Thursday, April 6, 2017


None of the Bible’s Writers Believed That Jesus is God: Christians and Muslims both believe in Jesus, love him, and honor him.  They are, however, divided over the question of his divinity. Fortunately, this difference can be resolved if we refer the question to both the Bible and the Quran, because, both the Bible and the Quran teach that Jesus is not God. It is clear enough to everyone that the Quran denies the divinity of Jesus, so we do not need to spend much time explaining that. On the other hand, many people misunderstand the Bible; they feel that the belief in Jesus as God is so widespread that it must have come from the Bible.  This article shows quite conclusively that the Bible does not teach that.

The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is not God.  In the Bible God is always someone else other than Jesus. Some will say that something Jesus said or something he did while on the earth proves that he is God.  We will show that the disciples never came to the conclusion that Jesus is God.  And those are people who lived and walked with Jesus and thus knew first-hand what he said and did.  Furthermore, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible that the disciples were being guided by the Holy Spirit.  If Jesus is God, surely they should know it.  But they did not.  They kept worshipping the one true God who was worshiped by Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (see Acts 3:13).

All of the writers of the Bible believed that God was not Jesus.  The idea that Jesus is God did not become part of Christian belief until after the Bible was written, and took many centuries to become part of the faith of Christians. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, authors of the first three Gospels, believed that Jesus was not God (see Mark 10:18 and Matthew 19:17).  They believed that he was the son of God in the sense of a righteous person.  Many others too, are similarly called sons of God (see Matthew 23:1-9).

Paul believed to be the author of some thirteen or fourteen letters in the Bible, also believed that Jesus is not God.  For Paul, God first created Jesus, then used Jesus as the agent by which to create the rest of creation (see
Colossians 1:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:6).  Similar ideas are found in the letter to the Hebrews, and also in the Gospel and Letters of John composed some seventy years after Jesus.  In all of these writings, however, Jesus is still a creature of God and is therefore forever subservient to God (see 1 Corinthians 15:28).

Now, because Paul, John, and the author of Hebrews believed that Jesus was God’s first creature, some of what they wrote clearly show that Jesus was a pre-existent powerful beingThis is often misunderstood to mean that he must have been God.  But to say that Jesus was God is to go against what these very authors wrote.  Although these authors had this later belief that Jesus is greater than all creatures, they also believed that he was still lesser than God.  In fact, John quotes Jesus as saying: ...the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28).  And Paul declares that the head of every woman is her husband, the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God (see 1 Corinthians 11:3).

Therefore, to find something in these writings and claim that these teach that Jesus is God is to misuse and misquote what those authors are saying.  What they wrote must be understood in the context of their belief that Jesus is a creature of God as they have already clearly said.

So we see then, that some of the later writers had a higher view of Jesus, but none of the writers of the Bible believed that Jesus is God.  The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one true God, the one whom Jesus worshiped (see John 17: 3).

In the rest of this article, we will explore the Bible in more depth, and deal with the passages which are most often misquoted as proofs of Jesus’ divinity.  We will show, with God’s help, that these do not mean what they are so often used to prove.

The Quran is Allah itself expressed verbally to prophet Muhammad. While the Bible, for example is Paul's marriage. Paul admitted himself that it was his own confession and not of God. • According to the scholars, the Bible has an "unknown author" expressing the message that proves only that it is not of God himself. A third person is narrating most of the writings in the Bible. • the early rabbis will strive that reconciled these discrepancies of Old Testmament to tell united the claims of various book (source Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2006). • Not the translations of the Bible are forced to change to exit that match the message but the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic codex itself was custard based today translations. • The Quran is the ultimate reveal of Allah-Prophet Muhammad in Arabic. The words of the translations from the Quran, such as language translation, will no longer be called the Quran. Because the other version as in Tagalog is the subject for mistakes.
Evidence From the Acts of the Apostles: Jesus performed many miraculous wonders, and he, without the doubt, said a lot of wonderful things about himself.  Some people use what he said and did as a proof that he was God.  But his original disciples who lived and walked with him, and were eyewitnesses to what he said and did, never reached this conclusion.

The Acts of the Apostles in the Bible details the activity of the disciples over a period of thirty years after Jesus was lifted up to heaven. Throughout this period they never refer to Jesus as God.  They continually and consistently use the title God to refer to someone else other than Jesus.

Peter stood up with the eleven disciples and addressed the crowd saying: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22). It was God, therefore, who did the miracles through Jesus to convince people that Jesus was backed by God.  Peter did not see the miracles as proof that Jesus is God. In fact, the way Peter refers to God and to Jesus makes it clear that Jesus is not God.  For he always turns the title God away from Jesus.  Take the following references for example:
“God has raised this Jesus...” (Acts 2:32)
“God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and  Christ.” (Acts 2:36In both passages, the title God has turned away from Jesus.  So why he did this, if Jesus was God? For Peter, Jesus was a servant of God.  Peter said: “God raised up his servant...” (Acts 3:26).  The title servant refers to Jesus.  This is clear from a previous passage where Peter declared: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.” (Acts 3:13).

Peter must have known that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never spoke of a Triune God.  They always spoke of God as the only God.  Here, as in Matthew 12:18, Jesus is the servant of God.  Matthew tells us that Jesus was the same servant of God spoken of in Isaiah 42:1.  So, according to Matthew and Peter, Jesus is not God, but God’s servant.  The Old Testament repeatedly says that God is alone (e.g. Isaiah 45:5).

All of the disciples of Jesus held this view.  In
Acts 4:24 we are told that the believers prayed to God saying: “...they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.’”  It is clear that the one they were praying to was not Jesus, because, two verses later, they referred to Jesus as “...your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.” (Acts 4:27).
If Jesus was God, his disciples should have said this clearly.  Instead, they kept preaching that Jesus was God’s, Christ.  We are told in Acts: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42).

The Greek word “Christ” is a human title.  It means “Anointed.”  If Jesus was God, why would the disciples continually refer to him with human titles like servant and Christ of God, and consistently use the title God for the one who raised Jesus?  Did they fear men?  No! They boldly preached the truth fearing neither imprisonment nor death.  When they faced opposition from the authorities, Peter declared: “We must obey God rather than men!  The God of our fathers raised Jesus...” (Acts 5:29-30). Were they lacking the Holy Spirit?  No! They were supported by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:3, 4:8, and 5:32). They were simply teaching what they had learned from Jesus — that Jesus was not God but, rather, God’s servant and Christ.

The Quran confirms that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ) and that he was God’s servant (see the Holy Quran 3:45 and 19:30).

Jesus is Not All-Powerful, and Not All-Knowing: Christians and Muslims agree that God is all-powerful and all-knowing.  The Gospels show that Jesus was not all-powerful, and not all-knowing since he had some limitations. Mark tells us in his gospel that Jesus was unable to do any powerful work in his hometown except few things: “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” (Mark 6:5).  Mark also tells us that when Jesus tried to heal a certain blind man, the man was not healed after the first attempt, and Jesus had to try a second time (see Mark 8:22-26).

Therefore, although we hold a great love and respect for Jesus, we need to understand that he is not the all-powerful God. Mark’s Gospel also reveals that Jesus had limitations in his knowledge.  In Mark 13:32, Jesus declared that he himself does not know when the last day will occur, but the Father alone knows that (see also Matthew 24:36).

Therefore, Jesus could not have been the all-knowing God.  Some will say that Jesus knew when the last day will occur, but he chose not to tell.  But that complicates matters further.  Jesus could have said that he knows but he does not wish to tell.  Instead, he said that he does not know.  We must believe him.  Jesus does not lie at all.

The Gospel of Luke also reveals that Jesus had limited knowledge.  Luke says that Jesus increased in wisdom (Luke 2:52).  In Hebrews too (Hebrews 5:8) we read that Jesus learned obedience.  But God’s knowledge and wisdom is always perfect, and God does not learn new things.  He knows everything always.  So, if Jesus learned something new, that proves that he did not know everything before that, and thus he was not God.

Another example for the limited knowledge of Jesus is the fig tree episode in the Gospels.  Mark tells us as follows: “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.  When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.” (Mark 11:12-13). It is clear from these verses that the knowledge of Jesus was limited on two counts.  First, he did not know that the tree had no fruit until he came to it.  Second, he did not know that it was not the right season to expect figs on trees.

Can he become God later?  No! Because there is only one God, and He is God from everlasting to everlasting (see Psalms 90:2).

Someone may say that Jesus was God but he took the form of a servant and therefore became limited.  Well, that would mean that God changed.  But God does not change.  God said so according to Malachi 3:6.

Jesus never was God, and never will be.  In the Bible, God declares: “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.” (Isaiah 43:10). The Bible clearly shows that Jesus was not all-powerful and all-knowing as the true God should be.

Paul Believed That Jesus is not God Many people use Paul’s writings as proof that Jesus is God.  But this is not fair to Paul because Paul clearly believed that Jesus is not God.  In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions...” (1 Timothy 5:21). It is clear from this that the title God applies not to Christ Jesus, but to someone else.  In the following chapter, he again differentiates between God and Jesus when he says: “In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession...” (1 Timothy 6:13).

Paul then went on to speak of the second appearance of Jesus: “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time.” (1 Timothy 6:14-15). Again, the title God is deliberately turned away from Jesus.  Incidentally, many people think that when Jesus is called “Lord” in the Bible that this means “God.”  But in the Bible, this title means master or teacher, and it can be used for addressing humans (see 1 Peter 3:6).

What is more important, however, is to notice what Paul said about God in the following passage, which clearly shows that Jesus is not God: “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Paul said that God alone is immortal.  Immortal means he does not die.  Check any dictionary.  Now, anyone who believes that Jesus died cannot believe that Jesus is God.  Such a belief would contradict what Paul said here.  Furthermore, to say that God died is a blasphemy against God.  Who would run the world if God died?  Paul believed that God does not die.

Paul also said in that passage that God dwells in unapproachable light — that no one has seen God or can see him.  Paul knew that many thousands of people had seen Jesus.  Yet Paul said that no one has seen God because Paul was sure that Jesus is not God.  This is why Paul went on teaching that Jesus was not God, but that he was the Christ (see Acts 9:22 and 18:5).

When he was in Athens, Paul spoke of God as “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Acts 17:24).  Then he identified Jesus as“the man he (i.e. God) has appointed.” (Acts 17:31). Clearly, for Paul, Jesus was not God, and he would be shocked to see his writings used for proving the opposite of what he believed.  Paul even testified in court saying: “I admit that I worship the God of our fathers...” (Acts 24:14).

He also said that Jesus is the servant of that God, for we read in Acts: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.” (Acts 3:13). For Paul, the Father alone is God.  Paul said that there is “one God and Father of all...” (Ephesians 4:6).  Paul said again: “...for us, there is but one God, the Father . . . and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ...” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Philippians 2:6-11) is often quoted as a proof that Jesus is God.  But the very passage shows that Jesus is not God.  This passage has to agree with Isaiah 45:22-24 where God said that every knee should bow to God, and every tongue should confess that righteousness and strength are in God alone.  Paul was aware of this passage, for he quoted it in Romans 14:11.  Knowing this, Paul declared: “I kneel before the Father.” (Ephesians 3:14).

The letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:6) says that the angels of God should worship the Son.  But this passage depends on Deuteronomy 32:43, in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.  This phrase cannot be found in the Old Testament used by Christians today, and the Septuagint version is no longer considered valid by Christians.  However, even the Septuagint version, does not say worship the Son.  It says to let the Angels of God worship God.  The Bible insists that God alone is to be worshiped: “When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: ‘Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.  But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship.  To him, you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices.  You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you.  Do not worship other gods.  Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods.  Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.’” (2 Kings 17:35-39).

Jesus, believed in this, for he also stressed it in
Luke 4:8.  And Jesus too fell on his face and worshiped God (see Matthew 26:39).  Paul knew that Jesus worshiped God (see Hebrews 5:7).  Paul taught that Jesus will remain forever subservient to God (see 1 Corinthians 15:28).

Evidence from the Gospel of John: The Gospel of John, the fourth Gospel, was completed to its present form some seventy years after Jesus was raised up to heaven.  This Gospel in its final form says one more thing about Jesus that was unknown from the previous three Gospels — that Jesus was the Word of GodJohn means that Jesus was God’s agent through whom God created everything else.  This is often misunderstood to mean that Jesus was God Himself.  But John was saying, as Paul had already said, that Jesus was God’s first creature.  In the Book of Revelation in the Bible, we find that Jesus is: “the beginning of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14, also see 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Colossians 1:15).

Anyone who says that the Word of God is a person distinct from God must also admit that the Word was created, for the Word speaks in the Bible saying: “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works...” (Proverbs 8:22).

This Gospel, nevertheless, clearly teaches that Jesus is not God.  If it did not continue this teaching, then it would contradict the other three Gospels and also the letters of Paul from which it is clearly established that Jesus is not God.  We find here that Jesus was not co-equal with the Father, for Jesus said: “...the Father is greater than I.”(John 14:28).

People forget this and they say that Jesus is equal to the Father.  Whom should we believe — Jesus or the people?  Muslims and Christians agree that God is self-existent.  This means that He does not derive his existence from anyone.  Yet John tells us that Jesus’ existence is caused by the Father.  Jesus said in this Gospel: “...I live because of the Father...” (John 6:57). John tells us that Jesus cannot do anything on his own when he quotes Jesus as saying: “By myself, I can do nothing...” (John 5:30).  This agrees with what we learn about Jesus from other Gospels.  In Mark, for example, we learn that Jesus performed miracles by a power which was not within his control.  This is especially clear from an episode in which a woman is healed of her incurable bleeding.  The woman came up behind him and touched his cloak, and she was immediately healed.  But Jesus had no idea who touched him.  Mark describes Jesus’ actions thus:“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5:30).  His disciples could not provide a satisfactory answer, so Mark tells us: “Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.” (Mark 5:32).  This shows that the power that healed the woman was not within Jesus’ control.  He knew that the power had gone out of him, but he did not know where it went.  Some other intelligent being had to guide that power to the woman who needed to be healed.  God was that intelligent being.

It is no wonder, then, that in Acts of the Apostles we read that it was God who did the miracles through Jesus (Acts 2:22). God did extraordinary miracles through others too, but that does not make the others God (see Acts 19:11).  Why, then, is Jesus taken for God?  Even when Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, he had to ask God to do it.  Lazarus’ sister, Martha, knew this, for she said to Jesus: “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11:22).

Martha knew that Jesus was not God, and John who reported this with approval knew it also.  Jesus had a God, for when he was about to ascend to heaven, he said: “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (
John 20:17). John was sure that no one had seen God, although he knew that many people had seen Jesus (see John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12).  In fact, Jesus himself told the crowds, that they have never seen the Father, nor have they heard the Father’s voice (John 5:37).  Notice that if Jesus was the Father, his statement here would be false.  Who is the only God in John’s Gospel?  The Father alone. Jesus testified this when he declared that the God of the Jews is the Father (John 8:54).  Jesus too confirmed that the Father alone is the only true God (see John 17:1-3).  And Jesus said to his enemies: “ are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.” (John 8:40).  According to John, therefore, Jesus was not God, and nothing John wrote should be taken as proof that he was God — unless one wishes to disagree with John.

An explanation to enlighten minds. encourage the many to attain the utmost level of inner self-awareness, by way of going together well with the truth, light, love, consciousness, power, wisdom and life.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


In ancient times, prior to the Age of Grace people read the Bible, but at that time there was only the Old Testament; there was no New Testament. Since there was the Old Testament of the Bible, people began reading the holy scriptures. After Yehovah’s guidance of him had finished, Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy…. He recalled Yehovah’s work at the time, and wrote it down. The Bible is a book of history. Of course, it also contains some of the foretellings of prophets, and of course, these foretellings are by no means history. The Bible includes several parts—there is not just prophecy, or only the work of Yehovah, nor are there only the Pauline epistles. You must know how many parts the Bible includes; the Old Testament contains Genesis, Exodus…, and there are also the books of prophecy that they wrote. At the end, the Old Testament finishes with the Book of Malachi. It records the work of the Age of Law, which was led by Yehovah; from Genesis to the Book of Malachi, it is a comprehensive record of all the work of the Age of Law. Which is to say, the Old Testament records all that was experienced by the people who were guided by Yehovah in the Age of Law. During the Age of Law of the Old Testament, the great number of prophets raised up by Yehovah spoke prophecy for Him, they gave instructions to various tribes and nations, and foretold the work that Yehovah would do. These people who had been raised up had all been given the Spirit of prophecy by Yehovah: They were able to see the visions from Yehovah, and hear His voice, and thus they were inspired by HIM and wrote prophecy. The work they did was the expression of the voice of Yehovah, it was the work of prophecy that they did on behalf of Yehovah, and Yehovah’s work at the time was simply to guide people using the Spirit;

HE did not become flesh, and people saw nothing of His face. Thus, He raised up many prophets to do His work, and gave them oracles that they passed on to every tribe and clan of Israel. Their work was to speak prophecy, and some of them wrote down Yehovah’s instructions to them to show to others. Yehovah raised these people up to speak prophecy, to foretell the work of the future or the work still to be done during that time, so that people could behold the wondrousness and wisdom of Yehovah. These books of prophecy were quite different from the other books of the Bible; they were words spoken or written by those who had been given the Spirit of prophecy—by those who had gained the visions or voice from Yehovah. Apart from the books of prophecy, everything else in the Old Testament are records made by people after Yehovah had finished His work. These books can’t stand in for the foretellings spoken by the prophets raised up by Yehovah, just as Genesis and Exodus can’t be compared to the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel. The prophecies were spoken before the work had been carried out; the other books, meanwhile, were written after it had been finished, which was what people were capable of. The prophets of that time were inspired by Yehovah and spoke some prophecy, they spoke many words, and they prophesied the things of the Age of Grace
the work that Yehovah planned to do.

The remaining books all record the work done by Yehovah in Israel. Thus, when you read the Bible, you’re mainly reading about what Yehovah did in Israel; the Bible’s Old Testament primarily records Yehovah’s work of guiding Israel, His use of Moses to guide the Israelites out of Egypt, who rid them of the Pharaoh’s shackles, and took them out into the wild, after which they entered Canaan and everything following this was their life in Canaan. All apart from this are records of Yehovah’s work throughout Israel. Everything recorded in the Old Testament is Yehovah’s work in Israel, it is the work Yehovah did in the land in which He made Adam and Eve. From when God officially began to lead the people on earth after Noah, all that is recorded in the Old Testament is the work of Israel. And why is there not recorded any work beyond Israel? Because the land of Israel is the cradle of mankind. In the beginning, there were no other countries apart from Israel, and Yehovah did not work in any other places. In this way, what is recorded in the Bible is purely the work in Israel at that time. The words spoken by the prophets, by Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel … their words foretell His other work on earth, they foretell the work of Yehovah God Himself. All this came from God, it was the work of the Holy Spirit, and apart from these books of the prophets, everything else is a record of people’s experiences of Yehovah’s work at the time.

What kind of book is the Bible? The Old Testament is the work of God during the Age of Law. The Old Testament of the Bible records all the work of Jehovah during the Age of Law and His work of creation. All of it records the work done by Yehovah, and it ultimately ends the accounts of Yehovah’s work with the Book of Malachi. The Old Testament records two pieces of work done by God: One is the work of the creation, and one is decreeing of the law. Both were the work done by Yehovah. The Age of Law represents God’s work under the name of Yehovah; it is the entirety of the work carried out primarily under the name of Yehovah. Thus, the Old Testament records the work of Yehovah, and the New Testament records the work of Jesus',(Yahushua) work which was carried out primarily under the name of Jesus. Most of the significance of Jesus’ name and the work He did are recorded in the New Testament. In the time of the Old Testament, Yehovah built the temple and the altar in Israel, He guided the life of the Israelites on earth, proving that they were His chosen people, the first group of people that He selected on earth and who were after His own heart, the first group that He had personally led; which is to say, the twelve tribes of Israel were Yehovah’s first chosen ones, and so God always worked in them, right up until the work of Yehovah of the Age of Law was concluded. The second stage of work was the work of the Age of Grace of the New Testament, and it was carried out among the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus worked only throughout the land of Judea, and only did three-and-a-half years of work; thus, what is recorded in the New Testament is far from able to surpass the amount of work recorded in the Old Testament. The work of Jesus of the Age of Grace is primarily recorded in the Four Gospels. The path walked by the people of the Age of Grace was that of the most superficial changes in their life disposition, most of which is recorded in the epistles

At the time, Jesus had done much work that was incomprehensible to His disciples, and had not provided any explanation. After He left, the disciples began to preach and work everywhere, and for the sake of that stage of work, they began writing the epistles and the books of gospel. The books of gospel of the New Testament were recorded twenty to thirty years after Jesus was crucified. Before, the people of Israel only read the Old Testament. That is to say, in the Age of Grace people read the Old Testament. The New Testament only appeared during the Age of Grace. The New Testament didn’t exist when Jesus worked; the people after He was resurrected and ascended to heaven recorded His work. Only then were there the Four Gospels, in addition to which were also the epistles of Paul and Peter, as well as the Book of Revelation. Only over three hundred years after Jesus ascended to heaven, when subsequent generations collated their records, was there the New Testament. Only after this work had been completed was there the New Testament; it had not existed previously. God had done all that work, the apostle Paul had done all that work, and afterward the epistles of Paul and Peter combined, and the greatest vision recorded by John in the island of Patmos was put the last, for it prophesied the work of the last days. These were all the arrangements of later generations, and they are different to the utterances of today. … What they recorded, it can be said, was according to their level of education and caliber. What they recorded was the experiences of men, and each had their own means of recording and knowing, and each record was different. Thus, if you worship the Bible as God you are extremely ignorant and stupid!

An explanation to enlighten minds. encourage the many to attain the utmost level of inner self-awareness, by way of going together well with the truth, light, love, consciousness, power, wisdom and life.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The "I AM"

The expression “I am what I am” undoubtedly calls to mind Yehovah's response to Moses at Exodus 3:14, though here quoted is the apostle Paul in reference to himself (1Cor. 15:10).  Some look for significance in every instance of the words “I am” in reference to God or Christ, nevertheless, that others could freely use these words is revealing.  This is not to suggest that Paul meant the same thing as God when he uttered these words as translated, only that the words are not intrinsically theological.

A survey of popular Bible translations finds the significant words of Exodus 3:14 translated with “I am” in what is by far the majority.  The Hebrew word so translated three times is ehyeh, also appearing in v. 12 but here almost universally rendered “I will be” or similarly.  With nothing to indicate a change in meaning between v. 12 and 14 it is difficult to imagine why this word is so often translated in two entirely different ways within the matter of only two verses. 

While a few identify this as God’s name, more common is the understanding that this is a designation of self-existence.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia argues otherwise:

 "This [expression “I am”] has been supposed to mean 'self-existence,' and to represent God as the Absolute. Such an idea, however, would be a metaphysical abstraction, not only impossible to the time at which the name originated, but alien to the Heb[rew] mind at any time.  And the imperfect 'ehyeh is more accurately tr[anslated] 'I will be what I will be,' a Sem[etic] idiom meaning, 'I will be all that is necessary as the occasion will arise... The optional reading in the ARV margin is much to be preferred: ‘I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE,’ indicating His covenant pledge to be with and for Israel in all the ages to follow."

The Hebrew expression translated reflected a meaning much more complex than mere self-existence or identification.  Presented were insights into God’s function and character as a Rabbi relates:

"Moses perceived that the people would want to know which attribute of God they can expect to encounter; that is, what their experience of God will be, and what is going to happen to them. God's answer, then, leaves things open-ended. Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh is based on the future tense conjugation of the Hebrew verb meaning ‘to be.’ Often translated as ‘I Am Who I Am,’ the phrase is more accurately translated as ‘I Will Be That Which I Will Be.’ The people will come to know God through their unfolding experiences together."

God’s self-revelation did not restrict him from providing the proper identification Moses requested in v. 13.  Following v. 14 God identified himself as “Yehovah,” saying, “This is My name forever” (v. 15).  While his proper name did much to reveal him, he first expressed here character with ehyeh asher ehyeh,(, translated well by The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, “I shall be who I shall prove to be.” He would become all that was necessary for his people.  

The LXX does contain the words “I am,” yet differently than in any of the texts we will consider.  Whereas ehyeh in v. 12 was properly rendered with the Greek future e;somai(esomai), in Exodus 3:14 it is translated ego eimi ho on (“I am the being”).  This translation—certainly based upon a later interpretation of the text—reflects self-existence but does not substantiate a significant meaning for “I am,” with eimi serving only as a copula. 

Though the translators of the  LXX did not articulate the intended meaning of Jehovah’s words, other early translations proved successful in this effort.  Both Aquila and Theodotion rendered ehyeh in agreement with their translation of 3:12, providing in v. 14 esomai ho esomai, “I will be who I will be.”

Yehovah and I [am] He

On several occasions Isaiah presents Yehovah uttering the words “I am he.”  Translated from the Hebrew ani hu, these two pronouns mean “I” and “he,” respectively, with the LXX translating them ego eimi, (“I am”). It has taken an extreme view, suggesting that the “use of ani hu by Isaiah is a euphemism for the very name of God himself",” while others may suggest this refers to his self-existence. These ideas prove extremely difficult, for here present is language common even today. 

The anaphoric (referring back to what was already defined, in contrast with an absolute statement of existence) use of ani hh is immediately apparent, hu referring back to what is already defined.  For example, if one were to ask, “Who is the author of this book?” I might respond with a simple “I am” or “I am he.”  Of these responses, the first has the predicate “the author of this book” implied from the question’s predicate, the second relies on the anaphora understood between the pronoun and its antecedent in the question.

Beginning in the 41st chapter of Isaiah are several “I am he” statements.  In v. 2-4. Yehovah asked who had done a series of things, with the implication that he had.  Yehovah affirmed that he was the doer of them, saying, “I Yehovah am the first and the last; I am He.”  The meaning was, “I am the one who has done these things.”

What is perhaps the most well known “I am he” statement is Isaiah 43:10 where Yehovah spoke: “You are My witnesses, says Yehovah; and My servant whom I have elected; that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.”  Up to this point Yehovah had declared himself to be 'their God, the Holy One of Israel, their Savior' (Isa. 43:3).  He identified himself as the one who had cared for his people in the past, delivering them from trouble and putting others in their place for destruction (v. 3b-4).  He would gather his people back together from all over the earth (v. 5-6) and he was their creator (v. 7). He commanded for ‘the nations to be assembled,’ asking, “Who among them can declare this and cause us to hear former things?” (v. 9)  Knowing the nations had no one to supply who could, he continued: “Let them give their witnesses, that they may be justified. Or let them hear and say, It is true.” They were to declare, “It is true,” that Yehovah was the one who could do the things he had proclaimed and that their gods were nothing more than worthless idols. 

With verse 10 Yehovah identifies Israel as 'his witnesses.'  They witnessed how he had done everything proclaimed, so they knew with confidence that he would come to fulfill his future promises.  Yehovah says, “I am he,” meaning he is the one he claimed to be, having done all that he said as they had witnessed, and that it was he who could 'declare this and cause them to hear the former things.'  He subsequently identified himself as God and stated clearly that ‘there is no savior besides him’ (v. 11-12). With “I am he” (v. 13), he is this one, the one who ‘declared, saved and proclaimed.’

In Isaiah 45:22 God stated: “I am God, and there is no other.”  Everything he had said would come to pass (v. 23).  All who recognized Yehovah would know that he was the one they would have to turn to, while all opposed to him would feel ashamed (v. 24). The context, continuing into Isaiah 46, defines why those who opposed Yehovah would feel ashamed: “Bell has bowed; Nebo stoops.”  These idols were seen as unable to support even themselves, having to be carried upon animals (Isa. 46:1).  They proved unable to deliver those who served them (v. 2).  Yehovah thus instructs his people to listen to him (v. 2).  Finally he says, “Even to old age I am He” (v. 4). 

Yehovah had affirmed his position as the only God in contrast to the idols of the nations; he proclaimed how their gods had failed, unable to care for their worshippers.  From their birth to old age he is the God of his people and he would care for them, carrying their burden just as the people of the nations would for their idols.

The last “I am he” statement at Isaiah 48:12 discusses God as the deliverer of prophecy.  In the past he warned his people of coming events, and the warnings had proven correct.  With Israel he had done the same but they had not listened.  Even so, he affirmed himself as the one who had done these things, identifying himself by Isaiah as 'the God of Israel, Yehovah of Hosts' (v. 2).  With “I am he” Yehovah spoke of himself as the doer of these things.

As this brief review indicates, there is no reason to find a mystical significance with Yehovah’s use of “I am he.”  These words did not here refer to self-existence or somehow denote the name of God.  They served only to identify God in each immediate context as the one he was there claiming to be or as the doer of the works he proclaimed.

Jesus and I am [He]

Recorded in John 9 is the account of a man healed by Jesus.  Blind from birth (v. 1) the man was known to beg for money (v. 8).  Having been healed, he found those knowing him to be perplexed at his new found sight, perhaps even doubting who he was.  They asked, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?”  In response the formerly blind man said, “I am” (v. 9, literal).

With the words “I am” the man was not claiming to possess the divine name or eternal existence.  The inquiry was into his identity, being asked if he was the blind man who would sit and beg.  Though newly granted sight he was this one, so with the words “I am” the man addressed their inquiry.  For him to say, “I am,” was the same as saying, “I am he who used to sit and beg.”

Jesus made similar use of “I am.”  Speaking of future false messiahs he foretold of ones who would come 'in his name,' saying, “I am” (Mark 13:6).  These would claim to hold Jesus' position or perhaps be Jesus himself.  This use of evgw. eivmi, would undoubtedly correspond to his own even if a mystical connotation were involved, for they would be claiming to be him!  Yet by saying ego eimi, or “I am [he],” the meaning was only “I am the Christ” as Matthew’s parallel account reveals (Mat. 24:5).  Neither the divine name nor eternal existence were contemplated in the expression. 

Mark 13:6 and John 9:9 establish a precedent for the contemporary use of evgw. eivmi by Jesus and others.  Rather than a special theological meaning, the expression was part of common speech.  So to explain:

“To establish identity the formula evgw., eivmi is oft[en] used in the gospels (corresp[onding] to Hebr[ew] ani hu] Dt 32:39; Is 43:10), in such a way that the predicate must be understood fr[om] the context: Mt 14:27; Mk 6:50; 13:6; 14:62; Lk 22:70; J 4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28; 13:19.” 

We will examine a portion of these to demonstrate a consistent pattern of use.  In John 8:24 Jesus provided one of his more significant statements, saying, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."  Demonstrated in what follows is that his listeners understood an implied predicate, with the Jews subsequently asking, “Who are You?”  Examining the context to understand the meaning remarks: 

“What they were required to believe is not explicitly stated... it is o[ti evgw, eivmi 'that I am,' which supposes has the pregnant meaning 'that I am, that in me is the spring of life and light and strength'; but this scarcely suits the context.  Supposes it means 'that I am the Messiah'.  But surely it must refer directly to what He has just declared Himself to be, 'I am not of this world but of the things above... This belief was necessary because only by attaching themselves to His teaching and person could they be delivered from their identification with this world.”

While other views are legitimate he may have overlooked a prior verse of significance.  In v. 12 Jesus identified himself, saying, “I am the Light of the world.”  Note how tradition held that “Light was one of the names of the Messiah,” making his claim Messianic.  The Jews rejected this, accusing him of having given false testimony in 'bearing witness to himself' (v. 13) while likely failing to understand the full significance of his words.  Jesus refuted their false accusation (v. 14-18), followed by an exchange where they continued in their lack of understanding.  They would 'seek him' and still 'die in their sins' (v. 21) because they would not believe that he was the one whom he claimed to be (v. 24), that one being “the light of the world.”

Jesus continued his exchange, speaking of the Father as the one who sent him, but they continued in their misunderstanding (v. 25-27).  Jesus explained that they would come to understand the things they had not: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (v. 28).  Upon his death they would know he was the one he had claimed to be.

In John 13:19 Jesus made an “I am” statement that should prove no more difficult to understand than any other.  Beginning in verse 13 Jesus confirmed that he was “Teacher and Lord,” as his disciples had identified him.  Setting a pattern in humility for them he took to washing their feet (v. 14-15).  “A slave is not greater than his master,” so if their Lord would wash their feet how much more should they be willing to wash the feet of each other (v. 16-17).  He explained: “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (v. 19).  Jesus was telling what would happen beforehand to confirm their belief in who he was, their “Teacher and Lord.”

A physical response has led some Trinitarians into wild speculation on the meaning of Jesus' words at John 18:5-6.  There would undoubtedly be little controversy surrounding Jesus' final use of “I am” recorded in John 18:5-6 were it not for this.  Accompanying men sent by “the chief priests and the Pharisees” (v. 3) Judas approached, prompting Jesus to ask, “Whom do you seek?” (v. 4)  The men responded, “Jesus the Nazarene,” to which Jesus said, “I am [he]” (v. 5, literal).  The apostle records what next took place: “So when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.”  When the men expressed that they were seeking Jesus, his response only articulated that he was the one they sought.  He outspokenly confessed he was “Jesus the Nazarene.”  There was not an extraordinary significance to his words as 'a euphemism for God's name’ or a connotation of eternal divine being.  The interpretive methods of the Trinitarian looks not to what was said for the meaning, but to an ambiguous physical response.  That those with Judas fell back when Jesus said evgw. eivmi is interpreted to mean that they understood him claiming to be God Almighty. “[John's] narrative indicates... that Jesus identified Himself voluntarily... And evgw. eivmi in v. 5 may mean simply, 'I am He of whom you are in search'... The words which follow, 'they retired and fell to the ground,' then, imply no more than that the men who came to make the arrest... were so overcome by His moral ascendancy that they recoiled in fear.”

"The frank, open, and fearless manner in which Jesus addressed them may have convinced them of his innocence, and deterred them from prosecuting their wicked attempt. His disclosure of himself was sudden and unexpected; and while they perhaps anticipated that he would make an effort to escape, they were amazed at his open and bold profession."

Jesus' “I am” statements corresponded to the common meaning of ego eimi as used by his contemporaries.  There are undeniable similarities with the use by the blind man in John 9 and Yehovah in Isaiah yet never is the divine name or eternal existence in view.

Before Abraham came to be, I am

As a man of only 30 years Jesus began his ministry.  His young age undoubtedly left the Jews perplexed when he said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Understanding Jesus to mean that he had seen Abraham while he was still alive, they also knew he was “not yet fifty years old” (v. 57).  Perhaps feeling they had caught him in a lie they inquired further, to which he responded (v. 58).

The meaning of Jesus' response has been strongly debated with his most well known “I am” statement.  While often paralleled with his other such statements, “I am” is here used differently than in the passages already considered.  It is correct in observing the distinction though understating the extent to which it exists:

“This use of ego eimi, is slightly different from that in vv 24 and 28, where 'I am he' is clearly in mind, whereas no predicate is intended here.”

The phrase is here existential, as eivmi, is no longer a copula with an implied predicate.  Per the context, focus is upon his existence in relation to his human age. It is suggested that eivmi, is “really absolute,” agreeing with the standard “I am” translation.  The lack of evidence or defense for this interpretation makes it difficult to provide any significant interaction with this position, but heading under which it  provided the reference is telling, for it may imply a recognition that from grammar alone, and not theology, John 8:58 might best be understood differently.

An interpretation of John 8:58 was presented at the conclusion of a discussion of what it identified as the Greek progressive present, though confessing the name to be poor. Better identify this construction as a “Present of Past Action Still in Progress” (PPA), with explanation:

"The Present Indicative, accompanied by an adverbial expression denoting duration and referring to past time, is sometimes used in Greek, as in German, to describe an action which, beginning in past time, is still in progress at the time of speaking."

The present indicative in John 8:58 is eivmi,, while the adverbial expression referring to past time with the accompanied action is prin Abraham genesthai. The action of existing began in the past (or, if eternal, was perpetually ongoing) and continued up until the point he spoke.  He did not merely exist in the past so that he would say “I was,” or only at the present, but his existence was from a time before Abraham, through Abraham's life and in duration up until the moment he made this statement.  

"The verb 'to be' is used differently, in what is presumably its basic meaning of 'be in existence', in John 8:58: prin Abraham genesthai ego eimi, which would be most naturally translated 'I have been in existence since before Abraham was born', if it were not for the obsession with the simple words 'I am'. If we take the Greek words in their natural meaning, as we surely should, the claim to have been in existence for so long is in itself a staggering one, quite enough to provoke the crowd's violent reaction."

Suggested, regardless of the translation, is that the contrast between Abraham as one who “came to be” and Jesus as one who 'is' demonstrates eternal preexistence. 

“It is important to observe the distinction between the two verbs. Abraham's life was under the conditions of time, and therefore had a temporal beginning. Hence, Abraham came into being, or was born (genesthai). Jesus' life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolutetimeless existence, I am (ego eimi).“

Further support for eternal preexistence is presented from the LXX of Psalm 89:2 An exact translation is difficult because of the reference to “ages” without clarifying if the thought was of past ages alone or all ages past and future.  The preceding verse of the Psalm highlights what God “has been” in reference to past “generations” so the former seems probable.  As such, the translation “you have been” is most appropriate.  To the psalmist God had been in existence when the earth was formed and throughout all past generations up to that time.  If, however, the reference is to all ages past and future the most appropriate rendering would be “you exist.”

Yehovah has been “in all generations” (v. 1), “before the earth and the world were formed, even from age to age” (v. 2).  For Yehovah 'a thousand years is as a day' (v. 3).  There is little doubt that God's eternal preexistence is here in view, but these statements extend beyond Jesus' words in John 8:58.  Even so Jesus’ contrast between the present indicative with the infinite could indicate eternal preexistence, but this is not expressly articulated.  In fact there is equally supportive evidence that this construction does not necessitate eternal preexistence.  An early text in the extra-biblical TheTestament of Job demonstrates as much:

Testament of Job 2:1 “For I have been [ego gar eimi]] Jobab since before the Lord named me Job.”  

Though eimi is here a copula, the correlation to John 8:58 in that both are a PPA is unaffected.  Those maintaining a grammatical argument insisting that Jesus is eternal as one who 'is' in contrast to Abraham who “came to be” must also insist that Job was eternally Jobab as one who 'is Jobab' in contrast to when he was only “named Job.”  He may not have eternally preexisted but he at least had the name assigned to him from all eternity.  This is an argument that cannot be sustained.

Provided by eimi is a differing point of emphasis, not necessarily an absolute contrast.  Job was already Jobab, but we are not told that he was always Jobab and never so “named.”  Similarly, while John 8:58 does not tell that Jesus “came to be,” this does not indicate that he never did.  Jesus' words likely provided a similar differing point of emphasis, pointing to his existence prior to, during and after Abraham.  In question was not if or when Jesus came to be, only how he had seen Abraham.  To answer how he had been alive from a time before Abraham all the way to the point when he spoke, without interruption, is explained this way:

Jesus' did not claim that he only “was” before Abraham, Neither did he claim only to 'come to be' prior to Abraham, for Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel all could have maintained this though they later died. It shows duration, so while Jesus existed for some time before Abraham, his existence continued through Abraham's life and then up until the time he spoke.  While just over 30 years of age in the flesh he had in fact existed continually for thousands of years prior and beyond.  

Perhaps not surprisingly Trinitarians often point to the Jewish response for identifying Jesus’ meaning.  One apologetic work argues:

“The reaction of Jesus' critics to his statement—attempting to stone him (John 8:59)—confirms that they thought he was making a divine claim.  Had Jesus stated only that he had been alive longer than Abraham, they might have regarded such a claim as crazy (as they apparently did with regard to his earlier comments, vv. 48-57), but not as an offense meriting stoning.  Of the offenses for which Jews practiced stoning, the only one that seems to fit the context here is blasphemy.  Claiming to be older than Abraham might have been judged crazy, but it would not have been judged as blasphemy.”

Whether Jesus claimed only to be “older than Abraham” or eternal his words could have been interpreted as “crazy.”  Both could have been interpreted as blasphemy.  No human can live for the duration Jesus expressed, whether it was from eternity or only a limited time before Abraham.  To claim such existence would indeed have been a “divine claim,” but not necessarily as the Almighty. 

The Jews could well have interpreted Jesus' words to be of self-deification, assigning to himself deity as emperors commonly did, but here including the notion of preexistence.  It was not necessary for Jesus to be Yehovah, but if he was understood as claiming to be a god in opposition to Yehovah their reaction would have been entirely appropriate.  Otherwise his claim may have been interpreted as “a self-claim that was an affront to God’s presence,” claiming for himself a divinely granted position and corresponding existence that they did not believe him to possess.