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Harlot of Babylon According to Irvin Baxter; Trinity and Oneness, Part 7

by Karl Kemp  
2/13/2016 / Bible Studies

We continue with the discussion of Phil. 2:5-11 here in Part 7.

Gregory A. Boyd ("Oneness Pentecostals & The Trinity," 1992) briefly discusses Phil. 2:5-11 on pages 105-108, including interacting with David Bernard and another oneness writer. I'll quote a small part of what he says on page 106. "Bernard says that 'Jesus was equal with (the same as) God in the sense that He was God' ("The Oneness of God," 1983, page 21). And again, ' His divinity, He is truly equal to, or identical to God. The word equal here means that the divine nature of Jesus was the very nature of God the Father' (same book, page 222).

This explanation simply does not work. First, neither in Greek ('isos') nor in English does the word 'equal' mean 'identical.' [In some contexts this Greek word could be translated "identical" but not in a context like this one.] There are a number of ways in Greek for saying one thing is 'identical to' or 'the same as' something else, but Paul does not employ them here. 'Equality' is a term of relationship, and it therefore implies some type of plurality [not equal with yourself, but equal with another or others]."

Edward L. Dalcour ("A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology," 2011) discusses Phil. 2:6-11 on pages 134-139, interacting with David Bernard and other oneness viewpoints. I'll include two short excerpts from what he says: "Throughout this Epistle, Paul plainly distinguishes the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as two distinct subjects (e.g., 1:11; 2:6-11; and esp. in Paul's salutation [1:2] as exegetically brought out in Chapter [in Dalcour's book, on page 69, where he discusses the use of the Greek "kai" in Phil. 1:2 and many other verses, which I briefly discussed above ("and" not "even").] ... In effect, we see the distinction between the Father and Jesus uncomplicatedly" (page 136).

And "The Oneness interpretations of the Hymn [Phil. 2:6-11; that, for one thing, the Father, not the preexistent Son (who didn't exist from their point of view), humbled Himself and took on flesh] do not follow theologically or contextually. From start to finish, the Hymn presents a positive affirmation that the Son was in the very nature of God subsisting and pre-existing. It was the Son who emptied Himself, becoming incarnate, taking the very nature of humanity. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ..." (page 139).

COLOSSIANS 1:15-17. "He is the image of the invisible God [[Compare John 14:9; 2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Heb. 1:3. Because Jesus is the image of the invisible God (God the Father), He was able, for one super-important thing, to reveal the Father to us (see John 1:18). Since He became a man (the God-man) He could effectively communicate with us in our dimension; the apostles (and many others) were able to see Him, to hear Him, to see the things that He did in the physical, human dimension. And as we have discussed, when we see His character, we are seeing the character of God the Father, and when we hear Him and see the things that He does, we are hearing and seeing things the Father gave Him to say and to do.

It must be understood, of course, that He is the image of God in a very much higher sense than Adam, who was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), but who, unlike the Son of God, wasn't deity. However, through the glory of new-covenant salvation, in union with God the Son, "we will be conformed to the image of [God's] Son" (Rom. 8:29; compare 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10) when we are glorified at the end of this age. In union with Christ we will be taken to a place much higher than what Adam had in the garden of Eden before the fall. It's bought and paid for. But even after we are glorified there still will be a very substantial difference between the Lord Jesus Christ and us. He will be deity with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit); we won't be, and we will worship Him with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit). We won't become deity, but a glorious destiny awaits us, even reigning with the Lord Jesus forever.]], the firstborn of all creation. [[I would translate "the firstborn over all creation," with the NIV, and it is to be understood that He is the firstborn Son of God the Father over all creation. Sometimes in the Bible, including here, the word "firstborn" has nothing to do with the idea of someone literally being born first. (Some, including the Jehovah's Witnesses, have wrongly understood these words to teach that there was a time when the Son did not exist and that He was the first person/being ever created. For one thing, He was there before our world, including the time system of our world, was created.) God the Son always existed with the Father; He was not created; if He had been created He would not be deity/God the Son. Psalm 89:27, which is all the more important as a cross-reference because it prophesies of David's greater Son, the Messiah, helps show what the word "firstborn" means here: God the Father says, "I also shall make him My firstborn, The Highest of the Kings of the earth." As Psalm 89:27 shows, for God to make the Messiah His firstborn Son means that He gives Him authority over all authority everywhere. Paul's point here in Col. 1:15 is that God the Father has given the Lord Jesus authority over all creation, which includes His having authority over every being or thing ever created, and this is after He became a man (the God-man). This authority enables the Lord Jesus to save all believers and to judge and remove the devil and all who align with him.

This is important, so I'll give three other cross-references that will help us understand what the apostle Paul meant by the word "firstborn" here. In Ex. 4:22 God said to Moses, "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], "Israel is My son, My firstborn." ' " It is clear that Israel wasn't God's firstborn son in any literal sense. And I'll read what God said in the last part of Jer. 31:9, "For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn." I'll quote one last example, an example that is quite relevant to the glorious status that we have as born-again children of God. I'll quote the relevant words from Heb. 12:23, "church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven...." The word "firstborn" is plural in the Greek. It refers to all true Christians "who are enrolled in heaven." We aren't dwelling in heaven yet but we have access there through the Lord Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, and we have a place reserved for us to dwell there forever. The word "firstborn" here in Heb. 12:23 has nothing to do with our being born first in any literal sense, but it refers to our privileged status as born-again children of God.

We could say that God the Father has given Him a name above every name (Phil. 2:9-11). Paul had already informed us in Phil. 2:6, 7 that the Lord Jesus was deity with the Father before He became the God-man, and in Col. 1:16, 17 Paul goes on to speak of the super-exalted status of the Lord Jesus, God the Son.]] (16) For by Him all things were created [[These words give one reason (we'll speak of the other reason as we continue) why Jesus is "the firstborn over all creation": "For by Him all things were created." That fact certainly qualifies Him to have authority over everything that was created by Him. Typically the New Testament speaks of God the Father creating all things through Him, which it also does at the end of this verse.]], both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities [[This includes the thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities both in the heavenly dimension and on the earth that are loyal to God and those who are in rebellion against Him. It is important to know that God did not create any of them evil; they followed the devil in his rebellion against God. If the Lord Jesus did not have authority over these evil beings, starting with the devil, they could thwart God's salvation plans and wreck havoc in the lives of Christians. For one thing, God limits what the evil one and his hosts are able to do against us, and at the right time they will be judged and totally removed from God's universe. The Lord Jesus will be very active in that judging.

It is also necessary for Christians to know that everything they could ever need is available in Christ. (See the discussion of Col. 2:8-10 later in this paper.) We never have to go looking for help anywhere else, and we are certain to get in trouble if we start looking for help from angels or any other spiritual beings rather than to God and His beloved Son. Of course God can and does use His angels to bless us in various ways, but we must look to Him through Christ. Note that there was a problem at Colossae with an improper "worship of the angels" (Col. 2:18).]] - all things have been created through Him [all things have been created by God the Father through Him (see John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; and Heb. 1:2).] and for Him. [[For one thing, the fact that all things have been created for Him shows that all beings owe their allegiance to God the Father and the Son. God the Father's plan to bring salvation and peace to His fallen world centered in His Son, who was to become the God-man, and who (after His all-important atoning death, resurrection, glorification, and ascension) would save all the elect and remove by judgment the devil and all who continue to follow him through His authority as Lord over all.

This authority came not just because He was God the Son and all things had been created through Him, as important as that was. This authority came in part (a super-significant part) because He became the God-man, lived a sinless life, and died His all-important atoning death, through which He earned the right to save us and to overthrow Satan and all who follow him in his rebellion (see, for example, John 12:31; 1 Cor. 15:20-28; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:13; 2:8-15; and Heb. 2:14-16). The "peace" that Paul mentioned in Col. 1:20, for example, includes the peace that results when all persons have submitted to Jesus as Lord or have been removed by judgment.]] (17) He is before all things [He existed before they were created; they were created through Him and for Him, and He is before them in that He has authority over them.], and in Him all things hold together." Compare Heb. 1:3. After all things were created through Him, God the Son has a role in holding all things together. The more we learn about the physics of our universe, the more we can appreciate the fact that He holds all things together. It is gigantic; it is super-packed with power and energy, and it is super-amazing in its design and complexity. However, He does not hold all things together independent of God the Father or the Holy Spirit.

HEBREWS 1:1-3 "God [God the Father], after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (2) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son [In the sense these words are used here, God the Father began to speak to us through His Son after He became the God-man and began His ministry on the earth.], whom He appointed heir of all things [[The Lord Jesus has authority now over all beings and things everywhere (see, for example Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9; Col. 2:10, 15), but He is waiting for the Father's time for Him to return to fully save His people and to subdue all who continue in rebellion (see, for example, Heb. 10:12, 13; 1 Cor. 15:23-28; Rev. 12:7-9; 19:19-21; 20:1-3, 7-10, 11-15; and there are a very large number of verses throughout the Bible that speak of the things the Lord Jesus will do at His second coming). When He returns He will establish His kingdom on the earth (the millennial kingdom) but that temporary kingdom will be replaced by the full glory of God's kingdom in His new heaven and new earth, with its new Jerusalem, as pictured in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation. Romans 8:17 is exciting for Christians, "and if children [born-again children of God], heirs also, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." Being faithful to God involves some suffering for this age, but that relatively short time that involves some suffering is extremely small in comparison with eternal glory that is coming very soon.]], through whom also He made the world. [These words (along with John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16, 17 and other verses) show that all things were created through the Son who was with the Father in the beginning, and many verses show that the Son was with the Father before He was sent into the world.] (3) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature [compare 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15], and upholds all things by the word of His power [compare Col. 1:17]. When He had made purification of sins [He purified us from sin through His all-important atoning death. Compare, for example, Heb. 10:10, "...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."], He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high [referring to God the Father. See Psalm 110:1; Heb. 1:13; 8:1; 10:12, 13; 12:2. We see the two Persons of God the Father and God the Son in these verses, as we do so often throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament.].

I'M GOING TO QUOTE WHAT I HAVE IN MY PAPER "MORE ON THE TRINITY" UNDER THE HEADING "SOME KEY PASSAGES WRONGLY USED TO TEACH A ONENESS VIEW OF GOD." This will involve some repetition in this paper, but this is quite important information and worthy of some repetition. We are discussing the God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God we worship and must make our number one priority. There is a very big difference between the Trinity and a oneness view of God.

FIRST I'LL LIST AND BRIEFLY DISCUSS SOME VERSES FROM THE GOSPEL OF JOHN THAT SHOW THAT GOD THE FATHER AND GOD THE SON ARE DISTINCT PERSONS (Some of these verses are much more important than others to show that the oneness viewpoint is wrong): Many of the verses I'll list and briefly discuss demonstrate that God the Son existed with God the Father before the Father sent His Son into the world. This is very important because oneness believers are forced to deny that the Son of God existed (existed as a Person, as something more than a thought or a plan in the mind of God the Father) before the incarnation took place. JOHN 1:1, 2 (The Son [the Word] was with God the Father before any creating took place, and we are told that the Son was deity too. We see two Persons. [See the discussion of John 1:1-18 in this paper, and see my paper that covers John 1:1-18 verse-by-verse for more details.]); JOHN 1:3 (Everything that was ever created was created by God the Father through the Son. We see two Persons.); JOHN 1:4 ((See under John 1:4, 5 in the discussion of John 1:1-18 in this paper. In Him, in the Son, was life, including spiritual life, and He was the Light of men, which demonstrates that this Person was deity; He was a Person distinct from God the Father from the beginning; these words would be totally inappropriate if the "Word" was nothing more than a word, or thought, or idea in the mind of God the Father before the incarnation. And I'll list quite a few verses from the Gospel of John as we continue which confirm that the Son was a Person with the Father before the virgin birth.)); JOHN 1:9-13 ((I'll quote 1:9 from the NIV, "The true light [the "Light of men" of John 1:4] that gives light to [that shines on] every man was coming into the world." He came into the world through the virgin birth. Having come into the world, which had been created through Him [and "for Him" Col. 1:16], most people did not receive Him. The spiritual death and bondage to sin problem is deep-seated in the heart of mankind. Those who do receive Him are born again of God and become children of God.)); JOHN 1:14 (The Son, the Logos, became the God-man.); JOHN 1:18 (No one has seen God the Father, but the unique Son has revealed Him, made Him known. See the discussion of John 1:1-18 above in this paper.); JOHN 1:30 (John the Baptist testified that Jesus existed before him, even though John the Baptist was born before Jesus was born of the virgin.); JOHN 3:13 (Jesus, who always existed with God the Father, descended from heaven.); JOHN 3:17 (God the Father sent His Son into the world.); JOHN 3:19 (The Light, God the Son, has come into the world, but men, but not all men, "loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil," and they didn't repent.); JOHN 3:31 (John the Baptist said Jesus came from above/heaven.); JOHN 6:38 ("For I [Jesus] have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me [God the Father]."); JOHN 6:46 ("Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God [the Lord Jesus]; He has seen the Father."); JOHN 6:62 ("What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?" referring to the time when the Son of God was with the Father before He became the God-man.); JOHN 7:33 ("Therefore Jesus said, 'For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me.' " It was God the Son who had become the God-man who was going back to the Father, not the human nature of Jesus.); JOHN 8:12-19 (("Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life' [see John 1:4, for example]. (13) So the Pharisees [opponents of Jesus] said to Him, 'You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.' (14) Jesus answered and said to them, 'Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from [God the Son came down from heaven, having been sent by the Father.] and where I am going [He was going back to heaven, to God the Father, who had sent Him.]; (15) You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. (16) But even if I do judge, My judgment is true, for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me [We see two Persons here, both before He came into the world and after He came into the world.]. (17) Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. (18) I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.' [We certainly see two Persons here. The Father testified about Jesus in many ways, including the prophecies about Him in the Old Testament, His speaking audibly about Him from heaven on several occasions, His giving Him the Holy Spirit without measure, His drawing the elect to Him, etc.] (19) So they were saying to Him, 'Where is Your Father?' [Jesus had been telling them, but their hearts were on a different wavelength. They thought of themselves as being prime examples of the people of God, but their rejection of His Son proved that they didn't really know God the Father. And Jesus said on occasion, including in this verse, that they didn't know God the Father.] Jesus answered, 'You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would have known My Father also.' " There was no way they could reject the Son (who spoke the words the Father gave Him, did the works that the Father gave Him to do, and who was like the Father in every way) and know or love God the Father who sent Him. So too, there was no way they could really come to know the Father without coming through the Son (John 14:6, for example). I should mention that some oneness Christians use this verse, John 8:19, to demonstrates oneness, but quite improperly.)); JOHN 10:15, 17, 18 (("even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep. ... (17) For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. (18) No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." We can clearly see two Persons here.)); JOHN 12:27, 28 (Jesus said these words shortly before His crucifixion.) "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. (28) 'Father, glorify Your name.' Then a voice came out of heaven, 'I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.' " We see two Persons here, as we so often do throughout the Bible.) JOHN 13:3 ("Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God [God the Father] and was going back to God." We again see that the Son was with God the Father before He was sent into the world, and now He was going back to the Father. We see two Persons.); JOHN 13:31, 32 (("Therefore when he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him, (32) if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.' " Jesus spoke these words on the evening before His crucifixion. He would defeat sin, Satan, and spiritual death in His atoning death; then He would be resurrected on the third day and glorified. After forty days He would be taken up in glory to the right hand of God the Father. I'll quote Acts 2:33, "Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God [God the Father], and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear." The new-covenant church was born through the blood of the Lamb and the outpouring of the Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity. We definitely see God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit here in John 13:31, 32.)); JOHN 14:16 ("I will ask the Father, and He will give you another helper, that He may be with you forever." We see the Trinity here.); JOHN 14:23 ("Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.' " We see two Persons here.); JOHN 14:26 ("But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." We see the Trinity here.) JOHN 14:28 (("You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." The Father has the preeminent role in the Trinity, and especially during the time that Jesus lived on the earth.)); JOHN 15:1, 2, 8-10, 16, 21, 23, 24, 26 ((I'll just quote John 15:10, 21, 26, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. ... (21) But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. ... (26) When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father [see Acts 2:33], that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me." We see the Trinity in this last verse.)); JOHN 16:3, 5 ("These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. ... (5) But now I am going to Him who sent Me...."); JOHN 16:15 ("All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He [the Holy Spirit] takes of Mine and will disclose it to you." We see the Trinity here.); JOHN 16:23, 24 (("In that day [after Jesus is glorified and we are born again] you will not question Me about anything [or, better, "you will not ask Me for anything"]. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. (24) Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full." We see two Persons here.)); JOHN 16:26-28 (("In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. (28) I came forth from the Father and have come into the world [through the virgin birth]; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." Again we see two Persons and the preexistence of God the Son.)); JOHN CHAPTER 17 ((Essentially all the verses of this chapter are relevant to show the two Persons of God the Father and God the Son, but I'll just quote John 17:1-5 [We discussed these verses earlier in this paper.]: "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You. (2) even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. (3) This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God [Quite a few similar statements showing the preeminent role that God the Father has in the Trinity are found throughout the New Testament (cf., e.g., Rom. 16:26, 27; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 11:3; 15:27, 28; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; 6:13-16; and Jude 1:24, 25).], and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (4) I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (5) Now Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.' " This last verse is especially helpful in that it shows that God the Son was with the Father before the world, or anything else, was ever created (see John 1:1-3, for example). He was a Person sharing glory with God the Father, and through whom all things were created. This verse, by itself, should suffice to show that He was a Person with God the Father (and God the Holy Spirit) before creation began. There is no way we can say that He was just a word or a thought or an idea in the mind of God the Father before He became the God-man.)); JOHN 20:17 (("Jesus [having been resurrected] said to her [to Mary Magdalene], 'Stop clinging to Me, for I am not yet ascended to the Father, but go to My brethren and say to them, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God." ' " It is clear that Jesus, after His resurrection, still was a Person (God the Son, not just the human nature of Jesus) distinct from God the Father and that God the Father has the preeminent role in the Trinity.))


Copyright by Karl Kemp 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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Oh no. It's like me in high school all over again! Twin Peaks is perhaps the best show from the 90's. (Coming from someone who actually grew up in the 90's and lived life when Kobain was still my dog is named Agent Cooper.And the owls are not what they seem.

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