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[Some portions of text below are incomplete ... sorry, for a shorter discussion, see this ]
Explaining the Trinity
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Why attempt to understand the nature and role of Jesus?
Definitions - Misunderstood labels
Initial challenges to the Trinity doctrine
Why Did Jesus Never say 'I am God'?
How Can Two (Or More) Persons Be One God?
person composite nature
Bride of Christ
nature or name
How can God have a God?
A Simple Presentation Of The Trinity
Evidence for Jesus' Deity in the book of Hebrews (the first two chapters)
For example, how do we answer these series of questions:
I believe it is preferable that a doctrine be based on the most straightforward reading of a Biblical text without reading something into it. If the straight reading of a text seems difficult to reconcile with other texts, then this is not a sound reason to immediately assume it cannot mean what it says. Some effort should be made to understand all texts without having to allegorize any. If this sounds hard to do, just think of the following theological investigation as an 'experiment' where we will accept the texts for what they say and see if, in the end, we have something that is easy to understand or whether we have an incomprehensible mystery.
Most Biblical quotations are from the New American Standard (NAS),
but other translations used are: New International Version (NIV),
Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and the New Jerusalem Bible
Indirectly, through this scripture, Jesus asks all of us this question: "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus cares how you answer this.
This verse uses the model of the headship of God (the Father) over Christ as a model for the relationship between husband and wife. To misunderstand one is to misunderstand the other.
The relationship between members of the church, the body of Christ, is modeled on the attitude of Christ towards his Father. If we do not understand what the relationship is, we cannot emulate it as we are told to.
If you pick up the Bible and start reading it from the beginning you immediately read about
If you were reading the Bible (Old Testament) in Hebrew, you would also
find that the Creator-God has a special Name, Yahweh ("Jehovah"). This
name is used more often than the term "God" (see the American
Standard Version which is one of the few translations that renders
the Hebrew name of God as an English name rather than as "LORD":
3:15; 6:3; 20:7;
Next you would read that there are
But some Bible scholars say that the term "god/God" in the original language can refer to real entities
This leads to the first challenge to understanding the Bible's references to "God":
How do we harmonize the above verses (that suggest
there are other real "gods/Gods") with these?
The answer can be found in Bible verses that say
This suggests that the verses that state there are 'no other gods' mean that although there are others who can in a limited capacity be called "god" they are inferior and thus human language allows it to be said 'there is no God but one' because these
Obviously an idol representing an imaginary god (1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 4:8) cannot do what Yahweh can do - like make the universe from nothing - but any other real "god" (such as angels) must be a lesser god who cannot do what Yahweh alone can do. So we have moved from the general statement 'there is no God but one' that appears to contradict other more detailed Bible verses to a more precise statement 'there is only one God who made all things' thus resolving this apparent contradiction.
So it would appear that the Bible teaches that there is only One God,
who is uniquely identified by (primarily) two things:
This seems to explain all issues so far, except for one verse that could
potentially have a conflicting thought:
The One God speaks and refers to "Us" making man. Yet we saw above that
only one God made man (Job
31:15; Malachi 2:10;
Does "Let Us make . . . " mean all of the "Us" had a significant role in the 'making'? Why is "Us" not mentioned in the second phrase, only "God" being stated? Is the term "Us" equivalent to "God"? Some proposed explanations are:
1) The "Us" refers to one God who made all things but it does not mean
'us' as it does in common English. It is not plural but has some grand
None of the above explanations appears to be natural or obvious. If one prefers to reach conclusions through logic based on texts found entirely within Scripture, then chosing any of the above explanations will pose a challenge. So right from the start of reading the Bible it appears we have encountered a difficulty. But it gets even more difficult.
If we move on to the New Testament we encounter the gospel account of John which begins with phrases that echo the beginning of Genesis. Here we learn the identity of someone who could be included in "Us":
Soon we also encounter this in John:
While it may have appeared to be a small issue to explain Genesis 1:26,27 this is a much more difficult task. There is no ambiguity that this Jesus was with God, watching what he does and duplicating all that he saw. How could God have been alone when making the universe and the only God who can do this?
It does not help to resolve this by claiming that Jesus was not a "god" when he was with God making the universe because, as we saw above, the Bible repeatedly states that there is no one, no anything, who can do what Yahweh, the Creator, alone can do.
Now to complicate matters, we find texts asserting that Jesus was, on rare occasions, called "God/god" (Isaiah 9:6,7 / Luke 1:30-33; John 20:28 , also see the preamble in 1 Timothy 1:17 referring to the Only God who is King eternal, immortal and invisible and is to be honored forever while at the end of the book, in 6:14-16, is a parallel reference to Jesus as being the Only SovereignKing who alone is immortal, cannot be seen and is to to be honored forever).
So now there is a new problem. The previous discussion made it clear that although there were other entities, either imagined or real, who could be called 'god' in some sense, these could not make the universe as the One God did, nor did they share in it. Even if these 'gods' are real, either angelic or demonic, they are vastly inferior to the One God who made the universe. However the above verses introduce us to a person who made the universe, is called 'God' in some sense, was with God when the universe was made, is honored like God is and is very much like God. How do we resolve this?
One might be tempted to say that the contradiction only arises when you include the New Testament, however even in the Old Testament book of Isaiah there appears to be a problem for the One God is identified in Isaiah 10:20,21 ('Mighty God'); 37:16; 44:24 yet there appears to be suggestions of a distinct person of the same stature in Isaiah 6:8 ("Us") and Isaiah 9:6 ("Mighty God").
If Jesus were a god but not the same God as the true God (Jeremiah 10:10,11)
then it would be wrong even to say the name of Jesus (Exodus 23:13) (Deuteronomy
11:16; 18:20; Judges 2:19; 2 Kings 17:35; )
The chart below explains in a graphical
form five different theological viewpoints. Each belief-system will
say that Jesus is God but they differ in the details. The answers to three
questions distinguish each group and those answers are displayed in the
tree-graph below. The three questions are:
In each colored box below are two links, each leading to text further down into this article. One link leads to a summary "for" the view - giving the reasoning that supports the position - while the second link leads to a summary "against" the position. Under each of the five views the summary adds a comment regarding the Holy Spirit.
The label 'Trinity' is often associated with a variety of concepts
regarding God and there are other doctrines, with other labels,
proposing to describe the nature of God as taught in the Bible. As a result,
some persons claim to believe in the Trinity doctrine and yet their understanding
of it contradicts the historic definition. Others may describe a belief
that sounds very close to the historic doctrine of the Trinity and yet
were unaware that their theology could be considered Trinitarian. For this
reason I need to list the various definitions that pervade the New Testament-based
The various beliefs can be generally categorized like this
The following article presents the Complementarian-Trinitarian position as I understand it. I find that it fits with the majority of the Scriptures taking the most natural reading.
A brief presentation
Before proceeding to the details, here is a brief explanation of this view:
The Trinitarian concept differs from the other views primarily in the idea that three persons can be (and must be!) understood to be only ONE God. This concept is roughly described by some as a "composite being". Composite beings are not unknown in Scripture (see below for a list) and one example is examined here:
Note that while the term "servant" is singular, the reference "witnesses" is plural. So in one sense the referent is singular, and in another sense, plural. If one were to hold strictly to what it says here then one would day that God has only one servant but that servant is a composite being, composed of many witnesses. In Isaiah 49:3-7; (compare 50:10) the term "servant" switches between two meanings, one reference to a composite being and another to a single person, the messenger chosen by God. Do we conclude that the messenger is himself the entire nation of Israel? No. Do we concluded that God has more than one servant? No.
David was identified as God's servant (Isaiah
Even though the concept of a composite being is found in Scripture, why do some believe that this necessarily describes the nature of God? There are many scriptures that can be referenced but the basic reason is this:
Scripture states that the "One God" of the Old Testament has some attributes that no other God has. We will also see that Scripture states that the Word, Jesus, has some of these same attributes. Most significant is that the One God is said to be the One Creator or Maker of the universe yet the Word also is ascribed this attribute.
Isaiah 44:24 says God is the maker of all things, he made them by himself, all alone. Isaiah 44:6-8 has God repeatedly saying there is no God besides "Me", and asks if there is anyone like "Me" (also see Isaiah 45:5,6,14,18,21,22 and Psalm 86:8,10; 89:6,7; 113:5). Isaiah 46:9 repeats that there is no other God and answers the previous question by stating that there is no one like "Me". Psalm 102:12-27 describe the LORD, "my God", as being the one who made the heavens and the earth.
As we now consider the supporting verses showing that Jesus has these
attributes, we should address the Arian counter-claim that the Bible applies
these prestigious attributes only in a representative sense, that is, when
a speaker makes a prestigious claim he is in reality only speaking as a
representative with his own identity being totally subsumed and transparent.
For example in Genesis 44:4-10
Joseph commands his house steward to speak a command in his name. In verse
10 the steward speaks just as if he were Joseph and refers to the command
that all guilty persons were to become "my" slave (rather than 'my Lord's
slave'). Some see a similar case of such representative speech in Genesis
22:15,16 where the angel of the LORD
says "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD,
But as we will now see, the supporting verses do not have a person speaking as a representative but rather these verses have third parties applying these prestigious attributes directly to Jesus.
Above we saw the claim that God made the heavens and the earth and no
one else is even like him. Yet Psalm
102:25-27, referenced above, is quoted in
How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? These statements were
not made in a representative sense so they cannot be used to resolve this.If
we take the words as they are, and as being true, Jesus must be that One
God who has no equal. The Modalist response is to insist that the
Word IS the Father, the Majesty. But as we saw in Hebrews 1:3, the
Son cannot be the Majesty for he sits at the right hand of the Majesty.
Thus we are left with the Trinitarian model, that just as Solomon and David
were individually witnesses (of God) and simultaneously in the one
composite being, "my servant", the Son and the Majesty are two persons
within in the composite One God. Each can be appropriately addressed as
God (just as David and Solomon could each be addressed as "servant"), yet
there are not two Gods (nor are there two servants), but only one.
The answer becomes apparent when considering a parallel question. Most Christians would say a belief that Jesus is the "Christ" is a fundamental belief. Then why did he not say this directly and clearly by simply saying 'I am the Christ?' In examining Jesus' teachings we find that only rarely did he say things that sounded like an admission to being the Christ (John 4:25,26; Mark 14:61,62; Matthew 26:63-64; Luke 22:67-70) and he hesitated to say so openly (John 10:24, 25, 37, 38; Luke 22:67). When anyone did conclude that he was the Christ, he generally did not want those persons to tell others (Luke 4:41; Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 3:11-12; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21). Instead of identifying himself by plain statements, Jesus preferred letting his spiritual teachings and his works identify him (John 5:36; 14:10,11).
But because most people had misconceptions about what to expect of the Christ, they did not accept him as such (John 7:27,40-43; 12:34; Luke 23:39). They were puzzled about who he was and not many believed him to be the Christ (John 1:41; 7:31,40,41; 11:26,27; Matthew 16:13-16; 27:17,22). Does this mean that it is logical to conclude that Jesus could not be the Christ simply because he did not specifically say he was the "Christ" and because only a few others said he was? No.
So summarizing . . .
Why did many Jews doubt Jesus was the Christ?
Today many doubt that Jesus is God because . . .
What is also significant is noting the name that God gave to his human creations. The man is called "man" (or "Adam" in Hebrew) in Genesis 2:7,20 but this is apparently more than just a reference to his nature since it served as a name (Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14). But the woman does not receive a distinctive name until Genesis 3:20 after she sins. Now note Genesis 5:1,2 where we learn that the woman had already been named at the time of her creation.
Since Genesis 2:23,24 declares the couple to be one flesh prior to their procreation, their oneness is not dependent on marital relations. Verse 23 clarifies by stating that Eve was made from Adam and was of the same flesh and bone. This is helpful in understanding why they are said to be one. Jesus adds in Mark 10:6 that their oneness had to do with the commitment of marriage between the two of them. As a couple they were to behave as one entity. If Eve had lived where she liked and made all her own decisions it is hard to see how they would still be "one flesh" as God had intended. For them to behave as one entity, there would necessarily be one and only one person handling the role of final decision-maker with the other person taking the role of being a cooperative helper.
Further, although the woman was to be submissive, this does not mean she was inferior. She was not a monkey nor was she to be a separate independent human. She was to be honored just as her husband (Exodus 20:12). She had the same nature as her head, her husband. She was not more or less human than he. She was made from Adam's rib so must have had the same genetic nature. He was the male gender and she was the female gender of the same humanity yet each had a different role. They were distinct persons but they were not to be viewed as being separated, for they were "no longer two."
The same concept of oneness is true for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are all Deity. They have the same essential attributes of immortality, the authority to judge and give life, are credited with making the universe, and their glory is one. Although the Son is submissive, he is to be honored just as much as the Father (John 5:23). However, they are all distinct persons. Generally we do not say they are 'separate' since the Father is always with the Son (John 8:29; 14:10; 16:32) except on one occasion when the Holy Father separated from the Son who bore all the sins of all mankind, living and dead (Matthew 27:46). When Yahweh, the One True God, spoke in the Old Testament, he usually spoke for "us," the three persons of the Trinity (Isaiah 6:1-10 Yahweh; John 12:36-43 Son; Acts 28:25-27 Holy Spirit). At times the name "Yahweh" distinguishes the Father from the Son (Psalm 110:1) but at other times Jesus has the name of Yahweh (John 17:6,11,12). Each person has a different role or function in the universe. One person, the Father, is the source of all authority and decisions, the Son is the perfect agent who carries out the one will better than any angel could, the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts.
The above reasoning shows it is biblically possible for two (or more)
distinct persons to be viewed as one entity. So as an aid to discussing
this further, when two or more persons behave as one person or they can
be collectively perceived as one person we will call this unified entity
a "composite being".
While the above illustration of Adam and Eve may not impress one as
being a clear reference to a 'composite being' there are other biblical
Revelation 22:17) and to dress-up for the wedding (Revelation 19:7) of the Lamb, Jesus (John 3:28,29), yet she is in reality a city full of people (Revelation 21:2,9,14). This Bride is composed of many disciples (Matthew 9:15,16; Mark 2:19,20; Luke 5:34,35) who can be referenced as if a single person.
The Corinthian congregation was included in that bride for Paul addressed them saying (2 Corinthians 11:2):
>>>>>>>> Aquila and Priscilla: Acts 18: Aquila would say Priscilla was
his bride. How many brides did Jesus have? One. Aquila was her head. So
they were distinct with unequal roles, yet both within the One Bride. Aquila
could say 'this is my bride yet we are both within the One Bride of Christ.
The concept of a composite being is not foreign to Scripture. God's
people in the Old and New Testament are portrayed as composite beings,
God's Woman and the Lamb's bride are manifested as composite beings and
the Devil himself is referred to as a composite being.
From Genesis 3:20 it would seem that the woman was not called "Eve" until after their sin. Then from Genesis 5:1,2 we see the man and woman were both called "Man" until their sin. As the text says, they were one flesh. So, was the woman called "a Man?" No, she was not a man. So does the Bible imply that she was called "the Man?" No, she wa s certainly not THE man, her husband was THE man. But the text does say she was named "Man." Now consider this:
Further note that the reference to Adam and Eve could not read:
Notice a similar reference to "man" in Hebrews 13:6:
"The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?"This is not a reference to some specific man, neither "a man" nor "the man" but rather to mankind in general. It could either be a singular reference or it could refer to a collection of humans. In a sense this is a reference to a composite being. Now substitute the term "God" for "man" in Hebrews 13:6 (compare 1 Samuel 22:3) and ask 'What will God do to me?' or 'What will God do for me?' Just as 'man' could refer to a man it could also refer to the collection of all humans, similarly the term "God" could refer to a single person or to a collective "God."
Although the above illustration clarifies the concept of how two persons
can be "one" in another sense what does this mean for the term "God"? Can
we read the Bible and discern that the term "God" is used in all cases
(or in the majority of cases) as a composite being? Or, since the basis
for the above reasoning was centered around the concept of the one human
nature that Adam and Eve shared, do we find that "God" usually refers to
a nature? Or is the term "God" used in contexts that most naturally appear
to describe a solitary person? Is there any consistency? If not, then does
this imply that the Trinity doctrine is a unnecessarily contrived invention?
Often we find references to the term "God" being used like a name and occasionally in distinction to Jesus. For example in John 1:1 is a reference to the Son being with "God" and then being "God". How can the Son be with an entity and then BE that same entity? As mentioned above the answer is that in this verse, the first reference to "God" is to a person while the second reference is to the nature of God. This is
(Mark 10:18; 16:19; Luke 4:8,12; Luke 6:12; John 6:27; 8:40,42; 13:3; 14:1;Acts 2:24; 3:15; 10:38; Romans 1:8; Philippians 2:11; etc.) As in John 1:1 how can the Son be "God" and also be with "God"? Does this verse, as well as the others mentioned, show that "God" is distinguished from the Son? Does it seem odd to see a reference to an entity as if it were a singular being followed by a second reference with the same term meaning a composite being?
Likewise, what about
often and clearly, refers to the Father (Romans
The debate regarding this verse is whether it is supposed to read
"O God, your throne is forever"or
"God is your throne forever"Grammatically either rendering is supported by some scholars. But if you think about the meaning of the verse, which reading makes more sense? The context of this chapter of Hebrews contrasts the Son with the angels but shows the parallels with the Father. Is the point of this verse to say that the Son's throne is forever and that he can be called (as in Isaiah 9:6) or is the point to say that Almighty God is the throne on which the Son sits forever? If the correct rendering is "O God . . ." then this is a case where "God" is used of the Son in the same fashion as that used of the Father.
But if Jesus is "God" why are there references that seem to make distinctions between God and Jesus? As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the relationship between Jesus and his Father can be likened to the relationship between Eve and Adam.
Genesis 5:1,2 says
"1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man (Hebrew "Adam"), He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man (Hebrew "Adam") in the day when they were created." (NIV)Who is meant by:
The text here switches back and forth referring to creating a single
person (1 and 3) and two persons (4, 5, 6, 7) and one reference that could
be either (2). So when reading this one could conclude that Eve is not
included in the reference to God making "him" yet Eve is included in the
reference to God creating "them". The point is that in biblical language
terms can in one
All the references to Jesus being God are really only rare examples of a representative being viewed as the source.
It is possible to refer to a prophet and say "God has visited us" (Luke
7:16). This suggests that any reference to "God" could in reality be
a reference to God's representative. So some might conclude that all references
to Jesus as "God" are only made in the sense of Jesus being God's representative.
But, as we examine the evidence in the rest of the article you will notice
that the reasoning is rarely based on just the use of the title "God",
it is more based on the attributes attached to Jesus. No prophet, no angel
had the attributes given to Jesus. Especially as you read the first 2 chapters
in Hebrews, notice how the reasoning clearly says "the Son does thus
and so but no angel has ever done thus and so". You would not find
those kind of statements repeated if the Son were only an angelic representative.
Yet if the Son did indeed have the attributes and nature of "God" then
the Son would most certainly be the representative of God. So being God's
representative does not determine the conclusion of whether Jesus does
or does not have the nature of God.
Recall our example of a marriage and how a couple is no longer to be viewed as two but only as one flesh (Mark 10:8,9). That would apply for Abraham and Sarah. They were one flesh, no longer two, yet Sarah called Abraham "my Lord" (Genesis 18:12; 1 Peter 3:6) yet was one flesh with that Lord. So the difference in rank has no bearing on their being one.
Consider again the above illustration of Adam and Eve. Imagine that Adam and Eve had remained sinless and had a child named Cain. Suppose we could ask Cain 'Who is your boss (or head)?' Cain would probably reason that since Eve was in perfect submission and one flesh with Adam, both his parents were his boss. He would say 'My boss is Adam and Eve.' If we asked 'Then how many bosses do you have?' He would reason that since Adam and Eve were ONE flesh and no longer two, the authority was 'one', so he would say 'One boss.'
We might object and ask Cain if because Adam and Eve were two persons, does this not mean there were two bosses, a 'big' boss and a 'little' boss? He then would answer 'No, for Adam and Eve were to be in perfect unity with perfect communication, acting as one entity with one decision-maker, one will. No, there was only one boss, the two persons together named "Adam" (or "Man"). They could not be two bosses for they were "no longer two." '
Next suppose we asked Eve. 'Do you have a boss?' She would reason that since she was in perfect submission, and Adam was her head, she would say 'Yes' she had an earthly boss, Adam. Then how many human bosses are there in the Garden of Eden, one or two? The answer is 'one'. Yet if Eve is a boss and she has a boss over her, does this not mean one plus one are two bosses? No, as long as Eve was ONE flesh with her head, Adam and she was not acting on her own initiative there was only one boss. However if Eve were not ONE flesh with Adam, if she acted on her own initiative, then there would be two bosses and poor Cain would get confused about whom to obey. So rather than viewing this as 'one boss plus one boss,' we should view it as 'one boss times one completely submissive boss' equals one boss.
This explains why Jesus is eternally submissive to his Father as his head yet is still one with his Father (John 10:30). Just as Eve was a boss and yet also had a boss, Jesus is called God in Scripture (Isaiah 9:6; John 20:28) and yet he had a God. Likewise, just as Adam and Eve were one flesh and were to behave as one unit and thus there was only one boss in the garden, in heaven there is just one authority, one God.
Note these references showing how recognized Bible scholars describe the submission of Jesus.
Take a piece of paper and draw the illustration below. Write as title at the top "Everything that has ever existed . . .". Next, draw a line starting from the top, just below the title, to the bottom dividing it in half. On the left, slightly below the top, write: ". . . Those things that were brought into existence. . ." On the right, at the top, write: ". . . everything else . . . the things that have always existed." There are only two categories, every thing that has ever existed was either made or it was not made. Either it was brought into existence or it was always here.
Next, on the left half, starting down below the second title, draw another
line dividing it into half again. Thus you now have three columns or lists.
At the top of the left-most list write the words ". . . through the agency
of Jesus" and at the top of the middle list write ". . . not through the
agency of Jesus." Logically the left side of ". . . Those things that were
brought into existence. . ." can be broken into two categories: either
the thing was made through Jesus or it was made but not through the agency
of Jesus, that is, it was made apart from Jesus. There are no other categories,
everything that has ever existed belongs on one of these three lists.
Next, turn to John 1:3 where John comments on two of the three lists. There John says:
"All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being." NRSV
Sometimes in Scripture the word "all" does not mean all things that have ever existed, sometimes it means 'all the things' understood in the immediate context of the discussion or all things but with some obvious exceptions. Here it might not be obvious what "all things" refers to but it would seem that it would exclude any thing that that any reader would naturally believe had always existed. The Jewish reader of the first century would immediately assume that the Creator was not one of those things that came into being, since he always existed (Psalm 90:2; 93:2). So we might expect further clarification from John as to the identity of "all things".
Now examine the next phrase: "without him not one thing came into being". This is essentially saying the same thing as the first phrase. In mathematics the study called "set theory" would say the first phrase describes the set of "all things" and that they came into existence through him - referring to the Word of John 1:1,2. What is implied is that the Word did not bring about his own existence so the Word is not one of the "all things". The second phrase speaks of the complement of the first set, namely, that of that same set of "all things" the subset of items that came into being "without him", that is, without the agency of the Word, has zero elements. They are mathematically equivalent. So why repeat the same point? It would appear that John wanted to emphasize the point and make clear that there was no overlooked exception to this nor was this imprecise casual speech. To further emphasize the point, if as some scholars believe, the next phrase ("that has been made") modifies the subject "all things", then even our initial assumption, that "all things" excludes uncreated things, is an unnecessary assumption, nothing is left to guesswork. John is saying that all uncreated things came into being through the agency of the Word.
Another point of the phrase "without him not one thing came into being" is of interest. The Greek for "not one thing" is literally "not not" and is an emphatic "not". It means that no thing, not one thing, ZERO items are meant. In Greek the reference to "not one thing" is emphatic. It means zero, there are no exceptions. There are no objects in this category Again this emphasizes that the reader should not consider that there might be even one exception two what is said. Especially when you note that in the context it mentions God and the Word and "all things", so that if there were some unmentioned exception, it would have to be some thing outside of these and something obvious to the reader.
So could the Word be an exception to the doubly emphasized statement that not one thing came into existence apart from the Word's agency? Since this passage is primarily an exposition about the Word, it does not seem likely that the writer would leave such a significant issue out of the discussion as if it were obvious to the reader. There does not seem any room for an exception. It would be stretching it to say that John really meant "All things except those obvious things unmentioned here came into being through the Word, and without him not one thing came into being except of course the one unmentioned created thing.
Now compare this with our list .The first phrase ("All things came into being through him") in this verse addresses our left-most list. It shows that all things that were ever made (or "came into being"), came through Jesus and therefore should be listed on the first list. So write the words "All things" on this list. Then add as examples "stars and planets, angels, humans, living things, etc."
This alone would imply that the second list, those things made apart from the agency of Jesus, is an empty list. But could there be an exception? Are there things that were made by the Father apart from any action of the Son?
John next says "without him not one thing came into being." John is specifically addressing the category of those things that came into being (or were made) but without the agency of the Word. He comments that in this category there is "not one thing." So on your middle list write the words "not even one thing." Reaffirm the point by reading the three titles together: "Everything that has ever existed . . . those things that were brought into existence. . . (but) not through the agency of Jesus" and that according to John 1:3 this list contains "not even one thing."
Now fill in the rest of the paper by deciding where to list "The Father." Since the Father has always existed, he is from eternity, list "the Father" on the right-most list. Next, decide where the Holy Spirit should be listed. Did Jesus bring the Holy Spirit into existence? Scripture says the Spirit was in the beginning with God (Genesis 1:1,2). So add the "Holy Spirit" to the right-most list.
Now for the key concern. Decide where Jesus should be listed. Can he
be on the first list of those things made by Jesus? Did Jesus make himself,
did he bring himself into existence? No, that is logically impossible.
So he cannot be on the left list. What about the middle list? Jesus cannot
be added to the middle list for John 1:3 insists "not one thing" can be
listed there. Therefore, the only place Jesus can be listed is on the right
side as one of those things that has always existed!
Name of God?
Ha Adohn Exodus 23:17; 34:23
One God, One Lord
2 Corinthians 3:18
(But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of
the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to
glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.) (And we, who with unveiled
faces all reflect  the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his
likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who
is the Spirit. )
Although this simple presentation does not fully prove that the Holy Spirit is a person, we must admit there are three items on the list of things that always existed. All three were involved in creation, including the Holy Spirit (Psalm 104:30). Yet Isaiah 44:24 and Malachi 2:10 say only ONE God made the universe, all by himself. Thus we have three entities, but ONE God.
Now for a more in-depth explanation . . .
Hebrews 1: . . .
This would probably cause a devout Jew a little puzzlement. Was there anyone in the Hebrew scriptures revealed to have shared in making the universe? Who could this be? Angels, also called sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 29:1; 89:5-7), cannot do what God can do. They did not participate in making the universe. They were part of the creation:
Deuteronomy 3 " 24 'My Lord Yahweh,' I said, 'now that you have begun to reveal your greatness and your power to your servant with works and mighty deeds no God in heaven or on earth can rival" (NJB)
Psalm 86 " 8 among the gods there is none to compare with you, no great deeds to compare with yours. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds, you, God, and none other." (NJB)
Malachi 2 " 10 . . . Has not one God created us? . . ."
Isaiah 44 " 24 Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, he who formed you in the womb: I, Yahweh, have made all things, I alone spread out the heavens. When I hammered the earth into shape, who was with me?" (NJB)
Isaiah 45 " 18 For thus says Yahweh, the Creator of the heavens - he is God, who shaped the earth and made it, who set it firm; he did not create it to be chaos, he formed it to be lived in: I am Yahweh, and there is no other. 21 . . . Who foretold this in the past, who revealed it long ago? Was it not I, Yahweh? There is no other god except me, no saving God, no Saviour except me! 22 Turn to me and you will be saved, all you ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no other." (NJB)
So how many Gods made the universe? One or two? A Jew would answer "One! ,there is no other."
Notice what Jesus' Jewish disciples believed. . .
Acts 4 " 24 When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, 'Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them," (NRSV)
Revelation 14 " 7 and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' "
Only ONE God made the universe and He is to be glorified and worshiped because of it! Who is this? If God made the universe by himself and no other God can do what He can do, who is this Son that was used to make the universe? Is He to be glorified and worshiped too? Will the rest of the book to the Hebrews answer this? Will it name someone that has already been revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures as this Son that made the universe?
Continuing with Hebrews 1: . . .
Isaiah 42 " 8 I am the LORD (Yahweh), that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. "
Isaiah 48 " 11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. " (Compare Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38; John 16:14,15; 17:5; Revelation 5:13,14)
So who is it that is the radiance of the glory of God himself? Is it really true that God would not share his glory with another? While in a sense God later gives some glory to Spirit-begotten Christians (John 17:22), here in Isaiah the glory belongs to God and no other.
Consider another passage where Isaiah speaks of Yahweh's glory. While reading this, ask yourself "Are Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 true here? Is God's glory being shared with another God? How many glories are mentioned here?"
Isaiah 6: " 1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, . . . 3 And one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.' . . . 5 Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts.' 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, Here am I. Send me!' 9 He said, Go, and tell this people: "Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand." 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." "
Well, how many glories did you see? Did you see the glory of anyone else described here? Did you see more than one person mentioned? Did Yahweh share his glory with any of those persons? Now compare . . .
John 12:36-43: " 36 'While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.' These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke [in Isaiah 53:1]: 'Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 [in Isaiah 6:10] 'He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.' 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."
From the context it is clear that this is referring to Jesus, the Son of God, the one that many would not believe. Yet John quotes Isaiah 6:10 (in John 12:40) and then explains that Isaiah saw the glory of the Son of God! So how many glories did Isaiah see? Did Isaiah see two glories? The account said Isaiah "saw the Lord. . . . The whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah "heard the voice of the Lord (Yahweh), saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' There was only ONE glory mentioned, one voice, one speaker, one sender yet Isaiah would be going for "Us." (Note also that the Holy Spirit is credited with doing the speaking - see Acts 28:25-27.) So this glory was being shared by another! If this other person sharing God's glory was an angel or a second god, would that not contradict Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11? Then whose glory did Isaiah see - Jesus' or Yahweh's? Did he see the glory of one God or two? The only answer that fits the claims in Isaiah, John and Acts 28:25-27 is that Isaiah saw Yahweh and His glory and His voice, yet he was looking at the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thus the angels said "Holy, Holy, Holy, [three times] is the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts."
continuing with Hebrews 1:3 . . .
Philippians 2:3,5,6,8 " 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 8 . . . He humbled Himself . . ." (Although translations differ over how the end of this verse should be translated they agree on the first part saying that Jesus, while in heaven, existed in God's form.)
Parallel to Hebrews 1:3 this says Jesus had the "form" of God. If we could see Jesus in His heavenly form we would have to say he had the form of God, the exact representation of God's nature. Jesus looks just like God!
But there is more that can be learned from this passage. Paul points to the relationship between Jesus and His Father and says that Jesus' attitude should be ours. He states that "although He existed in the form of God . . . He humbled Himself." The first phrase refers to Jesus' nature, His heavenly appearance. The second phrase refers to Jesus' position. Paul reasons that our Leader, Christ, had a nature deserving of stature but chose a position that was unexpected, a humble position that did not fit his "form." If the attitude that Jesus adopted was actually expected then Paul's whole reasoning looses its force. Paul's intent is to convince Christians to adopt an attitude that was not natural for them, one that was unexpected.
For Paul's reasoning to be convincing and applicable, there must be a parallel situation between Jesus and His Father and between Christians in the congregation. The Christian reading this passage would have to see the extent of Jesus' humility in contrast to His relationship to His Father. The implication is that Jesus truly had the nature of His Father just as Christians all have the same basic human nature. And just as we might expect Jesus to maintain a position that fit his nature, humans usually behave in a manner fitting their view of being equal to each other. But Paul points out that Jesus did not grasp a position of equality to His Father, a position that we would reasonably expect Him to grasp based on his "form." Instead He willingly accepted a position of humility, below his nature. Likewise, Paul reasons that humans should do the same. Even though they are all equal in nature, they should each choose a position of humility in relation to others.
In brief, Paul reasons that even though Jesus had a nature completely equal to God, he chose a relationship of submission. Likewise, Christians are all equal in basic human nature but they should all adopt the attitude of Jesus and be submissive to one another.
Another verse comments on Jesus' form or appearance:
John 14 " 9 Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, "Show us the Father?"' "
Could this be saying that Jesus is the Father and God is really only one person? Then this would be strange since the first few verses of Hebrews says God spoke through the Son and made the universe through the Him. That makes a distinction between the Son and someone else.
So we must conclude that the Son has God's appearance; he looks exactly like God even in his nature. But in the Jewish mind, who could look exactly like God? Do angels look like God? Is there another God that looks exactly like God? Here is another puzzle for the Hebrew who is trying to understand the Son in terms of the Hebrew Scriptures:
Psalm 89 " 6 For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD (Yahweh)? Who is like the LORD (Yahweh) among the heavenly beings? 7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. 8 O LORD (Yahweh) God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD (Yahweh), and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. " (NIV) [What would a Jew that was familiar with this verse think of the account in Matthew 8:24-27 (Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)?]
Note that this implies that the "heavenly beings" of verse six are the ones who are around him in verse seven. So even the angels that are around Yahweh can not compare with Him. Then WHO is the Son that is the radiance of God's glory and "the exact representation of His nature"?
1 Kings 8: " 23 He said, 'O LORD (Yahweh), the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing loving kindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart' " (2 Chronicles 6:14 reads the same.)
Isaiah 46: " 5 'To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike? 9 Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me."
(Other verses that also say there is no God like Yahweh, are: Exodus 8:10; 9:14; 15:11; Deuteronomy 33:26; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 113:5; Isaiah 40:18,25; 44:6-8; Jeremiah 10:6; Micah 7:18.)
Would a Jew familiar with these texts conclude that the Son, the one who is "the exact representation of His nature," must be an angel or a second and distinct God? No, for there is no other god or angel that can be compared to the One True God. Just who is this that is being describing here?
continuing with Hebrews 1:3
Psalm 148 " 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD (Yahweh), For He commanded and they were created. 6 He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away. "
Since Yahweh 'established the universe for ever and ever' and the Son "upholds all things", how can it be said that no one can compare with Yahweh? The only conclusion is that the Son is the same Deity as Yahweh. Just as Adam and Eve are the one human flesh, the one humanity, that produced Cain; Yahweh (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are the one Deity that created the universe.
continuing with Hebrews 1:3 . . .
and the rest of Hebrews 1:3 . . .
Psalm 110:1 "The LORD (Yahweh) says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.' "
That this verse is referring to the Father speaking to the Son can be seen in several verses (Matthew 26:64; Acts 2:34-36; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27; Ephesians 1:20,22; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). It appears that Hebrews 1:3 is a reference to Psalm 110:1 as well. If Yahweh is speaking to the Lord Jesus and tells Him that He, the Son, will sit at Yahweh's right hand, how can they both be the same person?
Up to this point in Hebrews 1:3 the Son has been compared with God. Would you say that the comparisons show the Son to be different, somewhat similar or exactly like God? As we continue reading we will see how the Son is compared with angels. Will we find that the writer of Hebrews identifies the Son with some special angel revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures? No. From this point on we will see the Son contrasted with angels and shown to be VERY different. If the Son is to be identified with some Old Testament angel, then this is THE place to show it so that our Jewish reader of this book to the Hebrews will understand in familiar terms exactly who the Son is.
Continuing with the thought of the Son being placed at the right hand of the Father . . .
We learn from Hebrews 2:9,17 that the Son had to take on the nature of humans and become, temporarily, lower than angels. However, after his resurrection he was exalted to heaven, and received a position superior to that of angels (compare John 17:5). He received another superior name, the "only-begotten Son," which had its fullest meaning after his resurrection (Romans 1:3,4; Acts 13:33).
Does the fact that the Son is said to be "begotten" mean that he was born, brought into existence? Does the term "begotten" refer to some time in the past when the Son began his existence? No, for the day he was "begotten" was the day of his exaltation after his resurrection (Hebrews 5:5; Acts 13:33), the day he received His new role as High Priest and Redeemer.
Hebrews 1:6 is similar to Psalm 148:2 where the angels praise God. It could be considered a little like Daniel 7:14 where all people are to serve the "son of man" (meaning Jesus). It is possibly a quotation from Psalm 97:7, which is very close when viewed in the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated LXX, the Greek Old Testament used by early Christians and some Jews). However, it is closest to Deuteronomy 32:43 that reads (only in the LXX!):
Further, note the issue of propriety of rendering this homage to the Son. The Hebrew word that appears in Psalm 97:7 also appears in these two verses in Exodus:
Exodus 20 (from the Ten Commandments): " 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD (Yahweh) your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me"
Exodus 34 " 14-- for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD (Yahweh), whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God -- "
How can this form of honor, which is not supposed to be given to any other God, be given to the Son? What is the point that the writer of Hebrews is trying to make? Here in Hebrews 1:6 he is writing to Jews and describing just who the Son is in terms of the Jewish Scriptures. He selects an Old Testament passage that describes the angels bowing to Yahweh. A Jew would, of course, know the Law and that it is wrong to give this to any other God. So what would a Jew conclude from reading this? Would he conclude: 'Since the Son appropriately receives worship from angels, he must be a second God'?
Is Hebrews 1:6 the only place that shows Jesus receiving worship? No, the same Greek word that appears in Hebrews 1:6 also appears in Matthew 28:9 and Revelation 5:14; 14:7.
Matthew 28 " 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him."
Revelation 5 " 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, 'To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.' 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, 'Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped."
Revelation 14 " 7 And he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' "
In Revelation 5:13 we see every living creature giving "glory" to both the Father and the Son. Yet Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 say Yahweh will not share his glory with any other God. Is this a contradiction? If the Son is a distinct God from Yahweh, why is there no distinction made between what is being given to the One on the throne (the Father) and what is given to the Lamb (Jesus)? Also of interest, while every living creature is here giving these praises to both the Father and Son without distinction, the elders "worshiped." Who is being worshiped? Likewise the one who made the universe is worshiped in Revelation 14:7. But according to Hebrews 1:2,10-12 the Son made the universe.
While it is true that "worship" (Greek: proskyneo) is biblically given to persons other than God (Revelation 3:9; and in the LXX: Exodus 18:7; 1 Kings 1:23) it is always given to someone in a higher position. Giving a relative honor to a patriarch or king would be appropriate for a subordinate. But giving such honor to someone that was a competitor with the True God would be wrong (Exodus 20:5).
Likewise giving worship to someone that was a subordinate would be inappropriate. This would explain why it was wrong for John to give worship to an angel on two occasions (Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9). John was probably awestruck by his vision and felt compelled to worship the messenger but he needed to realize that angels are subordinates to those who are born-again (1 Corinthians 6:2,3). Because of John's adoption as a son of God (John 1:12) the only one he should worship is God.
So what does this imply about Hebrews 1:6? That worship (proskyneo) can be properly given if the recipient is truly superior and is not a second God. So who can angels worship? The Old Testament verse that Hebrews 1:6 is taken from indicates that the object of their worship is God. Who can Christians worship? In Revelation 19:10 and 22:8,9 the angel answers that it is only God. But who did the disciples worship in Matthew 28:9? Jesus. Who did the elders worship prophetically in Revelation 5:13,14? The One on the throne and the Lamb (Jesus).
they will then assert that only the One God receives latreuo.
Some translations, like the NAS quoted here, even refer to the Son as "O God."
As a side note, some translations like the New Jerusalem Bible or the Revised Standard Version (in the footnote) render verse 8 differently. Instead of saying "Your throne, O God" or "O God, your throne . . . " they will read "God is your throne" or "Your throne is God". They do this for grammatical reasons. But the question becomes, if this reading is preferred over "O God, your throne . . ." what does it mean to say that "God is your throne"? Does that make any sense? Can we picture what that means? How does it fit into the flow of logic here in Hebrews with the numerous contrasts between the Son and the angels set against as many statements likening the Son to God? The flow of logic is much more evident with the two contrasting statements: "angels . . . ministers a flame of fire" as compared to "the Son . . . O God". It would seem that the reading "Your throne, O God, . . ." is preferable.
Verse nine says that God is "your" God, that is, the Son's God. What does this imply? It shows that the Son is not the same person as the Father who anointed him and the Father is the head over the Son. The Biblical illustration that helps to understand this is to remember how Adam was the head over Eve even though they were "one flesh"?
Does not the term "companions" in verse nine mean that the Son fellowshipped with a class of created beings and therefore must be one of them? No. This cannot be justified any more than saying that because God has intimate association with angels (see Psalm 89:6,7 quoted above) that therefore he is one of them. Likewise the similar statement in Psalm 97:9 where it says God is exalted above all other Gods (probably referring to angels, see Psalm 8:5 & Hebrews 2:7,9) does not imply that His exaltation is a promotion from angelhood to Godhood.. Also note that the same Greek word for "companions" appears in Hebrews 6:4 where it discusses those humans who at one time had been companions with God's Holy Spirit but had fallen away. This certainly does not mean that those humans were from the same class of being as the Holy Spirit. So, no, this verse does not suggest that the Son is of the same class of being as his companions. (It is also interesting to consider how a person can have the Holy Spirit as a companion. If the Holy Spirit were not a person, how could one be a companion of the Spirit?)
Psalm 102 "1 Hear my prayer, O LORD (Yahweh)! And let my cry for help come to You. . . . 24 I say, 'O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. 25 Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.' "
Here is a passage from the old testament addressed to Yahweh, "my God," and gives Him credit for making the universe. However, in the book of Hebrews, when the writer wants to describe to a Hebrew clearly who the Son is, does he choose passages that originally apply to angels or an archangel? No! He chooses passages addressed to Yahweh that describe actions understood to apply ONLY to Him (Isaiah 44:24) and then applies them to the Son! What will this Jew think when he reads further into the book of Hebrews . . .
Hebrews 3 " 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God."
So how will this Jew answer the question: 'According to this book, who constructed the universe?' Hebrews 1:2 says that the Son made all the worlds. Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes a verse addressed to Yahweh and applies it to the Son to show that the Son made all things. Next Hebrews 3:4 says God made all things. So what is the message here? The purpose of this part of Hebrews is to teach a Jew exactly who Jesus is. If Jesus were an angel why does this book not simply say that? Why does this book repeatedly take attributes that belong to God and apply them to the Son?
One of the things constructed by God is mentioned at Genesis 1:26:
" 26 Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; . . .' "
Notice that there are at least two persons involved in this making of man and yet there is only ONE image. It does not say man was made in our 'images' or in our likenesses'. Is there any angel that even looks like God? Earlier we saw that the Bible clearly teaches that no angel looks like God. So was man made in the image of God alone or in the image of an angel too? In this text we have found the concept of several spiritual persons with only one image, one likeness, one nature, one essence.
Continuing in Hebrews . . .
So to summarize so far, the Son is repeatedly shown to be different from angels (Hebrews 1:4,5,6,7,8,13,14) and at the same time is shown to be like God in the essential attributes (Hebrews 1:2,3,6,10-12). Will we find something in Hebrews chapter 2 that will identify this Son as an angel or archangel?
If the reader was still pondering whether the Son, sitting at the Father's right hand, waiting for the earth to be put at is feet (Hebrews 1:3,8,13; Psalm 110:1), was an angel or not, the next verse definitively answers that issue. For if the Son was some kind of an angel, then this would mean that one day the earth would be in subjection to that angel. But . . .
Who is this "Son"? If He cannot be an angel, is he a second God?
Jesus is called "God" in . . .
John 1 (narration by John) " 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him."
John 20 " 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!' " (for a parallel see Psalm 35:23)
Isaiah 9 " 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. " - Yahweh is also identified as "the Mighty God" in the next chapter of Isaiah 10:20,21.
Does this mean there are two Gods? We have already seen a few verses in the Bible that clearly state that there is only one God that fully qualifies to be called "God" (see the quotations above: Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 45:21,22; Isaiah 46:9). Now consider a couple of similar verses in the New Testament:
Mark 12 " 28-32 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, 'What commandment is the foremost of all?' 29 Jesus answered, 'The foremost is, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." 31 The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.' 32 The scribe said to Him, 'Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that "He is one, and there is no one else besides Him." ' "
1 Timothy 1 " 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. "
This verse, which opens 1 Timothy, is addressed to the ONLY God and describes him as the King, immortal and invisible. But then the book closes with this statement . . .
1 Timothy 6 " 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time -- He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."
So Paul opens his letter to Timothy describing the only God as King, as eternal, as immortal, as invisible, deserving honor and glory, and ending with "Amen". Then Paul closes his letter with a description of the ONLY Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one alone having immortality, who cannot be seen, deserving of honor and ending with "Amen." Elsewhere Jesus is identified as having these attributes (John 5:26; Revelation 19:16). How many Gods does Paul believe have these attributes?
Other verses that affirm there is only one that truly qualifies to be "God" are: Deuteronomy 4:35,39; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 22:32 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 19:15,19; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 37:16,20; 45:5,14,18; Joel 2:27; and in the New Testament: John 5:44; Romans 3:30; 16:27; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 1:25.
Nowhere in the Bible do we see the teaching that there are two Gods with similar attributes, both participating in making the universe. To the contrary, when the Bible speaks of the true God it repeatedly says there is only one God, there is no other God that can compare, He made the universe all by himself. Yet Hebrews chapter 1 does compare someone to God. This person is not an angel, is called "God" in Scripture, is NOT a second God and yet considers God to be his God.
Some would try to resolve this by saying that there are many gods in Scripture. We saw a reference to such in Psalm 86:8. Does this mean that we have misunderstood the many verses that say there is only ONE God? Could Jesus be one of those other gods? If so then all those verses that say there is only ONE God must be explained. Then we would be left with the idea that Jesus is another God that has the same attributes as his Father. We would have two Gods that look alike and do the same things. Is there any scripture that says this? NO! Then how do we explain Psalm 86:8 (or Psalm 82:1,6; 2 Corinthians 4:4) that suggests that there are other gods?
Galatians 4 " 8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods."
So there are other gods but they are not by "nature" gods (see Galatians 2:15 and 2 Peter 1:4, which translate the same Greek word as "nature"). They are "gods" in name only. There is only ONE God that is by nature God. Now, based on all the scriptures that compare the Father with his Son (such as Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 2:6), would you say that the Son does or does not have the same nature and attributes as the Father?