"...they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son" - Zech. 12:10, KJV; cf. NKJV, NIV, NASB, NEB, REB, ASV, AB, KJIIV, ETRV, Douay, Beck, Rotherham, Lamsa.
This is interpreted by many trinitarians as meaning that Jehovah is Jesus since Jesus was "pierced" by the Jews.
Unfortunately for this trinitarian interpretation even many trinitarian translations disagree:
"...when they look upon him whom they have pierced" - RSV. Also in agreement with this rendering are NRSV; GNB; MLB; NAB (1970); NAB (1991); LB; Mo; AT; JB; NJB; NLV; BBE; and Byington. (ASV says in a footnote for "me" in Zech. 12:10: "According to some MSS. [manuscripts], `him'." Also see Rotherham footnote.)
Even the context tells us that the latter rendering is the correct one. Notice that after saying that they will look upon me (or him) God continues with "they shall mourn for HIM"! Notice how the KJV (and those following its tradition) contradicts itself here. The "me" in the first half simply does not agree with the "him" of the second half. Since there has never been any question about the accuracy of the word "him" in the second half, the disputed word of the first half (which has manuscript evidence for both renderings) must also properly be rendered as "him" (or "the one").
The testimony of the first Christian writers to come after the NT writers (the `Ante-Nicene Fathers') confirms the non-trinitarian translation of Zechariah 12:10 ("him"). Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (repeatedly) rendered Zech. 12:10 as "him whom they pierced"! This is specially significant because trinitarian scholars and historians claim these particular early Christians (including Origen who doesn't quote Zech. 12:10 at all in his existing writings) are the very ones who actually began the development of the trinity doctrine for Christendom! If any of the earliest Christian writers, then, would use a trinitarian interpretation here, it would certainly be these three. Since they do not do so, it must mean that the source for the `look upon me' translation originated even later than the time of Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (early 3rd century A.D.)!
Included in those very early Christian writers' quotes of Zech. 12:10 is Justin Martyr I. Apol., i. 77, who also quotes it as it is found in John.
The OT Greek Septuagint uses "me" (in existing copies, at least - 4th century A.D. and later), but it is significantly different from the Hebrew text: "They shall look upon me, because they have mocked me, and they shall make lamentation for him, as for a beloved [friend], and they shall grieve intensely, as for a firstborn [son]." - Zech. 12:10, Septuagint, Zondervan, 1976 printing. In other words, (1) they will look upon God whom they have mocked [not "pierced"] as their judgment arrives and (2) they will mourn Christ. The two are not the same person here, nor the same God!
According to The Expositor's Greek Testament, : John's translation of Zech. 12:10 is the correct one. "The same rendering is adopted in the Greek [OT] versions of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus" - vol. 1, p. 860.
"The [Hebrew] text of Zech. 12:10 is corrupt. The [Greek] LXX text reads: ... (`they shall look upon me whom they have treated spitefully') .... The text in [Jn 19:37] does not follow the LXX; but it has also avoided the impossible [`me'] of the Hebrew text." - p. 195, John 2, Ernst Haenchen, Fortress Press, 1984.
Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar says:
"138. The relative Pronoun.... (2) Not depending on a governing substantive, but itself expressing a substantial idea. Clauses introduced in this way may be called independent relative clauses. This use of [asher] is generally rendered in English by `he who,' `he whom,' &c.... In Z[echariah] 12:10 also, instead of the unintelligible [`elai eth asher,' `to me whom'], we should probably read [`el asher,' `to him whom'], and refer this passage to this class [of 'independent relative clauses']." - pp. 444, 445, 446.
"But in John 19:37 the piercing is interpreted of the piercing of Christ's side with a soldier's lance after His death on the cross, and here Zech. 12:10 is expressly quoted: `And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced".' It is a reasonable inference that this is the form in which the Evangelist knew the passage, and, indeed, the reading `him' instead of `me' appears in a few Hebrew manuscripts. The R.S.V. thus has New Testament authority for its rendering of Zech.12:10 , `And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.' Why then is the R.S.V. criticized for conforming to the New Testament here? Because, if the reading `me' be retained, the reference would be to the speaker, who is God, and in view of the application of the passage in the New Testament, there are some who see here an anticipation of the Christian doctrine of our Lord's divine nature. The reading `me' is certainly quite early, for it appears in the Septuagint (which otherwise misses the point of the passage); but the New Testament seems to attach no significance to Zech. 12:10 as providing evidence for the deity of Christ.... And, whoever the pierced one is, the fact that he is referred to elsewhere in the verse in the third person (`they shall mourn for him....and weep bitterly over him') suggests that he is Yahweh's representative (probably the anointed king), in whose piercing Yahweh Himself is [figuratively] pierced." - History of the Bible in English, pages 199, 200, Lutterworth Press, 1979, third edition. [Emphasis mine – RDB]
The JPS translation in Tanakh (NJV) also reveals that Zech 12:10 is not translated correctly in some Trinitarian translations such as the KJV.
The NJV (New Jewish Version or Tanakh published by the Jewish Publication Society) is highly praised for its accuracy by noted trinitarian Bible scholars Sakae Kubo and Walter F. Specht in their popular book So Many Versions? which analyzes and critiques modern Bibles:
"The NJV is a monument to careful scholarship .... It ranks as one of the best translations of the Hebrew Bible [the Old Testament] available." - p. 143, SMV, Zondervan Publ.
A footnote in the Tanakh says that the Hebrew sometimes rendered "when they look upon" is uncertain. Although it also uses the pronoun "me," it renders Zech 12:10,
"they shall lament to Me about those who are slain, wailing over them as over a favorite son and showing bitter grief as over a first-born." - Jewish Publication Society, 1985.
But most important of all is John 19:37 (even in the KJV) where this scripture has been quoted by John! All translations show John here translating Zech. 12:10 as "They shall look upon him [or `the one'] whom they pierced." So we have this Apostle and inspired Bible writer telling us plainly (and undisputed even by trinitarian scholars) that Zechariah 12:10 should read: "They shall look upon him (not `me')." Therefore, Jehovah is speaking in Zech. 12:10 of someone else who will be pierced - not Himself!
Heb. 1:3 - "[Jesus] being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person...sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" - KJV.
After quoting the above two verses, some trinitarians will claim that they prove that Jesus is Jehovah. They claim that if Jehovah will not share his glory with anyone else, then Jesus must be Jehovah because he shares Jehovah's glory.
Well, first we should note that others have "shared" or reflected Jehovah's glory. For example, the angel at Luke 2:9 appeared with "the glory of the Lord." God was not physically present, but the angel He personally sent to represent him was there with God's reflected glory to identify him as being from God and representing God. This particular angel was not even Jesus since Jesus had already been born on earth (verse 11). We see a similar thing at Rev. 21:10, 11 where the city of holy Jerusalem has descended from God and has the glory of God! That is how it can be identified as being from God: It has the glory of God!
Why, even some Christians will reflect God's glory: 2 Cor. 3:7-18. And Jesus himself said that the glory which the Father had given him he had also given to his followers! - John 17:22.
So it certainly appears that God allows his glory to be with others who represent him as a sign of the authority He has given them and who do not represent that glory as being their very own.
But there is something else that makes the trinitarian argument incredibly poor (if not downright dishonest). That is the actual meaning of "glory." You see, "glory" meant, even as it does today, two different things. Often it meant "honor" or "praise" which a person has earned. On occasion, however, the same word meant the visible, brilliant light radiating from something or someone.
So we can see that Isaiah also uses this meaning at Is. 60:1-3 where "shine," "light," "brightness" are used in conjunction with God's "glory" and that glory (`kaw-bode' in the Hebrew) will be seen. We find this same meaning at Acts 7:55 (where the glory was seen), Luke 2:9 (where the glory `shone' all around them). Obviously, a visible light-radiating type of glory is intended at these places.
But at Is. 42:12 and 43:7 we can see that the same Hebrew word "kaw-bode" clearly means "honor" or "praise." In fact, that same Hebrew word ("kaw-bode") is even translated as "honour" at Ps. 66:2 (and 30 other places in the KJV).
Even today in modern English we have those same two meanings for "glory."
(1) "Praise, honor, or distinction accorded by common consent; renown," and (2) "Brilliancy; splendor." - Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, ("Glory").
For example, we might say that the Nobel Prize winner did not want to share the glory with another scientist who had merely copied some of his scientific work. "Glory" in this sense is not a visible brightness or radiance he gives off but the recognition, honor, and praise he will receive. The glory of a beautiful sunset, however, is a visual brightness or beauty which others receive or observe.
So which meaning was intended at Is. 42:8? (1) A shining visible "glory" given off by someone or (2) "praise" and "honor" owed to someone?
Well we can see from how it's used at Is. 42:8 that it clearly means "praise" or "honor" - "I am [Jehovah]: that is my name [see Ps. 83:18] and my glory [`kaw-bode'] will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." This style of writing is very common in the Holy Scriptures. It is called parallelism because similar (or parallel) meanings are written (in different words) beside each other.
For example: the familiar verse at Is. 9:6 begins "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." You can easily see that the second clause ("unto us a son is given") is parallel (similar in meaning) to the first clause ("unto us a child is born").
We can see, then, that the entire verse at Is. 42:8 is about the honor that is due God alone. Jehovah starts the verse by declaring his name (to which he has said honor is due forever - Ps. 83:18; Ps. 86:9; Ps. 113:1-3; Ps. 145:21; Ezek. 39:6, 7). He then follows that with the parallelism: (1) "my glory [`kaw-bode'] I will not give to another" and (2) "neither my praise to graven images." Clearly the word "glory" (paralleled by "praise" in the next statement of this verse) here means "praise" or "honor." - see Is. 42:12, 17.
And just as clearly, we can see that the word "glory" at Heb. 1:3 means the visible radiance given off by him (as with the angel of Luke 2:9 who reflected God's glory). - see Heb. 1:3 in TEV, NIV. In fact, some modern trinitarian Bibles even translate Heb. 1:3 as "He reflects the glory of God" - RSV (compare NAB; MLB; GNB; and Moffatt's translation).
Therefore, if God said "I shall not share the praise or honor due me" at Is. 42:8, what kind of "evidence" is it to point out that Jesus reflects God's visible radiance at Heb. 1:3?
John 17:5 is also used by some trinitarians to show that Jesus had the glory of God:
“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence [para] with the glory I had with [para] you before the world began.” - NIV.
The key here is the Greek word para. This word literally means “beside,” “by the side of” (W.E. Vine, pp. 112 and 1040). So the first use of para in the NIV rendering above is clearly understood.
But the second use in the NIV quote (“with”) is ambiguous. It could be understood (wrongly in this case) as Jesus shared the glory with God (which trinitarians want to be true). Whereas, it more honestly means Jesus asks to receive from God the glory he used to have when he was by the side of God.
That is why these trinitarian Bibles and scholars have rendered John 17:5 as:
“In xvii. 5 [Jesus] speaks of ‘the glory which I possessed at thy [God’s] side (para soi) before the world existed’, and in xvii. 24 of ‘my glory which thou gavest me because thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world’.” - p. 260, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, C. H. Dodd.
“By the side of thyself.” - A. T. Robertson, p. 275, Word Pictures.
“what is involved [in John 17:5] is the glory that Jesus possessed before the foundation of the world in the presence of God” - p. 151, John 2, Ernst Haenchen.
“So now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” - NRSV.
“Now, Father, do such honor to me in your presence as I had done me there before the world existed.” - An American Translation (AT), Smith and Goodspeed.
“now, Father, glorify me in thy presence with the glory which I enjoyed in thy presence before the world began.” - Moffatt.
“So now, Father, glorify me up there in your presence just as you did before the world existed.” - C.B. Williams.
“now glorify me in turn, Father, alongside yourself with the glory that I did have alongside you before the world was.” - Byington.
John 17:5 - “5. WITH,] lit. ‘along-side of thyself .. along-side of thee.’” - Young’s Concise Commentary.
I don’t think anyone would deny that the Son of God had a glory of his own in heaven, as do the heavenly host. So this verse merely shows Jesus asking God that he be returned to the glory he previously had (which had been given to him by God - 17:24.)
First, John 12 is not entirely about Jesus alone. We find several references in it to the Father (12:26, 28, 49, 50). Therefore, when John speaks of "his glory," he could mean either the Father's glory or the Messiah's glory.
Let's examine the scriptures in question - Jn 12:37-41 (NEB):
"In spite of the many signs which Jesus had performed in their presence they would not believe in him, for the prophet Isaiah's utterance had to be fulfilled:
"`Lord, who has believed what we reported, and to whom has the Lord's power been revealed?'
[John is quoting Is. 53:1. Is. 53 is well-known as a reference to the Messiah's suffering and dying for mankind and it also clearly shows that the Messiah is not Jehovah - Is. 53:2, 4, 6, 10.]
"So it was that they could not believe, for there is another saying of Isaiah's:
"`He has blinded their eyes and dulled their minds, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their minds, and turn to me to heal them.'
"Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him."
So whose glory did John say Isaiah had seen? The glory of the Messiah (Is. 53 and other places in Isaiah) or God's glory (Is. 6 and other places in Isaiah)?
Jn 12:41 in the very trinitarian NIV Study Bible, 1985, Zondervan: "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him."* And the footnote for this verse in this trinitarian study Bible says concerning Jesus' glory in this verse:
".... The thought of glory here is complex. There is the idea of majesty, and there is also the idea (which meant so much to John) that Jesus' death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection and exaltation show his real glory. Isaiah foresaw the rejection of Christ, as the passages quoted (Is. 53:1; 6:10) show. He spoke of the Messiah both in the words about blind eyes and hard hearts, on the one hand, and about healing, on the other. This is the cross and this is the glory, for the cross and the resurrection and exaltation portray both suffering and healing, rejection and triumph, humiliation and glory."
The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, by famed trinitarian scholar and Bible translator Dr. William Barclay, 1975 ed., p. 81, also tells us:
"Again and again in the fourth Gospel Jesus talks of his glory in connection with the cross. John tells us in 7:39 that the Spirit had not yet come because Jesus was not yet glorified, that is to say, because he had not yet died upon his cross. When the Greeks came to him, Jesus said: `The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified' (John 12:23). And it was of his Cross that he spoke, for he went on to speak of the corn [kernel] of wheat which must fall into the ground and die. In John 12:16 John says that the disciples remembered these things after Jesus had been glorified, that is after he had died and risen again. In the Fourth Gospel it is clear that Jesus regarded the Cross both as his Supreme glory and as the way to glory."
So we see noted trinitarian scholar Dr. William Barclay also explaining that Jesus' sacrificial death was understood by John to be Jesus' Glory. Isaiah saw that Glory (sacrificial death) and told of it in his writing (including Is. 53).
[Additional information by Timo Koonstra (Belgium):
May I add something a friend of mine discovered:
The glory referred to may well be near the Isaiah 53 passage, and even clearer just before verse 1, namely 2:13, 14 where the word glory is used three times in the LXX (doxa), twice as a verb. Since the chapter break between chapter 52 and 53 is very badly chosen, I feel this is what John had in mind.
I quote these Isaiah verses from an English translation of the LXX:
But trinitarian Dr. Young tells us: "The repetition of a word denotes the superlative degree, e.g. ... Isa 6:3." - Young's Analytical Concordance, "Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation," #18, Eerdmans, 1978 printing. (Examine Jer. 22:29 and Ezek. 21:27, for example. How would the trinitarian "proof" method work with these?)
Even if we chose to ignore such explanations of triple-stated words (as the footnote for Is. 6:3 in the trinitarian The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977 ed.) that this is done for emphasis, we certainly wouldn't, I hope, insist that anyone (like Daffy Duck finding a treasure cavern) who said "Mine! Mine! Mine!" is really proclaiming his own 3-in-one triunity! If we're really going to play such a silly game, let's look at Matt. 7:22 and Matt. 25:11: Jesus is addressed as "Lord, Lord"! We see, then, that either the "Godhead" is composed of only two persons (a "binity") or, more "likely," the Messiah is composed of two persons (David and Jesus, judging from many other scriptures – see `QUADRINITY' study).
In the same vein we see at Matt. 23:7 (King James Version; NKJV; KJIIV; MKJV; Young's; Darby; Webster; Revised Webster; and other Bible translations based on the Received Text) that the Pharisees wanted to be called "Rabbi, Rabbi"! It is beyond the bounds of credibility that these individuals were teaching that they were part of a 2-in-one "Rabbinity"!
To continue this obviously ridiculous type of reasoning let's look at the use of "Hallelujah" in Revelation 19. This phrase, which means "praise Jehovah," is used only in this single chapter out of the entire NT. And in this one event the single God on the throne is praised with four hallelujahs. Surely this is "proof" (trinitarian-style) of a four-in-one Jehovah, a "quadrinity."
Further such "proof" of the "Quadrinity" can be found at Ps. 107 where this prayer is called out four times: "Let them thank Jehovah for His mercy; and His wonders to the sons of men" - Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31, The Interlinear Bible.
Or, what could be "clearer" than the testimony of Rev. 4:5 and 5:6 that God is actually composed of seven spirit persons! Sure "proof" (trinitarian-style) that God is a septinity.
Or, maybe we could actually go with the many hundreds of instances where God is merely called Holy. Wouldn't these hundreds of instances of single usage outweigh the once or twice he's called "Holy, Holy, Holy"? Doesn't the overwhelming "testimony" of single "Holy" usages show by a margin of hundreds to one that Jehovah is composed of only a single (Holy) person?
5 Some trinitarians tell us Micah 5:2 (or 5:1 in some versions) teaches that Jesus has always existed ("from everlasting" - KJV). And since only God has existed for all eternity, Jesus must be God!
But look at other trinitarian translations of Micah 5:2. (E.g., "O Bethlehem ..., from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days" - RSV, cf. JB, NEB, REB, NAB, NIV, AT, Mo, NRSV, NJB, CEB, CJB, ERV, ESV, God's Word, LEB, MEV, NCV, NET, NLT, WEB, Byington, and Young's.) Not only does this verse not teach that Jesus has always existed, it even speaks of his origin in very ancient times. (Origin: "a coming into existence" - Webster's New World Dictionary, 1973.)
Why would these trinitarian translations admit such a thing? Perhaps because it is difficult to honestly translate the Hebrew motsaah with a word that does not include this understanding. (Even when "goings forth" is the rendering, it appears it should also be with the understanding of "originating." For example, if we said "the command went forth from the King," we obviously mean the command originated with - or sprang from - the king! And when Micah 5:2 says of the Messiah: "O Bethlehem ..., from you shall come forth [the Messiah]," it can only mean that, in his earthly existence, he originated in Bethlehem!)
Obviously for so many respected trinitarian translators to choose this meaning ("origin") they must feel there is no other honest choice! The only meanings given by Gesenius for this word in his highly-respected Lexicon are "origin, springing" - #4163, Gesenius - cf. Micah 5:1 in The Jewish Publication Society's Bible translation, Tanakh.
And A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament gives the only meaning for this word as used in Micah 5 as "origin." - p. 187, Eerdmans.
It would make no sense to interpret this as meaning the Messiah's human origin springs from ancient times. We have just been told that in Micah's time the Messiah's human origin was to be a future event and would take place in Bethlehem. Also there are no humans who haven't sprung from the very first pair in ancient Eden. It would be ridiculous to make the point that the human Messiah came from ancient stock since every human has done so. It must mean that his pre-existence as a spirit person in heaven originated in very ancient times (as the very beginning of God's creation - Rev. 3:14; Prov. 8:22). The Bible Greek of the ancient Septuagint, in fact, at Micah 5:2 says: "and his goings forth were from the beginning [arkhe], from ancient days [aionos]."
The NIV Study Bible, in a footnote for Micah 5:2 explains: "origins...from of old. His beginnings were much earlier than his human birth."
BUT THE TRUE, ETERNAL GOD HAD NO BEGINNING!
As for the Hebrew word olam, it can often be understood as “ancient times” or “of old” and does not necessarily refer to “eternity.” Here is how it olam used in the following scriptures in the NASB:
days of old (Deuteronomy 32:7)
From ancient times (Joshua 24:2)
from ancient times. (1 Samuel 27:8)
the ancient path (Job 22:15)
the ancient boundary (Proverbs 22:28)
the ancient nation (Isaiah 44:7)
ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4)
the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)
the days of old (Isaiah 63:11)
an ancient nation, (Jeremiah 5:15)
the ancient paths (Jeremiah 18:15)
the ancient waste places (Ezekiel 26:20)
Micah 5:2 literally says "days of olam." This same wording is found again in Micah at Micah 7:14:
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old [‘days of olam’] (Micah 7:14).
Try substituting “eternity” in the above scriptures. It’s clear that the NASB has rendered olam correctly in those scriptures.
So, adding the fact that the Messiah had a beginning in this verse to the possibility of olam meaning “ancient” as translated here in numerous Trinitarian Bibles and and in many other scriptures, it seems evident that the RSV has correctly rendered Micah 5:2 -
(RSV) Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
It's also very important to examine Micah 5:4 where Jehovah is recognized as being the God of the Messiah! (The NIVSB tells us in a footnote for this verse that the LORD [`Jehovah'] here - the God of the Messiah - refers to "God the Father.")
"actually, then, King David wrote [at Ps. 110:1] `My [?] Yahweh said unto my adonai'. So it is God saying unto Adonai [who is always God, Rosenthal says] - another member of the Godhead."
But is adonai really used at Ps. 110:1 ? Well, both of the standard Bible concordances (Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bile and Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible) show that the word actually used as "Lord" in Ps. 110:1 is adon! And even the highly-respected trinitarian reference work The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology tells us that, in Ps. 110, "the LORD (`Yahweh') addresses David's Lord (Adon)" - p. 590, Vol. 2, 1986, Zondervan.
And if we actually look at the Hebrew text for Ps. 110:1 in an interlinear Hebrew-English Bible (I examined both The Interlinear Bible, Baker Book House, 1982, and The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, Vol.1-3, Zondervan, 1981-2), we find that same Hebrew word for "to my lord"[1 Notes (Bottom of Page)] being used at Gen. 32:4, 18; Gen. 44:33; 1 Sam. 25:27; 1 Ki. 18:13; and 1 Ki. 20:9 (all these, like "to my lord" at Ps. 110:1, are also listed under adon in Young's and Strong's concordances), and all these uses are for MEN! And, in fact, if Rosenthal is right and adon can only be used for men (not God!), then the person called "my Lord" (the Son of God) of Ps. 110:1 CANNOT POSSIBLY BE GOD![2(Bottom of Page)]
Rosenthal then tells us that Jesus also has the "name" adonai at Phil. 2:11 ! Although he very briefly mentions, I believe, that the Greek word for "Lord" (kurios - singular) is actually used there (which is true), he repeatedly emphasizes, nevertheless, that it is somehow saying that Jesus is named adonai there which would be either plural ("Lords") or "my Lord" in Hebrew.
There is simply no honest way of insisting on such an interpretation. Kurios (kurioV) as used here may also be used to translate the Hebrew adon as even super-trinitarian NT Greek expert W. E. Vine admits on p. 688 of his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.
We also find the Hebrew New Testament by famed trinitarian scholar Franz Delitzsch, published by The Trinitarian Bible Society, London, using adon as Jesus' title at Phil. 2:11. The equally trinitarian United Bible Societies' Hebrew New Testament also uses adon (not adonai) at Phil. 2:11. Remember, Rosenthal tells us that adon can only be used for a man!
In fact, at John 21:17 we see Peter addressing Jesus as "Lord" or kurios (actually kurie, the form of kurios used in address). And at Rev. 7:14 John addresses an angel as kurios. And at John 20:15 Mary addresses a person she believes is a mere gardener as kurios.
And again at John 20:13 Mary calls Jesus kurios (kurion or kurion, the form of kurios which is used for direct objects). And at Jn 11:2 John calls Jesus kurios. And at 1 Peter 3:6 Peter tells us that Abraham was called kurios by Sarah!
In fact, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, p. 115, says:
"Frequently [Jesus] is called kyrie [kurie], i.e. Lord. This is often no more than a mark of respect (e.g. Matt. 13:27). Since, however, in parallel passages in the Synoptics, it is used where others have Teacher - the best example is Matt. 8:25 (kyrie), Mk. 4:38 (didaskale), Lk. 8:24 (epistata) - we are probably safe in assuming that where Jesus is called Lord it normally represents Rabbi."
How is it, then, that Rosenthal insists kurios (singular) must mean adonai (plural) which must mean God? Did Mary really call someone she believed to be a mere human gardener God?
"John 5:18 - He said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
"Concluding our chapter on this vital topic [the deity of Christ] is this verse that is self-explanatory. [#1] The Greek term `equal' (ison) cannot be debated; nor [#2] is it contextually or grammatically allowable that John is here recording what the Jews said about Jesus, as Jehovah's Witnesses lamely argue. The sentence structure clearly shows that John said it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and not the Jews! Anyone so inclined can diagram the sentence and see this for himself. [#3] No serious scholar or commentator has ever questioned it. [#4] In the Jewish mind, for Jesus to claim to be God's Son was a claim to equality with God, a fact Jehovah's Witnesses might profitably consider!
"We see, then, that our Lord was equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in his divine nature, though inferior (as a man) by choice in His human nature as the last Adam (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 15:45-47). [#5] This text alone is of enormous value and argues powerfully for our Lord's Deity." - pp. 96-97.
(Martin also said earlier, "the term `equal' here [Phil. 2:6] is another form of ison ... [#6] which again denotes absolute sameness of nature, thus confirming Christ's Deity." - p. 68.) [Bracketed numbers above have been added by me. # 1 and #6 are the same point]
But here is how John 5:18 appears in its entirety:
"For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal [ison] with God." - NIV.
You see, Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:8, 9). Now the Jews had, by the accumulation of their man-made traditions, added hundreds of restrictions to their God-given Sabbath Law.[3 (Bottom of Page)] Jesus frequently pointed out how terrible many of their traditions were in God's eyes and how they actually violated his word. At Matt. 15:6-9, for example, he said:
"you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: `These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" - NIV.
The Law of Moses was still in effect for all Jews (including Jesus, of course) until it was done away by Christ's death. Jesus, being the only perfect man, had to perfectly follow God's Law, including the Sabbath law, all his earthly life as a man.
So, the only real question concerning the Sabbath laws would have to be: what was really in accord with God's Sabbath requirements, and what were really the improper traditions of men concerning the Sabbath?
Jesus cleared up the problem of healing on the Sabbath: "it is lawful [in accord with God's intended requirements for the Sabbath] to do good on the Sabbath.'" Then he healed a man on the Sabbath. - Matt. 12:10-13.
It is clear, then, that healing on the Sabbath was actually lawful in God's eyes but unlawful in the eyes of the Jewish authorities only!
Obviously the Apostle John knew that Jesus had healed lawfully on the Sabbath. He knew that Jesus would never break the Sabbath as lawfully established by God. Only Jesus' Jewish opponents believed Jesus was breaking the Sabbath!
Therefore, John could not possibly be saying, as Martin insists, that Jesus was "breaking the sabbath" (John 5:18). Obviously, instead, this is what Jesus' Jewish opponents were saying (or thinking).
Therefore, in answer to [#2] above, it must be the Jews who are saying at John 5:18 "not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal [ison] with God." - NIV.
Furthermore, it is obvious that John would never distort God's word by saying that if anyone calls God his Father, he is necessarily claiming to be equal with God! - John 8:41; Matt. 23:9; John 20:17; Is. 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; Luke 3:38; Ro. 8:14, 15; Gen. 6:2; Job 38:7. - It must have been the words of those who by their traditions "nullify the word of God."
If it truly were John who, when writing this account long after Jesus' death, inserted such a false accusation of his own (as Martin is really saying), then, in answer to [#3] above, the following respected trinitarian scholars and translators would not have Jesus answering that `future' (John's Gospel was written over 50 years after Jesus' death) inserted comment of John's by speaking immediately to those Jews:
"So Jesus answered them, `I tell you, the Son cannot do anything of his own accord ..." - John 5:19, An American Translation, Goodspeed.
"So Jesus made this answer to them: ...." - Moffatt.
"So Jesus answered them: ..." - C.B. Williams.
"`I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered them, ..." - William F. Beck.
"So Jesus answered them, ..." - Good News Bible.
"So Jesus answered them by saying, ..." - The Amplified Bible.
"To this charge Jesus replied, ...." - The New English Bible (and the REB).
"To this accusation Jesus replied: ..." - The Jerusalem Bible.
How well do the above respected trinitarian renderings support Martin's statement: "... nor is it contextually or grammatically allowable that John is here recording what the Jews said about Jesus, as Jehovah's Witnesses lamely argue."? These respected trinitarian translators have said Jesus replied to this accusation. He couldn't have replied to a comment that John was to make in the distant future; he must have responded to the comment made at the time by the Jews!
Remember, Martin declared "No serious scholar or commentator has ever questioned it" (that John, not the Jews, said the words in question). But the following major trinitarian references contradict Martin and confirm the clear and necessary understanding that this was actually the Jews' statement or thought (not John's).
"The Jews taxed [Jesus] with making himself equal with God [at John 5:18]." - p. 499, Vol. 2, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan Publishing, 1976, 1986.
"Our Lord's opponents say that He has `called God his own Father [John 5:18].'" - The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, p. 968, Vol. 2, Eerdman's Publishing, 1956, 1984.
"[John 5] verse 18. Making himself equal with God. This the Jews understood from the preceding verse." - Adam Clarke's Commentary, 1826.
After quoting Jesus' words of John 5:19, 20, Noted trinitarian scholar and translator Dr. William Barclay writes in his popular and respected Daily Study Bible Series:
"This is the beginning of Jesus's answer to the Jews' charge that he was making himself equal to God." - p. 188, Vol. 1, The Gospel of John, Rev. ed., The Daily Study Bible Series, The Westminster Press, 1975.
Not only is The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, quoted above, one of the most respected and best-known trinitarian Bible encyclopedias (as also is The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology), but it was so known at the time Martin wrote his diatribe above. ("No serious scholar or commentator has ever questioned it")!
And notice this translation of John 5:18 by the very trinitarian Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version, World Bible Translation Center, 1992:
"The Jews said, `First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Then he said that God is his Father! He is making himself equal with God!'."
Now let's look at the Greek term "equal" (ison) which Martin proclaims [#1] "cannot be debated" and [#6]"denotes absolute sameness of nature."
The trinitarian reference work The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, pp. 496, 497, states:
"Although it is impossible to make a clear and universally applicable differentiation between the two word-groups, as they are often interchangeable, in general the isos group [ison] indicates more strongly an external, objectively measurable and established likeness and correspondence, while the words connected with homoios express more substantial, essential likeness .... Although the term does not appear in the NT, a note on homoousios [clearly more closely related to homoios above, not ison] has been appended to the article on homoios in view of the crucial importance of the term in the debates on the person of Christ in the early Church [325 A.D.]. It was opposed by the Arians but included in the Creed of Nicaea (325) asserting that Christ was `of the same substance [`essence,' `nature'] as the Father,' and as such passed into the Nicene Creed" - see the HIST study.
So, right off the bat, we can see that, in general, if we wanted a term to show Jesus' real equality (in his very "essence" or "nature") with God, we wouldn't use the term ison. -- [Of course this is all in accordance with the incredible trinitarian principal that no inspired Bible writer can actually come out and say: "three persons make up the only true God, and those three are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit"] -- And, although homoousios ["of the same substance"] was never used in Scripture to show Christ's relationship to God, it was nevertheless so applied, after much violent, heated debate, by an apostate Church in 325 A.D. (over the objection of the vast majority of Bishops who preferred the term homoiousios ["of similar substance"]). - see HIST study.
Obviously it was felt necessary by these 4th century Church trinitarian policy-makers to use this non-Biblical term instead of ison in order to declare Jesus' essential equality with the Father. The fact that Scripture never uses it for this purpose is, therefore, very significant!
But let's continue the examination of ison (or isos). The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, vol. 2, p. 968 (1984 reprint), discussing isos, reveals:
"In Mt 20:12, `made them equal' means `put them upon the same footing,' i.e. regarded their brief service as though it were the very same as our long hours of toil. In Lk 20:36 the context restricts the equality to a particular relation."
In other words, ison at Matt. 20:12 makes the workers measurably "equal" in only one external aspect: the amount of money they were to receive. They were really very unequal otherwise. Also in Luke 20:36, as the trinitarian reference book quoted above tells us, those resurrected humans and God's angels are not necessarily considered equal in essence in this scripture but in only one particular relation: they will not die again. (See Living Bible.)[4 (Bottom of Page)]
So, Jesus' apparent arrogation (in his enemies' eyes, at any rate) to himself of the authority to "change" God's Sabbath law (which, of course, he was not really doing) made him appear to them to be claiming to be "equal" to God (in that particular aspect: "changing" God's Law - only).
It seems reasonably certain from the above that the Jews didn't really believe Jesus was actually claiming to be God but attempting to usurp God's authority in this one respect! But, since these were Jesus' enemies who were making this false charge at John 5:18, it really matters very little what they claimed!
What does matter, however, is what Jesus claimed. How did Jesus answer this false charge by his enemies?
"To this charge Jesus replied, `In truth, in very truth I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he does only what he sees the Father doing....'" - John 5:19, NEB.
So Jesus did not claim that he was Almighty God or even equal to Him. He clearly told the Jews that he was not God, but that, even as God's spokesman, he could not act upon his own initiative. Can we really picture the Almighty God of the universe saying that he could do nothing on his own initiative?
We find, then, that the Jews made a charge, and Jesus refuted it. He never claimed to be God. He never claimed to be equal to God!
Earlier in his book (p. 67) Martin made the same claim about John 5:18 and the word ison. Here, however, he referred us to the authoritative NT Greek scholar Dr. Joseph H. Thayer. Martin frequently refers to this scholar and his respected work (which Martin refers to as Thayer's Greek Lexicon). On p. 67 Martin states:
"Dr. Thayer, Jehovah's Witnesses might take notice, was a Unitarian who denied Christ's Deity even as they themselves do; yet being honest, he gave the true meaning of the Biblical terms even though they contradicted his views."
(Martin repeatedly makes similar statements about "Unitarian" Thayer's apparently trinitarian interpretations in his Lexicon - e.g., p. 90, Martin.)
Perhaps when we see the full title of Thayer's Lexicon we will begin to understand the truth of the matter. The cover page of this respected reference work states:
"A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Being Grimm's Wilke's Clavis Novi Testamenti Translated, Revised, And Enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D."
Yes, this famous reference work is a translation of German trinitarian Prof. C. L. Wilibald Grimm's work!
Dr. Thayer's meticulous honesty compelled him to translate trinitarian Grimm's work complete with its trinitarian interpretations and all. Whenever Dr. Thayer added information of his own to this translation, he enclosed it in brackets to show that these were his own words. Obviously, none of the trinitarian material quoted by Martin is ever found enclosed in brackets in this Grimm/Thayer book. Instead, Martin repeatedly takes trinitarian Grimm's words (translated into English by Dr. Thayer) and tells us these are the thoughts of "Unitarian" Dr. Thayer!
Thayer's reputation for honesty, integrity, and scholarship is impeccable.
"As a teacher his work was marked by conscientiousness and enthusiasm; as a scholar, by industry, accuracy, and self-effacing modesty." .... "At the time of his death he was recognized as the dean of New Testament scholars in America." - pp. 408, 409, Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. IX, 1935, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Whether Thayer ever became a Unitarian as Martin claims, I do not know. I would like to think that his great learning and superior honesty eventually compelled him to the proper conclusion that God is one person only (unitarianism) and that that one person is the Father, Jehovah!
I do know that, according to his biography, Thayer was a "Congregational clergyman and New Testament scholar" - Dictionary of American Biography. And I find that Religions of America, p. 33, Leo Rosten, ed., 1955, states that Congregational Christians fully believe the Trinity.
But, whether trinitarian or unitarian, Thayer is not expressing his own views as Martin insists but is merely honestly translating trinitarian Prof. Grimm's work!
(Incidentally, Martin distorts and misquotes this particular quote from Thayer's Lexicon on p. 67 of his KOTC. First he `quotes' Thayer as saying ison means "equal in quality AS in quantity" to make it appear that the word is always used with the meaning of equal in both quantity and quality [in other words total equality in every way]! What Thayer actually wrote, however, is ison may mean "equal in quality or in quantity"! Then Martin continues his `quote' by leaving out 3 lines of further qualifications by Thayer but indicating instead that he was giving an entire unbroken quote. This is the pinnacle of dishonest scholarship! Even beginning students quickly learn [as honesty alone should tell them] that you must always warn your reader when you are skipping over part of a quote. This is always done by inserting dots [...] at the point you start your omission. Martin skipped over 3 lines of Thayer's quote [including an explanation of Mt. 20:2 : the `equal' workers] without indicating it at all!)
[#4] As for Martin's assertion that "In the Jewish mind, for Jesus to claim to be God's Son was a claim to equality with God," we need only examine the highly trinitarian New Bible Dictionary:
"`Son of God' in Heb[rew] means `god' or `god-like' rather than `son of (the) God (Yahweh)'. In Job 1:6 ... Ps. 29:1; 89:6, the `sons of God' form Yahweh's [Jehovah's] heavenly train [angels] or subordinates" - p. 1133. And, "`Son of ...' is an idiom for `having the characteristics of' or `doing the work of'." - cf. Mt 5:9, 45. - p. 1134, 2nd ed., 1982, Tyndale House Publishers.
And noted Biblical Hebrew expert, Gesenius, tells of only three scriptural Jewish understandings of "Sons of God":
"The appellation of `sons of God' is given in the Old Test. - (a) To angels .... (b) to kings ... as being the substitutes of God on earth .... (c) to men who piously worship God." - pp. 126-127, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Baker Book House.
Luke also gives another Jewish understanding of the term "the Son of God" in the sense of one who was actually created by God: Luke 3:38 (KJV, RSV).
So what should we honestly conclude from the fact that Jesus was repeatedly called the Son of God in the inspired word of God?
Now review the accuracy of Martin's declarations and accusations - (go back and reread his statements at the beginning of this discussion of ison - this is what Martin has been publishing, through many printings, and this is what Christendom's ministers have been foisting off on their flocks in sermons, cassette tapes, and printed handouts for over 20 years now) - and how worthless this particular "proof" of the trinity doctrine really is.
[#5] If this is really one of the best "proofs" Martin can find ("of enormous value" and "argues powerfully for our Lord's Deity"), where does that leave the rest of trinitarian "evidence"?
This text, claims Martin, cannot be honestly used by the Witnesses to prove that Jesus is not equally God. Instead, he says, Jehovah's Witnesses have "lifted [it] conveniently out of context" and through "semantic double-talk" have beclouded the real meaning here.
So here it is in context in the trinitarian New English Bible:
"Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears. You heard me say, `I am going away, and coming back to you.' If you loved me you would have been glad to hear that I was going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now, beforehand, so that when it happens you may have faith."
It should be obvious to most objective observers that, since Jesus was trying to reassure his followers about his condition after his death, he is showing that the Father is still greater than he is even after he has been resurrected to the Father's side in heaven! If Jesus were really to resume a positional equality upon his return to heaven, he surely would have said, "Set your troubled hearts at rest. For I am (or `I will be') equal to the Father after I have gone away." As it is, context allows that Jesus could be saying that the Father will be his superior in every way including authority and "nature."
The word meizon ("greater"), Martin asserts, must mean a term of position or authority at John 14:28 and cannot possibly be construed here as a comparison of nature or quality.
Whereas at Heb. 1:4, Martin says, the word kreitton ("better") refutes "the Watchtower semantic double-talk" by its "being a term descriptive of quality" or nature.
Martin is attempting to prove that Jesus always retained the nature or quality of God even though, when upon earth, he temporarily relinquished the position, authority, and recognition he formerly held as God.
Such "semantic double-talk" doesn't hold up under close examination, of course. But, for the moment, let's examine Martin's scholastic honesty on this subject.
For many trinitarians Jesus has not only always held the nature of God but has also always been equal to the Father in eternity and in authority (see Athanasian Creed). So, for the Witnesses to quote John 14:28 to such trinitarians is not dishonestly "lifting it conveniently out of its context" as Martin implies. In fact, as we saw above and contrary to Martin's statements (but in line with Thayer's classification of John 14:28 below), context is consistent with a "quality" or "nature" interpretation for meizon.
The word meizon itself can mean either "greater in nature" or "higher in position" - Thayer, p. 395. In fact, Thayer (whom Martin repeatedly quotes and praises for his great scholarship and honesty) specifically lists John 14:28 under the heading of "those who surpass in nature and power, as God." In this same category Thayer lists John 10:29 which is clearly something qualitatively better (of a higher nature) than all other things. Whereas, in the alternate meaning of meizon ("those who surpass others in excellence, worth, authority") Thayer lists Matt. 18:1 which certainly is speaking of position or authority in the kingdom of the heavens.
As for the word kreitton at Heb. 1:4 - how honest is it to insist, as Martin does, that it must mean "qualitatively better" (p. 119) here? Thayer (p. 359) does not even list a meaning for this word that is specifically qualitative! He lists: "a. more useful, more serviceable," and "b. more excellent." Under this last definition he places Heb. 1:4 and Heb. 7:7. Since Heb. 7:7 is describing Melchizedek blessing Abraham (Heb. 7:6) and calling Melchizedek greater (kreitton) than Abraham, this use of kreitton is clearly a superiority of position or authority for Melchizedek and not a superiority of nature!
Finally, when we actually examine Heb. 1:3(b) - 1:4 (which Martin "lifted conveniently out of its context") we find that it really describes Jesus' superiority over the angels in authority.
Heb. 1:3(b) - 1:4 states, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs." - NIV.
Context alone indicates that, at Heb. 1:4, Jesus' superiority over the angels is something that he received at that time (upon his death and resurrection). But, if Jesus has always had the "nature of God" as Martin (and other trinitarians) insists then he certainly could not have been receiving that superior nature at this time!
In fact, the Greek word translated "became" here is genemenos (a form of ginomai). Thayer tells us this word means "to become" and, on p. 115 of his Lexicon, tells us that it specifically means "1. to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being" and, listed under this meaning is John 1:3, 10 (which includes the forms of ginomai: gegonen and egoneto).
The second meaning listed by Thayer for ginomai is "to come to pass, happen" and listed under this heading is Matt. 5:18. As you can clearly see, one meaning describes when something first comes into existence in its entirety ("nature" and all) and the second definition is an event occurring (whether for the first time or not).
Since we cannot believe that Jesus' nature actually first came into existence at this time, we must conclude (as the context indicates) that this is an event whereby Jesus receives authority (not nature, of course)! (If, however, we decide that Heb. 1:4 is not to be causally linked to Heb. 1:3, then we must decide that Jesus - at some much earlier time - actually "came into existence." This, too, disproves the "orthodox" trinity teaching.)
At any rate, Martin is manifestly wrong when he states unequivocally: "Hebrews 1:4 clearly teaches that Christ is better than the angels qualitatively from all eternity"! Whether such an understanding is true or not, Heb. 1:4 teaches no such thing!
Additionally, respected trinitarian New Testament scholar Dr. William Barclay makes some very interesting comments concerning this scripture. He writes in his The Letter to the Hebrews, 1976 ed. (The Daily Study Bible Series, The Westminster Press) that the book of Hebrews was written to a scholarly group of dedicated Christians in a long-established Church who had been under instruction for a lengthy period in training to become teachers of the Christian faith (pp. 6, 7). Obviously, if the trinity teaching were known by the first Christians, these men would have learned it long ago!
And yet, notice what Dr. Barclay tells us about Hebrews chapter 1.
"In the previous passage [Heb. 1:1-3] the writer was concerned to prove the superiority of Jesus over all the [other] prophets. Now he is concerned to prove his superiority over the angels." - p. 16.
Isn't it obvious, if there were anything even approaching a "Jesus is God" concept, the writer of Hebrews would certainly not need to be concerned about "proving [Jesus'] superiority over the angels"!!
In fact, respected trinitarian Bible scholar, Dr. E. F. Scott, Emeritus Professor at the Union Theological Seminary, wrote in An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 726 (1945 ed.):
"The author of Hebrews ... thinks of [Jesus] as an angel, whom God had exalted above all others, investing him with his own majesty and calling him by the name of Son."
And, again, the very trinitarian The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible tells us that at this time the Jewish expectation was that Christ would be
"a pre-existent, heavenly angelic being who, at the end of time, will appear at the side of God as judge of the world [see Acts 7:55, 56]." - p. 364, Vol. 3, Abingdon Press, 1962. (Also see "Angel of the Lord" in the WORSHIP and REAPS studies.)
Even though the majority trinitarian position (since the 4th century A. D.) is still that the resurrected heavenly Jesus is equal in all respects to the Father, we can see that the first century Christians had no such concept: 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Cor. 11:3; 2 Cor. 11:31; Eph. 1:3, 17; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 3:12, 7:10, and 14:1.
But, regardless of varying interpretations, Martin is clearly, hypocritically wrong in his statements concerning meizon and kreitton!
"4. Hebrews 1:3- `He [Jesus] is the reflection [apaugasma] of his [God's] glory and the exact representation [charakter] of his very being [hupostaseos], and he sustains all things by the word of his power...' (NWT).
"This passage of Scripture, I believe, [Martin continues] clarifies beyond doubt the Deity of Jesus Christ. It would be illogical, and unreasonable, to suppose that Christ, who is the image imprinted by Jehovah's Substance, is not of the Substance of Jehovah and hence God, or the second Person of the Triune Deity. No creation is ever declared to be of God's very `Substance' or `Essence' (Greek upostaseos [or hupostaseos or hupostasis]) .... The writer of the book of Hebrews clearly intended to portray Christ as Jehovah, or he never would have used such explicit language as `the image imprinted [charakter] by His Substance [hupostasis]'."
--- (But consider: is the wax seal imprinted with the symbol of the king as found on a royal letter really of the same substance as the gold stamp the king used to make that impression?)
Now notice how this poorly-understood and much-debated passage has been translated in trinitarian Bibles:
KJV - "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person."
RSV - "He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature."
MLB - "As the reflection of God's glory and the true expression of His being."
Moffatt - "He, reflecting God's bright glory and stamped with God's own character."
Weymouth - "... brightly reflects God's glory...."
Even most trinitarian translations use "reflection" in their renderings of this verse since apaugasma is usually considered to have the meaning of reflected brightness (e.g. Thayer, p. 55). We also can see that "reflection" is more parallel to the second half of this passage: "the express image of his person" - "the very stamp of his nature."
Nevertheless, some trinitarian translators prefer, for obvious reasons, to render this word as "brightness" or "effulgence." But even if we consider this to be a proper alternate rendering, just the fact that the more likely "reflection" meaning could have been intended by the NT writer destroys any trinitarian "evidence" that might possibly be found. Yes, it is incredibly obvious that any person or object that is the "image" or "reflection" of something or someone else cannot possibly be that person or object.
Adam could not possibly be God if he were the image of God (Gen. 1:27). And Jesus could not possibly be God if he merely reflects the Glory of God as did Moses and Christ's followers to a lesser degree - 2 Cor. 3:7-18.
"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." - 2 Cor. 3:18 NIV. - Compare 1 Cor. 15:45-49, RSV.
Furthermore, the word charakter most definitely denotes an image instead of the actuality - see Thayer, p. 665.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states:
"In He 1 3 the word used is χαρακτὴρ (charakter) .... It is derived from carassw (charasso), `to engrave,' .... hence, generally, the exact image or expression of any person or thing as corresponding to the original, the distinguished feature, or traits by which a person or thing is known." - p. 1451, Vol. 3, Eerdmans, 1984 printing.
Since this word is used only in this verse in the entire NT, we need to look at its usage by other Christians and Jews of this time period.
Clement of Rome (ca. 90 - 100 A.D.) used this term: "[God] formed man in the impress (charakter) of His own image" - 1 Clem. 33:4, The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer.
Ignatius (ca. 70 - 117 A.D.) wrote:
"there are two coinages ... and each of them hath its proper stamp (charakter) impressed upon it, the unbelievers the [stamp] of this world, but the faithful in love the stamp (charakter) of God the father" - Magnesians 5:2, Lightfoot and Harmer.
We can also see that the very popular Jewish religious philosopher of the first century, Philo, used this term. We know that he never intended to imply that The Logos (The Word) was actually God (see the LOGOS study). Nevertheless he described The Logos as "the charakter of GOD" - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, p. 288, 1986. For Philo, then, charakter (stamp, image) certainly did not mean the image is itself the represented object.
Like eikon [see the IMAGE study], there is no use of charakter by God's people that clearly means the image is itself the object that it represents!
We then have Christ being described here as the image of God's ["nature," "being," "character"(?)]. Therefore we are able to "see" what God's [nature, being, character (?)] is like by observing Christ's! The wording here (as the wording throughout the book of Hebrews) shows conclusively that Christ is not God, but that he simply reveals God more perfectly to us. - Cf. 2 Cor. 4:4.; Col. 1:15.
Also, when we examine the word hupostaseos [or upostaseos], we find "a word very com[mon]" in ancient Greek and used "in widely different senses" - Thayer, p. 644.
For example, hupostaseos can mean a "substructure, foundation" or "the substantial quality, nature, of any pers[on] or thing," or "firmness, courage, resolution," or "confidence, firm trust, assurance" - Thayer's, p. 645 (also see The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 712-713.) From this we can see that Heb. 1:3 certainly does not even have to be speaking of an image of the "nature" of God. Certainly it speaks of Jesus bearing a very accurate image of some quality of God, but it is not certain just what quality!
Therefore, this passage could honestly be saying that Jesus reflects the glory of God and bears the image of (or "reflects") God's character (see Moffatt translation above). Or, Jesus perfectly shows God's qualities. Or even, Jesus reflects God's resolution or God's assurance, etc.
No matter how hard Martin tries, this passage is certainly no proof of Jesus' Deity. And yet Martin insists, "This passage of Scripture, I believe, clarifies beyond doubt the Deity of Jesus Christ." This underscores the fact that no scripture clearly states the "Deity" of Jesus or the trinity doctrine. And, to use Martin's own words concerning a much less important doctrine: "A doctrine of such momentous importance ... would certainly [if true] have been carefully defined in the New Testament; yet it is not"! - p. 120.
"Not only is the word `Trinity' not in Scripture, but there is no isolated exposition on this attribute of God in either testament. It is an inferred doctrine, gathered eclectically from the entire Canon." - p. 630 of the very trinitarian reference book, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publishers, 1982.
"Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament .... The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies." - Encyclopedia Britannica, 1976 Micropedia, Vol. X, p. 126.
"In the NT [New Testament] there is no direct suggestion of a doctrine of the Trinity." - p. 344, An Encyclopedia of Religion, 1945 ed., Ferm.
"[The Trinity Doctrine] is not ... directly and immediately the word of God." - p. 304, The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, 1967.
Martin, however, claims to quote the January 1, 1973 [I believe it's really the Jan. 1, 1953 edition, p. 24] The Watchtower magazine:
"`The advocates of the Trinity admit that it is not subject to reason or logic, and so they resort to terming it a "mystery." But the Bible contains no divine mysteries. It contains "sacred secrets." Every use of the word "mystery" and "mysteries" in the King James Version comes from the same Greek root word meaning "to shut the mouth," that is to keep secret. There is a vast difference between a secret and a mystery. A secret is merely that which has not been made known, but a mystery is that which cannot be understood.'
"Once again [Martin continues] "the interested reader must pay close attention to the Witnesses' favorite game of term-switching. The Watchtower makes a clever distinction between the term `mystery' and the term `secret' and declares that `... the Bible contains no divine mysteries.' It is affirmed that `a secret is merely that which has not been made known, but a mystery is that which cannot be understood.' In view of the seriousness of this Watchtower exercise in semantics, we feel obliged to destroy their manufactured distinction between `secret' and `mystery,' by the simple process of consulting the dictionary. `Mystery' is defined as: `1. Secret, something that is hidden or unknown.' `Secret' is defined as: `1. Something secret or hidden; mystery.' Surely this is proof conclusive that the Bible contains `divine mysteries' as far as the meaning of the term is understood. It must also be equally apparent that Jehovah's Witnesses obviously have no ground for rejecting the word `mystery' where either the Bible or the dictionary are concerned. We fail to note any `vast difference' between the two words, and so does the dictionary." - pp. 64-65, The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed.
It is no secret that many trinitarians consider the trinity doctrine as an unexplainable "Mystery." The Watchtower is simply revealing the original meaning of the word that is sometimes translated "mystery" in certain Bibles. The modern word has taken on an additional meaning of "incomprehensible" that was not originally intended in the Bible.
"Mystery ... [L. mysterium, fr. Gr. mysterion; akin to Gr. mystes one initiated in mysteries (prop. close-mouthed), fr. myein to close, be shut.] 1. Something that has not been, or cannot be, explained; hence something beyond human comprehension." - p. 557, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1953.
So we can see that the number one modern English meaning for this word is exactly what the Watchtower magazine claimed as contrasted to its original meaning of "close-mouthed"!
"Secret ... [OF., fr. L. secretus, past part. of secernere to put apart, separate, fr. se- aside + cernere.] 1. Hidden from others; revealed to none or to few, as, keep this matter secret." - p. 764, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1953.
And we can see here that the number one modern English meaning for "secret" is essentially the same as the original meaning of the Bible word mysterion just as the 1953 Watchtower article explained!
In spite of this, many trinitarians (including hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics) still consider the Trinity a "Mystery" (something beyond human comprehension) although the Bible doesn't use the word with that meaning.
"Mystery - 1. The supernatural truths that the Church teaches and that cannot be known without revelation are not contrary to reason, but rather above reason. They are of such a profound nature that they cannot be understood by humans even after revelation and must, therefore, be accepted on faith in revelation and the authority of the Church .... Mysteries must be considered as ideas or works of God that are beyond the reach of natural human knowledge." - p. 406, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1976.
The Protestant reference, the New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1984, p. 805, Tyndale House Publ., tells us:
"But whereas `mystery' may mean, and in contemporary [modern-day] usage often does mean, a secret for which no answer can be found, this is not the connotation of the term mysterion in classical and biblical Gk. In the NT mysterion signifies a secret which is being, or even has been, revealed, which is also divine in scope [`sacred secret'] .... mysterion is a temporary secret, which once revealed is known and understood - a secret no longer". - Cf. The NIV Study Bible f.n. for Ro. 11:25.
Even many Catholic scholars admit the above truth:
"Mystery.... In a derived sense, the word is synonymous with divine secret.... In scripture it must never be taken in the sense (to which catechism has accustomed us) of revealed truth incomprehensible to the human intelligence (for example, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity)." - New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, p. 339 (NT), Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1970.
So, how is it that the Watchtower has "manufactured" a distinction between `secret' and `mystery' through their "exercise in semantics" which Martin is "obliged to destroy"? Who is the one who is really up to the "favorite game of term-switching"?
But there are 2 major uncertainties about the proper translation of Acts 20:28. Either one of those uncertainties completely nullifies any trinitarian "evidence" proposed for this scripture!
First, even some trinitarian Bibles translate this verse, "the church of the Lord." - NEB; REB; ASV; Moffatt. Since Jesus was often referred to as "the Lord," this rendering negates any "Jesus is God" understanding for Acts 20:28.
Yes, even the popular trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, p. 838, Vol. 2, Zondervan Publ., 1986, uses this translation for Acts 20:28 also: "to feed the church of the Lord"!
And the respected, scholarly trinitarian work, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 480, United Bible Societies, 1971, explains about this first uncertainty concerning the translation of Acts 20:28. Although, for obvious reasons, preferring the rendering "the church of God" at this verse, this trinitarian work admits that there is "considerable degree of doubt" about this "preferred" rendering. They admit that "The external evidence is singularly balanced between `church of God' and `church of the Lord.'"
Second, even some trinitarian Bibles render this verse, "to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son." - RSV, 1971 ed.; NRSV; NJB; (also see TEV and GNB).
The New Testament Greek words tou idiou follow "with the blood" in this scripture. This could be translated as "with the blood of his own." A singular noun may be understood to follow "his own." This would be referring to God's "closest relation," his only-begotten Son.
Famous trinitarian scholar J. H. Moulton says about this:
"something should be said about the use of [ho idios, which includes tou idiou] without a noun expressed. This occurs in Jn 1:11, 13:1; Ac 4:23, 24:23. In the papyri we find the singular used thus as a term of endearment to near relations .... In Expos. vi. iii. 277 I ventured to cite this as a possible encouragement to those (including B. Weiss) who would translate Acts 20:28 `the blood of one who was his own.'" - A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. 1 (Prolegomena), 1930 ed., p. 90.
Highly respected trinitarian New Testament scholars Westcott and Hort present an alternate reason for a similar rendering:
"it is by no means impossible that YIOY [huiou, or `of the Son'] dropped out [was inadvertently left out during copying] after TOYIDIOY [tou idiou, or `of his own'] at some very early transcription affecting all existing documents. Its insertion [restoration] leaves the whole passage free from difficulty of any kind." - The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. 2, pp. 99, 100 of the Appendix.
And A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 481, tells us:
"Instead of the usual meaning of dia tou haimatos tou idiou [`through the blood of the own'], it is possible that the writer of Acts intended his readers to understand the expression to mean `with the blood of his Own.' (It is not necessary to suppose, with Hort, that huiou may have dropped out after tou idiou, though palaeographically such an omission would have been easy.) This absolute use of ho idios is found in Greek papyri as a term of endearment referring to near relatives. It is possible, therefore, that `his Own' (ho idios) was a title which early Christians gave to Jesus, comparable to `the Beloved'."[5 (Bottom of Page)]
Therefore, we can see that a rendering similar to RSV's "the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own son [or `beloved'[6 (Bottom of Page)] ]" is obviously an honest, proper rendering.
Although the UBS Committee didn't actually commit itself one way or another on this rendering of tou idiou at Acts 20:28, it did mention that "some have thought [it] to be a slight probability that tou idiou is used here as the equivalent of tou idiou huiou [`his own Son']." - p. 481. Obviously this includes those trinitarian scholars who translated the Revised Standard Version (1971 ed.) and Today's English Version.
Note the the even more certain conclusion of trinitarian scholar, Murray J. Harris, after an extensive analysis of this passage:
"I have argued that the original text of Acts 20:28 read [THN EKKLHSIAN TOU THEOU HN PERIEPOIHSATO DIA TOU AIUATOS TOU IDIOU] and that the most appropriate translation of these words is 'the church of God which he bought with the blood of his own one' or 'the church of God which he bought with the blood of his own Son' (NJB), with [HO IDIOS] construed as a christological title. According to this view, [HO THEOS] refers to God the Father, not Jesus Christ.
"If however, one follows many English versions in construing [IDIOS] adjectivally ('through his own blood'), [HO THEOS] could refer to Jesus and the verse could therefore allude to 'the blood of God,' although on this construction of [IDIOS] it is more probable that [THEOS] is God the Father and the unexpressed subject of [PERIEPOIHSATO] is Jesus. So it remains unlikely, although not impossible, that Acts 20:28 [HO THEOS] denotes Jesus." - p. 141, Jesus as Theos, The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, Baker Book House, Grand rapids, Michigan, 1992.
Since so many respected trinitarian scholars admit the possibility (and even the probability) of such honest alternate non-trinitarian translations for Acts 20:28, this scripture can't honestly be used as proof for a trinity concept.
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by the United Bible Societies (1971 ed.) tells why the trinitarian UBS Committee chose ὃς [‘who’ or ‘he who’] as the original reading in their NT text for this verse:
In actuality it appears to be a combination of both (with the emphasis on the latter). You see, the word ὃς was written in the most ancient manuscripts as OC (“C” being a common form for the ancient Greek letter “S” at that time). Most often at this time the word for God (θεὸς) was written in abbreviated form as ΘC. However, to show that it was an abbreviated form a straight line, or bar, was always drawn above ΘC. So no copyist should have mistaken ὃς (or OC) for ΘC, in spite of their similarities, simply because of the prominent bar which appeared over the one and not over the other.
What may have happened was discovered by John J. Wetstein in 1714. As he was carefully examining one of the oldest NT manuscripts then known (the Alexandrine Manuscript in London) he noticed at 1 Tim. 3:16 that the word originally written there was OC but that a horizontal stroke from one of the words written on the other side of the manuscript showed through very faintly in the middle of the O. This still would not qualify as an abbreviation for θεὸς, of course, but Wetstein discovered that some person at a much later date and in a different style from the original writer had deliberately added a bar above the original word! Anyone copying from this manuscript after it had been deliberately changed would be likely to incorporate the counterfeit ΘC [with bar above it] into his new copy (especially since it reflected his own trinitarian views)!
Trinitarian scholar Murray J. Harris also concludes:
And very trinitarian (Southern Baptist) NT Greek scholar A. T. Robertson wrote about this scripture:
And even hyper-trinitarian NT Greek scholar, Daniel B. Wallace uses the relative pronoun ὃς (‘who’) in this scripture and tells us:
“The textual variant θεὸς [‘god’] in the place of ὃς[‘who’ or ‘he who’] has been adamantly defended by some scholars, particularly those of the ‘majority text’ school. Not only is such a reading poorly attested , but the syntactical argument that ‘mystery’ (μυστήριον) being a neuter noun, cannot be followed by the masculine pronoun (ὃς) is entirely without weight. As attractive theologically [for trinitarians, of course] as the reading θεὸς may be, it is spurious. To reject it is not to deny the deity of Christ, of course; it is just to deny any explicit reference in this text.” [italicized emphasis is by Wallace]. - pp. 341-342, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Zondervan, 1996.
The correct rendering of 1 Tim. 3:16, then, is: “He who was revealed in the flesh ….” - NASB. Cf. ASV; RSV; NRSV; NAB; JB; NJB; NIV; NEB; REB; ESV; Douay-Rheims; TEV; CEV; BBE; NLV; God’s Word; New Century Version; Holman NT; ISV NT; Lexham English Bible; The Message; Weymouth; Moffatt; etc.
This one seems too ridiculous to even bother with, but some trinitarians appear to be serious about it. It goes this way: when we read Gen. 19:24, we find there are two different persons who have the only personal name of God, "Jehovah," (or "LORD" in some mistranslations). Therefore these two different persons with God's personal name show the "plural personality" of that one God.
Even if we assume this to be a correct translation, it seems obvious that it can be honestly interpreted as a simple repetition of the same person's name. That is, the very same person who produced the brimstone and fire, Jehovah, is also the one who rained it down upon these cities.
The explanatory note by trinitarian Dr. Young in Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, for this verse states: "JEHOVAH...JEHOVAH, i.e. from Himself."
If that is the correct explanation, then this scripture might provide a somewhat parallel example: "And King Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon." - 1 Kings 10:13, RSV. (Cf. KJV.) Even though this is a very literal translation of the original manuscripts and the one personal name of King Solomon is actually used twice, we surely don't believe there were two different persons making up the one King Solomon! Wouldn't we interpret this as Dr. Young (and others) have done with "Jehovah" above? That is obviously how the Living Bible, NIV, MLB, NASB, etc. have interpreted it. ("King Solomon gave her everything she asked him for, besides the presents he had already planned." - LB.)
Another honest explanation for Gen. 19:24 given by trinitarian scholars themselves is that the use of the phrase in question ("from the LORD out of heaven") is in doubt. The very trinitarian New American Bible, 1970 ed. (Catholic) encloses the last part of Gen. 19:24 in brackets: "the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah [from the LORD out of heaven]." And the preface to the NAB tells us: "Doubtful readings ... appear within brackets." - p. 45, St. Joseph Edition.
That is why these trinitarian Bible translations have actually omitted that doubtful portion: ASV; AT; CEB; CEV; ERV; EXB; GNT; GW; ICB; Mo; NCV; TLB; NEB; NLV; NLT; REB. (E.g. “then the LORD rained down fire and brimstone from the skies on Sodom and Gomorrah.” - New English Bible.) And others, like the NJB, have rendered it “[Jehovah] rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire of his own sending.”
Certainly no trinitarian Bible translation would do this if it could possibly be used as honest trinitarian evidence!
Here is another 'proof' which is similar:
This [outos] is the true God, and eternal life." - KJV)
At least (in a different book) Bowman gave the appearance of an honest consideration of this scripture:
1 John 5:20 ends, `...his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting' (NWT). Biblical scholars disagree as to whether `the true God' here applies to Jesus Christ, or to the Father whose `Son' Jesus Christ is. The JWs, naturally, insist that the Father is being called the true God. Grammatically this is just possible (though not the most obvious or simplest reading.) .... Both grammar and context, therefore, point most strongly to the conclusion that it is Jesus Christ who is being called `the true God and life everlasting.' - pp. 105-106, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, Baker Book House, 1991 printing.
But this "objective" examination of 1 John 5:20 by Bowman is nearly as dishonest as his first.
It is obvious that grammatically "this" (outos) could be referring to the Father or to Jesus (see footnote for 1 Jn 5:20 in the NIVSB, 1985 ed.). The fact that the true God has just been identified as the Father of Jesus (1 Jn 5:20, TEV and GNB and f.n. in NIVSB - also see John 17:1, 3) makes it highly probable that "this is the true God" refers to the Father, not Jesus. The highly trinitarian NT scholar Murray J. Harris sums up his 13-page analysis of this scripture as follows:
"Although it is certainly possible that outos refers back to Jesus Christ, several converging lines of evidence point to `the true one,' God the Father, as the probable antecedent. This position, outos = God [Father], is held by many commentators, authors of general studies, and, significantly, by those grammarians who express an opinion on the matter." - p. 253, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.
Notice how this trinitarian scholar actually admits that the probability is that the Father (not Jesus) is being called the true God here. He even tells us (and cites examples in his footnotes) that New Testament grammarians and commentators (most of them trinitarian) agree!
So how is it that Bowman tells us that it is only "just possible" that this non-trinitarian interpretation can be accepted grammatically? How can it be that, according to Bowman, "both grammar and context ... point most strongly" to a trinitarian interpretation?
"just as [kathos] Moses lifted up the [copper] serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up" - John 3:14, NRSV.
These two events are hardly exactly equal. There is a degree of similarity only. Just as there was a "lifting up" in one part of the comparison, there was also a "lifting up" (of a different kind and to a different degree) in the other part. We know Moses didn't lift up a timber as large and heavy as the one Jesus died on. We know he didn't swing it up and anchor one end in a hole in the ground until the copper serpent died a horrible death. We know that the one act was much more important than the other in all respects. It was a similar act only in a certain respect and to a certain degree.
And examine Luke 11:30,
"Just as [kathos] Jonah became a sign to the people of Ninevah, so the Son of man will be to this generation," - NRSV
This does not mean the two signs are equal either literally or figuratively. The details of the sign to the Ninevites were very different from the sign of Jesus' death and resurrection. The degree of importance of the sign of Jonah was much less than that of Jesus!
And John 17:16,
"[Jesus followers] are not of the world, just as [kathos] I am not of the world." - NKJV
It would be foolish to insist that, in every aspect of the phrase, Jesus' followers were not of the world precisely as he was not. We could, in such a case, end up `proving' that Jesus' followers had been created in heaven as spirit persons before all the rest of creation, just as he had been. (Or for trinitarians, that they had always existed as God Himself from all eternity.)
It seems evident from context alone that kathos, as used by Jesus in all the above examples at least, merely means that one event or circumstance is just as certain as the other event:
(1) "Just as certainly as Moses lifted up the copper serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up."
(2) "Just as surely as Jonah became a sign ..., so the Son of man will be to this generation."
(3) "[Jesus' followers] are not of the world, just as surely as I am not of the world."
(4) "That all may honor the Son just as surely as they also honor the Father."
There are many such examples (e.g., Jn 13:15; 17:18; 1 Jn 4:17 ["like" in NIV]). They also illustrate the fact that the honor of the Son may be of a lesser degree and/or kind than that of the Father in spite of "just as" [kathos] at John 5:23.
(There is another word that can mean "as," "just as," "equal to," etc. That is ὡς- see Thayer, # 5613, [2. c.]. At Matt. 5:48 we read: "You [true worshipers of God] must therefore be perfect, just as (ὡς) your heavenly father is perfect." - NJB. But God (and only God) is absolutely perfect. So what happens when you apply the same type of trinitarian reasoning as above to this scripture? - - The same thing happens if you insist on interpreting kathos at John 17:18 with the "exactly equal" understanding: Jesus' followers, in that case, were spirit creatures in heaven before the creation of the earth [and equally God, trinitarians would be forced to say], and Jesus sent them to earth to assume fleshly bodies and to die sacrificial deaths to ransom all of mankind! Surely such an interpretation of kathos in this scripture is unacceptable to Christians!)
Another interpretation for Jn 5:23 for those who will not acknowledge the truth of the above grammatical and contextual evidence, but insist on an "absolute equality of honor" interpretation:
Just as an official representative or ambassador sent from a king was to be treated by the king's subjects with the same honor as the king himself (when the ambassador was acting in his official capacity) in those times, so Jesus (sent by God himself) was to be given the same honor in his capacity as God's appointed judge as God himself would expect. Although the honor actually due the individual ambassador in his own right may have been very little (if any), when he was representing the king, the honor given to him was considered to be actually given through this representative to the king himself! Honoring Jesus' judgments would be honoring the one who sent him. "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." - Jn 5:23.
"This verse was referred to the Messiah by the Pharisees and by Jesus. It tells us that the relationship between God and Jesus is that of Deity and non-Deity. The Messiah is called adoni (my lord) and in every one of its 195 occurrences adoni (my lord) means a superior who is not God. Adonai on the other hand refers exclusively to the One God in all of its 449 occurrences. Adonai is the title of Deity and adoni never designates Deity." - mindspring.com .
A good example is the use of isa ("equal" at Isaiah 51:23) in the Septuagint: Here God is speaking about those oppressors who commanded Israelites to lie down flat on the ground so they could be walked upon, and the Israelites "made their bodies equal [isa] with the ground" so they could be walked upon. Obviously the Israelites did not make their bodies absolutely equal with the ground thereby making themselves literal ground also, but merely made themselves equal in the attributes (neuter) of the ground: flatness, to be walked upon, of little worth, etc..
5. This is more than just a theory. Notice how Acts 20:28 was actually rendered by an early Christian writer (ca. 250-299 A.D.):
Not only has this very early Christian writer used "Lord" here, but he has shown what the understanding of "the blood of his own" was at this time when the language of the New Testament was still used and clearly understood.
Christ came as a human." – CEV.
Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian `proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the preceding information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian "proofs," may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.