Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Just What Do You Mean -- The "Son of God"?
In the Israelite countries, where the Bible is prominent, there is much confusion and misinformation on the nature of the deity which is worshipped. Is there only one God, or are there two Gods (Twinity), three Gods, or a three-in-one God (Trinity)? And where do Yeshua the Messiah and the holy spirit fit in? The answers to these questions can be found in only one place -- the written word of YEHOVAH God. This article points the way.
by John D. Keyser
Yeshua the Messiah is called the "Son of God" many times throughout the Gospel accounts. Few churches today would deny that he is the Son of God yet, in many of these same churches, he is also called "God the Son" -- the second person of a Biune or Triune Godhead. However, a close examination of the Bible clearly shows that the term "God the Son" is nowhere to be found in the scriptures. This, of course, may or may not be significant -- depending on whether the term "Son of God" really means "God the Son"! Is this, in fact, true?
What the References Say
It is a fact that most reference books on the Bible do believe this to be the case. For example, we find in Halley's Bible Handbook the idea that Yeshua the Messiah being called the "Son of God" is proof of his Deity -- see page 539 of the 24th edition. On page 541 of this reference we find the following statement:
"Thus, neither Jesus himself, nor the Scriptures, leave any possible doubt as to the nature of Jesus' Person...if he was really God, he can be to us a savior as well as an example."
Halley's Bible Handbook is not the only one expressing this viewpoint. Notice what we find in Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible --
"John begins his Gospel with a tremendous statement about Jesus Christ: on these truths his whole case rests. In him (the Word) God speaks to man. He is the most perfect and complete expression of the Person of God we can ever know. He is far and away above all humanity -- God's executive in creation. When God spoke (see Genesis 1), his Word brought life itself into existence. And it was this Supreme Being who became man -- the man we know as Jesus Christ" (1983, p. 534).
Another reference -- The Oxford Companion to the Bible -- follows the same dogma:
"We now properly speak of the divinity, or better, the deity, of Christ...When we call Jesus God, it must be carefully nuanced: Jesus is not all that God is. He is the incarnation of that aspect of the divine being which is God going forth from himself in creative, revelatory, and saving activity. In terms of later dogma, he is the incarnation of the Second, not of the First, person of the Trinity" (1993, p. 363).
It should be mentioned here that the term "Son of God," meaning that Yeshua is God, is a belief that depends upon the opinions and reasoning of people -- rather than being based on a scripture that clearly says the "Son of God" means the same thing as being God or equal to God. Interestingly enough, not even Greek mythology supports this argument since we have examples of mythological characters who have a god for a father and a human being for a mother, and yet they are not thought of as being on par with their godly father, or equal to him. An example would be Hercules, who had a human mother and Zeus as his father. The bottom line is, as we shall see, the Bible in no way supports the conclusion that being called a "son of God" makes one that same God.
"Son of God" in the Bible
Believers in a single God do not deny that Yeshua is called the "Son of God." He clearly received this title from not only YEHOVAH God and his own followers, but also from the demons and his own personal declaration (notice Matthew 3:17; John 3:16; 5:25 and Mark 3:11). What we need to determine is what people meant when they called Yeshua the "Son of God."
One thing is for sure -- when people initially called the Messiah the "Son of God," they in no way used it to mean he was the second person of a Biune or Triune Godhead. The reason being that the Biune and Triune (Trinity) doctrines were NOT fully developed prior to the 4th century A.D. Before that time there was simply NO CONCEPT of the Godhead being a Biune or Triune configuration before Yeshua the Messiah's birth, and that he was part of one or the other before human birth. We see that the disciples, when they first met Yeshua, could not have used the term "Son of God" to indicate that the Messiah was the second person in a Biune or Triune Godhead. Notice John 1:43-49 --
"The following 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 found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, THE SON OF JOSEPH.' And Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.' Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!' Nathanael said to him, 'How do you know me?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.' Nathanael answered and said to him, 'Rabbi, you are THE SON OF GOD! You are the King of Israel!'"
Here we see that Philip tells his brother Nathanael that he has found the promised Messiah. Nathanael carefully questions this but decides to go and check Yeshua out anyway. After Yeshua performs a minor miracle by telling Nathanael he saw him under a fig tree, even though he was nowhere near the Messiah, Nathanael responds by saying, "Rabbi, you are the SON OF GOD! You are the King of Israel!"
What did Nathanael mean by this? The context shows he had just met the Messiah and had seen a minor miracle performed. Was Nathanael now convinced Yeshua was God in the flesh? If he really thought Yeshua was God, why not just say "You are God"? Can we really imply that Nathanael understood the Messiah to be part of the Godhead but not all of God -- and so that is why he only referred to him as the "Son of God"? And what about Philip -- did he think that Yeshua was God? Notice he said, "Jesus of Nazareth, THE SON OF JOSEPH"!
Even in Nathanael's day demons possessed similar power to that of what Yeshua displayed to Nathanael -- see Acts 16:16. So why, I ask, would Nathanael think Yeshua was God when he performed this miracle? Since there is no way Nathanael could have had in mind the idea of a Biune or Triune God, he clearly would have called the Messiah "God" if that miracle had convinced him of such.
However, Nathanael had good reason to claim Yeshua was the "King of Israel" since the Jews were expecting the coming Messiah to overthrow the Roman government in the land and return the nation of Israel to its sovereign state. But WHY did he call Yeshua the "Son of God"? To get a better understanding of what Nathanael had in mind, let's notice how the term "Son of God" is used in other circumstances. It may surprise you to realize that Yeshua was not the only person to be called a "son of God." Let's take a look at some examples in the Bible:
GALATIANS 3:26. Here Christian Israelites anointed with YEHOVAH's spirit are also called His sons: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."
ROMANS 8:14. Here, referring again to Christian Israelites: "For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are sons of God."
DEUTERONOMY 14:1. Israelites were said to be YEHOVAH's sons: "You are the sons of the LORD your God;..." (RSV).
HOSEA 1:10. Here the children of Israel are again referred to as YEHOVAH's sons: "...there it shall be said to them, 'You are the sons of the living God.'"
JOB 1:6. In this verse angels are said to be sons of YEHOVAH God: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them."
I CHRONICLES 22:10. Here Solomon was said to be YEHOVAH's son: "He shall build a home for My name, and he shall be my son, and I will be his Father..."
I think you get the picture. Clearly, none of these persons were considered to be God -- even though they were said to be "sons of God"! The term "son of God" has a number of meanings in the Bible. For example, when used in regard to Israelites, it defines their having a SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with YEHOVAH God. When used with angels, it defines both their relationship with YEHOVAH God and their nature -- that of being spirit beings like YEHOVAH (see John 4:24). Yeshua's apostles were very familiar with the above-mentioned examples, yet they never remotely considered that these persons were God! As a matter of fact, it would be quite appropriate to call an Israelite a "son of God" if that person had a special relationship with YEHOVAH God, or was being used by YEHOVAH in a special way. The role of Yeshua the Messiah (the "King of Israel" as Nathanael called him) would most certainly belong to that category. Therefore, it was quite appropriate for Nathanael to refer to the "King of Israel" as the "Son of God."
Writes Michael Grant in Jesus, An Historian's Review of the Gospels:
"All Jews [Israelites], then, are Sons of God. But as time went on -- and this was already apparent in Old Testament days -- the idea was narrowed down to a special kind of distinctive sonship by eminent people, for example pious and righteous [Israelite] individuals, and, in particular, the monarchs of Israel...Jesus himself fully accepted the ancient Jewish [Israelite] doctrine that God was the father of the entire entire [Israelite] community" (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977, p. 106).
"Son of God" According to the Scholars
We have just seen what the Bible says about the term "Son of God" -- now what do the Biblical scholars add to the discussion? Notice the following statement from Karl-Joseph Kuschel --
"What about Son of God? Jesus may well have been called Son of God in the earliest [Christian] community on the basis of Psalm 2, in which the Israelite king is designated 'Son of God by the use of the ancient oriental formula of adoption.' Though Bultmann, too, is unclear whether 'Son of God' was used in Judaism as a messianic title, he feels sure that 'neither in Judaism nor in the Christian church could this title have had the mythological meaning it later had in Hellenistic Christianity; that is, it did not designate the Messiah as a supranatural being begotten by God, but was simply a royal title.' Mark 9.7, the story of the transfiguration, which was originally an Easter story, demonstrates (together with Rom. 1.3) that the earliest community attributed divine Sonship to Jesus on the basis of his resurrection, NOT of his pre-existence" (Born Before Time?: The Dispute over Christ's Origin, 1992, p. 141).
Further on in his book, Kuschel adds these insights:
"As it originated from within Judaism, the notion of Son of God was not associated either with messiahship or with pre-existence...'Son of God' in Judaism was not understood either messianically or mythologically, and even in the Palestinian Christian community it DID NOT in any way mean that Jesus had been a kind of supernatural figure begotten by God" (p. 236).
"'In the Old Testament and early Judaism "son of God" signifies creatureliness, election and intimacy. It has no messianic connotation, far less is it intended to signify divinity.' In the Old Testament, the expression 'son of God' is only in a few instances limited to an individual. Alongside the Davidic king, beings who belong to the sphere of the gods or the heavenly world can also be called 'sons of God,' as can the persecuted pious as individuals, or the people of Israel as a whole" (p. 237).
Continuing, on the following page, the author explains --
"...where does the designation Son of God for Jesus in such an early strand of the tradition come from? Where does it come from, if the title was not transferred from Jewish tradition and no saying of Jesus forms the basis for it? The answer is that the designation Son of God by the post-Easter community can only be the reflection of an extraordinary relationship with God on the part of Jesus himself" (p. 238).
Summing up all these thoughts, Kuschel reflects --
"Now what does all this mean for the question of the relationship between being Son of God and the preexistence of Christ? Here, too, we can establish a consensus beyond the confessional frontiers.
"1/. In keeping with its Jewish origin (the royal ideology) the title 'Son of God' was NEVER associated with a heavenly existence before time or with divinity.
"2/. Jesus DID NOT speak of himself as Son of God, nor did he say anything about a pre-existent Sonship. Granted, the earliest Aramaic-speaking post-Easter community confessed Jesus as Son of God, but in line with the Old Testament it DID NOT include any statements about preexistence in this confession.
"3/. The basic foundation of post-Easter talk of Jesus as Son of God does not lie in Jesus' 'divine nature,' in a preexistent divine Sonship, but in the praxis and preaching of the earthly Jesus himself: in his unique relationship to God, whom in an unprecedentedly familiar way he was accustomed to address as 'Abba'" (p. 238).
James D. G. Dunn, in his Christology in the Making, offers further insight into this topic:
"The earlier understanding of Jesus' eschatological sonship, of a uniquely intimate relationship with God which stemmed from the resurrection, of a relationship which was the beginning of a whole new family of God, that is an insight which recognizes and confesses a significance for Jesus and for [the Israelite] man's salvation which cannot easily be surpassed. Moreover, since we can also recognize that Jesus himself sensed something of this sonship, an intimate sonship, a sonship he could share, an eschatological sonship, we can trace this high christology back to Jesus and root it in the ministry and teaching of the historical Jesus in a way that is not possible for the later christology of preexistent sonship" (Second edition, 1989, p. 63).
Then, on the next page, Dunn concludes by saying --
"...we have to repeat that in the earliest period of Christianity 'Son of God' was not an obvious vehicle of a christology of incarnation or preexistence. The christology of a preexistent Son of God becoming man only began to emerge in the last decades of the first century, and only appears in a clear form within the NT in its latest writings [?]. Certainly such a christology cannot be traced back to Jesus himself with any degree of conviction, and when we pay proper attention to the first-century context of meaning it is less likely that we can find such a christology in Paul or Mark or Luke or Matthew, not to mention those writings which make nothing of Jesus' sonship. In other words, we have not yet discovered any pre-Christian or indeed primitive [early] Christian talk of a Son of God descending to earth which could explain the appearance of such [assumed] talk in the Fourth Gospel. To put it another way, the understanding of Jesus as Son of God apparently DID NOT provide the starting point for a christology of preexistence or incarnation" (p. 64).
Dunn's comments about the Fourth (John's) Gospel will be explained later on in the article.
Interesting, it seems that these scholars are way ahead of most ministers in the Churches of God -- they clearly see no link between "Son of God" and a preexistent, heavenly role for the Messiah!
Another scholar, E. P. Sanders, introduces us to 1st. Century Greek thought that was responsible for the genesis of the current belief that Yeshua preexisted. Notice --
"In a Jewish context 'Son of God' DOES NOT mean 'more than human.' All Jews [Israelites] were 'Sons of God' or even the (collective) Son of God, as in Hosea 11.1 or Exodus 4.22 ('Israel is my first-born son'). Psalm 2.7 refers to the king of Israel as Son of God; Luke applied this verse to Jesus (Luke 3.21), but there is no reason to say that when he did so he redefined 'Son of God' to mean 'more than human'.
"The title 'Son of God' is even vaguer than 'Messiah'. Because of the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, modern readers often think that 'Son of God' meant 'a male conceived in the absence of human semen' or even 'a male half human and half divine, produced when God fertilized a human ovum without semen'. In discussing miracles, we observed that this notion would be at home in the Greek-speaking world. Such a story was told of Alexander the Great: he was the Son of Zeus; his mother was hit by a thunderbolt before she and Philip of Macedonia consummated their marriage, and so Alexander was a hybrid son. No ancient Jew [Israelite], to our knowledge, used 'Son of God' in such a crudely literal sense. The common Jewish use was generic: all Jews [Israelites] were 'Sons of God' (the masculine in this case included females). The use of the singular 'Son of God' to refer to a specific person would be surprising, but it would not make the hearer think of unnatural modes of conception and of a hybrid offspring...the title would imply special standing before God and an unusual power to accomplish good" (The Historical Figure of Jesus, 1993, p. 161 & 243).
Sanders continues, on the next page:
"In the surviving correspondence Paul does not call anyone 'Son of God' in the singular except Jesus, but there is no hint in his letters that he thinks that the title, when applied to Jesus, meant that he was only half human. Nor does the title require a story of miraculous conception. Jesus was the Son of God, but others [of Israel] could become Sons (children) of God. Jesus himself thought that people [of Israel] could become God's children: he told his followers that if they loved their enemies they would be 'Sons of God.'
"The early [Israelite] Christians, then, used 'Son of God' of Jesus, but they did not think that he was a hybrid, half God and half human. They regarded 'Son of God' as a high designation, but we cannot go much beyond that. When Gentile converts started entering the new movement, they may have understood the title in light of the stories about Alexander the Great, or their own mythology: Zeus took the form of a swan, had intercourse with Leda, and sired Helen and Polydeuces. The first followers of Jesus, however, when they started calling him 'Son of God', would have meant something much vaguer: a person [of Israel] standing in a special relationship to God, who chose him to accomplish a task of great importance" (pp. 244-245).
Finally, Joseph Wheless, in his interesting work Forgery in Christianity, makes an astute observation --
"As these Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] now stand, Mark and John say not a word of the Virgin-birth, but throughout assume Jesus to have been of human birth, and only "son of God" in a popular religious sense; for "son of God" was in current usage to mean any person [of Israel] near and dear to God. Indeed, the Greek text of the Gospels makes this plain, that no supernatural progeneration and actual God-sonship was intended. In most instances the Greek texts read simply "son of God -- huios Theou," NOT "the Son -- o huious": the definite article is a clerical falsification" (1930, p. 208).
Of the Order of God?
So why do some insist, regardless of the above examples of other persons being called YEHOVAH's sons, that the meaning of the term "Son of God," when used in reference to the Messiah, must mean he is God? The answer to this question is because the term "son of" can also imply "of the order of." In other words, it is argued by some that since "sons of the prophets" means of the order of prophets (I Kings 20:35), and "sons of the singers" means of the order of the singers (Nehemiah 12:28), then the term "son of God" -- when used with the Messiah -- must mean of the order of God. However, this is a major shift in meaning when you examine how the term "son of God" is used in all the other places in the Bible.
But, even if we did use this view to define the term "son of God" -- it still would not mean that the Messiah was God! It would only mean that he is of the order of God, meaning he is a god, i.e. "of the order of" prophets and singers describes those who are part of a group or class. We will see that Yeshua (AND OTHERS) do fit into a class of gods.
Co-Equal and Co-Eternal?
H. F. Stevenson, in his book Titles of the Triune God, makes the following statement regarding the term "Son of God" --
"...it is true the term "sons of God" is used of men (Hosea 1:10) and of angels...(Genesis 6:2, Job 1:6; 38:7). But in the New Testament, the title "Son of God" is used of, and by, our Lord in quite a different way. In every instance the term implies He is the one, only-begotten Son; co-equal, co-eternal with the Father."
Contrary to what Mr. Stevenson writes, most will immediately realize that there is absolutely nothing in the term "only-begotten Son" that states the Messiah is co-equal and co-eternal with YEHOVAH God the Father. To change the meaning of the term from how it is used in other instances, one must somehow SCRIPTURALLY JUSTIFY such a jump in meaning. Those who believe in a Biune or Triune Godhead attempt to justify their definition of the term "Son of God," as they apply it to the Messiah, by citing verses they claim "proves" the Messiah is God. Unfortunately, however, they then turn around and use their definition of "Son of God" -- which is based on their preconceived belief that the Messiah is God -- to prove the Messiah is God. This is nothing less than circular reasoning!
The fact is, with the Messiah saying that he is the Son and YEHOVAH God is the Father, "that he lives because of the Father," that he is the "first-born of all creation," and he is "the beginning of the creation by God," it is very difficult to see how we could draw any other conclusion than that of Yeshua NOT being CO-eternal or coequal with his Father! (John 3:16; 6:57, Colossians 1:15, Revelation 3:14). At best the only thing that believers in a Biune or Triune God can legally say (keeping in mind the rules of logic!) is that the term "Son of God" DOES NOT prove that the Messiah is not God based on other scriptures that may imply that he is God! It certainly CANNOT be used to prove Yeshua is God.
Author Josh McDowell, in a futile effort to prove that being the "Son of God" makes Yeshua God, writes that "Just as a human father's son must fully be human, God's Son must be fully God" (The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 142). However, this form of logic falls short when you realize that the Bible uses the term "son of God" to refer to other people -- so circular reasoning is still needed to apply this rule to the Messiah. One fact needs to be realized -- while the son of a human father is indeed human, he is a DIFFERENT HUMAN from his father. Do our Biune and Triune believers want to claim that the Messiah is a different God from his Father? I think not -- yet this is exactly what this argument infers!
The Question of Divine Nature
It has also been reasoned that being the "Son of God would mean that the Messiah has the same nature as YEHOVAH God. If this is true, it would still be a weak argument for Yeshua being God because OTHERS are also called God's sons, and those who are God's sons are also told that they will also have YEHOVAH's nature! Notice what 2 Peter 1:4 says:
"By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God's nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world" (Jewish New Testament).
Here the people that Peter is speaking about would one day become sharers in the divine nature. Now, what does that mean? He is referring to the fact that they will have spirit bodies at the resurrection. They will be "sons of God" -- having the same nature as the angels, the Messiah and YEHOVAH God Himself (Galatians 3:26). Therefore, there is absolutely no need to interject our own opinions about who has divine nature, or what it means to have divine nature, because the Bible is quite explicit on that point. Having divine nature does not make the Messiah God anymore than it makes anointed Christians God.
Professing Christians are not the only ones who debate the issue of Yeshua being YEHOVAH God's Son: The Muslim faith also takes issue with the term "son of God." Islam rejects Yeshua as the Son of God because, according to them, "The term Son of God cannot have a literal interpretation: Sonship and divine nature would be two attributes which are incomparable, because sonship describes someone who receives life while divine nature describes someone who receives life from no one. To be a son is to be less than divine and to be divine is to be no one's son" (Some Thoughts on the "Proofs" of the Alleged Divinity of Jesus).
There is a problem with the viewpoint of both the Muslims and the believers in a Biune or Triune Godhead: For some reason they try to impose their own definitions into biblical terms. In other words, to say that one having divine nature means he was not created is NOT a definition that is stated in the Bible. In fact, just the OPPOSITE is true. Peter clearly indicates that anointed Christian Israelites will have divine nature and yet they were obviously created -- see 2 Peter 1:4 above.
The first Christian Israelites thought of the Messiah's divine sonship principally as a ROLE and STATUS that he had entered upon at his resurrection. Writes James D.G. Dunn --
"What is clear...is that the resurrection of Jesus was regarded as of central significance in determining his divine sonship, either as his installation to a status and prerogatives not enjoyed before, or as a major enhancement of a sonship already enjoyed. What is also clear is that there is NO THOUGHT of a preexistent sonship here" (Christology in the Making, p. 35).
Beginning With the Resurrection
Continuing, on the same page, Dunn says:
"We must note that once again sonship is seen in eschatological terms: the divine sonship of which the original formula speaks is a sonship that BEGINS FROM THE RESURRECTION; something of tremendous significance for Jesus (the subject of the divine decree or appointment), something of eschatological import (the beginning of the resurrection of the dead), took place in the resurrection of Jesus and it is characterized in terms of Jesus' divine sonship" (emphasis mine).
Along these lines we read in Acts 13:33, the following --
"God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He [YEHOVAH God] has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
You are My Son, today I have begotten you."
Here the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah is plainly spoken of as a fulfillment of YEHOVAH's promise to Israel -- a promise expressed in Psalm 2:7. We should note that the significant feature of this verse is that it uses the language of "begetting" and specifies a particular birth-day -- a day on which someone (the king of Israel, the Messiah) becomes YEHOVAH God's son. According to Acts 13:33 and the earliest Christians, that day was the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. As Dunn notes, "In other words, primitive [early] Christian [Israelite] preaching seems to have regarded Jesus' resurrection as the day of his appointment to divine sonship, as the event by which he became God's son" (ibid., page 36).
The scriptures clearly show that the one anointed as YEHOVAH God's Son was one "born of woman," simply a man -- NOT a divine being metamorphosed into or appearing as a human being. The early Christian Israelites simply thought of the Messiah as the one COMMISSIONED BY YEHOVAH GOD, as one who shared wholly in man's frailty, bondage and sin, and whose death achieved YEHOVAH God's liberating and transforming purpose for His people Israel.
To summarize what we have learnt, most believers in a single God consider Yeshua's sonship with YEHOVAH God to be different from that of other persons. While many others are called YEHOVAH's sons, Yeshua bears the unique designation as the "only-begotten Son" and "first-born" son of YEHOVAH God as a result of the resurrection. This now signifies him as being YEHOVAH's literal son (John 3:16). It is impossible to prove from the Bible -- as some would like -- that the term "Son of God" makes Yeshua the Messiah God.
What About the "Son of Man"?
According to Wikipedia,
בן–אדם i.e. ben-'adam) appears one hundred and seven times in the Jewish Bible. This is the most common Hebrew construction for the singular and appears 93 times in Ezekiel alone and 14 times elsewhere. In thirty two cases the phrase appears in intermediate plural form 'sons of men', i.e. human beings.
"The Hebrew expression 'son of man' (
"In the Hebrew Bible, the first place one comes across the phrase 'son of man' is in Book of Numbers 23:19.
"In the Book of Job, we see 'son of man' used a total of three times (all of which, interestingly enough, fall within poetic passages).
"In the Book of Psalms we find the same classical forms employed in Numbers and Job, in which 'son of man' is used in parallel with man to describe humanity as a whole."
The Book of Ezekiel is unique in the tradition of the Tanakh in that, as the book unfolds, the phrase "son of man" is used approximately 94 times by YEHOVAH God to refer to the author. "Son of man" here appears to be a title referring to the humanity of the author, much as the word "human" might be used in English. It is not a respectful appellation, but a humbling one (in some cases, an arguably abject one), and this use is a consistent pattern throughout the Book of Ezekiel.
Continues Wikipedia --
"In the Book of Daniel, parts of the text were originally written in Aramaic. This portion of the volume (7:13-14) deals with a vision attributed to the author about 'the times of the end.' In the context of Daniel passages, the use of 'son of man' is more consistent with the concept of self-reflection. It has been argued that 'there came with the clouds of the sky "one like a son of man"' describes one 'like a human being' or 'one like [himself].' The passage in Daniel 7:13 occurs in Biblical Aramaic and it certainly implies a 'human being.'...
"As generally interpreted by Jews, 'son of man' denotes mankind generally in contrast to deity, with special reference to their weakness and frailty (Job 25:6; Psalms 8:4; Psalms 144:3; Psalms 146:3; Isaiah 51:12, etc.). And the term ben adam is but a formal substitute for the personal pronoun or maybe a title given to the prophet Ezekiel, probably to remind him of his human weakness."
Nancy L. Kuehl builds on this by explaining:
"The phrase 'Son of Man' is evidence of nothing more than a declaration of Jesus' own first century Jewish concept of messianism and did NOT require the 'supernatural' qualities inherent within the prophecies; however, Jesus' use of the Scripture in Daniel, clearly reflected that he believed himself to be the biblical Messiah of God. There were those, to be sure, who looked for a supernatural messiah (e.g., the Essenes), but the majority of the Jewish population merely sought a nationalistic messianic figure who would give them freedom from Roman oppression. 'On one point the rabbis were unanimous, viz. he would be just a HUMAN BEING divinely appointed to carry out an allotted task. The Talmud NOWHERE indicates a belief in a super-human Deliverer as the Messiah' (Cohen, Everyman's Talmud, p. 347)....Jesus had more often than not stressed the fact that he was simply a human tool for God, suffering the physical and emotional trials that all men do. He learned obedience through what things he suffered (Hebrews 5:8) in the SAME MANNER as any other Jew striving for spiritual union with God" (A Book of Evidence: The Trials and Execution of Jesus. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2013, pp. 7 & 9).
In post-biblical Jewish literature the most common use of "Son of Man" is similar to that of the English word "human." For example in 1QapGen. XXI.13: MT שיא (Gen. 13.16), it certainly connotes a "human being."
In the Book of Enoch, "Son of man" is found, but never in the original material. However, anyone who has been reading the Bible for several years only needs to read the Book of Enoch briefly to know that something is very wrong. There are so many obvious flaws with this alleged missing book of YEHOVAH God's Word that it is clear that someone copied from the Bible and wrote this spurious material. The same type of mumbo-jumbo can be readily observed in the Qur'an. Enoch, who lived during the time period of Genesis, did NOT write this manuscript. Evidently the King James translators didn't believe Enoch wrote it either, and for good reason. The term "Son of Man" occurs in the Noachian interpolations (lx. 10, lxxi. 14) in this book, in which it has clearly no other meaning than "man," if, indeed, translator R. H. Charles' explanation (Book of Enoch, p. 16), that the interpolator misused the term, as he does all other technical terms, is untenable.
In that part of the Book of Enoch known as the "Similitudes" it is met with in the technical sense of a supernatural Messiah and judge of the world (xlvi. 2, xlviii. 2, lxx. 27); universal dominion and preexistence are predicated of him (xlviii. 2, lxvii. 6). According to this he sits on YEHOVAH's throne (xlv. 3, li. 3), which is his own throne. Though R. H. Charles does not admit it, these passages betray Catholic editing or revision, and radical changes.
Relates Wikipedia --
"Among Jews the term 'son of man' was not used as the specific title of the Messiah. The New Testament expression ὅ ὑιὸς τοῦ ἀνθρόπου is a translation of the Aramaic "bar nasha," and as such could have been understood only as the substitute for a personal pronoun, or as emphasizing the human qualities of those to whom it is applied. That the term does not appear in any of the epistles ascribed to Paul is significant."
Nancy Kuehl goes on to note that,
"to those first century rulers, then, Ben Adam (Son of Man) would have meant little more than that, a descendant of the first sinful man, A HUMAN BEING. Jesus' claim of messianism would have been viewed more in the light of political dissidence than as a supernatural savior of the nation. His claim would have seemed to the rulers little different than the many others who had come before him, and perhaps, even more so since he was a Galilean, an area known for its 'trouble-makers'" (A Book of Evidence, p. 8).
According to Wikipedia:
"In the Gospels the title occurs eighty-one times. Most of the recent writers (among them being II. Lietzmann) have come to the conclusion that Jesus, speaking Aramaic, could never have designated himself as the "son of man" in a Messianic, mystic sense, because the Aramaic term never implied this meaning."
"In the Hebrew of Genesis 13:16, the word translated as בר אנוש (son of man) was איש (man).
"In the Koine Greek of the New Testament, the term "the son of man" is invariably "ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου", which might be rendered more literally "the son of the human being".
The expression "the Son of Man" occurs 81 times in the four Canonical gospels, and is used only in the sayings of the Messiah. Since the term "Son of God" only occurs 45 times in the ENTIRE New Testament, it is indeed strange that so-called Christianity has latched on to this in their efforts to "prove" the Messiah was a pre-existent God-being who was half man and half God when the more prevalent term "Son of Man" proves the Messiah to have been FULLY human! However, the use of the definite article in "the Son of Man" in the gospels is novel, and before its use there, there are no records of its use in any of the surviving Greek documents of antiquity.
For centuries, the Catholic perspective on the term "Son of Man" has, for them, been a natural counterpart to that of the term "Son of God" -- just as "Son of God" supposedly affirms the divinity of the Messiah, in many cases "Son of man" affirms his humanity! Circular reasoning again?
However, while the profession of the Messiah as the Son of God has been an essential element of Catholic and Protestant creeds since the Apostolic age, such professions do not apply to the Son of Man, and the proclamation of the Messiah as the Son of Man has, sadly, never been an article of faith in Christianity.
Notes Wikipedia --
"...some gospel passages equate them ['Son of God' and 'Son of Man'] in some cases, e.g. in Mark 14:61, during the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus when the high priest asked Jesus: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed one?" Jesus responded "I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."
In the work A Book of Evidence: The Trials and Execution of Jesus, we find the following:
"Jesus, like other hasidim, believed he must suffer in order to attain entrance into the World to Come. He was NOT 'mystically' endowed with perfection, and ONLY ATTAINED PERFECTION AT HIS DEATH. He sought and learned blamelessness (the more exact translation of perfection) only as he grew into his ministry. Even in the...spurious chapters of Luke [chapters 1 and 2] a kernel of truth is conceded. He was NOT, in the beginning, full of wisdom but was 'becoming filled with wisdom' as he grew in age. 'And the child [the Messiah] went on growing and waxing strong, becoming filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon it' (Luke 2:40).
"This passage bears little resemblance to those of the 'miracle child' in the later infancy gospels, and the other elaborations [in spurious parts] of Matthew and Luke. Little distinction is made between his growth and development and that of his alleged cousin, John the Immerser: 'And the child [John] went on growing and being strengthened in spirit (Luke 1:80). Even though he called himself 'Son of Man,' Jesus believed he was the Israelite Messiah, the Son of the Living God. First and foremost, his mission was as an AGENT of righteousness" (Nancy L. Kuehl, p. 10).
Yeshua the Messiah saw himself as the divinely appointed AGENT who would usher in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. He truly believed that YHVH (YEHOVAH God) would resurrect his HUMAN BODY from the dead -- thereby making him the "firstborn of many brethren."
"When we begin to view Jesus as a FULLY HUMAN BEING, a Jew, indoctrinated in Jewish culture and philosophy," writes Nancy Kuehl, "the resurrection event becomes a more true witness of Jesus' messiahship and of YHVH's omnipotence. It had not been until his immersion by John that the fullness of the holy spirit had dwelt wholly within him, and even then HE HAD REMAINED A HUMAN BEING but now filled with [the] holy spirit and a desire to commit himself entirely to God. If this were not so, the prophecy of Psalm 2 would not have been fulfilled in Jesus: 'I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day I have begotten thee (Ps. 2:7). The day referred to in the Psalm is the day of Jesus' immersion by John when the full fount of the sevenfold holy spirit descended upon him. It is within the earliest gospels that we find the true nature of Jesus as the HUMAN Hebrew Messiah" (A Book of Evidence, p. 11).
Within the examples we have shown the title "Son of Man" can be more clearly seen as a device used by the Messiah to reveal his humanity. His earliest followers had accepted him as FULLY HUMAN -- a man like themselves -- albeit someone they had recognized as a "holy" teacher and, finally, as Messiah. They never questioned the divinity of the One God, YEHOVAH, and while they did accept Yeshua as the Son of God and Messiah (Son of David), they NEVER accepted the Messiah as "divine" until AFTER his resurrection.
YEHOVAH's Plan for His People Israel
In John 6:44 Yeshua the Messiah said --
"No one can come to me unless the Father -- the One who sent [commissioned] me -- draws him. And I will raise him up on the Last Day."
When one of Israel is called out of this world by YEHOVAH God's spirit and begins to comprehend the importance of YEHOVAH's Word -- His life-giving scriptures -- in their lives, that these scriptures are able to make one wise to salvation, he or she, even then, is ONLY HALF of the "creation" that YEHOVAH God requires them to be in order for them to enter into His Kingdom.
To fully understand this, we must become familiar with YEHOVAH's plan for His people Israel. When Yeshua the Messiah was resurrected from the dead -- and received his spiritual body -- he became THE FIRSTBORN OF MANY ISRAELITE BROTHERS, as Romans 8:29 reveals --
"For whom He [YEHOVAH] foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he [Yeshua] might be the FIRSTBORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN" (emphasis mine).
When we are "conformed" to the Messiah, we will also be "conformed" to YEHOVAH God the Father, because Yeshua was also conformed to be exactly like the Father, as we find in Hebrews 1:3:
"Who [Yeshua] being the brightness of His [YEHOVAH God's] glory and the express IMAGE of His [YEHOVAH's] Person, and upholding all things by the word of His [YEHOVAH's] power, when he [Yeshua] had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty [YEHOVAH] on high."
In order to receive the reward of eternal life, as Yeshua the Messiah did, we of Israel must be CONFORMED to the same IMAGE that Yeshua was conformed to. So the question is: How did Yeshua the Messiah obtain this image? The Bible clearly shows that he was not born with this "image," but through a process he became the perfect creation of YEHOVAH!
In Revelation 3:14 we read that the Messiah was "the BEGINNING of the creation of God." Yeshua's "perfected creation" becomes our hope -- we know that we of Israel will "become perfectly created" if we overcome, just like the Messiah is the FIRST PERFECTED now. Understand that Yeshua is only the beginning, the "first." There are many more to be made perfect and to become Yeshua's brothers -- the actual SONS OF GOD!
Colossians 1:18 makes it clearer:
"And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may have the preeminence."
YEHOVAH God is building a GOD FAMILY! Yeshua the Messiah was tempted, tried, and proven before he was born into the great, spiritual family of YEHOVAH God. The Bible clearly shows that Yeshua the Messiah was the FIRST to be born into the family of YEHOVAH God -- as we saw in Romans 8:29.
"There is No God But Me"!
For those who believe that the Messiah was created a spirit being by YEHOVAH at some point in the past and then sent to earth to assume a human form, there is verse after verse after verse in the Bible that utterly refutes such a supposition. Let's take a look at a few of these verses, in both the Old and New Testaments, that explicitly show Yeshua the Messiah did NOT preexist as a spirit being:
Exodus 20:1-3: "And God spoke all these words, saying: 'I am the LORD your God...YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.'"
Deuteronomy 4:35: "To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; THERE IS NONE OTHER BESIDES HIM."
Deuteronomy 4:39: "Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; THERE IS NO OTHER."
Deuteronomy 5:6-7: "I am the LORD your God...YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME."
Deuteronomy 6:4-5: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, THE LORD IS ONE! You shall love the LORD your God will ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your might."
Isaiah 42:8: "I am the LORD, that is My name; and MY GLORY I WILL NOT GIVE TO ANOTHER, nor My praise to graven images."
Isaiah 43:10: "...BEFORE ME THERE WAS NO GOD FORMED, NOR SHALL THERE BE AFTER ME."
Isaiah 44:6: "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I AM THE FIRST AND I AM THE LAST; BESIDES ME THERE IS NO GOD."
Isaiah 44:8: "...You are My witnesses. IS THERE A GOD BESIDES ME? INDEED THERE IS NO OTHER ROCK; I KNOW NOT ONE."
Isaiah 45:5: "I am the LORD, and THERE IS NO OTHER; THERE IS NO GOD BESIDES ME..."
Isaiah 45:6: "That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that THERE IS NONE BESIDES ME. I am the LORD, and THERE IS NO OTHER."
Isaiah 45:18: "...I am the LORD, and THERE IS NO OTHER."
Isaiah 45:21: "...And THERE IS NO OTHER GOD BESIDES ME, a just God and a Savior; THERE IS NONE BESIDES ME."
Isaiah 45:22: "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! FOR I AM GOD, AND THERE IS NO OTHER."
Isaiah 48:12: "Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I AM HE, I AM THE FIRST, I AM ALSO THE LAST."
I Kings 8:60: "...that all the peoples of the earth may know that THE LORD IS GOD; THERE IS NO OTHER."
Mark 12:28-30: "Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him [Yeshua], 'Which is the first commandment of all?' Jesus answered him, 'The first of all the commandments is: "HEAR, O ISRAEL, THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE."'"
Mark 12:32-34: "So the scribe said to him, 'Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the TRUTH, FOR THERE IS ONE GOD, AND THERE IS NO OTHER BUT HE. And to love Him with ALL the heart, with ALL the understanding, with ALL the soul, and with ALL the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.' So when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God'..."
John 17:1 & 3: "Jesus spoke these words, lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come, GLORIFY YOUR SON, that Your Son also may glorify You...And this is eternal life, that they may know YOU, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND JESUS CHRIST WHOM YOU HAVE SENT.'"
James 2:19: "You believe that THERE IS ONE GOD. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble!"
James 4:12: "THERE IS ONE LAWGIVER, who is able to save and to destroy..."
Jude 4: "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and DENY THE ONLY LORD GOD and our Lord Jesus Christ."
Jude 25: "To THE ONLY GOD, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen" (RSV).
Ephesians 4:4-6: "There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord [Yeshua], one faith, one baptism; ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, WHO IS ABOVE ALL, and through all, and in you all."
I Corinthians 8:4: "Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that THERE IS NO OTHER GOD BUT ONE."
I Corinthians 8:6: "Yet for us THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, THE FATHER, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live."
I Timothy 1:17: "To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, THE ONLY GOD, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (RSV).
I Timothy 2:5: "For THERE IS ONE GOD, and there is one mediator between God and men, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS..."
We should have the picture by now -- these scriptures are very explicit! Both the Old and New Testaments clearly show that there was, and is, only ONE God -- YEHOVAH God the Father -- and that He was ALONE in heaven until the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah to become the FIRSTBORN of many brethren. Prior to the Messiah's existence on this earth there was only ONE MEMBER of the God Family -- YEHOVAH the Father. Now, since the Messiah's resurrection, there are TWO -- and in the future, at the resurrection of the saints of Israel, THERE WILL BE MANY MORE!
If there had been, as those who believe in a Biune or Triune God would have you think, another equal being with YEHOVAH God at that time (BEFORE Yeshua was born into the God Family), WHY is he not mentioned in the Bible? The fact is, the Bible clearly shows that before Yeshua the Messiah was born into the Family of God, there was NO OTHER god besides YEHOVAH! YEHOVAH God is now -- and always will be -- the Head over all.
The truth is so simple: YEHOVAH God was alone before Yeshua the Messiah was born, grew up in perfect righteousness, died for the sins of Israel and then was resurrected by YEHOVAH God -- changed from flesh and blood into a spirit being -- to be born into the God Family, and ascend into the heavens where he now sits at the right hand of YEHOVAH God the Father!
"YEHOVAH" is a Family, composed of, at the present time, of only TWO spirit beings: The Father and the Son. These two are separate beings and separate personalities, yet they are both "YEHOVAH" -- for YEHOVAH is now a Family! Yeshua the Messiah is the FIRST to be born unto YEHOVAH, making YEHOVAH no longer one but a FAMILY. This was the plan of YEHOVAH God from the very beginning. How simple is YEHOVAH God's truth! YEHOVAH is a FAMILY, now made up of TWO Beings because YEHOVAH Himself calls Yeshua the Messiah His Son!
The Simplicity of YEHOVAH
Notice the simplicity of YEHOVAH's Truth in the following verses --
Matthew 3:16-17: "As soon as Yeshua had been immersed [baptized], he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, he saw the spirit of God coming down upon him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, 'THIS IS MY SON, whom I love; I am well pleased with him'."
John 10:22-39: "It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, 'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.' Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.'
"The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, 'I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?' The Jews answered him, 'It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, BEING A MAN, make yourself God.' Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your law, "I said, YOU ARE GODS"? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, "You are blaspheming," because I said, "I am the SON OF GOD"?
"If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.' Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands" (emphasis mine) (Jewish New Testament).
The Pharisees thought that the Messiah was calling YEHOVAH God his literal Father, because they accused the Messiah of claiming that he was ONE, in accord and conforming to YEHOVAH -- which, of course, a man of his calling would say. "For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you, BEING A MAN, make yourself God" (John 10:33). So Yeshua called himself "Son of God" because YEHOVAH God is his Father and he would become a member of the God Family at his resurrection -- just as we of Israel will at our resurrection. But the Jews totally misunderstood "what" he called himself because they did not understand the concept of the God Family.
There can be no mistaking the FACT that YEHOVAH -- Who once stood ALONE -- is now a FAMILY, and YEHOVAH is the Family Name. At this point in time it is a Family Name for two spiritual, separate BEINGS: The Father and the Son. There is one family, but TWO individual, spiritual Beings in that Family. And this only happened at Yeshua the Messiah's resurrection -- and not one minute before! Prior to this time, and through the timelessness of YEHOVAH's being, He was ALONE in the Universe. Yeshua the Messiah did NOT preexist!
When we review what YEHOVAH's Word -- the Bible -- says on this subject, we clearly see that
1). The apostles called the Messiah the Son of God as soon as they met him. They certainly didn't have the Biune or Triune (Trinity) definition of "Son of God" in mind when they called him that.
2). Many other beings -- both angels and humans -- are also designated YEHOVAH God's sons, signifying a special relationship with YEHOVAH God. These persons, having the same title as the Messiah, are obviously NOT God.
3). Having the nature of YEHOVAH God -- which the Messiah NOW does -- does not mean he is God any more than Christian Israelite's anointed with YEHOVAH's spirit are God since they, too, will have YEHOVAH God's nature at the Resurrection.
4). The arguments for not taking the term "Son of God" to be literal after the resurrection are based on faulty reasoning.
One could ask why the "Father" is the Father and the Messiah the "Son"? And why does YEHOVAH God describe His relationship with Yeshua in these terms instead of using the illustration of (for example) ice, liquid and steam, as some have used to describe the Trinity? Or the three components of an egg (shell, yolk and egg white)? Or a person with a split personality? If they are equal in age and authority (as some believe), why not describe them in the sense of being brothers?
Proponents of the preexistence of the Messiah go to great lengths in attempting to prove their theory, pouncing on scriptures that seem to validate their belief. But do these scriptures REALLY prove that the Messiah existed as a member of a Biune or Triune Godhead before his human birth? Let's take a look.
As you read through the Old Testament portion of the Bible, the name Yeshua the Messiah is very conspicuous because of its absence! You read of YEHOVAH, the LORD God, the Creator God of Israel -- but NEVER the words "Yeshua the Messiah." Was the Messiah, in a pre-human state, a part of the Old Testament? Was the Messiah one of the characters of the Old Testament -- or did he come into existence in the New Testament?
There are three primary opinions about Yeshua the Messiah's role in the Old Testament, each of which is so totally different from the other that it is hard to believe adherents of these views are obtaining them from the same source -- the Bible! The three opinions are as follows:
1). Yeshua the Messiah was the God of the entire Old Testament. YEHOVAH God the Father was not the God of the Old Testament; He was never -- or seldom -- even mentioned in the Old Testament.
2). YEHOVAH God the Father was the God of the entire Old Testament. Yeshua the Messiah was not the God of the Old Testament -- he was never even mentioned in the Old Testament other than in the prophecies of the coming Messiah.
3). The Messiah was the Word (Logos) who preexisted as God -- along with his Father -- prior to his human birth. According to this theory, Yeshua was the Creator who later became a human being so that he could die for his creation.
These are extreme, divergent views -- and only ONE can be true.
We have already seen, from the verses quoted, that both the Old and New Testaments demonstrate that there is only ONE Creator God mentioned -- the One found in the First and Fourth Commandments. And yet, there are many in the Churches of God that believe certain Old Testament scriptures imply there were two Old Testament Gods: God #1, the Father, and God #2 the Son, who would function as the God of the Old Testament, and later be born as a human being and die as our Savior.
Now, are there really any Old Testament scriptures that even remotely imply that the Messiah was God before his earthly existence -- or that allow for two Gods instead of just one?
You will find no argument amongst religious Jews -- they have always maintained that there was only ONE GOD in the Tanakh or Old Testament. This is a monotheistic view that would seem to be correct except for a few major scriptures that appear to imply otherwise. These scriptures include --
1). Elohim and the "us" scriptures of the Book of Genesis.
2). "The LORD said to my Lord" scripture in Psalm 110:1.
3). "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father" in Isaiah 9:6.
4). God "sent a messenger before himself" in Malachi 3:1.
This relatively few number of scriptures is about all the adherents of the TWO-GOD theory can find in the Old Testament to bolster their view that Yeshua the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament.
Let us now look into these scriptures and see if they do indeed provide any evidence that the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament -- or if YEHOVAH God the Father is the God of the Old Testament as well as the New.
The "Elohim" and "Us" Scriptures
"God" in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word Elohim, which is the plural form of El. Elohim is a plural word that can refer to ONE, two or many gods. Notes Gary Sjordal in One God:
"Elohim is used in the SINGULAR FORM in virtually every verse of the Old Testament and it is clear that each use of Elohim refers to ONE Being, and not two or more. The only plural usage of Elohim is found in three Genesis scriptures where these "us" references seem to imply a plurality of beings" (page 19).
The scriptures Mr. Sjordal is referring to are as follows --
1). Genesis 1:26: "Then God said, 'Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness'..."
2). Genesis 3:22: "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of US, to know good and evil'..."
3). Genesis 11:5-7: "But the LORD came down...[and] said, 'Indeed the people are one...Come let US go down and there confuse their language'..."
These three scriptures from Genesis show the Creator God making statements that seemingly involve other Beings -- one or more. Many believe the "us" indicates Yeshua the Messiah, as the Creator, referring to himself and his Father. Is this Biblically feasible? Continues Gary Sjordal --
"In Genesis 11:7 is Jesus Christ, one of TWO Gods, telling God the Father to accompany Him and 'let US go down and there confound their language...'? The context implies that 'the LORD' is the One God, Yahweh [YEHOVAH], and possibly some angels in the service of the Creator.
"If there was only one God, 'our' could either mean 'the One God and His angels,' or it could mean 'the majesty of God.'"
Notice what the Bible dictionary Insight On the Scriptures says about the word Elohim:
"The Hebrew word 'elo-him' (gods) appears to be from a root meaning 'be strong.' 'Elo-him' is the plural of 'eloh'ah (god). Sometimes this plural refers to a number of gods (Ge 31:30, 32; 35:2), but more often is used as a plural of majesty, dignity, or excellence. 'Elo-him' is used in the Scriptures with reference to Jehovah himself, to angels, to idol gods (singular and plural), and to men.
"When applying to Jehovah, 'Elo-him' is used as a plural of majesty, dignity, or excellence. (Ge. 1:1) Regarding this, Aaron Ember wrote: 'That the language of the O[ld] T[estement] has entirely given up the idea of plurality in...["Elo-him"] (as applied to the God of Israel) is especially shown by the fact that it is almost invariably construed with a SINGULAR VERBAL PREDICATE, and takes a SINGULAR ADJECTIVAL ATTRIBUTE....["Elo-him"] must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty, being equal to The Great God'" (The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. XXI, 1905, p. 208).
"The title 'Elo-him' draws attention to Jehovah's strength as the Creator. It appears 35 times by itself in the account of creation, and every time the verb describing what he said and did is in the SINGULAR number. (Ge. 1:1-24) (Vol. 1, 1988, p. 968).
With this in mind, these scriptures, in and of themselves, clearly DO NOT prove there was more than ONE God in the Old Testament.
While the creation chapters (Genesis 1 and 2) have three plural pronouns (Genesis 1:26 -- us, our, our) that refer to the creation, the same two chapters have 21 SINGULAR PRONOUNS that refer to the Creator Elohim (YEHOVAH God). In chapter 50 of Psalms we find about 35 pronouns in the SINGULAR that refer to the Creator (Elohim). Elohim, therefore, refers to ONE CREATOR GOD, as is seen in multiple scriptures -- including Isaiah 44:24 and Malachi 2:10.
Comments Sjordal --
"Even though Elohim is a plural word, it is still an assumption to think that this means there are two or more Gods being referred to in the "us" scriptures. Elohim is in a SINGULAR FORM throughout most of the Old Testament which actually is a proof that there is ONLY ONE GOD, not two or more Gods" (One God, p. 20).
Almost the only indication of more than one God in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 1:26 which says, as we have seen, "Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness..." So, argue those who believe that the Messiah preexisted, why use the plural terms "us" and "our" unless there were two Gods? This is a reasonable question. The answer to this involves a rather large subject which boils down to the premise that in every place that the name Elohim refers to the Creator God, it should instead be rendered YHVH -- a SINGULAR Name. This would then make Genesis 1:26 read like this --
"And YHVH [YEHOVAH] said, Let ME make man in MY image, after MY likeness..."
An explanation for this is found in the book Did Yahshua Messiah Pre-exist? by Yisrayl Hawkins. Notice --
"It should be a well-known fact that the scribes used the word Elohim, translated 'God,' to REPLACE the Name of Yahweh [YEHOVAH] in the Holy Scriptures...The earliest writings we have, what are known as the 'J,' or 'Yahwist,' manuscripts, used the Name of Yahweh [YEHOVAH] exclusively in its writings. The 'J' source is the OLDEST source of writings we have, which makes it the 'Inspired Writings' of the Scriptures!"
Now there is another source -- known as the 'E' or 'Elohist' which supposedly came AFTER the 'J' Source --
"The 'E' or 'Elohist' Source is derived from the Hebrew word for 'God' -- Elohim -- the use of which is characteristic of this Source. The 'Elohist' Source came AFTER the 'Yahwist' Source...
"The Interpreter's Dictionary, Vol. 2, pp. 94...shows that this source is commonly associated with the NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, and dated approximately 100 years later that the 'Yahwist' Source..." (p. 232).
Do you grasp the significance of this? Both the "Yahwist" and the "Elohist" Sources stem from a common source before the nation of Israel was split into the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They used the same source for the Old Testament, but one retained YEHOVAH's Name in the scriptures, while the other (the Northern Kingdom of Israel) REPLACED YEHOVAH's Name with the pagan title 'Elohim!
Continues Hawkins --
"The words El-Elohim (God), like the words Baal-Adonai (Lord), came from the Canaanite vocabulary and worship. These Canaanite words were accepted into the Hebrew language many years after the Yahwist Writings of the Holy Scriptures..." (p. 233).
"A while after these Canaanite Titles were incorporated into the Hebrew language, the people of Yahweh [YEHOVAH] slowly, but surely, forgot the Name of their Creator. Indeed, His Name came to be never mentioned, except on the Day of Atonement, and then only by the High Priest who was in office at the temple, and then in such a low voice that no one was even able to hear it" (p. 234).
While the avoidance of pronouncing the Name YHVH -- YEHOVAH -- is generally ascribed to a sense of misguided reverence, it was more precisely caused by a misunderstanding of the 3rd Commandment, which says: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). The Tanakh brings out the true meaning of this verse: "You shall not SWEAR FALSELY by the name of the LORD your God; for the LORD will not clear one who SWEARS FALSELY by His name."
By now it should be absolutely clear why the True Name of YEHOVAH (YHVH) was forgotten. In all the documents coming out of the Northern Kingdom of Israel YEHOVAH's Name was replaced with the titles of pagan gods; and eventually people began to think that Lord God, or Lord Gods (plural, as in more than one god: a Trinity or a Duality, depending upon the group), created the heavens and the earth. The word Elohim, to the detriment of the understanding of many in the Churches of God, has been written into Genesis 1:26-27. Had the Name of YEHOVAH not been replaced by the pagan title Elohim in these verses, there would not be the rampant confusion that exists in the churches today!
Concludes Gary Sjordal --
"The Creator's original Hebrew name, YHVH (or any of its many pronounciations -- Yehweh, Yahveh, Yehowah, etc.) was changed to a generic almost meaningless title that puts the True God in the same category as all the pagan gods. This change made a plurality of Gods seem possible with Genesis 1:26. But in the ORIGINAL FORM it is clear there was ONE GOD: the Father with the Messiah coming into being about 4000 years later" (One God, p. 22).
Even though Elohim is a plural word, its usage in the Old Testament does not mean in any way, shape or form that there were two (or more) God Beings since Elohim is used in the SINGULAR FORM almost every time it is used. Elohim is merely a pagan title for the God of the Old Testament whose real name is YEHOVAH (YHVH). And YEHOVAH is almost always used in the SINGULAR throughout the Old Testament.
Bottom line -- there is ONE GOD in the Old Testament and that God is the ONE GOD YEHOVAH. The Genesis scriptures DO NOT support Yeshua the Messiah as God of the Old Testament!
There is a scripture in the Book of Psalms that causes people no end of trouble:
"The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool'" (NKJV).
Now while most believers in a monotheistic or Biune Godhead agree that this verse says, "God the Father said unto Jesus the Son...," the controversy about this verse boils down to the question of the TIMING of this event. Is YEHOVAH God the Father speaking to His Son Yeshua the Messiah in Old Testament times -- meaning there were TWO Gods during this period of time? Or, does this scripture actually prove that Yeshua the Messiah preexisted BEFORE his human birth? Writes David M. Hay --
"To the extent that rough dates can be assigned to primitive [early] Christian writings, certain broad observations can be made about the history of Christian interpretation of Ps. 110. It obviously began well before Romans or I Corinthians was wriiten, probably in the pre-Pauline period...The textual evidence suggests that our OG [Old Greek] version of the psalm, or one very similar to it, was widely known in early Christian circles; it seems to be the form on which most or all of the extant quotations and allusions directly or indirectly depend" (Glory at the Right Hand: Psalm 110 in Early Christianity, 1973, p. 157).
Adds David Hay:
"All early Christian references to the psalm connect it with Jesus' post-death glory. Some, like Acts 2.33-36, emphasize its relation to the past event of resurrection and ascension. Others connect it mainly with his present exaltation, and still others emphasize its connection with his parousia" (ibid., p. 156).
Whatever implications or interpretations can be derived from this verse -- and there are quite a few -- the PRIMARY meaning is quite apparent: We are reading, in this verse, one of many Old Testament prophecies that refer to the coming Messiah.
All of this psalm is a prophecy that reveals YEHOVAH God the Father will defeat the enemies of the Messiah ("I [will] make Your enemies Your footstool"), after which the Messiah will rule over YEHOVAH's people Israel. The time setting of this prophecy is yet future -- just before the beginning of the Millennium, the 1,000 year rule of Yeshua the Messiah -- AND YEHOVAH God the Father -- here on this earth!
If you go to the 4th verse of Psalm 110 you will see that the second "Lord" mentioned in this psalm is clearly the coming Messiah. Notice!
"...You [the 2nd. 'Lord'] are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
Gary Sjordal writes about this, saying --
"Melchizedek means 'King of Peace.' David is prophesying under the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit that the Father will give His Son, the Messiah, rulership as a king over His people [Israel] after a terrible endtime battle with the enemies of Yahweh [YEHOVAH]" (One God, p. 23).
The correct interpretation of Psalm 110 is provided by Matthew, where he has Yeshua responding to ensnaring questions thrown at him by the hypocritical Jewish leaders. After successfully fielding these questions, the Messiah went on to ask the Pharisees a difficult question of his own:
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, 'What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is he?' They said to him, 'The Son of David.' He said to them, 'How then does David in the spirit call him "Lord," saying: "The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool!"'?
"'If David then calls him "Lord," how is he his Son?' And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question him anymore" (Matthew 22:41-46).
Here Yeshua made plain the fact that Psalm 110 speaks of YEHOVAH God the Father talking to His Messiah (the LORD said to my lord), and that King David showed respect to this Messiah even though he had not yet been born, but would BE BORN ONE DAY as a descendant of David. This question baffled the Pharisees who could not comprehend how David could call the Messiah "lord" when that "lord" would be born of David's line!
Please take note here that the Messiah DID NOT say that he was the God of the Old Testament, to whom YEHOVAH God the Father was speaking in Psalm 110. Instead, Yeshua clarified Psalm 110:1 by making known that this referred to the coming Messiah -- a son descended from King David.
There are those who believe that there were TWO YEHOVAHS -- one of whom was Yeshua -- in the Old Testament; and they attempt to use Psalm 110 as a major proof. But this backfires because Psalm 110 in NO WAY proves Yeshua the Messiah was one of two YEHOVAHS -- in fact, it proves the exact opposite!
When the New Testament quotes from Psalm 110:1 (Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36 and Luke 20:42) the words "LORD" and "lord" are translated from the same Greek word kurios in both cases. However, in the Old Testament, these two words ("LORD" and "lord") are translated from TWO DIFFERENT Hebrew words. The first word ("LORD") is translated from YHVH which refers to the Father, while the second word ("lord") is translated from adon, which clearly refers to the Messiah. David is here making a DISTINCTION between these two beings.
So, is YHVH the Father, or the Son? Psalm 110 clearly shows that YHVH has to be the Father. Now what does the rest of the Old Testament show -- is YHVH the Father -- or the One who later became the Son? In the previous part of this article we saw, with overwhelming clarity, that YHVH (which is translated LORD throughout the Old Testament) refers to ONE GOD-BEING, as pointed out by the SINGULAR context of each usage of YHVH. Comments Gary Sjordal: "The Old Testament proclaims that there is One God, and that God is YHVH [YEHOVAH]. And according to David in Psalm 110:1, YHVH must be the Father" (One God, p. 23).
In summary, it is a baseless assumption to claim that this Psalm proves there were two God-beings talking to each other -- both coexisting in Old Testament times. Psalm 110 is one of many verses in the Old Testament that prophesies of the Messiah to come, at that time not yet born. "The context of this psalm is the endtime warfare that the future Messiah would assist His Father in waging [when they BOTH return to this earth]. The context is the Father addressing the Son at the time of the Messiah's second coming" (ibid., p.24).
In the New Testament Yeshua the Messiah clarifies Psalm 110 by underscoring the fact that David referred to a FUTURE MESSIAH who would be born as one of David's descendants -- which prophecy he (Yeshua) fulfilled. Psalm 110 clearly shows that YHVH (YEHOVAH) is God the Father, the One God, who was the God of the Old Testament.
The Bible is full of verses showing that there is ONE True God -- we have looked at many of them so far in this article. Notice what Yeshua the Messiah emphasized in John 17:3 --
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
The "only True God" here is obviously YEHOVAH God the Father. Some may try to insinuate that the last part of this verse ("Jesus Christ whom You have sent") means Yeshua was sent from a preexistent life in heaven, but the verse DOES NOT say, or imply, that. Notice what the apostle Paul wrote:
"For there is ONE GOD and one mediator between God and men, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS (I Timothy 2:5)."
Notice it says "the MAN Christ Jesus" -- NOT "the God Christ Jesus"! This would be a strange thing to say if the Messiah had preexisted in heaven with YEHOVAH God the Father before his human birth!
Yeshua, the prophesied Messiah and Savior, died and was resurrected by the Father to become His first spirit-Being Son. Today Yeshua is a member of the God Family -- the FIRSTBORN of many brethren (Romans 8:29), but he was not the Creator God. He DID NOT exist in any form before his human birth. "Any scriptures (known as Two-God scriptures) that seem to say that Jesus Christ was God of the Old Testament, or that he preexisted his human birth, can generally be easily refuted by context or other means. A scripture that seems to say that Jesus Christ was a divine Being prior to his birth as a human baby should be looked upon with much skepticism" (One God, p. 24). With this in mind, let's now take a look at Isaiah 9:6 --
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
This scripture seems to say that Yeshua the Messiah is called "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father." This would seem illogical and impossible in light of all the other scriptures we have reviewed that say otherwise! All these other scriptures clearly show that YEHOVAH God the Father is the Mighty God and Everlasting Father -- not Yeshua. So how do we explain Isaiah 9:6?
It is a fact, corroborated by biblical scholars, that the King James Version of the Bible contains literally thousands of errors. The King James translation of Isaiah 9:6 is just one of these errors -- a mistranslated verse that has deceived people into thinking the Son was the "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father" or, in other words, that he preexisted! There are a number of KEY words in this passage that dramatically alter the meaning; let's take a closer look at them.
The first word we shall look at is the word that has been translated "wonderful." The original Hebrew word is pele' -- #6382 in Strong's Hebrew Dictionary. In its original meaning, this word was NOT the adjective "wonderful" found in the King James Version of Isaiah 9:6, but the NOUN "wonder" which forms part of the phrase PELE-YAOTZ -- see the Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Brown, Driver and Briggs.
Now the word "Counselor," although accurately translated, is translated from the word yaotz -- which is the last part of the phrase pele-yaotz. However, in this case, the word yaotz is NOT a word with a separate meaning but gets its meaning in combination with the rest of the phrase, thus the phrase pele-yaotz actually means "wonder of a Counselor." According to Brown, Driver and Briggs, the "wonder" of the Counselor is the Ideal Ruler foretold to come -- in other words, the Messiah!
So, who is this "Counselor" of whom this child who is to be born is to be a "wonder" or "Ideal Ruler"? The answer is to be found in the words "mighty" and "God," badly mistranslated in the King James Version. These two words were translated from the Hebrew words "gabur" and "el" words # 1368 and #410 in Strong's Hebrew Dictionary. The word "gabur" is correctly translated mighty, however, the word "el" should have been translated judge -- NOT God! For proof of this see The Soncino Talmud, The Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Sanhedrin, 94a, translated by Dr. I. Epstein.
When properly translated, the words "el" and "gabur" should be written -- in Isaiah 9:6 -- JUDGE OF THE MIGHTY. With these facts in hand, the entire verse should have been translated --
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name will be called the WONDER of the Counselor, the JUDGE of the Mighty Everlasting Father -- the Prince of Peace."
The "Counselor" is, of course, "the Mighty Everlasting Father" -- YEHOVAH God Himself! Isaiah 9:6 is pointing out the fact that this "wonder" (Yeshua, the judge) of the "Counselor" (YEHOVAH, the Father) -- Yeshua the Messiah who is the Ideal Ruler -- was yet to come when this prophecy was spoken! Once again, Yeshua the Messiah did NOT preexist in the time of Isaiah the prophet but was prophesied to come later. Yeshua the Messiah was NOT "The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father" -- as the careless or misguided translators of the King James Version of the Bible would have you believe. Comments Gary Sjordal --
"It was only after Jesus Christ was born as a human and resurrected to eternal life as the Son of God that the titles in verse 6 [of Isaiah 9] would apply. Isaiah 9:6-7 does not say Jesus Christ was a God in the Old Testament. Rather, it says just the opposite -- that Jesus Christ did not ever exist in Old Testament times since He had to have been born as a baby whose parents were Mary and [Joseph]" (One God, p. 24).
When the translators' errors are removed from Isaiah 9:6, we find that this verse in NO WAY proves that Yeshua the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament. Rather, Isaiah 9:6 was a PROPHECY of a child to be born who would eventually assume the mantle of government (at his second appearance) and be given many offices or titles, some of which are mentioned in this scripture.
Some people read Malachi 3:1 and come to the hard-to-explain conclusion that this verse proves Yeshua the Messiah was the God of the Old Testament. Would you come to this conclusion?
"'Behold, I send My messenger and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, he is coming,' says the LORD of hosts."
Let's dissect this passage and have the Bible interpret the Bible instead of men with all their preconceived theories and biases: The word "messenger" is clearly shown in Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2 and Luke 1:76 to refer to John the Baptist. No argument here. Next, look at the word "Me." To whom could this refer? In Isaiah 40:3 we see that the phrase "prepare the way of the LORD" equates to the phrase "he will prepare the way before Me" in Malachi 3:1. Therefore, the word "Me" in Malachi 3:1 is obviously the same as the word "LORD" in Isaiah 40:3. Since the word "LORD" is in the upper case, this refers to YHVH -- YEHOVAH God the Father. Now that we have established that the word "Me" refers to YEHOVAH God, we can carry this back to the letter "I" and the word "My" in the first part of Malachi 3:1. Now we have:
"Behold, I [YEHOVAH God] send My [YEHOVAH God's] messenger [John the Baptist] and he [John the Baptist] will prepare the way before Me [YEHOVAH God]."
Let's now look at the next key word. "Lord" (lower case) is translated from adon, and is a clear reference to Yeshua the Messiah. So now we have --
"'Behold, I [YEHOVAH God] send My [YEHOVAH God's] messenger [John the Baptist] and he [John the Baptist] will prepare the way before Me [YEHOVAH God]. And the Lord [Yeshua the Messiah], whom you seek, will suddenly come to his [Yeshua's] temple, even the Messenger [Yeshua] of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, he [Yeshua] is coming,' say the LORD [YEHOVAH God] of hosts."
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible words this verse in an interesting way:
"Therefore, behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and THEY will suddenly come to his temple, the Lord, whom you seek and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire; behold, he himself comes, says the LORD of hosts."
The correct rendering of Malachi 3:1 reveals that YEHOVAH God of the Old Testament (the Father) will send John the Baptist to prepare the way before YEHOVAH God, who is also going to return to this earth in the end of the age. Isaiah 40:5 emphasizes this: "The GLORY OF THE LORD [YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory] shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." There are many verses in the Bible that show YEHOVAH God is going to return to this earth and take up residence in a newly-built Temple in Jerusalem. For more information about this incredible end-time event, read or send for our article, The Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah! Yeshua -- the Messenger of the new covenant -- will represent the Father as High Priest and be an intermediary for us in the Temple in Jerusalem!
In Psalm 110:1 and 4 we find the Father speaking to the Son in a prophecy, notice!
"The LORD [YHVH] said unto my Lord [Adon]..."
We can conclude, based on these two different Hebrew words for "Lord," that YHVH is the Father in the Old Testament -- NOT Yeshua the Messiah who is called Adon or Adonai. Carrying this over to Malachi 3:1 we find that the speaker is YHVH (LORD of hosts), while the one coming suddenly to the temple (as High Priest) is Adon (Lord whom you are seeking). Since this is clearly an exact parallel with Psalm 110:1, then YHVH (LORD) is God the Father and Adon (Lord) is Yeshua the Messiah -- which leaves only ONE CONCLUSION -- YEHOVAH God the Father is THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT!
In Malachi 3:1 we read that "the Lord [Yeshua], whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple." This refers to Yeshua the Messiah's second appearance, and the "temple" could well be a term for the people of the Messiah, his Church. Notice I Corinthians 3:16: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." The word "temple" could also refer to the literal Temple that will be built in Jerusalem, after the Messiah returns, to house the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God, and where the Messiah will be the High Priest.
YEHOVAH God the Father -- God of the Old Testament -- sent two messengers -- one (John the Baptist) at the beginning of the New Testament times to prepare the way for Yeshua the Messiah, and another one (Yeshua the Messiah), just before the 1000-year time of peace, to prepare the way for YEHOVAH God's return to Jerusalem and the rebuilt Temple. Malachi 3:1 is a prophecy of the Messiah which tells us that YEHOVAH God the Father will send a messenger to clear the way for His return. This scripture DOES NOT and CANNOT prove that Yeshua was God of the Old Testament. What it does prove is that YEHOVAH God the Father was God of the Old Testament, with Yeshua the Messiah not yet even born, although he was the major and key element in the whole plan of YEHOVAH God for His people Israel.
What About John's Gospel?
In the earlier part of this article the question of John's Gospel came up. Many commentators believe this is where the concept of a preexistent Messiah is clearly and unassailably stated. James D.G. Dunn wrote that the "christology of a preexistent Son of God becoming man only began to emerge in the last decades of the first century, and only appears in a clear form within the NT in its latest [John's] writings." Dunn says this because of a flagrant mistranslation in what is known as the Prologue to the Book of John.
The first three gospels don't even hint at the preexistence of Yeshua the Messiah. In the fourth gospel, however, there are scriptures that are assumed to prove Yeshua preexisted before his human birth. The first of these scriptures occurs in the first verse of John --
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD."
Now, this verse can conceivably be interpreted in at least two different ways:
1). This Word who was God was the preexisting Yeshua the Messiah who became a human being: the Word became flesh (John 1:14).
2). This Word was a function of God, the only God known in both the Old and New Testaments -- the One known as God the Father, the Creator God, YEHOVAH.
The Greek word from which "Word" is translated is logos, and is found 331 times in the New Testament, which defines the "Word" as statement, utterance, words of Scripture, the word of YEHOVAH, the word of Yeshua, the word of life, the word of truth, proclamation, etc. Then suddenly, for FOUR TIMES only, the word logos is translated, in John 1:1, to mean that Yeshua the Messiah was the "Word"! And why is the translation for logos capitalized here and nowhere else? Notes Gary Sjordal:
"There is no good reason to think that a new radical scriptural revelation is being made in the first chapter of John. It is not logical that if Yahshua [Yeshua] were the God of the Old Testament that this point would not have been made loud and clear previously in the other gospels. John's gospel was written many years later. To this point in the Bible there is scarcely a hint that the Messiah pre-existed; rather, the opposite is true."
When one reads "word" (logos), the first thought should be: "This is referring to God speaking," and not the introduction of a new doctrine: "Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament" (One God, p.35).
William Tyndale, in his English version of the New Testament (1525 AD) starts the Book of John in the following way:
"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by IT, and without IT was made nothing that was made. In IT was life and the life was the light of man, and the light shineth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended IT not (John 1:1-5)."
Note carefully that "word" was NOT capitalized because Tyndale did not see, in the original Greek, any indication that this was a title or name. This is further backed up by Tyndale's use of the impersonal pronoun "it" in verses 3 and 4, referring to the subject "word" in verse 1. So why didn't the translators of the King James Version -- men who were said to have "translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised" -- decide not to accept Tyndale's version of John 1? Could they have personalized "word" to bolster the Trinity doctrine of the Anglican Church -- one of the daughters of the Roman Catholic Church? The answer is obvious!
That the "word" was Yeshua the Messiah who was in the beginning and was made flesh, who was preexistent and emptied himself of his Divinity and became a human being, is the conclusion accepted by most students of the Bible is obvious to see. However, this conclusion is not based on an in-depth study of these verses or on an understanding of the CONTEXT.
In the first verse it says: THE WORD WAS GOD. Who was this God? Was it the Father (YEHOVAH God) or the Son (Yeshua)? John plainly tells us who "the word" was. He says the word was God. Now we must find out who God is, and we will then know who "the word" is. In verse 18 of this same chapter John tells us that God is the FATHER -- not Yeshua the only begotten (by the resurrection) Son.
If we believe John that God is the Father, then let us examine the scriptures backwards to verse 1. In verse 13 "God" must refer to the Father -- likewise in verse 12. In verse 2 we find "God" again. Staying in context with John 1:18, John tells us God is the Father, NOT the Son. Verse 1 has the word "God" two times. Again, staying in context with verse 18, we find John telling us that God is the Father, NOT the Son.
According to the apostle John, there is only ONE entity mentioned in John 1:1 -- and that ONE is YEHOVAH God the Father, the Almighty Creator.
Why does John "divide" the personage or entity of YEHOVAH God into two different (yet the same) components -- the "word" and "God"? The Aramaic version of the Bible provides the answer and shows that the "word" refers to YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory! Notice!
Verse 1: "In the beginning [of creation] there was the MANIFESTATION; and that MANIFESTATION was with God [YEHOVAH]; and God was [the embodiment of] that MANIFESTATION.
Verse 2: "This [the MANIFESTATION] was in the beginning with God [YEHOVAH].
Verse 3: "Everything was within his [more correctly, IT'S] power, [otherwise] nothing would ever exist.
Verse 4: "Through him [IT, the MANIFESTATION] was life and life became the spark of humanity.
Verse 5: "And that [ensuing] fire [the MANIFESTATION] lights the darkness and darkness does not overshadow it [the MANIFESTATION]."
The Encyclopedia Judaica defines the word "Shekinah" as "the Divine Presence, the luminous immanence of God in the world,...a revelation of the holy in the midst of the profane...." (Vol. 4, pp. 1349-1351). This encyclopedia goes on to say that "one of the more prominent images associated with the Shekhinah is that of light. Thus on the verse, '...the earth did shine with His glory' (Ezekiel 43:2), the rabbis remark, 'This is the face of the Shekhinah'....Both the angels in heaven and the righteous in olam ha-ba ("the world to come") are sustained by the radiance of the Shekhinah..."
According to Jewish understanding, the Shekinah served as an INTERMEDIARY between YEHOVAH God and man, and sometimes takes on a human form. "Thus when Moses asked to see the glory of God, he was shown the SHEKHINAH, and when the prophets in their visions saw God in human likeness, what they actually saw was not God Himself but the SHEKHINAH..." (ibid.). The Shekinah is the visible aspect of YEHOVAH God that can be safely viewed by human beings.
John does NOT say -- in any way, shape or form -- that the Messiah was a preexisting being, or that he was the God of the Old Testament, or that he was the Creator God. John was trying to uphold and prove that Yeshua the Messiah was the Son of YEHOVAH God at the resurrection (just as we can become sons of YEHOVAH God) -- NOT that the Messiah was a preexisting God.
The Sum of the Matter...
Often we find that people begin the discussion of who Yeshua the Messiah is with the preconceived idea he is God, and then look for support from the Bible to prove their view. What if we start with the idea that Yeshua is not God and then find scriptures that absolutely have to convince us he is God? This, too, is approaching the subject with a preconceived idea; however, it is THE SAME PRECONCEIVED IDEA THAT THE MESSIAH'S APOSTLES HAD! They certainly did not think that the Messiah was God when they first met him. So let's assume that the Messiah is not God and determine what makes us think he is. Do the scriptures that people use that supposedly proved to the Messiah's disciples that he was God prove the same to us? How do these compare with the other scriptures that make us think he is not God?
Yeshua the Messiah's identity should be self-evident by now. The Old Testament simply DOES NOT support the concept of the Messiah being the Creator God of the Book of Genesis. The New Testament clearly tells us that the Messiah is our elder brother, the firstborn of many brethren who became the Son of God at his resurrection, NOT our Father. It is beyond refute that this God, called YEHOVAH (YHVH), is God the Father, the Creator God of Genesis 1 -- the ONE GOD of Israel!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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