SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Explaining the Trinity to Jehovah's Witnesses
By Jay Hess
Occasionally the doctrine of the Trinity is described as a "mystery" and as "incomprehensible". To many thinking persons these terms imply that the doctrine is illogical and unbelievable. But any doctrine that is held by so many should be logical, easy to understand and easy to explain. It should not require one to be a language scholar or even to wrestle with language issues. Any appeal to language considerations should be only to add clarity to the message that is already present. Did the fishermen and shepherds in first century Palestine need to acquaint themselves with obscure language issues in order to understand the doctrinal basics? I do not think so. True, they were already familiar with the original language in which the text was written but I doubt they had to concern themselves with fine points of grammar.
Further, a doctrine that is considered to be fundamental to the Christian faith should not have to stand on isolated verses here and there that only give hints. It should be clearer than that. We should be able to find extended passages that demonstrate the point. If a doctrine is to be held with conviction, then it should be able to respond to Scriptural challenges logically and simply and not have to repeatedly resort to statements like "it is a mystery" or "God is beyond our comprehension". While it is true, of course, that there are things that are true of God that are beyond our comprehension -- I still cannot conceive of what 'from eternity' means -- but, at the very least, those doctrines that we choose to hold firmly should not appear contradictory.
For example, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 shows that after his reign, Christ submits to his Father. How does this fit into the Trinity doctrine? 1 Corinthians 11:3 teaches that the head of Christ is God. Since Revelation 3:12 shows that the Father is the God of Jesus, how do we answer the series of questions: 'Does God have a God? If Jesus is God and Jesus has a God, then does that not mean God has a God? How many Gods are there?' How can Jesus be God and at the same time be a servant (Acts 4:27)? And what about Hebrews 5:8, which implies that Jesus had to come to earth to learn obedience. Why would God have to learn anything? 1 Corinthians 8:6 seems to say that the Father is the one to call God while Jesus is distinguished as Lord. - All these issues should be explainable.
Finally, it is preferable that doctrines be based on the most straight-forward reading of a Biblical text without reading something into a text. If the straight reading of a text seems difficult to reconcile with other texts, this is not a sound reason to immediately assume it cannot mean what it says. If this sounds hard to do, just think of this as an 'experiment' where we will just accept the texts for what they say and see if, in the end, we have something that is easy to understand or whether we have an incomprehensible mystery. There will be two presentations in this booklet, one using the first part of the book of Hebrews and another using the Gospel of John chapter 5. Both of these passages assume that the reader is familiar with Jewish beliefs. So as the discussion proceeds it will be necessary to refer to Old Testament texts. Because a JW will only accept the New World Translation and because non-JWs often do not realize the significance of the differences between the NWT and other Bibles, this presentation will quote mainly from the NWT.
The Deity of Christ
Would you consider the belief that Jesus is the "Christ" to be a fundamental belief? Would you say that this belief was clearly taught by Jesus?
Generally Jesus did not openly claim that he was the Christ (John 10:24,25,37,38; Luke 22:67) but wanted to be recognized based on his teachings and his works (John 5:36; 14:10,11). Only rarely did he admit to being the Christ (John 4:25,26). He normally did not want others to proclaim that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:20; Luke 4:41). A few recognized him as the Christ (John 1:41; 7:31; 11:26,27; Matthew 16:13-16; 27:17,22), but most had misconceptions about what to expect of the Christ and did not recognize him (John 7:27,40-43; 12:34; Luke 23:39).
Why do some people today believe Jesus is the Christ?
-- The claims Jesus made imply that he was the Christ.
-- The works Jesus did imply that he was the Christ.
-- Persons close to Jesus professed him to be the Christ.
Why do some people doubt Jesus is the Christ? Jesus did not actually claim to be the Christ. Some misunderstand the implications of the title, leading to false expectations.
I believe that the same is true for Jesus' Deity. Although his claims and works show him to be God and some persons close to him even professed him to be God, because he never actually claimed to be God and because some misunderstand the implications of the title, many today are unable to believe that he is God. So in the examination that follows, ask yourself, do the claims and works of Jesus imply that he is God? Do the scriptures actually call him "God"? If you doubt that Jesus is God, could it be that the title "God" causes you to expect things about Jesus that are not actually taught in Scripture? If a first-century Jew were curious about who Jesus was and wanted a description of this new Christian religion in terms that would utilize Jewish beliefs and heritage, what ONE book of the Bible should he read? The book "to the Hebrews".
Hebrews 1: "1 God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets, 2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, . . ."
The Hebrew Scriptures were revealed somewhat through angels but mostly through imperfect human agents. Now we are introduced to someone called the "Son". Who is he? Can he be described in terms already familiar to the Jewish believer? Will the Son be described as a human, a prophet, as an angel or what?
Hebrews 1: "2 . . . whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things."
Notice that this says the Son made the systems of things. This is plural and emphasizes that he made everything in the universe.
This is echoed in John 1: "3 All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence."
So through this Son, God (as mentioned in Hebrews 1:1) made the universe. Nothing that was made came into existence without him. This would probably cause a devout Jew a little puzzlement. Was there anyone in the Hebrew scriptures that was revealed to have shared in making the universe? Who could this be? Angels, also called sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 29:1; 89:5-7), cannot do what God can do, they did not participate in making the universe, they were part of the creation:
Deuteronomy 3: "24 O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you yourself have started to make your servant see your greatness and your strong arm, for who is a god in the heavens or on the earth that does deeds like yours and mighty performances like yours?"
Psalm 71: "19 Your righteousness, O God, is up to the height; As respects the great things that you have done, O God, who is like you?"
Psalm 86: "8 There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, Neither are there any works like yours. 10 For you are great and are doing wondrous things; You are God, you alone."
Isaiah 44: "24 This is what Jehovah has said, your Repurchaser and the Former of you from the belly: 'I Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?'"
Isaiah 45: "18 For this is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: 'I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. 21 . . .Who has caused this to be heard from a long time ago? Who has reported it from that very time? Is it not I, Jehovah, besides whom there is no other God; a righteous God and a Savior, there being none excepting me? 22 Turn to me and be saved, all you at the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no one else."
So how many Gods made the universe? One or two? Notice what Jesus' Jewish disciples thought . . .
Acts 4: "24 Upon hearing this they with one accord raised their voices to God and said: "Sovereign Lord, you are the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them."
Acts 1: "24 The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth."
Only ONE God made the universe! Who? If God made the universe by himself and no other God can do what He can do, who is this Son that was used to make the universe? Will the rest of the book to the Hebrews answer this? Will it name someone that has already been revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures as this Son that made the universe?
Continuing with Hebrews 1: "3 He is the reflection of [his] glory . . ."
So this "Son" is the reflection (other translations say "radiance") of God's glory! This too is a puzzlement. For the Hebrew Scriptures say:
Isaiah 42: "8 I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images."
Isaiah 48: "11 For my own sake, for my own sake I shall act, for how could one let oneself be profaned? And to no one else shall I give my own glory." (Compare Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38; John 16:14,15; 17:5; Revelation 5:13,14)
So who is it that is the reflection and radiance of the glory of God himself? Is it really true that God will not share his glory with another? Since we are in Isaiah for the moment, consider another passage where Isaiah saw Jehovah's glory. As you read it, ask yourself "Are Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 true here? Is God's glory being shared with another God? How many glories are mentioned here?"
Isaiah 6: "1 . . . I, however, got to see Jehovah, sitting on a throne lofty and lifted up, and his skirts were filling the temple. 2 Seraphs were standing above him. . . . 3 And this one called to that one and said: "Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The fullness of all the earth is his glory." . . . 5 And I proceeded to say: "Woe to me! For I am as good as brought to silence, because a man unclean in lips I am, and in among a people unclean in lips I am dwelling; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies, himself!" . . .8 And I began to hear the voice of Jehovah saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I proceeded to say: "Here I am! Send me." 9 And he went on to say: "Go, and you must say to this people, 'Hear again and again, O men, but do not understand; and see again and again, but do not get any knowledge.' 10 Make the heart of this people unreceptive, and make their very ears unresponsive, and paste their very eyes together, that they may not see with their eyes and with their ears they may not hear, and that their own heart may not understand and that they may not actually turn back and get healing for themselves."
Well, how many glories did you see? Did you see the glory of anyone else described here? Did Jehovah share his glory with anyone else? Now compare . . .
John 12:36-43: "36 . . . Jesus spoke these things and went off and hid from them. 37 But although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, . . . 39 The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: 40 "He has blinded their eyes and he has made their hearts hard, that they should not see with their eyes and get the thought with their hearts and turn around and I should heal them." 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. 42 All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess [him], in order not to be expelled from the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory of men more than even the glory of God."
From the context it is clear that this is referring to Jesus, the Son of God, the one that many would not believe. Yet John quotes Isaiah 6:10 (in John 12:40) and says that Isaiah saw the glory of the Son of God! So how many glories did Isaiah see?
Since Isaiah heard Jehovah say "who will go for us?", does this imply that there was another separate glory present but not mentioned? Or does this imply only that there was another person present but only ONE glory shared by both? Is Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 contradicting Isaiah 6:1-10? So whose glory did Isaiah see - Jesus' or Jehovah's? Did he see the glory of one God or two? Does verse 43 answer the question when it refers to "the glory of God"? Actually the answer is simple and easy to understand but that will have to wait until later.
Continuing with Hebrews 1:3 -- "... and the exact representation of his very being," As a side reference, this thought is echoed in . . .
Philippians 2: "6 who, although he was existing in God's form, . . ." (Although translations differ over how the end of this verse should be translated they agree on the first part saying that Jesus, while in heaven, existed in God's form.)
John 14: "9 Jesus said to him: "Have I been with you men so long a time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father [also]. . . ."
Jesus has God's appearance, he looks exactly like God even in his "very being". But who looks like God? Do angels look like God? Is there another God that looks exactly like God? Here is another puzzle for the Hebrew trying to understand who the Son is in terms of the Hebrew Scriptures:
Psalm 89: "6 For who in the skies can be compared to Jehovah? Who can resemble Jehovah among the sons of God? 7 God is to be held in awe among the intimate group of holy ones; He is grand and fear-inspiring over all who are round about him. 8 O Jehovah God of armies, Who is vigorous like you, O Jah? And your faithfulness is all around you. 9 You are ruling over the swelling of the sea; When it raises up its waves you yourself calm them." - [What would a Jew that was familiar with this verse think of the account in Matthew 8:24-27 (Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)?]
Note that this implies that the "sons of God" of verse 6 are the ones who are around him in verse 7. So even the angels that are around Jehovah, these sons of God, cannot compare nor do they even resemble Him. Then WHO is the Son that is the reflection of God's glory "and the exact representation of his very being"?
1 Kings 8: 23 and he went on to say: 'O Jehovah the God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heavens above or on the earth beneath, keeping the covenant and the loving-kindness toward your servants who are walking before you with all their heart' " (2 Chronicles 6:14 reads the same.)
Isaiah 46: 5 To whom will you people liken me or make [me] equal or compare me that we may resemble each other? . . . 9 Remember the first things of a long time ago, that I am the Divine One and there is no other God, nor anyone like me."
(Other verses that also say there is no God like Jehovah, are: Exodus 8:10; 9:14; 15:11; Deuteronomy 33:26; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 113:5; Isaiah 40:18,25; 44:6-8; Jeremiah 10:6; Micah 7:18.)
Would a Jew familiar with these texts conclude that the Son, the one who is "the exact representation of his very being" must be an angel or a second and distinct God? Just who is this book to the Hebrews, chapter 1 verse 3, describing here?
Continuing with Hebrews 1:3 -- " .... and he sustains all things by the word of his power;"
Again, as we saw in verse 2, the Son can do what God can. But who can do the works of God? WHO sustains the universe? Not the angels:
Psalm 148 "1 Praise Jah, you people! Praise Jehovah from the heavens, Praise him in the heights 2 Praise him, all you his angels. Praise him, all you his army. 3 Praise him, you sun and moon. Praise him, all you stars of light. 4 Praise him, you heavens of the heavens, And you waters that are above the heavens. 5 Let them praise the name of Jehovah; For he himself commanded, and they were created. 6 And he keeps them standing forever, to time indefinite. A regulation he has given, and it will not pass away."
So how is it that the Son sustains the universe?
Continuing with Hebrews 1:3 -- ". . . and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places."
How would a first-century Jew react to this claim that the Son removed his sins? The same situation occurred at Mark 2:1-12 (Luke 5:18-26) where Jesus showed he had the authority to forgive sins before his death (Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24). The Jews replied (Mark 2:7) "He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins except one, God?" or (Luke 5:21) "Who is this that is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins except God alone?" There reaction to saying that someone, other than God, removed sin was blasphemy! So what would a Hebrew, reading this book written to the Hebrews, conclude as to the identity of the Son of God? Would he say 'Of course, the Son must be a second God (or an angel) that made the universe, does everything God does, looks exactly like God, has the glory of God, sustains the universe and forgives sins.'?
Up to this point the Son has been compared to God. Would you say that the comparisons show the Son to be different, somewhat similar or exactly like God? Well, now we will see how the Son is compared to angels. Will we find that the writer of Hebrews identifies the Son with some special angel that was revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures? Will we see a parallel between the Son and any angel mentioned in the New Testament,such as Revelation 20:1? No. From this point on we will see the Son contrasted with angels and shown to be VERY different. If the Son is to be identified with some Old Testament angel, this is THE place to show it so that our Jewish reader of this book to the Hebrews will understand who the Son is in familiar terms.
Hebrews 1: "4 So he has become better than the angels, to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs."
For clarity compare this rendering from the New Revised Standard Version: "4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs."
This is echoed in 1 Peter 3: "22 He is at God's right hand, for he went his way to heaven; and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him."
We learn from Hebrews 2:9, 17 that the Son had to take on the nature of humans and become, temporarily, lower than angels. But at his resurrection he was exalted to heaven, and received a position superior to that of angels (compare John 17:5) and received another superior name, the "only-begotten Son" that had its fullest meaning after his resurrection (Romans 1:3,4; Acts 13:33).
Hebrews 1:5 -- For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: "You are my son; I, today, I have become your father"? And again: "I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son"?"
There are two Old Testament references here, the first is from Psalm 2:7, the second is from 2 Samuel 7:14 (that these apply to Jesus, the Son, compare Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 5:5). Following the line of reasoning here, we see this is a rhetorical question, that is, the answer is supposed to be obvious to the informed reader. God never said these things to any angel.
Hebrews 1:6 -- But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: "And let all God's angels do obeisance to him."
This is similar to Psalm 148:2 (quoted above) where the angels praise God. It could be considered somewhat like Daniel 7:14 where all people are to serve the "son of man". It is possibly a quotation from Psalm 97:7, which is very close when viewed in the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated LXX, the Greek Old Testament used by early Christians and some Jews). But it is closest to Deuteronomy 32:43 which reads (only in the LXX!):
"Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people."
Again, here is another contrast between angels and the Son. Angels are public servants but the Son is King. So where is the admission that the Son is also an angel? Verse 9 says that God is "your" God, that is, the Son's God. What does this imply? It shows that the Son is not the same person as the one who anointed him and he does not have the same position as that one. So who is he? The answer is simple as we will see later . . .
But what about the term "partners" in verse 9? Does that not imply that the Son has partners and therefore he came from that class of beings and is one of them? No. This cannot be justified anymore than saying that because God has intimate association with angels (see Psalm 89:6,7 quoted above) that therefore he is one of them. Also note that the same Greek word for "partner" appears in Hebrews 6:4 where it discusses humans that at one time had been partners with God's Holy Spirit but had fallen away. This certainly does not mean that these humans were from the same class of being as the Holy Spirit. So, no, this verse does not imply that the Son is of the same class of being as his partners. (It is also interesting to think how a person can have the Holy Spirit as a partner. If the Holy Spirit is only an impersonal force, how could 'it' be a partner? Would you conclude that the Son's partners in verse 9 were all impersonal forces?)
Hebrews 1:10 -- And: "You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands. 11 They themselves will perish, but you yourself are to remain continually; and just like an outer garment they will all grow old, 12 and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as an outer garment; and they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will never run out."
What would a Jew conclude from this? Another puzzlement. For this is a quotation from Psalm 102:25-27:
Psalm 102 -- 1 O Jehovah, do hear my prayer . . . 24 I proceeded to say: "O my God, . . . 25 Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, And the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; And just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. 27 But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed."
Here is a passage from the old testament that is addressed to Jehovah, "my God", and gives Him credit for making the universe. But in the book of Hebrews, when the writer wants to communicate to a Hebrew clearly who the Son is, does he choose passages that originally apply to angels or an archangel? No. He chooses passages that are addressed to Jehovah God that describe actions that are believed to apply ONLY to Him (Isaiah 44:24) and then to applies them to the Son! What will this Jew think when he reads further into the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 3: "4 Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God."
So how will this Jew answer the question: 'According to this book who constructed the universe?' Hebrews 1:2 says that the Son made all the systems of things. Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes a verse addressed to Jehovah and applies it to the Son to show that the Son made all things. Next Hebrews 3:4 says God made all things. So what is the message here? The purpose of this part of Hebrews is to teach a Jew just who Jesus is. If Jesus were Michael or some other angel why does this book not simply say that? Why does this book repeatedly take attributes that belong to God and apply them to the Son?
Hebrews 1:13 -- But with reference to which one of the angels has he ever said: "Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet"? 14 Are they not all spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?"
Here is another reference to an Old Testament verse, Psalm 110:1. Then another rhetorical question is asked, "to which one of the angels has he ever said?" And again the answer is 'None'. Verse 14 affirms this by showing that while the Son is at the right hand of God and his enemies will be a stool for his feet, ALL angels are just ministers for public service (similar to verses 7 and 8). If ALL angels are ministers and here contrasted with the Son, how could the Son be an angel?
So to summarize so far, the Son is repeatedly shown to be different from angels (Hebrews 1:4,5,6,7,8,13,14) and is shown to be like God in the essential attributes (Hebrews 1:2,3,6,10-12). Will we find something in Hebrews chapter 2 that will identify this Son as an angel or archangel?
Hebrews 2:1 -- That is why it is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us, that we may never drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved to be firm, and every transgression and disobedient act received a retribution in harmony with justice; 3 how shall we escape if we have neglected a salvation of such greatness in that it began to be spoken through [our] Lord and was verified for us by those who heard him, 4 while God joined in bearing witness with signs as well as portents and various powerful works and with distributions of holy spirit according to his will?"
And, what is the point here? Since a Jew realizes that the Old Testament words that were spoken by angels is absolutely firm and reliable, then all the words spoken by the "Lord" (the Son) must be even stronger and we need to pay even MORE attention to them. Here is another contrast between the words spoken by angels (or even an archangel) and the words spoken by the Lord.
Now as we read the next verse, first ask yourself this question "If the resurrected Son, the one who is waiting for the earth to be placed under his feet, is the archangel described in Revelation 12:7 (Michael) or the angel of Revelation 20:1 (with the chain to capture Satan), then could it be stated correctly that one day the earth will be in subjection to an angel?"
Hebrews 2:5 -- For it is not to angels that he has subjected the inhabited earth to come, about which we are speaking."
So is there any way that the Son could be an angel or archangel? Is that what a first-century Hebrew would have concluded from reading all this?
Hebrews 2:6 -- But a certain witness has given proof somewhere, saying: "What is man that you keep him in mind, or [the] son of man that you take care of him? 7 You made him a little lower than angels; with glory and honor you crowned him, and appointed him over the works of your hands. 8 All things you subjected under his feet." For in that he subjected all things to him [God] left nothing that is not subject to him. Now, though, we do not yet see all things in subjection to him; 9 but we behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God's undeserved kindness might taste death for every [man]."
In quoting Psalm 8:5, 6 we see Jesus, although temporarily made less than angels, is crowned with honor and glory and all things will eventually be in subjection to him. But remember, the earth will NEVER be made subject to angels.
Hebrews 2:10 -- For it was fitting for the one for whose sake all things are and through whom all things are, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Read this carefully. Who is it that 'made the Chief Agent perfect through sufferings'? Since Jesus is the Chief Agent, the one who made him perfect (the Greek means 'complete') must be God. Likewise God is the one that brings many sons to glory. Then we must conclude that God is the "one for whose sake all things are and through whom all things are". Sound familiar? Paul writing his letter to the Colossians, speaks of Jesus saying:
Colossians 1: "16 because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him" (Note that the word "other" is marked in the NWT to indicate that it is not in the Greek text.)
So who is this "Son"? He cannot be an angel but could he be a second God? Jesus is called "God" in . . .
John 1: (by John) "18 No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him."
John 20: (by the apostle Thomas) "28 In answer Thomas said to him: "My Lord and my God!"
Isaiah 9: "6 For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." - This is the same title given to Jehovah in the next chapter of Isaiah 10:20,21.
Does this mean there are two Gods? We have already seen a few verses in the Bible that clearly state that there is only one God that fully qualifies to be called "God" (see the quotations above: Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 45:21,22; Isaiah 46:9). Now consider a couple in the New Testament:
Mark 12: "28 Now one of the scribes that had come up and heard them disputing, knowing that he had answered them in a fine way, asked him: "Which commandment is first of all?" 29 Jesus answered: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, 30 and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.' 31 The second is this, 'You must love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 32 The scribe said to him: "Teacher, you well said in line with truth, 'He is One, and there is no other than He'"
1 Timothy 1: "17 Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, [the] only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen"
This verse, which opens 1 Timothy is addressed to God and describes him as the only God, incorruptible, invisible. But then the book closes with this statement describing Jesus (See Insight Vol 2 p. 254, 678, 1018)...
1 Timothy 6: "14 that you observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 This [manifestation] the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times, [he] the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, 16 the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom not one of men has seen or can see. To him be honor and might everlasting. Amen"
So Paul opens his letter to Timothy describing the only God as King, as eternal, as incorruptible (similar meaning to immortal), as invisible, deserving honor and glory, and ending with "Amen". Then Paul closes his letter with a description of Jesus as King, the one alone having immortality, who cannot be seen, deserving of honor and might and ending with "Amen".
Does Paul claim that both God and Jesus have the same essential attributes? How many Gods does Paul believe have these attributes?
Other verses that affirm there is only one God are: Deuteronomy 4:35,39; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 22:32 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 19:15,19; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 37:16,20; 45:5,14,18; Joel 2:27; and in the New Testament: John 5:44; Romans 3:30; 16:27; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 1:25.
Nowhere in the Bible do we see the teaching that there are two Gods with similar attributes, both participating in making the universe. To the contrary, when the Bible speaks of the true God it repeatedly says there is only one God, there is no other God that can compare. Yet Hebrews chapter 1 does compare someone to God. Someone that is not an angel, is called "God", is NOT a second God and yet considers God to be his God.
Does this sound like a puzzle? Some would try to resolve this by saying that there are many gods in Scripture. We saw a reference to such in Psalm 86:8. Does this mean that we have misunderstood the many verses that say there is only ONE God? And then does that imply Jesus could be one of those other gods? If so then all those verses that say there is only ONE God will have to be explained. And then we would be left with the idea that Jesus is another God that has the same attributes as his Father. We would have two equal Gods. Is there any scripture that says this? NO! Then how do we explain Psalm 86:8 (or 2 Corinthians 4:4; Psalm 82:1,6) that suggests that there are other gods?
Galatians 4: "8 Nevertheless, when you did not know God, then it was that you slaved for those who by nature are not gods." So there are other gods but they are not by "nature" gods (see Galatians 2:15 and 2 Peter 1:4 which translate the same Greek word as "nature"). They are "gods" in name only. There is only ONE God that is by nature God. Now, based on all the scriptures that compare the Father with his Son (such as Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 2:6; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:14-16) would you say that the Son does or does not have the same nature attributes as the Father?
Now we will consider Jesus' own words, his own claims as to who he is in John chapter 5. Verses 1 through 15 describe how Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. Next . . .
John 5: "16 So on this account the Jews went persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things during Sabbath. 17 But he answered them: "My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working." 18 On this account, indeed, the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God."
In the Old Testament God was not normally called "Father". He was normally addressed as "Jehovah" or "God". To address the Creator as "Father" implied a close relationship that Jews found presumptuous. Calling God "My Father" really made the relationship intimate and implied to the Jews that Jesus was claiming EQUALITY with God, and this was blasphemy. He also said that he kept working, even on the Sabbath. That was a claim to breaking God's Law.
Well, did Jesus deny either of these accusations?
John 5:19 -- Therefore, in answer, Jesus went on to say to them: "Most truly I say to you, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner."
Nowhere does Jesus deny either of the two charges. Instead Jesus replies in verse 19 by saying that he works just like the Father and does ONLY what the Father does. He cannot do anything independently of the Father (unlike the angels that can act independently - Jude 1:6). When Jesus works, he is only doing what the Father approves so it cannot be a violation of God's Law. (Matthew 12:1-8 shows that some works are exempt of the Sabbath law.) Is this a denial of working on the Sabbath? No. When Jesus said he does whatever his Father does, is that a denial of claiming equality to God?
John 5:20 -- For the Father has affection for the Son and shows him all the things he himself does, and he will show him works greater than these, in order that you may marvel."
In verse 20, Jesus said the Father shows him everything that the he does and in verse 19 he said that he does everything the Father shows him, exactly as the Father does it. So Jesus does EVERYTHING the Father does. This is really not too surprising as this echoes Hebrews 1:2,3. What is interesting is that the Jews had just accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath law and of making himself equal to God. And how does Jesus respond? Does he deny it? No, instead he next claims to do everything the Father does, just as he does them. But these Jews know that NO ONE can do the works that God can (Psalm 86:8)! So do you think the Jews interpreted Jesus' words to mean he was denying or confirming their accusations?
The first part of verse 19 says that Jesus does NOTHING on his own (literally "from himself"). This sounds like Jesus is saying he is not equal to his Father who can do things on His own. But the point here is that Jesus cannot act "from himself", he can only act from his Father. To act "from himself" would mean that he was independent of his Father and therefore could not be truly equal to his Father. Jesus is answering the accusations by claiming perfect harmony with his Father.
The Father is the source of all decisions for the human Son. Yes, this is a difference between the Father and Son who cannot act "from himself" by making the final decisions. The Father has the role of being the source of all decisions and the Son is the perfect agent of those decisions. This necessarily implies that Jesus must be ONE with the Father (John 10:30) because Jesus can do NOTHING "from himself", he can only carry out the Father's will and he does it perfectly. This proves that Jesus and the Father act as a SINGLE entity, a single BEING, the One true God.
Continuing, let us see what else Jesus says in response to the accusation that he claims equality with his Father. "John 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes those alive whom he wants to."
Verse 21 shows that it is not just that the Father acts through the Son, as though he were a mindless puppet. No, the Son has initiative for he can make alive whoever he wants to, but as we saw above, he cannot do it independently of the Father's will. Together they have only ONE will, and the Son's wishes are always in harmony with the Father's. When Jesus wishes to do something, he knows FIRST what the Father's will is so Jesus' wishes will also be the Father's wishes.
How would a Jew react to this claim of Jesus that he could make people alive just as God does? God said . . .
Deuteronomy 32: "39 SEE now that I-I am he And there are no gods together with me. I put to death, and I make alive. I have severely wounded, and I-I will heal, And there is no one snatching out of my hand."
But Jesus said . . .
John 10: "28 And I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. . . . 30 I and the Father are one. 31 Once more the Jews lifted up stones to stone him. . . . 33 The Jews answered him: "We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but for blasphemy"
These Jews were very familiar with the Old Testament. Jesus' claims were shocking. These Jews concluded that he must be speaking falsehoods, lies, blasphemies. We will see later that other Jews concluded that Jesus was out of his mind, a lunatic. But a few Jews, like John and Thomas, concluded that Jesus was God.
Would a Jew that was familiar with Deuteronomy 32:39 conclude that Jesus was claiming to be a second God or an angel that was with the Father? Impossible. Then who is this Jesus that claims to give life just as his Father does and to claim that no one can snatch anyone out of his hand? This claim is more than just a claim to being "one with God in purpose".
John 5:22 -- For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son,"
Does this mean Jesus is not equal to the Father because Jesus does something that the Father does not? No for verse 30 shows that even though Jesus is the one who is judge of all, he is carrying out the Father's will exactly.
John 5:23 -- "in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."
The Greek word in verse 23 meaning "just as" also appears in verse 30 and shows that Jesus judges exactly as the Father would and is therefore to be honored EXACTLY as the Father is honored. (Compare the August 1, 1991 Watchtower page 9 and Revelation Its Grand Climax page 36, which both say that Jehovah is to be honored more than Jesus.)
John 5:26 -- "For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. . . . 30 I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me."
Does this mean that because the Father grants authority to Jesus to judge and give life that therefore he cannot be equal? No, it only proves that the Father is the source of all decisions and authority and the Son receives that authority.
Is this authority to judge and give life all that the Father gives to the Son?
John 16: "15 All the things that the Father has are mine. . . ."
The fact that the Father is the Source of all but Jesus receives all proves that they operate as a composite Being, one entity, one will, one God.
John 5:31 -- "If I alone bear witness about myself, my witness is not true. 32 There is another that bears witness about me, and I know that the witness which he bears about me is true. 33 you have dispatched men to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. . . . 36 But I have the witness greater than that of John, for the very works that my Father assigned me to accomplish, the works themselves that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father dispatched me. 37 Also, the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. you have neither heard his voice at any time nor seen his figure; 38 and you do not have his word remaining in you, because the very one whom he dispatched you do not believe."
Since Jesus shows that there is another that bears witness, someone that they have never seen (compare John 14:9), does that not mean that there are TWO Gods here, not one? No, this shows that there are two PERSONS (compare John 8:17,18), not two Gods. Because Jesus is in perfect subjection to the Father for all eternity, they are one entity, one God.
But some feel very confidant that they have studied the Scriptures and they already have the truth and have concluded that Jesus can only be an angel, another god that was with God and yet a very inferior god. They do not honor Jesus just as they honor the Father. To them Jesus says . . .
John 5:39 -- "You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me. 40 And yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not accept glory from men, 42 but I well know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in the name of my Father, but you do not receive me; if someone else arrived in his own name, you would receive that one. 44 How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?
Jesus cannot be a second God, there is only one, there is no other. After considering all this evidence, what would a first-century Jew conclude about Jesus? He would have to affirm the Jewish Scriptures that say there is only ONE God and there is no other (Deuteronomy 32:39). So there are only three possibilities:
-- Jesus had a demon and was out of his mind, he was a Lunatic (Mark 3:21,22; John 8:51,52; 10:19,20).
-- Jesus was a Liar, a blasphemer, and deceived people (John 7:12; Matthew 9:2,3; 26:64,65; Mark 2:6,7; 14:61-64; Luke 5:20,21; John 10:30-33).
-- Jesus was "My Lord and My God" (John 20:28).
Hebrews 5: "8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered."
If Jesus had been an angel in heaven prior to coming to earth, he would have already known obedience. But this verse said he learned obedience by coming to earth. Why did Jesus have to learn obedience? If he were God would he not already know?
No. All creatures know and experience obedience. God is the only one that does not know obedience because he cannot experience it, he can only observe it. Jesus had to become man to experience obedience. Likewise, Jesus does not know sin because he cannot experience it, he can only observe it (2 Corinthians 5:21). So although Jesus was submissive and had observed obedience in angels, he had never experienced obedience until he accepted the consequences of sin, the sin of others (Philippians 2:8).
This also makes it simple to understand John 1: "1 In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." - NAS
You may have wondered when reading this and asked 'How can the Word be with God and be God at the same time?' Consider this re-wording that puts the verse in terms of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
"In the garden was the Woman, and the Woman was with the Human and the Woman was Human."
Do you see the meaning here? The first occurrence of 'human' refers to a specific person but the second occurrence of 'human' refers to their common nature, not to a specific person. Likewise, John 1:1 is teaching that in the beginning the Word was with the person that is normally thought of as "God', namely the Father, the Decision-maker. The last portion of the verse adds that the Word had the essential nature of being God. No big mystery here.
What about John 17: "3 This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ."
Does this not teach that the Father is the ONLY one that can be called the "true God"? If that were so then what does that make Jesus? Is he another God? Since he has all the essential attributes of God (Hebrews 1; John 5; 1 Timothy 6:16), no one has those attributes except God, and there is only one God, who is Jesus?
Actually, if this verse was intended to say that only the Father was the true God, Jesus would have said 'you alone are the true God' (compare 2 Kings 19:15,19; Isaiah 37:16). Is this what this verse means? If so then how does this harmonize with 1 John . . .
1 John 1: "1 That which was from [the] beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have viewed attentively and our hands felt, concerning the word of life, 2 (yes, the life was made manifest, and we have seen and are bearing witness and reporting to you the everlasting life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us,) . . . 5:11 And this is the witness given, that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in his Son. . . . 5:20 But we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us intellectual capacity that we may gain the knowledge of the true one. And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting."
According to this the "word of life", "the everlasting life", is Jesus and this "life everlasting" is also the "true God". So what is the meaning of John 17:3 that harmonizes with everything we have seen so far? As Jesus said, the Father is the only true God, but, as 1 John 5:20 shows, the Son too is the only true God. How can this be?
Consider again the illustration of Adam and Eve. They were to be viewed as ONE flesh, indeed, at the beginning they were the ONLY true human flesh in the garden of Eden. So it could be said of Adam the he was the only true human flesh in Eden. The same could be said of Eve. But it could not be said that Adam alone was the only true human flesh, for there was another person that was ONE with him that was also human flesh. Likewise, the Father and Son are ONE (John 10:30) and this composite unity is the ONLY true God in the universe. The Father is the only true God and the Son is the only true God.
There is only ONE God, there is no other (Mark 12:32). Next consider 1 Corinthians 8:6.
1 Corinthians 8: "5 For even though there are those who are called "gods," whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many "gods" and many "lords," 6 there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him."
Paul says there are those who are "called" gods. He did not say they truly were "gods" - they are "gods" in name only. So how many Gods do Christians have, one or two? Paul answers - "one". There is no way to conclude that the Father and Son constitute two Gods. But is Jesus included or distinguished from this one God?
If someone comes to this passage already believing that "God" and "Lord" have significantly different meanings and that God is only one person, then this verse could be viewed as supporting the belief that the one God cannot be the one Lord. One would see this text as really saying: "there is actually to us one God [who is only] the Father . . . and one Lord [who is only] Jesus". The reference to Jesus as being "Lord" would be viewed as a contrast rather than a parallel. The supporting phrases saying that all things are from the Father and 'for him' would be perceived as making a definite distinction from the statement about all things being "through" Jesus. But is that Paul's intent here, does he believe that "God" and "Lord" are contrasting titles or does he use them interchangeably? Likewise, does Paul intend to imply a distinction between the phrases "for him" and "through him" or does he use these interchangeably?
In the previous chapter, in verse 17, Paul uses the title "Lord" and "God" in the same sentence. But as can be seen by examining the Kingdom Interlinear the New World Translation removes the title "Lord" and inserts the word "Jehovah". So compare this in the Revised Standard Version:
1 Corinthians 7: "17 Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches." (RSV)
Do you get the feeling that Paul is making a distinction between the two titles? According to the NWT both titles here refer to "Jehovah", he is "Lord" and "God". This is not to imply that Paul never makes a distinction, but if Paul does use the titles in parallel, then can this not also be the case in 1 Corinthians 8:6? Consider how Paul uses these titles in other letters:
Romans 14: "6 He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. . . . 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." (RSV)
Again, according to the NWT the titles "Lord" and "God" refer to "Jehovah" in this passage. Paul is using them to refer to the same one.
Romans 10: "9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. 13 For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord ["Jehovah" - NWT] will be saved." (RSV)
Who is the Lord that a believer calls upon in verse 9? Who is the "Lord of all" that the believer calls upon in verse 12? So who is the "Lord" that the believer calls upon in verse 13? Would you say that in all these passages Paul consistently applies the title "Lord" to Jesus to distinguish him from "God" as supposed in 1 Corinthians 8:6?
Outside of Paul's writings what do we find? Matthew 11:25 says that the Father is Lord of all. Acts 17:24 says the same thing. But Acts 10:36 says Jesus is Lord of all.
So what did Paul mean when he said that "actually to us . . .there is one Lord, Jesus Christ"? Did he mean to distinguish this one Lord from the one God? Can you say that in the passages we examined Paul consistently did distinguish between the one Lord and the one God?
What about the statements in 1 Corinthians 8:6 about things being "for" someone or "through" someone? Do these not prove that there is a definite and intentional distinction being made between "God" and "Lord"?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul said things were "for" the Father but "through" Jesus. Above, in Colossians 1:16, we saw where Paul said this about Jesus: "All [other] things have been created through him and for him". Yet Hebrews 2:10 said about God: "for whose sake all things are and through whom all things are". Combining all three we have that all things are "through" the Father (Hebrews 2:10) and all things are "through" the Son (Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6); all things are "for" the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 2:10) and all things are "for" the Son (Colossians 1:16).
So if the intent of Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 8:6 was to show a clear distinction between the Father and Son as regards whether creation is "through him" or "for him", as if these distinctions were truly significant differences, then Paul is inconsistent between what he said in Colossians and 1 Corinthians. It is also inconsistent with Hebrews 2:10. But there is no inconsistency between Paul's statements nor with Hebrews 2:10 if we take the view that Paul was not trying to make distinctions between differences but rather parallels between similarities.
The result would be that while there are many "gods" and many "lords" in name only, for Christians there is only one God, only one Lord. All things are from this one God, through him and for him. All things are from this one Lord, through him and for him. This one God is the Father, this one God is Jesus. This one Lord is also the Father, this one Lord is also Jesus. There are some distinctions in roles between these two persons, one is the Decision-Maker, the other is the Mediator, but they are one nature, one 'spiritual flesh'. They are both truly God, not just God in name only.
There is another person that we have not discussed that is included in the composite unity of the one true God -- The Person of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus' death he said to his disciples that he was going away and . . .
John 14: "16 and I will request the Father and he will give you another ("allos") helper to be with you forever, 17 the spirit of the truth, . . ."
If someone was helping you and then said he had to go but he would send another helper to be with you. Would you be surprised if no one returned. When Jesus left and promised to send "another" helper, that meant another somebody like himself, a person. The Greek word for "another" in this verse is "allos" and means another of the same kind. In Greek there is a word, "heteros", that means another of a different kind, ... If Jesus had meant that he would send another helper that was not a person like him, but an impersonal force, we would see the Greek word "heteros" here. You can compare these two Greek words for yourself in . . .
Galatians 1: "6 I marvel that you are being so quickly removed from the One who called you with Christ's undeserved kindness over to another ("heteros" - of a different kind) sort of good news. 7 But it is not another ("allos" - of a similar kind); only there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ."
Paul is saying that these Galatians had gone over to another different good news that was NOT another good news of a similar kind. So in John 14:16 when Jesus said that he would send "another" helper, this implies that the helper that Jesus would send, the Holy Spirit, would be another ("allos") helper, a person like Jesus.
Consider what Jesus said about himself . . .
John 12: "49 because I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak."
When Jesus said that he did not speak of his "own impulse", did you conclude that therefore Jesus was not a person and incapable of thinking on his own, as if he were some kind of mindless puppet? Or when Jesus said that the Father had told him what to say did you immediately think that maybe Jesus was some kind of supernatural parrot, only able to repeat what was heard? But Jesus said the very same thing soon after this....
John 16: "13 However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming. 14 That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you. 15 All the things that the Father has are mine. That is why I said he receives from what is mine and declares [it] to you."
Do you see that what Jesus said about himself is the same as what he said about the "spirit of the truth"? Does this not imply that the Spirit has the capacity to speak on "his own" but Jesus was informing his disciples beforehand that the Spirit would not be acting on his own just as Jesus would not? When Jesus said that he could not do anything on his own (John 5:19) that did not imply that he was a non-person. Likewise when Jesus said the same thing for the Spirit that does not imply that the Spirit is an impersonal force.
If the "spirit of the truth" is only a mindless active force under God's control, like some supernatural puppet, and Jesus' disciples knew this, why would Jesus bother to stress to them that the "spirit" would not be speaking on "his own impulse"? Would they not already know this? What was the point? If someone that was about to die came to you and said in seriousness 'This is important, when you see a puppet, you must remember that it is not really talking on his own.' Would you not wonder why this point was being made at such a time as this? In fact, would it not almost be humorous for someone say this
When Jesus said that the Spirit speaks what he hears. Does that not imply that the Spirit is capable of hearing something that comes from a separate person? If the Spirit were only a force that transmits information from God, why did Jesus not simply say this? Why did he say that the Spirit hears and speaks as if it were a person? Why, at such an important time as this, does Jesus suddenly communicate in metaphors?
If the Spirit is part of the Father, would it not always have everything the Father has? Then why does the Spirit need to receive things from Jesus? Why would Jesus bother to explain that once he receives everything from the Father then the Spirit can take from what Jesus has? Does this not imply that the Spirit, like Jesus, is a submissive person that receives everything from the Father (or the Son once he has everything from the Father)?
Romans 8: "22 For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now. 23 Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves, while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom... 26 In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the [problem of] what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groaning unuttered. 27 Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones... 34 Who is he that will condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, rather the one who was raised up from the dead, who is on the right hand of God, who also pleads for us."
Who is it that is groaning here? In verse 22 it is "all creation". In verse 23 it is "we" Christians. In verse 34 it is Jesus. But in verse 26 it says that "in like manner" the spirit pleads before God. How can the spirit plead "in like manner", like Christians, like Jesus, if it is only an impersonal active force? Also, if the "spirit" is really a part of the Father, why is the spirit pleading before the Father? Does this not show that the spirit is somehow separate from the Father?
1 Corinthians 12: "11 But all these operations the one and the same spirit performs, making a distribution to each one respectively just as it wills."
For the spirit to "will" how the gifts are to be distributed to individuals, that means the spirit has an attribute that only a person has.
Revelation 22: "17 And the spirit and the bride keep on saying: "Come!" And let anyone hearing say: "Come!" And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life's water free."
In John's vision he sees a bride. This bride represents something other than a single person but in this vision it is a person. In Revelation 16:7 the altar in heaven speaks. So although an altar is not a person, it is a thing that can be seen in a vision and it is given some personal attributes. But what about the spirit that speaks just like the bride? What did John see in the vision? If it is not a person then what did he see? Does this not imply that he saw something, some object, that could be made to appear to speak? If John was really here seeing the Father, why did he not say so? If he did not see the Father, then could it not be said that in the Revelation vision John saw the Father, the Son and the Spirit as three separate objects?
In summary, the Spirit is a person with personal attributes that is separate from the Father who can plead, just like Jesus can, before the Father. He can "will" that certain gifts be distributed. He receives everything from the Father and then speaks what he hears. Like Jesus, he is ONE with the Father and NOT a separate God. Thus while there are three persons they are together, in unity, they are one God with one will, one glory. This is the Tri-unity.