The Regulative Principle of Worship, 4 sermons by Pastor Richard Barcellos

4 sermons on the Regulative Principle of Worship giving the Biblical support for the Regulative Principle of worship and how it is connected tot he 2nd commandment. The sermons give a useful introduction to the Regulative Principle of Worship.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

The Particular Baptists’ Defense of the 1st Day Sabbath

Originally posted on Particular Voices:

At the first General Assembly of the Particular Baptists, taking place in 1689, a variety of questions were proposed by churches, then debated and answered by the assembly. One of the questions dealt with the change of the positive law regarding the day upon which the moral obligation of the Sabbath was to be observed. The question and answer was as follows:

1689 GA Narrative, 16-17

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Southern California Reformed Baptist Pastors Conference 2015 Review


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I want to give a Review of the SCRBPC 2015, which I was thankful to get the time off from my work to fully attend the Conference for this year.  I have attended parts of the Conference for the last 2 years.  In 2014 Dr. Carl Trueman was the guest speaker and the topic was on the Doctrine of Scripture and chapter 1 of the 1689 LBC, and in 2014 Dr. G. K. Beale was the guest speaker and the lectures focused on hermeneutics and biblical theology. The audio of all of the previous conferences is available for free on sermonaudio:

The topic for this years Southern California reformed Baptist Pastor’s Conference was on the Doctrine of God, focusing on chapter 2 of the 1689 LBC with guest speaker Dr. James Dolzeal.  I want to thank all who worked hard and long to make this conference possible, Pastor Barcellos, Trinity reformed Baptist Church in La Mirada, CA for hosting the conference, those who helped with registration and Walter Ortiz and others who helped with the food preparation, as well as Dr. Dolzeal and Dr. Renihan for their preparation for the lectures and for Dr. Ron Baines and Sam Renihan providing pastoral and helpful teaching in the Q & A.  If you have read Dr. Dolzeal’s published dissertation many of the lectures were based off of his dissertation with additional example and illustrations as well as pastoral application.  I’ll post this year’s conference audio when it is available.

Here was the schedule of the conference:

Dr. Dolzeal’s dissertation was on the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity, which is a subcategory of God’s immutability.  It explain that because God is not composed of parts he is not dependent on something outside of himself unlike creatures.  This is an essential doctrine since it overlaps with key doctrines in theology proper such as the doctrine of the Trinity, Divine Impassibility, and Immutability in general.

Here is where you can purchase the dissertation on amazon, it is technical reading, but worthwhile to better understand God;s attributes and the comfort that God’s immutability gives to believers and for pastoral application and counseling:

The first lecture on Tuesday was given by Dr. James Renihan explaining how the Doctrine of God affects not only chapter 2 of the 1689 LBC, but how it affects all of the confessions articulated systematic theology.  He argued that the confession shouldn’t be viewed as 32 disconnected chapters, but that they overlap and build upon each other to form a systematic theology reflecting biblical doctrines.  He also discussed the import and of the following phrase in chapter 2.3 to explain the ramifications of the doctrine of God for believers, “which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him”.  The study of theology proper is not merely ivory tower academics, but is the foundation for our hope in the Gospel that God’s promises stand firm and true because of God’s attributes which are perfect and unchanging unlike us as creatures whose promises can change and fail.

The second lecture by Dr. Dolzeal was an overview of the doctrine of God in modern evangelicalism explaining some of the reasons for the shift away from classical theism. He gave important background information for why many evangelicals today either explicitly deny or attempt to modify the doctrine of divine simplicity and impassibility, and in the process of modifying either doctrine they undermine God’s immutability.

Another conference attendee has already discussed some more of the content of Dr. Dolzeal’s explanation of DDS, so I am linking to his post rather than reiterating it here:

The second lectures on Monday focused on the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity delivered by Dr. Dolzeal.  He explained that sadly this doctrine would have been a basic tenent of orthodox catholic (universal) Christian doctrine 300 years ago, but it is scarcely found in systematic theologies today and is often misunderstood and rejected in favor of modifications to classical theism.

After the first lecture by Dr. Dolzeal there was authentic Mexican tacos for dinner and a great time of fellowship to meet other conference attendees.

After Dr. Dolzeal’s second lecture on Monday there was a short Q & A session with Dr. Renihan and Dr. Dolzeal on the topics discussed in the 3 lectures on Monday.

Tuesday started early in the morning at 8:30 with Dr. Dolzeal’s third lecture finishing his explanation of the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity and its necessity for God’s immutability and how it relates to other attributes.  He also surveyed some modern departures from the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity by prominent theologians such as John Frame, Kevin Vanhoozer, and Ronald Nash.

He mad an important point at the beginning of the lecture that there is a temptation to apply how creatures apply speech to then attribute that distinction to God, which would deny the Creator-creature distinction.

Dr. Dolzeal also made an important statement at the beginning of his third lecture regarding  a proper hermenutic for studying theology proper, “our language is a mirror of reality,” as a result we must be cautious that we don’t apply our categories of creaturely attributes to God, thereby denying the Creator-creature distinction.  God accommodates to us using creaturely language such as an outstretched arm to describe his strength in Exodus 15, but that doesn’t mean that God literally has physical arms.

He summarized 3 basic approaches for those who do not affirm the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity (DDS): Disregard (those who are not even aware of the doctrine), Denial (those who explicitly deny the doctrine), and distortion (those who sound like they affirm it, but modify its meaning).

There are 2 basic reasons for the shift away for DDS that Dr. Dolzeal explained:

  1. A change in categories of causality made DDS unnecessary
  2. David Hume’s Skepticism

The shift to retreat and abandon metaphysics and go to the Bible undercut the categories of causes and resulted in a denial of DDS since it made the language of the authors of the 1689 LBC obsolete by denying their view of causality making DDS unnecessary.

I remember the pun that Dr. Dolzeal gave when explaining DDS during the conference, “Because God is not composed of parts, He doesn’t fall apart on us”.  DDS preserves God’s immutability and comforts believers that our hope anchored in the Gospel accomplished through Christ is a sure hope that will not change tomorrow.

Dr. Dolzeal’s lectures were not solely focused on historical and systematic theology because he also directed us back to Scripture showing the biblical support for DDS and Divine Impassibility.  I remember his reference to Acts 15:15-16, a prooftext of the 1689 LBC for 2.3 on Divine Impassibility.  Paul and Branabas are considered to be Greek gods by a crowd at Lystra (Act 15:11-12).  In verse 15 it states in the NASB that “we are also men of the same nature as you…”.  The Greek word translated “same nature” is homoipathes, which BDAG defines as, “pertaining to experiencing similarity in feelings or circumstances, with the same nature” (BDAG, 706).  In other words Paul and Barnabas rejected that they were Greek gods precisely because they are like men, and by implication they are arguing that a God with the same nature and feelings as His creatures is not worthy of worship.  This was one of the strongest arguments that Dr. Dolzeal made from scripture, which is not a novel argument since the authors of the 1689 LBC cited it as a prooftext over 300 years ago.

The second lecture by Dr. Dolzeal on Tuesday was on the Topic of Divine Eternality.  he addressed how DDS relates to Divine Eternality.  As well as why Divine Eternality must be affirmed for God to be immutable.  Dr. Dolzeal argued that God is atemporal and therefore unchanging as well as the eternal creator of the world.  he gave two basic arguments for the Divine Eternality of God:

  1. God is not moving through moments of time
  2. No new state of being can come upon or slip away from God because he is so perfect

“God is eternity, He is not in eternity,” Dr. Dolzeal

Dr. Dolzeal challenged the arguments advanced by some that God being described as Creator required that God is in some way time bound or that God took on or added non-essential attributes when he created the world.  he focused on responding to Nicholas Wolterstorf and William lane Craig in particular.

After the elcture on Divine Eternality and before the Argentinian Barbeque for lunch there was a Q & A discussion on the topic of Divine Impassibility with Dr. Dolzeal, Dr. James Renihan, Dr. Ron Baines, and Pastor Sam Renihan.  The Q & A was a balanced and profitable discussion of Divine Impassibility explaining what the doctrine is and responding to several common misconceptions.  It was a good balance of some technical questions as well as pastoral applications of Divine Impassibility.

The last lecture by Dr. Dolzeal explained how DDS relates to the doctrine of the Trinity and how it preserved an orthodox Trinitarian theology by precluding tritheism because God is not composed of parts, so the Trinity cannot be teaching that there are three Gods.  he also made application to how it preserves the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son.  he explained that it doesn’t imply that Christ began to exist at a certain moment in time as with physical generation or begetting, rather it affirms the immutability of Christ that he has eternally been the Son of God, and because of DDS Christ did not pass through states in which he changed from being some force or unnamed entity with the Trinity to later become the Son of God.  DDS preserves an orthodox Christology as well as Trinitarian theology.

Tuesday night ended with a Q & A with Dr. Dolzeal and Dr. Renihan primarily focusing on the last lecture of trinitarian theology and DDS.  The questions were helpful for further addressing the importance of DDS for an orthodox Nicene Trinitarian theology and an orthodox Christology.

Next year’s topic will be on chapter 3 of the 1689 LBC, Of God’s Decree.  I would encourage believers to come to the conference to grow in your understanding of scripture and for fellowship with other believers as well as good food as an added bonus and incentive to come to SCRBP 2016.

For more resources related to Divine Impassibility checkout rbap for current titles and upcoming publications.  God without Passions a Primer by Sam Renihan is an easy place to start, and the book includes study questions and makes it accessible to explain the importance of the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility to lay people in the church.  Sam Renihan’s other book by rbap, God without Passions a Reader, has a good introduction on the hermeneutical issues involved with Divine Impassibility and then lets you read the source texts of reformed theologians and pastors for multiple theological backgrounds: Presbyterian, congregationalist, Anglican, and reformed baptist from the year 1523 with early reformed such as Henry Bullinger and John Calvin, to 1700 with an additional chapter with various confessions which all affirm the doctrine of divine impassibility.  This book aids Christians to see how the  key passages for Divine Impassibility were understood in the past by reformed theologians and pastors, and how they dealt with challenging passages with seem to indicate that God repented or changed.

Confessing the Impassible God, will be a larger work on Divine Impassibility coming out soon by RBAP:

I also do want to briefly mention the missionary opportunity of John Divitio who is looking for financial support to move to South Africa to help with the African Pastor’s Conference (APC) to help provided reformed theological resources to pastors in South Africa.  It is an important endeavor to counteract a lot of the heretical and erroneous prosperity Gospel imported to Africa via TBN and other similar movements which have unfortunately gained a stronghold in Africa and impeded the spread of the Gospel and growth of faithful churches in Africa.  You can contact John Divito’s website for the African Pastor’s Conference for more information on the ministry opportunity, prayer updates, and to help financially:

La Necesidad del Pacto de Obras para el Evangelio


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Hay un dicho común entre creyentes acerca de la doctrina de la justificación, “la justificación es como si nunca hubiera pecado,” pero este dicho solamente contiene una mitad de la verdad, la otra mitad es la justicia imputada a creyentes por medio de la obediencia perfecta del Señor Jesucristo.  Si no tenemos su justicia perfecta nosotros mantenemos a pie adelante de Dios condenados igualmente como la profeta Isaías cuando vio la santidad de Dios en su visión (Isaías 6:1-5).

Esta doctrina de la imputación de la obediencia perfecta de Jesucristo es negado por muchos que profesan ser cristianos mayormente debido a la influencia de la teología Dispensationalista.   Lo cual ha negado el pacto de obras porque la palabra pacto no sucede hasta capítulo 6 de Génesis lo cual describe el pacto con Noé y por eso no hay un pacto de obras o un pacto con Adán en la Biblia.

Por ejemplo aquí es un dicho de dos teólogo Dispensationalistas que enseña en el Semanario teológico Dallas ubicado en Texas.  Ellos dicen que Cristo solamente pagó la maldición de la ley en nuestro lugar, pero no obtuvo justicia perfecta para nosotros por medio de su propia obediencia.  Según estos dos teólogos, Darrel Block y Craig Blaising, Jesús solamente fue obediente porque si hubiera pecado entonces no podría morir en nuestro lugar pagando la maldición de Dios; pero ellos no incluyen la necesidad de la justicia perfecta de Cristo imputado a los creyentes.

“En Gálatas 3:10-13, Pablo explica como la muerte de Cristo fue cumplido y terminado en el pacto mosaico. “Cristo nos redimió de la maldición de la ley, habiéndose hecho maldición por nosotros (porque escrito está: Maldito todo el que cuelga de un madero) Biblia de Las Américas (Gálatas 3 13).” Cristo tomo la maldición del pacto mosaico sobre él mismo para cumplir las exigencias de Dios.  Esto no hubiera sucedido sin embargo que él mismo fuera un pecador quien necesitaría expiación por él mismo.  Pero Pablo dice en 2 Corintios 5:21, “Al que no conoció pecado, le hizo pecado por nosotros, para que fuéramos hechos justicia de Dios en El (Biblia de Las Américas)”. Él fue completamente obediente a las exigencias del pacto mosaico.  Por esto los que están en Cristo son llamados justos (cf. Deuteronomio 6:25, 1 Corintios 1:30) y encuentran la maldición de la ley cumplido por ellos[1]”.

No es suficiente solamente tener sus pecados perdonados para entrar al cielo porque Dios requiere justicia perfecta como Jesús dijo en el Sermón de la Monte,

“Por tanto, sed vosotros perfectos como vuestro Padre celestial es perfecto (Mateo 5:48 Biblia de Las Américas)”.

Pablo explica la importancia del pacto de obras cuando compara Adán a Cristo en Romanos 5:12-21, si Adán no fue nuestra cabeza federal entonces según Pablo tampoco Cristo fuera nuestra cabeza federal.  Si Adán cayó sin representar nadie federalmente entonces Cristo murió solamente por él mismo.  Teólogo A.W. Pink explica la necesidad del pacto de obras para preservar el evangelio porque si uno niega el pacto de obras entonces puede resultar en la negación que Adán fue una cabeza federal.  El hecho que Adán fue una cabeza federal, lo cual afirman aun creyentes que niegan el pacto de obras, supone que había un pacto de obras en el jardín porque la palabra federal es igual que pacto.  Adán tuvo que ser en un pacto con Dios para ser una cabeza federal, los dos hechos no pueden ser separados.

“La desobediencia del primero Adán fue la fundación judicial para nuestra condenación, la obediencia del último Adán fue la fundación legal sobre cual Dios solamente puede justificar un pecador.  La substitución de Cristo en el lugar de su pueblo, la imputación de sus pecados a él y su justicia a ellos, es el hecho cardinal del evangelio.  Pero la doctrina principal de ser salvo por medio de lo que otra persona [Cristo] ha hecho solamente es posible sobre la fundación que nosotros fuimos perdidos por medio de lo que otra persona [Adán] hizo.  Los dos se ponen de pie or caen juntos.  Si no hubiera sido un pacto de obras no hubiera sido muerte en Adán, no habría ningún vida en Cristo tampoco[2]”.

Concluyendo, vemos la importancia de la teología del pacto al evangelio.  No es una sistema abstracto para teólogos, por el contrario es muy práctico de como estudiamos la Biblia y como entendemos el evangelio mismo.

Aunque este método de interpretación no es consistente para los que niegan el pacto de obras porque el pacto Davídico no usa la palabra “pacto” en 2 Samuel 7:8-17, a pesar de que nadie niega que había un pacto Davídico porque los elementos de un pacto son presentes aunque la palabra explicito “pacto” no es usado.  Luego la Biblia llama 2 Samuel 7:8-17 un pacto en 2 Samuel 23:5 y Salmos 89:3-4.  Lo mismo concepto de interpretación es usado para el pacto de obras aunque en Génesis 2 la palabra “pacto” no sucede luego en el antiguo testamento es llamado un pacto en Ósea 6:7, Isaías 24:3-6, y también por Pablo en el Nuevo Testamento en Romanos 5:12-21.  La Biblia nos da una interpretación infalible (sin error) de sí mismo y por eso cuando la Biblia refiere a otro pasaje en la Biblia es sin error aunque sucede en otra parte de la Biblia. Esto es porque la Biblia no solamente es escrita por hombres pero también Dios es el autor principal por medio del Espíritu Santo de todos los libros de la Biblia.

¿Vamos a confiar en la interpretación inspirada y infalible del apóstol Pablo en Romanos 5 explicando la necesidad de Adán como nuestro cabeza federal para que Cristo sea la cabeza federal de creyentes (lo cual supone el pacto de obras) o vamos a leer Génesis 2 solamente enfocando en el autor humano sin leer Génesis 2 en el contexto de toda la Biblia?  La segunda opción enfoca en el argumento que la palabra “pacto” no sucede allí y por eso es imposible que había un pacto de obras, lo cual da prioridad al autor humano en vez de dejar la Biblia interpretar sí mismo.  Cuando la Biblia interpreta la Biblia es un comentario infalible lo cual no deberíamos ignorar sino aprovecharnos de su interpretación infalible para mejorar nuestro entendimiento de la Biblia.

Vemos todo esto puesto en forma de una proclamación del evangelio en la confesión bautista de Londres 1689 capítulo 20.1,

“Habiendo sido quebrantado el pacto de obras por el pecado y habiéndose vuelto inútil para dar vida, agradó a Dios dar la promesa de Cristo, la simiente de la mujer, como el medio para llamar a los escogidos, y engendrar en ellos la fe y el arrepentimiento. En esta promesa, el evangelio, en su sustancia fue revelado, y por lo tanto, es eficaz para llevar a los pecadores a la conversión y salvación[3]”.

[1] Blaising, Craig and Bock, Darrel, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI.  Baker Books: 2003), 197-198

[2] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Divine Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 33

[3] 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith 20.1; Gn. 3:15 con Ef.2:12; Gá. 4:4; He. 11:13; Lc. 2:25,38; 23:51; Ro. 4:13-16; Gá. 3:15-22.

la confesión bautista de Londres 1689 en español:

A Historical and Theological Analysis of the Neonomian Controversy in 17th Century England Part III


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This section of my brief blog post series on the neonomian controversy gives a concise overview of particular Baptist Benjamin Keach’s response to Richard Baxter and other neonomians in the 17th century neonomian controversy.  Due to the fact that Keach responded to this issue throughout many of his writings the scope of this section is to briefly discuss the contributions and primary responses in each of his writings pertaining to Justification and neonomianism.  I do make an observation in footnote 11 that in part of Keach’s covenant theology he departs from a confessional view concerning the relationship of the covenant of redemption to the covenant of grace.  For anyone interested in understanding Keach’s writings on Justification I would recommend his short but thorough book, The Marrow of True Justification (1692), as an excellent starting point for articulating a biblical doctrine of justification.

An Analysis of Benjamin Keach’s Federal Theology & Doctrine of Justification

Benjamin Keach holds a unique position within the neonomian controversy being one of only two particular Baptists who directly responded to the neonomians. He also provides a useful analysis of how Baxter’s followers argued for his position after Baxter’s death in 1691, and he responded with a pastoral concern for the congregation that he pastored over the dangers of neonomianism[1].  His first book on Justification, The Marrow of True Justification (1692) is based off of two of his sermons on Romans 4:5.  In Keach’s first response to neonomianism in The Marrow of True Justification, he identifies neonomianism as teaching that Christ purchased a lighter law which through imperfect obedience justification is obtained[2].  He proceeds to directly respond to Baxter’s assertions concerning justification and responds to Baxter’s denial of Christ as the surety for the elect affirming the necessity of Christ’s imputed righteousness as the only grounds for justification, “If that righteousness which satisfied the law of Works, doth not justify us, I know not how we can be justified[3].” Keach undercuts the neonomian argument that good works can be done prior to justification because any works not done in faith are by definition not good works (Hebrews 11:6)[4].  He argues against the neonomians that the difference between the conditions for the covenant of works and covenant of grace is not quantitative, perfect vs. sincere obedience, but qualitative, perfect obedience vs. faith in Christ[5]. Keach affirms that God’s law is a reflection of his nature and cannot be changed to accommodate fallen man with lighter terms for justification[6].  He argues that if God knew that Adam would break the covenant of works then he would have just given a lighter law in the first place according to the neonomian position[7].  Keach criticizes evangelical obedience as the means for gaining justification as being deduced from man’s depraved nature and the wisdom of the world[8].  He points out that Paul doesn’t only say that his works in the past couldn’t merit justification, but in the present also are insufficient to merit justification[9].  He affirms with Owen that Christ is not only a believer’s legal righteousness in justification, but also his evangelical righteousness in sanctification[10].

Keach’s next work on justification was, The Everlasting Covenant, a sweet Cordial for a drooping soul (1693), which directly connected his federal theology to his understanding of justification.  He argues against the distinction between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace, and argues that the covenant of grace is founded in eternity and executed in time[11].  Keach argues based on corporate solidarity that the elect were represented by Christ as their federal head so that there were not two separate parties addressed in the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace[12].  He views the execution of the covenant of grace as occurring when Christ died as a propitiation and expiation for the elect, he argues for three stages of the covenant of grace: founded in eternity, revealed in time, and executed by Christ’s atoning death[13].  Keach makes the observation that because covenants are sealed by an atonement and there is no atonement to seal the covenant of redemption it makes sense that the covenant of redemption had Christ’s death in view, therefore connecting it with the covenant of grace[14].  Based on Keach’s articulation of the covenant of grace by connecting it with the covenant of redemption as one covenant he grounds Christ’s redemptive work in God’s decreed will against the neonomians’ view that justification is part of God’s prescriptive will and therefore mutable[15].  He further argues that if the covenant of redemption is distinguished from the covenant of grace, then Christ can obey the covenant of works on behalf of someone without performing the covenant of grace for them, leaving the door open for neonomianism[16].

Keach’s next work on justification, A Medium Betwixt Two Extremes (1698), contains a response to the view of eternal justification and a response to the neonomian Samuel Clark in the postscript.  He makes the distinction between virtual justification based on God’s eternal decrees and actual justification, the application of justification to the elect in time (based on his sermon on Romans 8:1)[17].  Based on Romans 3:12, Keach argues that all are born under sin therefore the elect are not born justified[18].  Keach argues that according to proponents of eternal justification, if the elect are eternally justified then they were never under condemnation being in Adam, which contradicts scripture which calls the elect prior to conversion children of wrath[19].  He argues that no one can be simultaneously condemned being in Adam and be justified being in Christ because the latter negates the former[20].  Furthermore Keach demonstrates that proponents of eternal justification would have to change how scripture describes Christ’s redemption because the elect were never under the curse of the law according to them[21].  He is careful to not define faith as the cause of justification, but rather Christ’s righteousness is the sole grounds for justification[22].  Keach denies that faith is a condition for justification in any sense, not even the instrumental cause of justification[23].  His denial of faith justifying a sinner is in response to the neonomians who make faith a part of justifying righteousness, denying legal righteousness through Christ’s atoning work and imputed righteousness to the elect[24].

Samuel Clark attacked the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness and said that it is faith that justifies sinners[25].  By Clark’s redefinition of faith comprehensively, he mixes justification with sanctification and removes any assurance of salvation[26].  Clark argued that the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness isn’t taught in scripture and Keach challenged him for teaching a law-gospel as the judaizers that Paul responded to in Galatians[27].  He argued that Christ couldn’t fulfill the law on behalf of the elect because that would mean we are justified by the law, but keach points out the distinction Paul makes between being justified by our imperfect deeds in contrast to the perfect obedience of Christ[28].  Keach challenges Clark to show where the scripture commands imperfect obedience and points out that believers being sanctified still only yield imperfect works and Christ commanded perfection (Matthew 5:48)[29].

Keach’s last primary work on justification is, The Display of Glorious Grace (1698), giving his exposition of the covenant of grace from sermons that he preached on it. In it he affirmed the unconditional nature of the new covenant[30].  Keach affirmed that the members of the Covenant of Grace are solely the elect because he affirms that all members of the New covenant inherit all its promises not a mixed group of regenerate and unregenerate, which undercuts Baxter’s baptismal covenant[31].  Keach like most 17th century particular Baptists denied the predominate view in paedobaptist federal theology of one covenant of grace under multiple administrations which gives the grounds for arguing for the continuity of the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant with baptism[32].  Keach’s first response to the neonomians in The Display of Glorious Grace, is a direct response to the neonomians denial of Christ as a Surety for the elect and of Christ’s imputed righteousness, active and passive obedience[33].  He responds to the accusation that his position affirming Christ’s imputed righteousness as the ground for justification promotes antinomianism because Christ’s redemption produces a desire in those who have been justified to love and serve him[34].  Keach responds to the view of Samuel Clark that our justification is imperfect until our obedience is perfect, which Keach responds confuses justification with sanctification because no one will ever have perfect obedience, not even a sanctified believer[35].  He points out the flaw in the baptismal covenant of neonomians because it has to redefine sin as not persevering in faith to meet the conditions of the baptismal covenant to be justified, so their hamartiology has to be redefined according to the baptismal covenant’s requirements, anything else isn’t considered sin[36].  Keach argues that Christ is a perfect Mediator and therefore the perseverance of believers is ensured unlike the neonomians where assurance can never be certain because by failing to keep the baptismal covenant they are damned[37].  He affirms that the covenant of Grace is unconditional, based solely on Christ’s imputed righteousness[38].

[1] Austin R. Walker, “Benjamin Keach And The ‘Baxterian’ Controversy of the 1690s,” The Reformed Baptist Theological Review 3, no. 1 (2006): 8

[2] Benjamin Keach, Marrow of True Justification (Birmingham, Alabama: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2007), 38-39

[3] ibid, 47, “Shall any who pretend to be true preachers of the Gospel, go about to mix their own works or their sincere obedience with Christ’s Righteousness; nay, to put their Obedience in the room and place of Christ’s Obedience, as that in which they trust and desire to be found?” ibid, 50-51

[4] ibid, 57

[5] ibid, 61

[6] “Alas, Sirs, the Law of God is but a Transcript, or written Impression of that Holiness, and Purity that is in his own Nature, and serveth to show us what a Righteousness we must be found in, if we are ever justified in his sight.” ibid, 63

[7] ibid, 65

[8] ibid, 70

[9] ibid, 73 (Philippians 2:7-8)

[10] ibid, 79-80 (Ephesians 5:25,26; Titus 2:10)

[11] Benjamin Keach, The Everlasting Covenant, a Sweet Cordial for a Drooping Soul (London: n.p., 1693), Preface (this is stated as the purpose of his book on the title page); Keach is one of two particular Baptists who argues for this distinction against the explicit distinction made in 1689 LBC 7.3, the other particular Baptist is the anonymous author of Truth Vindicated, in Several Branches thereof; and Many Objections fairly and Soberly Answered (London: n.p., 1695), 268.  Special Thanks to Sam Renihan for informing me abut this anonomous reformed baptist author who takes a similar view to Benjamin Keach.

[12] “I cannot see that they are two distinct Covenants, but both one and the same glorious Covenant of grace, only consisting of two parts, or branches; for as that blessed Compact doth peculiarly respect Christ’s person as Mediator…yet seeing God entered into that Covenant with him, for us, as our Head, Surety, and representative, considered, it cannot be anything else but the covenant of grace” Ibid, 6, “I would know whether all the Elect were not considered in Christ, and was it not for us that he entered into that Covenant?  Is not the Debtor a party with the Surety, and so the Elect a party with Christ?” ibid, 10

[13] “It has its application in time after we exist, and are actually in Christ, as part of the promised seed.” ibid, 9

[14] ibid, 12, Keach  points out the irony in identifying a covenant of redemption by which no one is redeemed, “But if by virtue of the Covenant of Redemption we are not Redeemed, call it no more the Covenant of Redemption.” ibid, 13

[15] ibid, 16, Keach also includes justification with all other aspects of the ordo salutis purchased in the covenant of grace for the elect, “Here is the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new Heart, Justification, Adoption, Regeneration, final perseverance, and Eternal life, and all we want is in this covenant.” ibid, 36

[16] “I fear it lay a foundation for those errors which are got among us; as if we are to enter into a Covenant with God without Christ’s undertaking for us, as our surety: for say they, Christ did perform the Covenant of works, but doth confirm, not perform the covenant of grace.” ibid, 18

[17] Benjamin Keach, A Medium betwixt two Extremes (London: n.p., 1698), iii (Preface); according to Keach, the elect are not justified prior to their union with Christ, “So in the second Adam all the elect were fundamentally and representatively justified in him, his Righteousness being imputed to all his Spiritual seed, or off-spring; yet none of them are actually and personally justified until they are united to him…” ibid, 19

[18] ibid, 13

[19] ibid, 14-15 (Eph. 2:3, Rom. 8:7, Psalms 5:5, 7:11)

[20] ibid, 15

[21] ibid, 16

[22] “Faith adds nothing to the Merits of Christ’s blood, or meritorious sacrifice, but it is by his life, by his intercession, that it is made effectual or efficacious unto us, who pleads with God for the Spirit, which he purchased also for his elect that so the saving benefits and blessings might be applied to them.” ibid, 18

[23] “Also they call faith the instrumental cause of justification, which we must leave them to explain (they mean, I think, but as the hand that applies a Plaister is a cause of the cure.)  We must say with a late learned Author, Faith is no qualifying condition, nor any procuring cause of our justification; tho with our faith God declares no Man a justified person.  Faith does not cause or render the satisfaction of Christ any ways the more satisfactory unto God; for God was as much satisfied in Christ for his elect before faith as after…” ibid, 21-22

[24] ibid, 23

[25] “Tis not, according to Mr. Clark, the Object of Faith, not Jesus Christ that Faith apprehends, and we alone trust, but it is Faith that justifieth us comprehensively taken; that is faith, love, charity, good works, and sincere obedience that is imputed to us…” ibid, 37

[26] ibid, 38“Now I profess, I can see but little difference between this doctrine and that of Bellarmine’s and other Papists.” ibid, 38

[27] ibid, 41

[28] Keach quotes Clark’s argument, “…Then we are justified by the Law or Covenant of Works, in a Legal and in an Evangelical way; for then the Law is fully satisfied by Christ our Surety, and we stand recti curin, and the Law has nothing to say to us, or charge us withal; as if a Surety in Bond pay the full Debt the Creditor has no action against the principal Debtor, and there’s no Favour at all show’d him in his Discharge” ibid, 44

[29] ibid, 47,50

[30] Benjamin Keach, Display of Glorious Grace, 173

[31] “It is a Full Covenant; because in it there is the Mediators Fullness Communicated to all such that are united to him as the effects thereof, ’tis not a Creature-Fullness that is in Christ; no, but the Fullness of God: For it pleased the Father that in him all Fullness should dwell;- in him dwelleth the Fullness of the God-head Bodily: The Fullness of the God-head dwells as truly in the Son, as in the Father; and of his Fullness do all Believers partake, Of his Fullness all we receive, and Grace for Grace.” ibid, 196-197

[32] Compare 1689 LBC 7.3 with WCF 7.3 & SDF 7.3 the 1689 LBC distinguishes the Covenant of Grace revealed first in Genesis 3:15; it doesn’t use the language of different administrations as the WCF & SDF.  Also Keach’s understanding of the covenant of grace being founded in eternity rather than being a distinct covenant of redemption make s a strong covenantal credobaptist argument that the covenant of grace is exclusively for the elect.

[33] “Thus Mr. Baxter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Clark of Wickham, and many others.  And thus is Popery revived amongst us, and Justification by Works asserted by these Law and Work-mongers, for I cannot call them Gospel-Ministers; true, they affirm that Christ died for our good, but not in our stead; the Doctrine we maintain, is, that he died for our good; But how for our good? Even so, that he suffered as our Head and Representative in our stead or room, the Just for the unjust, or the Surety for the Principal, or for the Sinner; and this according to the Terms agreed upon in the Covenant of Peace [Grace].” ibid, 76

[34] “Do we then make void the Law through Faith? God forbid? Yea, we establish the Law; because by Christ we attain a perfect Righteousness, being interested in his most complete and perfect Obedience to the Moral Law, and by his Spirit to live in more exact Conformity thereunto: My Brethren, Is it not our Duty still, and as much as ever it was, To love the Lord our God with all our Hearts, with all our Souls, and with all our Strength, and our Neighbor as our selves; not only sincerely, but perfectly; nay, to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect: Though we are not able to do this, yet the Moral Law still remains, and requires us thus to do; true, we shall not be Damned for want of this perfect Obedience, because Christ hath in our Nature, and stead, kept the Law perfectly for us…” ibid, 78

[35] ibid, 81

[36] ibid, 83

[37] ibid, 84

[38] “It is not made on Conditions to be performed by us, i.e. which being performed, gives us a Right unto the Reward promised thereupon; because our Right and Title to Heaven, is only by the Righteousness of Christ through his perfect Obedience to the Law.” ibid, 182

NT Christology II: Christology of the Pauline Epistles


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I have already covered the essential presuppositions of Unitarians and of historical revisionists such as the Jesus Seminar and how we can respond to them within a presuppositional framework in the last sermon.  There is one additional presuppositional point that is pertinent to Pauline theology and Paul’s testimony to the deity of Christ, which I mentioned earlier in the lesson on Islam, where the Apostle Paul is viewed as the innovator of the doctrine of the deity of Christ and the Trinity, “Christians, influenced by the teachings of Saul from Tarsus (later called Paul), deified Prophet Jesus and directed their prayer to him and his mother[1]”.  This has already been thoroughly refuted in the last few lessons on Christology as we have viewed the development of the testimony to the Deity of Christ develop through the Bible.  I will examine several key passages, some which are not as well known in defense of the Deity of Christ and I will reference to Greg Stafford’s thorough book giving a Unitarian response to the Deity of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics 3rd Edition, to give some common counter arguments that you can expect from Unitarians from these passages when you are doing evangelism: Romans 9:5 and Colossians 1:15-20.

Romans 9:5 is often quickly passed over when we go to Romans 9 to defend the sovereignty of God, but this verse is one of the strongest affirmations of the Deity of Christ in the New Testament despite its neglect,

“The customary translation [Romans 9:5], “… from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God above all, to be praised forever, Amen.” So understood, these words provide the strongest evidence for the deity of the Son[2]”.

“On Rom 9:5 see Dwight, Journal of Exegetical Society, 1881, p. 22; and Sanday in loc. with the literature there mentioned. Dr. R. B. Drummond significantly writes (The Academy, March 30, 1895, p. 273): “I must confess that I feel very strongly the grammatical difficulty of the Unitarian interpretation; but on the other hand the improbability of Paul attributing not only deity, but supreme deity (epi pantōv theos) to Christ, seems to me so great as to outweigh all other considerations[3]”.

The translation of this passage is crucial and where the punctuation is placed in the translation since a period after “from whom is Christ according to the flesh…” makes that statement, “who is over all God,” a reference to the Father rather than the Son.  Punctuation, however was not included in the early Greek manuscripts, so the issue of punctuation is based on how one interprets the text.  A common argument against viewing this passage as affirming the deity of Christ is that Paul doesn’t mention the deity of Christ anywhere else, but James White points out that this is a circular argument,

“The most often repeated argument against viewing this passage as speaking of Christ as “God” is that Paul nowhere else refers to the Lord in this way.  But such an argument is circular, for not only can one refer to Titus 2:13 (see below) where Paul does this very thing, but would it be a valid argument against Titus 2:13 to likewise say that Paul doesn’t call Jesus “God” elsewhere?  Seemingly the person offering this argument is not so much seeking to interpret the passage as to substantiate a particular theology[4]”.

Thomas Schreiner also lists some additional arguments that the reference “who is over all God,” is a reference to the Father rather than to Christ,

“A number of reasons are adduced to support a reference to God the Father: Blessed (eulogētos) is always used with reference to God in the New Testament (Mk 14:61; Lk 1:68; Rom 1:25; 2 Cor 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3).  Nowhere else in the Pauline corpus does God (theos) refer to Christ, and therefore, some scholars insist that Paul does not break the pattern here.  The unusual word order—with blessed following God—can be explained by Paul’s desire to highlight God’s lordship over all, a typical Jewish theme (cf. Ps 67:19–20 lxx).  No other doxologies to Christ exist in the indisputable Pauline letters.  The closest parallel text is Ephesians 4:6, and there the Father is said to be “the one who is over all” (ho epi pantōn).  A closing reference to God is typical in Jewish literature. The doxology in Romans 11:33–36 refers to the Father, suggesting that the same is true in Romans 9:5[5]”.

Thomas Schreiner points out the underlying presupposition in all of these arguments, “The above arguments, although diverse, enshrine one fundamental objection: namely, it is thought to be quite improbable that Christ would be designated “God” (theos) since this is uncharacteristic of Paul elsewhere[6]”.

In terms of the simple context of the passage in Romans 9 where Paul is burdened for his fellow kinsmen who are lost, ethnic Jews, Paul’s description of Christ clearly says that Christ is related to the patriarchs according to the flesh, which presupposes that there is some way in which Christ is not related to the patriarch, and is more than just related to them by virtue of his Jewish lineage as Robert Raymond clarifies,

“The implicatory demand of the verse flows from the presence of the words τὸ κατὰ σάρκα (to kata sarka, “insofar as the flesh is concerned”84). This expression naturally raises the question: in what sense is the Messiah not from the patriarchs? The second half of the implied antithesis is supplied in the words which follow: “who is over all, God blessed forever.” This treatment of the verse, of course, ascribes full, unqualified deity to the Messiah[7]”.

Robert Raymond makes a poignant observation as I discussed with Mark 13:32, that Romans 9:5 presents a robust Christology testifying to both natures of Christ, Human and Divine, not just one or the other, which may be one of the reasons for confusion in interpreting the verse.

James White also give a useful summary of 4 reasons why Romans 9:5 does affirm the deity of Christ,

“(1) It is the natural reading of the text to see the entire verse as referring to Christ.  Breaking the sentence up into two parts leads to difficulties in translation and interpretation.  Some words become superfluous[8], and the balance of the sentence is thrown off[9].

(2) The phrase “who is” is used by Paul elsewhere to modify a word in the preceding context (as in 2 Corinthians 11:31, a very close parallel), and would naturally do so here as well.

(3) The form of the doxology simply will not allow for it to be separated from the preceding context.  Paul’s consistent usage connects the doxology to the discussion of Christ.  In his other doxologies[10] he follows this pattern.

(4)  In the Greek new Testament, and in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the word “blessed” always comes before the word “God,” but here in Romans 9:5 it follows, which would indicate that the “blessing” is tied to what came before (i.e., the discussion of Christ).  So strong is this last point that Metzger said it is ‘altogether incredible that Paul, whose ear must have been perfectly familiar with this constantly recurring formula of praise, should in this solitary instance have departed from established usage[11][12]”.

Colossians 1:15-20 is frequently cited by Jehovah’s Witnesses to deny the deity of Christ.  Paul is responding to a Gnostic view of creation, which teaches that out of the one true God there are lesser emanations, culminating in a Demiurge to create the world due to the dualistic framework of Gnosticism that presupposes that matter is evil, whereas Paul here affirms that Christ has created all things[13].

“Apparently in the Colossian church some teachers, under a kind of Jewish folk religion, Phrygian folk religion, and some basic Christian ideas20 were teaching the existence of angelic intermediaries (see “thrones, powers, rulers, authorities” in 1:16) between the Creator and the material universe, among which intermediaries was Jesus. It was to oppose this Christological representation that Paul incorporates this hymn to Christ in his letter to the Colossians[14]”.

Two key points of this passage are the phrases “image of the invisible God,” and “firstborn of all creation,” which are used by Unitarians to deny the deity of Christ.  The phrase “image of God” based on Unitarian presuppositions precludes using this passage to affirm the deity of Christ because Jesus is only the image of God, not God himself, this is based on the false presupposition that Trinitarians believe the Father and the Son are the same person, which would be modalism.  Greg Stafford views the phrase “image of God,” as referring to the generic fact of man being created in God’s image in his attempt to explain why Jesus is worshipped,

“It is, however, possible to use latreuo for someone other than God but only in furtherance of the worship of the “one God.”  For example, in “a Christian portion of the Sibylline Oracle (8.442-445)” we read that all things in the world “serve” (form of latreuo) Adam because he is made in the “form” (morphe) of God (D. Steenburg, “The Worship of Adam and Christ as the image of God,” JSNT 39 [19900, page 97).  This use of morphe may have to do with an image Adam was given that permitted “worship” of him similar to how the Son of God is the “image” and “imprint” of God (Col. 1:15, Heb. 1:3), and how as such he can be worshipped in “fulfillment of God’s victory over idolatry.”  It is also clear that this “worship” is in both cases “at God’s bidding[15]”.

Stafford’s argument brushes over the definition of the word eikōn translated as “image” in most English translations according to BDAG in Colossians 1:15 it means, “that which has the same form as someth. else (not a crafted object as in 1 above), living image[16];” Thomas Schreiner points out the significance of how this same Greek word is used in the LXX to describe man being  created in God’s image in Genesis 1:27,

“Jesus Christ is not only the second Adam but also “the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; cf. Rom 8:29). Such a formulation hearkens back to Genesis 1:27, where Adam (and Eve) is made “according to the image of God” (kat eikona theou). We often think of an image as an imperfect or lifeless copy of the original, but the biblical writers understand the image to partake of the reality and the nature of the original[17]”.

Warfield also explains the phrase “image of God” as used by Paul,

“Another method employed by Paul to indicate the relation of Jesus to God is the presentation of Him as the ‘image of God’ (2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15). He is the image of God, we are told, and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines in His face (2 Cor 4:4). And, again, He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation (Col 1:15). The meaning is that we may see in Christ what God is: all God’s glory is reflected in Him; and when we see Him we see the Father also. Perhaps the mere term falls short of expressly asserting proper deity, though it would certainly gain force and significance if proper deity were understood to be asserted. In that case it would suggest that Jesus Christ is just the invisible God made visible. And that this is its actual significance with Paul can scarcely be doubted when we recall that he does not hesitate to ascribe proper deity to Jesus, not only by means of the designations ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God,’ but by the direct application to Him of the name ‘God’ itself and that in its most enhanced form—‘God over all’ (Rom 9:5), the ‘Great God’ (Titus 2:13)[18]”.

As Warfield and Schreiner demonstrate, when we examine other uses of the phrase by Paul, letting scripture interpret scripture, then it is clear that the phrase “image of God’ testifies to the deity of Christ rather than denying it.  Also as Warfield mentioned, we can see this passage building upon Paul’s clear statements of the Deity of Christ in other passages such as Romans 9:5 & Titus 2:13, so it isn’t just “proof texting” the deity of Christ, when Paul’s overall testimony to Christology throughout his epistles demonstrates the perspicuity (clarity) by which he ascribes deity to Christ through various titles, the “image of God” being one of those titles.

The next phrase crucial for properly interpreting this passage is the often misunderstood phrase “firstborn of creation,” Stafford explains the Unitarian interpretation,

“Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that the word “firstborn” (πρωτότοκος, prototokos) is here used of the prehuman Jesus to show that he is the very first of God’s creations. The preeminence and position he has results from his being God’s “firstborn,” for as Deuteronomy 21:17 states, “The right of the firstborn’s position belongs to him.”  Indeed, the “firstborn” is to be favored since being the “firstborn” means “that one is the beginning of his generative power” (underlining added)[19]”.

Before examining the actual meaning of prototokos (firstborn) in response to Stafford the basic context of the passage refutes Stafford’s position because Stafford is agreeing with the Gnostics that Jesus is an intermediary through which God created everything, which also results in modifying the Greek since the New World Translates the phrase in verse 16, “all things have been created through him and for him,” as “All other things have been created through him and for him[20]”.  Even without examining the Greek text, the JW view of prototokos cannot be right because they are defending the exact position that Paul is refuting that God creates through intermediaries as the Gnostics argued, but Paul is defending the fact that Christ created all things, not as an intermediary.  James White gives the definition of prototokos, tracing it back to the OT concept and its usage in the NT:

“But certainly the most significant passage, and the one that is probably behind Paul’s usage in Colossians, is Psalm 89:27: “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.”  This is a highly messianic Psalm (note verse 20 and the use of the term “anointed” of David), and in this context, David, as the prototype of the coming Messiah, is described as God’s prototokos, the “firstborn.”  Again the emphasis is plainly upon the relationship between God and David, not David’s “creation.”  David had preeminence in God’s plan and was given leadership and authority over God’s people.  In the same way, the coming Messiah would have preeminence, but in an even wider arena.  When we come to the New Testament, we find that the emphasis is placed not on the idea of birth but instead upon the first part of the word-protos, the “first.”  The word stresses superiority and priority rather than origin and birth[21]”.

After examining the meaning of “image of God,” “firstborn,” and the background of Paul’s response to the Gnostics it is clear that Colossians 1:15-20 is a strong affirmation of the deity of Christ rather than a denial of it.  Once the faulty Unitarian presuppositions are refuted and the text is interpreted in its context, Paul’s affirmation of Christ’s deity was very clear to his audience at Colossi.

[1] Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism), (International Islamic Publishing house: Saudi Arabia, 2005), 38

[2] Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Richard B. Gaffin and Richard de Witt, trans. Annemie Godbehere et al., (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013), 1:52

[3] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory: a Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity (New York: American Tract Society, 1907), 254; James D. G. Dunn comes to a similar conclusion based on his presuppositions, “James D. G. Dunn, after acknowledging that the “punctuation favours a reference to Christ as ‘god,’ ” immediately blunts the force of his concession by saying: “Even if Paul does bless Christ as ‘god’ here, the meaning of ‘god’ remains uncertain … [It] is by no means clear that Paul thinks of Christ here as pre-existent god.”85 Anxious to demonstrate his thesis that early Christological thinking developed from a non-incarnational kind to the incarnational Christology of John and maintaining accordingly that Paul could not yet have reached the heights which John was later to scale, Dunn fails to do justice to the significance of the descriptive phrases on either side of θεὸς, theos: “who is over all” and “blessed forever.” The former ascribes supreme lordship over the universe to the Messiah while the latter acknowledges his right to that everlasting adoration and praise which in other contexts is reserved for God the Creator (Rom 1:25) and God the Father (2 Cor 11:31). These striking locutions, once θεὸς, theos, is allowed to refer to the Messiah, rule out the possibility of regarding him, as Dunn does here, as “god” with a lower-case g”.  Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 468

[4] James White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief (MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 73

[5] Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove, IL; Leicester, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2006), 179

[6] Ibid, 179

84 See F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 139, para. 266.2, on Romans 9:5: the “addition of the art. [before κατὰ σάρκα, kata sarka],” they say, “strongly emphasizes the limitation”.

[7] Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 467–468

[8] James White’s endnote: “Specifically, there is no reason to include ὁ ὢν in the final phrase if there is no direct connection to what has gone before”. James White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief (MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 205

[9] James White’s endnote: “Paul has spoken of the fleshly nature of the Messiah, and now speaks of the Messiah’s spiritual nature as God.  Breaking up the sentence leaves Paul speaking only of the Messiah “according to the flesh” ibid, 205

[10] In the endnote James White cites Romans 1:25, 11:36, 2 Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 1:5, 2 Timothy 4:18

[11] B. M. Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5” in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament: In Honor of Charles Francis Digby Moule, ed. B. Lindars and S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1973), 107 cited in the endnote of The Forgotten Trinity, 205

[12]Ibid, 73

[13] For further discussion of the Gnostic background which Paul is responding to see James White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief (MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 106-109

20 See my Paul: Missionary Theologian (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2000), 232–34.

[14] Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 431.

[15] Gregg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics 3rd Edition (Murrieta, CA: Elihu Books, 2009), 367 footnote#7

someth. someth. = something

[16] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 282

[17] Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove, IL; Leicester, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2006), 155

[18] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory: a Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity (New York: American Tract Society, 1907), 254

[19] Gregg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics 3rd Edition (CA: Elihu Books, 2009), 387-388

[20] This is from the new 2013 updated New World Translation:

The Greek Text in the NA28 states: τὰ πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται, there is no word for “other” in the Greek text, either allos or heteros; see Matt Slick’s response to this mistranslation citing both the New World Translation and the JW Kingdom Interlinear, which doesn’t use the word allos or heteros in the Greek text, it is inserted into the English translation, NWT (the 2013 update of the NWT has removed the brackets for “other” in the passage):

[21] James White, The Forgotten Trinity, 111-112

NT Christology I: Christology of the Gospels of Mark & John


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Before we address the groundwork of defining the doctrine of the Trinity and the common Unitarian presuppositions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, and other Unitarian theists it is necessary to briefly address the common argument concerning the reliability of the New Testament, its preservation and inerrancy.  This will differ depending on the worldview of the unbeliever who is attacking the authority and preservation of the New Testament i.e. a Muslim is inconsistent to use Bart Erhman and other liberal scholars to attack the New Testament text and claim it is corrupted when the Quran affirms that the Injil is revealed by Allah and commands Christians to judge by what Allah has revealed therein (Surah 5:47).  James White gives a useful summary of a presuppositional response to liberal views attacking the inerrancy and authority of the New Testament: Myth, Allegory, and Parable: the Presuppositions of John Dominic Crossan

and the Jesus Seminar and Their Importance to Reformed Baptist Theology and Apologetics, Reformed Baptist Theological Review (3:1, January, 2006),

“Theories concerning the inter-relationship and dating of the hypothetical “Cross Gospel” and “Q,” together with Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John, are absolutely fundamental to Dr. Crossan’s position. And yet, those hypothetical conclusions are based on hypothetical reconstructions that are likewise based on presupposed concepts of divine consistency and of what could and could not happen in history and of what Jesus could and could not be like. When we examine the canonical texts without Dr. Crossan’s presuppositions, agreeing with their authors in allowing for the reality of divine activity and revelation, and leaving open the possibility that the texts might just partake of something outside the ordinary, we find a great deal of reason to view them in a completely different light, place them far closer to the events they narrate. And we also find them to be far more amenable to harmonization as one would naturally expect from multiple sources recording for us the words and deeds of Jesus. I assert that the presuppositions exercised by Dr. Crossan and the Jesus Seminar begin by precluding the viewpoint of Jesus espoused by the authors of the gospels themselves and believed by Christians down through the centuries. If you accept his starting place, the debate is over because no possible evidence could be presented in defense of the thesis[1].”

We must remember that there are no brute facts, all evidence is interpreted through one’s worldview, so the reliability of the New Testament is no different, we must challenge the presuppositions of the unbeliever, their basis for denying the inspiration and preservation of the New Testament.  Also as Paul clearly states in Romans 1:21 that the unbeliever’s suppression of the truth is a moral suppression not an intellectual suppression due to a lack of evidence,

“They reject His [Christ’s] claims on their lives, but since they wish to maintain some kind of connection to “Christianity,” they seek to modify Him [Christ] instead of openly rejecting His teachings and claims. It would be akin to a child who is in rebellion against his father: instead of saying “I refuse to do what my father says,” he says instead, “That man really isn’t my father; furthermore, he did not really tell me to clean up my room—that was a metaphor indicating that I should really play outside longer and no longer wash my hands before I eat.” No matter how much scholarly erudition one layers on top of rebellion, rebellion is still the act of a rebel[2]”.

Ultimately the position advocated by Dr. Crossan and others involved with the Jesus Seminar cannot come to any objective conclusion due to their subjective presuppositions.  They have to borrow from the Christian worldview to come to any objective conclusion concerning Christ, but then they reject all objective sources of authority (the OT & NT), relying on Gnostic gospels and other sources that are unreliable to hide their suppression of the truth and avoidance to submit to Christ’s lordship.

I want to give a brief overview of some key general Unitarian presuppositions because apart from directly addressing these presuppositions when you witness to a Unitarian you won’t make much progress in defending the biblical doctrine of the Trinity and Deity of Christ.  There are two major presuppositions that all Unitarians have in common.  The first is that a difference in function implies a difference in being, so based on this Unitarian presupposition if the Son cannot do everything that the Father does then he cannot be divine,

“That is, they [Unitarians] assume there cannot possibly be any differentiation in the persons of the Trinity without introducing an automatic inferiority on the part of those who do something “different” than the Father.  Any difference in function, they assume, results in an inferiority of nature.  To put it simply, they assume a Unitarian view of God (as opposed to the Trinitarian view), and assume that God could never do what He has revealed He has done in the work of redemption[3]”.

This also misses the mark in defining what the Trinitarian position is since the distinction is made in systematic theologies between the ontological Trinity, that all 3 persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are fully divine, they are fully God in their being/essence.  For example the Father predestines the atoning work of the Son, the Son atones for the sins of the elect as a propitiation, and the Holy Spirit convicts sinners of their sin and applies the benefits of redemption such as regenerating the hearts of sinners.  The different roles of each member does not in any way undermine their attributes or the fact that each person does not function in isolation from the other members of the Trinity i.e. creation is a triune act of God (Genesis 1:1-2, Colossians 1:13-17).

The second primary Unitarian presupposition is that their arguments are circular; they assume God is Unitarian and use that to attack the doctrine of the Trinity,

“When you dig past the rhetoric and really examine the best writings against the Christian confession of the Trinity and the deity of Christ, you find that these arguments are circular at their core.  They assume that Yahweh is uni-personal, or unitarian, and then use that assumption to attack and deny all evidence to the contrary[4]”. 

I’ll begin with the Gospel of Mark first since it is often assumed to have the lowest Christology out of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).  I’ll examine Jesus’ Title as Son of man and respond to the Unitarian abuse of Mark 13:32, that the Son doesn’t know the hour of the final judgment, therefore he cannot be divine.  The Messianic title, Son of Man goes back to the Messianic Prophecy in Daniel 7:13.  Development of the Son of Man messianic title in the OT & Intertestamental period is thoroughly document by Warfield, demonstrating that the NT use of Daniel 7:13 is not a novel interpretation of this messianic prophecy, but is in continuity with development in the OT and intertestamental period,

“Speaking of the conception embodied in the title ‘Son of Man’ by our Lord as reported in the Gospels, Charles (The Book of Enoch, pp. 312–317) argues that it included in it all the ideas suggested by the Servant of Jehovah of Isaiah, and therefore so far commends Bartlet’s construction (Expositor, Dec. 1892). Says Charles (p. 316): “This transformed conception of the Son of Man is thus permeated throughout by the Isaian conception of the Servant of Jehovah; but though the Enochic conception is fundamentally transformed, the transcendent claims underlying it are not for a moment forgotten.” If we may be permitted to find the preadumbration (foreshasowing) of the “transcendent” element of this conception, not in Enoch but in the O. T. representation of the Advent of Jehovah, Charles’ conception of the Messianic ideal of our Lord, for the expression of which He chose the term ‘Son of Man,’ seems to us generally just. It is—for whatever reason—essentially a synthesis of the three lines of prediction embodied in the Isaianic “Servant of Jehovah,” the Danielic “Son of Man,” and the general O. T. “Advent of Jehovah,” along with which the other lines of prophecy—such as those embodied in the “Davidic King”—also find their place[5]”.

The functions of the Son of Man in the Gospels also demonstrate that this title is not given to a mere human; it presupposes divinity to execute the economic functions associated with it.  In Mark 2 Jesus challenges the Pharisees and demonstrates his divinity by not only healing a paralytic, but also forgiving him of his sins (Mark 2:9-10), the Pharisees understood Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins as blasphemy because only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:7).  Another function of the Son of Man is judge of the world, in Mark 14:62, Mark records Christ’s claim to be both the Son of Man prophesied in Daniel 7:13, and the Lord at God’s right hand in Psalm 110, combining both Messianic prophesies, whereas the other synoptic Gospels either cite Daniel 7:13 or Psalm 110, but not both as Mark does.  Mark also records Jesus clearly quoting from Daniel 7:13 in Mark 13:26, another reference to the final judgment, where Christ presides as judge.  Mark also records in Mark 8:38 that whoever is ashamed of him at the final judgment will be condemned at the final judgment.  Last is the reference to the Son of man as Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28); Jesus is responding to the Pharisees who accuse his disciples of breaking the Sabbath for picking heads of grain on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23).  Jesus uses the example of David eating from the bread consecrated for the priests as he was fleeing from Saul (Mark 2:26 citing 1 Samuel 21:1).  Jesus responds not only confronting the Pharisees erroneous view of the Sabbath (mark 2:27), but also by declaring his lordship of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28).  The Sabbath was not merely an event where God rested after creating everything in the space of 7 days, but also encompasses God’s royal enthronement over creation, demonstrating his sovereign dominion over creation[6].

Mark 13:32 and its parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels are commonly cited by Unitarians to deny the deity of Christ.  Mark 13:32, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone[7]”.  The first important observation regarding this passage is the three distinct classes defined: man, angels, and God, but Jesus is placed above the angels, this at the outset would undermine the Muslim position since Jesus being a mere prophet could not be above the angels.  The Greek syntax in this passage also sets Jesus apart from the class of angels, so this cannot be a reference alluding to Jesus being the incarnation of Michael the archangel as Jehovah’s Witnesses affirm.  Robert Reymond and B.B. Warfield expand upon this view demonstrating how this passage affirms rather than denies the deity of Christ,

“Jesus speaks in this passage (verse 37; 25:31), which Danielic figure, as we have noted earlier, is supernatural, even divine in character; and third, coming as the phrase “not even the Son” does after the reference to angels, Jesus places himself, on an ascending scale of rank, above the angels of heaven, the highest of all created beings, who are significantly marked out here as supramundane (see Matthew’s “of heaven,” Mark’s “in heaven”). Clearly, he classifies himself with the Father rather than with the angelic class, inasmuch as elsewhere he represents himself as the Lord of the angels whose commands the angels obey (Matt 13:41, 49; 24:31; 25:31; see Heb 1:4–14)[8]”.

“In any possible interpretation of the passage, He separates Himself from the “angels in heaven” (note the enhancing definition of locality, carrying with it the sense of the exaltation of these angels above all that is earthly) as belonging to a different class from them, and that a superior class. To Jesus as He is reported, and presumably to Mark reporting Him, we see, Jesus “the Son” stands as definitely and as incomparably above the category of angels, the highest of God’s creatures, as to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose argument may be taken as a commentary upon this passage (Heb 1:4, 2:8). Nor is this passage singular in Mark in exalting Jesus in dignity and authority above the angels. Already in the account of the temptation at the opening of His ministry we find the angels signalized as ministering to Him (1:13), and elsewhere they appear as His subordinates swelling His train (8:38) or His servants obeying His behests (13:27, “He shall send the angels”)[9]”.

When this passage is understood in its context and using the hermeneutical rule of letting scripture interpret scripture letting more clear statements interpret difficult statements in scripture related to the same teaching[10], it is clear that this passage cannot be understood to deny the deity of Christ, and Unitarians cannot consistently interpret this passage as denying the Deity of Christ with the clear testimony of the rest of scripture regarding Christ and his position above the angels and similar passages.  The second observation is that this passage affirms both natures of Christ, that he is in a class set apart from the angels, therefore Divine, but he also has a human nature, which is why the verse states that he does not know the hour, so this verse testifies to both natures of Christ and should not be understood as only referring to one of Christ’s natures,

“As in the case of the last category above, I would submit that we find Christ designating himself in terms of what he is as divine (“the Son” of “the Father”), but then what he predicates of himself, namely, ignorance as to the day and hour of his return in heavenly splendor, is true of him in terms of what he is as human, though it is not true of him in terms of what he is as divine. As the God-man, he is simultaneously omniscient as God (in company with the other persons of the Godhead) and ignorant of some things as man (in company with the other persons of the human race)[11]”.

I will briefly address John 1:1 since it is frequently misinterpreted by Unitarians, although I would recommend using other passages to defend the deity of Christ when witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness since they already have a preprogrammed response to objections it is better to use other less commonly cited passages for the deity of Christ i.e. Romans 9:5, Philippians 2:6-11.  Out of necessity to properly interpret this passage I need to discuss some aspects of the Greek grammar of the passage, which I will transliterate, and leave the more technical elements in the footnotes[12].  The word logos, translated “word” has a significant OT background as in Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host[13],” and in the Targums (Aramaic Jewish paraphrases of the OT) the word of Yahweh is used synonymously with Yahweh, this is no mere divine plane of God as Unitarians understand the logos to be.  The Greek word ēn translated as “was”, which occurs three times in John 1:1 is significant to the identity of the word because the tense of this verb, the imperfect, expresses continuous action in the past, as opposed to verse three where John uses the word egeneto “came into being” (John 1:3), a verb in the aorist to denote a point of origin, which John uses to describe everything that came into being through the Word, the Word is eternal unlike creation.  In the next clause John states that the word was pros ton theon “with God, literally face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12)[14]”.  This does not imply that John is advocating polytheism which he would reject given his monotheistic presuppositions (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), so John presupposes a plurality of divine persons not a plurality of divine beings.  The last crucial element for properly interpreting John 1:1 is the meaning of theos “God” in the third clause and the significance that it occurs without the definite article.  We cannot read our understanding of English grammar and translate this as the word was a god, as the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses does revealing their ignorance of Greek.  The word theos without the article is used by John to describe the quality of the word[15].  Another point on identifying the indefinite theos is the fact that if someone insists that it should be translated “a god”, then the Father must be identified as “a god”, which no Unitarian would want to advocate, since John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18 use theos without the definite article.  Here is a chart to help explain the Greek grammar for John 1:1c:

The top column is a transliteration of the Greek (spelling the Greek with the English alphabet) with the corresponding English translation for each word and its grammatical relationship to the sentence i.e. Subject, verb, or direct object:

kai theos en ho logos
(and) (God-PN) (was-to be verb) (the word-S)

English Translation: And the Word was God

S = Subject; PN = Predicate Nominative, Direct Object of a to be verb i.e.

     I   am a student
(Subject) (Verb-to be)      (Predicate Nominative)

The Predicate nominative further describes the subject i.e. I am a student, employee, etc; student and employee give a description of the subject “I”.

A key passage to use when witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Gospel of John is John 12:37-41.  To identify whose glory John is referring to in John 12:41, we need to briefly examine the OT citations, in verse 38 John is quoting from Isaiah 53:1, the Jews unbelief after seeing Jesus’ miracles is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:1.  In John 12:40, John is citing from Isaiah 6:9-11, Isaiah’s Temple vision of Yahweh, so in verse 41, the “his glory” is referring to Christ who John identifies with the fulfillment of both passages from Isaiah.  This chart shows John 12:41 in Greek and an English Translation (1st top column) compared with the LXX of Isaiah 6:1 and an English translation (remaining two columns) to show the parallel between the two passages (the verb to see is highlighted in blue and the word for glory in red to show the parallels between the Greek and an English translation) [I inserted the color coded charts using the clipping tool, click on them to enlarge the image since wordpress wouldn’t let me copy and paste a color coded chart directly into a blog post]

John 12, Isaiah 6 chart
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.[21]”Isaiah saw the glory of Yahweh in the temple, and John says that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus, “If the apostles themselves did not hesitate to apply to the Lord Jesus such unique and distinctive passages that can only meaningfully be applied to deity, to the Lord Jesus, how can we fail to give Him the same honor in recognizing Him for who He truly is[20]”.

The last part of the Christology of the Gospel of John that is important to understand is the I AM statements of Jesus (John 8:58, 13:19, 18:5-6).  These statements go back to the book of Isaiah in passages such as Isaiah 43:10,

“I am he” is the translation of the Hebrew phrase: ‘ănī hū’, which the LXX translates as egō eimi (highlighted in blue in the chart below), the same statement used by Jesus in the I AM statements.  These I am statements occur throughout the Trial of the False Gods in Isaiah 40-45, and are directly used by Jesus claiming equality with Yahweh (Is. 43:25, 51:12, 52:6)[22].

I am, exodus 3,14, hebrew and greek

I am, Isaiah to John
“The vast majority of translators see, as do many commentators, that there is a clear differentiation being made here between the derivative existence of Abraham and the eternal existence of the Lord Christ.  Many scholars rightly point out the same contrasting verbs as seen in the prologue of John as well as the same kind of differentiation found in the Septuagint Greek rendering of Psalm 90:2.  They also recognize that the response of the Jews would be rather strong if it was simply a claim of preexistence.  The oft-repeated charge of blasphemy as found in John makes this clear.  Rather, the usage of a term used by God himself (as will be shown later) would be sufficient to bring the response of verse 59, where the Jews pick up stones so as to kill Him[33]”.James White explains the justification for translating John 8:58 as “before Abraham was, I am,” rather than “before Abraham was, I have been” as the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses translates this verse,

To show this comparison with John 1:1-3, which cannot be seen in English because the two Greek verbs are translated by the same English verb, to be, I have made this chart highlighting the two different verbs to show the difference in English of how Jesus is making a distinction between himself and Abraham ( I have highlighted the Greek verb eimi translated “to be” in Blue and its English equivalent, and the Greek verb ginomai typically translated “to be, become” in red and its English translation to show this distinction in John’s specific word choice)

John 1,1-3

John 12 & John 1

From the chart you can see that the Greek verb that is highlighted in blue is specifically used by John to distinguish the uncreated Word of God, the person of Christ (John 1:1-2), from the rest of creation (John 1:3), which is described using the red verb.  John uses this same distinction in John 8:58 using the red verb to describe Abraham’s finite existence contrasted with the use of the blue verb to describe Christ’s eternal existence.

[1] James R. White, “Myth, Allegory, and Parable: the Presuppositions of John Dominic Crossan

and the Jesus Seminar and Their Importance to Reformed Baptist Theology and Apologetics,” RBTR 3:1( January, 2006):169-170

[2] ibid, 172

[3] James White: the Forgotten Trinity, 67

[4] Ibid, 67

[5] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory: a Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity (New York: American Tract Society, 1907), 55

[6] “A corollary of the completion of work is the resting of the worker—that is another meaning of God’s Sabbath. The effortless fiat character of the work of the six days forestalls any misconception of the Creator as a wearied workman who must recoup his spent strength on the seventh day. (The highly anthropomorphic “was refreshed” of Exod 31:17 certainly does not intend to suggest otherwise, nor does “he rested” in Exod 20:11.) The Creator’s Sabbath rest is much more a matter of taking satisfaction and delight in his consummated building. So it is with the Wisdom-figure in the architectural delineation of creation in Proverbs 8 (see vv. 30f.).  But this rest of God may be more specifically understood as a royal kind of resting. The royal nature of the rest follows from the royal nature of the work. God created the heaven and the earth to be his cosmic palace and accordingly his resting is an occupying of his palace, a royal session. The dawning of the Sabbath witnesses a new enthronement of Elohim”.  Meredith G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), 34; Kline expands on this motif citing other OT passages which develop this motif further i.e. Isaiah 61:1 cited in the NT by Acts 7:49 & Psalm 132.

[7] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mk 13:32

[8] Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 215–216

[9] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory: a Study of the Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament with Especial Reference to His Deity (New York: American Tract Society, 1907), 37; Warfield also references Meyer commenting on the Greek syntax of this passage for further support of his position, “Note,” says Meyer, “the climax—the angels, the Son, the Father.” A. J. Mason (Conditions of our Lord’s Life on Earth, 120), on the other hand, thinks “there is no express triple ascent, from men to angels, from angels to the Son”—but the οὐδὲ—οὐδέ is in a sort parenthetical: “None knoweth—no not the angels in heaven, nor yet the Son—except the Father.” “All the same,” he adds, “the sentence is a climax, and a pointed one. Our Lord does not say (what would have been good Greek) οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι οὔτε υἱός, as if the Son were in the same class of beings with the angels in heaven, only the highest of them. He says οὐδὲ—οὐδέ; as if to say, ‘You might suppose that the secret was only a secret from those on earth; but it is kept a secret even from those in heaven. You might suppose that the secret was only a secret for created beings, but it is a secret for the uncreated Son Himself. The Father alone knows it.’ ” Cf. Swete: “No one … not even … nor yet.” Dalman, Words, p. 194, arbitrarily supposes that the closing words, “nor the Son but the Father only,” may be an accretion, while Zeller (Z. für w. Th., 1865, p. 308), on the ground of this ascription to Christ of a superangelic nature wishes to assign Mark to the second century (see Meyer’s reply, Mk. and Lk., E. T., i, 205 note). From all which it is at least clear that the passage confessedly assigns a superhuman nature to Jesus.Ibid, 23

[10] analogia scripturae

[11] Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 217–218

[12] James White has a useful blog article discussing John 1:1 that gives a useful overview of the passage:

[13] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 33:6

[14] “Jn 1.1: ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (and the word was with God), where the translation which has been institutionalized, ‘with’, does not do full justice to this use of the preposition to mean face-to-face presence;1 cf. 1 Thess. 3.4; Mk 14.49; and 2 Cor. 5.8: μᾶλλον ἐκδημῆσαι ἐκ τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἐνδημῆσαι πρὸς τὸν κύριον (rather to be away from the body and to be at home with [standing before] the Lord).”  Stanley E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament (Sheffield: JSOT, 1999), 173; [1, See Harris, ‘Prepositions’, pp. 1204-1205]

[15] This is a predicate nominative construction, θεὸς is the predicate nominative of the verb ἦν describing the quality of ὁ λόγος, “There is a balance between the Word’s deity, which was already present in the beginning (ἐν ἀρχῇ … θεὸς ἦν [1:1], and his humanity, which was added later (σὰρξ ἐγένετο [1:14]). The grammatical structure of these two statements mirrors each other; both emphasize the nature of the Word, rather than his identity. But θεός was his nature from eternity (hence, εἰμί is used), while σάρξ was added at the incarnation (hence, γίνομαι is used).  Such an option does not at all impugn the deity of Christ. Rather, it stresses that, although the person of Christ is not the person of the Father, their essence is identical. Possible translations are as follows: “What God was, the Word was” (NEB), or “the Word was divine” (a modified Moffatt). In this second translation, “divine” is acceptable only if it is a term that can be applied only to true deity. However, in modern English, we use it with reference to angels, theologians, even a meal! Thus “divine” could be misleading in an English translation. The idea of a qualitative θεός here is that the Word had all the attributes and qualities that “the God” (of 1:1b) had. In other words, he shared the essence of the Father, though they differed in person. The construction the evangelist chose to express this idea was the most concise way he could have stated that the Word was God and yet was distinct from the Father31” Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 269; 31 “Although I believe that θεός in 1:1c is qualitative, I think the simplest and most straightforward translation is, “and the Word was God.” It may be better to clearly affirm the NT teaching of the deity of Christ and then explain that he is not the Father, than to sound ambiguous on his deity and explain that he is God but is not the Father”.  Ibid, 269

[16] Kurt Aland et al., Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), Jn 12:41

[17] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 12:41

[18] Septuaginta: With Morphology, electronic ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), Is 6:1

[19] Rick Brannan et al., eds., The Lexham English Septuagint (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Is 6:1

[20] James White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief (MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998),138

[21] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 43:10

[22] Technically Exodus 3:14 translated by the LXX does not support the I AM statements as commonly used, Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν “I am that I am” not ἐγώ εἰμι “I am” as in Isaiah 43:10 be careful on this point since some well read Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians will be aware of this if you cite Exodus 3:14 as the basis for Jesus’ I AM statements.  Here is the argument presented in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (Jehovah’s Witness interlinear Bible with the Greek Test and their New World Translation), “Further attempting to identify Jesus with Jehovah, some try to use Exodus 3:14 (LXX) which reads: Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (E-go’ ei-mi ho on), which means “I am the Being,” or “I am the Existing One.”  This attempt cannot be sustained because the expression in Exodus 3:14 is different from the expression in John 8:58.  Throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures Jehovah and Jesus are never identified as being the same person”. The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (PA; Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985), 1146

In response to this objection it is better to see the I AM statements as developing through the OT beginning in Exodus 3:14 (especially since the Hebrew uses the verb hāyāh, which is equivalent to the Greek verb eimi both meaning  “to be”) and by examining the development of the I AM statements throughout the Old Testament, and importantly as it is most clearly testified by Isaiah demonstrates that there is sufficient basis to see John’s use of the I AM

[23] Biblia Hebraica Westmonasteriensis with Westminster Hebrew Morphology 4.18 (J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research, 2013), Ex 3:14

[24] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ex 3:14.

[25] Septuaginta: With Morphology, electronic ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), Ex 3:14

l Gk. Mōusēs

m Heb. reads, “I am who I am,” “I will be who I will be,” or even “I cause to be what I cause to be”

[26] Rick Brannan et al., eds., The Lexham English Septuagint (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Ex 3:14

[27] Biblia Hebraica Westmonasteriensis with Westminster Hebrew Morphology 4.18 (J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research, 2013), Is 43:25

[28] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 43:25

[29] Septuaginta: With Morphology, electronic ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), Is 43:25

[30] Rick Brannan et al., eds., The Lexham English Septuagint (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Is 43:25

[31] Kurt Aland et al., Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), Jn 8:58

[32] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 8:58

[33] James White, The Forgotten Trinity (MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 97; Here is Wallace’s detailed exposition of John 8:58 and response to Jehovah’s Witness arguments:“The text reads: πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί (“before Abraham was, I am”). On this text, Dennis Light wrote an article in defense of the New World Translation in the Bible Collector (July–December, 1971). In his article he discusses ἐγὼ εἰμί, which the New World Translation renders, “I have been.” Light defends this translation by saying, “The Greek verb eimi, literally present tense, must be viewed as a historical present, because of being preceded by the aorist infinitive clause referring to Abraham’s past” (p. 8). This argument has several flaws in it: (1) The fact that the present tense follows an aorist infinitive has nothing to do with how it should be rendered. In fact, historical presents are usually wedged in between aorist (or imperfect) indicatives, not infinitives. (2) If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that uses the equative verb εἰμί. The burden of proof, therefore, lies with one who sees εἰμί as ever being used as a historical present. (3) If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that is in other than the third person.47The translators of the New World Translation understand the implications of ἐγὼ εἰμί here, for in the footnote to this text in the NWT, they reveal their motive for seeing this as a historical present: “It is not the same as ὁ ὤν (ho ohń, meaning ‘The Being’ or ‘The I Am’) at Exodus 3:14, LXX.” In effect, this is a negative admission that if ἐγὼ εἰμί is not a historical present, then Jesus is here claiming to be the one who spoke to Moses at the burning bush, the I AM, the eternally existing One, Yahweh (cf. Exod 3:14 in the LXX, ἐγὼ εἰμι ὁ ὤν).”  Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 530–531.

47 (Footnote from Wallace quote above) “To be sure, εἰμί is sometimes considered to be a historical present as is the first person verb, but most reject these identifications in the passages suggested. (Cf. the treatments of this issue in R. L. Shive, “The Historical Present in the New Testament,” and D. B. Wallace, “John 5, 2 and the Date of the Fourth Gospel,” Bib 71 [1990] 177–205.) A proper syntactical approach must be based on legitimate, undisputed examples. Disputed examples must fit into the contours of such clear instances or be judged suspect. This is not to say that it is impossible for εἰμί to be a historical present in, say, John 8:58. But it is to say that the burden of proof rests with the one who makes such a claim. Unfortunately, a typical approach to grammar in such disputed passages is (a) to locate a category of usage that fits one’s preconceived views, and (b) to ignore the semantic situation of the category and to argue on the basis of context (which must be construed) and ingenuity. Context, of course, has its rather large place in exegesis—larger for the most part than grammar—but our contention is that grammar is often relegated to a mere pool of options” Ibid, 530

Old Testament Christology, a Biblical Theology of Genesis 3:15


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As I give this overview of some key Messianic prophecies in this lesson I will be doing so via Biblical Theology.  Rather than examining Messianic prophecies separately I will show the development of Messianic prophecies that build upon Genesis 3:15.  Here is a basic definition of biblical theology to explain this approach by Geerhardus Vos,

“Biblical Theology deals with the material from the historical standpoint, seeking to exhibit the organic growth or development of the truths of Special Revelation from the primitive pre-redemptive Special Revelation (Revelation prior to the recording of Scripture, prior to Moses) given in Eden to the close of the New Testament canon[1]”.

Biblical theology is distinguished from systematic theology because it seeks to show the development of a doctrine or motif in scripture progressively i.e. Paul’s theology of Justification in the Pauline epistles, whereas Systematic Theology organizes theology by doctrine logically rather than tracing the development of the doctrine gradually with progressive revelation compared to Biblical theology.  The analogy of a seed developing into a tree helps to give a mental picture to understand what Biblical Theology is as a discipline in Theology,

“The organic process is from seed-form to the attainment of full growth; yet we do not say that in the qualitative sense the seed is less perfect than the tree.  The feature in question explains further how the soteric (salvific) sufficiency of the truth could belong to it in its first state of emergence: in the seed-form the minimum of indispensable knowledge was already present.  Again, it explains how revelation could be so closely determined in its onward movement by the onward movement of redemption…But redemption, as is well known, is eminently organic in its progress.  It does not proceed with uniform motion, but rather is ‘epochal’ in its onward stride (it isn’t a straight line of development, but has sharp peaks at certain points i.e. Isaiah 53)[2]”.

This is not a novel approach to studying scripture, but is well attested by Reformed Confessions demonstrating that reformed theologians didn’t study theology only systematically, but also observed the progressive nature of revelation as the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith explains covenant theology via the progressive revelation of the covenant of grace as first promised in Genesis 3:15 and inaugurated by the shed blood of Christ in the new covenant,

1689 LBC Chapter 7 Paragraph 3: This Covenant is revealed in the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of Salvation by the5 seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full6 discovery thereof was compleated in the New Testament; and it is founded in that* Eternal Covenant transaction, that was between the Father and the Son, about the Redemption of the Elect; and it is alone by the Grace of this Covenant, that all of the posterity of fallen Adam, that ever were7 saved, did obtain life and a blessed immortality; Man being now utterly uncapable of acceptance with God upon those terms, on which Adam stood in his state of innocency[3]”.

Before proceeding to examine some Messianic prophecies I need to define a few important terms for studying Messianic prophecies, you may not use all of these terms in evangelism, but they are important to know for doing any research on Messianic prophecies.  The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with a few small portions in Aramaic, during about the 7th century the Masoretes added vowel points to the Hebrew Text, which was passed down orally and is what you will find in a Hebrew Bible today.  Related to this is an important point on textual criticism for the Old Testament called the Qere (what is read) and Ketib (what is written).  Textual criticism is the study of comparing ancient manuscripts of a document to examine places in which the manuscripts differ (textual variants), so that the original text can be derived from the manuscripts and distinguished from scribal errors i.e. minor spelling errors of similar letters.  This is significant for some Messianic prophecies as I will discuss later with the Shiloh prophecy in Genesis 49:10; here is a basic definition of the qre and ktib from the renown Hebraist and Arabist Joshua Blau,

“In some cases, words in the text of the Bible [Old Testament] are unvocalized (called ktib, i.e. “written” in Aramaic), because the version represented by them has been rejected by the Masoretes (as אסור Genesis 39:20).  The version preferred to that of the ktib, called qre (i.e. “read” in Aramaic), is written, fully vocalized [with vowels], on the margin of the Biblical text (as אֲסִ֯ורֵ֥י ibid).  As ill-fortune would have it, in many Bibles the ktib is exhibited in the text with the vowels of the qre (!) (as אֲסִ֯ורֵ֥י ibid), and the unvocalized qre on the margin (as אסירי ); yet one has always to bear in mind that only the vocalization of the qre is traditionally transmitted, whereas the proper vocalization of the ktib can only be surmised[4]”.

In addition to the Hebrew Old Testament, the Masoretic text (sometime abbreviated as MT) there is also the Septuagint (abbreviated as LXX), a Jewish ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament dated between 200-400 BC.  Lastly, there are the Aramaic Targums, Jewish paraphrases/translations of the Old Testament, this was important for Jews at the time because by about 2,000 BC Aramaic was the language of international trade in the ancient world, hence the need for Aramaic paraphrases/translations of the Old Testament after the exile when many Jews had forgotten Hebrew and were more familiar with Aramaic.

Genesis 3:15 occurs within the context of God’s judgment upon Adam and Eve having broken His command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17), but in the midst of God’s pronouncement of judgment comes a glimpse of hope with the promise of a coming seed of the woman that will crush the serpent’s head, as God pronounces judgment on the serpent (Genesis 3:14-15) often called the “first Gospel”:  “And enmity I will place between you and between the woman and between your seed and between her seed, he himself will crush you (2ms) (on the) head and you (2ms) yourself will strike him (on the) heel”.

Jewish objections to this passage include viewing the curse on the serpent as referring to the natural hatred that women have of serpents such as Nahum Sarna suggests,

“This curse seeks to explain the natural revulsion of humans for the serpent. Clearly, when it entered into conversation with the woman, it could not have been so regarded; indeed, it posed as her friend, solicitous of her interests[5]”.

However this ignores the common usage of ’ēbāh in the MT, which according to HALOT means, “enmity or hostile disposition[6]”.

The use of this word both in Genesis 3:15 and its other occurrences in the OT suggests that this refers to more than merely a dislike of snakes but a real adversarial enmity with the serpent.  The second common objection is that seed is used collectively and therefore cannot refer to the Messiah in this passage, but this ignores other uses of zera’ as HALOT says it can refer to both descendents and a descendent[7], also the seed that will crush the serpent is described using the third person masculine pronoun in this passage hū’ in both the MT and Targum Onkelos, and autos in the LXX, if the seed were collective in this passage then a plural pronoun would have been used instead of a third person singular pronoun.  Paul commenting on this passage in Galatians 3:16, he applies this text to Christ specifically as the seed prophesied in the text.

The second major messianic prophecy in the Pentateuch is Genesis 49:10, a prophecy for the tribe of Judah given before Jacob passed away giving both patriarchal blessings and curses to his sons, which translated from the Masoretic Text is: “A scepter will not depart from Judah nor a scepter from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him belongs the obedience of the peoples.”  Nahum Sarna gives two predominant Jewish interpretations of Shiloh,

“The present rendering, that of the Yalkut and Lekaḥ Tov, takes shiloh as a combination of shai, “tribute,” and loh, “to him.” Several ancient versions understand it as in late Hebrew shello, “that which belongs to him[8],” that is, until he obtains the monarchy,[9]” and the second view is that Shiloh is a messianic reference, “An early tradition, found in texts from Qumran, in the Targums, and in rabbinic literature, sees in shiloh a messianic title, although no biblical passage supports this. It has even been noted that the numerical value of the consonants y-b-ʾ sh-y-l-h, “Shiloh will come,” is equal to that of mashiaḥ, “messiah”: 358 [the Rabbinic references he gives in the footnote are: 4QGe[10]n. 49:10, Sanh. 98b, Gen. R. 98:13, Lam. R. 1:16. [11]][12].”

There are two messianic interpretations of this passage; the first is given by E.W. Hengsetnberg, a well known 19th century conservative OT Lutheran theologian.  He observes the similarity of Shiloh with Solomon’s name in Hebrew and argues that Shiloh is an adjective meaning peace based off of his view that Shiloh comes from the noun Shilon for rest,

“The analogy of the name shlmh which is formed after the manner of shīlh, indicates that it has here an adjective signification, and, like Solomon, Shiloh denotes “the man of rest,” corresponds to the “Prince of Peace” in Is. 9:5, and, viewed in its character of a proper name, is like the German “Friedrich’ = Frederick, i.e., “rich in peace,” “the Peaceful one[13]”.

I side with the messianic view of Geerhardus Vos and others who view Shiloh as composed of three parts, translated together as “he to whom it belongs”, Vos explains this position well,

“I resolve the word Shiloh, after leaving off the vowels, into the three characters sh-l-oh.  Then sh- is taken as the abbreviated form of the relative asher; l-, I take as the preposition lamedh; the –oh at the end of the word is the suffix of the third-person singular bearing the possessive sense of “his.”  Taken cumulatively, this yields the rendering “he to whom[14].”

This interpretation is also supported by an intertextuality with Ezekiel 21:27,

“That this is not an arbitrary or prejudicial explanation appears from the passage in Ezekiel that must evidently be accounted for as a conscious echo of the Jacob-blessing…the mysterious characters sh-l-oh reappear here.  It is true, the subject to which, in each case, the relative belongs differs as between Genesis and Ezekiel; but it differs only in form, not in substantial meaning  In Genesis it is the scepter and the judge’s staff held by Judah, while in Ezekiel, it is designated as “the government[15]”.

In addition to this, the translation of Shiloh as “to whom it belongs” is supported by the qre of this passage is shīlō[16], which supports the translation “to whom it belongs” explaining that the final he in Shiloh is used to mark a vowel, rather than being consonantal, so the messianic view of “to whom it belongs” is supported by the Hebrew Text, whereas you have to change the Hebrew root to shlmh to defend Hengstenberg’s position.

The last prophecy that will be examined concerning the Messiah in the Pentateuch is Numbers 24:17-19.  This messianic prophecy comes in the last of Balaam’s three blessings that he gives to Israel instead of the curses that King Balak of Moab had commanded Balaam to call upon the nation of Israel.  All of the New Testament references to Balaam describe him as wicked warning believers not to follow in his ways (Jude 11, 2 Peter 2:15, Revelation 2:14).  Even in spite of Balaam’s greedy motives to curse Israel to gain a great reward from King Balak of Moab (Numbers 22:15,), in the Lord’s providence Balaam’s curses become blessings to Israel (Nehemiah 13:2) and Balaam utters a messianic prophecy  despite the fact that Balaam by no means is a prophet.  Numbers 24:17 translated from the Masoretic Text: “I see him, but not now, I see him but (he) is not near, A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will rise from Israel, and he will smash the corners of Moab, and he will tear down all the sons of Seth.”

Baruch Levine in the JPS commentary series gives the Jewish interpretation of this passage, arguing that it refers to David rather than Christ because of the parallelism between kokāb “star” and šēbeṭ “staff”,

“some commentators have taken their cue from kokāb “star,” and sought a parallel meaning for šēbeṭ, citing Aramaic šebiṭ, “the name of a star,” referring to a meteor or shooting star that leaves a “tail” in its wake, having the appearance of a staff or scepter (Babylonian Talmud, Berakot 58b, Levy IV, 496, s.v. šebîṭ), extending the usual meaning of Hebrew šēbeṭ.  Alternatively, one could take a cue from šēbeṭ in its figurative connotation of “sovereign, head,” namely, one who bears a scepter.  Thus Genesis 49:10: “The ‘scepter’ (šēbeṭ) shall not depart from Judah, nor the magistrate (meḥoqeq) from the issue of his loins[17]”.

This interpretation still runs into the same dilemma as Genesis 49:10, that the conquest described in this passage exceeds the size of what David’s kingdom ever was, and Levine’s second interpretation does support a messianic view of the passage connecting it to Genesis 49:10. By comparing other ancient translations it is clear that this is a messianic prophecy in addition to the clear allusions to Genesis 3:15 and 49:10, according to the LXX the Hebrew word šēbeṭ (scepter/tribe) is replaced with anthrōpas (man), and Targum Onkelos has mɘshīḥā’ (the messiah)[18].

The root mḥts occurs in Numbers 24:17 to describe the Messiah crushing Moab which is similar to Genesis 3:15 which describes the Messiah crushing the head of the serpent using the Hebrew verb shūp. James Hamilton suggests that one of the problems avoiding connecting Genesis 3:15 with similar passages (such as Numbers 24:17) is the word-concept fallacy, that because a word isn’t used therefore the concept isn’t present, and applied to Genesis 3:15 because the word shūp is used exclusively in Genesis 3:15 to describe the defeat of the serpent’s seed, therefore it can’t be connected to other passages using a different Hebrew word[19].  If that method were employed for basing messianic passages solely on the occurrence of the noun for Messiah, then the only messianic prophecies in the Old Testament would be Psalm 2:2 and Daniel 9:25,26, but the Messiah is clearly mentioned in other prophecies without having to use the Hebrew word māshīaḥ.  Hamilton lists several occurrences of the root mḥts which allude to Genesis 3:15 showing that it is within the semantic domain of shūp: Judges 5:26 uses the root mḥts to describe Jael crushing Sisera’s head[20], in Habakkuk 3:13 it describes salvation coming by your Messiah (’et-mɘshīḥekā) who crushed the head of the house of the wicked[21], In Psalm 68:22 [English 68:21] Yahweh’s triumph over his enemies is described, “Surely God will crush  the heads of his enemies…[22]”, and Psalm 110:6, “He has shattered (the) head over a broad country”.

One last overlooked OT text in this trajectory of the first messianic prophecy of the skull crushing seed of the woman is Psalm 110:6, most likely due to its traditional translation (heads/chief) which blunts the significance of this messianic prophecy.

David uses the word head (singular in Hebrew) to describe the federal head of the wicked one, referring to Satan as the federal representative of the evil seed, just as John describes Cain as being from the seed of the Devil in 1 John 3:10-12.  Hengstenburg, a conservative Lutheran OT Theologian and commentator sees the connection with the singular head in Hebrew with other Old Testament passages, building his biblical theology based on intertextuality (similar occurrences of the same phrase in other verses in the Bible),

“That the rōsh [head] is used in its proper sense and cannot be translated: a head over great lands, is clear not from the ’al [upon/on]—against the assertion that it must necessarily have been rbh v‘sh ‘rts [רבה ואש ארץ] [this is an argument from liberal scholars that the Hebrew is corrupted here and Hengsetnberg is providing their proposed emendation/correction] comp. Ps. 47:2—but from the clause, “he shall raise the head,” in ver. 7, and from the parallel passage, Ps. 68:21, “God smites the head of his enemies, the hairy head of him who walketh in his sins,” and Hab. 3:13,—comp. ver. 14, rōsh māḥats  occurs in like manner in the sense of a breaker of heads.   On our verse we should compare the expanded description in Rev. 19:11 ss., comp. 16:1, ss.[23]

Although Hengstenberg missed the Messianic reference alluding back to Genesis 3:15 with the same language of crushing the head of the serpent Martin Luther (an Old Testament scholar by his academic training) did observe this motif in his lectures on the Psalms and understood Psalm 110:5-6 as referring to Christ crushing Satan, the federal representative of the wicked,

“Behold, in that He (Christ) preserves the soul, He is at his right hand, but in that He delivers him into the other’s hand, Satan comes to be at his left hand. Again, the devil stands at the right hand of the ungodly (Ps. 109:6), because he possesses them according to the soul and hinders them in the things that are for the salvation of the soul, though he may advance them on the left hand, that is, in temporal things[24]”.

Some commentators although not acknowledging the Messianic reference in verse 6 have shown some parallels between Psalm 110:5-6 with Psalm 2, which prophesies about Christ’s kingly office,

“Of special importance are the traditions that make their appearance in vv. 5* and 6*. Here Psalm 2 is to be considered an explanatory parallel. Corresponding to the melachim [kings] we have melache-erets [the kings of the earth] in Ps. 2:2*. Beside bǝyōm-appō yādin [in the day of his anger he will judge] we are to place the explanation of Ps. 2:5a*: az yedabber’ ēlēmō bǝappō [then he will speak to them in his anger][25]”.

These brief observations on Psalm 110:6 show that verses 5-6 have important messianic implications testifying to the Kingship of Christ, so when we observe the New testament quoting Psalm 110 we have a better foundation to understand that Psalm 110 refers to both Christ’s office as a Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:1-4), but also a conquering King (Psalm 110:5-6).

It has been demonstrated that the Messianic witness of the Pentateuch testifies to an organic nature of Messianic Prophecy in the Old Testament starting with Genesis 3:15 as each messianic prophecy cumulatively builds and expands upon previous messianic prophecies providing stronger evidence for the Messiah than viewing each messianic prophecy in isolation.  As the case is with Numbers 24:17, it demonstrates there is much stronger evidence for this prophecy to be viewed as messianic when it is compared with Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 49:10, and Psalm 100:5-6, along with other OT passages building on similar motifs of the Messiah,  being fulfilled in the person of Christ: the skull crushing seed of the woman, Shiloh, he to whom the scepter of the tribe of Judah belongs, the star and scepter who has dominion over all nations, the King at God’s right hand, and the head crusher of the evil one, Satan.

[1] Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975), v-vi

[2] Ibid, 7

5 Gen. 3:15.

6 Heb. 1:1.

* 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2.

7 Heb. 11:6, 13; Rom. 4:1, 2, etc. Act. 4:12; Joh. 8:56.

[3] W. J. McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Philadelphia; Boston; Chicago; St. Louis; Toronto: American Baptist Publication Society, 1911), 239

[4] Joshua Blau, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Gottingen, Germany: Porta Linguarem Orientalium, 1976), 21-22; for more resources on OT textual criticism a useful introduction is: Kelley, Page H., Daniel S. Mynatt, and Timothy G. Crawford. The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Introduction and Annotated Glossary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), and a more thorough and technical treatment is: Emmanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible 3rd Edition Expanded & Revised (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012)

[5] Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 27

[6] HALOT, 39

[7] HALOT, 283; Walter Kaiser explains how both the individual and collective aspect of the seed can be taken into account with the principle of corporate solidarity, “However, the very fact that the noun “seed” is a collective  singular deliberately provides for the fact that it may include  the one who represents the whole group as well as the group itself.  The fact that there is such a one specified in this text as a male descendent of the woman opens up this text to its messianic possibilities.” Walter Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 39

[8] Also Alfred Ralph’s LXX translates Shiloh as τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ, “whose it is.”

[9] Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 336

4QGen Manuscript of Genesis from Qumran, cave 4, “Qumran text 4Q Patr. 3f (Lohse Qumran 246, 247): עד בוא משיח הצדק צמח דויד “until the one anointed with righteousness comes, the scion (offshoot) of David.” HALOT, 1478

Sanh. Sanhedrin

Gen. R. Genesis Rabba

Lam. R. Lamentations Rabba

[11] Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 336

[12] ibid, 337

[13] E.W. Hengsetnberg, Christology of the Old Testament. Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1956), 69

[14] Ibid, 99; Walter Kaiser argues for the same interpretation of Shiloh as Vos, and adds that both the LXX and Targum Onkelos support this translation of Shiloh. Walter Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 51.  HALOT after giving the three possibilities of what Shiloh refers to sides with Vos and Kaiser’s position viewing Shiloh as referring “to whom it belongs” and points out that the Qere in the Masoretic Text is שִׁילוֹ HALOT, 1478

[15] Geerhardus Vos, Edited by James T. Dennison Jr, The Eschatology of the Old Testament (Philsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001), 99

[16] שִׁילוֹ

[17] Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 21-36, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 200

[18] Jame Kugel provides some additional ancient translations of Numbers 24:17: the translation of Targum Neophyti of Numbers 24:17, “A king is destined to arise from the house of Jacob and a savior and ruler from the house of Israel,” and the Peshitta, “A star shines forth from Jacob and a leader from Israel.”  James L. Kugel, The Bible As it Was (Cambridge; Massachusets: Harvard University Press, 1997), 489

[19] Hamilton, James, “The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15”,The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 10.2 (2006), 34

[20] ibid, 35

[21] ibid, 37

[22] ibid, 37, this is my own translation of Ps. 68:22 from the MT

[23] E. W. Hengstenberg, John Thomson, and Patrick Fairbairn, Commentary on the Psalms, vol. 3 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1869), 340–341

[24] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 11: First Lectures on the Psalms II: Psalms 76-126, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 11 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955), 369–370;   Henry Ainsworth takes a similar view, but views the head as referring to the Antichrist who will be overthrown or as a more generic term equivalent to the plural as in evil rulers, “the Head,] Antichrist, the man of sin, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, 2 Thes. 2:3,8, or head for heads, and land for lands, that is, all wicked governors wheresoever”.  Henry Ainsworth, Annotations on the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses; The Psalms of David  and the Song of Solomon (Ligoner, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, republished in 1991 [1612]), Vol. II: 632

[25] Hans-Joachim Kraus, A Continental Commentary: Psalms 60–150 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), 352

Worldview Apologetics for Witnessing to Muslims



For witnessing to Muslims we must be aware of their key presuppositions, not just the fact that Muslims deny the Trinity and Deity of Christ for example, but why they deny them, so that we can confront their presuppositions directly and avoid getting side tracked when witnessing to Muslims.  Before proceeding further it is necessary to briefly address the view of the Quran and Hadeeth in orthodox Islam, what are they and what role do they play in Islamic theology. According to orthodox Islam the Quran eternally existed in the Arabic language and was later revealed to Muhammad who recited it and his followers passed it on via oral tradition and it was later written down and recorded after Muhammed died.  Their view of scripture is dictation, Muhammad was in no way the author of the Quran in orthodox Islam (a view taken by liberal Muslim scholars), Muhammad was merely a medium to present the revelation.  The Quran is divided into chapters (surah) and verses (ayah), the Quran is not written in chronological order, but more topically based, there is an Arabic name for each chapter of the Quran giving its main theme.  There is a twofold distinction of surahs written in either Medina or Mecca.  Meccan surahs reflect Islam prior to Muhammad political rule and Medinnan surahs reflect Islam once Islam has gained political power, which accounts for some of the differences between some sections of the Quran.  In addition to the Quran are the Hadeeth, recordings of the saying and teachings of Muhammad, they expand upon the majority of the verses in the Quran and there by provide an early commentary and authoritative explanation of key passages.  The 2 primary and most reliable Hadeeth are called Saheeh al Bukhari and Saheeh Al Muslim.

Here is a summary of the major presuppositions that Muslims believe which are important for witnessing to Muslims.  I’ll be focusing on Tawheed since this is crucial to how every Muslim views the Bible and how they view their salvation.

  1. Tawhid/Tawheed– Allah is one in being and person (precludes polytheism and the doctrine of the Trinity), this includes the teaching that Allah has no son. This is represented in the well known basic Islamic statement of faith, the shahadah, “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger[1]”.
  2. Breaking Tawhid is known as shirk, associating partners with Allah.

III. The Quran addresses Jews and Christians (called Ahl-al-Kitab in Arabic, Ahl-al-Injil, used to refer to Christians specifically), but the OT & NT are considered corrupted[2], while the Arabic text of the Quran has eternally existed in the Arabic language and was revealed to Muhammad and written down after his death, and preserved with no changes.

  1. The Quran Denies the crucifixion of Jesus [Jesus is referred to as Isa in the Quran], Surah 4:157-158
  2. Islam claims to be in continuity with the teachings of the previous Abrahamic religions (Judaism and Christianity), and Muhammad is the final prophet in the chain of prophets from Adam to Isa [Jesus] culminating in Muhammad
  3. In recent Dawah, the Apostle Paul is attacked as the originator of the corruption of Christianity, creating the doctrines of the Trinity and Deity of Christ.

VII. There is no assurance on judgment day for Muslims, assurance of salvation is dependent on whether Allah is merciful and will let them go to heaven, scales of good and bad works weighed to determine whether someone goes to heaven or hell.

As Christians we affirm monotheism, but it is important to understand that according to tawhid Unitarian monotheism is presupposed (Allah is one being and one person), so even a plurality of persons that is one substance (the doctrine of the Trinity) is still considered a violation of Tawhid.  The Trinity is perceived by Muslims as not being much different from the polytheism of Hinduism.  Here is a basic definition of the nature of God’s oneness (Tawhid) in Islamic theology,

“The Unity of God according to the Qur’an, implies that God is One in His person (dhāt), One in His attributes (ṣifāt) and One in his works (af’āl).  His Oneness in His person means that there is neither plurality of gods nor plurality of persons in the Godhead; His Oneness in attributes implies that no other being possesses one or more of the Divine attributes in perfection…[3]”.

Examining the Quran’s teaching of the doctrine of tawhid, the most important Surah is Surah Al-‘Ikhlas (112:1-4), “Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge.  He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent”.  This verse uses the same semitic root for the verb “to beget” as occurs in Isaiah 9:6, making this verse an explicit denial of the incarnation of Christ.

In contrast to tawhid, is shirk, which is a violation of tawhid by associating partners with Allah, whether that is the Trinity or polytheism, and even extends to mystic forms of idolatry.  Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab defined the grave nature of shirk as follows,

“The opposite of complete tawheed is defined in Islam as shirk, Shirk literally means to take partners with Allah in any aspect of His divinity.  Shirk is the antithesis of Islam, which is based on the belief that full acceptance of tawheed leads to eternal salvation and corruption of tawheed leads to damnation[4]”.

So based on Islamic theology, when Christians present the Gospel to a Muslim they perceive the Gospel as an invitation to commit [major] shirk and be eternally damned.

The first of the three categories of tawhid is Unity in Allah’s Lordship (Tawhid ar-Rububiya), Rububiyah comes from the Arabic word Rabb for Lord, it is a declaration of the unique sovereignty of Allah[5].  Quranic support for oneness in Allah’s lordship is well attested,

“Allah created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend[6]” (Surah 39:62).

“And Allah created you all and whatever you do[7]” (Surah 37:96).

“And no calamity strikes except by Allah’s permission[8]” (Surah 64:11).

Rububiyah also precludes charms and wearing Quranic verses because of its pagan practices, only Allah is to be viewed as sovereign and a Muslim is to trust in nothing or no one else but Allah.

The second category of Tawhid is that Allah is one in his name & attributes (Tawhid al-Asma’ waṣ-ṣifat), which can be divided into 5 categories.  The first is the unity of Allah’s names and attributes; Allah’s attributes are only those attributes to Allah in the Quran, and all of God’s attributes are absolute, free from any human deficiencies, and therefore qualitatively distinct from human attributes rather than only being distinguished quantitatively[9].  The second aspect is similar, Allah cannot be given any new name, he can only be called by what he calls himself or Muhammad calls him in the Quran.  The third aspect is that Allah cannot be given any attributes of his creation, and some descriptions of Allah hearing or seeing are to be understood as Allah’s abilities being perfect, not synonymous with man’s abilities.  The fourth aspect precludes giving any of the names or attributes of Allah to man, Dr. Abu Bilal cites Hebrews 5:5-6 and 7:1-3, attributing eternality to Jesus as an example of breaching this aspect of Tawhid[10].  The fifth and last aspect of Tawhid al-Asma’ waṣ-ṣifat teaches that the names of Allah can only be given to another if it is prefixed by ‘abd, “slave of/servant of,” because in their indefinite form they represent perfection which belongs to Allah alone, not even Muhammad can be called by a divine name with this prefix and calling oneself an ‘abd of Muhammad or anyone else is a violation of Tawhid[11].                                                                                                                                            The third category of Tawhid is Oneness in Allah’s right to be worshipped (Tawhid al-‘Ibadah), which must be accompanied with the former two categories to be considered complete Tawhid in Islam.  Dr. Bilal Phillips explains why this third category is the most crucial category of Tawhid,

“All forms of worship must be directed only to Allah because He alone deserves worship, and it is He alone who can grant benefit to man as a result of His worship.  Furthermore, there is no need for any form of intercessor or intermediary between man and God[12]”.

This is emphasized in the first Surah of the Quran (Surah al-Fāṭiḥah), which must be recited by Muslims 17 times each day, “It is to You [Allah] we worship and You we ask for help[13]” (Surah 1:5).  Islam teaches that this is the view of both previous Abrahamic religions (Judaism & Christianity), that all of the prophets (including Jesus) taught Tawhid,

“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists[14]” (Surah 3:67).

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me[15]” (Surah 51:56).

Also this third category of Tawhid combines the political aspect of Islam (Sharia) with its theology because ‘Ibadah means total obedience, and because Allah is the ultimate lawgiver this requires implementing Sharia law, all secular forms of law demonstrate disbelief in Allah’s divine law and is shirk[16].  Dr. Abu Bilal advocates this even more forcefully that Muslims cannot be neutral concerning the implementation of Sharia in government,

“Hence, a significant part of Tawhid al-‘Ibadah involves the implementation of Shariah, especially in lands where Muslims form the majority of the population…The acceptance of non-Islamic rule in place of Shariah in Muslim lands is shirk and an act of kufr [disbelief in Allah].  Those in a position to change it must do so, while those unable to do so must speak out against the rule of kufr and call for the implementation of Shariah[17]

Another crucial aspect of tawhid is how the Quran expresses the doctrine of the Trinity since the Trinity is considered shirk, breaking tawhid, it ought to have a proper understanding of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity given that the Council of Nicaea had already occurred in the 4th century, so the Christian position on the doctrine of the Trinity was unambiguous at the time of Muhammad, 600 AD.  However the Quran reveals otherwise, demonstrating the author of the Quran did not understand the doctrine of the Trinity,

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.  I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness[18]” (Surah 5:116-117).

Notice that not only does the Quran teach that all of the prophets accepted Tawhid, Surah 5 also gives an explanation of how the Quran understands the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, according to Surah 5:116-117 the trinity consists of Allah, Jesus, and Mary, which is found nowhere in the Bible.  Another important Surah in the Quran that attempts to describe the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is Surah 4:171-172,

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.  Never would the Messiah disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor would the angels near [to Him]. And whoever disdains His worship and is arrogant – He will gather them to Himself all together[19]” (Surah 4:171-172)

This is not something novel in Islamic theology, but is testified by early primary Islamic scholars such as the renown Islamic commentator Ibn Kathir,

“Believe that Allah is One and Alone and that He does not have a son or wife.  Know and be certain that ‘Isa [Jesus] is the servant and Messanger of Allah.  Then immediately thereafter (“Say not: ‘Three!”), do not elevate ‘Isa and his mother to be gods with Allah.  Allah is far holier than what they attribute to him[20]”.

Likewise 12th century Islamic scholar Abu al-Qasim Mahmud ibn Umar az-Zamakh-shari views this passage and the Quran as a whole teaching that Christians view the Trinity as polytheism consisting of the three gods: The Father, Mary, and Jesus,

According to the evidence of the Quran, the Christians maintain that God , Christ, and Mary are three gods, and that Christ is the child of God by Mary, as God says (in the Quran): ‘O Jesus son of Mary, didst thou say unto men: “Take me and my mother as gods, apart from God”?’ (5:116), or : ‘The Christians say: “The Messiah is the Son of God” (9:30).  Morever, it is well known that the Christians maintain that in Jesus are (combined) a divine nature derived from the Father and a human nature derived from his mother…At the same time these words [4:171] exclude (the Christian view) that Jesus had with God the usual relationship between sons and (their) fathers…[21]”.

A major problem with the Muslim argument that the Bible is corrupted is that the Quran commands the Ahl-al-Kitab to judges by their scriptures, but how can they judge by their scriptures if they are already corrupted?  There are two different types of corruption: tahrif al-mana (corruption of meaning) and tahrif al-nas/al-lafz (corruption of the text).  In light of the context of Surah 5:42-48, 65-68 and other Quranic texts which explicitly deny that the words of Allah can be corrupted (Surah 6:114-115, 18:27), and other Surah stating that the People of the Book have concealed the truth (Surah 3:69-72), tahrif al-mana provides the most consistent explanation without making the Quran contradict itself since Surah 5:42-48, 65-68, would be a useless command to the people of the book (Jews and Christians) if the Torah and Injil were already corrupted (tahrif al-nas/al-lafz) by the time of Muhammad[22].  In the context of Surah 5:43-47, the Jews come to Muhammad who is ruling in Medina and ask him about how to judge over a dispute they are having and Muhammad tells them to judge by what God has given them in the Torah, and he addresses the Christians and tells them to judge by what God has revealed to them as well,

Surah 5:43-47 (Surat Al-Mā’idah) “[43]But how is it that they come to you for judgement while they have the Torah, in which is the judgement of Allah ? Then they turn away, [even] after that; but those are not [in fact] believers. [44] Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah , and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. [45]And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation for him. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.  [46] And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. [47] And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.”

The argument continues a few verses (ayat) later, Muhammad commands the Christians to test the Quran by what has come before it, the Old and New Testament,

Surah 5:65-68 (Surat Al-Mā’idah) , “[65]And if only the People of the Scripture had believed and feared Allah , We would have removed from them their misdeeds and admitted them to Gardens of Pleasure. [66] And if only they upheld [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed [provision] from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them are a moderate community, but many of them – evil is that which they do. [67] O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. [68] Say, “O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord.” And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people.”

This provides the route by which we directly challenge a Muslims’ affirmation of the authority of the Quran as well as the incorrect view that the Trinity consists of Allah, Mary, and Jesus.  Muslims are using a double standard when they cite Bart Erhman or other skeptics to attack the reliability of the Bible, when the Quran commands Christians to judge by what God has revealed in the Bible.  We can go back to the prophets and demonstrate that the God of the Bible is holy as observed in Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 in contrast to the view of god in the Quran, and God is revealed as perfectly Just (Proverbs 17:15).  A Muslim has no assurance on judgment day that Allah will be merciful and let him or her get into heaven by their own deeds, but as Christians we have a blessed hope, not by our own righteousness by Christ’s perfect righteousness (Romans 3:23-25, 5:1)[23].

[1] Muhammad Ali breaks down the Arabic of the first part of the Shahadah, the Kalimah at-Tawheed, statement of Allah’s Unity, “The best known expression of Divine Unity is that contained in the declaration of la ilaha ill-Allah.  It is made up of four words, la (no), ilah (that which is worshipped), illa (except) and Allah (the proper name of the Divine Being)” Maulana Muhammas Ali, The Religion of Islam (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat: Columbus, Ohio, 1989), 109.

[2] This was a shift in Islamic Dawah in the 20th century, which did not exist as the majority view of Muslims in preceding centuries who viewed the OT & NT as corrupted in its meaning (tahrif al mana) rather than the actual texts being corrupted (tahrif al-nas), “In the mid-19th century, the Muslim accusation of tahrif al-nass took a kind of quantum leap through the controversy between Indian Muslim scholars and European Christian missionaries in the India of the British Raj…Mawlana Rahmat Alllah Kayranawi (“al-Hini,” 1818-91) is credited with moving the textual corruption accusation forward through a famous public debate and through a widely published book.  Interestingly, the most influential Indian theologian of the modern period, Shah Wali Allah (1703-62), had previously declared that he did not believe in the corruption of the text of the Torah…Rahmat Allah seized upon a strategic plan for publicly confounding European Christian missionaries…For the first time in the history of Muslim polemic, the Indian theologian used works of historical criticism written in Europe to support the claim that Christians themselves knew of the corruption of the Bible.  The substance of Rahmat Allah’s polemic in the debate…appeared in print…in the Arabic Izhar ul-haq…20th century Arabic authors did not add substantially to Rahmat Allah’s polemic”.  Narratives of Tampering in the Earliest Commentaries on the Quran (Leiden: Brill, 2011): 24-25; cited in James White’s book, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Quran (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2013), 190

[3] Ibid, 109; Islam claims to be the only Abrahamic religion that has preserved Tawhid, “Yet, according to the Islamic Unitarian concept (Tawhid), Christianity is classified as polytheism and Judaism is considered a subtle form of idolatry”. Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism), (International Islamic Publishing house: Saudi Arabia, 2005), 11

[4] Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab  (author), Sameh Strauch (compiler & translator), Kitab At-Tawheed Explained (International Islamic Publishing House, Saudi Arabia, 2010), 22.

[5] Muhammad’s common statement affirms this, “La ḥawla wa la quwwata illa billah.” (There is no movement nor power except by Allah’s will), ibid, 22.

[6] Translation from Abu Philips, ibid, 22

[7] Translation from Abu Philips, ibid, 22

[8] Translation from Abu Philips, ibid, 22

[9] Ibid, 26-27

[10] Ibid, 29-30

[11] Ibid, 30-31

[12] Ibid, 34

[13] Translation from Saheeh International version:

[14] ibid:

[15] Ibid:

[16] Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism), (International Islamic Publishing house: Saudi Arabia, 2005), 39-40

[17] Ibid, 41

[18] ibid:

[19] ibid:

[20] Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Riyadh: Darusalam, 2003), 3:59

[21] Helmut Gatje, The Quran and its Exegesis (Oxford: Oneworld, 2004), 126-127; cited by James White, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Quran (Bethany House Publishers: Grand Rapids, MI, 2013), 85

[22] For further discussion on this topic see chapter 8, Did the “People of the Book” Corrupt the Gospel? In James White’s book, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Quran, 165-192

[23] This is a good video from the closing statement of a debate with a Muslim apologist in which James White clearly states the Gospel and contrasts the view of justification on judgment day in the Quran with the Bible:

Similarities between the Theology of Richard Baxter & N.T. Wright – Paul Helm


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Paul Helm posted this useful comparison between the neonomian tenets of Richard Baxter’s theology and N.T. Wright, the leading proponent of the New Perspective on Paul:


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