Kephalē and “Male Headship” in Paul’s Letters

The Metaphorical Meaning of “Head” in Paul’s Letters: Part One

In Colossians 1:18, Paul writes:

[Christ] is the head (kephalē) of the church body of which he is the beginning (archē) the firstborn of the dead, so that he himself may be first in everything.

Paul’s main point in the passage where this verse comes from (Col 1:15-18) is to show that Jesus is the creator, source, origin and beginning of everything in the universe.  This includes Jesus being the source and beginning of the Church. Paul used the word kephalē (head) in this context – the context of source and origin.[1]

In English the word “head” has many meanings.  One metaphorical meaning of head is “leader” or “chief person”.  In English the “head” of an organisation is the leader, the top person.  In Koinē Greek, the Greek of the New Testament, the word kephalē (head) also has metaphorical meanings; however “leader” or “chief person” is usually not one of them.

Sadly, when Koine Greek stopped being used (around 300AD), the meanings of kephalē in Koine became little known, and so many Christians have wrongly assumed that the Greek word kephalē, in the New Testament, could mean “leader” or “chief person” as it does in Byzantine and Modern Greek.[2] [Note the screen shot near the bottom of this page.]

One compelling piece of evidence that kephalē does not usually mean “leader” in Koine Greek is that the LSJ, one of the most exhaustive lexicons of Ancient Greek, does not include any definition of kephalē that approximates “leader” or “authority”.  [The entire LSJ entry on kephalē  is here.]

Another bit of compelling evidence is found in the Septuagint, the 2BC translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek.  When the Hebrew word for “head” (rosh) meant a literal head, the translators translated rosh into kephalē.  However in Hebrew, like in English, “head” can also mean a leader or ruler.  In the instances where rosh meant a leader, in most cases, the translators did not use the word kephalē in their translation, instead they typically used the Greek word archōn (which does mean ruler or leader.)  It seems that most of the translators of the Septuagint knew that kephalē does not usually mean leader, ruler or authority.[3]  (I say “most translators” because not all the translators of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Koine Greek were equal to the task.  More on this here.)

Leadership or Loving Care?

Paul is the only Bible writer to say that the kephalē (head) of the woman is the man.  He says this twice: once in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and once in Ephesians 5:23.

1 Corinthians 11:3 is not about the marriage relationship.  Most English translations use the word “man” and “woman”, rather than “husband” and “wife”, to reflect this understanding.[4]  Nor is 1 Corinthians 11:3 about some sort of chain of command.[5]  The use of kephalē in this verse clearly has the meaning of “source”, a fact which several early church writers attest to.[6]  [More about 1 Corinthians 11:3 here.]

This leaves one verse. Ephesians 5:23 is about marriage. It amazes me that the Church has developed a strong and pervasive doctrine of “male headship” based on this one Bible verse.  (Note that nowhere in Scripture does it teach that the man is the “head” of the house.[7])

In Ephesians 5:23a Paul writes:

For the husband is the head (kephalē) of the wife as Christ is the head (kephalē) of the church, his body . . .

In the passage where this verse occurs (Eph 5:21-33), Jesus Christ’s lordship and authority is not mentioned, nor is there a mention of any sort of “husbandly authority”.  Paul does not tell the husbands to be leaders, or to be in authority, rather, Paul urges husbands to sacrificially love and care for their wives. Love and care, and even nurture, is the context of Ephesians 5:25-33, not leadership.  Husbands are to love and care for their wives as Jesus loves and cares for the church.  It seems that just as Christ is the sustainer and source (kephalē) of nurture for the church, the husband is to be the sustainer and source (kephalē) of nurture for his wife. [My article on Paul's Main Point in Ephesians 5:22-33 here.]

Authority or Association?

The concept of kephalē carries the connotations of kinship, association and connection.  A head is nothing without a body.  Moreover, the head and body have an affinity and are part of the same unit. (Cf Colossians 2:19.)  By way of illustration, Suzanne McCarthy points out that we can say that man is the ruler of dog, but we cannot say that man is the head of dog.  Man is not of the same genus or species as dog.  To say that man is the head of dog is just plain wrong, because man and dog are different.  Husband and wife, however, are not only of the same species but they are essentially equal.  This affinity and equality means that the husband can be the kephalē of the wife in the Greek metaphorical sense of the wordThis sense would have been understood by Paul’s predominantly Greco-Roman audience in Corinth and Ephesus.

Many Greek philosophers and writers, such as Plutarch, taught that husbands are the leaders and rulers of their wives.  In contrast, no Bible author, including Paul, has asserted that the husband is to be the leader, ruler, or authority of the wife.[8]  Rather than using any of the many Greek words which mean ruler, leader or authority[9], Paul used the word kephalē to highlight the connectedness of husband and wife.[10]  Paul wanted husbands to be connected and allied with their wives.  Likewise, Paul instructed  the wives to be cooperative, supportive and loyal – that is, submissive – to their own husbands.[11]  Paul wrote that husbands and wives should be joined, united, one flesh.  Unity, affinity, fidelity and equality are the ideals in Christian marriage.  These qualities were absent in many marriages in Greco-Roman society, so Paul found it necessary to write about the godly ideals of marriage in his letters.

Supremacy or Source?

Many Christians argue that men (and husbands) have primacy or supremacy over women because the first man was the kephalē, the source or beginning, of the first woman.[12]  However it is important to remember that the first man was entirely passive when the first woman was made. In fact, the first man was in a deep sleep and probably had no inkling that God was removing a part out of him and forming the first woman from it.

We give Jesus the honour and the praise for being the creator, sustainer and source of the universe.  Man, however, cannot take any credit for the creation of the woman.  The first woman, as well as the first man was created and made by God, through Jesus.  Moreover, both man and woman were made in God’s image and both were made to rule over God’s creation.

The Genesis 2 record does not reveal any hint of male privilege, primacy or authority by virtue of man being created first (despite what some Complementarians assert to the contrary.)  Nevertheless, the man was created first and this fact needed to be explained to newly-converted Gentile Christians, many of whom may have held to pagan myths about the creation of various men and women.  A faulty doctrine of the origins of mankind has the potential to  lead to other faulty beliefs, practises and behaviours.[13]  [My article on The Complementarian Concept of the Created Order here.]

Patriarchy or Mutuality?

Many Christians erroneously believe that the word kephalē conveys the meaning of authority, and they interpret Ephesians 5:23 and 1 Corinthians 11:3 to mean that husbands have authority over their wives.  Some elaborate on their interpretation and understanding of kephalē even further and claim that husbands and fathers are the spiritual authorities in the home, and that wives and mothers do not have spiritual authority of their own.  Paul never hints at such a doctrine.  The only time the word for authority (exousia) is used in the New Testament in the context of marriage is in 1 Corinthians 7:4 where it says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” In the following verse Paul adds, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time . . .”

1 Corinthians 7:4-5 shows that, rather than the husband being the authority or decision maker, Paul expected husbands and wives to make decisions by mutual consent.  The notion that the husband is the arbiter to make the final decision or have the final say on a matter is contrived and simply has no biblical basis.

I have never understood why Complementarians believe that in marriage, when there are only two people – husband and wife – there needs to be a leader. Yes, larger organizations need leaders to function effectively, but a couple – where the husband and wife are truly equal – does not need one person to always be the leader and the other person to always be the follower.  Moreover, it seems ineffective (and unnecessary) to burden the husband/father with the primary responsibility of family life when he has a capable wife with whom he can jointly share the responsibility.

Culture and Conclusion

“Headship” is a term that does not appear in the Bible, yet the understanding of “male headship” (i.e. male authority) has been part of the Church’s dogma for centuries.  This is because many have interpreted Scripture while being influenced by the prevailing patriarchal culture.  God has tolerated patriarchy in the past, and he continues to tolerate it, but true equality and mutuality are the biblical ideals that Kingdom people should be aiming for.  “Male headship” and male primacy does not reflect the Gospel message of freedom and equality for all people.

The concept of “male headship”, as many have understood it, is absent from Paul’s letters and absent from the New Testament.  Instead, Paul and other New Testament authors sowed the seed ideas for a casteless Christianity where all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status, are considered as equal; and no person, simply on the basis of race, gender or wealth, is either privileged or discriminated against (Gal 3:28).  Tragically, the Church has been blinkered by the culture of patriarchy and male privilege, and have been appalling slow to realise the gospel ideal of true equality.  It is time for the Church to take off their blinkers and take another look at what Jesus, Paul and others taught about men and women and marriage in the New Testament.


Endnotes

[1] Other verses which show that Jesus is the beginning, origin, source and instigator of creation:

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:3).  

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him (John 1:10).

In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:2).

[2] Our knowledge of Hellenistic Greek, which includes Koinē Greek, has improved dramatically with the discovery of large numbers of ancient papyri in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  (And more continue to be discovered.) These papyri have helped us to better understand the meanings and uses of many ancient Greek words, including the word kephalē.

[3] Though rosh is used 155 times as “chief” of a tribe or class in the Hebrew Old Testament, whenever this usage is translated in the Septuagint (LXX) the Greek is archōn or archēgos (ruler) rather than kephalē (with only four exceptions).  Since the overwhelming LXXusage is to translate rosh as “chief, ruler” with a word other than kephalē, and secular Greek usage lacks this meaning, it is likely that Paul’s use of kephalē carries another meaning than “chief, ruler.” Ralph F. Wilson   Andrew Perriman identifies 11 cases in the Septuagint where rosh, at first glance, may appear to mean leader or ruler, and is translated into kephalē.   Michael Kruse summarises Perriman’s findings here and here.

[4] The Greek word anēr means “man” or “husband”.  Context determines whether anēr should be translated as “man” or “husband”.  Most English Bible translations – the ESV being a notable exception – use the word “man” in 1 Corinthians 11 because this passage is not speaking about marriage, but about appropriate behaviour in worship, which includes observing gender distinctions.  Most English translations use the word “husband” in Ephesians 5:22ff because Paul is clearly speaking about marriage here.

[5] 1 Corinthians 11:3 says:

But I want you to realize that the head [i.e. source] of every man is Christ, and the head [source] of the woman is man, and the head [source] of Christ [or Jesus’ Messiah-ship] is God [or the triune Godhead].   

1 Corinthians 11:3-16 is a tricky passage to interpret.  Both Complementarian and Egalitarian theologians agree that Paul’s intent here is difficult, if not impossible, to determine with any degree of certainty.  The real issue that Paul is addressing here, however, is propriety in worship, and not the husband and wife relationship.

While we don’t know exactly what Paul was referring to in this passage, we do know some things about the Corinthian Christians.  We know that the Corinthians were unruly in their worship services and that they were behaving in a way that could bring disrepute to Christianity.  We also know that the Corinthians had an over-realised view of eschatology.  It seems that they believed that the Kingdom age had fully arrived and that gender distinctions were no longer important.  It appears that they likened themselves to the (genderless) angels.  Moreover, it is very likely that the newly-converted Corinthian Christians may have had a view of the origin of mankind that was tainted with Greek mythology.  In view of their particular problems, Paul instructed the Corinthian believers to behave in ways that were culturally appropriate. And he explained to them the true origin of humanity.  Kephalē is used in 1 Corinthians 11:3 in the context of source or origin.

The word “authority” (exousia) is mentioned only once in this passage; in verse 10 where the meaning is that a woman should have her own authority upon her own head.  Moreover, in 1 Corinthians 11:11 Paul highlights the mutuality, interdependence and association of Christian men and women, “. . . in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.”   Source and origin, as well as respectable behaviour, rather than authority, are the issues in this passage.

[6] Several prominent early church theologians, uncluding Athansius and Cyril of Alexandria attest to “source” as  Paul’s main meaning of kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Athanasius (296-373) Bishop of Alexandria, stated in De Synodis Anathema:

“For the head, which is the source, of all things is the Son, but God is the head, which is the source, of Christ.”

Cyril (376-444) Archbishop of Alexandria, in De Recta Fide ad Pulcheriam et Eudociam wrote:

“Therefore of our race he [Adam] became first head, which is source, and was of the earth and earthy. Since Christ was named the second Adam, he has been placed as head, which is source, of those who through Him have been formed anew unto Him unto immor­tality through sanctification in the Spirit. Therefore he himself our source, which is head, has appeared as a human being. Yet he, though God by nature, has himself a generating head, the heavenly Father, and he himself, though God according to his nature, yet being the Word, was begotten of him. Because head means source, he establishes the truth for those who are wavering in their mind that man is the head of woman, for she was taken out of him. Therefore as God according to his nature, the one Christ and Son and Lord has as his head the heavenly Fa­ther, having himself become our head because he is of the same stock according to the flesh.”

Even Hierarchical Complementarian, Wayne Grudem – who argues that kephalē implies authority – concedes that:

“There are some texts which indicate that the physical head was thought of as the source of energy and life for the body, and therefore the possibility exists that the word kephale might have come to be used as a metaphor for ‘source’ or ‘source of life’. . .”

(Grudem, Wayne, “ The meaning of Kephalē (Head): A Response to Recent Studies” in Rediscovering Biblical Manhood and Woman hood: A Response to Biblical Feminism, Wheaton, Il: Crossways, 1994, p467.)

[7] In reality, even Complementarian men (who believe that God has ordained them to be the leaders of their homes and wives) rarely lead or run their house and family; they leave much of the running of the household to their wives. (See 1 Tim 5:14 where, in the Greek, Paul actually uses the word oikodespotein in reference to wives. Oikodespotein literally means “to be the master of the house”.  The KJV translates this verse literally.)

[8] In Genesis 3:16 it says that one of the consequences of sin was that the husband would rule the wife, but this is far for God’s ideal.  In Esther 1:20-22 (esp. v22) the Persian king Xerxes decreed that husbands should rule their wives. Christians, however, should not take their cues for living from the curses and consequences of the Fall or from decrees of pagan kings.

[9] In I Believe in Male Headship, Gilbert Bilezikian writes:

“There are scores of references in the documents of the New Testament to leaders from all walks of life: religious leaders, community leaders, military leaders, governmental leaders, patriarchal leaders and church leaders. Never is anyone of them designated as head. A profusion of other titles is used, but head is conspicuously absent from the list. The obvious explanation for this singularity is that head did not mean “leader” in the language of the New Testament.”

[10] Paul also used the word kephalē (head) to show that the church, the body, was closely allied and had an affinity with Jesus Christ, the head.  [More on this in my next article which is about the Gnostic concept of kephalē in Paul's letters here.]

[11] I believe that Paul wanted all Christians, including husbands and wives, to be mutually submissive to each other (cf Eph 5:21).  And I believe that mutual submission is what Paul was aiming for in his teaching on marriage, but he did this in ways that men and women at that time could relate to.  Women were used to be told to be submissive, so Paul (and Peter) write plainly about this.  Paul (and Peter) use different words when asking for submission from husbands.  [My article on Submission in Marriage here.]

[12] Some argue that the man, or husband, may have more prominence than the woman because the source or beginning of something usually comes first and this position often has more prominence than other positions.  However, it is difficult to see how “prominence” fits with Christian ideals of humility, self-sacrifice, service, and the “first will be last” concept.

[13] There were many myths circulating in the Greco-Roman world about the creation of particular men and women, and the creation of men and women in general.  One heretical view, which was popular among the pagan population, was that the origin of women was independent of man.  This view had implications for the independence and non-mutuality of men and women.
A very different Greek myth was that the goddess Athena was miraculously “born”, or generated, as a fully formed adult woman from the head (kephalē) of Zeus. This myth, and a few others like it, show that the Greeks saw the head (kephalē) as being some sort of a source of life.
A Gnostic myth, that seems to have been causing problems in the Ephesian church, was that Eve was created first and that Adam was the once deceived. [My articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 in Context here.]

Instead of a variety of pagan myths about different ways that different men were created or generated, Paul writes that the source of every man is Jesus Christ.  And instead of a variety of pagan myths about the different ways that different women were created or generated, Paul points out that the source of the [first] woman was man (1 Cor 11:3).   The implication of this is that all men and subsequent women have a profoundly close kinship.

© 18th of September, 2011, Margaret Mowczko

Further Reading:

“Headship (kephalē) and Submission (hupotassomai) in Ephesians 5:21-33″ by Ralph F. Wilson here.

“The Meaning of Head in the Pauline Epistles” in Abusing Scripture: The Consequences of Misreading the Bible by Manfred T. Brauch here.

“Does kephalē (“head”) Mean “Source” or “Authority Over” in Greek Literature: A Rebuttal” by Richard S. Cervin here.

Below is a screen shot of a paragraph from Richard Cervin’s article where he states that lexicons for individual Greek authors (pre-classical, classical, and Hellenist authors) do not give “leader” as a meaning for kephalē. Note the last sentence in this paragraph where Richard quotes Dhimitrakou who states that “leader” as a meaning of kephalē is medieval.  That is, kephalē did not mean “leader” in New Testament times, but it did in medieval times.  Richard then goes on in his article to explain the reasons why most New Testament lexicons do have “leader” as a possible meaning.

Kephale_Richard Cervin paper


Related Articles

Kephalē and “Proto-Gnosticism” in Paul’s Letters
Who is the head?
LSJ Definitions for Kephalē
(1) Submission and Respect in 1 Peter 3:1-6
(2) Submission and Respect in 1 Peter 3:7-8
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
Power Struggles in Christian Marriage?
Leading Together in the Home
(1) A Suitable Helper
(2) A Suitable Helper (in the Septuagint)
Paul’s Main Point in Ephesians 5:22-33

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Posted September 18th, 2011 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, Equality in Marriage, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

154 comments on “Kephalē and “Male Headship” in Paul’s Letters

  1. Jonathan says:

    Yes that’s precisely what I believe. This is very clear in the New Testament.

  2. Marg says:

    I’ve looked again and I still can’t see the correspondence of the inscription to Galatians 3:21. The correspondence to Galatians 3:28, however, is very nice, and is blatantly obvious. (Was “Galatians 3:21″, that you wrote twice, a typo?)

    Also of all the “submission” verses that you quoted only one contains the word kephale – one. So I don’t see the point of quoting these other verses.

    In Hebrew rosh is used metaphorically in expressions like “head not tail”, but I cannot see that it is used metaphorically to mean leader, and so the few examples where translators have translated kephale as meaning leader are errors on the part of the translator. I strongly doubt that the Greeks in the Corinthian church would have understood 1 Cor. 11:3 to be speaking about leadership.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Yes Galatians 3:28 as in my other post. The point of those other husband and wife verses is that they demonstrate Paul’s understanding of the relationship between husband and wife. In the context of those verses, leader is a natural reading of kephale in 1 Corinthians 11, which is precisely why the scholarly consensus understands it that way. I’ll be interested to see if your ideas are published in the literature and whether or not they have any effect on the scholarly consensus.

  4. TL says:

    Yes that’s precisely what I believe. This is very clear in the New Testament.”

    So, if in your opinion, Jesus the Messiah is not equal with God then he is either not God or an exalted created being of God’s and not therefore part of the Trinity. I do not see how there can be an unequal element in God unless there is more than one God, and one of the “gods” is the most important or some such. Is the Holy Spirit, in your opinion equal with and part of God? Do you believe in the concept of trinity, three yet one as expressing God.

  5. Jonathan says:

    That’s correct, I’m in agreement with the scholarly consensus that the Trinity is not taught in the Bible, and I don’t believe God is a trinity.

  6. Randi says:

    wowzers! this conversation just threw ME for a loop!

    I had no idea any “scholars” denied the Trinity.

  7. Jonathan says:

    You’ve missed out on at least fifty years of scholarly agreement. The immortal soul is gone too, the Anglican Church gave it up as early as the 1940s.

  8. Randi says:

    interesting. and yet even after you saying that… I really don’t feel that I have missed much.

    The Lord Jesus of Nazareth is my King & savior…God in human form. He is the son of the Father, He is God, worshiped as only God can be worshiped. The “I am” from the beginning & the “I am” that will reign forever. His Spirit is in me. That’s all I need to know about the Trinity.

  9. TL says:

    I have dialogued with, read, and heard from an innumerable number of scholars who have continued to believe in both the Trinity and the immortal soul. Sounds a little bit like preterism. There are a growing number of preterists, but they have remained in the minority of the larger body of believers.

  10. Jonathan says:

    I find most unavailable evangelicals are not too concerned about the actual theology of the Trinity and tend to use it as a shorthand for ‘Jesus is very special and I worship him’. The father and spirit get to sit in the back while Jesus stuff goes on in the front.

  11. Randi says:

    yes I do see Jesus out in front and the one who the Spirit always points to….and the one the Father wants to glorify!

  12. TL says:

    Normally, I don’t really care much about doctrinal generalized stances. but in this case I would like to if you are you a preterist, Jonathan? Are you?

    I’m familiar with this doctrinal stance because I’ve had some good Christian friends who took that stance for a time. They were also cessationists and had trouble with some of the Holy Spirit manifestations today which they thought passed on.

  13. Jonathan says:

    No I’m not a preterist in any form (in terms of eschatology I’m a Historicist). My faith community belongs to the Restorationist tradition, which is why I have a different paradigm.

  14. Steve says:

    Perhaps your faith community, Jonathon, is commonly known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses? I believe they fit the description you provide: restorationist tradition, not preterist, not believing in the trinity. They are probably not the only group that fits, but one of the better-known ones.

  15. TL says:

    So what church DO you belong to Jonathan. It does not appear to be a Christian one.

  16. TL says:

    Yes, the first century Jews had a problem with that concept also for a while. Some did not fully believe until after Christ was resurrected. The Jews understood that calling God His Father was tantamount to saying the he, Jesus, was of the same material as God.

    “John 14:5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”

    8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” 9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? “

    We understand that no one worship a human being no matter how special. We don’t worship angels either. We only worship God. Heb. 1 notes God the Father calling His Son, God.

    “Heb. 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son! Today I have fathered you”? And in another place he says, “I will be his father and he will be my son.” 6 But when he again brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!” 7 And he says of the angels, “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire,” 8 but of the Son he says,

    “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
    9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.
    So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.”
    10 And,

    “You founded the earth in the beginning, Lord,
    and the heavens are the works of your hands.
    11 They will perish, but you continue.
    And they will all grow old like a garment,
    12 and like a robe you will fold them up
    and like a garment they will be changed,
    but you are the same and your years will never run out.”

    Jesus is God with us, the Word made flesh to walk amongst us.

    “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. “

    I doubt I’ll change your mind. But this is what Christians have believed since the time Christ walked the earth, did miracles, and then died and resurrected to save our souls.

    • No this is not what Christians have believed since the time Christ walked the earth. Within mainstream professional Biblical scholarship, it is acknowledged that ‘the earliest Christians did not consider Jesus God’,[1] ‘Jesus is never called God in the Synoptic Gospels’,[2] Jesus ‘did not understand himself as a divine figure’,[3] and ‘nowhere in the letters did Paul call Jesus “God”’.[4]

      Jesus wasn’t considered to be a divine being until well into the second century, and even then it wasn’t until the fourth century that the doctrine of the trinity started to be formed. Throughout this time various forms of Binitarianism, Adoptionism, Modalism, and Arianism prevailed.

      You could do yourself a favour by reading a few scholarly works on the subject. Then you will know how first century Christians understood those verses you’ve quoted. They knew for example that being called the son of God didn’t mean you were God. For example, Luke calls Adam the son of God (though you have probably never been told this), and I am sure you don’t believe Adam is the fourth member of the Trinity.

      Here’s a recommended reading list.

      * Rubenstein, ‘When Jesus Became God’ (1999)
      * Ehrman, ‘Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth’ (2012)
      * Crossley, ‘Reading the New Testament: Contemporary Approaches’ (2010)
      * Lee, ‘From Messiah to Preexistent Son: Jesus’ Self-Consciousness & Early Christian Exegesis of Messianic Psalms’, Wissenschaftlick Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2, Number 192 (2005)
      * Casey, ‘From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God: The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology’ (1991)
      * Dunn, ‘The Theology of Paul the Apostle’ (1997)
      * Wright, ‘Jesus’ Self-Understanding’, in Davis et al. (eds), ‘The Incarnation : an interdisciplinary symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God’ (2002)
      * Brown, ‘Introduction to the New Testament Christology’ (1994)
      * Evans, ‘Christianity and Judaism: Partings of the Ways’, in Martin & Davids (eds.), ‘Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments’ (electronic ed. 2000).

      ____________
      [1] ‘That the earliest Christians did not consider Jesus God is not a controversial point among scholars. Apart from fundamentalists and very conservative evangelicals, scholars are unified in thinking that the view that Jesus was God was a later development within Christian circles.’, Ehrman, ‘Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth’, p. 231 (2012).

      [2] ‘Jesus is never called God in the Synoptic Gospels, and a passage like Mark 10:18 would seem to exclude a preserved memory that Jesus used the title of himself. Even the Fourth Gospel never portrays Jesus as saying specifically that he is God. The sermons that Acts attributes to the beginning of the Christian mission do not speak of Jesus as God. Thus, there is no reason to think that Jesus was called God in the earliest layers of NT tradition. This negative conclusion is substantiated by the fact that Paul does not use the title in any epistle written before AD 58.’, Brown, ‘Introduction to the New Testament Christology’, p. 190 (1994).

      [3] ‘Dunn finds that Jesus held to Jewish monotheism and that although he saw himself as a prophet empowered with God’s Spirit (see Holy Spirit) and as having a close relationship with God, he did not understand himself as a divine figure.’, Evans, ‘Christianity and Judaism: Partings of the Ways’, in Martin & Davids (eds.), ‘Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments’ (electronic ed. 2000).

      [4] ‘In the LXX it frequently translated “Yahweh,” but nowhere in the letters did Paul call Jesus “God.” 1 Cor. 11:3 makes clear the line of origin that subordinates Jesus to God.’, Roetzel, ‘Paul’, in Freedman (ed.), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, p. 1020 (2000).

      • TL says:

        How do you deal with the facts of John 1. the Word is God and through the Word all things were created. And Jesus is, and was, the Word.

  17. Randi :) says:

    I have NO IDEA what yall are talking about!!

    but I have to shout it!!!

    Christ, my Lord & Savior – God in man form – was crucified because He claimed equality with God! That is the case they brought against Him and that He spoke about himself. The scriptures all prophecy of the Messiah, the son of God, divine – and Jesus fulfilled every one.

    Jesus Christ is Lord & King, forever!!! All points to Him, revolves around Him and finds its purpose in Him!

  18. Randi, if the Jewish leaders had really believed Jesus was claiming to be God, they would certainly have raised it at his trial. But they did not. No one ever accused him of claiming he was God, and Scripture tells us the only people who said he claimed to be equal with God were not telling the truth.

    TL, apart from the fact that John 1:1 does not say the word was God (it says the word was divine), John goes on to tell us that Jesus is the word MADE FLESH. There is no warrant for interpreting the Greek word ‘logos’ as ‘person’, since that is not what it means. It means ‘word’, which is why it’s translated ‘word’. To a Jewish mind this was completely comprehensible; it’s saying Jesus is the way that God expresses Himself and fulfills His purpose. This is the language of agency, as is recognized in standard commentaries.

    • TL says:

      “kai theos en ho logos”

      Theos = god, a general name for deities or divinities, the Godhead, refers to the things of God, etc.

      Definitely means that the Word, logos, was God, part of Elohim.

      read vs 14 and 15 again. Just really read and think through this whole section. John says clearly that Jesus was in the beginning with God, and that the world was created through Him, and the world didn’t recognize Him, just as you are not recognizing Him. This Word that was God, became flesh and dwelt among us, giving those who believed on His Name the right to become God’s children. John says clearly that this One who He is lauding as the Messiah, existed before John. John called Jesus the Light and His glory was that of the only BEGOTTEN Son of God. Remember no one comes to the Father except through the Son.

  19. Randi :) says:

    Jonathan –

    If Jesus was not God – then you would have to claim a mere imperfect man tried to take on the punishment for all sin in the world —- which we know, is not possible. God Himself is perfect & it took a perfect lamb – without blemish or defect to be sacrified for our cleansing! If Jesus was not God, you & I and all would forever remain under God’s curse & wrath.

    “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 – it isn’t more clear than that.

    Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth … before Abraham was born, I am!” Jews who heard this statement responded by taking up stones to kill Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded (Leviticus 24:16).

    In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did.

    • Randi, please read some of your faith community’s own scholars. This is a non-controversial issue within mainstream theological scholarship. You are not arguing with me, you are arguing against an entire scholarly consensus.

      * “If Jesus was not God – then you would have to claim a mere imperfect man tried to take on the punishment for all sin in the world”

      Since I don’t believe the Bible teaches the penal substitionary atonement, I don’t have this problem. Please note that there is a scholarly consensus that the penal substitionary atonement is also unBiblical.

      * ““I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 – it isn’t more clear than that”

      Correct; this does not say ‘I am God’. If you think it’s saying ‘I am the Father’, then not only are you wrong, but that’s not even the Trinity.

      * “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth … before Abraham was born, I am!” Jews who heard this statement responded by taking up stones to kill Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded (Leviticus 24:16)”

      Note that he said ‘I am’, not ‘I was’, and note that this was not raised at his trial. Again, standard scholarship will explain to you how this is to be understood; even the passage itself says nothing about them thinking he was claiming to be God.

      * “In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did.”

      The Greek word translated ‘worship’ here simply means ‘to bow down’. It does not necessarily connote worship to a divine being, and is used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament by Jews), to speak of men bowing in respect to other men. Again, this is all covered in the standard scholarly literature.

      I need to repeat that you are not arguing with me. You are arguing with the scholarly consensus. The correct way to engage that consensus is to write articles and have them published in the relevant scholarly literature.

      • TL says:

        Jonathan, the ‘your scholars against my scholars’ argument doesn’t really work. Your salvation depends upon your belief, not theirs. If you do not believe that Jesus is who He said He is and and who the Bible records the early believers understood Him to be than it is the loss of your soul. You are the one responsible for where you go after death by not believing in Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Way the Truth and the Life, the Alpha and Omega, the Word of God, the Creator, the savior of our souls………. etc. No one can force you to believe in Him.

        If you want to ask questions as to why we believe as we do in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, ask away. Most of us have had a personal revelation. Mine has to do with the fact that I was going to commit suicide and God intervened. I realized it was Jesus who poured His love over me. Then I was interested in who Jesus was and how I could stay close to Him. Then is when I started devouring the Bible as if it’s lessons were my lifeline.

        • TL this is not a matter of my scholars against your scholars. It’s a matter of the scholarly consensus across a broad section of denominations, including yours but excluding mine. You need to listen to what your own scholars are saying.

          I agree that my salvation is dependent on my belief, not theirs, and my belief that Jesus is who he said he is. But Jesus never claimed to be God, and if you read every preaching speech of the apostles you will never find them preaching that Jesus is God. On the contrary, they always refer to him as ‘the son of God’, ‘God’s son’, ‘a man appointed by God’, ‘a man through whom God worked’, etc.

          I am not here to ask questions as to why you believe as you do; I did not raise this issue in the first place.

  20. Randi :) says:

    Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll

  21. Randi :) says:

    “I and the Father am one.”

    Does not mean that Jesus IS the Father. It means, they are one. One Spirit, one heart, one deity. God – a God who is in all 3 forms.

    I am not a scholar and do not intend to be…the revelation & Word is very clear to me and every single scripture I read points to this truth – that Jesus is Lord & all things find their fulfillment in that rock solid truth. The Spirit confirms it, the Word confirms it & all that are in Him that I know personally & study together with in my daily life confirm it. That is enough for me.

    I will always worship Christ Jesus as my King & God, the one & only Lord.

    • * “Does not mean that Jesus IS the Father. It means, they are one. One Spirit, one heart, one deity. God – a God who is in all 3 forms.”

      Well ok Randi you can think that if you want, but the problem is you don’t have any evidence for it, and there’s no evidence that anyone interpreted it this way for centuries after Jesus’ time.

      “I am not a scholar and do not intend to be…”

      You don’t need to be a scholar. But when you contradict what scholars say, without any evidence for your claims, that’s a red flag. And this is why the evangelical community in North American is dying.

  22. Randi :) says:

    Anybody who thinks they have full understanding of how Jesus/Father/Spirit are separate, yet one – does not. Our finite minds can not fully grasp how they are ONE, yet separate…. and that’s okay with me. I still accept it – because Jesus will always be God, King, Lord to me.

  23. TL says:

    Jonathan, the scholarly consensus is not the mode of belief we are saved by. and I’ve been reading and teaching the Bible for 40+ years. I’ve a library of Bible helps and scholars teachings. While I’m sure there may be some books by your scholars, but they are so scarce that I’ve not run across them. And their understanding that you are repeating is woefully in error.

    “Heb. 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son! Today I have fathered you”? And in another place he says, “I will be his father and he will be my son.” 6 But when he again brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!” 7 And he says of the angels, “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire,” 8 but of the Son he says,

    “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
    9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.
    So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.”
    10 And,

    “You founded the earth in the beginning, Lord,
    and the heavens are the works of your hands.
    11 They will perish, but you continue.
    And they will all grow old like a garment,
    12 and like a robe you will fold them up
    and like a garment they will be changed,
    but you are the same and your years will never run out.”

    Jesus is God with us, the Word made flesh to walk amongst us.

    John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. ……………….
    14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John testified about him and shouted out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.

    You’ll have to read the rest yourself. Can’t post it all. But Scripture is very plain that Christ Jesus is indeed, God in the flesh, miraculously born of a young virgin who never knew a man, walked the earth teaching and preaching Truth, suffered death for our sins, and was fully resurrected by no act of man. He is the promised Messiah come to heal and deliver and empower us by the Holy Spirit.

  24. Randi :) says:

    TL,
    Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share your heart, that was beautiful – and I agree & hear you and believe we have the same Spirit in us. When the Lord Jesus comes back as King and every knee is bowed to Him — you and I both will be referring to Him as Lord & praising Him as Lord, King & God!!

    Jonathan,
    I believe that this time in history is SO BEAUTIFUL as the True Church, His remnant, His beloved is purified & all the “stuff” we attach to the relationship with Him is more and more stripped. His Church will be fruitful for Him and anything that is dead/dying is Him stripping away what was not of Him. He will present His bride to Himself without blemish & His beloved will be reflecting His passionate love back to Him!!! I know the fruit of my life – that I give all glory to God for speaks of His Spirit in me – the Spirit who declares Jesus as divine Lord. I do pray that by the time Our Lord comes back, sitting on His judgement seat & separating…. that you will have been given the gift of revelation that He is Lord, the one & only – the king who will reign forever!

    KING JESUS,
    I LOVE YOU!! You are my King & Savior and I will sing of your name forever. I believe in you Jesus & I can not wait to see you and give you full worship & praise for all that you endured for me!

  25. TL, as I have said before, there is no dispute that scholarly consensus is not the mode of belief that we are saved by. As I have already made quite clear, you’re free to believe as you please. But when you make claims about what other people believed, and what they meant by what they wrote, those claims are testable and they are best tested by scholars who are professionally trained in the relevant fields. So your opinion about what these passages are saying is irrelevant; please note in turn that I’m not presenting you with my opinion either, I’ve simply cited the relevant third party professional scholarship (none of which belongs to my community).

    I took two years of Greek at university, and I own all the standard professional Greek lexicons, so I’m very familiar with the lexical range of the word THEOS (I also know the source you used for that definition, which is not only theologically biased but is also based on 19th century scholarship). An entry on THEOS in a professional lexicon takes up about half a page at least, complete with historical references. You are clearly unaware of the qualitative sense the word takes when in the grammatical construction used in John 1:1. This is found in the relevant scholarly literature.

    The fact that you say this passage ‘Definitely means that the Word, logos, was God, part of Elohim’ shows you don’t know what the word ‘elohim’ means; there is no such thing as ‘part of elohim’. It is possible to be elohim, or be one of the elohim, but not ‘part of elohim’ (a phrase never used in the Bible). I note you didn’t address the fact that the book of Acts consistently shows the apostles preaching and baptizing people with the knowledge that Jesus is ‘the son of God’, ‘God’s son’, ‘a man appointed by God’, ‘a man through whom God worked’. They always say ‘a man’. Not ‘a pretend man’, not ‘God in a man suit’, not ‘a half-man half-God’, not 100% man and 100% God’, and never ‘God’. A man. This is one of several reasons why the scholarly consensus holds that the earliest Christians did not believe Jesus was God, and neither did Jesus.

    The fact that so few of the scholars I cited were even known to you is symptomatic of what evangelical scholars have noted as the knowledge gap between the pew and the seminary. When evangelicals go to standard evangelical seminaries, they are typically shocked to find that evangelical scholarship has long since abandoned many of the cherished beliefs with which they were raised. This ignorance is due in part to the anti-intellectualism of evangelical culture, and the avoidance of higher level Bible study; see evangelical scholar Mark Noll’s seminal work ‘The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind’ (1995), for a start. There’s a reason why North American evangelicals are on the fringe of Christianity.

    What I find most interesting is the similarity between evangelical belief and Mormon belief. In both cases there’s a denial of standard scholarship, an appeal to personal opinion, a request to just believe what I’m being told, and a repeated assurance that the individual knows they are right not because of evidence or scholarship but because they had a special feeling inside them. And that rings alarm bells.

    • TL says:

      “There is no ‘unified plurality’ or ‘plural unity’ of God in the Old Testament. The word ‘echad’ means ‘one’. It does not mean a ‘unified plurality’ or a ‘plural unity’, and it means ‘one’ just as much as the word yachid means ‘one’. The idea that it represents any kind of ‘compound unity’ has been thoroughly rejected by mainstream Trinitarian scholarship.”

      I find it very interesting that you claim this. In my 45 years in the Lord and 40+ years of teaching I have never read or heard of such a statement in mainstream Christianity (although heard some of this from the “Oneness” camp and didn’t pay attention) . While it may be that some have claimed such, it is not well reported.

      And the most important thing is that despite what you may consider the “correct” language to describe God in, Elohim in indeed composed of 3 parts that are echad, a plurality of unity. Messianic Jews believe the same as well. God is indeed three in one.

      Whoever the scholars are that promote this, that you cite, are not part of mainstream Christianity. And you are not going to convince any Christians on this website that Christ ( the Word of the OT) the Messiah, the Anointed One through whom we are all saved is not part of the eternal God of the Bible.

      However, from a scholarly point of view I would love to read some of your scholars if you would be so kind as to give us names and links.

  26. Randi :) says:

    Although the Spirit can evoke emotional/feeling in us…. I would hardly say that He is simply a “special feeling”!!! Those who have the Spirit in them, know the Shepherd’s voice when He speaks! And it always lines up with scripture & our local church body.
    Jonathan seems to idolize the mind & information to an extreme. What is needed is the new life that is gifted by the Spirit… as we all need BOTH power of the Spirit (grace) and scripture (truth). I pray we can all look around us in real life & find others who balance our extremes back at the cross of it all – the center of all extremes in ourselves.

  27. Ashley says:

    I’ve been following this conversation. I’m curios, Jonathan, who do you think Jesus was? Do you believe he existed at all in any form before being born of Mary? Was he an angel?

    • Ashley, I believe he is exactly what I said he is, which is what the apostles preached; ‘the son of God’, ‘God’s son’, ‘a man appointed by God’, ‘a man through whom God worked’, ‘a man empowered by God’. Not an angel, a man. I do not believe he existed in any way before he was born. If that were true he could not have been a man; humans don’t exist before they are conceived.

      • TL says:

        Jonathan,
        “Ashley, I believe he is exactly what I said he is, which is what the apostles preached; ‘the son of God’, ‘God’s son’, ‘a man appointed by God’, ‘a man through whom God worked’, ‘a man empowered by God’. Not an angel, a man. I do not believe he existed in any way before he was born.”

        John refers to Jesus as the Light in John 1. I john 1 is a profound chapter on the miracle of Jesus, the Messiah, being both human and divine (God) as is Hebrews 1.
        14 And the Word became 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 bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

        Jesus Himself said….
        John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

        John 17:24
        “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

  28. Don Johnson says:

    On the meaning of John 1:1, the last Theos does not have an article in Greek, so according to Wallace “Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics” there are 3 basic ways to translate it: 1) the noun may be definite (in English, the God); 2) the noun may be indefinite (in English, a God or a god); 3) the noun is used to define a group that has a specific quality (in English, divine).

    However, when one takes into consideration that the author of the gospel of John was Jewish and therefore a monotheist, all 3 choices collapse into the same idea.

    One thing to see is that the Tanakh presents God as possibly being a unified plurality or a plural unity. God is one (echad) and this is the same word (one) used for one flesh in a marriage which is composed of 2 individuals, there is another word in Hebrew for one and only one, or an absolute one (yachid) and that is not what was written.

    • Don, thank you for citing a scholarly source. Scholarship generally accepts the verse as saying ‘and the word was divine’ in a qualitative sense; that is, God’s word was divine in origin and power. To try and apply all three ideas commits the illegitimate totality transfer, which Carson himself actually warns against.

      There is no ‘unified plurality’ or ‘plural unity’ of God in the Old Testament. The word ‘echad’ means ‘one’. It does not mean a ‘unified plurality’ or a ‘plural unity’, and it means ‘one’ just as much as the word yachid means ‘one’. The idea that it represents any kind of ‘compound unity’ has been thoroughly rejected by mainstream Trinitarian scholarship.

  29. Don Johnson says:

    Jonathan,

    Please explain how one/echad flesh in a marriage is not a plurality of 2 individuals. I think this is fairly straightforward. Words get their meaning by how they are used.

    On Wallace’s 3 options, I did not claim that all 3 applied in some way (and I agree this would not be legitimate), I said they all collapsed to mean the same thing when read with a presumption of monotheism. That is, WHICHEVER of the 3 ways one THINKS is the best way to read it, it ends up meaning the same thing.

    On “son of God” this can sound like it means more than it really does to Jews. Someone can be said to be a “son” when they have the attributes of that person/entity, when they act like them. The first meaning is offspring, then second is descendent, and a third is being like the claimed parent.

    However, Jesus’ preferred term for himself was “son of man” which has a normal meaning of human being. However, because of prophecies in the Tanakh, esp. Daniel, son of man also has allusions to being divine or at least an angel. In other words, the phrase was somewhat ambiguous when taken in the context of the Tanakh. Some could hear it as meaning merely a human being while others could hear it as being a (cloaked) reference to divinity or a divine agent.

    • TL, what I said about echad is well known in mainstream scholarship. Richard Bowman, conservative scholar and well known defender of the Trinity against Oneness Pentecostals, has made the argument himself.

      “It is sometimes argued that the use of “echad” (“one”) in Deuteronomy 6:4 indicates that God is a composite unity. THAT IS NOT QUITE ACCURATE, since “composite” speaks of a uniting together of parts into a whole, whereas the three Persons are NOT three “parts” or three “thirds” of God.

      NOR IS IT TRUE THAT “ECHAD” NECESSARILY INDICATES SOME KIND OF INNER PLURALITY. Like its Greek counterpart “heis” in the New Testament, “echad” IS SIMPLY THE COMMON HEBREW WORD FOR “ONE.” However, like both “heis” and “one,” “echad” does not necessarily imply absolute, unqualified and undifferentiated unity. Rather, the word “one” in any language can only indicate unity as unity, whether that unity is in some sense differentiated or not must be determined by other factors.”

      http://www.gospeloutreach.net/optrin.html

      If you want further information, check the standard professional lexicons, such as HALOT, TLOT, and TWOT; I own them all and I can provide complete quotations from them if you need me to. This is simply not even disputed in the scholarship.

      If you want to claim that “Elohim in indeed composed of 3 parts that are echad, a plurality of unity”, you need to cite the relevant professional lexicography. You may have been taught this by your pastor, but you will not find it being suggested by professional lexicographers, and it would earn you an F if you tried to make this argument in a seminary paper.

      As for “Whoever the scholars are that promote this, that you cite, are not part of mainstream Christianity”, yes they are. In fact they are all among the most well known scholars in mainstream Christianity. I have already listed several of them in a previous post. Here they are again.

      * McGrath, ‘The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context ‘ (2012)

      You can argue with him on his blog here.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/05/christians-monotheism-and-the-trinity.html

      “The Trinity in its later metaphysical elaboration is simply not there in the New Testament, and so one has to ask in what sense something that was not there from the beginning, nor part of Jesus’ own teaching or viewpoint, can be considered central to Christian faith.”

      * Perriman, ‘Otherways: In Search of an Emerging Theology ‘ (2007)

      Find him at his blog here.

      http://postost.net/2008/10/about-me

      * Hurtado, ‘Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity’ (2003)

      Find him at his blog here.

      http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/

      * Wright, ‘Jesus’ Self-Understanding’, in Davis et al. (eds), ‘The Incarnation : an interdisciplinary symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God’ (2002)

      His page is here.

      http://ntwrightpage.com/

      * Dunn, ‘The Theology of Paul the Apostle’ (1997)
      * Brown, ‘Introduction to the New Testament Christology’ (1994)
      * Evans, ‘Christianity and Judaism: Partings of the Ways’, in Martin & Davids (eds.), ‘Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments’ (electronic ed. 2000)

      That’s a list including scholars from evangelical, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Catholic backgrounds.

      Of course if you had any passages in which the apostles taught people Jesus is God before baptizing them, you would have quoted them by now. You and I both know there aren’t any; they taught people Jesus is a man, then baptized them.

      • TL says:

        Jonathan,

        So, you believe that Jesus Christ was only a human being, a human being that God chose and anointed to teach people about God, to heal, deliver in ways that had never before happened. Then God allowed this mere human to suffer the most gruesome death ever, and claimed that his suffering would pay the price for humanities sin. And of course God had to enable this human from birth to be able to never sin. Then God would resurrect this human in front of many.

        And somehow God would even give this mere human the power to empart the Holy Spirit to the disciples before he was resurrected. And then this human would sit at the right hand of God the Father. And this mere human would be worshipped by all the angels and all humans. And in the end of times would be coming back on a white horse to render Judgement for God.

        something like that???

  30. Don, the word ‘echad’ when used of a man and a woman becoming ONE in marriage is clearly not speaking of a plurality. On the contrary, it’s talking about two people becoming ONE. That’s why it’s translated ‘and they two shall become ONE’, not ‘and they two shall become a plurality’. Again, I can only direct you to the standard professional lexicons and commentary on this; it’s entirely non-controversial, and the folk definition you’re repeating has been debunked by standard evangelical scholars, even those as conservative as Robert Bowman.

    With regard to theos in John 1:1, it’s not true that ‘WHICHEVER of the 3 ways one THINKS is the best way to read it, it ends up meaning the same thing’. The very quotation you provided from Wallace makes that clear. The three understandings of the word are completely different, and lead in different directions. For example, one of them leads directly to polytheism, ‘a god’, which is how the Jehovah’s Witnesses read it; this is a reading which can be dismissed on lexical-semantic grounds.

    I agree with you about the range of meanings of ‘son of God’. But unless you believe God had sex with Mary, then two of them are totally impossible in this case. Both the lexical-semantic and intertextual evidence within the New Testament, and the socio-historical context, shows ‘son of God’ was used either of someone with the personal characteristics of God (as Christ uses it of us), or someone who had entered a specific covenant relationship with God (as Paul uses it of us), or someone who had been specially created by God (as Luke uses it of Adam). These are your options when it’s used of Christ.

    Yes I am aware of the socio-historical context of the phrase ‘son of man’. The fact that the apostles consistently preached that Jesus is ‘the son of God’, ‘God’s son’, ‘a man appointed by God’, ‘a man through whom God worked’, ‘a man empowered by God’, indicates they did not believe ‘son of man’ meant ‘divine being’. Of course interpreting ‘son of man’ as ‘divine being’ is problematic anyway, since it results in polytheism at worst, and bitheism at best. So that doesn’t get you anywhere.

  31. Ashley says:

    Jonathan. I have some questions. You don’t believe that Jesus existed before he was born of Mary. So, what is your take on the following verses? You don’t think that Philippians 2:6, John 1:30, or John 8:58 point to Jesus existing before that? Here are three scriptures that say Jesus existed in the form of God, existed before John, and before Abraham was born. What of John 1:2,3 and Colossians 1:16,17? Here are two scriptures that say that Jesus existed before he was born on earth and that Jesus created everything. This goes along with Hebrews 1:2,3 where again all things are created through Jesus. What do you think of Thomas’ declaration in John 20:28?

  32. TL says:

    Jonathan……
    “Don, the word ‘echad’ when used of a man and a woman becoming ONE in marriage is clearly not speaking of a plurality. On the contrary, it’s talking about two people becoming ONE. That’s why it’s translated ‘and they two shall become ONE’, not ‘and they two shall become a plurality’.”

    LOL I think you misunderstood, Don. Echad means a plurality in unity, oneness. So yes, a marriage is a plurality of two, becoming one in unity – two becoming as one – echad. :)

    • Don Johnson says:

      As I said earler, Hebrew yachid means an absolute one, while echad does not, it can be that but also can be used for a plurality. Jonathan does not know this.

  33. TL says:

    Johnathan,

    “Of course if you had any passages in which the apostles taught people Jesus is God before baptizing them, you would have quoted them by now. You and I both know there aren’t any; they taught people Jesus is a man, then baptized them.”

    As has been said to you repeatedly, and quoted from the New Testament repeatedly, John specifically taught that Jesus was God in the flesh, and existed before, in the creation of the world.

    Athenasias’ Creed very specifically cites the Trinity as the Godhead, as does Aquinas Creed. The early church fathers dialogues all reference the Godhead as a trinity (that I can think of). Your monotheism just isn’t going to fly here. And you’ve jumped into a discussion about something else in order to push your beliefs on this. Why? What is your goal here?

  34. TL, let’s be clear on one point first. I came here discussing a completely different topic, since this page linked to mine. I did not come here to discuss or promote my personal beliefs. As I have also pointed out, this particular discussion was not started by me. Nor is it being perpetuated by me. I have Ashley asking me ‘So, what is your take on the following verses?’, and you asking me ‘So, you believe that… Something like that???’. And you wrote that after accusing me of trying to push my views on you. Please make up your mind if you want to know what I believe or not. If you don’t, then don’t ask me what I believe.

    * Echad

    No, echad does not mean ‘a plurality in unity, oneness’. It means ‘one’. I have already invited you to check the Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (the standard professional Hebrew lexicon), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, and Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (I own all of them and can quote them for you in full). None of them contain the definition you’re claiming. What happens in marriage is that TWO become ONE. Here TWO means TWO and ONE means ONE.

    Don, you claim echad can be used for a plurality while yachid means ‘an absolute one’, and say ‘Jonathan does not know this’. But as we’ve seen, I can quote every professional Hebrew lexicon, and none of them say what you claim. I’ve also quoted the conservative evangelical scholar Robert Bowman explicitly contradicting your claim. It just isn’t true, it’s a folk definition made up by people who don’t know any Hebrew.

    * Jesus in the New Testament

    TL, you say ‘John specifically taught that Jesus was God in the flesh, and existed before, in the creation of the world’. Well let’s see.

    John 1:
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God.

    No mention of Jesus at all. Nor do we ever find the phrase ‘God in the flesh’ in the entire Bible.

    * Monotheism

    TL, you seem to be confusing the term ‘monotheism’ with ‘unitarianism’. Monotheism means THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD. Every Trinitarian I know of believes there is only one God, in three persons. If you’re a Trinitarian then you’re a monotheist. If on the other hand you’re telling me you believe in the Trinity but you ALSO BELIEVE IN OTHER GODS, that would surprise me greatly.

    Unitarianism is the belief that there is only one God AND THAT GOD IS ONLY ONE PERSON. I am a unitarian. You are not a unitarian. I am a monotheist, and Trinitarians are also monotheists.

    * “So, you believe that…”

    1. “So, you believe that Jesus Christ was only a human being…”

    Acts 2:
    2 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, A MAN…
    23 THIS MAN…

    Acts 17:
    1 because He [God] has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by A MAN whom he designated,

    1 Timothy 2:
    5 For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, HIMSELF HUMAN…

    2. “a human being that God chose and anointed to teach people about God, to heal, deliver in ways that had never before happened.”

    Acts 2:
    2 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, A MAN clearly attested to you BY GOD WITH POWERFUL DEEDS, WONDERS, AND MIRACULOUS SIGNS that GOD PERFORMED AMONG YOU THROUGH HIM, just as you yourselves know—
    23 THIS MAN…

    Acts 10:
    42 He [Jesus] commanded us to preach to the people and to warn them that he is the one APPOINTED BY GOD as judge of the living and the dead.

    Acts 17:
    31 because He [God] has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, BY A MAN WHOM HE HAS DESIGNATED…

    Note that Jesus did not heal in ways which had never happened, and his apostles healed people in the same way.

    3. “Then God allowed this mere human to suffer the most gruesome death ever, and claimed that his suffering would pay the price for humanities sin.”

    No he didn’t pay the price for humanities’ sin; I don’t believe in penal substitution, remember.

    4. ” And of course God had to enable this human from birth to be able to never sin.”

    No, Jesus had to learn obedience like the rest of us, but he learned it without sin.

    Hebrews
    8 Although he was a son, HE LEARNED OBEDIENCE THROUGH THE THINGS HE SUFFERED.
    7 And by being PERFECTED IN THIS WAY, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
    10 and he was designated by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

    5. “And somehow God would even give this mere human the power to empart the Holy Spirit to the disciples before he was resurrected.”

    Yes, just like God gave other humans the power to impart the Holy Spirit (Elijah, and the apostles).

    6. “And then this human would sit at the right hand of God the Father. And this mere human would be worshipped by all the angels and all humans.”

    Philippians 2:
    9 As a result GOD EXALTED HIM and gave him the name that is above every name,
    10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
    11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of GOD the Father.

    7. “And in the end of times would be coming back on a white horse to render Judgement for God.”

    Acts 10:
    42 He [Jesus] commanded us to preach to the people and to warn them that he is the one APPOINTED BY GOD as judge of the living and the dead.

  35. TL says:

    Jonathan, first I apologize for confusing monotheism with unitarianism. Of course you are correct on that. And thank you for explaining that you are a unitarian. I was confusing you with Oneness Pentacostalism. But you probably don’t believe in the Holy Spirit in the way they do either.

    I admit that I am not knowledgeable on the belief systems of Unitarians. What exactly is the purpose of becoming a unitarian? You say you don’t believe in penal substitution, so what in your thinking was the purpose of Jesus Christ?

  36. Anna says:

    I have been studying the Bible for quite some time now and I can make no sense out of complementarianism.

    For example, most complementarians state that husbands have authority over wives (male headship) and while wives are supposed to submit, their submission is voluntary and can’t be forced by the husband.

    Well,if submission is voluntary, how can headship be authority, since authority is defined as the right to enforce obedience. And if submission is not voluntary and can be enforced by the husband, what is the appropriate penalty upon the wife if she does not submit? Wouldn’t this justify a man punishing his wife like a child? What is the point of authority that can not be enforced?

    This makes me think that kepale means source and submission (hupotasso) probably means “support of” in the context of presenting yourself to your husband, in everything (meaning take part in all family issues/decision making), helping him (as his HelpMeet) and counseling him and supporting him as an equal. We are subject to him as a HelpMeet and equal, responsible for taking part in decision making, unlike the patriarchy of the time, where women were subject to their husbands as slaves and property and were required to be obedient to their husbands commands.

    This seems consistent with the relationship originally present in the Garden of Eden.

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