Did Jesus teach the Trinity?


#8

No, Steve, I have no thoughts about that. I can’t see judging everything we don’t understand in the New Testament to be figurative language.
A plain reading of the text indicates that it is about literal baptism.

As the wise old Mennonite once said, “If the literal sense makes sense, then it makes no sense to take it in any other sense.”

However, Steve, notice that Davo concluded with the words “Just a thought.” He is welcome to entertain that thought.


#9

Well… if one hankers after and is restricted in their mental processing in terms of the literal, then this option may suffice.

To be baptised (as a literal event) in the name of the Father / Son / Holy Spirit may have been known as individual experiences, as the fuller context of one of the verses Don quotes, e.g., Acts 8:16 suggests.

Given that Samaria had thus received Jesus as “the word of God” i.e., one representing the Father (Jn 14:9-11), being baptised into Jesus equated to being baptised into the Father, then there remained only to be baptised into the Holy Spirit.

I think it is possible to spin it in whatever direction one wants. BUT it is the nature of the literalistic mindset that ASSUMES the whole ‘Jesus only’ debate of baptism to be an issue of disobedience; or in this instance, such logic being transferred to the Trinity controversy, which IMO likewise strains the gnat somewhat.

The options are there, which is why I don’t feel the need to die for such. But when Scripture is broken down to formulas it inevitably (IMO) loses the woods for the trees and straight-jackets so much to the detriment of freedom. IOW… IF such a “t” isn’t crossed or “i” dotted, well sorry, you haven’t arrived… bah humbug!

I might add… as a non-Trinitarian, the whole thing is a bit of a non-issue. :wink:


#10

Well, I’m a non-Trinitarian also. Yet it’s a bit of an issue for me since Trinitarians use the last three verses of Matthew as a proof text. Modalists explain it as indicating that since there’s just one name mentioned, that one name is the name of the one God with reference to His three modes of existence, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I’m not a Modalist either, and I find these verses just don’t jive with the apostles’ practice of baptism in the name of Jesus only. That’s why I am inclined to think that Matthew’s original words were different from that which has come down to us, and that early Trinitarians may have tampered with the text.


#11

Luke 8:39
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.


#12

If you understand Jesus being appointed as ‘God’s Man’ or as Acts has it… “both Lord and Christ” i.e., the one through whom Yahweh’s deliverance of Israel was to be secured and thus ultimately the world, then surely it’s not hard to think of Jesus in such divine terms WITHOUT needing to attribute the theological construct of ontological sameness; which is then taken further in terms of trinitarian conclusions.

In relation to Pharaoh Moses was declared to be “God” WITHOUT any attached ontological sameness, and yet for all intents and purposes HE, Moses, WAS God to Pharaoh, i.e., ‘God’s Man’ — as was Jesus (1Tim 2:5).

It became common practice in the Greco-Roman world, especially under the Caesars, for them to claim divinity… thus any son of Caesar was “son of God”. Jesus was charged (wrongly) with claiming his own kingship/kingdom and so opposing Caesar.


#13

I might just add another aspect to this, quoting my thought above…

In relation to Pharaoh Moses was declared to be “God” WITHOUT any attached ontological sameness, and yet for all intents and purposes HE, Moses, WAS God to Pharaoh, i.e., ‘God’s Man’ — as was Jesus (1Tim 2:5). Noting Moses’ divine station, albeit appointed (like Jesus), and yet UNLIKE Jesus who didn’t see such equality as “something to be grasped” as per Phil 2:6, Moses on the other hand fell short of this mark (sinned), again, albeit in exacerbation, exclaiming “Must we…!! Num 20:10 — such intemperance cost him dearly… Num 20:12; Deut 32:48-53.

And with regards to the last sentence from my previous post above…

It became common practice in the Greco-Roman world, especially under the Caesars, for them to claim divinity… thus any son of Caesar was “son of God”. Jesus was charged (wrongly) with claiming his own kingship/kingdom and so opposing Caesar.
This the apostles, however, did NOT find it too hard a challenge to Caesar’s divine claim, and so attributing such divinity (without ontological sameness) to Christ… this verse below actually reflects a very common notion held in the day (historical context).

Now, knowing Peter’s words above, consider this below, from HERE

:sunglasses:


#14

Could Moses or Augustus Caesar have truthfully made such a statement?


#15

No. But there is another way to look at it:

"Jesus’ use of the divine title “I AM” [Gk., ego eimi] in John 8, verses 24 and 58 proves
his deity.
Response: At John 8:58 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I
am.” Trinitarians relate this statement to the account of Exodus 3:14 where “God said to
Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent
me to you.”’” Was Jesus applying the title I AM to himself? Interestingly, someone other
than Jesus uses this exact same Greek phrase only ten verses later. At John 9:9 a man
whom Jesus had healed also says “I am.”8
[ego eimi] Should we conclude that this man is
part of a triune God? Certainly not, so the simple statement I am does not prove deity.
The I AM title was not revealed to Abraham, the ancestor mentioned by Jesus, but to
Moses hundreds of years after Abraham’s death. In his statement Jesus was expressing
his pre-eminence over Abraham in the plan of God. Why, then, did the Jews want to
stone him for what he said? To the Jews this self-exaltation by someone they considered
a nobody was a blasphemous degradation of Abraham’s position as a prophet in special
covenant with God, and they wanted to stone him for it. (Compare to the situation at
Acts 6:11.)
In John 8:24 Jesus proclaimed, “If you do not believe that I am, you shall die in your
sins.” Was he now alluding to the divine title? Twelve verses earlier he said, “I am the
light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of
life.” So what Jesus meant in verse 24 was simply, ‘If you do not believe that I am [who I
claim to be, namely, the light of the world], you shall die in your sins.’ "

from christianmonotheism.com/php/medi … e&data=480


#16

DaveB, I am aware of all that. I was not suggesting that Jesus said “I am” in order to affirm that He was the great I AM.
I was merely indicating that by saying, “Before Abraham was, I am,” Jesus affirmed that He existed before Abraham. I was responding to Davo’s statement that Moses was God in relation to Pharoah, and that Augustus was God of the Roman Empire, and Davo’s suggestion that Jesus was God merely in the sense of being God’s man.

However, Jesus’ affirmation that He existed before Abraham clearly sets him apart from “Gods” such as Moses and Augustus, since they had no pre-existence.

It is my contention that Jesus is God in the sense of having been begotten by God as the first of God’s acts. Your son is man because you are man. The one and only Son of God is God because his Father is God. He is not the same divine Individual as the Father but yet is divine, just as your son is not the same human individual as you, but yet is human.


#17

THAT is simply your logic affirming what you want to believe. I think Dave’s quote is closer to the mark, i.e., “In his statement Jesus was expressing his pre-eminence over Abraham in the plan of God.

And I’m only relating WHAT the Greek text ACTUALLY states… and thus accept it plainly as such.

Being ‘God’s man’ was a great deal more than just “merely” — this “second man from heaven” that is, another way of saying from God, being fully obedient, was thereby appointed Lord of all (Act 2:36)… Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon never were.

Again, Peter’s words as recorded in Acts 4:12 were far more political than is often appreciated (Acts 17:7) and were a direct challenge to the errant claim of the Caesars.


#18

Clearly it was the Pharisees’ “logic” too.

John 8:
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


#19

If the cap fits :mrgreen: :laughing:


#20

I think they wanted to stone him because he was claiming pre-eminence over Abe, not pre-existence.


#21

Dave let’s see if “pre-eminence over Abe” fits:

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

As soon as Jesus said that Abraham saw his day, their first thought was that Jesus was claiming to have seen Abraham, and how could He since He wasn’t even 50 years old? So in response to their question as to whether He had seen Abraham, Jesus said, "“Truly, truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” Isn’t that tantamount to saying that since He existed before Abraham, then of course, He had seen Abraham?

If Jesus had meant that He had pre-eminence over Abraham, in what way would that be a response to the Pharisees’ question?


#22

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

  1. Jesus did NOT say that He had seen Abraham. Nor did Abe see HIm - Abe did prophetically see His ‘day’; no doubt it was the Messiah whose day he saw.
  2. I think the Jews intentionally perverted what Jesus had stated. Maybe they were hoping for a 'Yes" answer, which would have given them a good excuse for stoning?
  3. Jesus did not answer Yes. He did not answer their fabricated question. He did, imo, state that as Messiah, He had been in the Father’s plans from the very beginning. Something like: "“Before Abraham was, I was already, in God’s plan, the Messiah.”

If He was speaking of his pre-existence, he could have said Yes. If he had spoken of his pre-existence, one would think that one or more of the other Gospels might have mentioned that, oh by the way, Jesus is very God of very God, or something to that effect? It would seem to be an important point.


#23

Forgive the length of this, but here is a (fairly short) essay by Larry Furtado:

Questioning a Common Assumption
May 13, 2014
First, a quote: “The Church cannot indefinitely continue to believe about Jesus what he did not know to be true about himself,” J. W. Bowman, The Intention of Jesus (London: SCM, 1945), p. 108.

This is not really a historical claim but a theological one, and it reflects a common assumption: The assumption that the theological/religious validity of claims about Jesus rest upon what Jesus believed and taught about himself. In my book, Lord Jesus Christ (pp. 5-9), I’ve noted the irony of how this assumption has been shared by critics and advocates of Christian faith, and also how it has worked mischief in the historical investigation of Christian origins.

Operating on this assumption, apologists of traditional christological claims have striven to argue that Jesus really did teach them, e.g., that he is divine and worthy of worship. Typically, this has meant trying to show, for example, that the distinctive discourse that we find in the Gospel of John really is the best index of Jesus’ own self-perception and teaching about himself (thereby distorting this remarkable text and making it serve a purpose for which it was never intended).

Also, and ironically, operating on the same theological assumption, critics of traditional Christian faith have often argued that Jesus didn’t actually make direct claims for divinity and make himself worthy of worship. Instead, they have emphasized (with greater plausibility), it appears that these “high” claims about Jesus emerged only after Jesus’ execution (in what is sometimes called the “post-Easter” period). It is this sort of argument that is the burden of Bart Ehrman’s most recent book: How Jesus Became God (HarperOne, 2014). (Yeah, I know. Bart repeatedly claims that he’s not trying to “dis” Christian faith, and he generally maintains a respectful tone, but at times he slips and his disinterested claims seem a bit coy.)

So, how is it that this assumption came to be held as self-evident truth, shared both by apologists and critics of Christian faith? Well, it seems to derive from a very clever and historically successful move made in the 18th century by people now referred to as “Deists”. As Jonathan Z. Smith showed in his little tome, Drudgery Divine (1990), the Deists set out to drive a wedge between the “historical” Jesus and the NT (and traditional Christian faith). Taking a cue from the Protestant argument that church teaching had to be based in the NT, Deists argued in turn that NT christological claims had to be based in Jesus’ own teaching. They then further argued that a critical approach toward the “historical” Jesus did not provide a sufficient basis for traditional christological beliefs.

Now the interesting bit is that this (originally Deist) argument was wildly successful, at least in setting the terms of the ensuing theological and scholarly debate. That is, even those (e.g., advocates of traditional Christian faith) who opposed the Deists’ conclusions accepted their terms for the debate that followed (right down to our day): Jesus’ own teaching about himself was the criterion of legitimacy for any claims about him.

So, what you have is a fundamentally theological issue becoming the shared assumption for a great deal of subsequent historical investigation. And the result, as I’ve said, was a great deal of mischief: Christian apologists producing contorted historical arguments trying to pump up maximally what might be attributed to Jesus, and critics of traditional Christian faith (e.g., the Deists, the old religionsgeschichtliche Schule scholars and their intellectual descendants) contending that these claims were invalidated by the evident historical events/process through which they had emerged.

But I’d like to make two observations. First, the earliest extant Christian texts themselves make it perfectly clear that the “high” notions about Jesus sharing in divine glory, exalted to heavenly status, worthy of worship, etc., all erupted after Jesus’ ministry, not during it, and that the crucial impetus for these notions was what earliest believers saw as God’s actions, particularly their belief that God had raised Jesus from death to heavenly glory. (See, e.g., Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 2:36).

To be sure, Jesus generated a devoted following during his ministry, and (as I have argued in Lord Jesus Christ, 53-64) also generated a strong polarization of opinion about himself, which led to him being crucified. Indeed, as numerous scholars judge, Jesus (whether intentionally or not) likely generated the claim that he was (or was to be) Messiah, which seems to have been the cause of him being executed. But Messiah isn’t necessarily a “divine” figure in any real sense of that term, and certainly not typically a figure who receives the sort of devotion that was given to the “risen/exalted” Jesus in earliest Christian circles. (See my discussion of the question of how Jesus was reverenced during his ministry in my book, How on Earth did Jesus Become a God? esp. pp. 134-51).

To underscore the point, the remarkable escalation in the status/significance of Jesus to the “right hand” of God, to sharing the divine name and glory, and to the central and programmatic place he held in earliest Christian devotional practice all rested on the fundamental conviction that God has exalted him and now required that Jesus’ exalted status be recognized, and that he should be reverenced accordingly.

My second observation is this: Why should this be taken as some kind of threat to the theological legitimacy of traditional Christian faith? Why should the clever Deist tactic of the 18th century continue to be treated as a self-evident truth and the basis for apologists and critics of Christian faith in their continuing wrangles and debates? The fundamental theological basis given in the NT for treating Jesus in the “high” terms advocated is a theo-centric one: God’s actions form the basis of the responding christological claims and devotional practices. Considering this might be a really helpful move for all sides in any theological debate.

And setting aside the assumption that the validity of Christian faith can be weighed on the basis of the historical process by which it emerged could also make for better (or at least less antagonistic) historical work on Christian origins too.


#24

Dave, what do you make of this account in John 20 (ESV):

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Was Thomas addressing the risen Jesus as “My Lord and my God”? Or was He just expressing surprise to find that Jesus was actually alive again, as some people express surprise by exclaiming, “My God!” But if the latter, why did he include “My Lord” as part of the expression? By exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” he seems to have regarded “My Lord” and “My God” as the same person.


#25

Unless Thomas was actually making a Trinitarian claim, then there are 2 alternatives, I think.

  1. Thomas really thought that Jesus was in fact God the Father.
    or
  2. Thomas recognized Jesus as the Father’s true expression of what He Himself is like.

I opt for number 2.


#26

Yep likewise. I suspect this would be one reason Jesus could say with all confidence… “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” i.e., Jesus was without doubt “the express image of His person…” etc.


#27

I accept number 2 as well. Nonetheless, Thomas was calling Jesus both “Lord” and “God.”
That Jesus was the unique Son of God (there was no other) and the exact expression of the Father’s essence, implies that He was and is divine, and therefore qualifies Him to be called “God” without claiming Him to be the Father Himself.

Jesus often said that He was the son of man. The son of man is man. Jesus was a man. Although He didn’t go around saying that He was the Son of God, when asked the question, He didn’t deny it. Just as a son of man is man, so the Son of God is God.