Is Jesus God? Or is he merely “a god”? Yeah, that’s a big topic but we’re going to take a stab at it today. And by today, I mean the last few weeks/months while I was researching it.
The most commonly encountered group that believes Jesus isn’t God (capital “G”) are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, the belief is technically known as “Unitarianism” and it’s been around since before Jesus died. By contrast, the Trinity doctrine teaches that there is One God, who exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (And don’t worry, I’ve got a great analogy later that’ll help it make perfect sense.)
This article is long, but you can use it as a reference instead of reading it straight through. Toward that end, I have organized it like a reference book. The table of contents below is clickable and will take you to the associated parts of the article.
- Unitarian Argument#1: Hierarchy/Authority/ Sending
- Unitarian Argument#2: Son of God
- Unitarian Argument#3: “The Father is greater than I”
- Unitarian Argument#4: Jesus is the “Firstborn of all creation”
- Unitarian Argument#5: “Your God and my God”
- Unitarian Argument#6: “The beginning of the creation of God”
- Unitarian Argument#7: “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, The LORD is One“
- Unitarian Argument#8: “Only One God, The Father”
- Trinity Argument #1: There is Only One God
- Trinity Argument #2: Who Created Everything?
- Trinity Argument #3: Jesus Created Himself…? What?
- Trinity Argument #4: Hebrews 1:8
- Trinity Argument #5: “we” “us” & “our”
- Trinity Argument #6: Yahweh sends/anoints Yahweh
- Trinity Argument #7: Early Church fathers
The Unitarian Position
Unitarians believe there is only one God (The Father) but He does not exist in three persons. They believe that Jesus is not eternal like the Father, but rather was created by the Father. They believe that the Holy Spirit is not a separate entity from the Father, but rather the Holy Spirit is the Father’s “Active Force”.
Probably the most common example of Unitarians are the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Let’s define terms (from a Unitarian Perspective.)
- The Father. No one denies that the Father is eternal, uncreated, almighty and the Creator of everything.
- The Son/Jesus. He came to Earth and died for our sins, but he was created by the Father, and thus is not eternal or almighty. They concede he is “a god” (small “g”) but not THE God
- The Holy Spirit. This is not a person at all. It merely refers to The Father’s “active force”, or the means by which He carries out His will.
- YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah. This the actual name of The Father, and doesn’t refer to anyone or anything else, especially not Jesus.
I will admit right up front that the Unitarian position is easier to understand. However, the Trinity is also quite understandable.
Understanding the Trinity
The Trinity doctrine states that there is only one God, and that He exists in three persons: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Each of the persons is distinct from the other, yet they are identical in essence. They are all three eternal, uncreated, and all powerful; yet they are only one God.
God is one God, but God is three.
How can this be?
On the surface, it makes very little sense. However, you’re already aware of the perfect example. (Even though you may not know it)
The Bible is the single bestselling book of all time… Except it’s not. It’s the 66 bestselling books of all time. The Bible is one book that includes 66 books.
The bible is one book, yet the Bible is made of 66 completely separate books. Every book is different, yet they exist in perfect harmony. Genesis is not Revelation, yet they both are (part of) the Bible. We say Genesis is History, Psalms is Poetry and Revelation is prophecy, so the books fulfill different roles. Yet the entire book is described as being without error, perfectly true, and God’s inspired word.
Likewise, God can be one, God can also be three… just like the Bible is one, but 66.
You can 100% accurately describe the Bible as one book. You can also 100% accurately describe the Bible as 66 books. It’s both, and there is no contradiction there.
Sounds like an understandable example of the Trinity to me.
FYI, we’re going to mostly ignore the Holy Spirit in this article because our topic is Jesus.
Let’s define terms from a Trinity Perspective.
- The Father. No one denies that the Father is eternal, uncreated, almighty and the Creator of everything.
- The Son/Jesus. He came to Earth and died for our sins, however He is also eternal, uncreated, almighty and is the same order of being as the Father.
- The Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity. Separate and distinct from The Father and Son, but also eternal, uncreated and almighty.
- YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah. This is the name of God collectively. Just as “the Bible” refers to all books by one name, so YHWH refers to The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit all at once.
It’s also worthy noting that the Trinity includes the concept of authority. While the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all of the same essence – and the same level/order of being – there does exist authority within the Trinity.
For an example, your boss has authority over you. However, your boss is no more (or less) human than you are even though he has authority you don’t. Likewise, the Son and Holy Spirit voluntarily submit to the Father, even though they are all God and of the same level/order of being.
There’s much more to say, but it will fit better in the context of the discussion below. Now that we’re all on the same page as far as terms, Let’s dive into the actual purpose of this article.
(In a courtroom, the Prosecuting Attorney always goes first. We will follow that same model here.)
So in no particular order, here are the strongest arguments the Unitarians offer that Jesus is created.
Unitarian Argument#1: Hierarchy/Authority/Sending
1 John 4:10
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.
19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
Unitarians use all of these verses to prove (correctly) that Jesus submits to the Father. However, why is that proof that the Trinity is false?
Sending someone is often – but always – an indication of authority, not identity. A king sends his servants and a boss sends his employees to do a task. But that does not mean the king/boss is a higher order of human than the servant/employee. My wife has sent me to the store to get things before, but does that make her better than I? Is she a “higher order” of human because she sent me?
The Unitarians are right about Authority.
Jesus does submit to the Father.
In fact, Jesus is a role model for perfect submission because He does nothing unless He sees the Father do it…
But why does that mean He can’t be God? (capital “G”)
Technically speaking, The bible tells wives to submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22). However, my wife occasionally sends me on errands even though (technically) I have a more authority. Likewise, just because Jesus submits to the Father, doesn’t mean He can’t also be God (capital “G”)
(This is especially true because the word used for “submit” is “Hupotasso“. It denotes a voluntary submission.)
Why does the Son submit to the Father?
My sister once said “it takes an eternity to understand an eternal God“. God is infinite in every sense of the word. Can the finite ever truly comprehend the infinite? Apparently not…
Job 36:26 How great is God — beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
While we can understand a lot about Him, to think our mortal minds can fully comprehend His infinite nature is the height of arrogance. (or possibly ignorance)
(As a side note, Jesus said in the garden while praying: “Not my will but Your will be done.”. At this point, He was human and (probably) wanted to avoid the pain. However, He submitted Himself to the will of the Father. Remember, Jesus was tempted just as we are yet remained without sin. His fleshly will fought against the Father’s will, and The Father’s will won.)
Unitarian Argument#2: Son of God
The Unitarians (correctly) argue that Jesus is the Son of God. They further say that since Jesus is the “Son of God” He can’t therefore BE God. For example, If I say “He is the son of Paul”, you would (correctly) conclude that “he” can’t BE Paul, because the son of a person can’t be the same person.
This idea is correct in assumption, but misses a crucial point: “God” doesn’t denote a person, but rather an order of being. There are several orders of being; some greater, some lesser. For example, God, angels, mankind, animals.
I have an entire article titled Why Jesus is called “The Son of God” and What It Means. In it, I explain there’s some cultural context that we modern westerners miss when ready about ancient Jews. Specifically, about the idea of “of their own kind”
During the creation account in Genesis, God creates animals and plants that recreate “after their own kind”. From a Jewish perspective, this fact was obvious and applied everywhere. The son of something is always the kind of thing as the father. Always. 100% of the time.
- The son of an Ape is always an Ape.
- The son of a Sloth is always a Sloth
- The Son of a Turtle is always a Turtle
So the Son of God is ____? (If you said “God”, then you get a gold star.)
I go into more detail in my article on the Son of God, but that’s the gist.
Further, “Son” describes a relationship just as much as parentage.
You’ve probably heard – or even used – the saying “he’s like a son to me“. We don’t mean it was like your wife gave birth to him and raised him from infancy. Instead, we are referring to a relationship.
The title “Son of God” perfectly express the relationship between The Father and The Son (Jesus). As we already covered, Jesus voluntarily submits to the Father. A son is like the father in every respect (because the son is “after the father’s kind”) except authority. Fathers have more authority than their sons.
So it is with The Father and The Son. The title “Son of God” primarily indicates two things:
- The Son (Jesus) is the exact same order of being (God) as The Father
- The Father has higher authority.
The Trinity position has zero problem with either of those statements.
Unitarian Argument#2.5: “Only begotten” Son of God
Unitarians love to point out that Jesus is called the “Only Begotten” Son of God. They this must mean that Jesus is created because he was “begotten right?
First, let’s look at the definition for Begotten
past participle of beget.
Okay, so what does “beget” mean?
(typically of a man, sometimes of a man and a woman) bring (a child) into existence by the process of reproduction.
Jesus did undergo the process of reproduction… sort of. The word “begotten” refers to normal human reproduction, i.e. being born. He was born of a virgin named Mary, so He was begotten.
But all that aside, The word “begotten” doesn’t exist in the Greek. I could go over it, but I’ve already done that in my article on why Jesus is called the Son of God. (It’s near the end of the article.) So if the above isn’t enough explanation, that article should clear things up.
Unitarian Argument#3: “The Father is greater than I”
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.
Unitarians take this to mean that the Father is “greater” in the sense of being a higher order of being. They say this verse means the Father is The God and Jesus is merely “a god”. It’s a reasonable point, and one of their stronger arguments.
However, it doesn’t have to mean that the Father is “the God” and Jesus is merely “a god” for two reasons. Reason #1 is the meaning of the word “great” both in English and in Ancient Greek.
Great = “Megas” in the Greek.
- of the external form or sensible appearance of things (or of persons)
- in particular, of space and its dimensions, as respects
- mass and weight: great
- compass and extent: large, spacious
- measure and height: long
- stature and age: great, old
- of number and quantity: numerous, large, abundant
- of age: the elder
- used of intensity and its degrees: with great effort, of the affections and emotions of the mind, of natural events powerfully affecting the senses: violent, mighty, strong
- predicated of rank, as belonging to
- persons, eminent for ability, virtue, authority, power
- things esteemed highly for their importance: of great moment, of great weight, importance
- a thing to be highly esteemed for its excellence: excellent
- splendid, prepared on a grand scale, stately
- great things
- of God’s preeminent blessings
- of things which overstep the province of a created being, proud (presumptuous) things, full of arrogance, derogatory to the majesty of God
Great can simply mean authority or rank. (and we’ve already established that Jesus submits to the Father)
Reason #2 is because of Hebrews 2:9
9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
Jesus was made “lower than the angels” for “a little while”. The obvious conclusion (supported by the context in Hebrews) is this refers to His incarnation. So, since He was made “lower than the angels” while on earth, there’s no problem with Jesus saying the Father was greater than Him. Certainly, Hebrews makes it clear that happened “for a little while” while he was on earth.
Jesus was obviously on Earth when he said that, so it’s not a problem.
Unitarian Argument#4: Jesus is the “Firstborn of all creation”
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
This verse seems to argue strongly for Jesus being created. However, that interpretation ignores the context of both this verse and the Jewish culture of the time.
Unfortunately, I can’t really condense the context for this article because it would get very long and I’m trying to keep this article brief. (though I’m failing at 7k+ words so far) However, I wrote an entire article on the topic of Why Jesus is called the “Firstborn of All Creation”. (opens in a new tab)
The full explanation is there and it doesn’t require Jesus to be a created being.
Unitarian Argument#5: “Your God and my God”
The verse is thus:
17 Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have 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.’”
I don’t understand why they think this is evidence that Jesus isn’t God. I really don’t. As we’ve already established, the Father has authority over the Son and the Son voluntarily submits to the Father.
Allow me to rephrase this is a way modern people would understand a little better.
…and the boss at my work said “I go to my boss and your boss”
Your boss can have a boss (one of higher authority), but that doesn’t diminish the fact that he is a boss. A king can have another king of higher authority over him, but that doesn’t mean he is less of a king. Example, Genesis 14:
1 And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim,
2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
3 All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).
4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.
Kings serving other kings. It happens, and doesn’t make the kings any less of a king for having a higher authority over them. Again, the issue here is authority. The Bible even uses the word “god” when applied to Humans because of the authority they were given (by God).
Exodus 4:16 (part of the burning bush scene, God is speaking to Moses.)
16 Moreover, he (Aaron) shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.
And the coup-de-grace:
Psalm 82 (This is the whole psalm)
1 God takes His stand in His own congregation;
He judges in the midst of the rulers.
2 How long will you judge unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah.
3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They do not know nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are sons of the Most High.
7 “Nevertheless you will die like men
And fall like any one of the princes.”
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth!
For it is You who possesses all the nations.
The psalm is directed at unjust/wicked rulers who were abusing their God-given authority. Notice verse 6, where the psalmist says “I said ‘you are gods’,“. Just like Moses being made “as God” to Aaron and Pharaoh, so these rulers judged as gods over the people because they were given authority.
God should be obeyed, so of course Jesus could call the Father his God… because Jesus obeys Him.
Going back the boss example, “I go to my boss and your boss” does NOT indicate levels of being. The “boss of bosses” isn’t a higher or better order of human by virtue of his authority.
- The “boss of bosses” is only superior to the “regular bosses” in one way: authority.
- Likewise, the Father is only superior to the Son in one way: authority.
Unitarian Argument#6: “The beginning of the creation of God”
Unitarians use this passage to argue that Jesus was created, and thus not eternal. (ignoring the witness of Isaiah 9:6, But I digress.)
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
Okay, first let’s look at the word used for “beginning”. It’s the Greek word “arche“. According to Strong’s Concordance, it has the following meaning:
- beginning, origin
- the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader
- that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause
the extremity of a thing
- of the corners of a sail
the first place, principality, rule, magistracy
- of angels and demons
You’ll notice that about half of those meanings refer to authority, not creation. Please also notice that only two of the meanings could possibly refer to Jesus being created. Further, let’s look and see how it’s translated in other parts of the New Testament.
(Remember, we’re looking at the word “arche”, which is translated “beginning” in the passage above.)
Luke 12:11 When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers (arche) and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;
Luke 20:20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule (arche) and the authority of the governor.
Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities (arche), nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule (arche) and all authority and power.
Ephesians 1:20-21 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule (arche) and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
(Note: this is another place where Jesus is described as “arche”, and notice it refers to His authority. There is no sense of creation here at all.)
Ephesians 3:10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers (arche) and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (arche), against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers (arche) or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
(Hmm, here we have Jesus being the “active source” of all “arche”…)
Colossians 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule (arche) and authority;
Colossians 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers (arche) and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers (arche), to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
Okay, I’m tired of copy/pasting verses to beat this dead horse.
Arche can and does mean authority in many cases. Not always, but a LOT. Of the 56 times it’s used, 38 times it’s translated beginning. However, as you’ve just seen, it’s also translated as ruler/rule many times.
In many of the places arche is used, it CANNOT mean beginning.
Therefore, there’s no problem with saying Jesus is the “Ruler of the Creation of God“. It’s perfectly consistent with how “arche” is used in many other places.
It’s easier to think of arche as meaning “first”. It could refer to the first in authority, the first thing to happen, the first place, etc. It doesn’t have to mean “beginning” and certainly doesn’t have to mean Jesus is created.
One last little tidbit.
Unitarian Argument#7: “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, The LORD is One“
Deuteronomy 6:4 is (to many Unitarians) the ultimate verse in the Bible proving that there is only one God. However, I believe the opposite is true.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
Remember, we read a Bible translation, not the original. Let’s look at the word used for “God” in Deuteronomy 6:4 in the original language. To do that, let’s start with an example from English. In English, we add the letter “s” to the end of a word to make it plural.
- One toy, many toys.
- One car, many cars. (and so on).
In Hebrew, they add the “im” suffix to indicate plurality. For example:
- One Cherub, many Cherubim
- One Seraph, many Seraphim
- One Eloah, many Elohim…
Wait, hold the phones.
- You say: “Wait… Elohim? Isn’t that the word that’s usually translated God in the old Testament?“
- I say: “Yes it is.”
Elohim is PLURAL. Not singular, but PLURAL
Deuteronomy 6:4 reads something like this in almost every translation:
4 Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God (Elohim), the Lord is one!
To render it according to the actual plurality, it would read like this:
4 Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our Gods, the Lord is one!
Yes, in the most famous statement of God’s one-ness, there is also contained a clear statement of his multiple-ness (is that a word?). Lets go back to our example with the Bible from earlier:
Hear O Christians, the Bible your books, the Bible is one book.
If I was going to explain the Trinity in a short statement, saying something like “One Gods” would just about do the trick. Speaking of, Elohim is often paired with a singular verb, like in Genesis 1:1.
1 In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.
The word for created is the Hebrew word “Bara“. It is a singular verb, meaning one person is doing the action. In Genesis 1:1, it is paired with a plural noun (Elohim). Singular verb (one) plus plural noun (Gods). So to translate Genesis 1:1 like it (possibly) should be translated:
1 In the beginning, One Gods created the heavens and the earth.
One (singular) Gods (plural).
That sounds like a statement of Plurality within God to me. It’s almost as clear as “the Word was with God and the Word was God” in John 1:1.
Elohim has a singular form (Eloah), but the Bible uses it only 57 times. By contrast, the Bible uses the plural form (Elohim) over 2,600 times. The vast majority of these times, Elohim applies to the One True God (Yahweh). Further, a majority of those times it’s paired with a singular verb, just like in Genesis 1:1 (One Gods)
So, does “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our Gods, the Lord is one” argue against the Trinity… Or for it?
This is just scratching the surface of the plurality of Elohim. There’s an excellent article entitled “Jewishness and the Trinity” on JewsForJesus.org that lays out the whole topic in much greater detail.
Unitarian Argument#8: “Only One God, The Father”
1 Corinthians 8:5-6
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, and we exist through Him.
This is a popular verse for Unitarians.
They believe that since this verse plainly states that “there is but one God, the Father” and that solves the argument. However, as we will see soon Jesus is clearly called God, (or at least “a god”) in other places in the Bible. (John 1:1 and Isaiah 9:6, Hebrews 1:8 among others). To say Jesus is not God (or at least “a god”) is to make the Bible – and its author – a liar. That alone would make some issues for the Unitarian position.
However, we’ll ignore that basic problem because there is a FAR larger problem.
If you read the verse carefully, you’ll notice it says that Jesus is our only Lord. So if Jesus is our only Lord, does that mean the Father isn’t our Lord?
Yikes, that’s definitely NOT a position I’d like to take on Judgement day. Do Unitarians really want to say the Father isn’t their Lord? (despite Him being called “Lord” many times throughout the Bible)
But that’s the position you must take if you separate Jesus and the Father from each other in this passage.
From a Trinity perspective, it’s not a big deal.
The Jews often said the same thing twice with different wording for emphasis. Saying it twice with different wording adds emphasis, and the Jews did that quite often.
I just did it. 😉
From a Trinity perspective, this passage is simple (and common) Jewish repetition for emphasis.
If you accept that the Father and Jesus are of the same essence, then ascribing a title to one automatically ascribes that same title to the other. The Father is God (so Jesus is too) and Jesus is Lord (so the Father is too).
(Interesting fact, the Father is never called “lord of Lords” in the Bible. You can look, it’s not there. So maybe Unitarians could say Jesus is their only Lord. But if Jesus is “Lord of Lords”, then wouldn’t that make Him the Lord of the Father…?)
On the surface, this verse seems to support the Unitarian position. However, with a closer look the opposite almost seems true.
Faith Wars: The Trinity Strikes Back! 😉
In no particular order:
Trinity Argument #1: There is Only One God
The Bible testifies of this fact many times.
As you are reading these passages, please remember the whenever you see “LORD” in all caps, that is the Tetragramaton YHWH, commonly pronounced “Yahweh”
10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
The problem arises with other passages like the ones below:
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
John 1:1 (NASB & NWT)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NASB)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (NWT, which is the Jehovah’s Witness translation)
(Note: I do not use this verse itself as proof of Christ’s divinity because there is enough room in the original Greek to wiggle out of that meaning in this passage. You can find more information in this excellent article about The Greek of John 1:1.)
Jesus here is called “Mighty God” and “God” in most translations. Even in Unitarian translations, John 1:1 admits that Jesus is at least “a god”.
However, we just looked at a bunch of verses which say there is only ONE God. Not two, but only one.
No matter how you slice it, from the Unitarian position there are two Gods:
- The Uncreated and Almighty Father
- The lesser, created and mighty – but not almighty – Son Jesus
Count them, 1+1=2 no matter how you look at it.
In talking with a Unitarian friend of mine, he asserted that it’s not 1+1 because the Father is way out of Jesus’ league. It’s more like “one plus way less than one“. Okay, fine lets go with that. The answer is still greater than one. If Jesus is 1% (0.01) and the Father is 100%, then 1+0.01=1.01…
Which is still more than one.
And I reject the basic premise anyway; 1+1=2 no matter how you slice it.
It’s rather ironic; Unitarians in there assertion that there is only one God have accidentally become Polytheistic. (Believing in more than one God)
This is the strongest evidence I’ve heard to disprove the Unitarian position. I have never heard a Unitarian adequately explain (without resorting to the Trinity) how there can be two gods (the Father and Jesus) and yet only one God.
Trinity Argument #2: Who Created Everything?
Jesus as creator is clearly started in a least two places.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Again, the Bible is very clear about Jesus role in creation; he created everything.
Unitarians typically maintain the the Father created everything through Jesus, much as an architect has a house built through a contractor. However, this position breaks down in light of several Old Testament passages.
(Do remember, that when you see “LORD” in all caps, it’s actually the tetragrammaton (YHWH), commonly pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah. Unitarians typically believe this is the actual name of the Father, and don’t believe YHWH refers to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. By contrast, the Trinity doctrine says that YHWH (Yahweh) refers to the Trinity collectively.)
24 Thus says the LORD (Yahweh), your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
“I, the LORD (Yahweh), am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone,
(Also Job 9:8, Isaiah 45:11-12, and Isaiah 48:13)
Here we have a problem.
Unitarians say that YHWH is the name of the Father, and refers only to Him. In Isaiah, YHWH says he created the heavens and the earth “by Myself” and “All alone” respectively. However, John and Colossians, make it very clear that Jesus created everything, or at least that He was involved in creating everything.
Follow the Logic:
- If YHWH created everything “by Himself” according to Isaiah
- And if Jesus created everything (or was at least involved)
- Then Jesus must either be YHWH, or be included in YHWH.
To rephrase that in a simpler manner with different names:
- If Union Allied Construction built the apartment complex “All alone”,
- And if Matt helped build the apartment complex,
- Then Matt must be part of Union Allied Construction.
(Marvel fans, note the Daredevil reference.)
Again, I have never heard a single argument that refutes this logic.
Trinity Argument #3: Jesus Created Himself…? What?
(And no that’s not me. I’m not that good looking)
Many Unitarians would argue that the Father was the creator, He just created everything through Jesus. In that case, the statement is still true because Jesus then would need to at least take part in the creation of everything.
Another way to put it is this:
- If Jesus is a created being like the Unitarians say
- And if Jesus created (or at least helped create) all things like John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 say
- then Jesus must have helped to create Himself…
Someone creating themself?
Creating yourself – even helping to create yourself – is an outlandish idea. To (help) create yourself, you must first exist to do the creating.
Trinity Argument #4: Hebrews 1:8
I like Hebrews 1:8 much better than John 1:1 for proving the Trinity.
8 But of the Son He says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.
The reason I like it better is the presense of the definite article “Ho” in the Greek. (John 1:1 lacks the definite article when referring to Christ)
We also have articles in English (the part of speech). There are the indefinite articles “a” and “an”, which are identical in function. English also has one definite article “the”.
- Indefinite articles are non-specific. I could say “a boy jumped” and it could mean any boy, anywhere. We say things like “a pen” or “a car” when refering to an item, but don’t really care which item.
- Definite articles are specific. I could say “The boy jumped” and you know I’m referring to a specific boy. It’s not just any boy, it’s THE boy.
Greek is the same way, except Greek doesn’t have an indefinite articles (“a” or “an”). In Greek, you indicate non-specific using the Greek word “tis”, which is an indefinte pronoun. (It’s often translated “a certain”. Notice how many parables in some translations begin with “there was a certain man”? That’s to indicate it could be any man, not a specific man)
Greek does have the definite article though.
In Hebrews 1:8, it says “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” The word translated “O” is the Greek definite article “ho“. Remember that definite articles are… well, definite. They don’t – and can’t – refer to just anything; they refer to something specific.
So when Hebrews says about Jesus “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever“, the definite article “ho” (Translated as “O”) means they are NOT talking about “a god”. It means they are talking about THE God.
You could translate it: “Your throne, the God, is forever and ever” without twisting the Greek. Unitarians will disagree though, and sometimes tranlsate this passage differently.
Hebrews 1:8 (New Word Translation, which is the Jehovah’s Witness translation)
8 But about the Son, he says: “God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness
Notice they have changed the word order to change the meaning. BTW, the New World Translation is the ONLY version I have ever seen with this rendering. Further, their own Interlinear bible demonstrates that the normal/typical rendering of this passage is correct in their eyes. The following is a screenshot from the Jehovah’s Wintness Interlinear Bible in Hebrews 1:8.
NOTE: an “interlinear bible” is a bible that has the original language right above/below the translation into English.
(Emphasis added, please also not that the Greek punctuation is missing from their interlinear. You can see a full interlinear version of Hebrews 1:8 on Biblehub.com.)
Further, Most of Hebrews 1:8 is a quote from Psalm 45:6
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
Again, this agrees with the normal/typical translation of Hebrews 1:8. It also agrees with the Hebrew of Psalms 45:6, and you can read the Hebrew Interlinear of Psalms 45:6 on BibleHub.com.
(Please note, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have translated Psalm 45:6 the same way as Hebrews 1:8. They don’t have an Interlinear in Hebrews for me too look at. However the Hebrew is pretty clear, as you can see from the interlinear on Biblehub.com. Further, the NWT is the only translation I have seen that renders this passage this way.)
Therefore, Jesus is “the God” according to Hebrews 1:8.
Not just “a god”, Jesus is “The God” and though the Father is too. Again, this is only possible with a doctrine like the Trinity.
Trinity Argument #5: “we” “us” & “our”
We’ve already covered that the used word for “God” in the Old Testament (Elohim) is plural. Additionally, God refers to Himself in the plural many times. For example:
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Unitarians often say the “we”, “us” and “our” passages are God speaking to the angels or to Jesus. They maintain that is the case here. However, how can man be made in the image of both the Father and Jesus if they are different?
Their other typical argument is that these uses of plurality are the “Royal we”. as in “we are not amused“. I have never found that convincing, but I don’t deny it’s a possibility. If it were the case, you would expect to find God using the “Royal we” commonly throughout the Bible, but it’s not very common. God almost always refers to Himself in the Singular. (Except of course that Elohim is plural…)
22 Then the LORD God (Yahweh) said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”
6 The LORD (Yahweh) said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.
7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
8 So the LORD (Yahweh) scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.
9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD (Yahweh) confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.
This account of the Tower of Babel is particularly compelling because the LORD (Yahweh) says he is going to do something in verses 6- 7. Then the LORD (Yahweh) does that thing in verses 8-9. There is no indication of any speaking or action by anyone or anything else.
It’s clear that the only person speaking and the only person acting is “the LORD” (Yahweh)… And He refers to Himself in the plural.
8 Then I heard the voice of the LORD (Yahweh), saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Here we have Yahweh referring to Himself in the both the singular and the plural in the same sentence. (One Gods)
There are more passages where God speaks of Himself in the plural, but I think there are enough here to make the point. I’ll freely admit it’s not the strongest argument for the Trinity. However, I think it’s still rather compelling.
Trinity Argument #6: Yahweh sends/anoints Yahweh
This one is a little harder to follow because the verse is in Isaiah 48, but the quotation starts all the way back in Isaiah 45.
18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited),
“I am the LORD (Yahweh), and there is none else.
From 45:18 through 48:16, Yahweh does not stop talking. (You can read Isaiah 45-48 here and double check me if you want) So notice what Yahweh says in chapter 48 verse 16, just BEFORE the quotation closes.
16 “Come near to Me, listen to this:
From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there.
And now the LORD (Yahweh) God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”
Please notice, we have Yahweh talking since 45:18, and now Yahweh says that Yahweh has sent Him. Yahweh has sent Yahweh. Sound like the Trinity to me.
This next one is even more clear.
22 “The smallest one will become a clan,
And the least one a mighty nation.
I, the LORD (Yahweh), will hasten it in its time.”
61:1 The Spirit of the LORD God (Yahweh) is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
First, realize that the chapter and verse divisions didn’t exist in the original Hebrew. They weren’t introduced until the mid 16th century, so those verses would have read like a regular paragraph. I copy/pasted the relevant bit below and removed the chapter and verse numbers.
“I, the LORD (Yahweh), will hasten it in its time. The Spirit of the LORD God (Yahweh) is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me“
So here we have Yahweh anointing Yahweh.
Again, sounds like the Trinity to me. I would love to hear an explanation for how Yahweh can send Yahweh that doesn’t involve the Trinity (or a doctrine almost exactly like it.)
Trinity Argument #7: Early Church Fathers
A common accusation of the Unitarians is that the doctrine of the Trinity was created in/around the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Their argument goes that Constantine created the doctrine – or at least was instrumental in making it part of Christianity.
I’m afraid this is pure, unadulterated non-sense. (or just ignorance)
A look at the writings of the Early Church Fathers make it obvious that the Deity of Christ was plainly taught. Further, it was taught by these church Father in the 1st and 2nd century. Most notably, the Deity of Christ was taught by Polycarp and Ignatius; both of whom were direct disciples of the Apostle John (the author of the Gospel of John; 1st, 2nd, & 3rd John, plus Revelation)
In fact, at least nine Early Church father taught the Deity of Christ, all of whom wrote before the Council of Nicaea. I’ll only give two quick quotes below. However, you can find many other here: Nine Early Church Fathers Who Taught Jesus Is God.
Also, please remember that Ignatius lived 50-117, and Polycarp lived 69-155. Both lived and wrote in the First century and were directly discipled by the Apostle John.
Being as you are imitators of God, once you took on new life through the blood of God you completed perfectly the task so natural to you.
Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, 1.1
For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit.
Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, 18.2.
Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal high priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth…and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead.
Polycarp, letter to the Philippians, 12:2.
The early church fathers taught the Deity of Christ quite clearly. In fact, it gets even more clear if you start reading the quotes in the article I referenced. Here’s the link again just because it’s worth linking to twice. Nine Early Church Fathers Who Taught Jesus Is God.
I do realize the early church fathers are inspired like the Bible is. They were fallible men and I suppose it’s possible they could all be wrong… but I doubt it. That article has a list of almost every significant early church father (pre-Council of Nicaea) and they universally agree on the Deity of Christ.
I’d say that’s pretty convincing evidence.
I have even more evidence for the divinity of Jesus, but I think that’s enough for now. Several of those arguments for the Trinity are as close to Ironclad as can be. (How can there be one God but two gods without a doctrine like the Trinity?)
So is Jesus God? or just “a god”? Are the Unitarians or the Trinitarian correct? I’d say the evidence is very convincing.