LET US continue our series by examining John 8: 58, “Before Abraham was, I am.” In the previous context Jesus had told the Jews that they needed to be set free from the bondage of sin, but they said that they were never in bondage, that Abraham was their great patriarch. Jesus replied that they should do the works of Abraham, and when He said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (verse 56), they replied that He was not yet 50 years old, so how could He have seen Abraham? He then informed them that His existence was not limited to the years He was spending on earth. Jesus told them that His existence was unbroken from eons before Abraham’s day, and was unbroken thereafter. Hence, He could truly say, “Before Abraham was, I am,” in other words, “I existed.”
Jesus never claimed equality with God, which would have been the case had He claimed to be the “I AM” of Exodus 3: 14. Rather, He repeatedly claimed to be the Son of Man (Matthew 20: 28), thus clearly identifying Himself with the prophesied Messiah (Daniel 7: 13, 14). Jesus also referred to Himself as the Son of God, BUT NEVER AS GOD THE SON (Matthew 16: 16, 17). He frequently referred to God as His Father. The Jew objected to this and claimed wrongly that by saying that God was His Father He was “making himself equal with God” (John 5: 18). Instead of claiming equality, Jesus humbly and plainly declared, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14: 28).
“I and my Father are One” (John 10: 18, 30-36)
Some say that Jesus is co-equal with the Father because of what He said about Himself (John 10: 18), however, a better translation for the word “power” is “authority.” In other words, Jesus had authority from the Father to lay down His life as a Ransom for all (1 Timothy 2: 6). No man could take it from Him until His hour had come. And He had authority to receive it again at the time of His resurrection. He could not raise Himself, however, but was raised by the Father (Acts 2: 24).
Trinitarians claim as a proof of their doctrine the unity of the Father and the Son, “I and my Father are one” (John 10: 30). But let us consider when Jesus prayed that all of His disciples may be one, He did not pray that they would all be one being, but that their unity would be oneness of mind, heart, and will. Since the oneness for which He prayed for them was not a oneness of being, the oneness between Him and the Father cannot be that of being, because Jesus (John 17: 11, 22) prays that the oneness for which He prayed on their behalf be patterned after the oneness that exists between the Father and Himself.
Jesus defined this oneness (John 17: 21, 22) as follows, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me [God was in Him by His holy spirit, disposition, even as Jesus is in His disciples by the holy spirit, disposition (John 14: 17, 20)], and I in thee [Jesus was in the Father (John 14: 10, 11, 20) by accepting and keeping the Father as His Head], that [thus the Father and the Son, by their spirit, disposition, being in them, and they by their spirit of consecration, being in Them] they also may be one in us . . . that they may be one, even as we are one.”
Furthermore, if the Father and Son were but one Being, they could not be the two Beings required to bear witness (John 8: 17, 18). But since they gave sufficient witness, they must be two Beings.
Accordingly, John 10: 30 does not prove the Son’s equality with the Father, but rather proves the Son’s subordination to the Father; for John 17: 21, which shows the kind of unity that exists between them to be connected with the Son’s being in the Father, implies that the Father is the Son’s Head (“Thou hast sent me”) and that the Son is His in the sense that we are Christ’s, in subordination to Him; hence He must be subordinate to the Father (1 Corinthians 3: 23; 11: 3), even as the headship of Christ makes the Church subordinate to Christ (Colossians 1: 18).
Trinitarians point to the Jews’ untrue accusation against Jesus, “Thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10: 33), as evidence that Jesus claimed equality with God. But Jesus in the context (John 10: 34-36) shows that others in the Bible, far less mighty than Jehovah, are called gods (elohim), by His quoting from Psalm 82: 6.
“He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14: 9)
Sometimes Trinitarians use John 14: 9 as a proof of their doctrine. The thought of the text rather is that the Son, being the character image of the Father (Hebrews 1: 3), is a picture of the Father, thus He could say that whoever sees Him as the character picture of the Father sees the Father, that is, in His character, but of course not in His body, which Philip requested.
Trinitarians sometimes claim that the Apostle Thomas’ exclamation to Jesus in John 20: 28, “My Lord and my God,” proves that Jesus is Jehovah. A literal rendering is “the Lord of me and the God of me.” But we are not to draw the conclusion that Thomas meant Jesus is Jehovah. Rather, he meant that Jesus was His Lord and Mighty One, but not the Almighty. After admonishing Thomas because of his doubting, Jesus said, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God [not God the Son]” (verse 31).
Sometimes Acts 1: 8, “ye shall be witnesses unto me [Jesus],” is claimed by Trinitarians to try to prove that Jesus is called Jehovah in the Bible. They refer to Isaiah 43: 10, 12, where Jehovah says, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD [Jehovah],” and claim that being witnesses to Jehovah and Jesus proves that they are one God. But this is not so. We are witnesses to both, the Father as supreme, and Jesus under His direction, as His Agent.
Some Trinitarians say that Acts 16: 31, 34 refer to belief in the Lord Jesus as belief in God and therefore claim that Jesus is God. But as already shown, Jehovah is the great Author of the Plan of salvation and Jesus is its worthy Interpreter and Executor (Revelation 5).
Some Trinitarians quote Acts 20: 28, “Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,” to prove the Trinity. If the Father is here meant we would have to say that God has blood, which is nonsense, for a spirit does not have flesh or blood (1 Corinthians 15: 50). But considering that the great majority of the Greek MSS have here, instead of God the word Lord, which is the proper reading, the difficulty vanishes.
Philippians 2: 6 Disproves the Trinity
Philippians 2: 6 is often appealed to by Trinitarians in their efforts to uphold their error. But the Apostle Paul did not say what the King James Version Bible states in this verse, namely, that Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” In the preceding context Paul exhorts against “strife or vainglory” and to “lowliness of mind” and unselfishness (verses 3, 4). Paul calls special attention to the humble, unselfish, self-abnegating mind, or disposition, of Jesus; and because of this Paul counsels the brethren to have the same kind of mind, or disposition as Jesus (verse 5). In harmony with these exhortations Paul then states that Jesus “counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (verses 6, 7, ASV).
The humble, self-abnegating, God-pleasing course of Jesus in becoming human, dying the ignominious death on the cross and not seeking to exalt Himself to being equal with God is in marked contrast to the very proud, selfish, self-exalting, God-disapproved course of Lucifer (Satan) in seeking to set up a rivalry and be equal or above the Most High (Isaiah 14: 12-14).
Sometimes Trinitarians use Colossians 2: 9, “In him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” to try to prove the Trinity. “Godhead” is not a good translation, but it should be “Deity.” This passage assures us that in Christ as God’s Vicegerent lodges God’s character image, His nature, honor, power, and official authority. But a comparison of Colossians 1: 18, 19 proves that this is since Jesus’ resurrection, and is a reward for His faithfulness to God unto death.
(to be continued)