The Most Amazing Verse in the Bible

Everyone has their favorite Bible verse, that one text that has exerted on them the greatest and most life-changing influence. Mine is Psalm 16:11, followed closely by Zephaniah 3:17 and 1 Peter 1:8. But let me briefly share with you what I regard as the most amazing verse in Scripture. By “amazing” I mean incomprehensible, stunning, bewildering, beyond the capacity of the human mind to fully grasp. For me, it is John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh”! I can think of nothing more appropriate at this time of year than to meditate on this truly amazing assertion.

John’s statement is made all the more amazing when it is seen in the light of John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Note the contrasts. In John 1:1 the Word “was”. In John 1:14 the Word “became”. In 1:1 the Word was “with God” whereas in 1:14 the Word dwelt “among us”. In 1:1 the Word was “God” but in 1:14 the Word became “flesh”. Eternal, unchanging God “became” “flesh” and dwelt among “us”. Amazing!

John doesn’t say that the Word became a “man” (although that’s true). Nor does he say he became a “human”, or even that he took to himself a “body” (although both are again true). Rather, the Word became “flesh”, a strong, almost crude way of referring to human nature in its totality: true body, soul, spirit, will, and emotions.

We also note that the Word didn’t pretend to be a man or play at being human. The Word “became” flesh. The Word did not “beam down” in full bodily form. The Word did not enter into flesh, as if to suggest that there was a man, a human being, into which the Word made entrance. He doesn’t say the Word “dwelled” or “abided in” human flesh. What John means is that the eternal Word, God the Son, entered into this world by being born as a human being.

Whatever else Christmas may mean to you, it is first and fundamentally about the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Word. The Incarnation means that two distinct natures (divine and human) are united in one person: Jesus. Jesus is not two people (God and man). He is one person: the God-man. Jesus is not schizophrenic. When the Word became flesh he did not cease to be the Word. The Word veiled, hid, and voluntarily restricted the use of certain divine powers and prerogatives. But God cannot cease to be God. In other words, when the Word became flesh he did not commit divine suicide.

When the Word once became flesh he became flesh forever. After his earthly life, death, and resurrection, Jesus did not divest himself of the flesh or cease to be a man. He is a man even now at the right hand of God the Father. He is also God. He will always be the God-man. Thus, we might envision Jesus saying: “I am now what I always was: God (or Word). I am now what I once was not: man (or flesh). I am now and forever will be both: the God-man.”

Take a deep breath and ponder what this means. Don’t dismiss it as theological speculation. This is a truth on which your eternal destiny hangs suspended. This is a truth the beauty and majesty of which will captivate your attention and cause sin to sink in your estimation. Wherein lies the power to turn from iniquity and say No to sin? It lies in the power and irresistible appeal of an uncreated God who would dare to become a man!

The Word became flesh!

God became human!

the invisible became visible!

the untouchable became touchable!

eternal life experienced temporal death!

the transcendent one descended and drew near!

the unlimited became limited!

the infinite became finite!

the immutable became mutable!

the unbreakable became fragile!

spirit became matter!

eternity entered time!

the independent became dependent!

the almighty became weak!

the loved became the hated!

the exalted was humbled!

glory was subjected to shame!

fame turned into obscurity!

from inexpressible joy to tears of unimaginable grief!

from a throne to a cross!

from ruler to being ruled!

from power to weakness!


Max Lucado put it this way:

“The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother” (“God Came Near,” pp. 25-26).

As Paul said in 1 Tim. 3:16, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was revealed in the flesh!”

Stay with me for just a moment more. If it hasn’t hit home yet, perhaps the following will do the trick.

Conception: God became a fertilized egg! An embryo. A fetus. God kicked Mary from within her womb!

Birth: God entered the world as a baby, amid the stench of manure and cobwebs and prickly hay in a stable. Mary cradled the Creator in her arms. “I never imagined God would look like that,” she says to herself. Envision the newborn Jesus with a misshaped head, wrinkled skin, and a red face. Just think: angels watched as Mary changed God’s diapers! Tiny hands that would touch and heal the sick and yet be ripped by nails. Eyes (what color were they?). Tiny feet (where would they take him?) that likewise would be pierced by nails. She tickled his side (which would one day be lanced with a spear).

Infancy: God learned to crawl, stand, and walk. He spilt his milk and fell and hit his head.

Youth: Was he uncoordinated? How well did he perform at sports? Perhaps Jesus knew the pain of always being picked last when the kids chose up sides for a ballgame. God learned his ABC’s!

Teenager: Jesus probably had pimples and body odor and bad breath. God went through puberty! His voice changed. He had to shave. Girls probably had a crush on him and boys probably teased him. There were probably some foods he didn’t like (no doubt squash among them).

Carpenter: Calloused hands. Dealings with customers who tried to cheat him or complained about his work. How did he react when they shortchanged him?

Some are bothered when I speak of Jesus like this. They think it is irreverent and shocking! As Max Lucado has said,

“It’s not something we like to do; it’s uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer. He’s easier to stomach that way. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable. But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake, don’t. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out” (pp. 26-27).

The marvel of it all is that he did it for you and me! It was an expression of the depths of his love for you that the Word entered the depths of human ugliness, human weakness, human humiliation.

As you gather with your family this Christmas, meditate on the amazing implications of this most amazing verse:

He was conceived by the union of divine grace and human disgrace.

He who breathed the breath of life into the first man is now himself a man breathing his first breath.

The King of Kings sleeping in a cow-pen.

The Creator of oceans and seas and rivers afloat in the womb of his mother.

God sucking his thumb.

The Alpha and Omega learning his multiplication tables.

He who was once surrounded by the glorious stereophonic praise of adoring angels now hears the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, the stammering of bewildered shepherds

He who spoke the universe into being now coos and cries.

Omniscient Deity counting his toes.

Mary playing “this little piggy went to market” on the toes of God (well, being Jewish, maybe it was “this little pony”).

From the robes of eternal glory to the rags of swaddling clothes.

The omnipresent spirit, whose being fills the galaxies, confined to the womb of a peasant girl.

Infinite power learning to crawl.

Mary playing “patty-cake” with the Lord of Lords!

The Word became flesh! Amazing! Merry Christmas!

58 Responses to “The Most Amazing Verse in the Bible”

  1. Great post Sam. Glad to have you blogging with us.

  2. C. S. Lewis said that the incarnation was an incurably irreverent doctrine and Christianity an incurably irreverent faith. Sometimes we need to break out of our artificial sense of reverence to see God as He really is.

  3. It’s articles like this why I love this blog so much;)

  4. Hi Sam Storms,

    Thanks for the reminder this Christmas of who that Baby was whose birth we are celebrating!

    I am not sure exactly what you meant by this particular statement, however: Wherein lies the power to turn from iniquity and say No to sin? It lies in the power and irresistible appeal of an uncreated God who would dare to become a man!

    Could you please clarify for me? Isn’t our power to say “No” to sin directly caused by Jesus death and resurrection and our participation and identification in them? (Romans 6) Certainly He is an inspiration and our love for Him makes us want to say “No”. But the fact alone that God became man is not what really gives us that power, is it?

    • I am in no way even trying to answer for Sam, but this is how I understand it: IF he had not dared become a man, he would not have been able to die and rise again, whereby he “the power to turn from iniquity and say No to sin”.


  5. Hi Sam/Michael, this is unrelated to the post, but I’ve been trying to access The Theology Program podcasts on Itunes and it keeps telling me “the item you’ve requested is not currently available in the US store”. Do you know why that would be? (I live in California).

  6. very nice thanks brother

  7. Is it not possible that you are all ignoring a more simple and logical explanation?
    Many people today, see John 1 as a recapitulation of Genesis 1
    In the latter we have 9 verses beginning with the words “and God said…”
    So Gods WORD is the mechanism by which he created the heavens and the earth.
    No wonder Genesis states that the word was with God – it was after all Gods word!

    In John 1 v14 we have Gods creative power (WORD) enter a embryo and the child was known as THe Son of God.

    And verse 18 states that ‘no man has ever seen God’ -just to make sure that people might mis-interpret the preceeding 17 verses – which many have!!

    AND – just to make sure that people get Chapter 1 absolutely right John writes in the penultimate chapter
    Cap 20 v31 – “and these are written so that you might know that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God”

    What could be clearer?

    You quote 1 Timothy 3 verse 16 -but use an erroneous translation. The error is picked up by RSV Bible and remedied ” He who was manifest in the flesh.

    Why even speculate about these ming boggling issues such as God kicking against Marys womb , and that HE masqueraded as the Messiah.

    This debate always runs a predictably boring path . There is no ‘match-point’ which decides the outcome

    Either one
    (i) Accepts the convuluted gymnastics used to ‘prove’ the Trinitarian’ case
    (ii) Accepts a clearer and more logical explanation – that there is one supreme God and Christ is his Son -the Messiah

    I am pained to see so many modern young people who reject Christianity because they cannot accept or understand Trinitarian ‘gobbledygook’!

    What’s even worse is that fear mongers try to convince them that their salvation depends on their accepting this confused doctrine !! Shame on you!!

    Time for humanity to “come out of the nursery’ – as the childrens book “Peter Pan’ says.

    Every Best Wish

    John Abel

  8. John ABel……..thanks for sharing, hope Santa leaves a lump of coal…….shame on you…..Sure it’s so clear, that’s why this issue has been ongoing for ages. . . there is one surpreme God in three persons .. and you are right , there is no Match Point….

    Merry Christmas

  9. Thanks Sam for reminding us of what a remarkable event this was…

    God Bless and Merry Christmas

  10. John,

    Don’t you mean, “Shame on Jesus”? After all, He’s the one who said that unless you believe that He is YHWH you will die in your sins.
    And I’m sorry, but you’re misreading the intentions of both Christ being spoken of as God’s Word, and the phrase “Son of God” in John. If you want a plain case, you can see what John himself says about Christ calling Himself God’s Son (5:18).
    Young people reject Christianity for the same reasons old people do: ” the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil” (3:19), not because they can’t understand a doctrine. They rebel against the One true God and make Him in the likeness of their creaturely selves.

  11. Hodge
    Where does Christ say that unless you believe he is YHWH that you will die for your sins?

    You misinterpret John 5.18 – Christ did not make himself God
    – the scribes said that he had made himself equal with God!

    You come up with the same old story about people loving darkness The people I know are desperately seeking truth (not trying to justify their sins as fundamentalists suggest) and are not satisfied with the sort of explanations they are given!

    You do no service to Christ -and make nonsense of the meaning of words- and logic. What a pity!


  12. John,

    Christ gave us why people don’t come to Him. It’s not my story. It’s His. So maybe He’s the fundamentalist you think is not giving a satisfying explanation? And who is it who really needs to be satisfied with our explanations, John?

    The apostle John, not the scribes, states that Christ calling God His Father made Him equal to God, and this is also what we see in John 1:1: The Word was God. There is an equality there and throughout the Gospel of John that places Christ and Christ’s words on equal footing with the Father and the Father’s words. Christ is to be honored as the Father is honored according to Christ Himself. Again, you simply take things out of context to say otherwise. John’s statement that the Jews were trying to kill Christ because of X is confirmed as what John, and Christ, say about X in the rest of the Gospel.

    Finally, He uses the I AM statement for YHWH in chapter 8:24, making it again explicit in 8:58. If you understood that His allusions to Moses in this text and John’s use of the Sinai theology in the Pentateuch, you would be better equipped to understand that the Gospel is equating the Son with YHWH.

  13. John Brien:
    Very recently I would have agreed with you completely. However, it confused me that so many Christians for so long have been so wrong about who God is, so I took the time to read the Bible more carefully. Just a couple verses from the Old Testament that struck me:

    From Jeremiah 23 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely … This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD (YHWH) Our Righteousness.”

    Isaiah 9 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given … And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”

    Seems pretty clear to me, but decide for yourself. Also, there are tons of verses in the OT where it appears that two different beings are talking (often one called ‘the angel of the LORD’ who messianic Jews identify as pre-incarnate Jesus)…in any case where two beings seem to be talking but both are identified as YHWH. Furthermore God states clearly that no one can see him and live, but a number of OT characters see face-to-face a being or “angel” identified as YHWH and marvel that they do not die.

    Two examples I can find at the moment are Zechariah 1-2 and Judges 6. People speak with a being who is distinct from YHWH and yet is YHWH.

    Finally, the Bible is very clear that God alone is to be worshipped. Both the OT and NT record Jesus being worshipped.

    There is plenty of evidence of Jesus’ divinity in the NT, although it is perhaps less obvious at a glance than the two OT verses I quoted above which explicitly refer to the coming messiah as God. It is sort of, in my experience, like the evidence for God’s existence…you can always explain it away and it can be easy to miss, but once you start seeing it you find it everywhere.

  14. Just found this great table of comparisons between the Angel of the Lord and Jesus:

    And both the Angel of the Lord and the messiah are called YHWH in the OT.

    So a physical manifestation of God who is also distinct from God (ie what we refer to as the Father) is a very Biblical concept…not at all an invention of Christians.

    The Trinity is an attempt to explain God’s various forms that was articulated later on, but the basis for it is found throughout the Jewish scriptures.

    I write this for my own benefit as much as anyone’s, since the idea of truly believing God became a human has been one of my biggest stumbling blocks… It is unthinkable, scandalous – and I worship him all the more for it.

  15. Dear Hodge
    Thanks for that!
    You display a quality which is unusual in fundamentalists – and that is GRACE- and that is encouraging!
    I am frightfully busy at the moment-hence the brevity and incompleteness of my response
    (i) The “WORD” is Gods word – so it is God
    (ii) Jeremiah 23 v6 is clearly referring to the Messiah
    (iii)The scribes were clearly trying to ‘put words in Christs mouth”. Christ never said any more than that he was Son of God, or Son of Man
    (iv) John Chapter 8 is interesting
    The words used for “I am” in verse 58 are the same words as are used to mean “I am he” in verse 28
    What Christ evidently meant was “I am he, the Messiah”
    Interestingly verse 28 continues “I am he, and can do nothing of my own” – this does not indicate an ‘equality’
    In fact it denotes a subordinate relationship – which is well expressed in Corinthians 15v24 “then shall the Son himself be subject to God, who put all things under him”

    A quick one – if you look at the NAB bible you will observe that it was written in the PRESENT tense – as Hebrews will attest. In fact Christ was never referred to as “Everlasting Father” and the word “God’ is incorrectly translated. The closest word means “God-Hero’ – applied to elevated people like King David.

    Quite honestly Hodge, noting I see convinces me to alter my Christology – the Apostles Creed is as far as I can go without performing gymnastics

    Every Blessing
    John Brien

  16. John,

    It’s late right now, so I’ll just give you a verse to ponder and then maybe address the other issues later. Can you explain to me Zechariah 12:10? The word for “pierce” there is never used metaphorically in the Bible, and always refers to a fatal wound piercing through flesh. Yet, it is YHWH who is speaking as the one who is pierced. The NT says that this is talking about Christ. If YHWH is pierced, and Christ is pierced, are YHWH and Christ one and the same?

  17. John,

    I think you were also replying to phantom, but I’ll pick up a few of those as well.

    “(i) The “WORD” is Gods word – so it is God

    Actually, God’s word is not God. It represents God in Scripture, but it is not God itself. That is why John 1:1 presents such a problem for your position. If the Son only represented God, or was somehow produced by God, He would not be God. Yet, that is what we have there: the “Word was/existed as God.”
    So John’s point is that the Son is the only one who can be a representative of the Father, i.e., the Word (where you get it right) because He is Himself God (where you get it wrong).

    (ii) Jeremiah 23 v6 is clearly referring to the Messiah

    Although this is phantom’s, I don’t think your rebuttal addresses his point. In fact, you seem to verify it. This is clearly talking about the Messiah, and it says that His name is YHWH, Our Righteousness, and it isn’t a combined name as you would have in a regular combinations. So the Messiah here is called YHWH.

    (iii)The scribes were clearly trying to ‘put words in Christs mouth”. Christ never said any more than that he was Son of God, or Son of Man

    But in John, “Son of God” means “God.” That’s where you’re not getting it. Just like the term “son of man” means “human,” or “man,” not something that is of a lower nature than man. John picks this up and uses the term “Son of God” to denote the nature of Christ. Hence, when Christ calls Himself the “Son of God” they consider it blasphemy IN THE WAY THAT HE IS USING IT (note, that they consider God to be their Father as well, but not in terms of nature [John 8:41]). Hence, in John 10:30-36, Christ is calling Himself the Son of God by saying He is one with the Father, and the Jews know full well that this means He is equating Himself with God: “Because you being a man make yourself out to be God.” He doesn’t say, “No, No, I’m just saying I’m God’s representative because I speak His Words and His…

  18. Spirit is within Me.” All prophets could claim that. Yet He confirms what they’re saying instead by saying that even the Scripture calls men “gods.” Yet He actually is God and they want to stone Him for it.

    (iv) John Chapter 8 is interesting
    The words used for “I am” in verse 58 are the same words as are used to mean “I am he” in verse 28
    What Christ evidently meant was “I am he, the Messiah”

    Actually, the “he” is supplied there. It’s just I AM; but this is another contextual factor, as it can be taken either way if removed from context. My point to you would be this, Do you really think they’re stoning Him for saying that He’s the Messiah? Claiming to be the Messiah is not an issue of blasphemy, and they tell us why they keep wanting to stone Him in 10:33. They understand that Jesus is not just using bad grammar.
    Note that He has already indicated that He is the Messiah, and that He is really old, as old as Abraham and the prophets. They then rebut by saying that they’re all dead, and therefore, ask Him who exactly He’s claiming to be. It’s not blasphemy to claim that you’re the Messiah, or really old. In fact, they just think His claim to be the Messiah is false and they need to refute Him in public (which is whey they’re there), and that His claim to be really old shows that He’s crazy and has a demon. It’s not until He says that even before Abraham existed, He is YHWH (ego eimi “I AM,” which is a direct translation of ‘eyeh in Exod 3:14). Again, it’s a matter of context, but your explanation doesn’t hold much sway in light of it.

    In fact it denotes a subordinate relationship – which is well expressed in Corinthians 15v24 “then shall the Son himself be subject to God, who put all things under him”

    John, you do know that Christians believe both in the Son’s equality and His subordination to the Father, correct? In fact, one of John’s purposes, ever battling the gnostics, was to show that Christ was both divine and human at…

  19. at the same time. Hence, He displays Him in submissive roles as a real human and in equal roles as God. So you’re going to have both interwoven throughout.

    I am curious as to what you think Christ is? Do you think He is a created supernatural being, just a human with something given to Him by God, what exactly? Thanks.

  20. “In fact it denotes a subordinate relationship”

    A functionally subordinate relationship does not rule out equality or oneness in essence. Think of the blueprint to a house. The physical house is dependent upon (obeys) the information in the blueprint, and yet is the same as the information in the blueprint. God (Father) is the information; Jesus is the physical manifestation. This implies a shared nature but a hierarchical relationship. So there is no contradiction in YHWH being sent by YHWH or YHWH commanding YHWH, as happens multiple times in the OT as well as in the NT with Jesus… In my mind this is the only reasonable way to reconcile all the claims of the Bible about the messiah.

    Jesus may not have said explicitly “I am God”, but he did say that he “came down from heaven” twice in John 6 and he said in John 8 “I am from above”…with his “I am” statement, even if you don’t believe it to be a reference to the name of God, he seems to be claiming to have existed eternally. Plus he claims the authority to forgive sins even before his death. All of these claims are preposterous if they are being made by anyone other than God himself.

  21. I find the accusation of fundamentalism against Hodge rather amusing. He may very well be a fundamentalist, but in this context he is arguing for a much more symbolic and nuanced understanding of Scripture then those making the accusation of fundamentalism.

  22. Thanks Michael. I wasn’t sure if John was using that in the older sense of someone who holds to certain Christian essentials. I thought it odd if the other definition, as I’ve met more cultists who deny the Trinity who would be better classified as fundamentalists in the newer sense of the word.

  23. Hodge,
    It is hard to know what someone means when they say fundamentalist. If they mean someone who holds to traditional Christian essentials then call me a fundamentalist (though you and I might have some disagreements on what these are). That being said when people use the term fundamentalist these days they generally mean a rigid Biblical literalist which you quite obviously are not (and none of the regular posters on this site for that matter).

  24. Zech 12:10 – translation is important. NIV “They will look on me, the one they have pierced” But RSV “They will look on him…” That makes a huge difference in interpretation.

    It is more than curious to me that the passages most used to support the trinity have so many translational issues such as these.

  25. Note from the NET Bible on Zech. 12:10

    Because of the difficulty of the concept of the mortal piercing of God, the subject of this clause, and the shift of pronoun from “me” to “him” in the next, many mss read אַלֵי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’ale ’et ’asher, “to the one whom,” a reading followed by NAB, NRSV) rather than the MT’s אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’ela ’et ’asher, “to me whom”). The reasons for such alternatives, however, are clear – they are motivated by scribes who found such statements theologically objectionable – and they should be rejected in favor of the more difficult reading (lectio difficilior) of the MT

  26. Antioch,

    As Michael pointed out, the issue of translation is pretty clear to scholars. The issue of interpretation is not if one does not believe YHWH can be pierced. So the shift from Me to Him makes sense if God is more than one Person. If not, it makes little sense at all. And just to point out, the Hebrew prof under whom I first learned exegesis had a very Jewish hermeneutic in that each text had to say something about that time period and could not therefore address YHWH being pierced, but could not make heads or tails out of what this meant otherwise. The history of exegesis of this text is also one of people who don’t believe in the Trinity trying their hardest to explain it; but in the end there is no good explanation that does not ignore the grammar or lexicography of the passage. The difficult exists only in the beliefs of the exegete’s belief that do not accord with the text then, not the text itself.

  27. Michael,

    I think you’re probably right. John can clarify if he meant it as something other than the newer definition. Good analysis on the text as well.

  28. Wow, I just reread my post to Antioch and seriously needed the edit button to work on that one. Sorry for the mess. To substantiate Michael’s point, one only need look to the LXX translation as an example that the Second Temple interpreters knew what the text said, but did not want it to say that. Hence, rather than render a translation in the LXX, they changed the wording to different wording altogether. Another case of presupps in conflict with the text.

  29. I seem to have elicited an animated response -and I thank you all for that!
    You see my problem is that the view that I hold -lets call it the “Apostles Creed” is simple and suppoprted adequately by biblical words and logic.
    As soom as we get into the Trinitarian debate we get into the world of ‘rocket science’ – and the debate regarding the word ‘pierced’ is just an example of that.
    If we were to discover a new planet inhabited by humans and provided all its inhabitants with the scriptures, they would never in a million years develop a Doctrine of the Trinity . The doctrine is a function of the socio-political environment in which it evolved.
    Young people attending Bible Schools are told about the doctrine and then asked to ‘prove it’ using scriptures – which one can do given sufficient imagination.

    But is it truth?
    I think not -in fact I fear it may be blasphemy. No doubt a loving God will forgive that
    A blessed Christmas to all of you
    John Brien

  30. John,

    This is a non-answer. There is no debate about the word “pierced.” Even secular scholars agree on its meaning. The Apostle’s Creed is itself a response to its social environment. So what? So is the Bible. The question is whether it is true, not whether it is prompted by something else. Your statement that no one would ever come up with the Trinity otherwise is a bit absurd, as people believed in the Trinity as long as we’ve had the Apostle’s Creed. I’m assuming by your comments that you’re not aware that the doctrine predates the Nicene debate? Either way, not dealing with texts you were given in a contextual manner, and blaming the doctrine on socio-political concerns, is a bit of a dismissal that most of us here are not going to accept. Many came to the doctrine without some other social prompting, so I do think that if the inhabitants of your new planet were to read Thomas calling Christ, “My Lord and My God,” and then saw that the Son was distinct from the Father, yet there is only one God, they’d probably put it together just fine.

    “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev 1:7-8)

    “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (vv. 17-18)

    “And He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. “He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Rev 21:6-7)

    According to John, the speaker is Christ. Notice that the…

  31. first and last, alpha and omega, beginning and end is Christ (see also 2:8; 3:14; and 22:13).

    BTW, blasphemy is denying the Father and the Son and not honoring the Son in the same way that you honor the Father.

  32. John,

    As Hodge noted the doctrine of the Trinity farrr predates Nicea. Even in the earliest extra-Biblical Christian writings we have the doctrine of the Trinity. Now it wasn’t always as fully developed as Nicea (for instance Origen believed in a heirarchical Trinity), but it was present even in 2nd Century writings – Nicea just systemitized a preexisting doctrine.

  33. Hodge, you are familiar with FF Bruce’s take on this? You say the issue of translation is pretty clear to scholars – I beg to differ. There are many translations that do not confound ‘Me’ with ‘him’.

    I would accept the trinity if there was a clear, unambiguous statement about it anywhere in the Bible. That does not exist. The trinity may in fact be truth, I don’t know for sure, but for it to be believed as a requirement for salvation is from a man-made creed and not from scripture.

  34. Antioch,

    F.F. Bruce is not an OT scholar with all due respect. He was a brilliant man, but the text is straightforward. The only issue is that it conflicts with the theology of the day, and hence, you end up with major gymnastics performed to get past it. As I think I also showed above, the apostle John combines the two into Christ and records that He calls Himself God there in combination with the Zech passage.

    As for the claim that it is a man-made doctrine to link the acceptance of the Father and the Son, we’ve had this discussion already elsewhere. You can look it up. Suffice to say, you are wrong about that. The NT makes it clear that the Son and the Spirit must be honored in the same way that the Father is. To reject the Son as YHWH is to die in your sins. To not honor the Son in the same way as the Father is to not honor the Father. To reject the Father and the Son is the spirit of antichrist. And as Athanasius argued, it is an essential component of the gospel itself. What is man made is the lack of trust in Christ’s Body to determine the interpretation of the matter, and the absolute trust in one’s self. The doctrine is absolutely clear to me in Scripture, so you’re only speaking for yourself there. But this overly literalist view that needs a doctrine spelled out in Scripture is nonsense. The Bible is literature, not a systematic theology. Hence, what we take from it cannot be whatever is given to us in a three point outline. If I were to take your position, I wouldn’t be sure what exactly is spelled out in Scripture, and I would be left with very few, if any doctrines, indeed.

  35. Acctually there is some debate about ‘piercing’ and most Hebrews believe that it was the Nation of Israel that is being referred to
    I am aware of all of the scriptures referred to in your eloquent blogs – but I am aware of more which reflect an alternative point of view.
    I was trying to think what it was that finally ‘tipped the scale’ for me – my first ‘trigger’ was a comment made by a missionary friend of mine who challenged a drunken teacher with the comment “you must resist temptation- after all Christ did!’
    To which the teacher retorted “Yes but he was God!”
    -you can extrapolate that one…
    What really did it however was the thought that if Christ was God, then the scriptures would have been written completely differently.
    It would have been the most significant even in history and one would not have the incessant questioning regarding Christs status .and what he could or couldnt do. (etc) That would become redundant!
    It’s quite mind-boggling to imagine what would have happened if Christ has revealed his DEITY (i.e. NOT divinity) at Pentecost
    Some writers have commented about the role of doctrine.
    There is a growing body of people who who believe that the Reformation went off ‘half-cock” and one should have gone right back to the first century and ‘put everything on the table’ to be re-examined.
    My wifes ancestors fled Germany because they were asking for just that and the Lutherans were persecuting them for it (killing them!) They found sanctuary in Philadelphia in the United States of America.
    I would go along wholeheartedly with this as I just cant undersand many of the fourth century shenannegans.
    For example the Doctrine of the Double Nature of Christ makes it impossible for Christ to say what he means – since what he said was made ‘as a mere man”
    And one piles nonsense upon nonsense, and unlikely interpretation upon unlikely interpretation to arrive at something which is essential for our salvation!
    I despair for…

  36. John,

    Are we to understand that you believe Jesus was just a man and not God? Someone asked you earlier who you believed Him to be and I missed it if you answered that question.

    And if so, how do you account for Thomas calling Him, “My Lord, and my God”? You notice Jesus didn’t correct him for that belief. (John 20:28)

  37. John,

    Your post evidences why you don’t accept the doctrine: because you misunderstand not only it but numerous other doctrines as well. Apparently these things are inconsistent for you because you didn’t bother taking the time to understand how historic Christianity answers them and puts them together. It’s not the nonsensical mishmash you would make it out to be at all. Finally, the first century evidences plenty of concern over doctrine in regard to the nature of Christ. Haven’t you read Colossians or Philippians? Have you not read the epistles or Gospel of John? The heresy of the day existed in various forms of gnosticism. Hence, that is the heresy that is dealt with in the first century, and that is why the Apostle’s Creed deals with what it does. Then other heresies arise, and the creeds lengthen to deal with them. They’re not new doctrines and concepts within Christianity that are added. It’s just that they didn’t need to be put in the previous creeds because of the nature of the heresies addressed. The problem with your adopting the AC as the only necessary summary of the Christian faith is that it misunderstands what creeds are for in the first place.
    Finally, I can take you through all of the occurrences of the word “pierced” and show you that it is not disputable from a lexicographical standpoint. The dispute is over the reference because so many people can’t understand how YHWH can be pierced and die from His wound. That is incomprehensible and therefore leads to all sorts of other speculations that don’t deal with the text at hand.
    Despair not for us, but for thyself, my friend, for it is you who persecutes the truth with your confusion. As for the doctrines you clearly have not studied well, they remain intact, even after the long diatribes and unsupported accusations. If you want to deal with the texts I gave you, rather than just claim that you “know of them,” I would love to hear a coherent, contextual answer as to why your…

  38. position can stand up in light of them.

  39. Hodge – your interpretation requires an individual to be a theologian to see the trinity. It is clear to me from the NT that Jesus is the Messiah. It is not clear that Jesus is the second member of a triune Godhead.

    You can tell me with a straight face that there isn’t confusion over the whole concept? At my church (trinitarian by the way), the topic of the trinity has come up three times in a sermon in the seven years I have been attending and only as a casual reference. In Bible study this past week, it came up and the result was utter confusion. In my car, I listen to Christian radio almost exclusively and on the few occasions it is talked about it is followed with ‘it is a mystery and we can’t really expect to understand it’. Yet it is required to be believed in order to be saved?

    But you are right that this has been debated here and elsewhere ad infinitum. I don’t intend to rehash all of the proof texts on both sides and the arguments against them.

    May the holy spirit of God convict me if I am wrong. I pray that frequently. I will pray likewise for you.

  40. cherylu – as far as proof texts go, John 20:28 is one of the few of all of the trinitarian proof texts that I still wrestle with. The unitarian arguments I’ve read don’t seem to satisfy. One explanation that I haven’t seen but makes sense to me is that Thomas may have been referring to Psalm 42/43. I would think those psalms very much capture the mood that the disciples would have had and the recurring phrase ‘my savior and my God’ are very close to what he says in Jn 20:28.

    So there are a couple trinitarian proof texts that still puzzle me, but not enough to hang my hat on. On the other hand, there are numerous verses that are much clearer to me reading from a unitarian perspective. For example, the shema. When I read ‘Yahweh echad’, that is very clear to me as a unitarian. But to understand ‘God is one’ to really mean ‘God is three in one’ makes God out to be a parser of words and that troubles me.

  41. Antioch,

    Dr. Fruchtenbaum does a quick exposition of the difference between ‘Echad’ and ‘Yachid’, both of which are Hebrew words for “one”. I think if you look at this objectively, you may be convinced that the Sh’ma refers to the Lord God as one, in the compound sense, not the absolute sense. This same oneness is the word to describe a man and woman who become “one” flesh, which is clearly a compound sense and not an absolute sense. There are many other examples in the O.T. which mirror this and set precedence for correctly interpreting this passage.

    Contrast this with the definitive ‘Yachid’ which is absolute oneness, not used here, and the Sh’ma should be a go-to text for the teaching of the Trinity.

    -SPP (pp 15,16)

  42. SPP

    I would agree, the compound sense of oneness of “one flesh” was well covered in a debate involving Walter Martin” , who also mentioned a correlation of this idea when talking about Number 13:22-23. Cluster of grape. The ESV says grapes but if memory serves me correct Walter thought it was grape originally which supported the idea of one in number but plural grapes. ANyone remember that debate and the particulars?


  43. Jim,

    I remember Walter saying that, but don’t remember his exact argument beyond saying that it is one cluster with many grapes. Literally it reads “one cluster of grapes (pl.),” so echad is attributed to the cluster, showing that one thing can have many components; but I would actually argue from context even more than this.
    I would say to Antioch, Do you really believe that this is addressing whether God is multiple persons within the Godhead, a concept not introduced or even within the comprehension of the ancient Israelite audience, or is echad to be understood in its context, as all words should be?
    There are three more likely options in its ancient and literary context:

    1. YHWH is one means that He does not have a cohort (something many attributed to Him, as known from various inscriptions). This would be fitting since the word “one” does refer to the union of the man and woman, as others pointed out. Hence, YHWH is one without a cohort. He does not need a wife to create and sustain/govern His people.

    2, YHWH means that there is no divine counsel or other gods needed to govern Israel. This makes sense in the context of Deuteronomy and the DH that consistently argues against the idea that other gods are to be followed as well as YHWH.

    3. It is possible that YHWH was divided up as Baal in Canaanite religion, where there was a YHWH of the mountain, and a YHWH of the fields, and a YHWH of good fortune, etc. This was part of the theology of the ANE that saw gods as reigning over particular local areas, since no one could be universally present. Instead, this text would say that YHWH refers to a single deity, not many divided up according to local custom (cf. the golden calves and worship of YHWH on the mountains as different cults in the Northern Kingdom).

    5. Finally, I think it’s likely in the context that echad refers to YHWH as primary or the first above all else. The word is used as an ordinal as well as a cardinal (cf. it’s use in Gen…

  44. 1), as it is in Ugaritic literature as well. This would make sense since the very next verse does not talk about other deities or idolatry specifically, but about loving God to the utmost, above everything else.

    What it cannot mean is that YHWH is not a Trinity and does not exist in Three Persons, since that is nowhere in the mind of the text, the ancient Israelite world, or the ancient Israelite mind. This is why Antioch is right about one thing: the Scripture requires teachers, either for an individual to be one, or for him to be taught by one, and hence, the Church has been provided with them to that very purpose (Eph 4:11-16). To reject this is to be left with personally perception that is very much based on cursory readings and what only “seems” to be true. Hence, the cults have no guide and are led far away from anything that originally resembled the Christianity of the Bible.

  45. that should be “there are at least five options” not three

  46. Hodge:

    I would lean toward echad meaning the one above or primary one as well. However #3 is quite interesting.
    The idea of YHWH being divided up or at least his attributes were divided. Thus “YWHW of good fortune , could it not be compared to the Hebrew word elohim(lord) ..The old testament is full of verses where elohim has a word or two added to describe attributes or characterics of God. Nehemiah 9:17 (God of forgiveness, Jeremiah 10:10 ( Living God) Psalm 18:47 (God of Salvation) So the idea of assigning God to different attributes, your example of good fortune, does run throughout the old testament .

  47. Jim,

    I think you’re right. I think what is going on in Scripture is taking what was perhaps a tendency within ancient Near Eastern folk religion to “part God up” so to speak, and use these designations as actual names/attributes that describe the one true God. Whatever option one chooses, however, I think everyone who looked at it honestly, or rather from an informed perspective, would have to conclude that this can in no way be used against the doctrine of the Trinity, as it does not address it, either directly or in application.

  48. Thanks Hodge!

    I think tonight I may goggle Water Martin’s old debate and refresh myself with what he had to say, I always appreciated his scholarly work.

    Merry Christmas

  49. Just a brief comment on a few of the points raised over the past few days.
    The debate over the use of the word ‘echad’ continues unabated.
    Any Hebrew will tell one that the way to determine its meaning is contextually – so ‘a bunch of grapes’ means a cluster of more than one grape. It is true that ‘yashid’ ( alone, lonely, only one) is never used in connection with God. this is true since the Hebrews were absolutely clear about one thing – God is ONE
    Now, move into a New Testament context and look at Christ’s use of the word ‘one’
    “Hear o Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord” (Mark 12v29). The Greek word used for one is pronounced ‘ice’
    I havn’t got a Greek keyboard -looks like ‘eic’

    Then look at 1 Corinthians 9v24 ” Do you not know that the runners in a stadium run a race but only ONE (‘ice’) wins the race.
    Some people try to tell us that a trinity is clearly stated in the Shema.

    I guess so-if one wants to see it!

    I will continue with a new post since I think I’m running out of ‘space’
    Every Blessing

  50. The other verse which is used regularly in this debate to support the view that Christ = God, is John 20 v 28 ‘ My Lord and my God”

    Imagine, for a moment, that you are Thomas
    You enter the room and find the risen Lord.

    Your first words would be to address him “My Lord” – and then raise your hands towards the heavens and give thanks to God for this miracle- “and my God”

    There are many verses which authenticate this interpretation – e.g. in Matthew 9v8 ” and they glorified the God of Israel ”

    You may accuse me of performing my own ‘gymnastics’ but just look at the end of John’s gospel where John summarises Christs mission. In John 20 v 31 John states ” ALL THESE are written that you might come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God”

    I have a list of 61 verses which it is alleged, support the Doctrine of the Trinity. -the above comes closest to ‘making it’ – but it still doesn’t quite do it!
    Best Wishes


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