Saturday, May 3, 2014

Doxologies to Christ

posted 10/14/14

The following are seven apparent New Testament doxologies to Jesus Christ according to Robert Morey in his book The Trinity: Evidence and Issues (pages 384-389). I've rearranged their order for my own purposes. Morey said he listed six doxologies, but I counted seven in his list. I'm not sure why that is. Nevertheless, the fact is that if doxologies to Jesus are recorded in the New Testament, then that would demonstrate that (at least some of) the New Testament writers believed in the full deity of Christ. I refer you to Morey's book for a fuller defense of why these doxologies (some more certain than others) are to Christ.

In  this blogpost I'll rate each of them myself and decide one way or the other whether I think it is or isn't a doxology to Christ. Since I'm a Trinitarian, and for the sake of being as objective as possible, if the evidence doesn't seem to favor a doxology to both the Father and the Son I will be rating the doxology on the side of the Father if I think the evidence is equally balanced . I do this to make the case for Trinitarianism harder because I want to demonstrate to non-Trinitarians that I'm trying to be as objective as possible in my arguments for Trinitarianism. And because I want to show them that I can see things from their non-Trinitarian's perspective. Since I too was once a non-Trinitarian 20 years ago. That way, if I present an argument that I think favors Trinitarianism, it may make the non-Trinitarians who read this blog consider that much more carefully and seriously whether Trinitarianism may possibly true. Paradigm shifts often require a lot of weighty evidence for them to occur. Oftentimes the case for a true position is watered down and weakened by including bad or weak subarguments or evidences. So, often it's best to trim off weak bad subarguments/evidences when presenting a cumulative case for a position. Or at least saving them for last.

Not being a Greek scholar, I can only interpret the passages in English. For all I know, the evidence from the grammar of the Greek strongly favors a doxology to Christ even though to me (personally) it favors the Father as I read it in English (or vice versa). I'll be quoting the ESV.

For the sake of reference, I've numbered the doxologies according how they are listed in Morey's book. I've also quoted more of the surrounding verses in order to get a better view of the context.


But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.- 2 Pet. 3:18

This is such a clear doxology to Jesus Christ that Robert Morey states he couldn't find a single commentary that said otherwise. I completely agree. In fact, I think this is the clearest doxology to Christ in the entire New Testament. If we are to assume that the book of 2nd Peter is both inspired of God and belongs in the New Testament canon, then this strongly suggests the full deity of Christ.

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to Jesus Christ

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.- 2 Tim. 4:18

The context strongly suggests that the "Lord" here is Jesus because of the previous verse.

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.- 2 Tim. 4:17

Morey states that every commentary his people could find interpreted it to refer to Jesus. I have to agree. It makes most sense that it was the Lord Jesus who "stood by [Paul] and strengthened [him].

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to Jesus Christ

 20    Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.- Heb. 13:20-21

Morey states that the vast majority of commentators are certain this refers to Christ. That the context and grammar demonstrates that the words "to whom" refers to the immediate antecedent "Jesus Christ." Only a few interpret the doxology to refer to the Father. With only two interpreting it to refer to both the Father and Jesus.

For myself, I'm slightly on the side of this being a doxology to the Father rather than to Christ.

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to the Father

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies---in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.- 1 Pet. 4:10-11

Regarding this doxology, Morey states that commentators are divided. I refer you to Morey's book. Citing J. Hart in the Expositor's Greek Testament he brings up a grammatical issue which he thinks tips the scales in favor of it being a doxology to Christ. But to whet your appetite, I'll quote Morey's quotation of Greek scholar A.T. Robertson. Robertson states:

"To whom (dative) is," that is to Jesus Christ the immediate antecedent.
I'm on the fence on this one. Because of that, I'm choosing conservatively. So, I'll count this on the side of it being a doxology to the Father.

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to the Father

4    John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
    Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
    To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.- Rev. 1:4-6

This does seem more plausibly to be a doxology to Christ because all the pronouns seem to refer back to Christ.

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to Jesus Christ


4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.- Rom. 9:4-5

I think in all likelihood this verse does present a doxology to Christ because of the reasons I gave on a different blogpost which I've linked to below:

I also recommend Murray J. Harris' book on this verse to see some of the better pros and cons regarding this verse.

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to Jesus Christ


11    Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"14 And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.-Rev. 5:11-14

There are no chapter divisions in the original Greek. But even in this chapter alone I think there are more than the two doxologies in this immediate passage. But I'll be treating the ones in verses 13-14 as if they are one. The statement in verse 12 does seem to be a doxology to Christ. The statement in verse 13 seems to be a doxology to both the Father and Christ.

The apparent fact that the doxology in verse 13 is both to the Father and the Son seems to me to clearly imply the full deity of both. If I were still a Unitarian, I would find this passage very disturbing. I would naturally have wanted the accolades to the Father and Son to always be distinct and separate. And preferably using different words. Yet, that's not the case. I have to therefore make the same conclusions that James White did in his debate with Greg Stafford. Stafford gives reasons why it's not clear that Jesus Christ is being worshipped in the highest sense along with the Father. While Stafford's facts are true, namely that the passage doesn't specifically state that the worship is directed to at either the Father alone, the Son alone or the Father and Son jointly; I think it's clear that if Jesus Christ isn't fully divine, then this text is really deceptive and gives the wrong impression to its readers.

Also, as Rob Bowman said in his debate with Greg Stafford, Stafford's view has been defined in such a way that it's nearly unfalsifiable. And as James White states in the debate with Stafford, the accolades given to Christ in the book of Revelation, if interpreted in a Unitarian way, would make it impossible to determine how to and what kind of worship is due to God alone. And so would also undermine the clarity of and call into question the inspiration of Holy Scripture.

Is Jesus "God" or "a god"?
Debate between Greg Stafford and James White
The Debate between Greg Stafford and Robert Bowman can be ordered at the Institute for Religious Research website.

My personal verdict: This is a doxology to both the Father and Jesus Christ the Son

Of the 7 doxologies to Christ offered by Robert Morey, I've made the following verdict.

4 of the 7 doxologies are to Christ.

2 of the 7 doxologies are to the Father.

1 of the 7 doxologies are to both the Father and the Son.

Which means that I personally find at least 5 doxologies to Christ (if not also the Father) in the New Testament. That, to me, suggests that Christ really and truly is fully God.

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