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Harlot of Babylon According to Irvin Baxter; Trinity and Oneness, Part 4
by Karl Kemp
2/11/2016 / Bible Studies
We start with the discussion of Deut. 6:4 here in Part 4, which is a verse of key importance when it comes to the Trinity. I always quote from the NASB unless otherwise noted.
Deuteronomy 6:4. "Hear, O Israel! The LORD [Yahweh in the Hebrew] is our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one." I'll quote a sentence from what J. A. Thompson says here ("Deuteronomy" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1974], page 121). "This small section (Deut. 6:4-9) has been known to the Jews for many centuries as the 'Shema' (Hebrew, 'Hear' ["Shema" is the Hebrew word translated "Hear" at the beginning of Deut. 6:4.]) and has been recited along with 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41 as a daily prayer."
Based on what I have heard and read, Deut. 6:4 is the number-one verse used (sincerely used) by Christians who deny the Trinity and argue for a oneness view of God. I am quite sure, however, that this verse was written for the sole purpose of declaring that the God of Israel (the God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham) is the only true God. Some of the gods of the nations existed all right and they did supernatural things, but they were evil beings under Satan, and they were far from being in the class of the only true God, the One who had created every being and everything that exists. (God didn't create Satan or any of the angels evil, but Satan rebelled against God through pride, and a third of the angels followed him in his rebellion.)
For one thing, it was totally necessary for the people of Israel to understand what a serious sin it was for them to worship the gods which all of the peoples apart from Israel were worshipping in the ancient world, and had been worshipping for a long time. All too often many of the people of Israel succumbed to the temptation to worship the gods of the nations. That sin went directly against the first commandment of the Ten Commandments. See Ex. 20:3 ("You shall have no other gods before Me" [or, as in the margin of the NASB, "besides Me"]); Deut. 5:6-10; and 6:5. Those verses communicate exactly the same message as Deut. 6:4. Israel (and everybody else who submitted to God) must not worship any other gods. So too, verses like Deut. 4:35, 39 communicate the same message as Deut. 6:4 with the words, "To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD [Yahweh], He is God; there is no other besides Him" and "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD [Yahweh], He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other." THERE IS NO OTHER GOD!
DEUTERONOMY 6:4 WAS NOT WRITTEN TO DENY THE TRINITY that God progressively revealed, starting in the Old Testament, including in the five books of Moses. As my paper titled "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son: The Name Yahweh and a Listing of Some of the Large Number of Passages in the Hebrew Old Testament Where We Can See God the Son Along with God the Father" demonstrates, there are a large number of passages in the Old Testament where we can see the Person of God the Son. (That paper does not begin to cover aIl such passages.) It is true, however, that we needed the incarnation of the Son of God and the light of the New Testament to adequately see that glorious Person, and the Trinity.
I'll quote a few sentences from what Earl S. Calland says here ("Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 3 [Zondervan, 1992], page 65) to show that the Hebrew word "echad" that is translated "one" in Deut. 6:4 was sometimes used of a oneness that consisted of more than one part, "To the Jews verse 4 is not only an assertion of monotheism, it is also an assertion of the numerical oneness of God contradictory to the Christian view of the Trinity of the Godhead. [In other words, they reject the deity of Christ/the Messiah and the Trinity]. This kind of oneness, however, runs contrary to the use of echad in the sense of a unity made up of several parts. In Exod. 25:6, 11, the fifty gold clasps are used to hold the curtains together so that the tent would be a unit (echad). ...."
I'll quote several sentences from page 2 of the 14 page article titled, "The Historic Case for the Trinity" by K. Dayton Hartman (www.answering-islam.org). He is discussing Deut. 6:4 and making the point that the Jews left a lot of room to see some plurality in their one God before the arrival of Christianity. "The possibility of plurality existing in a monotheistic Godhead was an active topic in pre-Christian Jewish theology. (See especially, Larry Hurtado, "One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism" (Fortress Press, 1988). A text that inspired much of this debate is found within Daniel's book of prophecy. In Daniel 7:9, a plurality of thrones exists in heaven, all of which, the text proposes, belong to Yahweh. The text reads, 'I kept looking until the thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat....' In the passage there are multiple seats of power (thrones), yet a single being of power (the king). [For the record, Dan. 7:18, 22, and 27 show that the saints will be reigning too; the thrones are for the saints (also see Rev. 20:4-6).] N. T. Wright, commenting on pre-Christian Judaism, points out that, 'Within the most fiercely monotheistic of Jewish circles...there is no suggestion that "monotheism" or praying the 'Shema,' had anything to do with the numerical analysis of the inner being of Israel's God Himself.' ("The New Testament and the People of God" [Fortress Press, 1996], page 259.) ... After reviewing the evidence N. T. Wright concludes that: 'The oneness of Israel's God, the creator, was never an analysis of God's inner existence, but always a polemical doctrine over against paganism and dualism. It was only with the rise of Christianity...that Jews in the second and third centuries reinterpreted "monotheism" and the numerical oneness of the divine being' " (same reference).
A Better Way To Interpret Deuteronomy 6:4. After further study and prayerfully considering this verse, I have come to the opinion that the proper way to understand this verse (the way intended by the ultimate Author of the Bible) is to see that the name Yahweh refers to God the Father here, as it typically does throughout the Old Testament, not to the Trinity. (At least that is the way Israel understood the name Yahweh in the days of the Old Testament, and God didn't correct them, and the word God typically refers to God the Father in the New Testament.) This applies to Deut. 4:35, 39 (verses quoted above), and to many similar verses in the Old Testament (including Isa. 43:10, 11; 44:6, 8; 45:6, 21, 22; and 46:9). In most of the verses dealt with in my paper titled "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son: The Name Yahweh and a Listing of Some of the Large Number of Passages from the Hebrew Old Testament Where We Can See God the Son Along with God the Father," for example, the name Yahweh typically refers to God the Father. The Old Testament was written in the years before God wanted to fully reveal the Person of His Son and the Trinity.
When Jesus first came to Israel, having been born of the virgin, none of the people of Israel understood that the Messiah would be deity. ((We will never understand the Trinity until we see that God the Son, who always existed with God the Father, was to become the God-man and the promised Messiah, and that the Messiah would, therefore, be deity. The deity (full deity) of the Messiah took the promised new-covenant salvation to a whole new level. To be united with the Messiah, by grace through faith, is to be united with God the Son, the One who brings us to the Father.)) The apostles didn't understand His deity until after His resurrection. They didn't even believe in His resurrection until after He was resurrected, even though He had told them that He would be resurrected on the third day (cf., e.g. Matt. 16:21; 17:23; John 20:9).
God's revelation, which includes His opening the eyes of His people to understand the Scriptures, is progressive (see, for example, Luke 24:25-27, 44-49). The name Yahweh typically refers to God the Father in the Old Testament, even as the word God typically refers to God the Father in the New Testament. And the New Testament has quite a few passages like JOHN 17:3 ("This is eternal life, that they may know You, THE ONLY TRUE GOD [my emphasis], and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Verses like this and those I list as we continue were not intended to deny the full deity of the Lord Jesus, but they do demonstrate the preeminent role of God the Father.); ROMANS 16:26, 27 (I'll quote verse 27, "to THE ONLY WISE GOD [God the Father], through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen!"); 1 CORINTHIANS 8:4-6 ("Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that THERE IS NO GOD BUT ONE [referring to God the Father]. (5) For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, (6) yet FOR US THERE IS BUT ONE GOD, THE FATHER, from whom are all things and we exist for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things [These words would be better translated "through whom are all things." God the Father created all things through God the Son.], and we exist through Him."); 1 CORINTHIANS 15:27, 28 (I won't quote these verses here, but these verses strongly emphasize the preeminent role of God the Father.); EPHESIANS 4:4-6 ("There is one body and one Spirit [the Holy Spirit], just as you were called in one hope of your calling; (5) one Lord [the Lord Jesus], one faith, one baptism [referring to water baptism], (6) ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL WHO IS OVER ALL AND THROUGH ALL AND IN ALL."); 1 TIMOTHY 1:17 ("Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, THE ONLY GOD [referring to God the Father], be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."); 1 TIMOTHY 2:5 ("For THERE IS ONE GOD, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...."); 1 TIMOTHY 6:13-16 ("I charge you IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD [God the Father], who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, (14) that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) which He [God the Father] will bring about at the proper time - HE WHO IS THE BLESSED AND ONLY SOVEREIGN, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (16) who alone possesses immortality and dwells in inapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."); and JUDE 1:24, 25 ("Now to Him [God the Father] who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, (25) TO THE ONLY GOD OUR SAVIOR [referring to God the Father], through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.")
Verses like the ones I just quoted from the New Testament that greatly exalt God the Father and His preeminent role (calling Him "the only God" and such expressions) do not diminish the fact that the Bible (and especially the New Testament) clearly teaches the full deity of God the Son (and the Holy Spirit). For one thing (as I have pointed out in the three companion articles to this article; I am quoting from my paper "More on the Trinity" here), the name Yahweh is used on occasion for God the Son in the Old Testament and the word God is used for Him several times in the New Testament, which strongly teaches His full deity. The fact that God the Father has the preeminent role in the Trinity does not detract from the full deity of God the Son (or the Holy Spirit). We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. I am convinced, by the way, that God the Son (and God the Holy Spirit) loves the verses that greatly exalt God the Father and the reality expressed in those verses.
After we receive the full revelation regarding the Lord Jesus Christ (and the Holy Spirit) through the New Testament, we can clearly see the full deity of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament, but I don't believe we have to try to see Him typically included when the name Yahweh is used in the Old Testament. I'm quite sure that wasn't God's intention, and it confuses the issue. For one thing, if we overstate the oneness of God based (to some significant extent) on a misinterpretation of Deut. 6:4, we certainly confuse the issue. It's proper to speak of one God, three Persons, but we don't want to overstate that oneness. (We do have to make it clear however that we don't have three Gods just as we also need to make it clear that there are three Persons in the Trinity: The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father; the Father is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father; the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Son.) We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. We also confuse the issue if we don't take seriously what the Bible, very much including the New Testament, says about the eternally subordinate role of God the Son (and the Holy Spirit). Full deity, Yes! Eternally subordinate to God the Father in His role, Yes! This subordination helps us see that we don't have three independent Gods who are exactly like one another in every way, including authority.
Isaiah 9:6. (As I mentioned, this is one of the verses most often used by oneness Christians to try to prove their oneness viewpoint, but quite inappropriately.) "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us [[It is important to see that this "child/son," referring to the Messiah (see Isa. 9:7 for example), was "GIVEN" to us. HE WAS GIVEN BY GOD THE FATHER. We see the two Persons of God the Father and God the Son here, as we so often do throughout the Bible, even though the Person of God the Son wasn't clearly and fully revealed until the days of the New Testament. It would be impossible to adequately understand Isa. 9:6 until you know of God the Son and that He will become the promised Messiah, deity with God the Father. Many passages demonstrate that God the Son existed with the Father before any creating ever took place (He always existed with God the Father [and the Holy Spirit]), and that all beings and things that were ever created, were created by God the Father through God the Son. ((All of the key passages are discussed in my papers (many of them are discussed in this paper), and I'll be commenting on the preexistence of the Son with the Father and the fact that all things were created by Him later in this paper. (These things demonstrate the full deity of God the Son, and quite a bit of Scripture speaks clearly of His full deity.) Once you see the full deity of God the Son who existed with God the Father before any creating took place, there can be no more room for the oneness viewpoint of God.]]; and the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God [[The words "Mighty God" were quite shocking in that old covenant setting, but we Christians can understand and appreciate these words as one more passage that shows the full deity of the Son of God. Thank God for all such passages! As I have mentioned (emphasized), this super-important fact wasn't even understood by the apostles until after His resurrection. They didn't really believe that He would be raised from the dead on the third day (even though He told them that He would on several occasions) until after He had been resurrected and proved it to them.]], Eternal Father [[These words were equally shocking as were the words, "Mighty God." I'll comment on these words after I finish quoting this verse. These words certainly caused some confusion for a long period of time, but I am thankful that God included them in the Bible. These words came from God. They certainly didn't come from Isaiah himself. WHAT A BOOK! WHAT A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE SUCH A BOOK! WHAT A BLESSING TO KNOW THAT WE HAVE SUCH A BOOK! How could we know the truth if God didn't reveal it to us. We are totally dependent on His grace.]], Prince of Peace."
I have an eight page discussion on Isa. 9:1-7 in my paper titled "Verse-by-Verse Studies of Selected Eschatological Prophecies from the Book of Isaiah," published in August, 2000. (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) I recommend that you read that entire discussion, but I'll quote part of what I said regarding the meaning of the words, "Eternal Father" here (I am taking the liberty to modify what I said in that paper to some extent for this paper. This excerpt goes on for two pages): This name also strongly indicates the deity of the Messiah. He is Father of His people in the eternal dimension. Taken in the fullest sense, this includes His work at creation (John 1:1-3, for example) and the fatherly care of His people (saving, guiding, protecting, and providing everything that is needed).
I'll quote part of what J. Alec Motyer said here ("Isaiah" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1999], pages 89, 90.): "used of the Lord [the Lord Jesus], 'father' speaks of his concern (Ps. 65:5), care and discipline (Ps. 103:13; Pr. 3:12; Is. 63:16; 64:8); cf. Ps. 72:4, 12-14; Is. 11:4."
And I'll quote part of what F. Delitzsch said here ("Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 7, page 253): This name, "Eternal Father," springs out of the last name, "Mighty God" "for what is divine must be eternal. The title Eternal Father designates Him [the Lord Jesus], however, not only as the possessor of eternity...but as the tender, faithful, and wise trainer, guardian, and provider for His people even in eternity (Isa. 22:21). He is eternal Father, as the eternal, loving King, according to the description in Ps. 72."
Further Discussion Regarding God as Father:
In the Old Testament the word "father/Father" was used more than five hundred times. Reading through the Old Testament verses listed under father/Father in my concordance (NASB), I found eleven verses (not counting Isa. 9:6) where God was pictured as Father to His people (Deut. 32:6; Psalm 68:5; 103:13; Prov. 3:12; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; 31:9; and Mal. 1:6; 2:10; also compare 2 Sam. 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13; 22:10; and Psalm 89:26). In the New Testament we find the word Father used of God much more often than in the Old Testament, 264 times. It is used exclusively of God the Father in the New Testament; it is never used of God the Son, the Messiah.
We were not prepared to understand the New Testament name/title of "God the Father" (or "the Father") before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, which (for one thing) made a gigantic difference in the relationship believers have with God. The New Testament clearly reveals the Person of God the Son, the Son of God the Father (the old-covenant believers did not comprehend the Person of God the Son), and it reveals the glorious fact that new-covenant believers actually become born-again children of God the Father through new-covenant salvation in union with God the Son. God the Father actually becomes "the Father" of His born-again children in a very real, very special, very personal sense. This is glorious indeed, but it must be understood, of course, that we don't become deity. Nobody is going to worship us, but we will worship God, the triune God, as we reign with Him.
It would cause substantial confusion if Christians used the term "Father" for Jesus Christ (the Son of God) now that we have been given the much fuller, New Testament revelation regarding God the Father and the triune God. It was reasonable in Old Testament days for Messiah to be called "Eternal Father" in this very important prophetic passage. For one thing, it was an effective way to shockingly declare the deity of the Messiah, along with the words "Mighty God." (It must be understood that God didn't choose to clearly reveal God the Son in the Old Testament, or the fact that He would become the God-man and the Messiah. These facts that are so clear to us now were concealed for the most part until it was God's time to clearly reveal them.) In the same way that it was reasonable (and very important) to call the Angel of the LORD "Yahweh" or "God" on occasion (see my paper "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son") it was reasonable to call the Messiah "Eternal Father," and especially in the middle of a glorious prophecy in the Old Testament that dealt with His saving work and where He was just called "Mighty God."
As I mentioned, oneness Christians (who deny the Trinity) typically use Isa. 9:6 as one of their primary proof texts, but quite improperly. There are multiplied hundreds of verses in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, which demonstrate that God the Father and God the Son are distinct Persons in the Trinity. Very often the Father and the Son are mentioned together in the same passage as separate Persons: God the Father created through the Son; they talk to one another; they talk about one another; the Father sends the Son; the Son goes back to the Father; the Son is at the right hand of the Father; and the Son reigns with the Father and is worshipped with the Father, etc. The oneness doctrine is widespread in our day, and I believe that many of those holding that doctrine are true Christians. (Of course I'm not the Judge.) I must also say, however, that I consider this teaching to be a serious error, and it is one of the most divisive issues in the body of Christ.
The oneness doctrine may seem to make God easier for the human mind to understand (if we don't stop and think about the details), and it sounds reasonable if we are willing to limit ourselves to a few proof texts that seem to teach oneness (but they don't really teach oneness), but it cannot stand when we take into account all that the Scriptures teach on the topic. ((Based on what I have heard and read from them, most of the people who have ascribed to the oneness viewpoint did so on the basis of the oneness interpretation of just a very few verses that seemed so clear to them. I have included at least most of those verses in this section of this paper (referring to my paper "More on the Trinity" that I have been quoting). And then, as it so often happens with Christians [but not just Christians], once we have determined what we are sure is the correct, biblical viewpoint, we tend to close our minds. That issue is settled! Every other verse in the Bible must fit that viewpoint, one way, or another! I must be faithful to God and guard this "truth" with my life. It can appeal to our pride to think that we are one of the select few who really have the truth and are really saved. We all need to face the fact that we can be motivated by pride, with pride and unbelief being at the root of sin.)) By the way, it's not surprising that we cannot fully understand God. We are required to believe all that the Scriptures teach about Him, whether we can fully understand or not. There certainly is no basis to say that the triune view of God presented in the Bible is unreasonable. We will understand God a whole lot better after we are glorified, but even then I'm quite sure that we won't fully understand Him.
WHERE WE ARE GOING WITH MOST OF THE REST OF THIS PAPER. I am going to put the emphasis on looking at some of the key passages that demonstrate the preexistence of God the Son and the fact that all beings and things that were ever created were created by God the Father through Him. As I mentioned, if you can see that, you have to abandon the oneness viewpoint, even if you might not fully understand the Trinity. We probably never will fully understand the Trinity. Even after we are glorified there will still exist a gigantic difference between God and us. I also want to mention three scholarly Trinitarian authors, and include some excerpts from them. I purchased and read one of the books while preparing to write this paper, and the two books I had read in the past but reread while preparing to write this paper. In the light of what I said above, I'll put the emphasis on dealing with the preexistence of the Son of God and His role in creation.
First I'll quote the first section (of the two sections) in my paper "More on the Trinity." That section, which is titled "Some Key Passages from the New Testament where We See the Full Deity and Preexistence of God the Son as a Person Distinct from God the Father," is very important to understand the Trinity. ((As I have mentioned, even one passage that clearly shows that God the Son existed [existed as a Person] with God the Father in the beginning, before any creating had taken place, overthrows the oneness viewpoint. I believe oneness Christians will agree with my last sentence: They dogmatically insist that the only One who existed before the virgin birth was God the Father who took on flesh and human nature in the incarnation.)) All of these passages include the preexistence of the Son, and several of them include the fact that all beings and things that were ever created were created by God the Father through Him. The Passages are John 1:1-18; John 8:58 (with 8:57, 59); John 17:1-5; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-17; and Heb. 1:1-3.
JOHN 1:1-18. (For a fuller discussion of these super-important verses, which are the prologue for the Gospel of John, see my paper "John 1:1-18; Colossians 1:15-3:17" that is on my internet site: Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) "In the beginning [Compare Gen. 1:1. John means back before any creating had taken place. The time system of our world didn't exist yet, and God isn't limited to the time system of our created world.] was the Word ["The Word" (Greek "Logos") is a title for God the Son, who always existed as a Person with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit). Also see John 1:14; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13.], and the Word was with [Greek preposition "pros" with "with" being used of a face-to-face, Person-to-Person relationship] God [God the Son was with God the Father. I'll quote John 17:5, "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." They always had an infinitely glorious, loving, Person to Person relationship.], and the Word was God. [["The Word" isn't being confused with the Person of God the Father here. For one thing, the second use of the Greek word for God ("theos") in this verse does not have the definite article, whereas the first use of the word does have the definite article (the word translated "the"). The word for God with the definite article perfectly fits and refers to God the Father, the One who is typically called God throughout the New Testament. The second use of the Greek word, without the definite article, communicates the fact that the Word is fully deity, without confusing Him with the Person of God the Father. As we continue with these verses, we learn that every person, being, or thing, including matter, that was ever created was created through the Person of God the Son (cf., e.g., John 1:3, 10, 11, Col. 1:16; and Heb. 1:2). And as we continue with the Gospel of John it is confirmed again and again that the Word was a Person, a Person who was eventually sent into the world by the Father.
We will continue this verse-by-verse of John 1:1-18 in Part 5 of this paper.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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