Refutation of the Master’s University Bible Faculty Document on the Trinity and Divinity of Messiah (Part 2)

The Trinity and Divinity of Messiah-92b9c7 Here is the pdf of the document we are examining. We pick up on page 2 at 2.

2. The assertion is that the Messiah is depicted as divine in the OT. As we shall see, the proof texts that are given in support of this assertion fail miserably to establish it as true. Once again we find the authors of this paper engaging in rather embarrassing attempts to find hints of the Trinity doctrine in Scripture.

What follows in the paper are 12 bullet points. I will take them one by one.

  • One can see the Messiah as deity in the storyline of the OT if one has already been indoctrinated to see that. Messiah is depicted as the One who will fulfill what no human Davidic king could ever be or do? Another mere assertion without any evidence to support it. They ask the reader to confer Pss.2 and 72, Isaiah chapters 7-11 and Micah chapters 3-5, as Scriptural proof that Messiah will be and do what no human could be or do. Now obviously we cannot go through each of these passages exhaustively, but I do ask my readers to stop here and to go read through these chapters and write down anything you come across that you feel would be an impossibility for a human king chosen by God, anointed by God, empowered by God, in whom and through whom God is working, to accomplish.

Okay you’re back. Now since the paper does not tell us what specific verses in these passages are pertinent to their assertion I will have to guess. The only thing I can possibly see in Ps. 2 that would cause them to include it, is verses 7-9 and 12. Psalm 2 is a coronation Psalm most likely written by David for Solomon’s coronation day, and probably recited at the coronations of subsequent kings. It is based on God’s promise to David as recorded in 1Chron. 17:11-14:

” … I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father and he will be my son … I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.

This was initially fulfilled in Solomon as David says in 1 Chron. 28:5-7:

“Of all my sons, and Yahweh has given me many, he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of Yahweh over Israel. He said to me, ‘Solomon your son is the one  … for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws as is being done at this time.’ “

This shows that while the covenant with David was unconditional, that only those from his line would rule over God’s kingdom, it was conditional for each one chosen from David’s line as to whether their throne would continue.

Psalms 2, 45, and 72 are all idealized depictions of the Davidic king reigning on the throne of Yahweh. It is true that no descendant of David who ever ascended to the throne has ever lived up to the ideal, but Scripture never attributes that to the fact that they were mere men and not divine beings masquerading as men. These psalms (I include Ps. 45 even though they did not) describe, in poetic language, the exalted status of the Davidic king as well as the huge responsibility that was upon his shoulders. Yet I find nothing in these Psalms that a sinless, immortal man, imbued with God’s Spirit, could not accomplish.

Back to Ps. 2, at verse 7. The early church fathers, working from the categories of Greek metaphysics, had a heyday with this verse, speculating and postulating just how the Son was generated from the Father. What nonsense! The words speak of the chosen of the LORD taking his place as the ruler of God’s people on Yahweh’s throne, according to the word spoken to David, as we saw in 1Chron.28:5-7 {see also 1 Chron. 29:23}. This chosen son of David becomes God’s son when he ascends to the throne. Verses 8-9 speak of his universal rule over the nations. Is God not able to accomplish this through a man? Verse 12 speaks of the homage, the honor and respect that God requires all other kings to show to his vice-regent {see also Ps. 89:19-27}.

In Ps. 72, vv2-4 speak of the responsibility of the Davidic ruler to emulate God’s righteousness and justice. Vv. 5-7 , in the hyperbole common to Hebrew poetry, depicts a long reign of prosperity. Vv. 8-11 speak of the complete subjection of the surrounding nation’s kings to Yahweh’s representative. Vv. 12-14 once again show that the reign of Yahweh’s vice-regent is ideally characterized by justice in the protection of the weak and powerless in society. Vv. 15-17 is a prayer that the reign of the righteous king may be long and prosperous and bring universal blessing. And v.18 tells us that all that is done by this king is really God’s doing. The idea that if Messiah is not divine then we are dealing simply with a man trying to fulfill all of this in his own human wisdom and strength is a straw man.

As for Isaiah 7-11, in ch.7 we have the prophecy of the child born to a virgin who will be called Immanuel. For an explanation of this passage see my December post titled ‘A Christmas Myth,’ under the section on Matthew 1:22-23. I don’t know what in ch. 8 would be relevant to the deity of Messiah. Chapter 9, of course contains the well known passage, vv.6-7, which foretell of the coming king, Messiah. It speaks of an everlasting reign of peace and justice. What trips people up is the name or names by which this king is called, specifically ‘Mighty God.’ Once again see ‘A Christmas Myth’ for an exegesis of this verse. Chapter 10 is a word against Assyria and it’s king who were coming against Jerusalem. Chapter 11 is about the coming Messiah, upon whom the Spirit of Yahweh will rest. All that this anointed one will accomplish (vv.3-5, 10-13) is directly the result of  Yahweh’s Spirit being upon him.

Next on the list is Micah 3-5. Chapter 3 is a rebuke to Israel’s leaders, priests and prophets and has nothing to say about Messiah. Chapter 4 speaks of the kingdom age but does not mention Messiah specifically. It is presented from the standpoint of the real power behind Messiah’s reign — Yahweh. When it says in v.7, “Yahweh will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever,” it is not saying that Messiah is Yahweh but rather that Yahweh reigns through Messiah. Here is where the concept of agency helps us. Whatever Yahweh’s appointed agents do can be spoken of as Yahweh doing it. Chapter 5 contains the prophecy of the Messiah’s coming from Bethlehem in Judea in v.2. Please see, once more, my December post ‘A Christmas Myth’ for an analysis of this passage. V. 5 tells us that the accomplishments of this ruler are the direct result of the fact that he stands in the strength and authority of Yahweh.

Next they want us to consult the books of 1 and 2 Kings. I am assuming that in these books we are to see the failure of those who sat on David’s throne and are to conclude that Messiah must be more than a man if he is to succeed. Yes it is true, every son of David who ascended to the throne failed to live up to the ideal laid out in all of these passages. And this is what makes the man, Messiah Jesus, stand out above all those who came before. Once again we have a mere assertion, without proof to back it up, that “if Messiah were just a man, the entire logic of this greater David would fall apart.” I don’t see the ‘logic’ they are talking about. In all of the passages given not one of them tells us that Messiah must be anything more than a real, true man, much less that he is Yahweh.

In Ps. 2 Yahweh and his anointed one (Messiah) are two distinct individuals and are never confused throughout the Psalm. In Ps. 72, which is titled ‘Of Solomon’, meaning not written by Solomon but for and about Solomon, probably by David, the idealized depiction of the Davidic king is not beyond the capability of a man empowered by God. If this is supposed to be a revelation that the Messiah is himself Yahweh, then why does verse 15 call for continuous prayer to be made on his behalf. Does Yahweh need our prayers? All that is detailed about the reign of this King is said to be accomplished by Yahweh. In Is.9 the reign of the Messiah is again said to be accomplished by the “zeal of Yahweh Almighty “{v. 7}. In chapter 11 the glorious picture of Messiah’s rule is begun with these words, The Spirit of Yahweh will rest on him.”  {v.2} In Micah 5, the Messiah coming out of Bethlehem, who shall rule over Israel for Yahweh, will do so “in the strength of Yahweh.” {v.4}

“If man is involved only sin and failure will ensue.” This is not proved by the above passages. Is this a denial that messiah is a man? Paul did not think that if ‘a man‘ was involved only sin and failure will result, for he said:

” … for if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift  by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ overflow to the many.”  Rom. 5:15

and,

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Messiah Jesus.”  1Tim.2:5

and,

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive.”                     1 Cor.15:21-22

and,

“For (God) has set a time in which he will rule the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given assurance of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”  Acts 17:31

No , God does not act “in spite of man” but God works through a man to fulfill his promises.

  • Job 9:33 says absolutely nothing about Job wishing for a mediator that is both human and divine. This is the imagination of the authors of this paper at work here. The mediation that they envision as only being possible by a human/divine hybrid can in fact be accomplished and only accomplished by a sinless man; one who is righteous before God and of our race. There is no OT perception that a divine Messiah mediator is necessary. This is pure fiction, certainly not proved by this verse.
  • I do not understand the logic of this statement. First of all, they seem to suggest that if someone is designated ‘holy’ this implies deity. Please tell me they didn’t say that. The same Hebrew word in verse 3 of Is. 6, used of God, is used of the nation of Israel {Ex. 19:6}, of the holy place in the sanctuary, of the priests who serve in the sanctuary {Lev. 21:6}, of anyone who takes a Nazirite vow {Num. 6:8}, of all true believers { Ps. 16:3; 34:9 – the word saint literally means holy ones}. The word simply refers to what has been set apart for God and certainly does not denote deity in the one who is so called. Also, they seem to be under the illusion that any mention of ‘seed’ in the OT must be a reference to the ‘seed’ of Gen. 3:15, which applies to Messiah. But this is patently false. The ‘seed’ in verse 13 of Is. 6 is not a reference to the Messiah but to the remnant of Israelites who are left in the land after the prophesied destruction, as almost any commentary will tell you.
  • Again, see my December post A Christmas Myth for an explanation of both Is. 7:14 and 9:6. I do want to note that they have the Is.9:6 passage saying “Almighty God.” This is incorrect and may have just been a mistake on their part. The correct translation of the Hebrew el gibbor is ‘Mighty God.‘ This is important because this designation is used one other time in Scripture, at Ezekiel 32:21, where it is used of men and is translated in various ways by modern Bible versions that do not entail these men being called ‘God.‘ Scripture never calls Messiah or any other man ‘Almighty God.’
  • This kind of argumentation just baffles me. The argument goes like this: 1. God claims to be the only Savior  2. Jesus the Messiah is called the Savior  3. Therefore Jesus must be God in human flesh. This reasoning is painfully shallow and once again shows the tendency of Trinitarian apologists to overstate their case. When Yahweh claims to be Israel’s only Savior this does not rule out the human agents, through whom He does the saving, from being called saviors. The following passages use the same word for ‘savior’ in Is. 43:11, in the same form, though most versions do not translate it as ‘savior‘ but as ‘deliverer’ :

“When they cried out to Yahweh, he raised up for them a savior, Othniel, son of Kenaz.”   Judges 3:9

“Again the Israelites cried out to Yahweh, and he gave them a savior, Ehud … son of Gera … ”    Judges 3:15

” … the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. Yahweh provided a savior for Israel and they escaped from the power of Aram.”    2 Kings 13:4-5

“… When they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them and in your great compassion you gave them saviors, who saved them … “ Neh.9:27

“Saviors will go up from Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be Yahweh’s.”   Obadiah 1:21

Now let’s try this argument: 1. God claims to be Israel’s only Savior  2. Othniel, son of Kenaz is called savior  3. Therefore Othniel, son of Kenaz must have been God in human flesh. I am sure everyone can see how this kind of reasoning just doesn’t work. When God would raise up a savior, it was Yahweh himself saving his people through the human savior, yet the salvation could be recorded in Scripture as coming from the human agents or from Yahweh, as in Judges 2:16 & 18:

“Then Yahweh raised up judges, who saved them …”

“Whenever Yahweh raised up judges for them, He was with the judge and He saved them out of the hands of their enemies …”

This goes back to what I discussed in Part 1, the concept of agency. Whatever God’s appointed agents do by God’s will and power, it is actually God doing it through them. We can see this concept at work all throughout Scripture, e.g.

” … for Yahweh promised David, ‘By my servant David I will save my people …’ ”         2 Samuel 3:18

“And since Yahweh had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam, son of Jehoash.  2 Kings 14:27

Note in the first passage above, ‘my servant David.’ This is the same language used of Jesus by the apostles in Acts 3:13 and 4:27-30.

So what does Yahweh mean when he says “apart from me there is no savior?” It means he is the ultimate and supreme Savior, and that if any human agent ever accomplishes salvation on behalf of his people, it is his doing. Every ‘savior’ that ever saved Israel was not ‘apart’ from Yahweh, but raised up, appointed and sent by Him. How much more the final and ideal human savior, the Messiah, our Lord Jesus. Yahweh is the ultimate Savior behind Messiah Jesus; that is why the NT calls both God and Jesus, Savior.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ … God was reconciling the world to himself by means of Christ … ”  2 Cor.5:18-19

  • Again, this is shallow reasoning. Because God is said to open blind eyes, and  Messiah is said to open blind eyes, it is inane to conclude Messiah is God. The principle of agency is evident here. What Messiah does is what God is doing through him. The apostle Peter says it rather nicely:

“Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited to you by God, by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him.”   Acts 2:22

  • Regarding Is. 42:8, the authors of this paper have failed to read the verse carefully. This is just sloppy exegesis. In this verse we have an example of  synonymous parallelism, where “my glory” parallels  “my praise“. God’s glory or praise here refers to the specific honor that belongs to him alone as God and Creator. God does not prohibit honor and glory from being given to others in accordance with their dignity and status, as the following verses show: Rom. 13:7; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Peter 2:17. What God does prohibit is the giving to another, the glory that is particularly his. Now Trinitarians usually accuse Unitarians of idolatry because we give worship to a man. But Unitarians do not worship Jesus as God, but they give him the honor that is peculiar to him as Messiah and Lord. It is the Trinitarians who, if Jesus is purely human, are guilty of giving to another the glory and praise which is God’s alone. For they call him God and attribute the creation of all things to him. Is. 49:3 simply says that Yahweh will display His glory through the servant, who, though called Israel here, is the Messiah. But this is the same thing said about the nation of Israel in Is. 44:23c – ” … for Yahweh has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”  John 17:1-5 – In this passage Jesus is asking the Father to glorify him with that peculiar glory which was always his in the plan and purpose of God. God had, before the world began, planned a specific glory to be given to the Man who would rule over his kingdom forever. This glory is said, in good Hebrew fashion, to have been with God, i.e. in his mind and purpose for his Messiah, to be given him only after his suffering was completed {see 1 Peter 1:11}. Most commentators, because of the orthodox tradition of the Trinity, mistakenly read this verse as if Jesus is saying he personally was with the Father before the world began. But ”the glory I had with you” simply means “which was in your mind and will for me, the glory you had planned for me.” This is the same thing as 2 Tim. 1:9b, “ … This grace was given us in Christ before the ages of time.” Now nobody was literally, personally given this grace before the ages of time, it was only, in God’s intention and purpose, planned for those in Christ.
  • Is. 53 nowhere mentions the phrase ‘high and lifted up,’ so I assume they are referring to Is. 52:13. The same Hebrew words appear in Is. 6:1, but not as a title for Yahweh, but as adjectival verbs describing the throne upon which he is seated, i.e. “a high and exalted throne.” This is how Barnes, Keil and Delitzsch, and the Cambridge Bible Commentary take the words. Some Bible versions reflect this in their translation: the HCSB, NET and the LXX. The words do however, apply to Yahweh in Is.57:15, but should not necessarily be understood as a title. It could be translated, “This is what the one who is high and lifted up says.” What the authors of this paper are asserting is that this is a title used of Yahweh alone, and so when it is used of the ‘servant of Yahweh’ in 52:13, this is tantamount to calling him Yahweh. First of all, it is not proven that this is a title for Yahweh, rather than simply a description of his exalted position. Next, they engage in circular reasoning. If the descriptive words are applied to the ‘servant of Yahweh’ in 52:13, then it is not true that they apply to Yahweh alone, unless you already presuppose that the servant is Yahweh. What we have here is mere assertions and circular reasoning. Why can’t the words apply to Yahweh in one sense and to Messiah in another sense? The same Hebrew word for ‘high’ in Is. 6:1 is used of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14:7, and of Jehu in 1 Kings 16:2. In both instances it is Yahweh who has exalted these men to be ruler over Israel. In the very important Psalm 89, the word is applied to David in vv. 19 and 24. I will also note that in verse 27, David (and every descendant of his who ascended to the throne, culminating with Jesus, the final and ideal son of David) is called the elyown i.e. the most high of the kings of the earth. This word elyown, i.e. Most High, is used as a title for God 31x in the OT, showing us that God is not afraid to share his titles with those he raises up to rule over his kingdom on his behalf.
  • In Daniel 7 Daniel has a dream in which he sees five kingdoms arise. The first kingdom was like a lion (v.4), the second was like a bear (v.5), the third was like a leopard (v.6).The fourth kingdom was like a terrifying beast with large iron teeth (v.7). That these beasts are symbols of kingdom is confirmed in v.17. After seeing  these kingdoms which were like beasts, he sees one like a son of man. To keep up the pattern we must interpret this as another kingdom, i.e.God’s kingdom, depicted as a man rather than as a beast. So technically it is not referring to Messiah, but to the kingdom over which Messiah will rule and of which he is the preeminent figure, under the Ancient of Days. This is confirmed in v.18. Next, they say that only God is worthy to receive honor and glory and service from all peoples. But this is false. For in Rev. 4 & 5 we see two distinct individuals who are given such honor. One is seen in 4:9-11, the one who sits on the throne, who is called “our Lord and God.” He is worthy to receive glory, honor and power because he is the Creator. The second one is seen in 5:6-12, the Lamb, who is worthy to receive honor, glory and praise because he was slain and purchased men for God with his blood. In verse 13 we see them together, yet distinct – him who sits on the throne and the Lamb – the two are never confused in the book of Revelation. They are both worthy, but for different reasons, to receive praise, honor, glory and power. Notice throughout this book that the Lamb is never confused with the one who sits on the throne. The reference to Dan. 3:4 has no relevance to their point about human kings being denied this kind of honor. The reference to Dan. 5:19 actually contradicts their point, for it says that, ” the Most High God gave … Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; those he wanted to humble, he humbled.” {see also 2:37-38}.
  • Ezekiel 1:26-28       This is not a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son of God, as the authors suggest. Again, another example of reading Trinitarian ideas into Scripture. Verse 28b tells us plainly what Ezekiel saw:

“This was the vision of the representation of the glory of Yahweh.”

Ezekiel did not see God the Son, in fact he did not even see Yahweh at all. We have three witnesses in the NT that tell us that no one has ever seen God – John 1:18; 1John 4:12; 1 Tim. 6:15-16. If the authors of the NT did not believe that anyone had ever seen God, then how would they explain this passage? Easily! Ezekiel did not see the actual glory of Yahweh, he only saw, in a vision, a representation of Yahweh’s glory. What is so hard to understand about that? And this vision of Ezekiel has absolutely nothing at all to do with Jesus being referred to as “the image of God” in the NT. The authors’ attempt to make a connection here fails. Besides, an image is a representation of something, and is never the thing itself that it represents. A painting of a Victorian manor is not the manor itself. A photograph of a child is not the child itself. A wooden idol of a deity is not the deity itself, but only a representation of it. If you want to express the idea of true essential deity in a person you do not do it by calling him the image of that deity. In doing so you have just ruled out that one from being the deity whose image he is. This should be obvious to any clear thinking person, but if you are still being tripped up by your tradition then maybe this will help:

“A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God.”  1 Cor. 11:7 

Now I could, at this point, formulate a doctrine of how man should be viewed and worshipped as God because, after all, he is called here, not only the image of God, but also the glory of God. But that would be foolish. Jesus’ being called “the image of God” no more makes him God than man’s being called so makes man God.

  • Ezekiel 34        This is more of the same shallow exegesis we have encountered repeatedly in this paper. Yahweh says he himself will shepherd Israel; then he says that David (i.e. the Davidic king, Messiah) will shepherd them; hence the Davidic king must be Yahweh. I hope the readers of these posts are beginning to see the overly simplistic, even juvenile reasoning process of these arguments. As we have seen in prior passages the concept of agency is applicable here also. When Yahweh sends his agent to do something, it is Yahweh himself doing it through the agent. The agent would have no authority or power to do anything if God had not raised him up, appointed him, anointed him with power, and sent him in His name. Did not Jesus say this very thing about himself in John 5: 19, ” … the Son has no power to do anything from himself …” and in 5:30 “I have no power to do anything from myself.” ‘From himself’ means as a source, i.e. the source of Jesus’ ability was not himself but the Father. Now, after Jesus’ resurrection and glorification, God has invested everything in this one Man, so that all of his actions are God’s actions, his words are God’s words, etc. Yes, Yahweh himself will shepherd his people through the man he has appointed {see Acts 17:31}.
  • Jeremiah 23:6           Where does this verse say that the Messiah has Yahweh’s own righteousness? This name or designation given the Messiah is not saying something about him but about the God who appointed him, who he serves. Like the names of many of God’s servants reflect something about God, rather than about themselves, such as Isaiah = Yahweh is salvation; Jeremiah = Yahweh loosens; Ezekiel = God strengthens; Daniel = God is my judge; Nehemiah = Yahweh comforts; Zechariah = Yahweh has remembered. This verse simply does not give any support for the supposed divinity of the Messiah. As to the question “how can a human king ever have righteousness,” have you ever heard of imputed or credited righteousness, even the righteousness of God himself {see 2 Cor. 5:21}.
  • Zechariah 12:10        The statement that Yahweh calls the Messiah ‘Me’ is ridiculous on it’s face. First off, the Hebrew does not read “they will look on me” in spite of the fact that many versions have that, but rather “they will look to me.” The Hebrew word el connotes motion to or direction toward. The correct translation of ‘to’ is found in the ISV, ASV, JPS, NET, NHEB and YLT. The apostle John quotes this verse in John 19:37 as  “they will look to the one they have pierced.”  John’s text obviously read differently than does the Masoretic Hebrew text. Since the Masoretic text is much more recent than whatever text John had in his day, it is possible the text of John’s day became altered over time to read “to me” rather than “to the one.” The Dead Sea Scrolls do not help us, for the only scroll that contains Zech. 12, 4Q80, is fragmentary and missing this part of the text. But let us assume the Masoretic text is accurate at this point, and the correct reading is “to me,” what is actually being said here by Yahweh, who appears to be the speaker? Is Yahweh saying that he was the one actually, physically pierced? Of course not! It simply means that Yahweh takes it personal when his representatives are rejected and mistreated and persecuted. This, once again, involves the concept of agency, where the sent one is regarded as the sender. Jesus told his disciples when he sent them out to preach, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me {Lk. 10:16}. So the text is saying that when the Messiah was rejected and pierced, Yahweh was rejected and pierced through his agent, Messiah. But in the future those who pierced him i.e. the Jewish nation, will look to Yahweh, in repentance, for grace.
  • Psalm 110:1       I do not wish to be unkind when I say that this argument is one of the most absurd things I have seen in defense of the Trinity doctrine. It seems that what they are saying is that David never used the phrase “my _______ ” except of two categories, God and his enemies, so that whatever fills the blank can only fall into one of these two categories. They then say, “so linguistically we have a choice.” When David says “my lord” he can only be referring to either God or his enemy, and since enemy wouldn’t make since it must be God. This is simply an untenable conclusion. In fact, we know exactly what David means by “to my lord” (Hebrew ladoni) for he uses the same word in 1 Samuel 24:6:

“… Yahweh forbid that I should do such a thing to my lord (Heb. ladoni), Yahweh’s anointed (Heb. messiah, here referring to king Saul), or lift my hand against him, for he is the messiah of Yahweh.”

The ‘lord’ in Psalm 110:1 is Yahweh’s anointed one, the Davidic king. For an explanation of Matt. 22:41-46 see my April post The Lordship of Jesus the Messiah under the heading Messiah, David’s Lord.

  • Psalm 45:6-7     This is a psalm about the wedding of the Davidic king, probably Solomon. It is an idealized depiction of the one who sits on Yahweh’s throne and rules on his behalf {see 1Chron. 28:5 & 2 Chron. 9:8}. Yes he is called ‘God’ in verse 6, but the idea is of status and function, as God’s representative, and not about essential nature. The context of the whole psalm bears this out. In v.2 he is the most handsome of the sons of men; in v.7 his God anoints him; in v.9 he is married; in v.16 he has sons who will be princes in the land. This psalm is not exclusively referring to Jesus, for much of it does not apply to him. But the writer of the book of Hebrews employs the verses that do apply to Jesus, as God’s anointed representative, as proof of Messiah’s superior status to that of the angels. Vv. 6-7 would apply to any of the LORD’s anointed, descendants of David on the throne of Yahweh, and so applies all the more to the final and ideal anointed one, Jesus our Lord. The assertion of the authors of this paper that this verse “affirms multiple personhood in the godhead” is without foundation. It is simply reading Trinitarian doctrine into whatever verse they can find to lend credence to their presupposed theology.
  • Psalm 102:19-21      When I first read this verse and the first comment made on it in this paper I was incredulous of their interpretation (discerning their propensity to read Trinitarian ideas into the text). I looked again at the verse and after only a minute or so I saw their error. I then checked out other translations and my initial feeling was confirmed. Here is how other versions translate v.21: “that men may declare” – ASV; “so that they might declare” – CSB, ESV, HCSB; “so they would declare” – ISV; “that men may tell” – JPS, NASB; “so they may proclaim” – NET. So the purpose or result of Yahweh setting free those doomed to death is that they may declare the name of Yahweh in Zion. This affords us with a perfect illustration of how an eagerness to find ones theological presuppositions in Scripture can blind one to what the text is actually saying. The entire first bullet-point comment on this passage in the paper is simply unwarranted and meaningless. The second bullet-point comment on this verse is not much better. The psalm is about the kingdom age but does not speak of Messiah directly. The authors’ conclusion that “Messiah is cast as YHWH” is just begging the question.

I want to take a minute to address the author of Hebrew’s use of this psalm in chapter one of his letter. He quotes vv.25-27 from the LXX, which differs from the Masoretic text and DSS, but that is not what I want to discuss here. The traditional understanding of this passage in Hebrews, colored by the assumption that Jesus is God and hence the creator, is that the author of Hebrews is quoting this to prove that very assumption. But when you read the passage, either in the LXX or the Hebrew text, it says nothing about the Messiah. Is the author of Hebrews just pulling out a creation text from the OT and arbitrarily applying it to Messiah Jesus? What kind of proof would that be. And if, as we are told, all Christians from the beginning believed Jesus to be God, why is the author of Hebrews trying to demonstrate Messiah’s superior status to that of angels. If the writer and recipients of the letter knew Jesus to be God then ipso-facto he would be greater than angels; would that point even have to be made?

So what is the writer of Hebrews trying to establish by his quotation of Psalm 102:25-27? The whole context of Hebrews chapter one is to establish the superiority of status of the reigning Davidic ruler, who sits on Yahweh’s throne, ruling on Yahweh’s behalf, over Yahweh’s kingdom, to that of angelic mediators. It seems that the recipients of the letter had been misled by some Jewish sect to downplay the role of Yahweh’s anointed one in the ultimate plan of God, and to elevate angelic mediators in that plan. This of course was a mistake and the author of the letter is trying to correct it, by showing, from OT passages, the greater value placed by God on his chosen representative from the line of David, compared to the role of angels. He does this by a series of comparisons between the Son (as set forth in 1 Chron. 28:5-6 & Psalm 2) and angels. His main point is that no angel was ever given authority to rule over God’s kingdom, on God’s behalf, as the Davidic ruler was {see Heb. 2:5}. He then quotes Psalm 45:6-7, which we already discussed. But the point of that quotation is not really the part about the Davidic king being called ‘God,’ for that would not have been controversial to any Hebrew, who would have understood Psalm 45 to be about the human king reigning on the throne. The main point of that quotation is to show the enduring nature of that throne, it is an everlasting throne; that is to say that the role of the Davidic king ruling on Yahweh’s behalf is an everlasting decree and promise which God made to David {see Ps. 89:28-29, 34-37}.

Next, he quotes from Psalm 102:25-27. If we assume he is continuing the pattern up to this point, of saying something about the son and then saying something about the angels, then his use of this passage is to say something about the angels, not the son. But at first glance it doesn’t appear to be saying anything about angels. But that is because we are not in the head of the first century Jew. If, as I assert, the point of quoting the Ps. 45 passage was to show the enduring nature of the Davidic throne in God’s plan, then the point of this passage is to show the temporary nature of the role of angels in God’s plan. Now a first century Jew would have caught the authors intention even though we Gentile Christians have missed it. When a first century Jew thought or spoke of ‘the heavens,’ in his mind it meant more than just the material stuff, it also included the powers or angelic hierarchy that inhabited the heavens and exercised, to one degree or another, a measure of influence or authority over the kingdoms and affairs of earthly rulers {see Dan. 10:12-13; Eph. 6:12}. Based on Is.24:21-22 this arrangement in the heavenlies was seen to be temporary, to be terminated once the kingdom age dawned. Hence the writer of Hebrews is reminding his readers of this temporary role of angels in quoting this passage: ” … the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will role them up like a robe, like a garment they will be changed. … .” So when Jews read this passage they not only understood it to be speaking of a change in the material heavens but also of the angelic hierarchy that inhabited that realm. This passage in it’s original context is not about Messiah and the author of Hebrews is not applying it to Messiah.

  • Instead of this paper’s brief survey showing the OT to be “replete with indications of the Messiah’s divinity,” I think I have adequately demonstrated that once you look a little closer at these verses and not just on the surface, and you factor in the biblical concept of agency, these supposed ‘indications’ just do not seem so plausible.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this refutation.

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Author: Troy Salinger

I am 55 yrs. old. I live with my wife of 32 yrs. in Picayune MS. I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus since August of 1981. I have no formal theological education, but have been an ardent student of Scripture for 36 yrs. I am a biblical Unitarian i.e. I believe the Father is the only true God (John 17:3) and Jesus is His human Son, the Messiah.

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