son of David” is a reference to Jesus’ distinctly human lineage.
    • Jesus says he was sent "to help God's lost sheep," which in my view is reminiscent of the other times in the Gospels when Jesus refers to how and for what purposes he was "sent." (e.g. Matthew 10.40; Luke 4.18; John 6.46, 7.28) As Wolfgang and I have each asserted, the one sent (Jesus) is not the same as the one who does the sending (God).


  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley wrote

    Jesus self-identifies as a prophet, not as God or part of a Godhead

    Indeed ... nor did the people there think of Jesus as being God. They made reference to having known him as a human being and part of a carpenter's family,

    Jesus does not question the crowd’s reference to his being a “carpenter’s son.” I find that curious, if not dispositive of anything. (c.f. Matthew 23.9)

    How does Mat 23:9 relate to what is stated here?

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #10

    Matthew 15.29-31

    In response to the healing miracles of Jesus, a crowd praises “the God of Israel.”

    • A simple yet, in my view, powerful witness to the separation between God and Jesus, i.e. between the ultimate source of the healing and the one God used to heal.


    Matthew 15.32-39

    Jesus thanks “God” for the bread and fish he uses to feed a large crowd.

    • Matthew has an opportunity to identify Jesus as part of the Godhead to which Jesus issues thanks, but does not.
    • Jesus thanks God, which in my view expresses the distinction he draws between himself and God. Why would he thank himself?


    Matthew 16.13-20

    Another critical passage.

    In his consequential conversation with his disciples about who others and they say he (Jesus) is, Jesus identifies himself as the “Son of Man.” (v.13)

    When asked who THEY (the disciples) say Jesus is, Peter says Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (v.16)

    Jesus tells Peter that his “Father in heaven” - a name, we know from a previous passage, that Jesus gives to God - has revealed that truth to him.  

    At the end of the scene, Jesus warns the disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Messiah.

    • More opportunities here for Jesus to identify himself as God (for example: "I'm more than the "Son of the Living God!") but instead he self-identifies as the Son of Man and, through his acceptance of Peter’s confession, the Messiah.
    • Importantly, in my view, Jesus says GOD revealed to Peter Jesus' identity as the Messiah and Son of the Living God. That is, Peter's confession must be correct because it comes from God.
    • There is no indication in this scene that the disciples believe Jesus is God. There is every indication in this scene that the disciples believe Jesus is the Messiah, God’s chosen instrument of salvation. And there is every indication in this scene that Jesus embraces the disciples’ belief as a revelation from the one who IS God.


  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835
    edited December 2019

    @Wolfgang posted:

    How does Mat 23:9 relate to what is stated here?

    Now that you ask, Wolfgang, I'm not sure Matthew 23.9 has ANY relation to the point of the post in which I included it! At the time I chose to add it to my post, I focused on Jesus' command not to call anyone on earth "father" as seemingly in tension with his refusal to object to being called a "carpenter's son." So, I thought, Jesus was okay with having an earthly father even though he objects to the use of that particular noun. Upon further review, I don't think the text makes that point and I withdraw it from the content of that post. Thanks for drawing attention to the verse's limitations.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #11

    Matthew 16.21-28

    Jesus predicts he will be killed, but then will be “raised from the dead.” He tells Peter, who objects to the death prediction, that he (Peter) is “seeing things from a human point of view, not God’s.” At the end of the scene, Jesus predicts the Son of Man will return with his angels “in the glory of his Father” to “judge all people according to their deeds.” Jesus makes an additional reference to the Son of Man to close the scene.

    • Jesus uses the passive voice to predict his resurrection - i.e. he predicts he will be the object of resurrection, not the cause. I think it’s clear Jesus believes God will raise him from the dead.
    • Jesus appears to invite Peter to see the situation from God’s perspective, not a human perspective - something Jesus clearly believes allows himself to accept his forthcoming fate.
    • The Son of Man references here are to the glorified, exalted Son of Man, not the earthly resident/human being term Jesus often employs.


    Matthew 17.22-23

    Another prediction from Jesus of his death and resurrection.

    • Once again Jesus refers to resurrection as an outcome of which he will be the recipient, not the cause. (“... he will be raised”)


    Matthew 18.12-14

    Jesus employs a parable about one lost sheep to report that “it is not my heavenly Father’s will” that “any of these little ones should perish.”

    • The determining will here is God’s (his Father’s) not his own. This is a perfect time for Jesus to say “it’s not my or Father’s will that any should perish,” but he doesn’t use it for that purpose. Instead he reaffirms God’s authority.


    Matthew 19.16-30

    Another critical passage.

    A rich man asks Jesus what he has to do to have eternal life, and does so by calling him “good teacher” (in some manuscripts) Jesus’ first response is, “Why ask me about what is good?... There is only One who is good.” Later in the scene, Jesus makes another reference to the difference between the “humanly” and the Godly. In response to Peter, Jesus refers to the time when the Son of Man will “[sit] upon his glorious throne.”

    • In its context, Jesus’ declaration that there “is only One who is good” clearly refers to God (the NLT capitalizes the word “One”) which means his response to the rich man effectively is, “You’re calling me “good,” but the only one should be calling “good” is God.” Translation: Jesus does not believe himself to be God.


  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    Jesus uses the passive voice to predict his resurrection - i.e. he predicts he will be the object of resurrection, not the cause. I think it’s clear Jesus believes God will raise him from the dead

    A dead person can NOT raise themselves from the dead. God can NOT raise Himself from the dead for the simple reasons that God can NOT die and be dead in the first place.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #12

    Matthew 20.20-28

    A reserved Kingdom seating request from the mother of James and John leads Jesus to tell the two that he has "no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for those ones he has chosen." The scene closes with another Son of Man self-reference from Jesus.

    • That Jesus says he has "no right" to decide who sits where in the Kingdom - that such decisions are the exclusive province of his "Father" (which we know is his term for God) - suggests strongly to me that Jesus does not believe himself to be God or a part of a tri-part Godhead.


    Matthew 20.29-34

    Two men who are blind twice call Jesus "Lord, Son of David" as they ask for Jesus to have mercy on them.

    • "Lord, Son of David" is another term by which people in the Gospels refer to Jesus. The two-part composition of the term - "Lord" and "Son of David" - suggests that "Lord" expresses respect and authority, not divinity, that the men see Jesus as a human source of healing.


    Matthew 21.1-11

    Another critical text.

    Jesus returns to Jerusalem by instructing two disciples to tell inquiring residents that "the Lord" has need for the donkey they're untying to take to him. Matthew reports that Jesus' return to Jerusalem fulfills a prophecy in Zechariah 9.

    As Jesus enters the city, onlookers shout "Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in the highest heaven!"

    At the end of the scene, the crowds ask of Jesus, "Who is this?" The answer from the crowds is "It's Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

    • I see no indication in the text that "Lord" in Matthew 21.3 is a reference to deity; it is rather a reference to authority and respect, as is almost always the case when the term refers to Jesus. The fact that the word lord in the Psalms quotation Matthew includes in the passage is presented in ALL CAPS, but NOT in the instruction regarding the donkey in my view supports my claim.
    • In its Zechariah 9 context, the prophecy Matthew asserts is fulfilled by Jesus' return to the city is of a human "king" who God predicts "will bring peace to the nations, " and whose "realm will stretch from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth." (Zechariah 9.10)
    • The crowds praise God for Jesus ("the Son of David") a clear indication that the crowds distinguish between Jesus and God.
    • The crowds do NOT cry, "Blessings on the LORD who comes!" They shout "Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!" For them, Jesus is one who comes in God's name; he is NOT someone who IS God.
    • At the close of the scene, the crowds identify Jesus as "the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee," another indication that the crowds sees Jesus as distinctly human. [NOTE: I do not claim that the crowds' views are dispositive! But their views, particularly here late in the Gospel's narrative, when Jesus' name and reputation have spread widely, are items of information worthy of our attention.]


  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #13

    Matthew 21.33-46

    [NOTE: Somehow I failed to include this passage in my original Gospels' text list. The exclusion was unintentional.]

    Jesus offers a story about a landowner whose attempts to collect his share of the harvest from a vineyard he has leased to others lead to the injury or death of servants and, ultimately, his own son.

    Important to our discussion in the passage is Jesus' appropriation of the role of the son in the story, a role that reflects the fulfillment of the psalmist's vision of a rejected stone transformed into a cornerstone. The verse Jesus quotes says the cornerstone's creation is "the LORD's doing."

    At the end of the passage, Matthew says the religious leaders want to arrest Jesus, but don't do so out of fear of crowds who "considered Jesus to be a prophet."

    • Jesus tells a story in which he is the sent son, not the king. Such a role is consistent with his other self-descriptions. (Matthew 15.24; Luke 4.43; John 6.46; John 7.28)
    • God (the "LORD" - all CAPS) transforms the rejected son into the cornerstone; the son does not do so on his own.
    • The crowds understand Jesus to be a prophet, the very human office Jesus has claimed for himself. (Matthew 13.53-58)


    Matthew 22.1-14

    Jesus describes the Kingdom of God through a parable about a king who holds a feast to honor his son. The story is dramatic and troubling in its content, but for this thread's purposes the only necessary component is Jesus' deployment of the son imagery - another time when he makes a clear distinction between himself, the son, and God, who is the king in the story.


    Matthew 22.41-46

    A scene in which Jesus challenges the commonly held view that the Messiah is "the Son of David."

    • This scene fascinates me because in Matthew 9, Matthew 15, and Matthew 20 people in need of healing call Jesus "Son of David," and receive no correction. It seems to me that Jesus' point here must be to add theological substance to their thinking about the Messiah; he will be more than just the Son of David as that term is commonly understood.


    Matthew 23.8-12

    Jesus sets apart then distinguishes between the "Father," who Jesus says is God, and the "teacher," who Jesus says is the Messiah.

    • Jesus self-identifies as the Messiah, who is his followers' teacher. He does NOT self-identify as God, but instead uses language whose most sensible interpretation is that he does not believe himself to be God. (their only "Father" is "God in heaven.")
    • This is another chance for Jesus to include himself in the Godhead, but he doesn't do it, and in fact uses imagery most sensibly interpreted to signal that he is not God (God is their "Father" and he is their messiah/teacher) In this text he makes no attempt to equate the Father and the messiah/teacher.


  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley mentioned

    God (the "LORD" - all CAPS) transforms the rejected son into the cornerstone; the son does not do so on his own

    I know that in English language at times capitalization (such as in this case LORD vs Lord vs lord) is used to make certain distinctions. However, one should note that such a spelling distinction is NOT part of Scripture text because such a means is non-existing in Greek or Hebrew etc. and ancient manuscripts were written some in all caps ("THE WHOLE TEXT IN CAPS") or all lower case ("the whole text in lower case"). Therefore, any such spelling distinctions are only the interpretation of a translator or editor or commentator and should not be regarded as being an integrate part of the biblical text itself.

    For that reason, I would rather see the text be translated and the usual regular spelling be used for nouns, proper names, etc. and then let the reader (!!!) do his thinking work in recognizing from the context who is being referred to with a term, such as in this case the word "lord".

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    @Wolfgang posted:

    For that reason, I would rather see the text be translated and the usual regular spelling be used for nouns, proper names, etc. and then let the reader (!!!) do his thinking work in recognizing from the context who is being referred to with a term, such as in this case the word "lord".

    I welcome your point, Wolfgang, but view those translators' decisions with less concern than you do. I find them helpful as visual reminders that "lord" doesn't always point to the same person or deity. I certainly share, however, your passion for readers' roles in the interpretation of biblical texts.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    GOSPELS PASSAGES COLLECTION #14

    Matthew 23.37-39

    Another critical text.

    Jesus describes Jerusalem as "the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers." He closes his address to the city by saying they won't see him again until they say "blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!"

    • It seems reasonable to me to infer that Jesus sees himself as one of the prophets and/or God's messengers whom Jerusalem will kill.
    • The close of the address makes it clear that he sees himself as "the one who comes in the name of the Lord," a description through which, in my view, he makes a clear and inarguable distinction between himself and God. If he believed himself to be God, it would not make sense for him also to refer to himself as the one who will come in God's name.


    Matthew 24.3-51

    A lengthy passage in which Jesus describes the ultimate return of the Son of Man, a title which in this text is synonymous with "Messiah." He says only the Father, who for Jesus is God, knows when the Son of Man will return.

    • Jesus embraces the roles of Messiah and Son of Man.
    • There is a great amount of detail here, but for this thread's purposes, the only notice I will take of this text is that Jesus does not equate the Messiah/Son of Man with God. In fact, he rather clearly declares the Son of Man as subordinate to the Father (God).


    Matthew 25.31-46

    Another lengthy passage that describes the return of the Son of Man (we should note that this Son of Man is the exalted, post-resurrection Son of Man, not the human person, walkabout the earth Son of Man to which Jesus also often refers). Following an initial reference to the Son of Man's place on a throne, the title switches to "King," which is a relatively rare term for Jesus to embrace. As the King, the returning Jesus invites those who are "blessed by my Father" to inherit the Kingdom "prepared for you from the creation of the world."

    • Jesus is the returning Son of Man, but even in that role, there no indication that he is God. He is instead something of a gatekeeper who grants entrance to the Kingdom to those God has blessed - a blessing demonstrated by their reaction to people in various states of distress.
    • The central criterion for inheritance of the Kingdom is the Father's (God's) blessing, something the Son of Man cannot convey.


  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley wrote

    I welcome your point, Wolfgang, but view those translators' decisions with less concern than you do. I find them helpful as visual reminders that "lord" doesn't always point to the same person or deity. I certainly share, however, your passion for readers' roles in the interpretation of biblical texts.

    Unfortunately, it seems that at times the translators' decision is taken as if it were the biblical text ... and readers base their understanding on what the particular English Bible translation they hold in their hands has ("But the text has Lord and not lord ..." )

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    In this thread to-date I've offered fourteen collections of passages, a total of 50 texts principally but not exclusively from Matthew. My intention in selecting those texts was simply to include every scene or narration that had any Christological consequence. Even if I failed to find every relevant text, I think it's fair to conclude that I've offered a reasonably complete portrait of Jesus as presented by the first 25 chapters of Matthew's gospel.

    I've decided to stop adding new collections to this thread for two reasons: 1) I think the texts presented so far have made my point; and 2) the collections have prompted almost no exchanges between people who hold different points of view. @Pages added considerable thoughtfulness to the thread with his posts in its early days, but those discussions could not have engaged the significant issues raised in subsequently cited texts. In truth, no one with a Christological point of view different from mine and Wolfgang's has engaged those issues as described in my brief summaries.

    What's more, I don't see any likelihood of that happening - because we don't have an active poster population of a size necessary for such exchanges (there have been NO posts to ANY thread but this one since December 2) and because the texts I've presented so far in this thread make an unassailable case:

    • Jesus' disciples don't call him God
    • Jesus' adversaries don't call him God
    • The recipients of Jesus' miracles don't think he's God
    • Matthew, the Gospel's narrator, doesn't call him God
    • And most importantly, Jesus speaks about himself in language that makes a clear and inarguable distinction between himself and God. (e.g. the temptation scene in Matthew 4 where Jesus tells the devil that he (Jesus) won't test God, and that he will worship only God; and the moment in Matthew 16 in which Jesus tells Peter that Peter's insight that Jesus is "the Messiah, the Son of the Living God" came from God, not from another human)


    In my view, there is no case to be made in the first 25 chapters of Matthew that Jesus is God, but there IS in those chapters a recurring and dispositive case to be made that Jesus is not God. Verse after verse after verse in after passage after passage after passage all offer the same basic perspective on Jesus' identity. If Matthew doesn't support the "Jesus is God" view in his first 25 chapters, when will he? And if Matthew doesn't support such a view, isn't that compelling?

    I could go on - there are other Matthean passages, and many, many others in Luke and even John, and of course the remainder of the NT - but I hoped for serious, respectful, and text-centered engagement with people who disagree with my views. That hasn't happened and isn't likely to, so I'm suspending this thread. I will of course engage with anyone who posts on any of the texts I've cited, but for now, my thanks to Wolfgang for his many helpful posts, and to you for making it to the end of this one.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley wrote

    I've decided to stop adding new collections to this thread for two reasons: 1) I think the texts presented so far have made my point; and 2) the collections have prompted almost no exchanges between people who hold different points of view.

    Indeed, the almost total lack of participation of those who in the past have been rather eager to propagate a different view is rather disappointing. Here is the opportunity to engage with others on specific biblical texts and passages, and what happens? The "Jesus is God" view folks give all of a sudden the impression that they have no biblical arguments for their point of view ...

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    Hi @Bill_Coley, I'll play the trinity position advocate for once .... maybe some of our fellow forum members of a trinity belief will take courage and participate in an exchange 😉

    All those passage say what we trinity believers have always said, because we acknowledge of course that Jesus was man. Our point is that IN ADDITION to him being a human,, he also is God ... and none of these passages so far says that Jesus was not God. Jesus did not say that he was not God, Matthew did not record that Jesus was not God, his disciples did not say that he was not God.

    All those scriptures do say that Jesus was a man, but Is there even one passage which explicitly says or teaches that Jesus is not ALSO God?

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    @Wolfgang posted:

     I'll play the trinity position advocate for once....

    I think you accurately report one of the responses Trinity supporters would raise to our posts in this thread, Wolfgang; I expect there would be others, but the one you offer seems correctly stated.

    My response to that argument is that there is no need for Matthew the narrator, the disciples, or Jesus himself to say Jesus is not God because the thought crosses no one's mind; it's not an option anyone ever considers, save the Pharisees and other religious big shots. And what happened when those folks raised the possibility? (Matthew 9.3, NLT) Jesus responded by reaffirming his role as the "Son of Man" whom God had authorized to forgive sins. (Matthew 9.6) Jesus thought so little of the idea that he might consider himself to be God that he didn't even deny it directly, but rather reasserted his self-understanding as the "Son of Man."

    It's akin to this: Is there a verse that says Jesus was not an accountant as a side occupation? No. Does that mean Jesus was an accountant? Of course not. The thought that Jesus might be an accountant doesn't cross anyone's mind in the Gospels, so there's no need for anyone, including Jesus himself, to deny it. It's the same thing with his possible deity.

    • The disciples early on don't know who Jesus is, (Matthew 8.27) but with time discern that he is the "Messiah, the Son of the Living God." (Matthew 16.16)
    • Matthew the narrator calls Jesus the "Messiah" (Matthew 1.16; 11.2)
    • Jesus calls himself the Son of Man (e.g. Matthew 12.8 and many others) a term which has both earthly and eschatalogical implications.

    No one, including Jesus, calls him God. And that matters, in my view, because the assertion that Jesus is God is BIG - far TOO big to hide from public disclosure. The argument that you accurately cite, Wolfgang, requires us to believe that neither Jesus nor anyone of his followers, nor any of the Gospel writers, nor Paul, nor Peter, nor any other believer in the New Testament felt the need to announce a claim so profound as Jesus - the one everyone knew as a human being - was also God. I find that impossible to believe.

    The reason there is no verse in the NT that says Jesus is God is that no one in the NT believes Jesus is God.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley wrote

    My response to that argument is that there is no need for Matthew the narrator, the disciples, or Jesus himself to say Jesus is not God because the thought crosses no one's mind;

    Indeed, and I would say that this thought never crossed anyone's mind because of what they all knew and saw with their own eyes right in front of them => a male human being. This truth, that Jesus was a human being, a man, did in fact exclude the possibility of him being God or some kind of dual being of "man and also God".

    it's not an option anyone ever considers, save the Pharisees and other religious big shots .(Matthew 9.3, NLT)

    I would say that even the Pharisees and other religious big shots did in fact not consider it an option, but rather that their rhetorical question "Does he think he is God?" Note, their question is "Does HE THINK ...." and it does not state that they thought he was God ... in fact, it's an obvious statement pointing to the idea that they thought and accused him thereby that he was utterly crazy, the height of such craziness being to think of oneself as God ...

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    @Wolfgang posted:

    I would say that even the Pharisees and other religious big shots did in fact not consider it an option, but rather that their rhetorical question "Does he think he is God?" Note, their question is "Does HE THINK ...." and it does not state that they thought he was God ... in fact, it's an obvious statement pointing to the idea that they thought and accused him thereby that he was utterly crazy, the height of such craziness being to think of oneself as God ...

    I concur fully with your view, Wolfgang, as your interpretation reflects what I had in mind (but did to make clear) for the way in which Jesus as God crossed the minds of the Pharisees: the subject crossed their minds as they responded to his words and actions, but they themselves never believed Jesus was God.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,215

    @Bill_Coley mentioned

    In my view, there is no case to be made in the first 25 chapters of Matthew that Jesus is God, but there IS in those chapters a recurring and dispositive case to be made that Jesus is not God.

    I wonder why no one among our trinitarian fellow forum participants has pointed out and elaborated further on one verse from Mt 1:23 which is often used to claim that Jesus is God .... Mt 1:23 "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." The passage was mentioned in your collection of passages, but I do not remember any comments from others concerning the "God with us" statement.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,835

    @Wolfgang posted:

    I wonder why no one among our trinitarian fellow forum participants has pointed out and elaborated further on one verse from Mt 1:23 which is often used to claim that Jesus is God .... Mt 1:23 "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." The passage was mentioned in your collection of passages, but I do not remember any comments from others concerning the "God with us" statement.

    I think the reasons for the lack of comments from others on the Matthew 1 verse you cite are not different from the reasons there have been basically no comments on any of the passages since the early days of this thread: 1) CD has a very small active poster community; and 2) the case made by the whole of the collection of verses/passages presented in this thread is strong, verging on unassailable: Neither Jesus, his followers, his critics, nor Matthew the Gospel narrator ever calls Jesus God. When that's the case in one verse or passage, it's of interest, but in no way compelling. When it happens in verse after verse found in passage after passage - when it happens in EVERY verse and passage - there's reason to believe we have discovered biblical truth - in this case, biblical truth that is at odds with Trinitarian theology. I think I would find it difficult to post in a thread in which all presented and available evidence spoke against my point of view.

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