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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Knowledge of God and His Son Leads to Life

Accurate Knowledge of God and His Son Leads to Life

“This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—JOHN 17:3.

ACCURATE knowledge of God and his Son, Jesus Christ, is vital for those who want everlasting life. “[God’s] will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Such knowledge from God’s inspired Word, the Bible, will equip us to know who God is and what our obligations are toward him. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 1 John 2:17) It will also enable us properly to identify Jesus Christ and our relationship to him.—Psalm 2:12; Philippians 2:5-11.

Without accurate knowledge, we may become ensnared by false teachings promoted by God’s opposer, Satan the Devil, who is “a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Therefore, if a doctrine contradicts God’s Word, if it is a lie, then believing it and teaching it discredits Jehovah and brings us into opposition to him. So we need to examine the Scriptures carefully to distinguish truth from falsehood. (Acts 17:11) We do not want to be like those who are “always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 7.

As we have seen in the previous article, the doctrine of the Trinity is not a Bible teaching. In God’s own Word, he clearly tells us that he is the Creator of all things and that his first creation in heaven was his Son. (Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:15, 16) God sent his Son to earth as a human to provide the ransom sacrifice, which served as the basis for forgiveness of mankind’s sins, and to enlighten sincere persons further about God and his purposes. (Matthew 20:28; John 6:38) Yet, the simple, clear teaching that God and Christ are two separate persons, and that the holy spirit is not a person but is God’s active force, has been twisted down through the centuries. Instead, the Trinity teaching has become the fundamental doctrine of Christendom.

“I and the Father Are One”

The churches often cite John 10:30 to try to support the Trinity, although no mention is made of any third person in that verse. There Jesus said: “I and the Father are one.” But did Jesus mean that he was God Almighty himself, just in a different form? No, that could not be since Jesus always said that he was God’s Son, inferior to Him and in subjection to Him. What, then, did Jesus mean at John 10:30?

Jesus meant that he was one in thought and purpose with his Father. This can be seen at John 17:21, 22, where Jesus prayed to God that his disciples “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us . . . that they may be one just as we are one.” Was Jesus praying that all his disciples would become one person? No, he was praying that they would be in unity, of the same mind and purpose, just as Jesus and God were.

The same idea is expressed at 1 Corinthians 1:10, where Paul states that Christians ‘should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among them, but that they should be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.’ So when Jesus said that he and his Father were one, he did not mean that they were the same person, just as when he said that his disciples should become one he did not mean that they were the same person.

Who Was “the Word”?

Additional Reading:

However, what about John 1:1, which says in the King James Version: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”? John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and resided among us.” Christendom claims that this “Word” (Greek, lo′gos) who came to earth as Jesus Christ was God Almighty himself. Yet, notice that even in the King James Version John 1:1 says “the Word was with God.” Someone who is with another person is not the same as that other person. So even from this translation, two distinct personalities are shown. Also, no third person of any Trinity is mentioned at all.

As for the King James Version’s saying in the latter part of John 1:1 that the “Word was God,” other translations say something different. Some are as follows:

1808: “and the word was a god.” The New Testament, in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation: With a Corrected Text, London.

1864: “and a god was the Word.” The Emphatic Diaglott, by Benjamin Wilson, New York and London.

1935: “and the Word was divine.” The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed, Chicago.

1935: “the Logos was divine.” A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt, New York.

1975: “and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz, Göttingen, Germany.

1978: “and godlike sort was the Logos.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider, Berlin.

1979: “and a god was the Logos.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Jurgen Becker, Würzburg, Germany.

Also, in 1950 the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., rendered the phrase, “and the Word was a god.”

Do such renderings agree with the grammatical construction of John 1:1 in the Greek language? Yes, they do. At John 1:1 there are two occurrences of the Greek noun the‧os′ (god). The first occurrence refers to almighty God, with whom the Word was—“and the Word [lo′gos] was with God [a form of the‧os′].” This first the‧os′ is preceded by a form of the Greek definite article ho. The noun the‧os′ with the definite article ho in front of it points to a distinct identity, in this case almighty God—“and the Word was with [the] God.”

But in the latter part of John 1:1, such translations as listed in paragraph 8 render the second the‧os′ (a predicate noun) as “divine” or “a god” instead of “God.” Why? Because the second the‧os′ is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and without the definite article ho in Greek. In this verse, such a sentence construction points to a characteristic or quality of the subject. It highlights the nature of the Word, that he was “divine,” “a god,” but not the almighty God. This is in harmony with the many scriptures that show that “the Word” was God’s spokesman, sent to earth by God. As John 1:18 states: “No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god [the Son created in heaven by almighty God] who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has [come to earth as the man Jesus and] explained him [almighty God].”

There are many other Bible verses where those who translate from the Greek into another language insert the article “a” before the predicate noun although there is no article in the Greek text. This insertion of the article in the translation brings out the characteristic or quality of the noun. For example, at Mark 6:49, when the disciples saw Jesus walking on water, the King James Version says, “they supposed it had been a spirit” (Greek, phan′ta‧sma). The New World Translation more correctly renders the phrase, “They thought: ‘It is an apparition!’” In the same way, the correct translation of John 1:1 shows that the Word was not “God,” but “a god.”

Two similar examples are found at John chapter 8, verse 44. There Jesus, speaking of the Devil, says: “That one was a manslayer when he began . . . He is a liar and the father of the lie.” Similar to John 1:1, in the original Greek the predicate noun in both these expressions (“manslayer,” “liar”) precedes the verb and has no definite article. In each case, a quality or characteristic of the Devil is being described and in many modern language translations, it is necessary to insert the indefinite article (“a”) in order to convey this. Thus, the King James Version renders these expressions, “He was a murderer . . . he is a liar and the father of it.”—See also Mark 11:32; John 4:19; 6:70; 9:17; 10:1, 13, 21; 12:6.

“My Lord and My God”

Trinitarians also cite John 20:28 to support their claims. There Thomas said to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” As shown above, there is no objection to Thomas’ referring to Jesus as a god. Such would be in harmony with the fact that Jesus, in his prehuman existence, certainly was a god, that is, a powerful, divine person. And he certainly has been that since his death and resurrection to heavenly life. Jesus even quoted from the Psalms to show that powerful humans were addressed as “gods.” (Psalm 82:1-6; John 10:34, 35) The apostle Paul noted that there were “many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords.’” (1 Corinthians 8:5) Even Satan is called “the god of this system of things.”—2 Corinthians 4:4.

Christ occupies a position far higher than imperfect men, or Satan. If such can be referred to as “gods,” surely Jesus can be, and was, referred to as a god. Because of his unique position in relation to Jehovah, Jesus is “the only-begotten god” (John 1:18), a “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6), and “a god” (John 1:1). So there was nothing improper about Thomas’ referring to Jesus in that way. Thomas was saying that Jesus was a god to him, a divine, powerful one. But he was not saying that Jesus was Jehovah, which is why Thomas said, “my” God and not “the” God.

Just three verses later, at John 20:31, the Bible states: “But these have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.” All doubt as to what Thomas may have meant is dispelled here. The Bible writer John clearly says that Jesus is the Son of God, not almighty God himself.

Not Equal to God

Another scripture the churches use is John 5:18. It says that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because “he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.” Who was saying that Jesus was making himself equal to God? Not Jesus. He clears this up in the very next verse (19) by stating: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing.” So Jesus did not claim that he was almighty God or equal to Him. He was showing the Jews that they were mistaken, that he was not God, but that he was the Son of God, and as God’s spokesman, he could not act on his own initiative. Can we imagine the almighty God of the universe saying that he could do nothing of his own initiative? So the Jews made a charge, and Jesus refuted it.

Thus, from the testimony of God in his own inspired Word, from the testimony of Jesus, and from the testimony of the disciples of Jesus, the overwhelming evidence clearly shows that almighty God and Jesus Christ are two separate personalities, Father and Son. That evidence also clearly shows that the holy spirit is not the third person of any Trinity but God’s active force. It is futile to take scriptures out of context or to try twisting them to support the Trinity. Any such scriptures must be harmonized with the rest of the Bible’s clear testimony.

Why Did the Trinity Develop?

Additional Reading:

If you will check page 18, “Historical Development of the Trinity Doctrine,” you will note that the Trinity has pagan roots. It is not a Bible teaching, but it was adopted by Christendom in the fourth century. However, long before that, there were trinities in ancient Babylon, Egypt, and other places. Christendom thus incorporated a pagan concept into its teachings. This was instigated by Roman emperor Constantine, who was not interested in the truth about this matter but wanted to solidify his empire made up of pagans and apostate Christians. Far from being a development of a Christian teaching, the Trinity was evidence that Christendom had apostatized from the teachings of Christ and had adopted pagan teachings instead.

Why would such a doctrine develop? Certainly, God’s interests are not served by making Him, His Son, and His holy spirit confusing and mysterious. And it does not serve the interests of people to be confused. Instead, the more people become confused about God and his purposes, the better it suits Satan the Devil, God’s opposer, the ‘god of this world,’ who works to ‘blind the minds of unbelievers.’ (2 Corinthians 4:4) Since such a doctrine makes it appear that only theologians can understand Bible teachings, it also suits the religious leaders of Christendom. This helps them to maintain their hold on the common people.

Yet, the truth about this matter is so simple that a child can understand it. A little boy knows that he is not the same as his father but that they are two separate individuals. Similarly, when the Bible says that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, that is what it means. That is the simple truth, while the Trinity doctrine is not. It is a lie. So it must originate with “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) But the simple, refreshing truths about God, his Son, Jesus Christ, and God’s powerful holy spirit free people from bondage to false teachings rooted in paganism and authored by Satan. As Jesus said to sincere truth seekers: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Taking in accurate knowledge of liberating truths, as well as acting on them, “means everlasting life.”—John 17:3. - June 1st, 1988 Watchtower, WTB&TS