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Monday, October 19, 2009

1 Cor. 8:6: `Unitized Title' Vs. `Title with Identifiers'

 1 Cor. 8:6:  ‘Unitized Title’ Vs.  ‘Title with Identifiers’

8:6 - “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from [ex, ‘out of’] whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through [di/dia]whom all things came and through [di/dia] whom we live.” - NIV.



One type of the typical trinitarian “title confusion” trick involves the interpretation of a single title with its appositive (or identifiers) as being, instead, a single compound (or multi-worded ‘unitized’) title.
For example, if a gangster named Percival Grabonski had the nickname of “Mailman Mike,” we would consider that as an exclusive single unitized title of two words.  We might even say, “There is only one 'Mailman Mike'; he’s unique.”  The whole thing (both words: “Mailman” and “Mike”) taken together as a multi-worded, but ‘unitized,’ whole, then, is the complete title.
However, if we knew a young man named Mike who delivered our mail every morning, we might tell someone, “This town has only one mailman, Mike.”


In this case the title is “mailman” alone, and “Mike” is an appositive or identifier added to that single title to further identify which “mailman.” 


Since it is not an exact exclusive title, it could even be phrased differently:  “Mike is our only mailman;” “only one letter carrier, Mike;” “only one mail deliverer, Mike;” etc.  When the writer (or speaker) intends it in this ‘title with appositive’ manner, the phrase may be understood as actually saying: “only one mailman, [and that is] Mike.”


On the other hand, the gangster’s unitized title will not be phrased differently.  He wouldn’t be called “Mailman Mike” one time and “Mike the Letter Carrier” or “Mike the Postal Person” the next time.  His exclusive, distinguishing unitized title is “Mailman Mike” and that won’t change (even though he may pick up additional, different titles, e.g. “Percy the Purse-snatcher”).


In one case, then (e.g., “mailman, Mike”), we have a single-word title (e.g., “mailman”) followed by a word or words (sometimes even set off by commas in English) which identify that individual.  In the other case (e.g., “Mailman Mike”) we have a full title composed of two or more words which must be taken together as a complete unit (“unitized”).  Don't forget that in the original manuscripts there was no punctuation or Capitalization. These have been added by modern translators as they see fit.

An example of a single title followed by identifiers (appositives) is found at Matt. 23:10, “you have one master, the Christ.” - RSV.   It is clear that Jesus is not calling someone “Master-The-Christ” as a unitized title, but, instead, is calling that person by the single-word title “master” (or “teacher” or “leader” in some translations) and further identifying that person as “the Christ”!   In other words the phrase may be understood as actually saying: “one master, and that is the Christ.”


Other trinitarian translations make it very clear what the literal “One is your leader, the Christ” (The Interlinear Bible) at Matt. 23:10 actually means:


          “for one is your Leader, that is, Christ.” - NASB.

          “for you have only one Leader, and that is Christ.” - CBW.

          “you have only one Teacher, and that is Christ.” - Beck.

          “your one and only leader is the Messiah.” - GNB and TEV.

          “There is only one Leader and He is Christ.” - NLV.


Another significant example (although not a single-word title in this case, the principle is the same) may be seen at Eph. 1:17, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom” - RSV. 


Not only does this scripture show that the Father is ”the God of” the heavenly glorified Jesus, but it clearly illustrates the usage by Paul of a title (“the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”) followed by an identifier (“the Father of Glory”).

For another example of the single-word title followed by identifiers as might be found in the Bible let’s examine the uses of “King/king.”  Since no capitalization was used by the inspired Bible writers, today’s translators capitalize for their English-speaking readers in the way they think best to bring out the meaning they think was originally intended.  So the word “king” in the original language may be translated as either “King” or “king” at the translator’s discretion.
David is king:

“...and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.” - 2 Sam. 2:4, KJV.
Christ is king:

“For Christ will be King until he has defeated all his enemies .... For the rule and authority over all things has been given to Christ by his Father; except, of course, Christ does not rule over the Father himself, who gave him this power to rule.” - 1 Cor. 15:25,27, Living Bible.

Jehovah God is King:

“But the Lord [Jehovah] your God was already your King, for he has always been your King.” - 1 Sam. 12:12, Living Bible.

“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb [Jesus], saying ‘Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God [Jehovah] the Almighty.  Just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages...’” - Rev. 15:3, RSV.

So, although there are many kings, to Christians there is only one ultimate, most high, supreme King, God himself, Jehovah, the Father.  Of course there is also only one king directly and immediately over all Christians (with no intermediary): Jesus.  And there have been various kings on earth over God’s people in the past.

Therefore, since there are many who may be called “king” at various levels, if we wanted to refer to one of them, we should most often use an identifier (appositive) with the word “king.”  For example:

(1) “We Israelites have only one king, David.”
The writer would clearly be understood as using the title “king” and further identifying that individual with an appositive.  We know it cannot be a single unitized title (“King David”) because the context would make it a ridiculous, senseless statement.  Obviously the Israelites at that time had only one “King David”!  It would be ridiculous to think that anyone might have believed that they had several “King Davids”!  The only other possible interpretation here is that “king” is the title alone which is followed by an identifier (appositive) and, therefore, must mean “we have only one [earthly] king, (and that is) David.”


 (2) “We Christian ‘Israelites’ have only one king, Christ.”
The reader would know by this identifier (“Christ”) that the “Israelite” writer was referring to the direct and immediate king over all Christians on earth.  And, obviously, it should not be considered as a single unitized two-word title (“King Christ”) since the context would make that ludicrous: Of course there is only one “King Christ” - no one has ever suggested that there are two (or more) “King Christs” (or a multiple-person “King Christ”)!  Again the meaning has to be: “Christians have only one immediate, heavenly king, (and that is) Christ.”

(3) “We Israelites have only one King, the Father.”
The reader would know by this identifier (“the Father”) that the Israelite writer was referring to their heavenly ultimate, Most High King.  Again, no one would have considered it as a unitized three-word title (‘King the Father’): Everyone knew that “the Father” was a single Person - no one even considered two or more “King the Fathers”!  It obviously would, again, be a single title (“King”) followed by an identifier (appositive): “we have only one Most High King, (and that is) the Father.”
And so it is with “God;” “Father;” and “God, the Father.”  If the trinity were really true, we should see hundreds of examples of “God” with its identifiers for each of the members of the “Godhead”!    

Since there are hundreds of uses of “God the Father” (“God our Father,” etc.), there should be hundreds of uses of “God the Son” and “God the Holy Spirit” (if the trinity were actually true).  And “God” used alone, without identifiers, if ever used at all, must always mean all three together (not merely any one or two of them).

But this is not so.  There are hundreds of uses of “God, the Father” because the only person who is God is the Father (John 17:1, 3).  There are no uses of “God, the Son” in the entire Bible because the Father is the only person who is God!  There are no uses of “God, the Holy Spirit” in the entire Bible because the Father is the only person who is God!

Some of the hundreds of uses of “God, the Father” and its equivalents:

Jn 8:41, 42; Ro. 1:7; 15:6; 1 Cor. 1:3; 15:24; 2 Cor. 1:2, 3; 11:31; Gal. 1:3, 4; Eph. 1:2, 3; 4:6; 5:20; 6:23; Phil. 1:2; 2:11; 4:20; Col. 1:2, 3; 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:1, 3; 3:11, 13; 2 Thess. 1:1,2; 2:16; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Phm :3; 1 Pet. 1:2, 3; 2 Pet. 1:17; 2 Jn :3; Jude :1; Rev. 1:6 (RSV). 
Notice how many of these are greetings or blessings wherein the writer wishes to praise those most worthy of praise in his religion.  How is it, then, that the Father is so often glorified as God, but we never see this honor clearly stated for the Son or the Holy Spirit?  Does this really make sense if all three are truly and equally God as trinitarians insist?

Okay, finally, here is the point:


1 Cor. 8:5 tells us that indeed there are many gods and many lords (NASB).

However, in verse 6 it tells us there is only one Most High God.  “...yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from [ex, literally ‘out of’] whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through [dia] whom all things came and through whom we live.” - 1 Cor. 8:6, NIV - Cf. RSV and NASB.

There is no doubt (and never has been), even by trinitarians, that “God the Father” is only one single person.  So if we interpret “God the Father” as a unitized title (as some trinitarians feel they must at 1 Cor. 8:6), we end up in 1 Cor. 8:6 with an absurd, meaningless truism (like, “Elizabeth, John’s mother, was female” or “he died when he ceased to live”).
Of course there is only one “God-the-Father”!  Who could have possibly thought there were two “God-the-Father”s?  What a senseless, useless statement this is if we interpret 'God, the Father' as a ‘unitized title’ here!

And exactly in the same way, if we take the last part of this scripture (“Lord-Jesus-Christ”) as a single unitized title, we again have an absurd, senseless statement: “there is but one Lord-Jesus-Christ.”  Since there couldn’t possibly be any doubt by anyone that this single person with the singular personal name (whom everyone knew was a single person) was anything but one person, it would have been ridiculous for Paul to make such a statement.  (Unless, perhaps, there had been some significant conclusion such as: “in like manner there is only one baptism and one faith”.)


However, if we interpret it in the way that Paul obviously intended it, the two parallel descriptions are single-worded titles (“God” and “Lord”) followed by identifying appositives (“the Father” and “Jesus Christ”).  In this way, and only in this way, do we have a sensible and significant statement:  “Although there are many gods, we Christians have only one God, (who is) the Father, and, in like manner, although there are many lords, we have only one Lord, (who is) Jesus Christ.” 

One’s “lord” is his master or head - see 1 Cor. 11:3.  Sarah’s immediate lord or head, for example, was her husband Abraham, but her God was the Father, Jehovah, who, of course, could also be called her “lord” in the ultimate sense. (Jesus called our one Lord, may refer to his being the one King (kings were addressed as “Lord”) directly over all Christians, or it could refer to his being master (addressed as “Lord”) over his slaves, Christians, who he alone bought with his own blood).

Not only would the trinitarian (unitized title) interpretation be a nonsensical statement, but it would be slighting to Jesus (if he were equally God) and terribly slighting to the Holy Spirit (if “he” were equally God).  After all, the term “God” is only used here for the Father.  The other two (who trinitarians say are “equally God”) are either given a lesser title (“Lord”) or are not even mentioned at all!

And only the understanding that the phrase “one God, the Father” is speaking of a single title  (“God”) followed by an identifying appositive (“Father”) makes sense with the introduction to it presented in 1 Cor. 8:5:  “There are many gods.”  To follow this with “yet there is to us only one God-the-Father” (unitized) would not be a contrast to that initial statement at all!  It certainly would not preclude other gods “to us”! 


But “only one God, (and that is) the Father” does provide the required contrast to the introductory “there are many gods... but to us....”

It is obvious, then, that the intended meaning by Paul must be that the only god (in the Most High sense: ‘God’ in modern English) for Christians (as for Jews) is the Father alone!  This is clearly brought out in the very trinitarian Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version, World Bible Translation Center, 1992:  “But for us there is only one God.  He is our Father.” And the equally trinitarian Holy Bible New Life Version [NLV], Victor Books, 1993, renders it, “But we know there is only one God. He is the Father.”


If we also analyze Eph. 4:4-6 with a critical eye, we find God (as usual) is the Father only (in spite of the fact that Paul is listing nearly everything that a Christian is to hold dear):  “There is one body [the ‘Church’] and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord [Jesus], one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.” - RSV.  If Paul is going to list all the most important stuff, where are “God, the Holy Spirit” and “God, the Son”?  Or just “God” which we could at least “interpret” as all of them?

Why always “God, the Father” or one person who is “God and Father”?  BECAUSE GOD IS  THE FATHER ALONE!!   In fact, as noted above, the trinitarian NLV actually translates Eph. 4:6: “There is one God.  He is the Father of us all.”

“In the latest edition (BDAG) [‘a major standard for research on the Greek of the New Testament’], section 6 under πατήρ, which discusses God as Father, gives the following definition: ‘the supreme deity, who is responsible for the origin and care of all that exists…’ [underlining added, boldface is in BDAG] -



Matt13weedhacker said...

The Greek is actually more explicit than the English:

Greek NT: Westcott/Hort:

ἀλλ’ ἡμῖν εἷς Θεὸς ὁ Πατήρ, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς Κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι’ αὐτοῦ.


"[ἀλλ’ =] (But) in contrast (of) us (ONE) God the Father, [ἐξ or "ex" =] out of [οὗ =] (of) whom the all and we (into) him, and (ONE) Lord Jesus Christ, [δι’ =] through [οὗ =] (of) whom the all and we [δι’ =] through (of) him."

The combination of (ἐξ οὗ) denotes "out of whom as a source" it is a stronger and more explicit way of denoting an ULTIMATE SOURCE than just (ἐξ) "out of".

The preposition "through" (δι’) is a preposition denoting an INTERMEDIATE AGENT according to most Greek Grammarians.

So it could be translated:

"But in contrast, for us [there is] ONE GOD THE FATHER out of whom as a source all things [are], and we for him, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom as an intermediate agent all things [are], and we through him."

Kenith Weust in his Expanded NT and several others bring this out their translations.

Elijah Daniels said...

Good point Matt.

This post is an excerpt from a larger study (TC - Title Confusion Trick). Footnote #3 in that study agrees with your conclusion concerning ek/ex.

Matt13weedhacker said...

(1stCor 8:6; Weusts Word Studies) “...yet to us there is one God, the Father, out from whom as a source are all things and we for Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whose intermediate agency all things exist and we through Him.”

(1stCor 8:6 WEYMOUTH) "yet *we* have but one God, the Father, who is the source of all things and for whose service we exist, and but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we and all things exist."

(1stCor 8:6 Williams) "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, who is the source of all things and the goal of our living, and but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom everything was made and through whom we live."

aservantofJEHOVAH said...

I find it interesting that not only is the son and the spirit never once referred to as God the Son or God the spirit.While the Father(obviously the one true God)is repeatedly referred to as God the father1Corinthians8:6,but they are repeatedly referred to as the Son of God Matthew16:16(i.e the Son belonging to God) and the Spirit of God Matthew3:16(i.e the spirit belonging to God).If these expressions can be understood as meaning 'God the Son' and 'God the Spirit' respectively? Then the expression 'God the Father' should also be renderred as 'the father of God' throughout the scriptures,but of course we look in vain for this expression anywhere in the scriptures.

Timitrius said...

One of the main Trinitarian interpretations of 1 Corinthiand 8:6 is that it is a reappropriation of Deuteronomy 6:4, in which case Paul would be meaning YHWH by "Lord", so he is saying that the Father is God, and that Christ is YHWH, so they are both God. How would you respond to this?

tigger2 said...

Jehovah (YHWH) is the Father and God alone.

Here are some of the scriptures which show the relationship of Jehovah to the Messiah: Psalm 110:1 (compare Acts 2:33-36 and Eph. 1:17, 20); Micah 5:4; Psalm 2:1, 2 (compare Acts 4:25-27); Psalm 2:7 (compare Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5); Is. 53:10 (all Christian organizations recognize that all of Is. 53 refers to the Messiah). These all clearly show that Jesus is not Jehovah.

YHWH is never called Son/Firstborn, etc. He is the Father alone! (Is. 63:16; Is. 64:8, ASV; Deut. 32:6, ASV; Ps. 89:26, 27 [cf. Heb. 1:5 and Ps. 2:7, ASV].)

Unknown said...

How do we explain romans 11 then where God and Lord are used interchangeably and spoken of as all things from and through God?