Part 2 - The Bible Does NOT say that Jesus is Almighty God in the flesh
This is a continuation of the debate Gordontrek and I had some months ago. Therefore, the winner of this debate must be judged with our previous debate taken into account. That debate can be found here:
The second part will consist of three rounds under the same guidelines. Because Gordontrek had to leave and was unable to finish out the first part, and because I finished out that last round, I gladly allow him to continue his argument in this first round as a reaction to my previous posts, with me responding to him in the second round.
To clarify our stances, I believe that the Bible does not make the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is Almighty God in the flesh (although it does say that he is a god); Gordontrek, on the other hand, believes that the Bible does say that Jesus is Almighty God, and further, that he is part of a holy trinity.
Debates are fun and can sometimes get a little heated, but they are excellent tools that allow us to consider two sides of an equation. I hope that our efforts here help along anyone interested in this particular topic.
I thank mstrainjr for agreeing to continue this debate.
In the previous debate, I was forced to forfeit rounds 4 and 5 because my schedule did not allow me sufficient time to form an argument. In this round I will address my opponent’s round 4 arguments. In the course of preparing this argument I quickly came close to running out of character space, so I will find a way to address Pro’s arguments about the book of John in another round.
In round 4, Pro claims he should not have brought up the Holy Spirit because the debate is about Jesus and not the Holy Spirit. I would agree, but however, I would still like to defend what I said in the previous rounds of the debate with a short case. Pro claims that to say that there is only one Holy Spirit being referred to in Luke 1 is wrong and twists what the Bible really says. Consider Romans 8:26-27: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
AKOLUTHEI- Given Pro’s apparent frustration with me, I will try not to spend a lot of time on this topic. He said he broke down the word; however, I provided the definition of the word (which came from the Thayer’s Lexicon, not simply from an online definition) which does indeed allow for Jesus to hold a superiority of sorts. Even the definition found in Strong’s, which is where I believe Pro found his material when breaking down the word, allows for the disciples to follow Jesus. But how can we be sure that the usage of the word indicates that the disciples were following Jesus and not merely accompanying? Simple, we define “disciple” as used in New Testament Greek. Consider Matthew 8:23. It reads: “When he got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.” The Greek word for disciple is “mathētai” which, according to Thayer’s, is simply defined as “a learner, pupil, disciple.” This indicates that the proper usage of “akoloutheo” in this context is that the disciples were learning from a Teacher, in this case Jesus. With this said, I stand by my original argument that Jesus indeed held superiority to the disciples.
Pro says that I am blurring the “why do you call me good” verse to fit my own beliefs. My argument, basically, was that there were many false prophets in Christ’s time, and to come out and immediately claim to be God would have destroyed his credibility. However, I hold that I was not blurring the verse and gave its true meaning based on the context of what the Bible says. There is a passage that I should have cited a long time ago, but I will do so now. Philippians 2:5-8:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (NASB)
This supports my argument that Jesus was careful not to immediately come out and claim He was God in the flesh. Instead, He took the form of a humble servant, both of men and of God. Therefore, I can safely say that my argument is supported Biblically and is not simply my reasoned opinion. This verse is strong proof outside of John that Jesus is indeed equal to God.
As to your argument concerning that verse (6), I call that nonsense. The original Greek text refers to Jesus in the form of God in exactly the format it refers to God himself in other passages. One could look at a passage such as Luke 9:27, which reads: “…there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” In the original Greek, “of God” comes from the genitive masculine singular form of the noun, just like in Philippians 2:6. If we are to use pro’s logic, then, we must assume that in Luke 9:27, Jesus was saying that nobody will taste death until they see the kingdom of a god, which is wrong. As to verse 7, consider that any Greek dictionary will give THEOS two definitions: a god or the God. Therefore, saying that this passage says Jesus is the God is not mistranslating. Is DOULOU, the Greek word for slave, ever defined as “the slave?” It is not; therefore, the only proper translation is that Jesus took the form of a slave.
Regarding Pro’s argument concerning 1 Corinthians 15:42-49, he says that Jesus and Adam are placed on the same level since they are both referred to as humans. However, Pro unknowingly admits in his own argument that both are not essentially equal in that one leads to dust (Adam) and the other leads to becoming of heaven, or in this case, the sky. You could say that Adam and Jesus are equal ONLY in that they were both humans, at least at one time. But it is clear that Jesus, after resurrection, BECAME greater than the flesh. Remember, he inherited a name superior to the angels. Did Adam ever inherit such a title?
As to your argument on 1 Timothy 2:5, this can be explained by Scripture. Hebrews 2:11: “For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,”
I have quickly run out of character space, so I was not able to address all of Pro’s round 4 arguments, but thankfully I was able to get most of them. Pro also asked me to read and explain the language used in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. Unfortunately, my explanation will not fit in the remaining space I have, so with Pro’s approval I might post an explanation in the comments section.
I eagerly await my opponent’s response.
All verses come from the New American Standard version. Greek definitions come from either Strong’s or Thayer’s (not
I don't mind at all if con wishes to post extra material in the comments section, as I understand how limited we are in our debates here. I may end up doing the same.
We are off topic talking about anything other than the nature of Jesus's divinity; however, I've been accused of twisting the Bible, so I feel need to respond.
I have previously stated that the Bible refers to angels as being holy, and since they are spirits, it is logical to say that they are holy spirits. In fact, the Bible says that God is a spirit (John 4:24), and we know that He is holy, so God Himself can technically be called a Holy Spirit (or even the Holy Spirit, for that matter). I acknowledge that there IS such a thing as "the Holy Spirit", since Jesus called it "the Advocate" (PARAKLEyTOS) and "the Spirit of Truth" (Jn. 14:16-17). I don't pretend to know the nature of God, so really, talking about who the Holy Spirit is can only be at best in the realm of theory.
I'm glad con brought up Hebrews 1:1-14. Here's something: Read vs 6, and then read the verse it's quoting in the Old Testament--any good Bible with verse references will tell you it's Deut 32:43 and/or Ps 97:7. Interesting difference, huh? Do the same thing with verse 7 (Ps 104:4).
Unfortunately, many of Paul's teachings (and the doctrines from them) are based on twisted portions of OT Scripture. It's not his fault; it's because he and many other Jews of the day were using the Greek Septuagint (LXX) to draw their conclusions. The LXX is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek completed around 200 B.C. It was made for the Greek-speaking world, which included peoples of Judah. But the problem is that while some passages were translated strictly, others were paraphrased a great deal. That is why if you were to look up the verses Paul or other NT writers are quoting from the OT, you'll sometimes see huge differences, especially if you compare the Hebrew and Greek behind the translations. Matthew had a severe problem with this as well when making all of those quotes from Scripture (and some are WAY out of context, while one or two don't even exist).
Con makes the mistake of confusing years of study into the Koine Greek language with looking at a basic definition in a book. But to keep it simple, let's use a book. In the case of akeleuqew, if you look in your Strong's Concordance, you will see that the definition reads:
from 1 [a] (as a particle of union) and keleuqoV keleuthos (a road)
prop. to be in the same way with, i.e. to accompany (spec. as a disciple)
So as you can plainly see, it means to accompany, not follow. KeleuqoV is a noun; the verb form being keleuqew, which has no true English equivalent but somewhat means to go along a road. The Greek particle a is added as a prefix to denote union, as in going along a road with someone. It's translated as "follow" and even "reach" in the KJV, but that doesn't mean those translations are right. Jesus tells his disciples to walk with him, not follow behind him. I originally made this point to say that Jesus wants us to be like him, which would be impossible for us if he were God. Let me explain.
Pro has said in the comments, and in his arguments, that I do not have a sufficient amount of study into Greek. This is true, and so I have found this debate challenging, yet at the same time, educational, since I have been able to experience the fascinating study of New Testament Greek. I apologize if I have annoyed Pro with my arguments, but given my inexperience with Greek I am just doing the best I can. I might also point out that in the first debate, Pro laid out the rules, and an in-depth understanding of Greek was not among them.
Regarding the Holy Spirit, I agree with Pro that discussing it is off topic. With that said, I will not give any new arguments, especially since, if I read Pro’s post correctly, he did not give any new arguments, at least none that contend with.
Pro says that in Hebrews 1 and throughout the Pauline epistles, there are major differences between quotes from the Old Testament and the actual readings from the OT. He also says this:
“Unfortunately, many of Paul's teachings (and the doctrines from them) are based on twisted portions of OT Scripture.”
He then goes on to talk about Paul’s use of the Septuagint, which he claims paraphrased Old Testament verses in translation.
As for AKOLUTHEO, I cannot stay on this topic for long because, like Pro pointed out, I don’t know enough about Biblical Greek to form a “sufficient” argument, if you know what I mean. I am not saying that I don’t believe such an argument exists, I’m saying that I don’t know enough about Greek to make one. Therefore, I shall simply address one or two things about my previous arguments regarding what Pro said in this round.
In the course of reading Pro’s paragraph about God’s nature, many things obviously caught my attention. I feel that the best way to address Pro’s points is to go through them and discuss them.
This is true. As you may have seen from my profile, I am a member of the Church of Christ, and those claims from pastors are not what we believe.
“Jesus made the difference there. It's easier to be like him because he was a human who was perfectly capable of sinning but chose not to.”
I mostly agree with this. Let me explain. Because Jesus took the form of a human, He was indeed more relatable than the God of the Old Testament, who spoke from the skies and was never seen by human eyes (with the exception of Moses, who saw his back). However, I question whether he was “perfectly capable of sinning.” As a human being, He definitely had the capacity to sin, but with his Godly nature, He had no motivation to.
“My theory is that God, being so perfect and holy, doesn't truly know what it is to face temptation and sin. He doesn't know how to fail as we do.”
Yet God knows our hearts (Ps 44:21, Acts 15:8). God knows the power of temptation and indeed realizes its effect on weak creatures such as ourselves. Satan obviously knows how powerful temptation is, so would it not make sense to say that God does as well? Going on, Pro makes the claim that if Jesus is God, it would ruin the point of intercession. Again, I can explain this with scripture, and in fact, the same that I used in the previous round.
As for no tou article in Philippians 2:6, try looking at Matthew 14:33. “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” There is no article before God there either. So Jesus is the son of a god? Matthew 4:4, where Jesus says that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. No article. I don’t see how no tou article necessarily means that the god being referred to is simply a god. Going further, look at Colossians 1:15, where it says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. In this verse, the article is actually present. I’ll leave it at that.
I never said the Hebrews 2:9 says Jesus is equal to God. I meant that Jesus was temporarily reduced to a status lower than the angels, that is, human form. I used this to explain why there is an apparent separation between Jesus and God. Pro states that in the language used in the Bible, nowhere does it say that Jesus lowered or raised himself, that someone else did it. I do not see how this detracts from Jesus being God. If Jesus became a human, then it would make sense for God to both lower His status temporarily and then raise Him from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15- Pro seems to be arguing against my use of language more than he is my actual argument. Perhaps I should have rephrased- was Adam ever given the title of intercessor? Pro agrees that Jesus is better than Adam. That is all I am trying to prove- that Jesus was superior, and that they were only equal in that they were both in human form at one time.
I have little space remaining so I will have to quickly address 1 Timothy 2:5. Pro seems to be disputing my claim that Jesus became a part of God’s creation by citing Colossians 1:15, which, if I understand Pro correctly, is supposed to mean that Jesus was a part of creation already. Pro seems to agree, however, that Jesus was there at creation. So how could Jesushave been a part of creation then? Verse 16 says that by Him all things weremade. Jesus, then, was undoubtedly pre-creation.
When the writer of 1 Tim 3:16 says that all Scripture is inspired by God, what Scripture is he talking about? His own words? Did Paul write his personal letters to the churches with an idea that he was God's voice to the people?
The Scripture he is talking about is the Tanakh, what Christians call the "Old Testament". None of the writers of the NT wrote with the idea that their words would be considered the words of God.
The Bible was written by men. Imperfect humans. The NT is littered with errors, though the scribes of later Greek manuscripts tried correcting these errors. For example, compare Mark 1:2 in the KJV (based on later MSS) and in a version such as the NRSV (based on the earliest MSS). he KJV reads "in the prophets" while the NRSV reads "in the prophet Isaiah"). This is because Mark made the mistake of attributing both of the following two verses to Isaiah, but actually some of it is from Mal 3:1 and/or Exod 23:20. So some scribe along the line of manuscript copyists thought to "correct" Mark's mistake, therefore changing the Bible. There are hundreds of such changes that had been made over time, and strangely, some are in areas concerning Jesus's divinity.
So to say that Mark made a mistake is to throw into question the idea that the Bible is inerrant, because it does indeed have many errors.
What about the "Old Testament"? Paul says that all Scripture in inspired by God. But does he mean to say that everything in the Old Testament was written by God through his people? If that were the case, there would be no errors. In fact, there are plenty to be found. All one has to do is compare the books of Kings with the books of Chronicles:
So with all of those issues, it's hard to call the Bible inerrant. Yes, the writers had a godly inspiration in making their writings, but God did not guide their words; if he did, there would be no errors.
Paul was a Jew raised up as a Pharisee. He defended his Scripture as many Christians defend the Bible today. It was known in his day that there were errors, which is why he instructed to avoid disputes about such things (1Tim 1:3-7; Tit 3:8-10). He instructed to let faith surpass the issues found in Scripture.
Con makes the old argument about whether God would see to it that His word was preserved. This works under the doctrinal assumption that God used men to write His words. Again I will say that if that was the case, there would be no errors.
Concerning the LXX, any good Bible with footnotes would point out at least some of the places in the OT where the LXX differs with the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT). Now, I had said in the last round that the LXX was a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, but I want to point out that the MT came later. Therefore, it is debated which is the truer version of the Old Testament, and there seems to be no good answer since we have no Hebrew manuscripts from before the LXX. To say that the LXX paraphrases the OT would be to assume that the MT is the truer version. Some claim that the Jews actually changed their own Hebrew Bible to ruin certain prophesies, especially those concerning the Messiah. I find that unlikely, however, since Jews have always been HUGE on their traditions. To change their own text would be against their very being, I think. With the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have further proof that the Hebrew Scriptures have remained intact down through the centuries, far more so than the Christian New Testament. But yeah, the differences between the LXX and MT are both known and undeniable.
In the previous round I showed con two examples of those differences. In Heb 1:6, Paul is quoting the LXX and uses the word aggeloi, "angels"; in the Hebrew of the verse he's quoting from (Deut 32:43) we find ELOHYM, "gods". One of the more famous examples is Matt 1:23. The Greek word used literally refers to a virgin; however, in the Hebrew of the OT, the word literally refers to a young woman in general, but not specifically a virgin.
But again, we're way off topic, so I'll go elsewhere.
In the Strong's Concordance, the words following the em-dash (--) after the definition are the ways that the Greek word is translated into in the KJV. They are not part of the definition. The Concordance makes this clear at the beginning of the dictionary section. I wish con would stop trying to make me out to be deceptive.
Con says that he questions my statement about Jesus being capable of sin. Then here's a question for him: If Jesus was not capable of sinning, then what was the purpose of Satan trying to tempt him in the wilderness. It's essentially a useless story then since, because temptation would not exist for him, Jesus would have had no true victory over sin. Now there are those who argue that Jesus had a regular life before he started his ministry, that he may have once sinned. This explains why Jesus was baptized, since baptism is a symbol of repentance, a turning away from sin. The argument says that it was at his baptism that Jesus dedicated himself to God, and from that point forward, he did not sin. This better explains why the Holy Spirit came into him at his baptism (as if he didn't have the power of God beforehand), and why Satan tested him shortly after. Not saying I totally agree with this theory, but it does have some substance.
Paul uses Jesus's obedience to God as an example of how we should be. I've already asked how Jesus could be submissive to God if Jesus was in fact God Himself. There would be no obedience. It would be like your hand doing what your brain wants; your hand has no other choice. I argue that Jesus had a choice, while con seems to be saying that Jesus did not. If Jesus was perfect and unable to sin, then he would be a standard that we sinful people could not reach. We would be doomed. But if we see Jesus not as God in flesh but as a man who was not perfect (in that he could sin), we then see a man who we could be like. Living as he did would still be difficult, especially in the modern world, but it is achievable.
Con brings up Acts 15:8. In that chapter, we see a couple of times in which men supposedly led by the holy spirit of God come into huge disagreement (vss 2, 6-21). This further supports my idea of contradictions appearing in the Bible, since the Bible itself here tells us of men filled with the same spirit who yet disagree on spiritual matters. What does this verse mean by saying that God "knows the human heart"? The Greek reads KAI O KARDIOGNWSTHS QEOS EMARTURHSEN AUTOIS DOUS AUTOIS TO PNEUMA TO AGION; literally "And the heart-knowing God testified to them, giving them the Holy Spirit". Peter, in context, is talking about the Gentiles who converted, whether they should be circumcised. He's saying that God knows their hearts, despite the presence of their foreskins. Unlike what con is trying to point out, this verse does not mean that God understands the human sinful nature.
Matthew 14:33 - ALHQWS QEOU UIOS EI; literally "Truly a god's son you are!" Before this time and up to 26:64, Jesus never claimed to be the son of God. Jesus just walked across water, and in the context of the Greek world, this was something only a god or demigod (a god's offspring) could do. This was a claim that Jesus was more than human. (By the way, in 26:63, the question is of Jesus's Messiahship, not his deity. His "blasphemy", which in Greek literally means "defamation", was that he also claimed to be able to sit beside God and come in the skies' clouds, something not even David could do. That he claimed such ability threw the god of the Pharisees into question.)
I was mistaken when I said 1 Timothy 3:16, I meant 2 Timothy 3:16. Careless mistake on my part. Anyway, on to my arguments. Discussing the inspiration of the Bible and the errant/inerrant nature of it is getting off topic, I agree, but Pro has made some claims that I just can’t overlook.
This is demonstrably false. My first example is 1 Thessalonians 4:15, Paul says of his teachings: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord…” Does this not indicate that Paul’s teachings are from God’s mouth and not his own? The best example that can be provided is Galatians 1:11-12, where Paul is defending his ministry against claims such as those that Pro has made. It reads: “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” This clearly reveals the fact that Jesus was inspired by the perfect Christ. His words were indeed from God.
“The Bible was written by men. Imperfect humans. The NT is littered with errors, though the scribes of later Greek manuscripts tried correcting these errors.”
I agree that the (physical) writers of the New Testament (and the Old) were imperfect humans, but I highly question that the NT or OT is “littered with errors.” Pro also says that scribes later tried to correct them. Has Pro ever considered that the mistakes may come from the copying of the Bible? Before Gutenberg-type printing methods were invented, the Bible was copied by hand. This left a huge potential for error. Thus, many of the so-called errors in the Bible have been explained away by using the original Greek or Hebrew. Some “errors,” however, do seem to come from any translation of the Bible.
Pro provided links which show many supposed discrepancies in the Bible. I would like to give Pro a link which explains away just about every one of them: http://www.apologeticspress.org...
“It was known in [Paul’s] day that there were errors, which is why he instructed to avoid disputes about such things (1Tim 1:3-7; Tit 3:8-10). He instructed to let faith surpass the issues found in Scripture.”
Nothing Paul said means that at all. Those passages are not in any way written to discourage Christians from reading the Old Testament. Paul is instructing his audience to avoid getting into disputes such as arguments over land, duties, etc. Let me explain. Some history of Biblical times is necessary. In Bible times, genealogies were used to allot land, distinguish between tribes, and other such duties. The Jews kept long and extensive public genealogies to determine a person’s rights to land and inheritance. This is supported in the autobiography of Josephus, in which Josephus begins by listing his ancestors. After this he says, “Thus I have set down the genealogy of my family as I have found in the public records.” With this said, it is clear that Paul is referring to disputes the come about through the use of genealogical records to allot land and other such things.
I’ve already used up a good amount of space so I will have to briefly touch on Pro’s argument about the Septuagint and the Hebrew Masoretic Text. He says that there are many differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text. These differences do exist, but they can easily be explained with some historical analysis.
Regarding Pro’s points about Strong’s concordance, I don’t see how that detracts from my argument. Strong’s says that the terms after the definition simply indicate how the word is rendered in translation. How does this disprove my argument? (by the way, I never said you were deceptive nor intended to imply it.)
About Jesus and his capability to sin, I think Pro misunderstood me a little. I questioned whether he was perfectly capable of sinning. I acknowledge that He was capable in that He definitely had the power to, but being divine, He had no motivation to. Satan apparently did not realize this. I believe that even Satan does not understand the true nature of God. Even without a sinful life, Jesus won the victory over sin, because the sins of man were bore by Jesus, in human form, on the cross. A man with a divine nature, I might add.
“If Jesus was perfect and unable to sin, then he would be a standard that we sinful people could not reach. We would be doomed.”
Yet Pro has not answered my question from the previous round. Why, then, are we commanded to imitate God? And Christ as well? I say that we as Christians should strive for perfection. Well then, why, you might ask, should we strive for perfection if it is impossible for us to attain? I answer that question WITH a question: why would Paul imitate Christ if He was imperfect? The capability to sin was just part of becoming a human. How does this detract from Christ’s perfection? The short answer is, it doesn’t. It’s what makes Jesus more relatable than God on High. Capability to sin, yet perfection in life. THAT’s what we’re supposed to imitate. And no, we’re not doomed. Repentance and forgiveness, anyone?
As for Acts 15, consider that the men that Paul and Barnabas are arguing with are not inspired authors of the Bible (if they were, they wouldn’t be referred to as “some men”). They are basically preachers, which allows for the possibility of false teachings. It is perhaps of Divine inspiration that this issue concerning circumcision was brought up in the Bible in the first place, since it was a major issue with the Gentiles at the time.
Time is swiftly running out, so I will have to stop here. My personal free time is under strain again, so I can’t spend a lot of time online right now. (I’m a musician, in case you didn’t know.) As a result I didn't have time to think through a lot of my arguments, so I apologize if they do not seem completely thorough. I’m still working on extra material for the comments section, but this may not be done for a short while. For now, I want to thank mstrainjr for an informative and challenging debate. I pray that the truth will be made known to all of us, that Jesus is indeed the one true God, who took on imperfect flesh to bring the souls of man to salvation.