Will We See the Father and Jesus in Heaven?:
The Meaning of "and" in the Greeting Passages

by
Jason Dulle
JasonDulle@yahoo.com


Question:

I've been reading some of your articles and I see you are well versed in the Greek and Hebrew that the Bible was originally written in. When the Apostle Paul used the word "and" in his greetings, to refer to the Father and Jesus, what did he mean? For example, Romans 1:7 says, "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God called to be saints: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Likewise I Corinthians 1:3 says, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." This is common in Paul's epistles. Peter also used this language, saying, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord" (II Peter 1:2). I have heard some teach that because the Biblical author's used the word "and" to refer to God the Father and Jesus Christ, that when we get to heaven we will see both God and Jesus. Is this truly indicated by the "and?"

 

Answer:

The "greeting passages," as they are called, have been understood in several ways. It centers around the word "and." It is a translation of the Greek kai, which most often means "in addition to, also," but occasionally means "even." It has been typical for Oneness believers to argue that when the Bible says, "Greetings from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ," that this means, "even our Lord Jesus Christ." It is believed that such an interpretation is necessary to preserve God's oneness. I disagree with such an interpretation and such an assumption. A basic rule in language is that a word should be taken in its normal usage unless indicated otherwise by the context. The context of the greeting passages do not indicate any other usage than its normal meaning of "also."

The "and" indicates that the Father and Jesus are being distinguished from one another. It is the Father and also Jesus. Such an interpretation does not favor a Trinitarian understanding of God, however (which is why so many Oneness believers have often avoided understanding kai as "also"). Distinctions between the Father and Son appear all throughout the NT, and do not indicate that God is a Trinity. These distinctions are not a roadblock to Oneness theology; we fully confess them. Such a recognition of a Biblical distinction between Father and Son does not make one a Trinitarian. It is the manner in which one understands the reason for these distinctions that determines whether one is a Trinitarian or a Oneness believer. Trinitarians understand the distinctions to be eternal distinctions of persons within the eternal Godhead itself. Oneness believers understand the distinctions to be temporal distinctions that arose in the incarnation, distinguishing God's existence as exclusive Spirit as He remained apart from the incarnation, and that same God's existence as a genuine human being in the incarnation. Such a distinction is not rooted in eternity or God's essential nature (Trinitarianism), but is rooted in the incarnation. Because of the assumption of a genuine human existence, complete with a human spirit, soul, body, mind, will, volition, etc., God's existence in the incarnation is distinct from His continued existence apart from the incarnation. To greet the church in the Father and Lord Jesus Christ is to speak of the two ways in which we know and experience God. We have experienced God in a limited, human existence, and we experience Him as the transcendent, exclusive Spirit who continues to exist apart from the incarnation.

This does not mean, however, that in heaven we will see God and Jesus. As I implied above, "Father" refers to God's existence apart from the incarnation as the exclusive, invisible Spirit. The Bible is clear that no man can see, nor has seen God (John 1:18; John 6:46; I John 4:12). When it says we cannot see God it is referring to God's essence. God is Spirit, and as such is invisible. Jesus, however, is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), the express image of His very person (Hebrews 1:3). That is why Jesus could say to Philip, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9; 12:45). Jesus has often been called the face of God, and rightly so. To see Jesus is not to see God's essence, but it is to see His essence as He has manifested Himself in human form. Truly Jesus is the only God we shall ever see throughout eternity, for His human existence is the only image of Godís person available to us. We will not see God and Jesus as two distinct eternal entities, but we will see God as He has manifested Himself to us in Jesus Christ.


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