Monday, December 21, 2015

Jesus' Omniscience

The following is an expanded re-posting of comments I left at Steve Hay's blogpost titled: What does Jesus know? In that blogpost Steve interacts with Dale Tuggy's podcast where he interviewed Lee Irons on the doctrine of Christ's divinity. I HIGHLY recommend reading Steve's blogpost (and preferably also Dale's podcast) before reading the following blogpost of mine.

[update: Steve continued his discussion on the topic in other blogposts. For example HERE and HERE]

Then there's the cumulative evidence for Jesus' omniscience being taught by Scripture

We (along with the Jews) know that the Messiah would know and reveal a lot of things:

John 4:25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things."

John 4:29 "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"

Jesus had (or was acknowledged to have) preternatural knowledge that was consistent with omniscient, but doesn't necessarily entail omniscience:

Mark 2:8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts?

Mark 13:23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

Matt. 9:4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?

John 1:46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"

John 2:24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

John 5:42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.

John 6:64  But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)

John 18:4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?"

Jesus displayed knowledge (or acknowledged to have knowledge) that was consistent with omniscience and which may have been meant by the Scriptural authors to be interpreted as teaching divine omniscience upon later reading and theological reflection:

John 16:30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God."

John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst."

John 21:17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

Matt. 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.- John 10:15

Luke 10:22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Both Matt. 11:27 and Luke 10:22 coupled with John 10:15 should, upon theological reflection, suggest Christ's omniscience since no finite creature can exhaustively know the infinite Father, yet Jesus is said to so do. Hence, Christ is divine and omniscient. Additionally, the statement that "no one knows the Father..." is supposed to affirm the divine incomprehensibility and transcendence of the Father. If so, then when it also says that "no one knows the Son...", that should also suggest His divine incomprehensibility and transcendence as well. Only another divine person can fully know a divine person. Hence, Jesus is fully God, along with the Holy Spirit who searches the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10) [cf. my blogpost HERE for the Holy Spirit's Omniscience].

There are scriptural passages that indirectly and (seemingly) directly teach Christ's divinity and omniscience:

Acts 1:24 And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen

In Acts 1:24 a good case can be made that Jesus is the one being prayed to [cf. Putting Jesus in His Place by Bowman and Komoszewski]. If so, then Jesus is said to know the hearts of all humans (as Rev. 2:23 states). Moreover, in Acts 1:24 Jesus is being prayed to as God similar to how Paul prayed to Christ in 2 Cor. 12:8.

Col. 2:3 states that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." That would be consistent with the omniscience of the eternal Word and Son of God.

Jesus is repeatedly said to be the Wisdom of God in the New Testament. Presumably the same Wisdom of God personified in the Old Testament.

1 Cor. 1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Luke 11:49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,'

When one combines Luke 11:49 with Matt. 23:34 (and their surrounding contexts), it's clear that Jesus is claiming to be the Wisdom that was personified in the Old Testament. For more see my blogpost HERE.

Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

In Heb. 4:12-13 the phrase "word of God" is traditionally interpreted to refer to the Holy Scriptures (which is the most likely meaning). However, there are a minority of commentators who interpret the verses to refer to the Son of God who is also called the (Eternal) Word of God. If that's the correct interpretation, then Jesus is said to not only 1. discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart, BUT ALSO 2. to exhaustively know all things such that no creature (or all creation) is exposed to (what amounts to) divine omniscient scrutiny.

Rev. 2:23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Jer. 17:10 "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."

1 King 8:39 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), [cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9]

In Rev. 2:23 Jesus alludes to Jer. 17:10 and essentially states He is that same being described in Jer. 17:10 who searches hearts and rewards according to deeds. Something which 1 Kings 8:39 states only Yahweh/Jehovah can do. The original context of Jer. 17:10 is referring to Yahweh/Jehovah. Therefore, the most natural interpretation of Rev. 2:23 is that Jesus is claiming to be Jehovah and to possess the attribute of omniscience that Jehovah alone possesses.

It also follows that all the other external arguments and evidences for Jesus' full deity as Jehovah, if sound, would also imply Jesus' omniscience.

How does one address Mark 13:32 and Matt. 24:36 which seem to teach Jesus is not omniscient? There are various ways Christians have addressed this problem down through the centuries. Here's a link to a video that I don't find convincing or persuasive. My preferred way of dealing with the problem is by appealing to Thomas Morris' concept of two minds view of Christology. Basically, it teaches that Jesus has a human and a divine mind in such a way that doesn't commit the heresy of Nestorianism.

J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig briefly describe it this way:

Some Christian philosophers, such as Thomas Morris, have postulated an independent conscious life for the incarnate Logos in addition to the conscious life of Jesus of Nazareth, what Morris calls a “two minds” view of the Incarnation. He provides a number of intriguing analogies in which asymmetrical accessing relations exist between a subsystem and an encompassing system, such that the overarching system can access information acquired through the subsystem but not vice versa. He gives a psychological analogy of dreams in which the sleeper is himself a person in the dream, and yet the sleeper has an awareness that everything that he is experiencing as reality is in fact merely a dream.
Morris proposes that the conscious mind of Jesus of Nazareth be conceived as a subsystem of a wider mind which is the mind of the Logos. Such an understanding of the consciousness of the Logos stands in the tradition of Reformed theologians like Zwingli, who held that the Logos continued to operate outside the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The main difficulty of this view is that it threatens to lapse into Nestorianism, since it is very difficult to see why two self-conscious minds would not constitute two persons.
If the model here proposed makes sense, then it serves to show that the classic doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ is coherent and plausible. It also serves religiously to elicit praise to God for his self-emptying act of humiliation in taking on our human condition with all its struggles and limitations for our sakes and for our salvation.....

-J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig in chapter 30 of their book The Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
See William Lane Craig's description in a debate Here (at 1 hour, 9 minutes, 21 seconds):

See also Steve Hays' blogpost Dreaming and dual consciousness

In Steve's blogpost I posted the following comments (slightly modified and curtailed):

I independently came to the same conclusions as Steve Hays and Thomas Morris due to various types of my own dreams, including lucid dreaming. Some instances came from dreams in which I was talking to other people in deep dialogue. In one instance one of the persons told a joke that was so funny I laughed out loud and woke up. Then I thought, "Who really told the joke?" Barring demonic, angelic or divine communication, I must have told the joke to myself with me simultaneously knowing and not knowing the punchline.

I've also had dreams that ran like a movie where everything previous in the dream perfectly lead up to the denouement. It surprised me even though I must have concocted the intricate storyline subliminally.

Here's an example from a lucid dream. About 22 years ago as a teenager I found out about lucid dreaming and realized I'd experienced it a few times before. So, I decided that the next time I had a lucid dream I would fly. Soon afterwards I experienced a lucid dream and found myself in a house. I decided to fly through the roof like Superman. I did so and flew over the countryside enjoying the scenery (especially since I dream in color). After flying for a while I slowly started flying faster and faster and faster. Eventually I flew so fast that it started scaring me to the point that I couldn't take it anymore, so I decided to wake myself up.

What's interesting about this incident (and other lucid dreams I've had) is that in one sense *I* was in control, but in another sense *I* was not in control, it was the subliminal *Me* that was in control and was frightening *Me*.
A counter argument might be that Jesus specifically said "ONLY the Father knows". That would exclude the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, in my other blogposts I've argued for the full deity of Jesus, and the personality and full deity of the Holy Spirit. Along with the Holy Spirit's omniscience.

Statements should never be interpreted outside of its context. That's called "Quote Mining". The fact remains that Jesus didn't include or exclude the Holy Spirit. Either because the Holy Spirit is neither a person nor Divine OR because Jesus was limiting His statements to creatures. That's why He refers to men, angels and Himself as a human being (with a finite human mind). The two minds view has Jesus having an omniscient divine mind and a finite non-omniscient human mind. Jesus' statement in Mark 13:32 and Matt. 24:36 was in the context of whether CREATURES can know something which God has hidden from creatures. Jesus as God, and as to His divine mind, could and would know.

Genesis 22:12 says, "He [i.e. God] said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, FOR NOW I KNOW that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Did God not really know this beforehand? Of course God knew because He is omniscient. This is an athropomorphism God used to speak to us at our level. It's His way of accommodating to us. But IF TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT one can abuse it and teach God isn't omniscient.

Also, it's ironic whenever a Muslim quotes this passage to deny Jesus' divinity because Jesus refers to Himself as the "Son" as well as referring to God as His Father. Traditionally Muslims have strongly avoided calling God Father because it contradicts their conception of Allah's transcendence. However, nowadays many Muslims don't even shy away from it but have accommodated it, acccepted it, and so have watered down their traditional beliefs. If Muslims insist this Jesus saying is authentic because it allegedly denies Jesus' full deity, they must also accept the consequence that this authentic Jesus tradition also has Jesus declaring and teaching He was "the Son". The context seems to be "the Son of Man" in both passages. However, Jesus could have been alluding to both concepts of being "the Son of God" and "the Son of Man". Even if we limit Jesus reference to only the "Son of Man", it is nevertheless a veiled claim to deity as I've argued HERE.

I have argued for Jesus' full deity in many of the blogposts in this blog. But there's another argument that may support Jesus' omniscience in another way. I argued at another blogpost HERE that Revelation 22:12-13 is speaking about Christ. If so, then Jesus is being described as "Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Elsewhere in the book of Revelation Jesus is called the "first and last", which was a title of God in the Old Testament. Compare Rev. 1:17 and Rev. 2:8 with Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12. Since Jesus is called "first and last" (if not also "Alpha and Omega and the beginning and the end") that teaches Jesus' full deity in a way that may also imply or highlight the divine attribute of omniscience. The idea being that the three descriptors point to both God's omnipotence in creation and His exhaustive knowledge of His own creation, just as He knows Himself fully. In other words, God's exhaustive self-knowledge is included in the phrase "Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and end". If Jesus is "the first and last", then Jesus must be omniscient according to the book of Revelation. It's almost certain that the phrases "Alpha and Omega" and "the beginning and end" are just two other different ways to say and teach the meaning of "first and last".

Some might object by saying that the book of Revelation was one of the last books in the New Testament to be written. In which case it's not as reliable a source regarding the beliefs of the earliest Christians. However, the earliest New Testament books are the Pauline epistles and they have a very high Christology that teaches Jesus' full deity. Moreover, the early Gospel written (Mark) also has a very high Christology that (I have argued) teaches Jesus' full deity as well. See my blogpost:

Markan Christology

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Worshipping a Merely Human Jesus Is Wrong No Matter How Exalted

The following is a copy and paste of my comments at Triablogue's blogpost: Dale Tuggy's Da Vinci Code

and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.- Rom. 1:23

Unitarians are so committed to their presuppositions that they're willing to deny the core Jewish and Christian ethic against creature worship based on the 1st & 2nd Commandments. Jews and the early Christians condemned 1. the Pagan use of idols along with the Pagan principle that they weren't worshipping the idols themselves but the gods they image/represent. 2. rejected Pagan Kings claiming to be gods (e.g. the latter Caesars). 3. rejected worship of humans exalted via apotheosis. The Jews & Christians understanding that to promote those would fall into the very lie of the serpent of Genesis that it's possible, regarding humans, that "ye shall be as gods/God/elohim."

The Jews complained to God that they didn't have a human king from among their people like the surrounding nations. God told Samuel, "...'Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them' " (1 Sam. 8:7). In many (not all) forms of Unitarianism Jesus is neither fully God nor fully man (or remains a man). Whereas in the Trinitarian incarnation both are fulfilled in that 1. the Jews do have a Jewish human Messiah as their King, and 2. God himself (the second person of the Trinity) rules over them (and the rest of the world) in a direct theocracy at the eschaton.

In fact, God literally walks among them (via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Christ in the flesh) as Paul quotes the OT in 2 Cor. 6:16, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Similar to how Jehovah/Yahweh was wont to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8), or as He talked with Abraham in bodiy form (Gen. 18:22-33). Solomon said, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!" (1 King. 8:27). Yet we know that God's presence entered that temple. Christ the New Temple of the New Covenant is greater than the old temple (Matt. 12:6) because God Himself literally dwells in the body of Christ (Col. 1:19; 2:9).

Rev. 21:3 states, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God." Notice that the dwelling place of God is a HE. Who else can that "HE" be but Christ who is "God with us" (Matt. 1:23). The Divine Logos Himself become flesh and taburnacling as God among us (John 1:14). According to 2. Thess. 2:3-4, Satan, wanting to mimic Jesus, attempts to set up a lawless man who proclaims himself to be Almighty God in God's temple (whatever that temple might be, whether a building or within the Church). If the man of lawless is mimicking Jesus by claiming to be Almighty God, then Jesus must be Almighty God. This might be further corroborated if the man of lawless is an or (even THE) anti-Christ. Since, "anti" here most likely means "in the place/stead of" rather than "against" the true Christ.

I mentioned three basic types of pagan idolatries. Most versions of Unitarianism commit one or more of those errors but instead of a pagan God with a pagan image, they attempt to worship the Christian God with Christ as the image. The problem is, unless Jesus is truly God, he would be a false image of God rather than the VERY image of God. Only God can truly and perfectly reflect and reveal God. The whole purpose of the prohibition of creating physical images of Yahweh is that they don't adequately convey the glory, majesty and transcendence of God. This isn't the case under Trinitarian incarnation.

15 "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them....- Deut. 4:15-19a

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Last Remarks to Dale Tuggy on Triablogue's blogpost "God over all, forever blessed"

I had a long discussion with Dale Tuggy on Triablogue's blogpost "God over all, forever blessed." Dale posted his closing remarks and I wanted to leave closing remarks as well. However, by then the combox was closed so that I couldn't post my closing comments. So, I've decide to post them here. Dale's comments are in blue italics.

[Update: My comments on Triablogue were approved. The following is a reproduction of those comments with only minor changes and additions. I've tried to indicate the changes and additions using the color purple. Though, I don't think I've completely tracked all the changes]

Just a few last points:

Thanks for taking time to interact with me and my arguments. Dialoguing with you has always been intellectually stimulating. These next posts will also be my last. I wish God's blessing be upon you too.

The "two minds" approach to the incarnation is relatively new, is not what was meant by the catholic tradition...

My allegiance is to Scripture and truth, not to Catholic tradition. I go along with Catholic, Protestant (et al.) tradition only to the degree that it's Scriptural.

If you want to cast that as one of Jesus's minds, the human one, being subject to the Father....

My appeal to the two minds view was not specifically to deal with how Jesus could have a God over Him since I don't even think it's necessary to appeal to the incarnation in order to field that objection. Rather, I appealed to the two minds view to anticipate the possible objection that if all three persons of the Trinity are God, then the human Jesus would have to have each person of the Trinity over Him and be obedient to each of the three INCLUDING HIMSELF!

If you want to cast that as one of Jesus's minds, the human one, being subject to the Father, the problem is the God-subject relation is an I-Thou one, a person to person one.

I'm open to William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland's neo-Apollinarian Christology. They make an interesting case that the traditional view is itself Nestorian in that it posits the person the Son having a human soul. If I understand them correctly, it's the human soul itself what makes a human a person. By replacing the human soul with the mind of the Logos that safeguards against Nestorianism.

Thus the bizarre claim that the incarnate Jesus is "man" but not "a man."

I have no problem calling Jesus "a man." Just not "a MERE man."

BTW, your exegesis of John 17:1-3 simply ignores that an identity claim is being made, not a mere description.

But what of the apparent identity claim of 1 John 5:20? Though, admittedly, it's not clear that Jesus is there called the "true God." But a good (not great) case could be made he is.

In brief, John never says that the eternal Logos is Jesus, and 1:14 doesn't say or imply that they are the same person.

True, John never EXPLICITLY states the Logos is Jesus. Though, I think 1:18 [typo corrected] does imply it in light of John 17:5 and the other verses I cited (e.g. John 1:14; 3:13, 31; 6:38, 62; 8:14, 23, 42; 10:36; 13:3; 16:28; 17:4-5 etc. [cf. 1 John 4:9-10, 14]). These verses don't explicitly state that Jesus was personally preexistent, but I think it's a fair (even strong) inference since there are so many such passages, and because the context often wouldn't make sense if Jesus' wasn't claiming personal preexistence. As you know, my theology is very abductive. Also, scholars in Greek have said that the word "pros" in John 1:1 implies a personal and intimate relationship that's "face to face" (so to speak). While John 1:18 doesn't specifically refer to a preincarnate relationship, it might include it. Christ being in the "bosom" of the Father also implies intimacy and relationship. Think of how the beloved disciple was leaning on Jesus' bosom (John 13:23). Jesus' statement in John 8:56-58 that "Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad" better makes sense if Abraham actually did see/interact with the preexistent personal Christ (probably in reference to the incident in Gen. 18). Otherwise, it wouldn't make much sense for Jesus to say before Abraham was I am (or however you'd translate it)" in response to the Jews'  question "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" If "Jesus" was only the plan of God conceived in God's mind when Abraham rejoiced to see his day, then there would have been no sense in a before and after. Abraham's very knowledge of a coming messiah would itself be his seeing it. Yet, Jesus distinguishes Abraham's past expectation and his latter experience.

The many "I have come" statements of Jesus in the Synoptics suggests a personal preexistence. The fact that 1. so many passages in the NT (from the Synoptics, John, Pauline corpus, Hebrews) suggest a personal preexistence and 2. that no NT passage tells us that Jesus was NOT personally preexistent should lead us to favor a personal preexistence (it's the natural reading of those passages). In what other instance in the the Bible is there a preexistence that's not personal? And especially since a strong case could be made that one of the angels of the Yahweh was a very special Angel (messenger) who is probably Christ Himself. This Angel is treated like Yahweh (if not as actually Yahweh) in the OT in a similar fashion as Christ is in the NT. See for example this excerpt of E.W. Hengstenberg's Christology of the Old Testament on the topic of the Angel of Yahweh

The Word is something like God's plan or wisdom, by which, the OT says in a couple of places, God created.

I'm not sure where those places in the OT that state that Wisdom was created other than Prov. 8. Prov. 8 BTW, was one of the major obstacles in my becoming a Trinitarian over 20 years ago. It's not clear that the impersonal "Jesus" is being referred to in Prov. 8. And even if it has Christological significance, wisdom is personified in a way that would suggest an actual personal preexistence as Prov. 30:4. Also, the NT comes on the heels of the intertestamental apocrypha and pseudepigrapha that many times implies the eternality of personified Wisdom, and so counts against a created Wisdom. Scholars dispute whether Micah 5:2 implies an eternal past preexistence of Christ (personal or impersonal). Nevertheless, at the very least the words are consistent with an eternal past. Also, earlier you seemed to agree that John presents the impersonal Logos as eternally with (pros) God. At least that's how many Greek scholars interpret the word "en" in "en arche en o logos." As one scholar put it, " far back as you wish to push 'in the beginning,' the Word is already in existence. The Word does not come into existence at the 'beginning,' but is already in existence when the 'beginning' takes place."

The "form of God" needn't be having the divine essence, but can be read as a paraphrase of "made in God's image and likeness."

You seem to be saying that the phrases "form of God" and "form of a servant" are both postpartum. However, it's only after Paul uses the phrase "form of a servant" that he says, "being born in the likeness of men." Paul seems to be making a contrast of the two phrases with "being born" the transition point.

Whereas Adam tried to grab at equality with God, Jesus declined to. Remember the ethical thrust of the whole thing (see the start of the chapter); Jesus is being held up as our example based on his actions during his human life.

In context Paul is talking about humility before equals, not humility before a superior. He's talking to Christians in general and how they should treat each other. Christ not grabbing/grasping for God's position which He doesn't inherently possess isn't an act of humility. Refraining from doing that is an act of obedience and submission, not of humility. Only if Jesus actually was equal with God would it be an act of humility. Paul wrote in verse 3, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." He didn't say, acknowledge others more significant than yourself. To make Paul's analogy work, either 1. Jesus and God are equals, just as fellow Christians are equals; OR 2.God is superior to Jesus, just as some Christians are superior to other Christians.

No doctrine is *essential* in the sense of you must believe it to be saved unless it is preached to unbelievers in Acts....

I don't believe that one must believe the doctrine of the Trinity to be saved. However, I think as Christians grow in their understanding of the Gospel and Scripture that the truly regenerate among professing believers will naturally tend to accept the Trinity.

That you accepting this reading of "homoousios" is why, I think, you go along with the confused evangelical tradition of identifying Jesus with his God (i.e. asserting them to be numerically identical).

I identify Jesus with God because of both NT and OT reasons. If it weren't for the OT evidences for a plurality in Yahweh, I wouldn't hold to (the meaning) of monoousios. I've collected the OT evidences in my blogpost:

Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God    [cf. also my blogposts HERE and HERE. Though, now I suspect the "watchers" in Daniel are members of the Divine Council along with the "us" [in "Let US make man in OUR image"] in the opening chapters of Genesis.

No, these writers assumed that somehow some angels can influence a wide area.

Agreed. However, influencing others by broadcasting subliminal thoughts, temptations, fears etc. is one thing. Reading thoughts, hearing silent prayers, answering such prayers simultaneously, upholding the universe by the Word of His power (as Christ does in Heb. 1:3) is something else. Moreover, "in [Christ] all things hold together" (Col. 1:17) and "through [Christ] we exist" (1 Cor. 8:6). The exploits of demons in the book of Daniel, Job, Colossians, Ephesians and the Gospels pale in comparison.

So Satan is the "god of this world," and they held that angels were put over countries.

Agreed. But Satan works through his demonic cohorts in military or gang-like hierarchical fashion. I don't find Scripture to teach he's globally omnipresent. On the contrary, when asked "From where have you come?," Satan replied, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it" (Job 1:7).

So Jesus, exalted to a higher position than any angel, must also have such powers. Presumably the upgrade in position came with the needed abilities. We may be curious quite how this works, but I guess they were not.

I agree that God can give extraordinary powers to creatures. My citation of Jesus' ability to do the things He does isn't meant to directly prove He's God. I cite them as indirect evidence since everywhere else in the OT and NT such powers are reserved for Almighty God Himself. They are used as a means of identifying and describing God. Often directly or indirectly saying ONLY God can do those things. In which case, when the NT applies such powers, characteristics, attributes to Jesus, it's only natural for the original recipients of the books (who presumably were steeped in OT theology) to infer Jesus' full divinity. Otherwise that would confuse the original recipients since it would result in a contradiction between OT & NT explicit statements and theology.

It's interesting that Unitarians will cite the express and explicit statement in the Old Testament that "God is not a man" and insist that we stick by the exact words of Num. 23:19 and 1 Sam. 15:29. Yet, when the Bible specifically states only God can "know the hearts of all the children of mankind" (1 Kings 8:39) Unitarians change their tune and say (without New Testament justification) that Jesus can share this attribute of God without being God contrary to the express and explicit statement of the Old Testament. Whereas there's no contradiction in saying God can incarnate as a human being. Since that would involve an extrinsic change and not an intrinsic change. The doctrine of the incarnation doesn't teach Christ's divine nature was somehow transubstantiated into human flesh. Rather, that Christ took on human nature without ceasing to be God, and without His divine nature in anyway changing from a divine nature to a human nature. Thus preserving the doctrine of Divine Immutability and Infinity.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Trinity At the Beginning of Creation

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.- John 1:1-3

Some Unitarians have denied a connection between John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1. Robert M. Bowman gave 5 reasons why such a connection makes sense.

1. The words en arche occur at the beginning of each book; 
2. The name God (ho theos) occurs in the opening sentence in each book, and frequently thereafter as well; 
3. Both passages speak about the creation of all things; 
4. The name given to the preexistent Christ, "the Word," reminds us of the frequent statement in Genesis, "And God said, 'Let there be...'"—that is, in Genesis God creates by speaking the word, in John he creates through the person of the Word; 
5. Both passages in Greek use the words egeneto ("came into existence"), phos ("light") and skotos or skotia ("darkness"), and both contrast light and darkness. 

These point of similarity taken together constitute a powerful cumulative case for understanding en arche to be referring to the same beginning in John 1:1 as that of Genesis 1:1—the beginning of time itself. 
-Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ & the Gospel of John, pp. 21-22  [The Greek transliterations are not exactly reproduced here]
 Once the connection is accepted, some Unitarians might object and say, if the doctrine of the Trinity is true, "Why isn't the Holy Spirit mentioned in John 1:1?" Bowman wrote:

It is extremely common for JWs [Jehovah's Witnesses] to ask with reference to this text why the Holy Spirit is not mentioned as another person who was also with God. The answer is that John was concerned at that point to write about the Word, not the Holy Spirit. The JWs reason that if the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in John 1:1, then the Holy Spirit either (a) was not there; or (b) was not a person; they opt for the latter explanation. But there is a third explanation: John simply did not care to mention the Holy Spirit at that point.
-Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ & the Gospel of John, pp. 24
 John not caring to mention the Holy Spirit at this point is consistent with his decision to reveal the person, work and divinity of the Holy Spirit later in his Gospel (chapters 14-16). He did the same with respect to the Father and Son as witnesses who personally authenticate the message of Jesus. Early in the Gospel Jesus appeals ONLY to the testimony of the Father and Son (John 8:16-18; 5:31-32, 37) apart from the Holy Spirit. But then later on additionally appeals to the testimony of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).

See my blogpost titled "The Witness of the Holy Spirit" for why the Holy Spirit's delayed witness is evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity:

The Witness of the Holy Spirit

But more can be said in response to the objection that the Holy Spirit either wasn't at creation or, if present, wasn't a person. When we look as Genesis chapter 1 we see in verse 2 "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters".

When we combine John 1:1 with Genesis 1:1-3 all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned.

1    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3    And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.- Gen. 1:1-3
God (either as the Trinity or at the very least the Father) is mentioned in verse 1.
The Holy Spirit is then mentioned in verse 2 as "the Spirit of God"
The Word is implicitly alluded to in verse 3 when God SPOKE. In fact, once the doctrine of the Trinity is accepted, it could be argued that the "God" mentioned in verse 3 is the Word Himself (the pre-incarnate Jesus) who spoke the world into existence (cf. Heb. 1:3b; 2c; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:6b; John 1:3 etc.)

Psalm 33:6 is probably a remez by God hinting at the doctrine of the Trinity. The word for "breath" in Hebrew can also be translated "spirit" or "Spirit."

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

David H. Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary wrote:
 (2) Remez ("hint") — wherein a word, phrase or other element in the text hints at a truth not conveyed by the p'shat. The implied presupposition is that God can hint at things of which the Bible writers themselves were unaware. - page 12
(1) P'shat ("simple") — the plain, literal sense of the text, more or less what modern scholars mean by "grammatical-historical exegesis,"...- page 11
See Wikipedia's article on PaRDeS
If the remez is accepted, then Psalm 33:6 includes all three persons of the Trinity 1. IN ONE VERSE,  2. and that IN THE OLD TESTAMENT NO LESS!

That the Holy Spirit creates is taught in the following Old Testament passages: Job 33:4; Ps. 33:6; 104:30.

Again, if Ps. 33:6 hints at the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, then it makes sense that the Holy Spirit is a person since "the word of the LORD" would refer to Jesus and the "LORD" of the "word of the LORD" would refer to the Father. If both "the word/Word" and "the LORD" are personal, why wouldn't "the breath of his mouth" be personal too? The word for spirit/breath/wind are all the same in both Hebrew (ruach) and Greek (pneuma). This argument doesn't assume or depend on the truth of Trinitarianism. Even a Unitarian could see a veiled reference to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this verse. Trinitarians would just see more. There are many other such triadic passages in both the Old and New Testaments (See HERE for documentation).

That the Holy Spirit is the (or also along with the Father and Son) Source of Life is seen in the following verses: John 6:63; Rom. 8:2, 6, 10, 11; 2 Cor. 3:6; Job 33:4; John 3:5-8; Gal. 4:29; 5:25; 6:8; 1 Pet. 3:18 [assuming the "water of life" refers to the Holy Spirit then the following verses also apply John 4:10-14; 7:37-38; Rev. 7:17; 21:6; 22:1, 17]. Compare with God the Father being referred to as "the Living God" (Matt. 16:16 and many other passages) and Jesus referring to Himself as "the Living One" (Rev. 1:18; compare the phrase, "El Chai" ("the Living God"), at Joshua 3:10, Psalms 42:3, 84:3).

The fact that both the Holy Spirit and the Word (the pre-incarnate Jesus) was involved in creation would be evidence of their full deity with the Father by the fact that Jehovah [or Yahweh] stated in Isaiah 44:24

 Thus saith JEHOVAH, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am JEHOVAH, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth (who is with me?);- Isa. 44:24 ASV

Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD [Yahweh], who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,- Isa. 44;24 ESV
Unitarians are therefore caught in a dilemma. Either Yahweh/Jehovah had no one who aided Him in creation, in which case the Word and the Holy Spirit were not involved [contrary to direct and explicit Biblical teaching]; OR the Word and the Holy Spirit are themselves Yahweh along with the Father.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Christophaneia, or The Doctrine of the Manifestations of the Son of God Under the Economy of the Old Testament by George Balderston Kidd

Like all older defenses of the doctrine of the Trinity, the following work by Walsh has some deficiencies and problems which I point out in my blog:

Problematic Passages Used In Defense of the Trinity

Click on the following link to view Christophaneia, or The Doctrine of the Manifestations of the Son of God Under the Economy of the Old Testament by George Balderston Kidd

The Angel of the Lord; or Manifestations of Christ in the Old Testament by W. Pakenham Walsh

The author lived from 1820 to 1902. This is NOT the same person as W. S. Pakenham-Walsh who lived from 1868 to 1960.

Like all older defenses of the doctrine of the Trinity, the following work by Walsh has some deficiencies and problems which I point out in my blog:

Problematic Passages Used In Defense of the Trinity

Click on the following link to view The Angel of the Lord; or Manifestations of Christ in the Old Testament by W. Parkenham Walsh

The Angel of the LORD by E.W. Hengstenberg

The following is an excerpt from E.W. Hengstenberg's Christology of the Old Testament. The text below is copy and pasted from the version HERE. All four volumes available HERE.

I've highlighted some passages that I felt should be emphasized using two colors. Yellow for passages that would be more consistent with Trinitarianism. Light Purple for passages that would be more consistent with Unitarianism.


The New Testament distinguishes between the hidden God and the revealed God—the Son or Logos—who is connected with the former by oneness of nature, and who from everlasting, and even at the creation itself, filled up the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creation;—who has been the Mediator in all God's relations to the world;—who at all times, and even before He became man in Christ, has been the light of [Pg 116] the world,—and to whom, specially, was committed the direction of the economy of the Old Covenant.

It is evident that this doctrine stands in the closest connection with the Christology,—that it forms, indeed, its theological foundation and ground-work. Until the Christology has attained to a knowledge of the true divinity of the Saviour, its results cannot be otherwise than very meagre and unsatisfactory. Wheresoever the true state of human nature is seen in the light of Holy Scripture, no high expectations can be entertained from a merely human Saviour, although he were endowed even with as full a measure of the gifts of the Spirit of God as human nature, in its finite and sinful condition, is able to bear. But unless there exist in the one divine Being itself, such a distinction of persons, the divinity of the Saviour cannot be acknowledged, without endangering the unity of God which the Scriptures so emphatically teach. If, however, there be such a distinction,—if the Word be indeed with God, we cannot avoid ascribing to God the desire of revealing Himself; nor, in such a case, can we conceive that He should content Himself with inferior forms of revelation, with merely transitory manifestations. We can recognise in these only preparations, and preludes of the highest and truest revelation.

The question then is, whether any insight into this doctrine is to be found as early as in the Books of the Old Testament. Sound Christian Theology has discovered the outlines of such a distinction betwixt the hidden and the revealed God, in many passages of the Old Testament, in which mention is made of the Angel or Messenger of God. The general tenor of these passages will be best exemplified by the first among them,—the narrative of Hagar in Gen. xvi. In ver. 7, we are told that the Angel of Jehovah found Hagar. In ver. 10, this Angel ascribes to Himself a divine work, viz., the innumerable increase of Hagar's posterity. In ver. 11, He says that Jehovah had heard her distress. He thus asserts of Jehovah what, shortly before. He had said of Himself. Moreover, in ver. 13, Hagar expresses her astonishment that she had seen God, and yet had remained alive.—The opinion that these passages form the Old Testament foundation for the Proemium of St John's Gospel, has not remained uncontroverted. From the very times of the Church-fathers it has been asserted by many, that where the [Pg 117] Angel of the Lord is spoken of, we must not think of a person connected with God by unity of nature, but of a lower angel, by whom God executes His commands, and through whom He acts and speaks. The latest defenders of the view are Hofmann in "Weissagung und Erfüllung" and in the "Schriftbeweis" and Delitzsch in his commentary on Genesis.—Others are of opinion, that the Angel of Jehovah is identical with Jehovah Himself,—not denoting a person distinct from Him, but only the form in which He manifests Himself. We shall not here discuss the question in its whole extent; we shall, in the meantime, consider only what the principal passages of the Pentateuch and of the adjacent Book of Joshua teach upon this point, and how far their teaching coincides with, or is in opposition to, these various views. For it is only to this extent that the inquiry belongs to our present object.

In Gen. xvi. 13, these words are of special importance: "And she called the name of the Lord who spoke unto her, Thou art a God of sight: for she said, Do I now (properly here, in the place where such a sight was vouchsafed to me) still see after my seeing?" "Do I see" is equivalent to, "Do I live," because death threatened, as it were, to enter through the eyes. (Compare the expression, "Mine eyes have seen," in Is. vi.) רֹאִי is the pausal form for רֳאִי; see Job xxxiii. 21, where, however, the accent is on the penultimate. Then follows ver. 14: They called the well, "Well of the living sight;" i.e., where a person had a sight of God, and remained alive.

Hagar must have been convinced that she had seen God without the mediation of a created angel; for, otherwise, she could not have wondered that her life was preserved. Man, entangled by the visible world, is terrified when he comes in contact with the invisible world, even with angels. (Compare Dan. viii. 17, 18; Luke ii. 9.) But this terror rises to fear of death only when man comes into contact with the Lord Himself. (Compare the remarks on Rev. i. 17.) In Gen. xxxii. 31—a passage which bears the closest resemblance to the one now under review, and from which it receives its explanation—it is said: "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, for I have seen God face to face, and my life has been preserved." In Exod. xx. 19, the children of Israel said to Moses, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear; and let not God speak with us, [Pg 118] lest we die;" compared with Deut. v. 21: "Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die." (Compare also Deut. xviii. 16.) And it is Jehovah who, in Exod. xxxiii. 20, says, "There shall no man see Me and live." Israel's Lord and God is, in the absolute energy of His nature, a "consuming fire," Deut. iv. 24. (Compare Deut. ix. 3; Is. xxxiii. 14: "Who among us would dwell with the devouring fire? who among us would dwell with everlasting burning?" Heb. xii. 29.) It is not the reflected light, even in the most exalted creatures, nor the sight of the saints of whom it is said, "Behold, He puts no trust in His servants, and His angels He chargeth with folly,"—but the sight of the thrice Holy One, which makes Isaiah exclaim, "Woe is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."

So much then is clear,—that the opinion which considers the Angel of the Lord to be a created angel is overthrown by the first passage where that angel is mentioned, if the exposition which we have given of vers. 13, 14—an exposition which is now generally received, and which was last advanced by Knobel—be correct. But Delitzsch gives another exposition: "Thou art a God of sight," i.e., one whose all-seeing eye does not overlook the helpless and destitute, even in the remotest corner of the wilderness." Against this we remark, that ראי never denotes the act of seeing, but the sight itself. "Have I not even here (even in the desert land of destitution) looked after Him who saw me?" "Well of the living one who seeth me," i.e., of the omnipresent divine providence. In opposition to this exposition, however, we must remark, that God is nowhere else in Genesis called the Living One. But our chief objection is, that these expositions destroy the connection which so evidently exists between our passage and those already quoted,—especially Gen. xxxii. 31; Exod. xxxiii. 20. (Compare, moreover, Jud. xiii. 22: "And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.")

It has been asked. Why should the Logos have appeared first to the Egyptian maid? But the low condition of Hagar cannot here come into consideration; for the appearance is in reality intended, not for her, but for Abraham. Immediately [Pg 119] before, in chap. xii. 7, it is said, "And the Lord appeared unto Abraham;" and immediately after, in chap. xvii. 1, "And when Abraham was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to him;" the appearance of the Lord Himself is mentioned in order that every thought of a lower angel may be warded off. The passage under consideration, then, contains the indication, that such appearances must only be conceived of as manifestations of the Deity Himself to the world. Just as our passage is preserved from erroneous interpretations by such passages as Gen. xii. 7, xvii. 1, so these receive from ours, in return, their most distinct definition. We learn from this, that wherever appearances of Jehovah are mentioned, we must conceive of them as effected by the mediation of His Angel. There is no substantial difference betwixt the passages in which Jehovah Himself is mentioned, and those in which the Angel of Jehovah is spoken of. They serve to supplement and to explain one another. The words, "In His Angel," in chap. xvi. 7, furnish us with the supplement to the succeeding statement, "And Jehovah appeared to him" (so, e.g., also in chap. xviii. 1), just as the writer in Gen. chap. ii. iii. makes use of the name Jehovah-Elohim, in order that henceforth every one may understand that where only Jehovah is spoken of. He is yet personally identical with Elohim.

Let us now turn to Gen. xviii. xix. According to Delitzsch. all the three men who appeared to Abraham were "finite spirits made visible." Hofmann (Schriftb. S. 87) says: "Jehovah is present on earth in His angels, in the two with Lot, as in the three with Abraham." We, however, hold fast by the view of the ancient Church, that in chap. xviii. the Logos appeared accompanied by two inferior angels.

Abraham's regards are, from the very first, involuntarily directed to one from among the three, and whom he addresses by אֲדוֹנָי, O Lord (xviii. 3); the two others are considered by him as companions only. But Lot has to do with both equally, and addresses them first by אֲדוֹנַי, my Lords.—In chap. xviii., it is always one only of the three who speaks; the two others are mute;[1] while in chap. xix. everything comes from the two [Pg 120] equally. He with whom Abraham has to do, always, and without exception, speaks as God Himself; while the two with whom Lot has to do speak at first, as λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα, distinguishing themselves from the Lord who sent them (compare ver. 13); and it is only after they have thus drawn the line of separation between themselves and Jehovah, that they appear, in vers. 21, 22, as speaking in His name. They do so, moreover, only after Lot, in the anxiety of his heart and in his excitement, had previously addressed, in them, Him who sent them, and with whom he desired to have to do as immediately as possible. The scene bears, throughout, a character of excitement, and is not fitted to afford data for general conclusions. We cannot infer from it that it was, in general, customary to address, in the angels, the Lord who sent them, or that the angels acted in the name of the Lord. In chap. xviii., from ver. 1, where the narrative begins with the words, "And Jehovah appeared unto him," Moses always speaks of him with whom Abraham had to do as Jehovah only, excepting where he introduces the three men. (He with whom Abraham has to do is called, not fewer than eight times, Jehovah, and six times אֲדוֹנָי.) But in chap. xix., Jehovah, who is concealed behind the two angels, appears only twice in the expression, "And He said," in vers. 17, 21, for which ver. 13 suggests the supplement: "through His two angels."—Even in ver. 16, the narrative distinguishes Jehovah from the two men,—and all this in an exciting scene which must have influenced even the narrator. If he who spoke to Abraham was an angel like the other two, we could scarcely perceive any reason why he should not have taken part in the mission to Sodom; but if he was the Angel of the Lord κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, the reason is quite obvious; it would have been inconsistent with divine propriety.—In chap. xviii. Moses speaks of three men; it is evidently on [Pg 121] purpose that he avoids speaking of three angels. In chap. xix. 1, on the contrary, we are at once told: "And there came the two angels." (Compare ver. 15.) The reason why in chap. xviii. the use of the name angels is avoided can only be, because it might easily have led to a misunderstanding, if the Angel of the Lord had been comprehended in that one designation along with the two inferior angels, although it would not, in itself, have been inadmissible.—If we suppose that he, with whom Abraham had to do, was some created angel, we cannot well understand how, in chap. xviii. 17 seq., the judgment over Sodom could, throughout, be ascribed to him. He could not, in the name of the Lord, speak of that judgment, as not he, but the two other angels who went to Sodom, were the instruments of its execution. Hence it only remains to ascribe the judgment to him as the causa principalis.—If the three angels were equals, it would be impossible to explain the adversative clause in chap. xviii. 22: "And the men turned from thence and went to Sodom; but Abraham stood yet before the Lord." Jehovah and the two angels are here contrasted. It is true that, in the two angels also, it is Jehovah who acts. This is evident from xviii. 21: "I will go down and see"—where the going down does not refer to descending to the valley of Jordan, the position of which was lower (thus Delitzsch); but, according to xi. 7, it refers to a descent from heaven to earth. That Jehovah, though on earth, should declare His resolution to go down, as in xi. 7, may be explained from the ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ in John iii. 13. God, even when He is on earth, remains in heaven, and it is thence that He manifests Himself. Moreover, the words immediately following show in what sense this going down is to be understood,—that it is not in His own person, but through the medium of His messengers. The resolution, "I will go down," is carried into effect by the going down of the angels to Sodom.

By the Jehovah who, from Jehovah out of heaven, caused brimstone and fire to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah (xix. 24), we are not at liberty to understand the two angels only,[2] but, [Pg 122] agreeably to the views of sound Christian expositors generally, Christ,—with this modification, however, that the two angels are to be considered as His servants, and that what they do is His work also. It is true that the angels say, in xix. 13, "We will destroy," etc.; but much more emphatically and frequently does he with whom Abraham has to do, ascribe the work of destruction to himself. (Compare xviii. 17, where Jehovah says, "How can I hide from Abraham that thing which I am doing?" vers. 24-28, etc.) If in xix. 24 there be involved the contrast between, so to speak, the heavenly and earthly Jehovah,—between the hidden God and Him who manifests Himself on earth,—then so much the more must we seek the latter in chap. xviii., as in ver. 22, compared with ver. 21, the angels are distinctly pointed out as His Messengers.

Delitzsch asserts that in Heb. xiii. 2, the words, ἔλαθόν τινες ξενίσαντες ἀγγέλους, clearly indicate that "all three were finite spirits made visible." This assertion, however, which was long before made by the Socinian Crellius, has been sufficiently refuted by Ode de Angelis, p. 1001. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews intends to connect the events which happened to Abraham and Lot equally—τίνες; and for this reason he did not go beyond what was common to them both. Moreover, the Angel of the Lord is likewise comprehended in the appellation "angels," for the name has no reference to the nature, but to the mission.

 [1] The words in ver. 9, "And they said to him," are to be understood only thus:—that one spoke at the same time in the name of the others; in the question thus put, it is, in the first instance, only the general relation of the guests to the hostess that comes into consideration. That such is the case, appears from ver. 10, where the use of the plural could not be continued, because a work was on hand which was peculiar to the one among them, and in which the others were not equally concerned. If the words in ver. 9 were spoken by all the three, then the one in ver. 10 ought to have been singled out thus: "And one from among them thus spoke." On account of the suffix in אחריו, "And the door was behind him," the ויאמר in ver. 10 can be referred only to the one, and not to the Jehovah concealed behind all the three. This shows how the preceding, "And they said," is to be understood.

[2] Delitzsch says: "As the two are really sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, it is evident that Jehovah, in ver. 24, who causes brimstone and fire to rain from Jehovah out of heaven, is viewed as being present in the two on earth, but in such a manner that, nevertheless, His real judicial throne is in heaven."

Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, מלאך האלהים, appears to Jacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." In ver. 13, there is another sight: "And behold Jehovah stood by him and said, I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed."
[Pg 123]

This passage is also in so far of importance, because, agreeably to what has been remarked in p. 119, it follows from it that even there, where Jehovah simply is mentioned, the mediation through His Angel is to be assumed.

He with whom Jacob wrestles, in Gen. xxxii. 24, makes himself known as God, partly by giving him the name Israel, i.e., one who wrestles with God, and partly by bestowing a blessing upon him. Jacob calls the place Peniel, i.e., face of God, because he had seen God face to face, and wonders that his life was preserved. The answer which Elohim gives here to Jacob's question regarding His name, remarkably coincides with that which in Judges xiii. 17, 18, is given by the Angel of the Lord to a similar question. In Hosea xii. 4 (comp. the remarks on this passage in the Author's "Genuineness of the Pentateuch," vol. i. p. 128 ff.), he who wrestled with Jacob is called Elohim, as in Genesis; but in ver. 5, he is called מלאך, a word which is more distinctly defined by the preceding Elohim; so that we can, accordingly, think only of the Angel of God. As it was certainly not the intention of the prophet to state a new historical circumstance, the mention of the Angel must be founded upon the supposition, that all revelations of God are made by the mediation of His Angel,—a supposition which we have already proved to have its foundation in the book of Genesis itself.

Delitzsch says, S. 256, "Jehovah reveals Himself in the מלאך, but just by means of a finite spirit becoming visible, and therefore in a manner more tolerable to him who occupies a lower place of communion with God." And similarly, Hofmann expresses himself, S. 335: "It is quite the same thing whether it be said, he saw God, or an angel, as is testified by Hosea also; and nowhere have we less right to explain it as if it were an appearance of God the Son, in contrast with the appearance of an angel."

But since it is an essentially different matter, whether Jacob wrestled with God Himself, or, in the first instance, with an ordinary angel merely, we have, as regards this opinion, only the choice between accusing the prophet Hosea, who brought in the angel, of an Euhemerismus, or of raising against sacred history the charge that it cannot be relied on, because it omitted so important [Pg 124] a circumstance. The name Israel, by which, "at the same time, the innermost nature of the covenant-people was fixed, and the divine law of their history was established" (Delitzsch), is, in that case, a falsehood. Jacob has overcome omnipotence, and, in this one adversary, all others who might oppose him,—as he is expressly assured in ver. 29: "Thou hast wrestled with God and with men, and hast prevailed." Can God invest a creature with omnipotence? Jacob would certainly not have gone so cheerfully to meet Esau, if in Him over whom he prevailed with weeping and supplication, he himself had recognised only an angel, and not Jehovah the God of hosts, as Hosea, in ver. 6, calls the very same, of whom in ver. 5 he had spoken as the angel. The consolatory import of the event for the Church of all times is destroyed, if Jacob had to do with a created angel only. With such an one, Jacob had not to reckon on account of his sinfulness, and it is just the humiliating consciousness of this his sinfulness which forms the point at issue in his wrestling. Moreover, with such a view, the New Testament Antitype would be altogether lost. Jesus, the true Israel, does not wrestle with an angel,—such an one only appears to strengthen Him in His struggle, Luke xxii. 43—but with God, Heb. v. 7.—The occurrence would, according to this opinion, furnish a strong argument for the worship of angels: "He wept and made supplication unto him," Hos. xii. 5 (compare Deut. iii. 23). The ἀγωνίζεσθαι ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς, mentioned in Col. iv. 12, in allusion to our passage, would, in that case, besides God, have the angels for its object.

If an ordinary angel were here to be understood, we must likewise believe that an angel is spoken of in Gen. xxxv. 9 seq. For, of the same angel with whom Jacob wrestled, Hosea says that Jacob found him in Bethel: "And he wrestled with the Angel and prevailed, he wept and made supplication unto him; he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us." (Tarnov: "Nobiscum qui in lumbis Jacobi hærebamus.") Then, it must have been a common angel, too, who appeared to Jacob in Gen. xxviii. 10 ff.; for chap. xxxv. 9, compared with ver. 7, does not allow us to doubt of the identity of him who appeared on these two occasions. But such an idea cannot be entertained for a moment; for in chap. xxviii. 13, Jehovah is contrasted with the angels ascending and descending on the ladder.
[Pg 125]

In Gen. xlviii. 15, 16, we read of Jacob: "And he blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, and the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads."

In this passage, God first appears, twice in the indefiniteness of His nature, and then, specially, as the Angel concerned for Jacob and his posterity.

By the Angel, we cannot here understand a divine emanation and messenger, because no permanent character belongs to such; while here the whole sum of the preservations of Jacob, and of the blessings upon Ephraim and Manasseh, is derived from the Angel. And just as little can we thereby understand a created angel, according to the view of Hofmann, who, in S. 87, says: "Jacob here makes mention of God, not thrice, but twice only; first as the God of his fathers, and then as the God of his own experience, but in such a way that in ver. 16 he names, instead of God, the Angel who watched over him; and he does so for the purpose of denoting the special providence of which he had been the object."

The analogy of the threefold blessing of Aaron in Num. vi. 24-26 would lead us to expect that the name of God should be three times mentioned. No created angel could in this manner be placed by the side of God, or be introduced as being independent of, and co-ordinate with, Him. Such an angel can only be meant as is connected with God by oneness of nature, and whose activity is implied in that of God. The singular יברך is here of very special significance. It indicates that the Angel is joined to God by an inseparable oneness, and that his territory is just as wide as that of Elohim.[1] If by the angel we understand some created one, we cannot then avoid the startling inference, that God is, in all His manifestations, bound [Pg 126] absolutely to the mediation of the lower angels. In the history upon which Jacob looks back, the inferior angels do not appear at all as taking any part in all the preservations of Jacob. Twice only are they mentioned in his whole history,—in chap. xxviii. 12, and xxxii. 2. Lastly,—The angel cannot well be a collective noun; for we nowhere meet with the ideal person of the angel, as comprehending within himself a real plurality. (Compare remarks on Ps. xxxiv. 8.) We should therefore be compelled to think of Jacob's protecting angel. But this, again, would be in opposition to the fact, that Scripture nowhere says anything of the guardian angels of any individual. Moreover, it is a plurality of angels that in xxviii. 12, xxxii. 2, serves for the protection of Jacob, and we nowhere find the slightest trace of one inferior angel being attached to Jacob for his protection.

[1] This significance of the singular was pointed out as early as in the third century by Novatianus, who, de Trinitate c. xv. (p. 1016 in Ode), says: "So constant is he in mentioning that Angel whom he had called God, that even at the close of his speech he again refers, in an emphatic manner, to the same person, by saying, 'God bless these lads.' For had he intended that some other angel should be understood, he would have used the plural number in order to comprehend the two persons. But since, in his blessing, he made use of the singular, he would have us to understand that God and the Angel are quite identical."

In Exod. xxiii. 20, 21, Jehovah says to the children of Israel: "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My name is in him."

As the people are here told to beware of the Angel, because he will not pardon their transgressions, so Joshua xxiv. 19 warns them as regards the most high God: "Ye will not be able to serve Jehovah: for He is a holy (i.e., a glorious, exalted) God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins." The energetic character of the reaction proceeding from the angel against all violations of His honour, is founded upon the words, "For My name is in him." By the "name of God" all His deeds are understood and comprehended, His glory testified by history, the display and testimony of His nature which history gives. (Compare the remarks in my commentary on Ps. xxiii. 2, xlviii. 11, lxxxiii. 17-19, lxxxvi. 11.) "My name is him;" i.e., according to Calvin, "My glory and majesty dwell in him." Compare here what in the New Testament is said of Christ: ἃ γὰρ ἂν ἐκεῖνος ποιῇ ταῦτα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς ὁμοίως ποιεῖ, John v. 19; ἵνα πάντες τιμῶσι τὸν υἱὸν καθὼς τιμῶσι τὸν πατέρα, John v. 23; ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν, John x. 30; ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ πιστεύσητε ὅτι ἐν ἐμοὶ ὁ πατὴρ κᾀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ, [Pg 127] John x. 38; οὐ πιστεύεις ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστι, John xiv. 10; καθὼς σὺ πάτερ ἐν ἐμοὶ κᾀγὼ ἐν σοί, John xvii. 21; ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς, Col. ii. 9.—It is impossible that the name of God could be communicated to any other, Is. xlii. 8. The name of God can dwell in Him only, who is originally of the same nature with God.

After Israel had contracted guilt by the worship of the golden calf. He who had hitherto led them—Jehovah = the Angel of Jehovah—says, in Exod. xxxii. 34, that He would no more lead them Himself, but send before them His Angel, מלאכי: "For I (myself) will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people, lest I consume thee in the way;" xxxiii. 3, compared with xxiii. 21. The people are quite inconsolable on account of this sad intelligence, ver. 4.

The threatening of the Lord becomes unintelligible, and the grief of the people incomprehensible, if by the Angel in chap. xxiii. an ordinary angel be understood. But everything becomes clear and intelligible, if we admit that in chap. xxiii. there is an allusion to the Angel of the Lord κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, who is connected with Him by oneness of nature, and who, because the name of God is in Him, is as zealous as Himself in inflicting punishment as well as in bestowing salvation; whilst in chap. xxxii. 34, the allusion is to an inferior angel, who is added to the highest revealer of God as His companion and messenger, and who appears in the Book of Daniel under the name of Gabriel, while the Angel of the Lord appears under the name of Michael.

On account of the sincere repentance of the people, and the intercession of Moses, the Lord revokes the threatening, and says in xxxiii. 14, "My face shall go." But Moses said unto Him, "If Thy face go not, carry us not up hence."

That פנים, face, signifies here the person, is granted by Gesenius: "The face of some one means often his personal presence,—himself in his own person." A similar use of the word occurs in 2 Sam. xvii. 11: "Thy face go to battle" (Michaelis: "Thou thyself be present, not some commander only"); and in Deut. iv. 37, where בפניו means in, or with, his personal presence: "He [Pg 128] brought them out with His face, with His mighty power out of Egypt."

The state of things has in xxxiii. 14, 15, evidently become again what it was in xxiii. 20, 21. The face of the Lord in the former passage, is the Angel of the Lord in the latter. Hence, we cannot here admit the idea of some inferior angel; we can think only of that Angel who is connected with the Lord by oneness of nature.

The connection between the face of the Lord in xxxiii. 14, 15, and the Angel in whom is the name of the Lord, in xxiii., becomes still more evident by Is. lxiii. 8, 9: "And He (Jehovah) became their Saviour. In all their affliction (they were) not afflicted, and the Angel of His face saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and He bore and carried them all the days of old." The Angel of the face, in this text, is an expression which, by its very darkness, points back to some fundamental passage—a passage, too, in the Pentateuch—as facts are alluded to, of which the authentic report is given in that book. The expression, "Angel of the face," arose from a combination of Exod. xxiii. 20—from which the "Angel" is taken—and Exod. xxxiii. 14, whence he took the "face." To explain "Angel of the face" by "the angel who sees His face," as several have done, would give an inadequate meaning; for by the whole context, an expression is demanded which would elevate the angel to the height of God. Now, as in Exod. xxxiii. 14, "the face of Jehovah" is tantamount to "Jehovah in His own person," the Angel of the face can be none other than He in whom Jehovah appeal's [typo correction: should read "appears"] personally, in contrast with inferior created angels. The Angel of the face is the Angel in whom is the name of the Lord.

When Joshua was standing with the army before Jericho, in a state of despondency at the sight of the strongly fortified city, a man appeared to him, with his sword drawn; and when he was asked by Joshua, "Art thou for us or for our adversaries?" he answers, in chap. v. 14, "Nay, for I am the Captain of the host of Jehovah, שר צבא יהוה, now I have come." This Captain claims for himself divine honour, in ver. 15, precisely in the same manner as the Angel of Jehovah in Exod. iii., by commanding [Pg 129] Joshua to put off his shoes, because the place on which he stood was holy. In chap. vi. 2 he is called Jehovah. For it is evident that we are not to think of another divine revelation there given to Joshua in any other way—as some interpreters suppose; because, in that case, the appearance of the Captain, who only now gives command to Joshua, would have been without an object. In chap. v. the directions would be wanting; in chap. vi. we should have no report of the appearance.

There can be no doubt that, by the host of the Lord, the heavenly host is to be understood; and Hofmann (S. 291) has not done well in reviving the opinion of some older expositors (Calvin, Masius) which has been long ago refuted, viz., that the host of the Lord is "Israel standing at the beginning of his warfare," and in asserting that the prince of this host is some inferior angel. The Israelites cannot be the host of the Lord, that explanation is excluded by the comparison with the host of the Lord mentioned at the very threshold of revelation, in Gen. ii. 1; that which is commonly (Gen. xxxii. 2; 1 Kings xxii. 19; Neh. ix. 6; Ps. ciii. 21, cxlviii. 2, compared with 2 Kings vi. 27) so called, infinitely surpasses the earthly one in glory, and of it the Lord has the name Jehovah Zebaoth. It is only in two isolated passages of the Pentateuch that the appellation which properly belongs to the heavenly hosts of God is transferred to the earthly ones; and that is done in order to point out their correspondence, and thereby to elevate the mind. In the first of these passages, Exod. vii. 4, the "host of the Lord" is not spoken of absolutely, but it is expressly said what host is intended: "And I bring forth My host. My people, the children of Israel." The second passage, in Exod. xii. 41, is similarly qualified, and refers to the first. According to this view of Hofmann, the words, "now I have come," are quite inexplicable.[1] The Captain of the host of the Lord expresses Himself in such a manner as if, by His coming, everything were accomplished. But if he was only the commander of Israel—an inferior [Pg 130] angel—his coming was no guarantee for success, for his limited power might be checked by a higher one. But if the Captain of the host of Jehovah be the Prince of angels, we cannot by any means refer the divine honour which He demands and receives, to Him who sent Him, in contrast with Him who is sent; the higher the dignity, the more necessary is the limitation. If the honour be ascribed to Him, He must be a partaker of a divine nature.

Jesus not at all indistinctly designates Himself as the Captain of the Lord's host spoken of in our passage, in Matt. xxvi. 53: Ἢ δοκεῖς ὅτι οὐ δύναμαι ἄρτι παρακαλέσαι τὸν πατέρα μου, καὶ παραστήσει μοι πλείους ἢ δώδεκα λεγεῶνας ἀγγέλων; This passage alone would be sufficient to refute the view which conceives of the Angel of the Lord as a mere emanation and messenger. It also overthrows the opinion that he is an inferior angel, inasmuch as the Angel of the Lord here appears as raised above all inferior angels.

Thus there existed, even in the time of Moses, the most important foundation for the doctrine concerning Christ. He who knows the general relation which the Pentateuch bears to the later development of doctrine, will, a priori, think it impossible that it should have been otherwise; and, instead of neglecting these small beginnings, appearing, as it were, in the shape of germs, he will cultivate them with love and care.

It is only at a late period, in Malachi iii. 1, that the doctrine of the Angel of the Lord is expressly brought into connection with that of Christ. But a knowledge of the divine nature of the Messiah is found at a much earlier period; and we can certainly not suppose that the doctrine of the Angel of the Lord, and that of a truly divine Saviour, should have existed by the side of each other, and yet that manifold forebodings regarding their close obvious connection should not have been awakened in the mind.

[1] Seb. Schmid says: "I have now come with my heavenly host to attack the Canaanites, and to help thee and thy people. Be thou of good cheer; prepare thyself for war along with me, and I will now explain to thee in what manner thou must carry it on;" vi. 2 ff.

See also the following blogposts:

The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead by Dr. Michael Heiser

Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God

Proving That There Is A Plurality In The Godhead

Quotes from "Of A Plurality In The Godhead" by John Gill

Concerning the Magnificent and August Names and Titles of the Messiah in the Old Testament by John Gill

Pre-Existence of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels

The Trinity and the Deity of the Messiah From a Messianic Perspective

Regarding Jewish Professor Dr. Sommer's Comments About the Trinity

The Great Mystery; or, How Can Three Be One? [The Trinity in Early Judaism]

Quotations from the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern