Article: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the ‘Same God’?

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the ‘Same God’?

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The world was supposed to end not once but twice in 2015 — it’s OK, those were just some of many failed prophecies | Christian News on Christian Today

These two predictions were the so-called Blood Moon Prophecy last Sept. 27 by John Hagee, a Christian minister from Texas; and Earth’s destruction “with fire” by Chris McCann, the leader and founder of eBible Fellowship last Oct. 7, various reports said.
Obviously the two got the dates wrong.
On Sept. 27, a supermoon lunar eclipse occurred when Earth’s shadow dimmed the moon, which appeared unusually large in the sky. It was a confluence of three events: a full moon; a lunar eclipse, and lunar perigee, when the moon was in the closest part of its orbit to Earth, according to News Discovery.
Hagee was among those who argued that such rare events surely spelled out doom. “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015,” he told CNN.》》》》

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.world.was.supposed.to.end

Divided by faith

In 1517, the incident where Martin Luther (d.1546) nailed his 95 thesis to the door of a church, thereby challenging corruption in the church as well as the Pope`s authority, divided the Christianity into two sects: the Catholics and the Protestants.Religious division further broke Europe down politically. The allegiance of the people depended on state religion. The result of this sectarian schism was that Protestants living in a Catholic majority country became a religious minority and hence insecure and unsafe. Similarly, the Catholics in a Protestant state became a minority. Both sects vehemently spent their resources and energies to defend their faith and to accuse each other as heretic and misleading, deviating themselves from the original and pure Christian teachings.This religious righteousness and extremism justified violence and discrimination of the opposite sect.Consequently Europe faced religious and political destability which affected its culture, civilisation and economy.Scholars and intellectuals on both sides defended their sect and researched material to support and strengthen their faith.For example, in France which was predominantly a Catholic country, the Protestants were known as the Huguenots. They were followers of John Calvin (d.1546) and were in minority.The deep religious conflict betweenthese two sects frequently erupted causing insecurity among the Huguenots.The worst event occurred in 1572, known as the Bartholomew massacre when the Huguenots were gathered for a marriage ceremony and a mob suddenly attacked them, killing and mutilating their bodies. With great passion and religious zeal, the mob caused bloodshed and killing. According to eye-witness accounts, the dead bodies of the victims lay scattered in the streets of Paris. The other citics of France also became involved in the conflict, persecuting the Huguenots to satisfy religious hatred.When the news of the massacre reached the Vatican, there was jubilation among the people of the city. To celebrate, churches were illuminated and fire works displayed to express the joy over the massacre of the Huguenots. Such was the hatred that humanity disappeared while suffering and pain of the victims were ignored.Religious peace was restored in France when Henry of Navarre became the king. He converted to a Catholicfrom being a Protestant, in order to gain support of the majority. However, in 1598, he issued the Edict of Nantes to grant religious freedom to the Huguenots in order to maintain peace and harmony in the country. The Edicts prevented religious strife and continued till the accession of Louis XIV (d.1715).But under political pressure in 1685, the king repelled the Edict, after which the Huguenots were at the mercy of the Catholic majority.As a result the majority of the Huguenots left France and settled in Holland, England and Prussia. Since most of them were skilled artisans, France was deprived of their skilled workers and suffered economically, while the countries where they had immigrated to began to reap the benefits of their professional and technological knowledge.The sectarian conflict disastrously affected Germany when it plunged into the Thirty Years` War (1618-48). These religious wars were brutal, bloody and full of violence. Villages were set onfire, plundered and looted. The daily lives of common people became disrupted. It is estimated that 30 per cent of Germany suffered heavily as a result of these wars. Consequently, it pushed Germany backward as compared to other European countries.In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia brought peace to Germany. It was decided that the religion of the prince should be the state religion. As a result, it dislocated people from one place to another so that the Catholics migrated to the Catholic states, the Protestants to the Protestant states.When England defied the Pope under Henry VIII (d.1547), the Catholic minority was not allowed to perform their religious duties openly. They were excluded from state services and not admitted to the Oxford and Cambridge Universitics as students. During this period, sectarian persecution was the state policy which led to the discrimination and exclusion of religious minorities from the mainstream. However, Europe leant a lesson from these religious conflicts and made attempts torestore religious harmony by taking major steps. The state was transformed to the Nation-State in which all citizens were treated on the basis of equality irrespective of their religion, creed and colour. Secondly, the state became secular. Thirdly, education was taken awayfrom the control of the church and it became the responsibility of the state to impart it without religious prejudice.Religion thus became the private affair of an individual. These steps ended religious and sectarian conflict and created harmony and peace in the society. •

By Mubarikali , Source: Divided by faith | DAWN.COM

Who is the ‘Prophet’ mentioned at Deuteronomy; 18:18-19 and John 1:20

There is divergent opinion among Christian and Muslim scholars about  the ‘Prophet’ mentioned at Deuteronomy; 18:18-19 and John 1:20. Both claims are being analysed here:

God speaks to Prophet Moses: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not harken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him”(Deuteronomy; 18:18,19).

Among the prophets which followed Moses, Muhammad is most like Moses where as Jesus had nothing common with Prophet Moses except being a Jew and prophet, (though in Christianity, Jesus is believed to be Son of God, one of the three persons of the Trinity). Moreover, being descendent of Ishmael, Muhammad is among the brethren of Jews, who was like Moses.

That Prophet:

The chief priests and Levites asked John the Baptist, “If you are not the Christ (Messiah), and not Elijah – are you THAT Prophet?” (Bible – John 1:20).
When the chief priests and Levites asked John the Baptist who he was, they asked him in a very strange way. First they questioned him as to whether or not he was the anticipated “Messiah” [Christ in Koine Greek]. He was not the “Messiah” that had hoped for. Next they asked if he was the prophet Elijah and again he tells them, “No.” Now comes the really strange part. Finally, they asked him if he is “That Prophet?”
Are you Christ? – [No]
Are you Elijah? – [No]
Are you THAT Prophet? – [No]
What did they mean by “That Prophet?” We of course, know who the “Christ” is. After all, Christians should know that “Christ” is merely a shortened form of the Koine Greek word “christos,” intended to mean the Hebrew word “Messiah.”
The Jews of two thousand years ago were definitely looking for the Messiah, who it was foretold in their books, would come and lead them to victory over their oppressors and thus gain for them mastery over this world. They were much oppressed under Roman domination and even their own Jewish kings were seen as nothing more than puppets or agents for the disbelievers. Certainly, they would have been most happy to see someone come on the scene who would defeat their Roman masters and slave drivers.
Then the priests and Levites asked John the Baptist if he might be the prophet Elijah, returning back after hundreds of years being away. There was the notion amongst them that Elijah would come back. But again, John the Baptist is denying he is Elijah.
Then, who is he? They wonder at this man living out in the desert and forsaking wealth and luxury and fasting, avoiding the material attractions of life.
Again, they ask John the Baptist who he is. “Are you THAT Prophet?” And one more time he denies being “THAT Prophet,” but then he does tell them about someone who will come after him soon, whom he claims he is not worthy to even unlace his shoes.
However, this does not answer the question, “Who were they expecting besides the Messiah?” Could it be they were looking for someone like Muhammad? (Could be) .
Who is THAT Prophet? -Keep reading and learn who “That Prophet” is and what other proofs can be discovered within the Holy texts to support this idea.

Similarities: Moses & Muhammad :

Muhammad and Moses had a normal birth through father and a mother, while Jesus was miraculously born without any male intervention. (Mathew; 1:18 and Luke; 1:35 and also Qur’an;3:42-47).

Both were married, had children and died natural deaths. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is from among the brethren of Moses being descendent of  Abraham through his sons Ishmael and Isaac respectively.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was unlettered, hence in verbatim repeated the revelations conforming phrase; “Words in the mouth”. Prophet Moses & Muhammad (peace be upon them) brought new laws and new regulations for their people, besides, both were accepted as messengers of God by their people in their lifetime. They ruled over their communities (as kings), they could inflict capital punishment where as Jesus (peace be upon them) said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John; 18:36), Jesus was not accepted by most of his people in his life time: “He came unto his own, but his own received him not.”(Gospel of John;1:11) and he (Jesus) did not bring any new laws, Jesus said; “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them..;”(Mathew;5:17-18).

Song of Solomon: Prophet Muhammad is mentioned by name in the Old Testament:

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely (Muhammadim). This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”(Song of Solomon; 5:16). :”Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem.“” In the Hebrew language ‘im’ is added for respect. Similarly ‘im’ is added after the name of Prophet Muhammad to make it Muhammadim. In English translation they have even translated the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as “altogether lovely”, but in the Old Testament in Hebrew, the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is still present.

Also read more: Who is an other Comforter (Paracletos, Counselor, Advocate, Helper, Redeemer) John;16:7

Who is an other Comforter (Paracletos, Counselor, Advocate, Helper, Redeemer) John;16:7

There is divergent opinion about Comforter  (Greek; Paracletos) predicted by Jesus Christ (John;16:7) among Christian and Muslim scholars, weather it is about Holy Ghost or Prophet Muhammad. Both claims are being analysed here:

Jesus through parables said: “Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”(Matthew;21:43),“Salt is good: but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall it be restored? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dung hill; but men cast it out. He that has ears to hear, let him hear”(Luke;14:34-35, also Mathew;5:16, Mark;9:50). “What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the tenants, and will give the vineyard unto others.”(Mark;12:9).This may also be linked with: “Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in”(Isaiah;26:2).

These parables apply to the Jews. They had been the children of the kingdom, or under the reign of God; having his law, and acknowledging him as King. They had been his chosen and peculiar people. But he says that now this privilege should be taken away, and they cease to be the peculiar people of God; and the blessing should be given to a nation who would bring forth the fruits thereof, or be righteous. Keeping in view the Covenant with Abraham (Genesis;12:2,3, 17:10-12, 17:20-21), it obviously refers to the Children of Ishmael, to keep the leadership within the progeny of Abraham.

Spirit of Truth, Glorify Jesus:

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth (referring to Muhammad) is come, he will guide you unto all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me”(John; 16:12-14). [Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) spoke verbatim the revelations received through angel Gabriel, (Qur’an), he also glorified Jesus Christ]

Comforter:

Paracletos :“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (Paracletos), that he may abide with you forever.”(John; 14:16).  [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered the message of God, (Qur’an), which is available to Christians and all the humanity in original uncorrupted form for their peace and comfort till eternity.]

Witness to the Truthfulness of Jesus:

“But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;” (John; 15:26). [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), bore witness of truthfulness of Jesus as messenger of God, he also glorified Jesus Christ]

The Comforter to Come after Jesus Christ:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”(John;16:7). [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), came six centuries after departure of Jesus Christ]
Referring these prophesies to ‘Holy Ghost’ is irrelevant, because as per Christian theology ‘Holy Ghost’ was already present (dove upon Jesus) and is considered as one of Trinity. Moreover what ‘new thing’ ‘Holy Ghost’ has brought after departure of Jesus Christ in last 2000 years? (‘Holy Ghost’ is believed to be guiding the Churches).
All these prophesies are clearly applicable to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As explained earlier, Ahmed” or “Muhammad” meaning “the one who praises” or “the praised one” is almost the translation of the Greek word par-ak’-lay-tos; Periclytos. In the Gospel of John;14:16, 15:26, and 16:7, Jesus (peace be upon him) actually prophesized “Ahmed” by name, word ‘Comforter’ in Greek Paracletos, Periclytos refers to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says in Qur’an: “Those to whom We have given the Scripture (their scholars) recognize this (Muhammad) as they know their own sons. Those who have lost their own souls refuse therefore to believe.”(Qur’an;6:20), “And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said, ‘O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed.’ But when he came to them with clear signs, they said, ‘This is evident sorcery!”(Qur’an; 61:6). Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while ye have knowledge?”(Qur’an;3:71).

Birthday of Jesus Christ – Christmas

Christmas—December the 25th—is a day which has been set apart by the Christian church on which to celebrate the birth of their lord Christ Jesus, and is considered by the majority of persons to be really the day on which he was born. This is altogether erroneous, as will be seen upon examination of the subject.
There was no uniformity in the period of observing the Nativity among the early Christian churches; some held the festival in the month of May or April, others in January.[359:1]
The year in which he was born is also as uncertain as the month or day. “The year in which it happened,” says Mosheim, the ecclesiastical historian, “has not hitherto been fixed with certainty, notwithstanding the deep and laborious researches of the learned.”[359:2]
According to Irenæus (A. D. 190), on the authority of “The Gospel,” and “all the elders who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord,” Christ Jesus lived to be nearly, if not quite, fifty years of age. If this celebrated Christian father is correct, and who can say he is not, Jesus was born some twenty years before the time which has been assigned as that of his birth.[359:3]
The Rev. Dr. Giles says:
“Concerning the time of Christ’s birth there are even greater doubts than about the place; for, though the four Evangelists have noticed several contemporary facts, which would seem to settle this point, yet on comparing these dates with the general history of the period, we meet with serious discrepancies, which involve the subject in the greatest uncertainty.”[359:4]
Again he says:
“Not only do we date our time from the exact year in which Christ is said to have been born, but our ecclesiastical calendar has determined with scrupulous minuteness the day and almost the hour at which every particular of Christ’s wonderful life is stated to have happened. All this is implicitly believed by millions; yet all these things are among the most uncertain and shadowy that history has recorded. We have no clue to either the day or the time of year, or even the year itself, in which Christ was born.[360:1]
Some Christian writers fix the year 4 B. C., as the time when he was born, others the year 5 B. C., and again others place his time of birth at about 15 B. C. The Rev. Dr. Geikie, speaking of this, in his Life of Christ, says:
“The whole subject is very uncertain. Ewald appears to fix the date of the birth at five years earlier than our era. Petavius and Usher fix it on the 25th of December, five years before our era. Bengel on the 25th of December, four years before our era; Anger and Winer, four years before our era, in the Spring; Scaliger, three years before our era, in October; St. Jerome, three years before our era, on December 25th; Eusebius, two years before our era, on January 6th; and Idler, seven years before our era, inDecember.”[360:2]
Albert Barnes writes in a manner which implies that he knew all about the year (although he does not give any authorities), but knew nothing about the month. He says:
“The birth of Christ took place four years before the common era. That era began to be used about A. D. 526, being first employed by Dionysius, and is supposed to have been placed about four years too late. Some make the difference two, others three, four, five, and even eight years. He was born at the commencement of the last year of the reign of Herod, or at the close of the year preceding.”[360:3]
“The Jews sent out their flocks into the mountainous and desert regions during the summer months, and took them up in the latter part of October or the first of November, when the cold weather commenced. . . . It is clear from this that our Saviour was born before the 25th of December, or before what we call Christmas. At that time it is cold, and especially in the high and mountainous regions about BethlehemGod has concealed the time of his birth. There is no way to ascertain it. By different learned men it has been fixed at each month in the year.”[360:4]
Canon Farrar writes with a little more caution, as follows:
“Although the date of Christ’s birth cannot be fixed with absolute certainty, there is at least a large amount of evidence to render itprobable that he was born four years before our present era. It is universally admitted that our received chronology, which is not older than Dionysius Exignus, in the sixth century, is wrong. But all attempts to discover the month and the day are useless. No data whatever exists to enable us to determine them with even approximate accuracy.”[360:5]
Bunsen attempts to show (on the authority of Irenæus, above quoted), that Jesus was born some fifteen years before the time assigned, and that he lived to be nearly, if not quite, fifty years of age.[361:1]
According to Basnage,[361:2] the Jews placed his birth near a century sooner than the generally assumed epoch. Others have placed it even in the third century B. C. This belief is founded on a passage in the “Book of Wisdom,”[361:3] written about 250 B. C., which is supposed to refer to Christ Jesus, and none other. In speaking of some individual who lived at that time, it says:
“He professeth to have the knowledge of God, and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold; for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits; he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness; he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true; and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he (God) will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with a shameful death; for by his own saying he shall be respected.”
This is a very important passage. Of course, the church claim it to be a prophecy of what Christ Jesus was to do and suffer, but this does not explain it.
If the writer of the “Gospel according to Luke” is correct, Jesus was not born until about A. D. 10, for he explicitly tells us that this event did not happen until Cyrenius was governor of Syria.[361:4] Now it is well known that Cyrenius was not appointed to this office until long after the death of Herod (during whose reign the Matthew narrator informs us Jesus was born[361:5]), and that the taxing spoken of by the Luke narrator as having taken place at this time, did not take place until about ten years after the time at which, according to the Matthew narrator, Jesus was born.[361:6]
Eusebius, the first ecclesiastical historian,[361:7] places his birth at the time Cyrenius was governor of Syria, and therefore at about A. D. 10. His words are as follows:
“It was the two and fortieth year after the reign of Augustus the Emperor, and the eight and twentieth year after the subduing of Egypt, and the death of Antonius and Cleopatra, when last of all the Ptolemies in Egypt ceased to bear rule, when our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, at the time of the first taxing—Cyrenius, then President of Syria—was born in Bethlehem, a city of Judea, according unto the prophecies in that behalf premised.”[362:1]
Had the Luke narrator known anything about Jewish history, he never would have made so gross a blunder as to place the taxing of Cyrenius in the days of Herod, and would have saved the immense amount of labor that it has taken in endeavoring to explain away the effects of his ignorance. One explanation of this mistake is, that there were two assessments, one about the time Jesus was born, and the other ten years after; but this has entirely failed. Dr. Hooykaas, speaking of this, says:
“The Evangelist (Luke) falls into the most extraordinary mistakes throughout. In the first place, history is silent as to a census of the whole (Roman) world ever having been made at all. In the next place, though Quirinius certainly did make such a register in Judea and Samaria, it did not extend to Galilee; so that Joseph’s household was not affected by it. Besides, it did not take place until ten years after the death of Herod, when his son Archelaus was deposed by the emperor, and the districts of Judea and Samaria were thrown into a Roman province. Under the reign of Herod, nothing of the kind took place, nor was there any occasion for it. Finally, at the time of the birth of Jesus, the Governor of Syria was not Quirinius, but Quintus Sentius Saturninus.”[362:2]
The institution of the festival of the Nativity of Christ Jesus being held on the 25th of December, among the Christians, is attributed to Telesphorus, who flourished during the reign of Antonius Pius (A. D. 138-161), but the first certain traces of it are found about the time of the Emperor Commodus (A. D. 180-192).[362:3]
For a long time the Christians had been trying to discover upon what particular day Jesus had possibly or probably come into the world; and conjectures and traditions that rested upon absolutely no foundation, led one to the 20th of May, another to the 19th or 20th of April, and a third to the 5th of January. At last the opinion of the community at Rome gained the upper hand, and the 25th of December was fixed upon.[362:4] It was not until the fifth century, however, that this day had been generally agreed upon.[362:5] How it happened that this day finally became fixed as the birthday of Christ Jesus, may be inferred from what we shall now see.
On the first moment after midnight of the 24th of December (i. e., on the morning of the 25th), nearly all the nations of the earth, as if by common consent, celebrated the accouchement of the “Queen of Heaven,” of the “Celestial Virgin” of the sphere, and the birth of the god Sol.
In India this is a period of rejoicing everywhere.[363:1] It is a great religious festival, and the people decorate their houses with garlands, and make presents to friends and relatives. This custom is of very great antiquity.[363:2]
In China, religious solemnities are celebrated at the time of the winter solstice, the last week in December, when all shops are shut up, and the courts are closed.[363:3]
Buddha, the son of the Virgin Mâya, on whom, according to Chinese tradition, “the Holy Ghost” had descended, was said to have been born on Christmas day, December 25th.[363:4]
Among the ancient Persians their most splendid ceremonials were in honor of their Lord and Saviour Mithras; they kept his birthday, with many rejoicings, on the 25th of December.
The author of the “Celtic Druids” says:
“It was the custom of the heathen, long before the birth of Christ, to celebrate the birth-day of their gods,” and that, “the 25th of December was a great festival with the Persians, who, in very early times, celebrated the birth of their god Mithras.”[363:5]
The Rev. Joseph B. Gross, in his “Heathen Religion,” also tells us that:
“The ancient Persians celebrated a festival in honor of Mithras on the first day succeeding the Winter Solstice, the object of which was to commemorate the Birth of Mithras.”[363:6]
Among the ancient Egyptians, for centuries before the time of Christ Jesus, the 25th of December was set aside as the birthday of their gods. M. Le Clerk De Septchenes speaks of it as follows:
“The ancient Egyptians fixed the pregnancy of Isis (the Queen of Heaven, and the Virgin Mother of the Saviour Horus), on the last days of March, and towards the end of December they placed the commemoration of her delivery.”[363:7]
Mr. Bonwick, in speaking of Horus, says:
“He is the great God-loved of Heaven. His birth was one of the greatest mysteries of the Egyptian religion. Pictures representing it appeared on the walls of temples. One passed through the holy Adytum[364:1] to the still more sacred quarter of the temple known as the birth-place of Horus. He was presumably the child of Deity. At Christmas time, or that answering to our festival, his image was brought out of that sanctuary with peculiar ceremonies, as the image of the infant Bambino[364:2] is still brought out and exhibited in Rome.”[364:3]
Rigord observes that the Egyptians not only worshiped a Virgin Mother “prior to the birth of our Saviour, but exhibited the effigy of her son lying in the manger, in the manner the infant Jesus was afterwards laid in the cave at Bethlehem.”[364:4]
The “Chronicles of Alexandria,” an ancient Christian work, says:
“Watch how Egypt has constructed the childbirth of a Virgin, and the birth of her son, who was exposed in a crib to the adoration of the people.”[364:5]
Osiris, son of the “Holy Virgin,” as they called Ceres, or Neith, his mother, was born on the 25th of December.[364:6]
This was also the time celebrated by the ancient Greeks as being the birthday of Hercules. The author of “The Religion of the Ancient Greeks” says:
“The night of the Winter Solstice, which the Greeks named the triple night, was that which they thought gave birth to Hercules.”[364:7]
He further says:
“It has become an epoch of singular importance in the eyes of the Christian, who has destined it to celebrate the birth of the Saviour, the true Sun of Justice, who alone came to dissipate the darkness of ignorance.”[364:8]
Bacchus, also, was born at early dawn on the 25th of December. Mr. Higgins says of him:
“The birth-place of Bacchus, called Sabizius or Sabaoth, was claimed by several places in Greece; but on Mount Zelmissus, in Thrace, his worship seems to have been chiefly celebrated. He was born of a virgin on the 25th of December, and was always called the Saviour. In his Mysteries, he was shown to the people, as an infant is by the Christians at this day, on Christmas-day morning, in Rome.”[364:9]
The birthday of Adonis was celebrated on the 25th of December. This celebration is spoken of by Tertullian, Jerome, and other Fathers of the Church,[365:1]who inform us that the ceremonies took place in a cave, and that the cave in which they celebrated his mysteries in Bethlehem, was that in which Christ Jesus was born.
This was also a great holy day in ancient Rome. The Rev. Mr. Gross says:
“In Rome, before the time of Christ, a festival was observed on the 25th of December, under the name of ‘Natalis Solis Invicti‘ (Birthday of Sol the Invincible). It was a day of universal rejoicings, illustrated by illuminations and public games.”[365:2] “All public business was suspended, declarations of war and criminal executions were postponed, friends made presents to one another, and the slaves were indulged with great liberties.”[365:3]
A few weeks before the winter solstice, the Calabrian shepherds came into Rome to play on the pipes. Ovid alludes to this when he says:
“Ante Deûm matrem cornu tibicen adunco
Cum canit, exiguæ quis stipis aera neget.”
—(Epist. i. l. ii.)
i. e.,
“When to the mighty mother pipes the swain,
Grudge not a trifle for his pious strain.”
This practice is kept up to the present day.
The ancient Germans, for centuries before “the true Sun of Justice” was ever heard of, celebrated annually, at the time of the Winter solstice, what they called their Yule-feast. At this feast agreements were renewed, the gods were consulted as to the future, sacrifices were made to them, and the time was spent in jovial hospitality. Many features of this festival, such as burning the yule-log on Christmas-eve, still survive among us.[365:4]
Yule was the old name for Christmas. In French it is called Noel, which is the Hebrew or Chaldee word Nule.[365:5]
The greatest festival of the year celebrated among the ancient Scandinavians, was at the Winter solstice. They called the night upon which it was observed, the “Mother-night.” This feast was named Jul—hence is derived the word Yule—and was celebrated in honor of Freyr (son of the Supreme God Odin, and the goddess Frigga), who was born on that day. Feasting, nocturnal assemblies, and all the demonstrations of a most dissolute joy, were then authorized by the general usage. At this festival the principal guests received presents—generally horses, swords, battle-axes, and gold rings—at their departure.[365:6]
The festival of the 25th of December was celebrated by the ancient Druids, in Great Britain and Ireland, with great fires lighted on the tops of hills.[366:1]
Godfrey Higgins says:
“Stuckley observes that the worship of Mithra was spread all over Gaul and Britain. The Druids kept this night as a great festival, and called the day following it Nolagh or Noel, or the day of regeneration, and celebrated it with great fires on the tops of their mountains, which they repeated on the day of the Epiphany or twelfth night. The Mithraic monuments, which are common in Britain, have been attributed to the Romans, but this festival proves that the Mithraic worship was there prior to their arrival.”[366:2]
This was also a time of rejoicing in Ancient Mexico. Acosta says:
“In the first month, which in Peru they call Rayme, and answering to our December, they made a solemn feast called Capacrayme (the Winter Solstice), wherein they made many sacrifices and ceremonies, which continued many days.”[366:3]
The evergreens, and particularly the mistletoe, which are used all over the Christian world at Christmas time, betray its heathen origin. Tertullian, a Father of the Church, who flourished about A. D. 200, writing to his brethren, affirms it to be “rank idolatry” to deck their doors “with garlands or flowers, on festival days, according to the custom of the heathen.”[366:4]
This shows that the heathen in those days, did as the Christians do now. What have evergreens, and garlands, and Christmas trees, to do with Christianity? Simply nothing. It is the old Yule-feast which was held by all the northern nations, from time immemorial, handed down to, and observed at the present day. In the greenery with which Christians deck their houses and temples of worship, and in the Christmas-trees laden with gifts, we unquestionably see a relic of the symbols by which our heathen forefathers signified their faith in the powers of the returning sun to clothe the earth again with green, and hang new fruit on the trees. Foliage, such as the laurel, myrtle, ivy, or oak, and in general, all evergreens, were Dionysiac plants, that is, symbols of the generative power, signifying perpetuity of youth and vigor.[366:5]
Among the causes, then, that co-operated in fixing this period—December 25th—as the birthday of Christ Jesus, was, as we have seen, that almost every ancient nation of the earth held a festival on this day in commemoration of the birth of their virgin-born god.
On this account the Christians adopted it as the time of the birth of their God. Mr. Gibbon, speaking of this in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” says:
“The Roman Christians, ignorant of the real date of his (Christ’s) birth, fixed the solemn festival to the 25th of December, the Brumalia, or Winter Solstice, when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of Sol.”[367:1]
And Mr. King, in his “Gnostics and their Remains,” says:
“The ancient festival held on the 25th of December in honor of the ‘Birthday of the Invincible One,’ and celebrated by the ‘great games’ at the circus, was afterwards transferred to the commemoration of the birth of Christ, the precise day of which many of the Fathers confess was then unknown.”[367:2]
St. Chrysostom, who flourished about A. D. 390, referring to this Pagan festival, says:
On this day, also, the birth of Christ was lately fixed at Rome, in order that whilst the heathen were busy with their profaneceremonies, the Christians might perform their holy rites undisturbed.”[367:3]
Add to this the fact that St. Gregory, a Christian Father of the third century, was instrumental in, and commended by other Fathers for, changing Pagan festivals into Christian holidays, for the purpose, as they said, of drawing the heathen to the religion of Christ.[367:4]
As Dr. Hooykaas remarks, the church was always anxious to meet the heathen half way, by allowing them to retain the feasts they were accustomed to, only giving them a Christian dress, or attaching a new or Christian signification to them.[367:5]
In doing these, and many other such things, which we shall speak of in our chapter on “Paganism in Christianity,” the Christian Fathers, instead of drawing the heathen to their religion, drew themselves into Paganism.


FOOTNOTES:
[359:1]See Bible for Learners vol. iii. p. 66; Chambers’s Encyclo., art. “Christmas.”
[359:2]Eccl. Hist., vol. i. p. 53. Quoted in Taylor‘s Diegesis, p. 104.
[359:3]See Chapter XL., this work.
[359:4]Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. ii. p. 189.
[360:1]Hebrew and Christian Records, p. 194.
[360:2]Life of Christ, vol. i. p. 556.
[360:3]Barnes’ Notes, vol. ii. p. 402.
[360:4]Ibid. p. 25.
[360:5]Farrar’s Life of Christ, App., pp. 673, 4.
[361:1]Bible Chronology, pp. 73, 74.
[361:2]Hist. de Juif.
[361:3]Chap. ii. 13-20.
[361:4]Luke, ii. 1-7.
[361:5]Matt. ii. 1.
[361:6]See Josephus: Antiq., bk. xviii. ch. i. sec. i.
[361:7]Eusebius was Bishop of Cesarea from A. D. 315 to 340, in which he died, in the 70th year of his age, thus playing his great part in life chiefly under the reigns of Constantine the Great and his son Constantine.
[362:1]Eusebius: Eccl. Hist., lib. 1, ch. vi.
[362:2]Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 56.
[362:3]See Chamber’s Encyclo., art. “Christmas.”
[362:4]See Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 66.
[362:5]“By the fifth century, however, whether from the influence of some tradition, or from the desire to supplant Heathen Festivals of that period of the year, such as the Saturnalia, the 25th of December had been generally agreed upon.” (Encyclopædia Brit., art. “Christmas.”)
[363:1]See Monier Williams: Hinduism, p. 181.
[363:2]See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 126.
[363:3]Ibid. 216.
[363:4]See Bunsen: The Angel-Messiah, pp. x.-25, and 110, and Lillie: Buddha and Buddhism, p. 73.
Some writers have asserted that Crishna is said to have been born on December 25th, but this is not the case. His birthday is held in July-August. (See Williams’ Hinduism, p. 183, and Life and Religion of the Hindoos, p. 134.)
[363:5]Celtic Druids, p. 163. See also, Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 272; Monumental Christianity, p. 167; Bible for Learners, iii. pp. 66, 67.
[363:6]The Heathen Religion, p. 287. See also, Dupuis: p. 246.
[363:7]Relig. of the Anct. Greeks, p. 214. See also, Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 99.
[364:1]Adytum“—the interior or sacred part of a heathen temple.
[364:2]Bambino“—a term used for representations of the infant Saviour, Christ Jesus, in swaddlings.
[364:3]Bonwick’s Egyptian Belief, p. 157. See also, Dupuis, p. 237.
[364:4]“Deinceps Egyptii Parituram Virginem magno in honore habuerunt; quin soliti sunt puerum effingere jacentem in præsepe, quali POSTEAin Bethlehemeticâ speluncâ natus est.” (Quoted in Anacalypsis, p. 102, of vol. ii.)
[364:5]Quoted by Bonwick, p. 143.
[364:6]Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 99.
[364:7]Relig. Anct. Greece, p. 215.
[364:8]Ibid.
[364:9]Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 102; Dupuis, p. 237, and Baring Gould: Orig. Relig. Belief, vol. i. p. 322.
[365:1]Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 99.
[365:2]The Heathen Religion, p. 287; Dupuis, p. 283.
[365:3]Bulfinch, p. 21.
[365:4]See Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 67, and Chambers, art. “Yule.”
[365:5]See Chambers’s, art. “Yule,” and “Celtic Druids,” p. 162.
[365:6]Mallet’s Northern Antiquities, pp. 110 and 355. Knight: p. 87.
[366:1]Dupuis, 160; Celtic Druids, and Monumental Christianity, p. 167.
[366:2]Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 99.
[366:3]Hist. Indies, vol. ii. p. 354.
[366:4]See Middleton’s Works, vol. i. p. 80.
[366:5]Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 82.
[367:1]Gibbon’s Rome, vol. ii. p. 383.
[367:2]King’s Gnostics, p. 49.
[367:3]Quoted in Ibid.
[367:4]See the chapter on “Paganism in Christianity.”
[367:5]Bible for Learners, vol. iii. p. 67.
Extract from CHAPTER XXXIV, Birthday of Jesus Christ, “BIBLE MYTHS AND THEIR PARALLELS IN OTHER RELIGIONS” By T. W. DOANE,  1882. Produced by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Lisa Reigel, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31885/31885-h/31885-h.htm#Page_36

Who is Jesus?

Jesus as God?                                        

The suggestion that Jesus is not, according to the Bible, “very God of very God” is likely to prove startling to those accustomed to the widely held views of the major denominations. It is not generally known that many students of the Bible throughout the ages, including a considerable number of contemporary scholars, have not concluded that Scripture describes Jesus as “God” with a capital “G.”
A difference of opinion on such a fundamental issue should challenge all of us to an examination of the important question of Jesus’ identity. If our worship is to be, as the Bible demands, “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), it is clear that we will want to understand what the Bible discloses about Jesus and his relationship to his Father. Scripture warns us that it is possible to fall into the trap of believing in “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4)—a “Jesus” other than the one revealed in the Bible as God’s Son, the Messiah promised by the prophets of the Old Testament.
It is a striking fact that Jesus never referred to himself as “God.”Equally remarkable is the New Testament’s use of the word “God”—in Greek ho theos—to refer to the Father alone, some 1325 times. In sharp contrast, Jesus is called “god” [judges, prophets , even Satan 2Co 4:4] in a handful of texts only—perhaps no more than two. Why this impressive difference in New Testament usage, when so many seem to think that Jesus is no less “God” than his Father?

Old Testament Monotheism Confirmed by Jesus and Paul

Readers of Scripture in the 20th century may not easily appreciate the strength of the monotheism—belief in one God—which was the first principle of all Old Testament teaching about God. The Jews were prepared to die for their conviction that the true God was a single Person. Any idea of plurality in the Godhead was rejected as dangerous idolatry. The Law and the Prophets had repeatedly insisted that only one was truly God, and no one could have envisaged “distinctions” within the Godhead once he had committed to memory texts like the following (quoted from the New American Standard Bible):
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one LORD!” (Deut. 6:4).
“Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:10).
“Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me” (Isa. 43:10).
“I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22).
“I am God, and there is no one like Me” (Isa. 46:9).
Examples of strictly monotheistic statements can be multiplied from the Old Testament. The important fact to observe is that Jesus, as founder of Christianity, confirmed and reinforced the Old Testament insistence that God is one. According to the records of his teaching compiled by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus said nothing at all to disturb belief in the absolute oneness of God. When a scribe (a theologian) quoted the famous words, “God is one, and there is none else besides him,” Jesus commended him because he had “spoken intelligently” and was “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:29-34).
In John’s account of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus equally confirmed the unrestricted monotheism of his Jewish heritage in words which cannot be misunderstood. He spoke of God, his Father, as “the one who alone is God” (John 5:44) and “the only true God” (John 17:3). Throughout his recorded discourses he referred the word “God” to the Father only. Not once did he ever say that he was God, a notion which would have sounded both absurd and blasphemous. Jesus’ unitary monotheistic phrases in John 5:44 and 17:3 are echoes of the Old Testament view of God as one unique Person. We can easily discern the Jewish and Old Testament orthodoxy of Paul who spoke of his Christian belief in “one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6) and the “one God” as distinct from the “one mediator between God and man, Messiah Jesus, himself man” (1 Tim. 2:5). For both Jesus and Paul, God was a single uncreated Being, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Even after Jesus had been exalted to the right hand of the Father, the Father is still, in Jesus’ own words, his God (Rev. 3:12).
We may summarize our discussion so far by quoting the words of L.L. Paine, at one time Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Bangor Theological Seminary:
“The Old Testament is strictly monotheistic. God is a single personal being. The idea that a Trinity is to be found there or even in any way shadowed forth, is an assumption that has long held sway in theology, but is utterly without foundation. The Jews, as a people, under its teachings became stern opponents of all polytheistic tendencies and they have remained unflinching monotheists to this day. On this point there is no break between the Old Testament and the New. The monotheistic tradition is continued. Jesus was a Jew, trained by Jewish parents in the Old Testament Scriptures. His teaching was Jewish to the core; a new Gospel indeed, but not a new theology. He declared that He came ‘not to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill’ them, and He accepted as His own belief the great text of Jewish monotheism: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.’ His proclamation concerning Himself was in line with Old Testament prophecy. He was the ‘Messiah’ of the promised Kingdom, the ‘Son of Man’ of Jewish hope…If He sometimes asked ‘Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?’ He gave no answer beyond the implied assertion of Messiahship” (A Critical History of the Evolution of Trinitarianism, 1900, pp. 4, 5).
The strength of Jewish feeling about monotheism is well illustrated by the following quotations:
Ezra D. Gifford, in The True God, the True Christ, and the True Holy Spirit, says: “The Jews themselves sincerely resent the implication that their Scriptures contain any proof, or any intimation of the doctrine of the orthodox Trinity, and Jesus and “The belief that God is made up of several personalities such as the Christian belief in the Trinity is a departure from the pure conception of the unity of God. Israel has throughout the ages rejected everything that marred or obscured the conception of pure monotheism it has given the world, and rather than admit any weakening of it, Jews are prepared to wander, to suffer, to die” (Rabbi J.H. Hertz). The Jews never differed on this subject, both maintaining that God is One only, and that this is the greatest truth revealed to man.”
If we examine the recorded teachings of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, remembering that these documents represent the understanding of the apostolic church in the 60s-80s AD, we will find not a hint that Jesus believed himself to be an uncreated being who had existed from eternity. Matthew and Luke trace the origin of Jesus to a special act of creation by God when the Messiah’s conception took place in the womb of Mary. It was this miraculous event which marked the beginning—the genesis, or origin—of Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 1:18, 20). Nothing at all is said of an “eternal Sonship,” implying that Jesus had been alive as a Son before his conception. That idea was introduced into Christian circles after the New Testament documents had been completed. It does not belong to the thought world of the biblical writers.

Whoever Said the Messiah Was God?

Most readers of Scripture approach the divine records with a well-established set of assumptions. They are unaware of the fact that much of what they understand about Jesus is derived from theological systems devised by writers outside the Bible. In this way they readily accept a large dose of tradition, while claiming and believing that the Bible is their sole authority.
The crucial question we must answer is this: On what basis did Jesus and the early church claim that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah? The answer is plain. It was by contending that he perfectly fulfilled the role which the Old Testament had predicted of him. It had to be demonstrated that he fit the “specifications” laid out for the Messiah in Hebrew prophecy. Matthew, particularly, delights in quoting the Old Testament as it was fulfilled in the facts of Jesus’ life and experience (Matt. 1:23; 2:6, 15, etc). But Mark, Luke, and John and Peter (in the early chapters of Acts) equally insist that Jesus exactly fits the Old Testament description of the Messiah. Paul spent much of his ministry demonstrating from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus was the promised Christ (Acts 28:23). Unless Jesus’ identity could be matched with the Old Testament description of him, there would be no good reason to believe that his claim to Messiahship was true!
It is essential to ask, therefore, whether the Old Testament anywhere suggests that the Messiah was to be “coequal God,” a second uncreated being who abandons an eternal existence in heaven in order to become man. If it does not say anything like this (and remembering that the Old Testament is concerned even with minute details about the coming Messiah) we will have to treat as suspicious the claims of anyone saying that Jesus is both Messiah and an uncreated, second eternal Person of the Godhead, claiming the title “God” in the full sense.
What portrait of the Messiah is drawn by the Hebrew Scriptures? When the New Testament Christians seek to substantiate Jesus’ claim to Messiahship they are fond of quoting Deuteronomy 18:18:
“I will raise up a Prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put my words into his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him.” Both Peter (Acts 3:22) and Stephen (Acts 7:37) used this primary text to show that Jesus was “that promised prophet” (John 6:14), whose origin would be in an Israelite family and whose function would be similar to that of Moses. In Jesus, God had raised up the Messiah, the long-promised divine spokesman, the Savior of Israel and the world. In Peter’s words, “God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).
Other classic Messianic texts promised that “a son will be born to Israel” (Isa. 9:6), the “seed of a woman” (Gen. 3:15), a descendant of Abraham (Gal. 3:16), and a descendant of David’s royal house (2 Sam. 7:14-16; Isa. 11:1). He would be a ruler born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:6; Micah 5:2). Of his several titles one would be “mighty god” and another, “everlasting father” (Isa. 9:6). It is this single text in Isaiah 9:6 which might appear to put the Messiah into a category of uncreated beings, though this would of course provoke a crisis for monotheism. However, the sensitive reader of Scripture will be aware that a single text should not be allowed to overthrow the Old Testament’s insistence that only one Person is truly God. It should not be forgotten that the sacred oracles were committed to the Jews, none of whom thought that a divine title given to the Messianic King meant that he was a member of an eternal Godhead, now composed suddenly and mysteriously of two Persons, in contradiction of all that the heritage of Israel had stood for. The “mighty god” of Isaiah 9:6 is defined by the leading Hebrew lexicon as “divine hero, reflecting the divine majesty.” The same authority records that the word “god” used by Isaiah is applied elsewhere in Scripture to “men of might and rank,” as well as to angels. As for “eternal father,” this title was understood by the Jews as “father of the coming age.” It was widely recognized that a human figure could be “father to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem” (Isa. 22:21).
In Psalm 45 the “ideal” Messianic King is addressed as “god,” but there is no need whatever to assume that Jewish monotheism has therefore been compromised. The word (in this case elohim) was applied not only to the one God but “to divine representatives at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power” (Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Brown, Driver, and Briggs, pp. 42, 43). The Psalmist, and the writer to the Hebrews who quoted him (Heb. 1:8) were conscious of their specialized use of the word “god” to describe the Messianic King and quickly added that the Messiah’s God had granted him his royal privileges (Ps. 45:7).
Even the frequently quoted text in Micah 5:2 about the origins of Messiah does not necessitate any kind of literal, eternal pre-existence. In the same book a similar expression dates the promises made to Jacob from “days of old” (Micah 7:20).5 Certainly the promises of Messiah had been given at an early moment in the history of man (Gen. 3:15; cp. Gen. 49:10; Num. 24:17-19).
Approaching the question of Jesus’ Messiahship as he and the apostles do, we find nothing at all in the Old Testament predictions about the Christ which suggests that an eternal immortal being was to become human as the promised King of Israel. That King was to be born in Israel, a descendant of David, and conceived by a virgin (2 Sam. 7:13-16; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). And so, during the reign of Emperor Augustus, the Messiah arrived on the scene.

The Son of God

The source of much longstanding confusion about Jesus’ identity is the assumption drawn from years of traditional thinking that the title “Son of God” must mean in the Scriptures an uncreated being, the member of an eternal Godhead. That notion cannot possibly be traced to the Scriptures. It is a testimony to the power of theological indoctrination that this idea persists so stubbornly. In the Bible “Son of God” is an alternative and virtually synonymous title for the Messiah. Thus John dedicates his whole gospel to one dominant theme, that we believe and understand “that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” (John 20:31). The basis for equating these titles is found in a favourite Old Testament passage in Psalm 2:
“The rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Messiah” whom He has installed as King in Jerusalem (v. 6), and of whom He says: “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten thee. Ask of Me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance” (vv. 7, 8). Jesus does not hesitate to apply the whole Psalm to himself, and sees in it a prediction of his and his followers’ future rulership over the nations (Rev. 2:26, 27).
Peter makes the same equation of Messiah and Son of God, when by divine revelation he affirms his belief in Jesus:
“Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).
The high priest asks Jesus:
“Are you the Messiah, the Son of the blessed One?” (Mark 14:61).
Nathaniel understands that the Son of God is none other than the King of Israel (John 1:49), the Messiah (v. 41), “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote” (v. 45; cp. Deut. 18:15-18).
The title “Son of God” is applied also in Scripture to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Gen. 6:2, 4; Ps. 29:1; 89:6; Dan. 3:25), to Adam (Luke 3:38), to the nation of Israel (Exod. 4:22), to kings of Israel as representing God, and in the New Testament to Christians (John 1:12). We would search in vain to find any application of this title to an uncreated being, a member of the eternal Godhead. This idea is simply absent from the biblical idea of divine Sonship.
Luke knows very well that Jesus’ divine Sonship is derived from his conception in the womb of a virgin; he knows nothing at all of any eternal origin: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason the holy thing which is begotten will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The Psalmist had ascribed the Messiah’s Sonship to a definite moment of time—“today” (Ps. 2:7). The Messiah was begotten around 3 BC (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35). His begetting is thus related to his appearance in history (Acts 13:33, not KJV), when God became his Father (Heb. 1:5; 1 John 5:18, not KJV).
Here, clearly presented by the Scriptures which Jesus recognized as God’s Word, are the biblical ideas of Jesus’ Sonship. It is to be dated from Jesus’ conception, his resurrection, or from his appointment to kingship. Luke’s view of Sonship agrees exactly with the hope for the birth of the Messiah from the woman, a descendant of Adam, Abraham, and David (Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:38). The texts we have examined contain no information about a personal pre-existence for the Son in eternity.

The Son of Man, the Lord at God’s Right Hand

The title “Son of Man” was frequently used by Jesus to refer to himself. Like “Son of God” it is closely associated with Messiahship; so much so that when Jesus solemnly affirms that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, he adds in the same breath that the high priest will see “the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61, 62). The title “Son of Man” is most fully described in Daniel 7:13, 14, where a human figure (a “Son of Man”) receives the right to world dominion from the Father. The parallel with Psalm 2 is obvious, as well as the close connection with Psalm 110, where David refers to his “lord” (the Messiah) who is to sit at the Lord’s (the Father’s) right hand until he takes up his office as world governor and “rules in the midst of his enemies” (Ps. 110:2; cp. Matt. 22:42-45). The Son of Man has an equally clear Messianic connection in Psalm 80:17: “Let your hand be upon your right-hand man, upon the Son of Man whom you made strong for yourself.”
It is significant that the New Testament writers lay the greatest stress on Psalm 110, citing it some 23 times and applying it to Jesus, who had been by that time exalted as Messianic Lord to immortality at the right hand of the Father just as the Psalmist had foreseen. Once again we must recognize that eternal Sonship is alien to all the descriptive titles of the Messiah. This startling fact should lead Bible students everywhere to compare what they have been taught about Jesus with the Jesus presented by Scripture. It would appear that an eternal Son will not match the Bible’s account of the Messiah. In opting for a Jesus who is an eternal being passing through a temporary life on earth, many seem, so to speak, to have “got the wrong man.”

Jesus Claimed NOT to Be God

In the Gospel of John the identity of Jesus is a principal theme. John wrote, as he tells us, with one primary purpose: to convince his readers that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God” (20:31). According to John, Jesus carefully distinguished himself from the Father who is “the only true God” (17:3; cp. 5:44; 6:27). If we are to find in John’s record a proof that Jesus is “coequal” God, in the Trinitarian sense, we would be discovering something which John did not intend and, in view of his Jewish heritage, would not have understood! Alternatively, we would have to admit that John introduces a brand new picture of Messiahship which contradicts the Old Testament and overthrows John’s (and Jesus’) own insistence that only the Father is truly God (John 5:44; 17:3). Such a glaring self-contradiction is hardly probable.7
It is high time that we allow Jesus to set the record straight. In Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s accounts we are told that Jesus explicitly subscribed to the strict monotheism of the Old Testament (Mark 12:28-34). Did he therefore, according to John, confuse the issue by claiming after all to be God? The answer is given plainly in John 10:34-36 where Jesus defined his status in terms of the human representatives of God in the Old Testament. Jesus gave this account of himself in explanation of what it means to be “one with the Father” (10:30). It is a oneness of function by which the Son perfectly represents the Father. That is exactly the Old Testament ideal of sonship, which had been imperfectly realized in the rulers of Israel, but would find perfect fulfilment in the Messiah, God’s chosen King.
The argument in John 10:29-38 is as follows: Jesus began by claiming that he and the Father were “one.” It was a oneness of fellowship and function which on another occasion he desired also for his disciples’ relationship with him and the Father (John 17:11, 22). The Jews understood him to be claiming equality with God. This gave Jesus an opportunity to explain himself. What he was actually claiming, so he says, was to be “Son of God” (v. 36), a recognized synonym for Messiah. The claim to sonship was not unreasonable, Jesus argued, in view of the well-known fact that even imperfect representatives of God had been addressed by Him in the Old Testament as “gods” (Ps. 82:6). Far from establishing any claim to eternal Sonship, he compared his office and function to that of the judges. He considered himself God’s representative par excellence since he was uniquely God’s Son, the one and only Messiah, supernaturally conceived, and the object of all Old Testament prophecy. There is absolutely nothing, however, in Jesus’ account of himself which interferes with Old Testament monotheism or requires a rewriting of the sacred text in Deuteronomy 6:4. Jesus’ self-understanding is strictly within the limits laid down by God’s authoritative revelation in Scripture. Otherwise his claim to be the Messiah would have been invalid. The Scriptures would have been broken.

John’s Jewish Language

Since Jesus expressly denied that he was God in John 10:34-36, it will be most unwise to think that he contradicted himself elsewhere. John’s Gospel should be examined with certain axiomatic principles firmly in mind. Jesus is distinct from “the only true God” (John 17:3). The Father alone is God (5:44). John wishes his readers to understand that all that he writes contributes to the one great truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 20:31). Jesus himself says, as we have seen, that the term “god” can be used of a human being representing God, but certainly does not imply “coequal Godship.” Jesus’ own self-designation is plainly “Son of God” (John 10:36). In John 10:24, 25 Jesus told them “plainly” that he was the Messiah, but they did not believe him.
Jesus states often that he has been “sent by God.” What the average reader hears in that phrase is not at all what John implies. John the Baptist was also “sent from God,” which does not mean that he preexisted his birth (John 1:6). Prophets in general are “sent” from God (Judges 6:8; Micah 6:4), and the disciples themselves are to be “sent” as Jesus was “sent” (John 17:18). “Coming down from heaven” need not mean descent from a previous life any more than Jesus’ “flesh, which is the bread which came down from heaven,” literally descended from the sky (John 6:50, 51). Nicodemus recognized that Jesus had “come from God” (John 3:2), but did not think of him as preexistent. Nor did the Jewish people, when they spoke of the prophet “who was to come into the world” (John 6:14; cp. Deut 18:15-18), mean that he was alive before his birth. James can say that “every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17).
“Coming down from heaven” is Jesus’ and the Jews’ graphic way of describing divine origin, which certainly belonged to Jesus through the virgin birth.
The “preexistence” statements in John (John 3:13; 6:62) are connected with the Son of Man, which means human being. The most that could be proved from these verses is that Jesus was a human being alive in heaven before he was born on earth! This sort of explanation is unnecessary, however, once it is noted that Daniel had 600 years earlier seen the Son of Man in vision seated at the right hand of the Father, a position which the New Testament says Jesus gained by resurrection and ascension. As Messiah, Jesus saw himself in the role of the one who was later to be exalted to heaven, since this, according to Daniel’s inspired vision, was the destiny of the Messiah prior to his second coming in glory. Jesus does indeed “preexist” his future return to the earth. All this had been seen in advance by Daniel before the birth of the Messiah. Thus Jesus expected to ascend to the right hand of the Father where he had been seen before in vision as an exalted human being—Son of Man (John 6:62). To say that Jesus was actually at the Father’s throne in heaven as a human being before his birth in Bethlehem is to misunderstand both John and Daniel. Jesus had to be born before anything predicted of him in the Old Testament could take place!

Glory Before Abraham

Jesus found his own history written in the Hebrew Scriptures (Luke 24:27). The role of the Messiah was clearly outlined there. Nothing in the divine record had suggested that Old Testament monotheism would be radically disturbed by the appearance of the Messiah. A mass of evidence will support the proposition that the apostles never for one moment questioned the absolute oneness of God, or that the appearance of Jesus created any theoretical problem about monotheism. It is therefore destructive of the unity of the Bible to suggest that in one or two texts in John, Jesus overturned his own creedal statement that the Father was “the only true God” (17:3), or that he took himself far outside the category of human being by speaking of a conscious existence from eternity. Certainly his prayer for the glory which he had had before the world began (17:5) can be easily understood as the desire for the glory which had been prepared for him in the Father’s plan. The glory which Jesus intended for the disciples had also been “given” (John 17:22, 24), but they had not yet received it.
It was typical of Jewish thinking that anything of supreme importance in God’s purpose—Moses, the Law, repentance, the Kingdom of God and the Messiah—had “existed” with God from eternity. In this vein John can speak of the crucifixion having “happened” before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8, KJV). Peter, writing late in the first century, still knows of Jesus’ “preexistence” only as an existence in the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:20). His sermons in the early chapters of Acts reflect exactly the same view.
But what of the favorite proof text in John 8:58 that Jesus existed before Abraham? Does Jesus after all confuse everything by saying on the one hand that the Father alone is the “only true God” (17:3, 5:44)—and that he himself is not God, but the Son of God (John 10:36)—and on the other hand that he, Jesus, is also an uncreated being? Does he define his status within the recognizable categories of the Old Testament (John 10:36; Ps. 82:6; 2:7) only to pose an insoluble riddle by saying that he had been alive before the birth of Abraham? Is the Trinitarian problem, which has never been satisfactorily resolved, to be raised because of a single text in John? Would it not be wiser to read John 8:58 in the light of Jesus’ later statement in 10:36, and the rest of Scripture?
In the thoroughly Jewish atmosphere which pervades the Gospel of John it is most natural to think that Jesus spoke in terms that were current amongst those trained in the rabbinical tradition. In a Jewish context, asserting “preexistence” does not mean that one is claiming to be an uncreated being! It does, however, imply that one has absolute significance in the divine plan. Jesus is certainly the central reason for creation. But the one God’s creative activity and his plan for salvation were not manifested in a unique created being, the Son, until Jesus’ birth. The person of Jesus originated when God’s self-expression took form in a human being (John 1:14).
It is a well-recognized fact that the conversations between Jesus and the Jews were often at cross purposes. In John 8:57 Jesus had not in fact said, as the Jews seemed to think, that he had seen Abraham, but that Abraham had rejoiced to see Messiah’s day (v. 56). The patriarch was expecting to arise in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:24; Matt. 8:11) and take part in the Messianic Kingdom. Jesus was claiming superiority to Abraham, but in what sense?
As the “Lamb of God” he had been “crucified before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8, KJV; 1 Pet. 1:20)—not, of course, literally, but in God’s plan. In this way also Jesus “was” before Abraham. Thus Abraham could look forward to the coming of the Messiah and his Kingdom. The Messiah and the Kingdom therefore “preexisted” in the sense that they were “seen” by Abraham through the eyes of faith.
The expression “I am” in John 8:58 positively does not mean “I am God.” It is not, as so often alleged, the divine name of Exodus 3:14, where Yahweh declared: “I am the self-existent One” (ego eimi o ohn). Jesus nowhere claimed that title. The proper translation of ego eimi [I egw am eimi] in John 8:58 is “I am he,” i.e., the promised Christ (cp. the same expression in John 4:26, “I who speak to you am he [the Christ]”). Before Abraham was born Jesus had been “foreknown” (cp. 1 Pet. 1:20). Jesus here makes the stupendous claim to absolute significance in God’s purpose.

The Logos in John 1:1

There is no reason, other than force of habit, to understand the “word” in John 1:1 to mean a second divine person, before the birth of Jesus.A similar personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22, 30 and Luke 11:49 does not mean that “she” is a second person. There is no possible way of accommodating a “second divine Person” in the revealed Godhead as John and Jesus understood it. The Father remains, as He always has been, “the only true God” (17:3), “the one who alone is God” (5:44).
Reading the term logos (“word”) from an Old Testament perspective we will understand it to be God’s activity in creation, His powerful life-giving command by which all things came into existence (Ps. 33:6-12). God’s word is the power by which His purposes are furthered (Isa. 55:11). If we borrow from elsewhere in the New Testament we will equate the word with the creative salvation message, the gospel. This is the meaning throughout the New Testament (Matt. 13:19; Gal. 6:6, etc.).
It is this complex of ideas which go to make up the significance of logos, the “word.” “Through it all things were made and nothing was made without it” (John 1:3). In John 1:14 the word materializes in a real human being having a divine origin in his supernatural conception. From this moment, in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4), the one God expresses Himself in a new creation, the counterpart of the original creation in Adam. Jesus’ conception and birth mark a new unprecedented phase of God’s purpose in history. As the second Adam, Jesus sets the scene for the whole program of salvation. He pioneers the way to immortality. In him God’s purpose is finally revealed in a human being (Heb. 1:1).
All this does not mean, however, that Jesus gave up one life for another. That would seriously disturb the parallel with Adam who was also “Son of God” by direct creation (Luke 3:38). It would also interfere with the pure monotheism revealed throughout the Scriptures which “cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Rather, God begins to speak to us in the first century AD in a new Son, His last word to the world (Heb. 1:1). It is the notion of an eternally existing Son which so violently disrupts the biblical scheme, challenging monotheism and threatening the real humanity of Jesus (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).
This understanding of Jesus in John’s Gospel will bring John into harmony with his fellow apostles and the monotheism of the Old Testament will be preserved intact. The facts of church history show that the unrestricted monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures was soon after New Testament times abandoned under the influence of alien Greek ideas. At the same time the predetermined framework for Messiahhood was forgotten, and with it the reality of the future Messianic Kingdom. The result was years of conflict, still unresolved, over how an already existing second divine Person could be combined with a fully human being in a single individual. The concept of literal preexistence for the Messiah is the intruding idea, the part of the Christological puzzle which will not fit. Without it a clear picture of Jesus emerges within the terms of the Hebrew revelation and the teachings of the apostles. God, the Father, remains indeed the only true God, the one who alone is God (John 17:3; 5:44) and the oneness of Jesus with his Father is found in a unity of function performed by one who is truly the Son, as the Bible everywhere else understands that term (John 10:36). If Christianity is to be revived and unified it will have to be on the basis of belief in Jesus, the Messiah of the Bible, unspoiled by the misleading speculations of the Greeks who displayed very little sympathy for the Hebrew world into which Christianity was born.

The “Divinity” of Jesus

To say that Jesus is not God is not to deny that he is uniquely invested with the divine nature. Divinity is, so to speak, “built in” to him by virtue of his unique conception under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as well as by the Spirit which dwelt in him in full measure (John 3:34). Paul recognizes that the “fullness of the Godhead dwells in him” (Col. 1:19; 2:9). In seeing the man Jesus we see the glory of his Father (John 1:14). We perceive that God Himself was “in the Messiah reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). The Son of God is therefore the pinnacle of God’s creation, the full expression of the divine character in a human being. Though the glory of the Father had been manifested, to a much less degree, in Adam (Ps. 8:5; cp. Gen. 1:26), in Jesus the Father’s will is fully explained (John 1:18, NASB).
None of what Paul says about Jesus takes him out of the category of human being. The presence of God which dwelt in the temple did not turn the temple into God! It is seldom observed that a high degree of “divinity” is ascribed by Paul also to the Christian who has the spirit of Messiah dwelling in him (Eph. 3:19). As “God was in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:19), so Christ was “in Paul” (Gal. 2:20), and he prays that the Christians may be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 1:23; 3:19). Peter speaks of the faithful having the “divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). What is true of the Christian is true to a much higher degree of Jesus who is “the pioneer” leading others through the process of salvation after successfully “completing the course” himself (Heb. 2:10).

In the Form of God

Despite the massive evidence from the New Testament showing that the apostles always distinguished Jesus from the “one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6), many confidently find the traditional view of Jesus as a second uncreated being, fully God, in Philippians 2:5-11. It is something of a paradox that the writer on Christology in the Dictionary of the Apostolic Church can say that “Paul never gives to Christ the name or description of ‘God,’” but nevertheless finds in Philippians 2 a description of Christ’s eternal “pre-life” in heaven.
A recent and widely acclaimed study of the biblical view of Jesus—Christology in the Making, by James Dunn—alerts us to the danger of reading into Paul’s words the conclusions of a later generation of theologians, the “fathers” of the Greek church in the centuries following the completion of the New Testament writings. The tendency to find in Scripture what we already believe is natural, since none of us can easily face the threatening possibility that our “received” understanding does not coincide with the Bible. (The problem is even more acute if we are involved in teaching or preaching the Bible.)
However, are we not demanding of Paul more than he could possibly give by asking him to present us, in a few brief phrases, with an eternal being other than the Father? This would so obviously threaten the strict monotheism which he everywhere else expresses so clearly (1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6; 1Tim. 2:5). It would also raise the whole Trinitarian problem of which Paul, brilliant theologian as he was, is quite unaware.
Looking afresh at Philippians 2, we must ask the question whether Paul in these verses has really made what would be his only allusion to Jesus having been alive before his birth. The context of his remarks shows him urging the saints to be humble. It has often been asked whether it is in any way probable that he would enforce this lesson by asking his readers to adopt the frame of mind of one who, having been eternally God, made the decision to become man. It might also be strange for Paul to refer to the preexistent Jesus as Jesus the Messiah, thus reading back into eternity the name and office he received at birth.
Paul can be readily understood in Philippians 2 in terms of a favorite theme: Adam Christology. It was Adam who was in the image of God as God’s son (Gen. 1:26; Luke 3:38), while Jesus, the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) was also in the form of God (the two words “image” and “form” can be interchanged).17 However, whereas Adam, under the influence of Satan, grasped at equality with God (“You will be as God,” Gen. 3:5), Jesus did not. Though he had every right to divine office since he was the Messiah reflecting the divine Presence, he did not consider equality with God something to be “clutched at.” Instead he gave up all privileges, refusing Satan’s offer of power over the world’s kingdoms (Matt 4:8-10), and behaved throughout his life as a servant, even to the point of going to a criminal’s death on the cross.
In response to this life of humility God has now exalted Jesus to the status of Messianic Lord at the right hand of the Father, as Psalm 110 predicted. Paul does not say that Jesus was regaining a position which he had temporarily given up. He appears rather to have gained his exalted office for the first time following his resurrection. Though he had all his life been the Messiah, his position was publicly confirmed when he was “made both Lord and Messiah” by being raised from the dead (Acts 2:36; Rom. 1:4). If we read Paul’s account of Jesus’ life in this way as a description of the Lord’s continuous self-denial a close parallel will be seen with another of his commentaries on Jesus’ career. “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9). While Adam had fallen, Jesus voluntarily “stepped down.”
The traditional reading of the Philippians 2 passage depends almost entirely on understanding Jesus’ condition “in the form of God” as a reference to a preexistent life in heaven. Translations have done much to bolster this view. The verb “was” in the phrase “was in the form of God” occurs frequently in the New Testament and by no means carries the sense of “existing in eternity,” though some versions try to force that meaning into it. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says that a man ought not to cover his head since he is in the image and glory of God. The verb here is no different from the “was” describing Jesus as in the form of God. If ordinary man is in God’s glory and image, how much more Jesus, who is the perfect human representative of God in whom all the attributes of the divine nature dwelt (Col. 2:9). Paul’s intention in Philippians 2 is not to introduce the vast subject of an eternal divine being who became man, but to teach a simple lesson in humility. We are to have the same attitude as Jesus, to think as he did. We are not being asked to imagine ourselves as eternal divine beings about to surrender Godhood in order to come to the earth as men.
It is not widely known that many have had serious reservations about reading Philippians 2 as a statement about preexistence. A former Regius Professor of Divinity wrote in 1923: “Paul is begging the Philippians to cease from dissensions, and to act with humility towards each other. In 2 Corinthians 8:9 he is exhorting his readers to be liberal in almsgiving. It is asked whether it would be quite natural for him to enforce these two simple moral lessons by incidental references (and the only reference that he ever makes) to the vast problem of the mode of the incarnation. And it is thought by many that his homely appeals would have more effect if he pointed to the inspiring example of Christ’s humility and self-sacrifice in his human life, as in 2 Corinthians 10:1: ‘I exhort you by the meekness and forbearance of Christ.’” The second Adam, unlike the first, submits himself entirely to the will of God and in consequence receives the highest exaltation.

Head of the New Creation

The parallel between Adam and Jesus forms the basis of Paul’s thinking about the Messiah. Christ bears the same relationship to the new creation, the church, as Adam did to the creation begun in Genesis. Beginning with Jesus, humanity makes a new start. In Jesus as representative man, the new Adam, society begins all over again. This correspondence is seriously disturbed if Jesus after all did not originate as a man. As Adam is created a “Son of God” (Luke 3:38), so Jesus’ conception constitutes him “Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Certainly Adam is of the earth (1 Cor. 15:47) while Jesus is the “man from heaven,” not, according to Paul, coming from heaven at his birth, but at his second coming to raise the faithful dead (1 Cor. 15:45). At this point we see the flaw in the traditional ideas about preexistence. The movement of Christ from heaven to earth centres in Paul’s mind on the Parousia (second coming). In later thinking the centre of interest was transferred to his birth. Thus, curiously, the traditional scheme looks backwards into history, while the Bible orients us primarily towards the Messiah’s future coming in glory.
It is as head of the new creation and the centre of God’s cosmic purpose that Paul describes Jesus in Colossians 1. His intention is to show the supreme position which Jesus has won through resurrection and his preeminence in the new order, as against the claims of rival systems of religion by which the Colossians were being threatened. All authorities were created “in Christ” (Col. 1:16). So Jesus had claimed also: “All power in heaven and earth is mine” (Matt. 28:18). “All things” here means for Paul the intelligent, animate creation consisting of “thrones, dominion, rulers or authorities,” which were created “in Christ,” “through Christ” (not “by”) and “for Christ.” It is his Kingdom which Paul has in mind (Col. 1:13). Jesus is the firstborn of every creature as well as the firstborn from the dead (vv. 15, 18).19 The term “firstborn” designates him the leading member of the new created order as well as its source, a position which he attained by being the first to receive immortality through resurrection. John, in Revelation 3:14, similarly calls Jesus “the beginning of the creation of God,” which most naturally means that he himself was part of the creation. That “firstborn” designates in the Bible the one who holds the supreme office can be shown from Psalm 89:27 where the “firstborn,” the Messiah, is the “highest of the kings of the earth,” one chosen like David from the people and exalted (Ps. 89:19). Again Paul has developed the Messianic concepts already well established by the Hebrew Scriptures.
In none of Paul’s statements are we compelled to find a “second, eternal divine being.” He presents us rather with the glorified second Adam, now raised to the divine office for which man was originally created (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 8). Jesus now represents the human race as the Head of the new order of humanity. He intercedes for us as supreme High Priest in the heavenly temple (Heb. 8:1). In ascribing such elevated titles to the risen Lord, there is no reason to think that Paul has infringed his own clear monotheism expressed in 1 Corinthians 8:6: “To us Christians, there is one God (theos) the Father, and one Lord (kurios, master) Jesus Christ.” Nothing in Colossians 1 forces us to believe that Paul, without warning, has parted company with Matthew, Mark, Luke, Peter, and John, and deviated from the absolute monotheism which he states so carefully and clearly elsewhere (1 Tim. 2:5; Eph 4:6), and which was deeply embedded in his whole theological background.

“The Inhabited Earth to Come of Which We Speak”

The writer to the Hebrews lays particular emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. He was tempted in all points as we are and yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15). God originally made the ages through (not “by”) the Son, with his destiny as Messiah in view (Heb. 1:2). After communicating with us in different ways and at different times through spokesmen in the past, God has now finally spoken to us in one who is truly Son (Heb. 1:2). The writer does not mean to tell us (what Jesus did not know, Mark 10:6) that Jesus had been the active agent in the Genesis creation. It was God who completed his work (Heb. 4:4, 10). It is God, also, who will yet introduce the Son into the “inhabitable earth of the future”: “When He again brings the Son into the world” (Heb. 1:6).
When the Messiah is reintroduced into the earth, a number of important statements about him will become history. Firstly, Messiah’s throne will be established (Heb. 1:8). (Compare, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, then he will sit on his throne of glory,” Matt. 25:31). As representing the divine majesty of the Father, the Messianic title “god” will be applied to Jesus, as it once was to the judges of Israel who foreshadowed the supreme Judge of Israel, the Messiah (Ps. 82:6). Another prophecy from Psalm 102:25 will also be realized in the coming kingdom of Messiah. The foundations of a new earth and a new heaven will be laid as Isaiah 51:16 and 65:17 foresee. Hebrews 1:10 can easily be misread to mean that the Lord (master) Messiah was responsible for the creation in Genesis. However, this overlooks the author’s quotation from the LXX of the thoroughly Messianic Psalm 102. Moreover, he specifically states that his series of truths about the Son refers to the time when he is “brought again” into the earth (Heb. 1:6). And in Hebrews 2:5 he tells us once again that it is the “inhabited earth of the future” of which he is speaking in chapter one. The writer must be allowed to provide his own commentary. His concern is with the Messianic Kingdom, not the creation in Genesis. Because we do not share the Messianic vision of the New Testament as we ought, our tendency is to look back rather than forward. We must attune ourselves to the thoroughly Messianic outlook of the entire Bible.

The Hebrew Background to the New Testament

It will be useful by way of summary and to orient ourselves to the thought world of the authors of the New Testament to lay out the principal passages of the Hebrew Scriptures from which they derived their unified understanding of the person of Christ. Nowhere can it be shown that the Messiah was to be an uncreated being, a fact which should cause us to look outside the Bible for the source of such a revolutionary concept.
The original purpose for man, made in the image and glory of God, was to exercise dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 8). That ideal is never lost beyond our recovery for the Psalmist speaks of the “glory” with which man has been (potentially) crowned so that “all things are to be subjected under his feet” (Ps. 8:5, 6). As the divine plan unfolds it becomes clear that the promised “seed of the woman” who is to reverse the disaster caused by Satan (Gen. 3:15) will be a descendant of David (2 Sam. 7:13-16). He will call God his Father (2 Sam. 7:14) and be appointed as God’s Son, the Messiah, to whom God entrusts rulership of the earth (Ps. 2). Prior to taking up his royal office, however, the Messiah is to sit at the right hand of the Father and bear the title “Lord” (Ps. 110:1). As Son of Man, representative man, he will take his place in heaven prior to receiving from God authority to administer a universal empire (Dan. 2:44; 7:14; Acts 3:20, 21). Having at his first coming suffered for the sins of the people (Isa. 53; Ps. 22), he is to come again as God’s firstborn, the ruler of the kings of the earth (Ps. 89:27), foreshadowed by David who was also chosen from the people (Ps. 89:19, 20).
As the second Moses, the Messiah was to arise in Israel (Deut. 18:18), deriving his divine Sonship from a supernatural birth from a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:35), and being confirmed as God’s Son through his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 26 1:4). As High Priest, the Messiah now serves his people from heaven (Heb. 8:1) and awaits the time of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21), when he is destined to be reintroduced into the earth as King of Kings, the divine figure of Psalm 45 (Heb. 1:6-8). At that time, in the new age of the Kingdom, he will rule with his disciples (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; 1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 20:4). As Adam heads the original creation of human beings on earth, so Jesus is the created Head of the New Order of humanity, in whom the ideals of the human race will be fulfilled (Heb. 2:7).
Within this Messianic framework the person and work of Jesus can be explained in terms understood by the apostles. Their purpose even when presenting the most “advanced” Christology is to proclaim belief in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God (John 20:31), who is the centre of God’s whole purpose in history (John 1:14). Though Jesus is obviously coordinated in a most intimate way with his Father, the latter remains the “only true God” of biblical monotheism (John 17:3). Jesus thus represents the presence of the one God, his Father. In the man Jesus, Immanuel, the one God is present with us (John 14:9).

From Son of God to God the Son

We have searched out the Jesus of the Bible by assembling the various strands of the data revealed in the inspired records. The picture that emerges is different from the picture presented by traditional Christianity in that the person of Christ we have described does not complicate the first principle of biblical faith, namely belief in one who alone is truly and absolutely God (John 17:3; 5:44).
It is easy to see how the biblical Messiah became “God the Son” of the post-biblical theologians. It was possible only when the essential Messianism of the Bible was gradually suppressed. The term “Son of God,” which in Scripture is a purely Messianic title describing the glory of man in intimate fellowship with the Father, was from the second century misunderstood and reapplied to the divine nature of a God/Man. At the same time the designation “Son of Man,” no less a title of the Messiah as representative man, was made to refer to his human nature. In this way both titles, Son of God and Son of Man, were emptied of their original Messianic significance and their biblical meaning was lost. While the evidence of the Old Testament was largely rejected—as well as the evidence of the synoptic Gospels, Acts, Peter, James, and John in the book of Revelation—a series of verses in John’s Gospel and two or three in Paul’s epistles were reinterpreted to accommodate the new idea that Jesus was the second member of an eternal Trinity, coequally and coessentially God. That Jesus, however, is scarcely the Jesus of the biblical documents. He is another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4).

The Man and the Message Obscured

With the loss of the biblical meaning of Messiah went a parallel loss of the meaning of the Messianic Kingdom which is the center of all Jesus’ teaching and the heart of the gospel (Luke 4:43; Acts 8:12; 28:23, 31). The hope for the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom in a renewed earth, the theme of all Old Testament prophecy which Jesus came to confirm (Rom. 15:8), was replaced by the hope of “heaven when you die”; and a massive piece of propaganda convinced (and continues to convince) an uninstructed public that Jesus never believed in anything so “earthly,” political, or “unspiritual” as the Kingdom of God on earth.
The result of the radical changes which gradually overcame the outlook of the church (beginning as early as the second century) has been a loss of the central message of Jesus—the gospel about the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43; Acts 8:12; 28:23, 31)—as well as a misunderstanding about who he was. Churches are left in some embarrassment explaining how on the one hand Jesus was the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, while he is supposed to have rejected the Old Testament promises that the Messiah is coming to rule on the earth! The theory usually advanced is that Jesus upheld the Old Testament as far as it taught an ethical ideal of love, but rejected the prophets’ vision of a catastrophic divine intervention in history leading to a renewal of society on earth under the Kingdom of God. In short, Jesus is supposed to have claimed to be the Messiah, but at the same time to have eliminated all hope for the restoration of the theocracy for which his contemporaries longed.
There is no doubt at all that the faithful in Israel were indeed looking forward to the arrival of Messiah to rule on earth, but Jesus, so it has long been maintained, parted company with such “crude” expectations. The question as to why the Jews expected a concrete Messianic empire on earth is silently bypassed. If it were asked, the answer would obviously have to be that the Old Testament Scriptures had predicted it in every detail.
Churches will have to come to the realization that they are not playing fair with the Bible by allowing only the first act of the divine drama—the part which concerns the suffering and dying Messiah—while dismissing the second act, the future arrival of the Messiah as triumphant King, God’s envoy for creating an effective and lasting peace on earth. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and his present session at the right hand of the Father are only part of the triumph of God’s Son, as the New Testament understands it.
A serious and fundamental misconception underlies the traditional ways of thinking about Jesus’ role in history. It has to do with the Messiah’s political-theocratic function which is the principal ingredient of Messiahship. Until now, every effort has been made to sustain the belief, contrary to the most straightforward statements of Scripture, that Jesus’ promises to the church that it is to rule with him in the future Messianic Kingdom (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:28-30) are to be applied to the present era. What continues to be overlooked is that it is “when Jesus comes in his glory” at the end of the present age (Matt 25:31), “in the new age when he takes up his office as King” (Matt 19:28), that the church is to rule with him. Lest there should be the slightest doubt, the chorus of divine beings sing song of the church, drawn from every nation, whom God has constituted a line of kings and priests destined to “reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). The pure Messianism of Psalm 2 remains as strong as ever in Revelation 2:26 and 3:21, and these are Jesus’ very own words to the church (Rev. 1:1; 22:16). The Jesus of the Scriptures is none other than the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy and apocalyptic literature.
There is an urgent need for churchgoers to involve themselves in a personal investigation of the Scriptures unshackled by this or that creed at present so willingly accepted “on faith.” We will have to be honest enough to admit that majority opinions are not automatically the correct ones and that tradition, uncritically accepted, may have gone far in burying the original faith as Jesus and the apostles taught it. It may be that we should take seriously the observation of Canon H.L. Goudge when he wrote of the disaster which occurred “when the Greek and Roman rather than the Hebrew mind came to dominate the church.” It was “a disaster in doctrine and practice,” according to Canon Goudge, “from which the Church has never recovered.” Recovery can only begin when due notice is taken of John’s solemn warning that “there is no falsehood so great as the denial of the Messiahship of Jesus” (1 John 2:22). Jesus must be proclaimed as Messiah, with all that that highly colored term means in its biblical setting.

What the Scholars Admit

In an article on “Preaching Christ” (Dictionary of Christ and the Apostles, Vol. II, p. 394), James Denny says: “It is idle to say that Jesus is the Christ, if we do not know who or what Jesus is. It has no meaning to say that an unknown person is at God’s right hand, exalted and sovereign; the more ardently men believed that God had given them a Prince and Savior in this exaltation, the more eager would they be to know all that could possibly be known about him.”
This fine statement is followed by another valuable observation that “there is no preaching of Christ that does not rest on the basis on which the apostles’ preaching rested.”
What then did Jesus and the apostles preach?
“One of the ways in which Jesus represented his absolute significance for true religion was this: he regarded himself as the Messiah. The Messianic role was one which could be filled by only one person, and he himself was the person in question; he and no other was the Christ.” All this is excellent, but the thoughts which follow begin to reveal an uneasiness about the Messiahship of Christ, despite protestations to the contrary. “But is the Christ a conception which we in another age can make use of for some purpose? Only, it must be answered, if we employ the term with much latitude.” James Denny does not seem to be aware that he is about to undermine the biblical Messiahship of Jesus, and, since Jesus cannot be separated from his Messianic office, to obscure the identity of Jesus. He goes on: “It is certain that for those who first came to believe in Jesus as the Christ the name was much more definite than it is for us; it had a shape and color which it has no longer.” But this must imply that we have lost sight of what it means to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Denny gives the impression that we are now at liberty to make up our own idea of Messiahship, disregarding the biblical definition of it.
It was, however, precisely this tendency which brought disaster to the church soon after the death of the apostles. The church began to create its own conception of the Messiah, and in so doing lost touch with the Jesus of the Bible. Denny says that the term Messiah “had expectations connected with it which for us have lost the vitality which they once possessed.” Exactly; but why have they lost their meaning, if not because we have ceased to believe what the Bible tells us about the Messiah? “In particular,” says Denny, “the eschatological associations of the term Messiah have not for us the importance which they had for the first believers. In the teaching of Jesus these associations cluster round the title Son of Man…which is used as synonymous with the Christ…Nothing was more characteristic of primitive Christianity than the second coming of Jesus in the character of Christ. It was the very essence of what the early church meant by hope…our outlook on the future is different from theirs.”
On what authority is it different? Surely one cannot lay aside one of the most characteristic features of the Christianity of the Bible and continue to call what remains the same faith. It is this subtle departure from the characteristic hope of the early church which should signal for us the perilous difference between what we call Christianity and what the apostles understand by that name. It makes no sense to say that we are Christians if we have abandoned the essential characteristic of the New Testament conception of the Messiah in whom we claim to believe.
Denny is rightly suspicious of a tendency amongst scholars to “assume tacitly that it is a mistake to believe in Christ as those who first preached him believed. Such criticism makes it its business to make Jesus’ personality exactly like our own and his consciousness exactly what our own may be” (emphasis mine).
This is precisely our problem, but it is also Denny’s, who admits that “our outlook on the future is different from the apostles’.” But their outlook on the future was based upon their central understanding of Jesus as the Messiah, the ruler of the future Kingdom of God whose power was manifested in advance in Jesus’ ministry. By what possible logic can we give up the hope which was “the essential characteristic of apostolic Christianity” and still claim to be Christians? In this self-contradiction lies the great failure of churches to remain faithful to Jesus as Messiah. We have preferred our own outlook and our own view of Messiahship; and we have felt it appropriate to attach to our own idea the name of Jesus. Have we not thus created “another Jesus” after the image of our Gentile hearts?
A perusal of standard works on Christology reveals some remarkable admissions which may encourage the reader to conduct a personal quest for the Truth about Jesus. In an article on the Son of God, William Sanday, once professor of divinity at Oxford, asks the question whether there are any texts in the four Gospels which might lead us to the idea of Jesus as the “preexistent Son of God.” He concludes that all the statements about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the life of Christ on earth. There is not a single reference to his having been the Son of God before his birth. If we examine John’s Gospel “we have to look about somewhat for expressions that are free from ambiguity. Perhaps there are not any” (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. IV, p. 576, emphasis mine).
Here, then, is the statement of a leading expert to the effect that there may not be a single reference in all four Gospels to Jesus being the Son of God before his birth. Yet it remains a fact that the churches teach the eternal Sonship of Jesus as a basic and indispensable tenet of the faith.
Professor Sanday is left guessing why Matthew, Mark, and Luke know nothing about Jesus’ preexistence: “It is probable that the writers had not reflected upon the subject at all, and did not reproduce a portion of our Lord’s teaching upon it” (Ibid., p. 577). When he comes to the epistles Sanday can only conjecture that there might be a reference to a preexistent Son in Hebrews 1:1-3, but by no means necessarily. On Colossians 1:15 he says that “the leading idea in ‘firstborn’ is that of the legal rights of the firstborn, his precedence over all who are born after him.” He adds that “it seems wrong to exclude the idea of priority [in time] as well.” He concludes his remarks by quoting a German theologian as saying that “from the Old Testament and Rabbinism there is no road to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ” (i.e. that he is God). Professor Wernle maintained that “the title Son of God is strictly Jewish and that the further step from Son of God to God the Son was taken upon Gentile ground through lax ideas brought in by the converts from paganism” (Ibid., p. 577).
Statements of this kind show on what shaky ground the whole edifice of “preexistent Sonship” is built. The possibility must be squarely faced that the dogmatic statements about Jesus which date from post biblical times rely on their own authority rather than that of the apostles. The wisest course is to take our stand upon the dogmatic statements of the Scripture itself and to recognize with Jesus that “eternal life consists in this: that we may come to know the Father as the only true God and Jesus, the Messiah whom He sent” (John 17:3).

Jesus, the Man and Mediator

The Jesus presented by the apostles is not “God the Son.” This title appears nowhere in the Bible. Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, whose origin is to be traced to his miraculous conception (Luke 1:35). The one God of the Scriptures remains in the New Testament the one Person revealed in the Old Testament as the Creator God of Israel. Jesus, “himself man” (1 Tim. 2:5), mediates between the one God, the Father, and mankind. This Jesus can save “to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25). Any other Jesus must be avoided as a deceptive counterfeit—and it is all too easy to be “taken in” 2 Cor. 11:4:“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye receive a different spirit, which ye did not receive, or a different gospel, which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear with him.”

Messiah (adoni) & Adonai (Deity) are different:

The relationship between God and the Messiah is precisely indicated by the title given to the Messiah—adoni (Ps. 110:1). This form of the word “lord” invariably (all 195 occurrences) designates non-Deity figures in the OT. One of the most striking facts predicted of the Messiah is that he is definitely not God, but the Son of God. Psalm 110:1 is the NT’s master Christological proof-text, alluded to some 23 times. Adoni is to be carefully distinguished from adonai. Adonai in all of its 449 occurrences means the Deity. Adonai is not the word which appears in Psalm 110:1. This important distinction between God and man is a vital part of the sacred text, and is confirmed by Jesus himself in Matthew 22:41ff. It places the Messiah in the category of man, however elevated. Psalm 110:1 appears throughout the NT as a key text describing the status of the Messiah in relation to the One God (see Acts 2:34-36).
Adonai and Adoni (Ps. 110:1)
The NT’s Favorite Old Testament Proof-text
Why is the Messiah called adoni (my lord) and never adonai? (Lord God)
“Adonai and adoni are variations of Masoretic pointing to distinguish divine reference from human. Adonai is referred to God but Adoni to human superiors.
Adoni— Ps. 110:1 ref. to men: my lord, my master [see Ps. 110:1]
Adonai—ref. to God…Lord” (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, under adon [= lord], pp. 10, 11).
“The form ADONI (‘my lord’), a royal title (I Sam. 29:8), is to be carefully distinguished from the divine title ADONAI (‘my Lord’) used of Yahweh.” “ADONAI—the special plural form [the divine title] distinguishes it from adonai [with short vowel] = my lords [found in Gen. 19:2]” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Lord,” p. 157).
“Lord in the OT is used to translate ADONAI when applied to the Divine Being. The [Hebrew] word…has a suffix [with special pointing] presumably for the sake of distinction. Sometimes it is uncertain whether it is a divine or human appellative…The Masoretic Text sometimes decides this by a note distinguishing between the word when ‘holy’ or only ‘excellent,’ sometimes by a variation in the [vowel] pointing—adoni, adonai [short vowel] and adonai [long vowel]” (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, “Lord,” Vol. 3, p. 137).
“Hebrew Adonai exclusively denotes the God of Israel. It is attested about 450 times in the OT…Adoni [is] addressed to human beings (Gen. 44:7, Num. 32:25, II Kings 2:19 [etc.]). We have to assume that the word adonai received its special form to distinguish it from the secular use of adon [i.e., adoni]. The reason why [God is addressed] as adonai, [with long vowel] instead of the normal adon, adoni or adonai [with short vowel] may have been to distinguish Yahweh from other gods and from human lords” (Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, p. 531).
“The lengthening of the ā on Adonai [the Lord God] may be traced to the concern of the Masoretes to mark the word as sacred by a small external sign” (Theological Dictionary of the OT, “Adon,” p. 63 and Theological Dictionary of the NT, III, 1060ff, n. 109).
“The form ‘to my lord,’ l’adoni, is never used in the OT as a divine reference…the generally accepted fact [is] that the Masoretic pointing distinguishes divine references (adonai) from human references (adoni) (Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the OT, p. 22)” (Herbert Bateman, “Ps 110:1 and the NT,” Bibliothecra Sacra, Oct.-Dec., 1992, p. 438).
Professor Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh, celebrated author of a modern classic on Christology: “There is no question but that the terms Adonai and adoni function differently: the one a reverent way of avoiding pronouncing the word YHVH and the other the use of the same word for non-divine figures” (from correspondence, June 24th, 2000).

How Jesus Was Turned into God

The NT presents Jesus as the Christ, the Messianic Son of God. He functions as the agent and representative of Yahweh, his Father, the God of Israel. Jesus founded his church on the revelation that he is “the Messiah, Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:16). As Son of God he was supernaturally created or begotten (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35; Acts 13:33, not KJV; I John 5:18) in the womb of his mother. This constitutes him as uniquely the Son of God, the “only begotten,” or “uniquely begotten Son of God” (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) and the Lord Messiah (Luke 2:11), not the Lord God. Because he was begotten—brought into existence—he cannot by definition be eternal. Therefore the term “eternal Son” is an obvious non-sense expression. “Eternal” means you have no beginning. To be begotten means you have a beginning. All sons are begotten and so “God the Son” is a misleading title for Jesus, the Messiah. You cannot be the eternal God and the Son of God at the same time! The church fathers of the second century onwards, beginning probably with Justin Martyr, began to shift the history of the Son of God back into pre-history, thus distorting and eclipsing his true identity. They removed him from his status as the Head of the new human creation, the Second Adam. They minimized his real history and invented a cosmic pre-history for him. This destroyed his identity as the “man Messiah Jesus.” Later Origen invented a new meaning for the word “begotten” or “generated.” He called Jesus the “eternally generated” Son—a concept without meaning which contradicted the NT account of the actual “generation” or “begetting” of the Son around 2 BC.
This fundamental paradigm shift which gave rise to the awful “problem of the Trinity” is rightly traced by “restorationists” to those ante-Nicene Church Fathers who, using a middle-Platonic model, began to project the historical Jesus, the Messianic Son of God, back into pre-historical, ante-mundane times. They produced a metaphysical Son who replaced the Messianic Son/King described in the Bible—the Messianic Son whose existence was still future when he was predicted as the promised King by the covenant made with David (II Sam. 7:14, “he will be My [God’s] Son”). Hebrews 1:1-2 expressly says that God did not speak through a Son in OT times. That is because there was as yet no Messianic Son of God.
Professor Loofs described the process of the early corruption of biblical Christianity:
“The Apologists [‘church fathers’ like Justin Martyr, mid-2nd century] laid the foundation for the perversion/corruption (Verkehrung) of Christianity into a revealed [philosophical] teaching. Specifically, their Christology affected the later development disastrously. By taking for granted the transfer of the concept of Son of God onto the preexisting Christ, they were the cause of the Christological problem of the fourth century. They caused a shift in the point of departure of Christological thinking—away from the historical Christ and onto the issue of preexistence. They thus shifted attention away from the historical life of Jesus, putting it into the shadow and promoting instead the Incarnation [i.e., of a preexistent Son]. They tied Christology to cosmology and could not tie it to soteriology. The Logos teaching is not a ‘higher’ Christology than the customary one. It lags in fact far behind the genuine appreciation of Christ. According to their teaching it is no longer God who reveals Himself in Christ, but the Logos, the inferior God, a God who as God is subordinated to the Highest God (inferiorism or subordinationism).
“In addition, the suppression of economic-trinitarian ideas by metaphysical-pluralistic concepts of the divine triad (trias) can be traced to the Apologists” (Friedrich Loofs, Leitfaden zum Studium des Dogmengeschichte [Manual for the Study of the History of Dogma], 1890, part 1 ch. 2, section 18: “Christianity as a Revealed Philosophy. The Greek Apologists,” Niemeyer Verlag, 1951, p. 97, translation mine).
Those who are dedicated to restoring the identity of the biblical Jesus, Son of God, may take heart from the incisive words of a leading systematic theologian of our times. He restores the biblical meaning of the crucial title “Son of God,” rescuing it from the millennia-long obscurity it has suffered from Platonically-minded church fathers and theologians.
Professor Colin Brown, general editor of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, writes, “The crux of the matter lies in how we understand the term Son of God…The title Son of God is not in itself an expression of personal Deity or the expression of metaphysical distinctions within the Godhead. Indeed, to be a ‘Son of God’ one has to be a being who is not God! It is a designation for a creature indicating a special relationship with God. In particular, it denotes God’s representative, God’s vice-regent. It is a designation of kingship, identifying the king as God’s Son…In my view the term ‘Son of God’ ultimately converges on the term ‘image of God’ which is to be understood as God’s representative, the one in whom God’s spirit dwells, and who is given stewardship and authority to act on God’s behalf…It seems to me to be a fundamental mistake to treat statements in the Fourth Gospel about the Son and his relationship with the Father as expressions of inner-Trinitarian relationships. But this kind of systematic misreading of the Fourth Gospel seems to underlie much of social Trinitarian thinking…It is a common but patent misreading of the opening of John’s Gospel to read it as if it said, ‘In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was God’ (John 1:1). What has happened here is the substitution of Son for Word (Gk. logos) and thereby the Son is made a member of the Godhead which existed from the beginning” (“Trinity and Incarnation: Towards a Contemporary Orthodoxy,” Ex Auditu, 7, 1991, pp. 87-89).

The Church’s Confession

The church which Jesus founded is based upon the central confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). This confession is seriously distorted when a new unbiblical meaning is attached to the term “Son of God.” That such a distortion has occurred should be evident to students of the history of theology. Its effects are with us to this day. What is urgently needed is a return to the rock-confession of Peter, who, in the presence of Jesus (Matt. 16:16), the Jews (Acts 2; 3), and at the end of his ministry declared that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world, foreknown in the counsels of God but manifested in these last times (1 Peter 1:20). The stupendous fact of Jesus’ Messiahship is understood only by divine revelation (Matt. 16:17).
Christianity’s founding figure must be presented within the Hebrew-biblical framework. It is there that we discover the real, historical Jesus who is also the Jesus of faith. Outside that framework we invent “another Jesus” because his biblical descriptive titles have lost their original meanings (cp. 2 Cor. 11:4).
When Jesus’ titles are invested with a new unscriptural meaning, it is clear that they no longer convey his identity truthfully. When this happens the Christian faith is imperilled. Our task, therefore, must be to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah of the prophets’ vision, and we must mean by Messiah and Son of God what Jesus and the New Testament mean by these terms. The church can claim to be the custodian of authentic Christianity only when it speaks in harmony with the apostles and tells the world who Jesus is.
By Anthony Buzzard:
Courtesy:  http://focusonthekingdom.org      free PDF file
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Comments:
It is evident form the textural, historical and Biblical arguments that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, called son of God in the sense of closeness to God, not in literal sense. God is one, single with no subparts.  Mixing up Hebrew terms to draw different meanings prevalent among pagans of Roman empire 2000 years ago, did help spread of new faith among pagans but at the cost of real monotheistic teachings of Jesus Christ.  Anthony Buzzard has taken pains to unveil the real Jesus of Bible, the Christ not the God or God the Son. The scholarly references from the Bible, especially New Testament with explanation of original Greek terms Messiah (adoni) & Adonai (Deity) establish that Jesus, the Messiah (adoni) is different than God, Adonai (Deity). It is affirmed in Bible:
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)
‘When you pray, say Our Father which art in heaven.’ (Luke 11:2)
‘he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father’ (Matthew 26:39)
‘not my will but Yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42)
‘For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.’ (John 6:38)
Who was Jesus? It is clearly answered by Bible: ‘a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst.’ (Acts 2:22). Jesus said: ‘I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.’ (John 5:30)

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Adonai and Adoni (Psalm 110:1)

The Bible’s supreme proof text for telling the difference between the One God and the Messiah who is not God

This verse was referred to the Messiah by the Pharisees and by Jesus. It tells us that the relationship between God and Jesus is that of Deity and non-Deity. The Messiah is called adoni (my lord) and in every one of its 195 occurrences adoni (my lord) means a superior who is not God. Adonai on the other hand refers exclusively to the One God in all of its 449 occurrences. Adonai is the title of Deity and adoni never designates Deity.

If the Messiah were called Adonai this would introduce “two Gods” into the Bible and would be polytheism. Psalm 110:1 should guard us all against supposing that there are two who are God. In fact the Messiah is the supreme human being and agent of the One God. Psalm 110:1 is the Bible’s master text for defining the Son of God in relation to the One God, his Father.

Why is it that a number of commentaries misstate the facts about Psalm 110:1? They assert that the word for the Messiah in Psalm 110:1 is adonai. It is not. These commentaries seem to obscure a classic text defining God in relation to His Son. The Hebrew text assigns to the Messiah the title adoni which invariably distinguishes the one addressed from the Deity. The Messiah is the supreme human lord. He is not the Lord God (cp. I Tim. 2:5; I Cor. 8:4-6; Mark 12:28ff).

 Why is the Messiah called adoni (my lord) and never adonai (my Lord God)?

 Adonai and Adoni are variations of Masoretic pointing to distinguish divine reference from human.”

Adonai is referred to God but Adoni to human superiors.

Adoni — ref. to men: my lord, my master [see Ps. 110:1]

Adonai — ref. to God…Lord (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, under adon [= lord]).

“The form ADONI (‘my lord’), a royal title (I Sam. 29:8), is to be carefully distinguished from the divine title ADONAI (‘my Lord’) used of Yahweh.” “ADONAI— the special plural form [the divine title] distinguishes it from adonai  [with short vowel] = my lords” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Lord,” p. 157).

“Lord in the OT is used to translate ADONAI when applied to the Divine Being. The [Hebrew] word…has a suffix [with special pointing] presumably for the sake of distinction…between divine and human appellative” (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, “Lord,” Vol. 3, p. 137).

“Hebrew Adonai exclusively denotes the God of Israel. It is attested about 450 times in the OT…Adoni [is] addressed to human beings (Gen. 44:7, Num. 32:25, II Kings 2:19 [etc.]). We have to assume that the word adonai received its special form to distinguish it from the secular use of adon [i.e., adoni]. The reason why [God is addressed] as adonai, [with long vowel] instead of the normal adon, adoni or adonai [with short vowel] may have been to distinguish Yahweh from other gods and from human lords” (Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, p. 531).

“The lengthening of the ā on Adonai [the Lord God] may be traced to the concern of the Masoretes to mark the word as sacred by a small external sign” (Theological Dictionary of the OT, “Adon,” p. 63 and Theological Dictionary of the NT, III, 1060ff. n.109).

“The form ‘to my lord,’ l’adoni, is never used in the OT as a divine reference…the generally accepted fact that the masoretic pointing distinguishes divine references (adonai) from human references (adoni)” (Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the OT, p. 22) (Herbert Bateman, “Psalm 110:1 and the NT,” Bibliothecra Sacra, Oct.-Dec., 1992, p. 438).

Source: Adonai and Adoni (Psalm 110:1)

A Direct Translation of  John’s Gospel from Greek by by Anthony Buzzard

Image result for Gospel of john

Chapter 1
In the beginning there was God’s Grand Design, the declaration of His Intention and Purpose, and that declaration was with God as His project, and it was fully expressive of God Himself. This was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through it, and without it nothing of what came into being existed. In it there was life and that life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overwhelm it. There came on the scene of history a man commissioned by God. His name was John. This man came as a witness [a preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom, Matt. 3:2] so that he might bear witness to the light and that everyone might believe through him. He was not the Light himself, but he witnessed concerning the light. This was the genuine light which enlightens every man coming into the world.
He was in the world and the world came into existence through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own land and his own people did not accept him. As many, however, as did accept him, to these he gave the right to become children of God — namely the ones believing in his Gospel revelation, his religion. These were born not from blood, nor from the desire of the flesh nor from the desire of a male, but from God. And the word became a human being and tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of a uniquely begotten Son from a Father, full of grace and truth.
John witnessed concerning him and cried out with these words, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me has now moved ahead of me, because he always was my superior.’” Because from his fullness all of us have received grace followed by grace. Because the law was given by God through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. A uniquely begotten Son, one who is in the bosom of the Father — he has explained God. And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent a commission of priests and Levites to him from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” And he confessed and did not deny, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “Who are you? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” And they said to him, “Who are you? So that we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord God,’ as Isaiah the prophet spoke.” And the ones sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him a further question, “Why do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah or the prophet who was to come?” John answered them, “I am baptizing in water. Among you there stands one whom you do not recognize — the one coming after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” These things happened in Bethany beyond the Jordan where John was baptizing.
The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and he said, “This is the lamb of God, the one who removes the sin of the world. This is the one of whom I said, ‘After me there comes a man who has now moved ahead of me, because he was always my superior.’ And I did not recognize him, but so that he might be recognized by Israel for that reason I came baptizing with water.” And John witnessed with these words: “I saw the spirit descending as a dove out of heaven and remaining on him, and I did not recognize him. But the one who sent me to baptize in water spoke to me and said, ‘The one on whom you see the spirit descending and remaining on him, he is the one who baptizes with holy spirit.’ And I saw this, and I have witnessed to the fact that this is the Son of the One God.”
On the next day again John stood with two of his disciples, and seeing Jesus walking by, he said, “This is the Lamb of the One God.” And the two disciples heard him speaking and followed Jesus. Jesus, turning round and seeing them following him, said, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and see.” And so they went and saw where he was staying and remained with him that whole day. And it was about the tenth hour. This was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, one of the two who had heard from John and followed him. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means the Christ). He brought him to Jesus, and Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You will be called Cephas, which translated means Peter.” The next day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip then found Nathaniel and said to him, “The one about whom Moses wrote in the law and whom the prophets mentioned, we have found, Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathaniel coming towards him and he said of him, “Behold a genuine Israelite in whom there is no guile.” Nathaniel said to him, “How is it that you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathaniel answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered him with these words: “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, you are a believer? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “I tell you on the authority of my Father, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Source: A Translation of John by Anthony Buzzard

The Amazing Shift Away from Jesus

Protestants have inherited a Gospel from their Protestant heritage. The question is, does this Protestant Gospel do justice to the Bible’s and particularly Jesus’definition of the Gospel? Jesus was the initial preacher of the saving Gospel: “How then can we escape if we take no notice of an offer of salvation so important that God announced it first through the Lord himself? Those who heard him confirmed it to us” (Heb. 2:3; see also Matt. 4:17, 23; Luke 4:43). I Timothy 6:3 and II John 7-9 warn that any departure from the words of Jesus is a grave mistake. Jesus’ own definition of the Gospel is therefore the foundation of biblical faith.

Commentators on the history of Christian ideas point out that Luther and Calvin arbitrarily excluded Jesus’ own preaching of the Gospel. Current evangelicalism is unknowingly dominated by a dogmatic and fundamentally confusing approach to the question “What is the Gospel?”

Creating his own dogma, Luther decided arbitrarily to define the Gospel by taking texts from John and Paul and ignoring the other accounts of Jesus’ ministry. The first casualty of this procedure was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the saving Gospel presented by Jesus himself as the model for all subsequent Gospel-preaching (Mark 1:14, 15, Luke 4:43, etc.).

G.F. Moore wrote (our comments in square brackets):

“Luther created by a dogmatic criterion a canon of the gospel within the canon of the books [he chose some books and ignored others, using a selective and misleading procedure]. Luther wrote: ‘Those Apostles who treat oftenest and highest of how faith alone justifies, are the best Evangelists. Therefore St. Paul’s Epistles are more a Gospel than Matthew, Mark and Luke. For these [Matthew, Mark and Luke] do not set down much more than the works and miracles of Christ [this is quite false: the gospels constantly describe the very Gospel as Jesus preached it]; but the grace which we receive through Christ no one so boldly extols as St. Paul, especially in his letter to the Romans.’ In comparison with the Gospel of John, the Epistles of Paul, and I Peter, ‘which [says Luther] are the kernel and marrow of all books,’ the Epistle of James, with its insistence that man is not justified by faith alone, but by works proving faith, is ‘a mere letter of straw, for there is nothing evangelical about it.’”

Moore comments perceptively: “It is clear that the infallibility of Scripture has here, in fact if not in admission, followed the infallibility of popes and councils; for the Scripture itself has to submit to be judged by the ultimate criterion of its accord with Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith. [Luther, in other words, replaced one dogmatic system with another, making the Scripture submit to his own process of selection.]” (Moore, History of Religions, Scribners, 1920, p. 320). Keep reading >>>>

Source: The Amazing Shift Away from Jesus