Sunday, August 31, 2014

Omniscience of the Persons of the Trinity

originally posted 6/5/2015

Omniscience is acknowledge by most people to be an attribute that only absolute deity can possess. Solomon stated that only the true God knows all the thoughts of human beings.

then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),- 1 Kings 8:39
It is written in Jeremiah

"I the LORD search the heart
        and test the mind
    to give every man according to his ways,
        according to the fruit of his deeds."- Jer. 17:10

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
        his understanding is beyond measure.- Ps. 147:5

Some translations of Ps. 147:5 have, His understanding is "infinite" (KJV, ASV, NASB, NKJV) or  "there is no limit to his wisdom" (NET).

The following are some evidences for the omniscience of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus implying the full deity of both along with the Father.

10    these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.- 1 Cor. 2:10-11

The Holy Spirit is said to search the deep things of God. This isn't discursive "searching." It does not necessarily imply the kind of successive acquisition of knowledge which belongs to  finite creatures, since Jehovah/Yahweh is said to "search" hearts in Jer. 17:10 and Rom. 8:27c. Jehovah's searching of human hearts does not imply finite searching, but rather the opposite. It is a colorful way to refer to exhaustive and omniscient knowledge. Therefore the Holy Spirit's searching the deep things of God implies that the Holy Spirit is as omniscient as God the Father is.

Jesus is said to know the Father exhaustively as the Father exhaustively knows the Son (John 10:15;  cf. Matt. 11:27). That too implies Jesus' omniscience and therefore full deity.

Also, in Rev. 2:23 Jesus claims for Himself the ability to to search the hearts of men. He's clearly alluding to Jer. 17:10 (quoted above) and He applies it to Himself. Unless, Jesus is God, He cannot claim the prerogatives of Jehovah in Jer. 17:10. Jesus not only alludes to Jer. 17:10 but also claims to be qualified to judge and reward people based on the same type of searching of hearts and rewarding Jehovah does in that passage.

Notice too that for the Holy Spirit to prayer for all Christians individually (knowing their particular circumstances and needs) suggests omniscience (or is consistent with it). Jesus is also said to intercede for believers (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; John 17:9-26; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1). Again, consistent with omniscience.

 The fact that Jesus listens to and answers prayer suggests His full deity. Not only because it would be consistent with omniscience, but because only God is the proper object of prayer. Jesus appears to answer prayer in the following passages John 14:13-14 (critical text as "Me" in verse 14); 2 Cor. 12:8-9; Acts 1:24-26 (see Robert Bowman's book Putting Jesus in His Place); 1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 10:13; Acts 9:14, 21; 22:16 etc.

Jesus knows His sheep individually and intimately reminiscent of omniscience (John 10:14-15, 26-27).

For the evidence that we can pray to the Holy Spirit, here's a link to my blogpost:

Praying to and Worshipping the Holy Spirit

If we can pray to the Holy Spirit, and (as pointed out above) if the Holy Spirit prays for us, then that suggests omniscience.

Other verses/passages that suggests Jesus' omniscience (or at least being consistent with Jesus' omniscience):

John 21:17; 2:24-25; 18:4; 6:61, 64; John 16:19; in John 16:30 people didn't necessarily think Jesus was omniscient; Acts 1:24 might be a prayer to Jesus that appeals to Him omniscience ((see Robert Bowman's book Putting Jesus in His Place); Heb. 4:12 might refer to Jesus as the "Word of God" rather than to Scripture. If so, then it's possible that when Heb. 4:13 refers to "his," it's a reference to Jesus and not to God the Father.

More verses/passages consistent with Jesus' omniscience:

Matt. 9:4; 12:25; 16:7-8; Mark 2:8; 8:16-17; 12:15; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 9:46-47; 11:17; Jesus knowledge of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10); Jesus' encounter with the woman of Samaria (John 4:1-42) revealed Jesus' supernatural knowledge (possibly by inherent omniscience or by the revelation of God or of the Holy Spirit)

The fact that Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic man suggests both omniscience and full divinity (Mark 2:1-12; Matt. 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26). It suggests omniscience on the part of Jesus because from all outward appearances Jesus was a mere human being. Who was he to forgive the sins of a person he knew nothing about. For all Jesus knew, the paralytic man was such a heinous sinner that that's why God punished him with paralysis. Who was he to reverse God's judgment? Or for all Jesus knew, the paralytic man was a relatively righteous person like Job who was suffering far beyond what he "deserved" relative to other human beings' just deserts and (incongruous) experience. Nevertheless, Jesus had the chutzpah (or nerve/guts/audacity) to forgive the paralytic of his sins.

Secondly, this incident suggests the full deity of Jesus because only God can forgive sins in that manner because ultimately all sin is an offense and an affront to God (directly, or indirectly because it's against humans who are made in God's image). The surrounding witnesses also knew and believed only God could forgive in that manner. There's a sense in which humans can forgive other humans for sins committed against them (i.e. the injured party). But the paralytic didn't sin against the human Jesus. They may have just met for the first time physically. The special sense in which Jesus forgave the paralytic was the kind of remission only God could rightfully dispense. That's why some in the crowd got angry at Jesus. It is true that later Jesus would grant the authority to remit sins to His disciples (John 20:23 [Possibly also Matt. 16:19; 18:18; 2 Cor. 2:6-10]). However, that was clearly a delegated authority which was only binding when it was consistent with the proclamation and reception of the gospel. The gospel of and about Jesus and His kingdom. The difference is that Jesus was the VERY FIRST human in a Jewish context to forgive sins. He did this contrary to all the cultural expectations of the orthodox Judaism of the time. He did so as if it was His inherent prerogative rather than merely a delegated one. Moreover, Jesus did so by appeal to His being "the Son of Man" while on earth. Apparently in contrast to the Son of Man while in heaven.

See my blogpost demonstrating the self-designation of Jesus as the "Son of Man" as a veiled claim to full deity here:

The Meaning of the Term "Son of Man"

The fact that the Holy Spirit is the source of truth and wisdom suggests (or is at least consistent with) omniscience.

The Holy Spirit the Source of Truth: John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13 [possibly 1 John 4:6] compare with Isa. 65:16 which states God is the "God of Truth" and John 14:6 where Jesus says He is "the Truth"

The Holy Spirit the Source of Wisdom/Understanding/Knowledge/Counsel: Isa. 11:2; 1 Cor. 2:13; 12:8; Eph. 1:17; Acts 6:3, 10; Exo. 28:3; 31:3; 35:31; Deut. 34:9; Dan. 4:8-9, 18; 5:11-12, 14; Job. 32:8; Col. 1:9

The reference to the "seven spirits of God" in Rev. 1:4-5 might be a reference to the Holy Spirit. Same with the reference to the "seven eyes" in Zech. 3:9 and Rev. 5:6 [cf. Zech. 3:9; Rev. 3:1; 4:5, although some of these verses might not refer to the Holy Spirit, but rather to seven angels]. The seven spirits of God might refer to the fullness and omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. Seven being the number of perfection. The seven eyes might refer to God's perfect knowledge of all things. In other words, omniscience. Many places in the Old Testament refer to the "eyes of Jehovah" (Gen. 6:8; Deut. 11:12; 12:25, 28; 13:18; 21:9; 2 Sam. 15:25; 1 Kings 15:5, 11; 22:43; 2 Kings 12:2; 14:3; 15:3; 15:34; 16:2; 18:3; 22:2; 2 Chron. 14:2; 16:9; 20:32; 24:2; 25:2; 26:4; 27:2; 28:1; 29:2; 34:2; Ps. 33:18; 34:15; Prov. 5:21; 15:3; 22:12; Isa. 49:5; Zech. 4:10).

One of the most famous is 2 Chron. 16:9 which states that "the eyes of Jehovah  run to and fro throughout the whole earth." Apparently indicating God's providential eyes are watching everything. If the seven spirits of God and the seven eyes of God are identical and refer to the Holy Spirit, then that would imply that the Holy is omniscient. Which would again suggest the full divinity and deity of the Holy Spirit.

While some references to the "seven spirits of God" may refer to angels, the passage in Rev. 1:4-5 probably refer to the Holy Spirit because in that passage John is wishing the divine blessings of GRACE and PEACE from three sources to his readers. The three sources seem to correspond to the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus (i.e. the persons of the Trinity).

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.- Rev. 1:4-5
The Father
The Son
The Holy Spirit

 Other resources I've linked to or recommended in my other blogposts provide evidences of both the Holy Spirit's and Jesus' divine attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence. I may write separate blogposts that deal with those specific divine attributes in the future.

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