Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Tempting/Testing of Christ Is Evidence of Christ's Full Deity

"You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.- Deut. 6:16

The Old Testament clearly indicates that "tempting" or "testing" God is a sin. In addition to Deut. 6:16, see also Exo. 17:2, 7; Num. 14:22; Ps. 78:18, 41, 56; 95:9; 106:14; Mal. 3:15. In the New Testament see Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12; Acts 15:10; Heb. 3:9.

Interestingly, Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to tempt Christ.

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,- 1 Cor. 10:9
There are textual variants in this verse. But if the correct variant is "Christ," then that STRONGLY suggests that Paul believed Jesus to be fully divine and the God of the Old Testament. Especially in light of the context and surrounding verses. It would also demonstrate that Paul believed in the preexistence of Christ.

A footnote in the NET Bible on verse 9 states:

tc Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”) is attested in the majority of mss, including many important witnesses of the Alexandrian (Ì46 1739 1881) and Western (D F G) texttypes, and other mss and versions (Ψ latt sy co). On the other hand, some of the important Alexandrian witnesses have κύριον (kurion, “Lord”; א B C P 33 104 1175 al). A few mss (A 81 pc) have θεόν (qeon, “God”). The nomina sacra for these readings are quite similar (cMn, kMn, and qMn respectively), so one might be able to account for the different readings by way of confusion. On closer examination, the variants appear to be intentional changes. Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.” Moreover, even if not motivated by a tendency to overcorrect, a scribe might be likely to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages. The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen. What is more, the synod of Antioch in a.d. 268 used the reading “Christ” as evidence of the preexistence of Christ when it condemned Paul of Samosata. (See G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 126-27; TCGNT 494; C. D. Osburn, “The Text of 1 Corinthians 10:9,” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 201-11; contra A. Robertson and A. Plummer, First Corinthians [ICC], 205-6.) Since “Christ” is the more difficult reading on all accounts, it is almost certainly original. In addition, “Christ” is consistent with Paul’s style in this passage (cf. 10:4, a text in which {Marcion} also reads “Christ”). This text is also christologically significant, since the reading “Christ” makes an explicit claim to the preexistence of Christ. (The textual critic faces a similar dilemma in Jude 5. In a similar exodus context, some of the more important Alexandrian mss [A B 33 81 pc] and the Vulgate read “Jesus” in place of “Lord.” Two of those mss [A 81] are the same mss that have “Christ” instead of “God” in 1 Cor 10:9. See the tc notes on Jude 5 for more information.) In sum, “Christ” has all the earmarks of authenticity here and should be considered the original reading.

 In a previous blogpost I cited 1 Cor. 10:9 and the above NET Bible footnote as evidence of Christ's preexistence. But at that point I didn't realize (or had forgotten) it was also evidence for Christ's full deity because it parallels the Old Testament prohibitions against testing/tempting Jehovah/YHWH/adonai the God of Israel.

Interestingly, a similar argument for the fully deity of the Holy Spirit can be argued from the fact that Peter condemns Ananias and his wife Sapphira for testing the Holy Spirit.

But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."- Acts 5:9

Some people have argued along similar lines when Jesus quoted Deut. 6:16. However, it's not clear that Jesus was telling Satan not to tempt/test Him because He, Jesus, is God. More likely the primary reason Jesus quoted the passages was to indicate and acknowledge the fact that He would be tempting/testing God (the Father) if He succumbed to Satan's temptation to jump off the Temple. However, I do think there MIGHT be a secondary intention on Jesus' part to implicitly acknowledge His own full deity. As John Gill states in his commentary on this passage:

ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, thereby tacitly showing, that he had produced scripture to a very wrong purpose, since that could never contradict itself; and also, that for a person to neglect the ordinary means of safety, and to expect, that as God can, so he will, preserve without the use of such means, is a tempting him. The Hebrew word תנסו "tempt", as Manasseh ben (f) Israel observes, is always taken in an ill part, and is to be understood of such who would try the power, goodness, or will of God. And which, as it is not fitting it should be done by any man, so not by himself; and perhaps he hereby intimates too, that he himself was God; and therefore as it was not right in him to tempt God the Father, by taking such a step as Satan solicited him to; nor would it be right in any other; so it was iniquitous in the devil to tempt him who was God over all, blessed for ever.
Here John Gill refers to Christ as "God over all, blessed for ever" because he is alluding to Rom. 9:5 which, in all likelihood, shows that Paul believed Jesus to be Almighty God.

See these two articles on Romans 9:5 by Gary F. Zeolla

Romans 9:5 Research Part ONE,  Part TWO

Earlier in this blogpost the NET Bible footnote I quoted referred to another of its footnotes regarding Jude 1:5. Here's that footnote which supports the preexistence of Jesus:

24tc ‡ The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Ihsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses (e.g., A B 33 81 1241 1739 1881 2344 pc vg co Or1739mg), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (qeos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though Ì72 has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [qeos Cristos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). In addition to the evidence supplied in NA27 for this reading, note also {88 322 323 424c 665 915 2298 eth Cyr Hier Bede}. As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦς is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate.
sn The construction our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ in v. 4 follows Granville Sharp’s rule (see note on Lord). The construction strongly implies the deity of Christ. This is followed by a statement that Jesus was involved in the salvation (and later judgment) of the Hebrews. He is thus to be identified with the Lord God, Yahweh. Verse 5, then, simply fleshes out what is implicit in v. 4.
Regarding Granville Sharp's rule, see these two articles:

Sharp Redivivus? - A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule by Daniel B. Wallace

Granville Sharp's Rule Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 by James White

Earlier in the chapter Paul calls Christ the "spiritual Rock" that followed or accompanied them.
 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.- 1 Cor. 10:4
Paul may or may not be alluding to the the Jewish tradition that the same rock that was struck (and from which water flowed) followed them or at least its stream. Regardless, Paul seems also to be referring to the fact that Jehovah was their Rock, and therefore by extension Jesus is that same God, Jehovah/Yahweh. Psalm 78 recounts the wilderness journey and states:

They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.- Ps. 78:35
This merely echos earlier teaching in the Pentateuch:

3    For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! 4 "The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.- Deut. 32:3-4

"But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.- Deut. 32:15

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.- Deut. 32:18

30    How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up? 31 For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.- Deut. 32:30-31

And other passages in the Old Testament, for example:

"There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.- 1 Sam. 2:2

2 He said, "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.- 2 Sam. 22:2-3

"For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?- 2 Sam. 22:32

 "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,- 2 Sam. 22:47

The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,- 2 Sam. 23:3

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.- Ps. 18:2

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?--- - Ps. 18:31

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation--- - Ps. 18:46

2    from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 4 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah- Ps. 61:2-4

to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.- Ps. 92:15

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.- Isa. 26:4