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Is Jesus God the Father?
William Arnold III
Shema Israel YHWH elohanu YHWH echad, "Hear O Israel, Yaweh is our God. Yaweh is one" (Deut. 6:4).
There is only one God. This is the emphatic teaching of the Old Testament. The Jews were the people who knew their God if anyone did (John 4:22), and they had no concept of persons within the Godhead. In the book of Isaiah God makes some very strong statements which I believe do not allow for a Trinitarian understanding. In Isaiah 44:6&8 God makes the statement, "I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me . . . Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." Could scripture be any plainer than this? In verse 24 he states, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone." If language means anything then "by Myself" and "alone" mean that there was no other person present. If God is not claiming that he is absolutely one here, then what stronger language would one suggest to convey this? Why would God be so emphatic about oneness, if in reality he were three persons? Would not these statements be misleading? In the next chapter he states, "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. . . . That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these" (Isa. 45:5-7). Once again, if God were really three persons, could he use such emphatic language as this? If we take this to be one of the members of the Trinity speaking here, would it be honest for him to say, "There is no one besides Me?" Would he not be forced to admit that there are indeed two other persons in the Godhead? In 46:9 God says, "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." In this statement, there is one person speaking (notice the singular pronouns) and that singular person says that there is no one like him. I do not see how it is possible to see a Trinity in these passages.1
Surely the coming of Christ did not in any way compromise this strict Monotheism taught in the Old Testament. There is only one God. That God is our father. If Jesus is that God then Jesus is our father. As to his deity, Jesus Christ is God the Father. Isaiah 9:6 clearly calls him the Father. Some have argued that this should be translated "Father of Eternity," but not one major translation translates it that way (see my article: Should Isaiah 9:6 read "Everlasting Father" or "Father of Eternity?"). However, even if we adopt the translation "Father of Eternity" does that diminish the force? Jesus is called the Father. I Corinthians 8:6 tells us that, "to us there is but one God, the Father." There is no God outside of the Father. So in the sense that Jesus is that God, then Jesus is the Father. Malachi 2:10 asks the question "Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?" So we all have one Father, and our Father is God. The reason we call God our Father is because he created us. John 1:3, Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews 1:2 tell us that all things were created by Jesus, thereby making him our Father.
The Holy Spirit many times is simply referred to as the Spirit of God. Yet Scripture also speaks about us receiving the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9; Gal. 4:6; Ppn 1:19) or simply identifies him as the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17; 1 Peter 1:11) and Ephesians 4:4 tells us that there is only one Spirit. This must all refer to the same person, the one true God. As to his deity, Jesus is the Holy Spirit. To recieve Christ is to receive the Spirit. Jesus told the disciples, "Even the Spirit of truth . . . ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." (John 14:17-18).
Now I will readily admit that on the surface Jesus does seem to speak of himself and the Father as if they were two persons. In fact, I would say that the first indication of Trinitarian thought began with Philip in John 14 when he asked Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father" (v. 8). Jesus had been speaking of God in a distanced way all this time, and poor Philip thought that he was speaking of another person. But, notice Jesus' response. He almost sounded as if he were puzzled when he said, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" (v. 9). Jesus was saying that he himself was the one that Philip was asking for.
One reason that Jesus so often spoke of God in the third person is that he did not want to appear unto men as God, but he wanted to appear as a man just like one of us, as we read in Philippians 2:5-8, NIV:
5. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7. but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Jerry Hayes explains it this way:
Many times the question is asked, "If Jesus was Father God why did he not just say so?" The answer to this question is so completely summed up in Philippians 2:5-8. He was humble. He did not think it a good thing to flaunt his deity before men. He did not choose to appear better than man, although he was better than all men for he was the creator of all men. He choose, instead, to have all men appear better than himself.
When Jesus spoke of the Father it was always in a way that distanced his own identity from that of Father God. This action was in keeping with his character of not appearing as God, although he was. Concerning this very subject Jesus made the following promise: "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall not more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father: (John 16:25). Paul referred to this same event of revelation when he wrote unto Timothy, "Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen" (1 Timothy 6:15-16).
At the time of this great revelation may we all bow low at his feet and whisper in hushed tones of adoration the confession of Thomas, "The Lord of me and the God of me!"2
But that still leaves the question: Why does the New Testaent make a distinction at times? The answer to this goes back to the dual nature of Jesus. In the capacity of being fully man, He was distinct from God. Not just distinct from the Father but from being God at all. This is why we can see references to the God of Jesus Christ (Matt. 27:46; John 20:17; Eph. 1:17). This is obviously not the God of God. It is the God of a man. Jesus is called a man over and over (Acts 2:22; 13:38; I Tim 2:5). As a man, there were things He did not know (Mark 13:32), there were things He could not do (Mark 6:5), He could only be in one place at one time (John 16:7), He could be tempted (Heb 4:15), He could thirst (John 19:28), and He could die (John 19:33). So from this point of view He was distinct from God, and could be spoken of that way. But from another point of view He was fully God and could be called such (John 20:28; I Tim 3:16; I John 5:20). When we see a separate reference it is always something like: "God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ." What you never see is: "God the Father and God the Son." It is always God and man, Spirit and flesh, God the Father and the Son of God. As I Timothy 2:5 puts it, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
In John 10:30 Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." Does that mean that they are one in unity? Well, I ask if that was all he meant then why did the Jews pick up stones to stone him? (v. 31) In fact, Jesus asks them why (v. 32), and they answered him, "because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God" (v. 33). They understood this as claiming to be God, not claiming to be in accordance with him. So if "I and the Father are one" means "I am God", then he must be God the Father. Some Trinitarians have tried to draw attention to the neuter gender of the word "one" in this passage (Gk - hen), claiming that this means that they are one in unity. However, this is the same word used in passages such as Eph. 4:4 where it says that there is "one Spirit," and no one would argue that this means only one in unity. (See also my article: Greek and Hebrew Words for "One")
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded the disciples to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Yet they routinely baptized only in Jesus' name.3 Either they were mistaken, or they understood the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be Jesus. Surely the apostles didn't disobey their Lord.
I could give many scriptures to show that Jesus is indeed God, but here are a few more that show that he is specifically the Father (who is the only God, Mal 2:10; I Cor 8:6). David Bernard illustrates:
1. Jesus said that He would send the comforter to us (John 16:7), but He also said the Father would send the comforter (John 14:26).
2. The Father alone can draw men to God (John 6:44), yet Jesus said He would draw all men (John 12:32).
3. Jesus will raise up all believers in the last day (John 6:40), yet God the Father quickens (gives life to) the dead and will raise us up (Romans 4:17; I Corinthians 6:14).
4. Christ is our sanctifier (Ephesians 5:26), yet the Father sanctifies us (Jude 1).
We can easily understand all of this if we realize that Jesus has a dual nature. He is both Spirit and flesh, God and man, Father and Son.4
Finally, I would like to look at a passage in Revelation 21, which clearly indicates that Jesus is the Father. Starting at verse 5 it reads: And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new [we are made new by being in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)]." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true [in Rev. 3:14 and 19:11 Jesus is called "faithful and true"]." 6 Then He said to me, "It is done. [compare to John 19:30, "it is finished"] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. [In the very next chapter Jesus says this same thing, 22:13-16] I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost [Jesus gives the water of life, John 4:10-14; Rev. 7:17]. 7 He who overcomes [Jesus spoke these words seven times to each of the seven churches in the beginning of this epistle, 2:7,11,17,26;3:5,12,21] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son" (emphasis added). Everything in this passage points towards Jesus as the speaker, yet at the end of the passage we realize that it is God the Father.
As our Lord said elsewhere, "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father" (John 16:25). Or as Zechariah the prophet said, "And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one" (Zech. 14:9).
1. This paragraph draws largely from an audiocassette of David Bernard, "This Jesus" Conference (St. Paul, MI: Oneness Ministries, 1988). <back>
2. Jerry L. Hayes, The Godhead Discussion, (Farmerville, LA: Biblical Research Institute, 1993), 183. <back>
3. See my article on Baptism in Jesus' name. <back>
4. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God, (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1983), 69. <back>
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