Refutation of the Master’s University Bible Faculty Document on the Trinity and Divinity of Messiah – Part 6: Evidence From the Gospels

C. The Gospels

Jesus is presented as a heavenly being at the Transfiguration

  • Mark 9:2-8; Matt 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36

The authors’ assertion that Jesus is a heavenly being, based on his appearance on this occasion, has absolutely no weight whatsoever. First of all, what do they mean by heavenly being? I thought the purpose of the paper was to prove that Jesus is deity, not just a heavenly being. They quote Mark 16:5, which is referencing an angel, most likely. Are they trying to say that Jesus is an angel, i.e. a heavenly being? They then quote Dan. 7:9 where the ‘ancient of days’ is pictured as dressed in white clothes. Now the ‘ancient of days’ in Daniel’s vision definitely represents God. So they give us two conflicting examples of white clothing, one of God and one of an angel. Which category are they saying Jesus falls in? This kind of exegesis is weak at best and just plain nonsense at worst. What about the humans who are given white robes to wear in the Revelation {see 3:4-5; 6:11; 7:9, 13-14; 19:8, 14}? Does the fact that Jesus’ face shined with light mean that we have to regard him as a heavenly being or even as God? If so, then could the same be said of Moses, whose face was radiant with light {see Ex.34:29-35}? What about resurrected saints in the kingdom age, who, according to Dan. 12:3 “will shine like the brightness of the heavens?” {see also Matt. 13:43}. And what about Moses and Elijah, who also appeared in glorious form with Jesus on the mountain? {see Lk. 9:30-31}. Are they heavenly or divine beings? Just because Jesus appeared this way is no reason to jump to the baseless conclusion that he must be deity. No where, in any of the three accounts of this incident, do the biblical authors tell their readers that the conclusion of the matter is that Jesus is a divine being.

I have heard it said before that what happened at the transfiguration is that Christ’s true divinity was allowed to momentarily shine out from his body to prove to his disciple that he is God. But no verse says this. In fact, Peter, who was one of the three disciples who witnessed the event, in his recounting of the incident in 2 Pet. 1:16-18, does not tell his readers any such thing. What he says is, that it was a glimpse of the majesty that will be Messiah’s at his coming {v.16}, a glory that we will share with him {see Phil. 3:20-21; Rom.8:17-21}. The kind of assertions made by the document authors are simply hype.

Jesus has authority over the heavenly realm

  • Luke 10:18-19

The authors state, “Notice that Jesus has authority. Can any other human say that?” Well the answer is yes! The very passage they quote proves it so. Is not Jesus telling his disciple that he gave them the authority to tread on all the power of the enemy? And this is not just the Twelve, but 72 of his disciples. So yes, other humans can have authority. But the trinitarian will retort, “They only had authority because Jesus gave it to them.” Yes that is true, but the same language is used to define how Jesus himself comes to have authority:

Matt. 28:18 –  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

John 5:26-27 –  “For as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the son life to have in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the son of man.”

John 17:2 –  “For you (Father) have given him (your son) authority over all people . . .”

The mistake that many Christians make is to think that Jesus has authority by virtue of being deity, but such an authority would not have had to be given to him from someone else. The same idea of authority being given to Jesus is expressed differently by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:27, ” ‘For he (God) has put all things under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.” Our Lord Jesus is the man chosen by God to rule His kingdom on His behalf, so of course he has authority. But this authority had to be given to him because he did not possess it of himself. As Peter expressed it on the day of Pentecost:

Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus . . . both Lord and Messiah.     Acts 2:36

Jesus has authority to forgive sins

  • Mark 2:1- 12

What they do here is typical of trinitarian apologists. They will focus on any language within a text that seems to support their presuppositions (and then read their presuppositions into the text) but ignore any language which might mitigate their presuppositional reading. Also, please notice the shallowness of their reasoning – 1.Jesus forgives a man’s sins  2. Only God can forgive sins  3. Therefore Jesus is God. This is not deep analysis.

The first false premise of the authors is that blasphemy means to claim to do what only God can do. I will deal with this in the next section. The second false premise is that Jesus is forgiving the man’s sins by his own authority. The key verse is Mark 2:10-11:

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” he said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

Well that settles it! Jesus has the authority to forgive sins and heal sickness, he must be God, right? Wrong!  First, let’s notice the language of the text that was not analyzed by the authors. Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man (Gr. the son of the man). Son of man (Heb. ben adam and ben ish) is a Semitic idiom which simply means man {see Ps. 8:4; 80:17; 144:3}. The phrase, as used by Jesus as a self referent, seems to have a slightly different nuance with the double definite article. It probably means something like the pre-eminent son of Adam, which would make him the most important human being to ever live. Jesus is saying that he, as the pre-eminent son of Adam, has authority on earth to forgive sins. I point this out because trinitarians have a misconception that the title son of man denotes Jesus’ humanity while the title son of God denotes his deity. If their misconception were true, and Jesus’ forgiving of sins is proof that he is God, then why didn’t Jesus say, “But that you may know that the Son of God has authority to forgive sins?”  Also, Jesus stresses that it is “on earth” that this pre-eminent son of Adam has authority to forgive sins. These words must have some significance to them, for he could have simply said that “The son of man has authority to forgive sins,” but he doesn’t. Why does he add “on earth,” which seems like a limitation? These are all questions that are ignored by the authors of the document, but which work against their shallow interpretation of the text.

Now we will note that Jesus heals the man (something that can be seen) in order to prove that he also has the authority to forgive his sins (something that cannot be seen). Now the authority to do the one must be the same authority by which he does the other. When we examine the gospels (and Acts) we can readily discern by what power and authority Jesus was able to heal the sick, and what we discover is that it was not by his own power and authority:

Luke 5:17 –  One day as he was teaching . . . the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.

John 10:25 –  Jesus answered, “. . . The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me.”

John 14:10-11 –  “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not my own. Moreover, the Father living in me is doing his works. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

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

Now if the power and authority to perform miraculous healings was not intrinsic to Jesus, then neither is it a necessary inference from this passage that the authority to forgive sins was intrinsic to him. As we saw in the previous section, the authority that Jesus has is explicitly stated to have been given to him; so in this passage, although not explicitly stated, it is certainly reasonable to understand it as implied that this authority to forgive sins had to be given to Jesus from another, i.e. the Father. Later, Jesus  even confers this same authority, which was given to him, upon his apostles:

John 20:21-23 – Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you should forgive anyone their sins, their sins are forgiven . . .”

As I noted earlier, trinitarians are wont to only focus attention on those elements in any given passage which favor their interpretation, while they seem to be unaware of those elements that do not favor their interpretation. If they would have looked at the parallel passage in Matt. 9, at v. 8, which is Matthew’s take-away from the event, then they would have gotten a better sense of the passage:

When the crowd saw this (i.e. the healing of the paralytic) they were filled with awe, and they praised God, who had given this kind of authority to men.

Jesus is accused of Blasphemy

  • Mark 2:7
  • Mark 14:61-64

With these two passages the authors seem to be suggesting that blasphemy involves someone claiming to be God or claiming for oneself prerogatives that belong only to God. But this is no where stated in scripture and in these two passages Jesus is not making any such claims. Blasphemy in the Scriptures seems to be defined as defamation of a person or thing, to cause someone or something to be thought less of or ill spoken of. So God’s name was blasphemed among the Gentiles because of the sinfulness of the Israelites {Rom. 2:24}; Moses can be blasphemed {Acts 6:11}; the temple and the law could be blasphemed {Acts 6:13}; believers can be blasphemed by unbelievers {1 Pet. 4:4}; God and his teaching can be blasphemed by the bad behavior of Christians {1 Tim. 6:1}; Christians should avoid blaspheming others {Titus 3:2}. Now, of course, not all of these forms of blasphemy would be considered by Jews as worthy of death.

What appears to have been going on in the mind of the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus is that, because they considered him to be a sinner {see Matt. 11:19; 12:24; John 5:18; 9:16, 24-29}, for him to associate himself so closely with God, claiming to be sent by God, to speak for God, to be the anointed one of God, the son of God, was blasphemous.  For a sinner to claim that they were God’s agent and had God’s approval was to defame God. This is one possible way to understand the charge of blasphemy against Jesus.

The document asserts that there would have been nothing blasphemous in claiming to be the Messiah, but this assertion is baseless. They want us to think that Jesus was claiming something far above being simply the Messiah. They want us to see in Jesus’ answer to the high priest a claim to divinity. But to claim to be the Messiah, the son of God, was simply to claim to be the long awaited descendant of David who would take the throne and bring salvation to the nation of Israel. This anticipated Davidic king was considered to be a holy figure, one whose reputation was impeccable, whose reign would be characterized by righteousness and justice of the highest order. In the thinking of the Jewish leaders it would certainly be considered blasphemy for this no account peasant from Nazareth, who broke the Sabbath and associated with the dregs of society, to claim to be this august and hallowed king. Note that no where, in this passage or in it’s synoptic parallels, is it claimed that Jesus blasphemed God; that is merely an assumption based on a misconception of what blasphemy entails. I have already shown that blasphemy can be committed against others beside God and this is especially true of such an important  figure as the King Messiah . It is not unreasonable to suppose that the blasphemy the Sanhedrin accused Jesus of was that against the prophesied Messiah rather than against God.

The authors’ assertions that Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah would not have been considered blasphemous, but that what was blasphemous was his “claim to have a heavenly throne” is yet another example of the shallow exegesis of this paper and is contradicted by a careful examination of all of the relevant material. Jesus’ statement about the son of man being seated at the right hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven would surely have been understood by the Sanhedrin to be a reference to Dan. 7:13, which they would have understood to be Messianic. If they had accepted Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah then they would have had no problem with this statement. What they had a problem with was his claim to be this Messiah. This is shown conclusively by Luke’s version of the same episode {Lk. 22:66-71}. The way Luke presents it makes the assertion by the document authors impossible. First, they asked Jesus if he is the Messiah {v.67}. Jesus’ answer was evasive and he followed it with the reference to Dan.7:13 {vv.67-69}. They then asked him, “Then you are the son of God?” to which he answered yes {v.70}. The Jews then declared that they needed no further testimony for his own words had condemned him, though Luke does not use the word blasphemy. We should note that the two questions that the Sanhedrin asked Jesus are synonymous i.e. to be the Messiah is to be the son of God. Both titles refer to the anointed king from David’s line. This is confirmed two verses later in 23:2 when they bring Jesus to Pilate and say, “He claims to be Messiah, a king.” This is further confirmed by John’s account in 19:7-12, where, in v. 7, the Jews say to Pilate, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the son of God.” Then in verse 12 they say, “If you let this man go you are no friend of Caeser. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caeser.”  Notice that the statement in v. 7 contradicts the claim of the document. All of this shows that the matter is not quite as simplistic as the authors of the document make it out to be.

The “name” of Jesus is more powerful than a human name

  • Matt 18:20

The above heading is somewhat confusing. Are they saying that the name ‘Jesus’ is not a human name? I didn’t even realize that there are human names and, well, non-human names, I guess. The name of our Lord, Jesus, was certainly not unique to him. The name Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn, is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua, a shortened form of the name Yehoshua. Many people in both the OT and NT had this name {1 Sam. 6:14; 2 Kings 23:8; Haggai 1:1; 1 Chron. 24:11; 2 Chron. 31:15; Ezra 2:2; Neh. 3:19; Acts 13:6; Col. 4:11}. An interesting passage which speaks to this matter is Acts 4:12:

(The) Salvation is found in none other, for there is not another name under heaven, that has been given among men, by which it is necessary for us to be saved.”

The ‘name’ here refers back to Jesus of Nazareth in v. 10 and denotes not just the name but the person. I believe that the import of the above underlined words is that there is no other member of the human race in whom is to be found the salvation that the Jews had been waiting for – this man is the one, do not look for another.

The document’s comment on the verse implies that for people to gather in Jesus’ name would be odd if he is just a human. What this assumes is that the disciples, to whom he said this, would have thought or known that Jesus was more than human, but this assumption cannot be substantiated from the gospel accounts. It is clear that they regarded him as a Rabbi, a Teacher, a prophet, and even as the long awaited son of David, the Messiah, but there is no clear evidence that they regarded him as something more than ‘human.’

To do something ‘in the name of’ another can have various meanings depending on the context. To gather in the name of someone need not mean anything more than for disciples of a Rabbi, Teacher or some other religious figure to come together with the same goals, passions and frame of mind as the one they follow and in honor of that one. When they do so it is as if their Master is there among them.

  • Matt 28:19

Observe the deep and meaningful exegesis of this verse in this paper – “Notice Jesus is sandwiched between the father and the spirit – both of which are clearly God.” Well, that could be one way to interpret this verse, if one already holds the presupposition of trinitarianism. But certainly this verse does not teach such a doctrine.

The phrase in Greek is into the name of . . . ” rather thanin the name of . . . ”  –  the preposition being eis not en. Now one possible meaning of  ‘in the name of” is ‘by the authority of. ‘  If this were the import of the phrase in our verse, it would be saying that the apostles were to make disciples from all the nations, baptizing them, and that they would do this by the authority of the Father, and the son and the holy spirit. But since the phrase is actually “into the name of” I think something else is being communicated other than that the apostles would be acting under the authority of the Father, Son and holy spirit.

Baptism may have had various uses for Jews in the first century. One use was as a purification ritual. I don’t believe that is what baptism is about in our passage. It is possible that baptism was also used as an initiation rite, whereby one was brought into an identification and association with the one whose name they were baptized into. Jewish rabbis would acquire disciples, who, after undergoing the initiation rite of baptism, into the name of the rabbi, would become identified with that rabbi, as his disciple, and would from that time forward become associated with him. Some would even leave their family to follow their teacher wherever he would go. This is what would be the thought behind the phrase “baptized into the name of .” The idea is that the person being baptized would become immersed into the life of the baptizer, finding their identity in that one. Now to say that one is baptized into the name of a rabbi is just to say they were baptized into the rabbi himself. We see this concept in 1 Cor. 1:12-15:

What I mean is this: One of you says, “I am of Paul” ; another, “I am of Apollos” . . . Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you . . . so that no one can say that you were baptized into my name.

What we can glean from this passage is that to have been baptized into the name of Paul would have been equivalent to being of Paul i.e. identified and associated with Paul. Paul uses this same concept of baptism to show the relationship between Moses and the Israelites:

I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

Paul sees these events as intiatory for the Israelites coming into a long term identification and association with Moses as their leader. These events were meant to bring the people into a submission to Moses as their God ordained leader; they were to obey him as God’s appointed agent and believe in him as God’s representative {see Ex. 14:29-31; 19:9; 33: 7-11}. Now Paul could have said that the people were baptized into the name of Moses and it would have meant the same thing. I point this out because one of the trintarian explanations of Matt. 28:19 is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are being said to have the same name, presumably Yahweh, since the text reads “baptizing them into the name of” rather than “into the names of” . But this is simply unfounded. Name here simply represents the persons themselves i.e. the idea is to baptize people into the Father, into the son and into the holy spirit. Based on this I offer this expanded translation of our passage:

Therefore go and make disciples from all nations, initiating them, through the rite of baptism, into an identification and association with the Father (as the one true and living God), and with the son (as the man appointed by God to rule his kingdom forever) and with the holy spirit (as that anointing by which all believers are brought into one body)

This same concept is expressed in a different way by Paul in Eph. 4:4-5 :

There is one body and one spirit . . . one Lord . . . one God and Father of all . . .

So we can see that a trinitarian interpretation is not a necessary interpretation of this passage, it all depends on one’s presupposition.

  • Matt 7:22

So here the authors assert that “Jesus is God” based on the fact that people prophesy in his name, perform mighty works in his name and because Jesus acts as judge. What they are saying, in effect, is that it is impossible that these things could be said of a human being, and so because they are said of Jesus, he must be more than merely human. But this appears to me to be a skepticism peculiar to a developed Christianity. Would first century Jews have thought this way? I mean the NT was written within a Jewish context by Jews and the later postulations of a predominately Gentile Christianity are irrelevant to this issue. Could Jews living at the time of our Lord Jesus have conceived of people prophesying, casting out demons and doing miracles in the name of another human being? I think the answer to that question is yes!

What the assertion of the document entails is that the disciples of Jesus knew him to be God himself in human flesh. But is this even a reasonable assumption? Since the disciples of Jesus were given authority to cast out evil spirits in his name, it must be assumed by the document’s authors that they understood Jesus to be God. According to the document assertion why would they attempt to perform such feats in the name of a mere human being? So the question is, “Can it be demonstrated from the gospels that his disciples believed Jesus to be God himself?” We need to look for direct statements by disciples regarding who they believed Jesus to be, and preferably at a time later than when Jesus would have uttered the words of Matt. 7:22.

Later in Matthew’s gospel {16:13-20} we have an account where Jesus straightforwardly asks his disciple who they think he is. Peter answered forthright, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Now here is an unequivocal statement of belief by one of Jesus’ close followers regarding his identity (note that Peter did not say, “You are the God-man” or “You are the God of Israel come in human flesh,” things which traditional Christians are accustomed to say). Some Christians may not catch the force of what Peter said because they have been misinformed as to what these titles mean. Many actually think that ‘Christ’ and ‘son of God’ are titles which denote deity, but this is demonstrably false. ‘Christ‘ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Messiah‘ , both meaning ‘anointed one‘. This was one of the OT designations of the king of Israel; Saul was the Lord’s anointed {1 Sam. 24:6}, as was David {2 Sam. 23:1}, as was Solomon {1 Kings 1:34, 45; 2 Chron. 6:42}, as was every king who sat on the throne of Israel. For an indepth study of the title Christ (Messiah) see this article: CHRIST: Title of Divinity?

The designation ‘son of God’ is typically taken by Christians to denote Jesus’ deity, but once again, this is simply an error. Son of God is actually another OT epithet of the king of Israel, thus making it practically a synonym for Messiah { see 1 Chron. 17:13; 22:10; 28:5-7; Ps. 2:6-7}. This can be seen to carry over into the NT usage in these passages – Lk. 1:31-33; Matt. 26:63; Mark 1:1; John 1:49; 11:27; 20:31. For a more thorough treatment on this title see this article Son of God (Part 1)

So Peter’s declaration, which occurred late in Jesus’ public ministry, amounts to the fact that he believed Jesus to be the long awaited son of David, the Messiah, who had come to redeem Israel and to rule on the throne of David. It is reasonable to suppose that the other disciples regarded Jesus in the same way. In fact, we get another glimpse of how  other disciples viewed Jesus in Luke 24. After Jesus had been raised from the dead he appeared to two disciples who were enroute to the village of Emmaus. The two disciples were kept from recognizing Jesus as he walked along and talked with them. He asked them what they had been discussing and they answered:

About Jesus of Nazareth . . .  a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. . .  they crucified him, but we had hoped that he was the one who would redeem Israel.                vv. 19-21

Here we have an explicit statement by two disciples as to who they believed Jesus to be. Note, first, that they refer to him as a man; they do not refer to him as a God-man or God in the flesh or any thing else that would qualify him as being more than human. Second, they acknowledge him to have been a prophet i.e a person who speaks on God’s behalf. They even state that he was mighty in deed and word in the sight of the God, which means they did not regard him as God. Finally, they state that they (probably refers to other disciples along with themselves) had believed he was the promised Messiah (that is the import of the words “the one who would redeem Israel“). Everything that they said about who they thought Jesus was is consistent with the OT concept and expectation of a human Messiah, the son of David. Yet, what they said about Jesus falls conspicuously  short of the classic orthodox confession of Jesus as God the son, or the God-man, or the eternally begotten Son, etc.

Now, having shown that the disciples of Jesus regarded him as a human being, it should be clear that they would not have understood Jesus’ words in Matt 7:22 as necessitating that he be God.

A couple of other incidents in scripture illustrate that first century Jews would not have thought it strange to perform exorcisms or healings in the name of a particularly pious man who himself had such authority. In Mark 9:38 we are told of a man, who was not a disciple of Jesus, but who was attempting to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. And in Acts 19:13-15 we find that seven Jewish exorcists were invoking the name of Jesus in their attempts to drive out evil spirits. Are we to believe that these Jews, who were attempting to cast out spirits by using Jesus’ name, regarded Jesus as God? The very idea is ludicrous! It is more reasonable to conclude that they regarded Jesus as a pious and holy man who had been given authority by God to do these things and that they believed that by invoking his name they could do the same. In fact, we know that 1st century Jews thought this way, for Josephus, in Chapter 2 of Book 8 of his Antiquities of the Jews, tells of how God had given Solomon the ability to cast out demons through the use of incantations. He tells of how this method of exorcising demons had been passed down and was in use even in his day. He recounts having seen a certain man named Eleazar, who through the use of Solomon’s incantations and by invoking Solomon’s name, was able to manifestly perform exorcisms. Josephus then says:

“. . . and when this was done, the skill and wisdom of Solomon was shown very manifestly; for which reason it is that all men may know the vastness of Solomon’s abilities, and how he was beloved of God, and that the extraordinary virtues of every kind with which this king was endowed, may not be unknown to any people under the sun . . .”

All of this shows it to be highly unlikely that the people who heard Jesus’ words, recorded in Matt. 7:22, would have thought it strange that people would attempt to prophesy and perform miraculous works in the name of Jesus, unless Jesus was God himself.

Now regarding prophesying in Jesus’ name specifically, it is true that there are no biblical examples of someone prophesying in the name of another person other than God, but we should assume that the Jews would have thought this possible since it is mentioned along with the other things which are done in Jesus’ name, things which Jews would not have considered strange for someone to do. The document presents Deut. 18: 18-20 as a proof that Jesus must be God if people would attempt to prophesy in his name, but what I have presented shows that to be an unnecessary conclusion. For Jews to attempt to prophesy or do any miraculous works in the name of such a highly regarded and powerful human figure as the Messiah just would not have been seen as impossible by Jews of Jesus’ day.

The document states, regarding Matt. 7:22, that “people are legitimately prophesying in Jesus’ name.” But I think the context of the passage is against this. These are people who do not truly belong to Messiah, for he is pictured as rejecting them because he does not know them. These people would be more akin to the false prophets in the OT who prophesied falsely in the name of Yahweh.

Regarding the point made in the paper that Jesus is portrayed as the judge, presumably over who can enter the kingdom in the age to come, and that this is a prerogative of God, thereby implying Jesus is God, the conclusion just does not follow from the premise. It is also God’s prerogative to delegate his authority to whomever he pleases. We have already seen that the authority that Jesus has to act as judge in the age to come is his by delegation and is based on the fact that he is the premier man. But just to reiterate:

John 5:27 –  And he (the Father) has given him (the son) authority to judge because he is the Son of man.

  • Acts 9:34

I do not think that on the strength of this verse alone we can assume what the authors of the paper assume – that “Jesus himself is the source for miracles,” and therefore “this means that Jesus is more than human.” Once again, the authors have jumped to a conclusion, based not upon the text but upon the presupposition which they bring to the text. The text itself says nothing to the effect that Jesus should be regarded as God or as more than a human because Peter said to Aeneas, “Jesus Christ heals you.” The fact that the resurrected, glorified Jesus can heal people would not require that he be the ultimate source of the power by which he does so. Why could he not be the secondary source, i.e. the power by which he heals is a power bestowed upon him by the ultimate source of the power, God. In fact, when we look at other passages in Acts relating to healing we see just this, that God is the ultimate source of the power by which Jesus heals. Acts 4:24-30 records a prayer of the disciples addressed to God and we know this because the text says, “They raised their voices together in prayer to God.”  Now I would like you to note two things in this prayer: 1. The one who is addressed in prayer is not Jesus but someone else distinct from him, and 2. Who healing is being attributed to.

“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant . . . David . . . Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate . . . conspired against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. . . Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable (us) your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Here we see the disciples (presumably Peter was present) ask God (whom trinitarians would have to say refers to the Father here) to heal the sick through the name of his servant Jesus. This clearly means that the disciples understood God to be the ultimate or primary source of the power to heal, although the healings were done through the name of Jesus, God’s servant.

In Acts 15:12 Paul and Barnabas stand before the assembly of apostles and elders in Jerusalem “relating how many signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” Note that the text does not say,  “. . . how many signs and wonders Jesus Christ had done . . .”  No doubt Paul had, in the course of performing these miracles, invoked the name of Jesus the Messiah, but he understood that the ultimate source of the power was from God.

In Acts 19:11 Luke relates to his readers how “God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul.” Notice again that Luke does not say that “Jesus Christ was doing extraordinary miracles through Paul.” Clearly Luke understood God, not Jesus, to be the ultimate source of such power.

Now if someone wants to insist that ‘God’ in these passages can include Jesus, as he is part of the Godhead, well, that is simply eisegesis based on one’s theological prepossessions. In the book of Acts, God ( ho theos in all of the passages quoted above) is always someone distinct and separate from Jesus, as the following verses attest – 2:22, 32, 36; 3:13; 4:10; 5:30; 7:55; 8:12; 9:20; 10:38; 11:17; 13:23; 20:21, 24; 28:31.

So once again we see that the proof-texts which are put forward in this paper fail to prove what the authors assert.


Author: Troy Salinger

I am 60 yrs. old. I live with my wife of 37 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 41 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.

One thought on “Refutation of the Master’s University Bible Faculty Document on the Trinity and Divinity of Messiah – Part 6: Evidence From the Gospels”

  1. Thanks for having the patience to go through these “arguments”.
    Of course, now I stand back and shake my head in wonder at some of the claims the deity of Christ folks and trinitarians make.

    Your explanation of “blasphemy” here is very good. I’m sad to say, the deity of Christ claims blaspheme both our God and our Lord Jesus. As much as these claims want to prove the deity of Jesus, they deny the real human Messiah Jesus, and misrepresent who the One true God is.


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