HISTORY OF THE CROSS: THE PAGAN ORIGIN AND IDOLATROUS ADOPTION AND WORSHIP, OF THE IMAGE. BY HENRY DANA WARD, M.A., U.S.A. 1871.

Extracts from
HISTORY OF THE CROSS:
THE PAGAN ORIGIN
AND
IDOLATROUS ADOPTION AND WORSHIP,
OF THE IMAGE.
BY
HENRY DANA WARD, M.A.,
U.S.A. Extracts from

HISTORY OF THE CROSS:

THE PAGAN ORIGIN
AND
IDOLATROUS ADOPTION AND WORSHIP,
OF THE IMAGE
.
BY
HENRY DANA WARD, M.A.,
U.S.A.
1871.

CHAPTER I.

THE CROSS OF CHRIST NO IMAGE.

STAUROS and ZULON, are the only words in the Greek Testament descriptive of the wooden cross of Christ. Neither of them admit of the radical idea of a cross in English, or in any other modern language. In all the languages of Christendom, a cross consists of one line drawn through another. Two sticks, one crossing the other, are essential to constitute, and to present the universal idea of, a material, visible cross.
No such idea is conveyed by the Scripture words stauros and zulon. Stauros means “an upright pale,” a strong stake, such as farmers drive into the ground to make their fences or palisades- no more, no less. To the stauros the Roman soldiers nailed the hands and the feet of the King of glory, and lifted Him up to the mockery of the chief priests and elders of the people. Over Him, on the stauros, Pilate put His title: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” And no mortal is at liberty to affirm any other form of stauros on which our Saviour was lifted up than is implied in the meaning of that word, which alone the four Evangelists in the four Gospels use to describe the wood on which Jesus was lifted up.
ZULON, which I write for the easier pronounciation zulon, means “wood cut ready for use, a stick, cudgel, or beam; any timber; a live tree.” This is, as I have said, the only word besides stauros employed in the New Testament to signify the cross of Christ. The Evangelists use this word to signify the clubs or staves with which the company were armed when they arrested Jesus by night in Gethsemane. In the Acts, and rarely in the Epistles, it signifies the wood or timber on which Jesus was impaled alive.
Zulon, then, no more than stauros, conveys the English sense of a cross. Zulon and stauros are alike the single stick, the pale, or the stake, neither more nor less, on which Jesus was impaled, or crucified. Stauros, however, is the exclusive name given by all the Evangelists to the wood of Christ’s cross. The stauros Jesus bore, on it He was hanged, from it He was taken down dead. The Evangelists use this word also in the figurative sense: “Come, take up thy stauros, and follow me” (Matt. xvi. 24, Mark viii. 34, Luke ix. 23). “He that taketh not his stauros and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. x. 38). Neither stauros nor zulon ever means sticks joining each other at an angle, either in the New Testament or in any other book.

THE BRAZEN SERPENT.

When Israel in the wilderness murmured against God, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, and much people of Israel died. The penitent people besought Moses to pray the Lord to take away the serpents. Moses’s prayer was answered, not by removing the serpents, but by providing a remedy against their bite. By command of the Lord, “Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole. And it came to pass that if the serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived”(Numb.xx. 9). The healing power was not in the “pole,” neither was it in the brazen serpent, but in the word of the living God. The healing virtue resided not in these lifeless forms singly or jointly, but in the faith of the word which turned the eyes of the wounded to look that they might live. After the lapse of eight centuries, Judah came to believe there was miraculous power in that image, and they worshipped it. They did not make an image; they worshipped with incense, the same which Moses, by divine command, had made, and had elevated in the healing sight of the congregation. They worshipped it, not as the work of their hands, but as an instrument of salvation, set up by their great lawgiver. Notwithstanding, that good King Hezekiah, such as ” after him was none like him , nor any that were before him,” when he removed the high places and brake the images, and cut down the groves, brake in pieces also “the brazen serpent that Moses had made ; and he called it Nehushtan,” i.e., brass(2 Kings xviii. 4). So, were the veritable wood of Christ’s cross now before our eyes, it should sooner be cut -in pieces, and burned for wood, than be adored with incense, and reverence, and love. Is it any holier and better to reverence and love an image of that wood, to kiss it, to wreathe it with laurel, to bow down and worship before the image, which, whether of wood or stone, is man’s device, wrought into shape by the hands of man ?
Not an instance of exalting or honouring the visible form of the cross occurs in the New Testament. On the contrary, it is the emblem of our humiliation and sorrow, which being endured in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, through Jesus and the resurrection, “when our captivity will be turned again, as the streams in the south, our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing;
for we shall not only see Him as He is, but be like Him, having our vile body changed into the likeness of His glorious body, and our joint inheritance of all things with Christ Jesus in eternal life.

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE CROSS.

This was Inflicted on hardened criminals, and on resolute enemies, and on vile murderers and slaves, among all the renowned nations of antiquity. The manner and circumstances of the execution do not concern us now, so much as the instrument, respecting which Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible ” gives large information. “In Livy,” says Smith, even crux means a mere stake. More generally, the cross is called arbor infelix -Livy, Seneca ; or lignum infelix-Cicero. The very name of the cross was abhorrent not only to the flesh, but even to the eyes, ears, and thoughts of Roman citizens-Cicero proRab.5.” Yet the learned Dr Smith himself follows the learned of every name in Christendom, whether scoffer or believer, in confounding the cross monogram in various forms and fashions, calling and considering them as one and the same thing. …….Crosses must have been commonly of the simplest form, “because they were used in such marvellous numbers. Of Jews alone, Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800, Varus, 2000, Hadrian, 500 a day; and the gentle Titus so many that there was no room for the crosses, nor crosses for the bodies.”-Smith’s Dict. of the Bible. Alexander the Great crucified 2000 Tyrians, and both the Sogdian king and people, for their brave defence of their several countries. And Augustus crucified 600 Sicilians. Under such circumstances, men could not be particular about the form of the stauros, or the manner of applying it. Some were nailed, others were tied hand and foot and lifted up on the stauros; others on the tree. Others, also , were spiked to the earth with the stauros driven through their body, and others were spitted on it. Thus the crucifying or impaling was executed in the cruelest manner, and the sufferers were left to rot unburied, or to be devoured by the birds and beasts. In deference to the Mosaic law, the bodies were in Judea removed and buried, and the crosses were burned, to avoid legal defilement by the accursed thing, as it is written: “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but in any wise thou shalt bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that the land be not defiled ” (Dent. xxi. 23).

.…..page 20.

With these facts before us, showing the many and divers forms which the most learned and accurate are wont to call by one common name, ” the cross,” which name contradicts the form of the wood on which Christ suffered according to the Scriptures; and further, showing the corrupt use of this symbol in orgies of the ancient heathen, we are better prepared to take up the thread of the story from its beginning in the counterfeit Barnabas, and to follow it down through the labyrinth of error, until the initial of Tammuz has come to supplant the monogram of Christ on the standard of Rome, and to be exalted as the banner of Christendom. These are no dreams, but realities set forth not in opposition to the Church of our crucified Lord but in fidelity to the glorified Lord of the Church. For though Aaron and all Israel made of their ornaments the golden calf, and danced, feasted, and shouted before it, “Behold , these be thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt;” and though the chief Pontiff and all Christendom make an ornament of the image of the cross, and lift it in reverence and worship, on their person, on the church spire, and on the communion-table in the house of God and say, ” Behold the cross of thy Lord and Saviour! behold, these be thy Saviour, O Israel, which redeemed thee from the bondage of corruption! ” the images alike are idols-the image of the calf and the image of the cross, both are a pretence and an abomination, supplanting, with a dumb show, the presence of the living God, and closing the heart against Jesus Christ crucified Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. i. 24).

A GRAND MISTAKE.

Many Romans and some others think that by exalting an image of the cross, they honour the Lord Jesus Christ, in the spirit of the Apostle, who exclaims : ” God forbid that I should glory, save in the stauros of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. vi. 14). They little consider that the stauros is death to this world with shame and reproach on the sufferer. They little consider whether it is indeed honouring an upright man, our Friend, to set up in His name an image invented to commemorate Him through the ignominious weapon with which His relentless enemies put Him to death. Such honour more befits His enemies than His friends. Yet the very murderers themselves would be understood to glory in their deed, should they make such image their personal badge,-the recognised banner of their polity and the test of their brotherhood, and a charm of their person. It is time to shout aloud with Imbert: “Worship Christ, not the wood!” And, though rejected of men, we may hope with Him to be accepted of the Lord.

CHAPTER III

A SUMMARY.

The Scripture sense of the word stauros, for the cross of Christ, is in the concrete a pale, a strong stake, a wooden post; and in the abstract, it is a voluntary and patient suffering of shame, reproach, and torment unto death, in whatever form it may please God to lay it on us, whether by the rack, the wild beasts, the fire, or the hatred and persecution of godless men, for the sake of truth and righteousness, and in the hope of everlasting life. The Scriptures never speak of the stauros as an image or a sign, but always as a reality, cognisable to the senses, in every case known, by the sorrows and anguish of the sufferer. “Pilate wrote a title and put it on the stauros,” i.e., the wood. “Jesus said, He that taketh not his stauros, and followeth me, is not worthy of me ;” i.e., the stauros of personal shame and suffering for the truth and righteousness of God. “The preaching of the stauros is to them that perish, foolishness;” i.e., they see no sense in suffering wrong and injury patiently-“Lest they should suffer persecution for the stauros of Christ ;” ie., contumely and reproach for believing in the suffering and crucified Saviour. “Far be it that I should glory save in the stauros of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world; ” i.e., not the stauros of wood, but the self-sacrifice and offering of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ on the wood. In every sense, the Scripture stauros, first, is a pale or wooden and, secondly, the shame, the reproach, and the patient suffering of innocence before the world for righteousness’ sake. Joseph bore this form of the stauros while imprisoned by the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, till the Lord delivered him; and so Ignatius, being condemned in Antioch to be torn and devoured by the wild beasts for the faith of Christ, bore his stauros from } Antioch to Rome, where, in the amphitheatre, he suffered it, despising the agony and the shame. In every Scripture sense, the stauros of Christ is a living reality, and never that lying vanity, a senseless image and sign of the wood.
Inquiring about this image, three things surprise us:
I. The fact that a great variety of wholly unlike forms are, by the common and universal consent of the learned, called by the same name, “the cross,” and are understood to mean the cross or stauros of our Lord Jesus Christ.
II.That the figure of the cross, used among the primitive Christians, was X(hi), the Greek initial of Christ, for a sign of Christ, as authors to this day make in their manuscripts X for Christ, and Xmas for Christmas, and Xian for Christian.
III. The third thing that exceedingly surprises us is, to find that this sign and image commonly called the cross, was a profane symbol in heathen mysteries, exalted and honoured from Babylon to Jerusalem ‘ from the Nile to the Ganges, and from Syria to Britain many centuries before our era. These are facts fully established, but not generally known.
Following up our inquiry, we learn how, when, and by whom this pagan symbol found entrance among Christians, and we shall soon learn how it came at length to supplant the sign of Christ in the churches and on the banners of Christendom. For no writer of the age and the school of the apostles ever mentions, or alludes to any sign, image, or form of the stauros, other than its name implies, one
pale or stake; except a certain man under the assumed name of ” Barnabas, the companion in labour of Paul, the apostle.” The counterfeit Nicodemus follows in the same path, setting forth the power of the sign of the wood in Hades. Minutius Felix and Tertullian, in the beginning of the third century, follow, coyly teaching that it is no worse for Christians to worship the wooden cross, than for the pagans to worship their wooden gods and trophies and eagles Cyprian,A.D.-950-8, acknowledges the sign in the form of the initial of Christ-not the pagan image, but “Christi signum, signum Dei-the symbol of Christ and of God.” And, finally, we learn that Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, A.D. 350, comes boldly forth for the sign of the wood, and for the wood of the stauros,} without saying ever a word about the form of the image of the stauros, or about worshipping it. He neither made nor vended images; but he pretended to have the original wood, with portions of which he parted, as a special favour to them that were worthy; and the wood grew in his keeping, so as, in his own words, ” to fill the whole world,” which many believed, if he did not.
It is time to awake to the fact that the Tammuz or old heathen cross, led the whole column of images, such as of the virgin, of the apostles, of the saints and martyrs, and of our blessed Lord himself, with their several altars, into the Catholic Church, by degrees, from the latter half of the fourth to the latter half of the eighth century; when image-worship was firmly and for ever established in the Roman Catholic Church by the seventh Ecumenical Council, which was the second Council of Nice, held A.D. 787. It is time to awake, for the same strong tide of formalism, which then overflowed Christendom, is now coming under the form and fashion of the same image of the Tammuz cross, to overwhelm the Protestant world. The self-styled Infallible in the flesh, whose mark is the cross, is no less confident of possessing the kingdom o the whole earth now, than the Jews were in the expectancy of that kingdom, when they crucified the Lord of glory.

The Greek initial of Christ is a sign bringing to the memory of Christians, in the midst of the torments of heathen persecution, both the name and the sufferings of Christ, with His victory over death, and His soon coming again to judge the quick and the dead, and to give His faithful followers inheritance in His everlasting kingdom. Hence they learned to recognise their fraternal fellowship in Christ by the sign of His monogram. Gibbon says, “In all occasions of danger and distress, it was the practice of primitive Christians to fortify their minds and bodies by the sign of the cross, which they used in all their ecclesiastical rites, in all the daily occurrences of life, as an infallible preservative against every species of spiritual and temporal evil.”-Gibbon, chap.xx
That the persecuted and suffering believers should ” fortify their minds and bodies by the sign of the stauros “of wood is inconceivable; but it is natural that, in their circumstances, they should fortify their faith by the sign of the initial of our Lord’s name, X for Christ. That this custom came at last to be superstitious is evident. After the boasted vision of Constantine, and the invention and the multiplication of the wood, in the name of the cross, had supplied the whole world, many superstitious practices of the heathen were adopted, perverting the faith, and changing the significant sign of Christ’s name into the present sign of the murderous tree.

…….page 74

IS THIS GLORYING IN THE IMAGE OF THE WOOD PLEASING TO GOD?

Could our blessed Lord himself be pleased with the evil tree? Could He make an idol of the wood on which He was nailed, then lifted up, and left to drink the vinegar and the gall in death? Can it be pleasing in His sight for His citizens to make an ornament of the image of that wood on which He was lifted up, amid the scoffs and jeers of the chief priests and rulers of His chosen people ? Can it be pleasing to the blessed Jesus to behold His disciples glorying in the image of that instrument of capital punishment on which He patiently and innocently suffered, despising the shame? It was a shame, else how did the innocent Sufferer despise the shame ? It was an infamous shame. Why should a rational man make an image of the instrument of it? Reverence and love the image! Lift it up and make an ornament of it! Bow down before it, and kiss the thing with his lips! It is monstrous. Were the crown of thorns taken from the Saviour’s wounded head, or the rod with which they smote the Judge of Israel on the cheek, or the nails which fastened His bands and His feet to the tree, really brought to our view, they would, with the spear which pierced His side, be objects of abhorrence to every loving heart. We hear of ” Israel’s judicial blindness.” What else is this which leads Christendom to boast of the instrument on which “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many ?” (Heb.3 ix. 28). That it is most unnatural will plainly appear when we bring the case home to our own heart. Suppose we take up reverently in honour, and glory in, and even kiss a weapon which, in cruel hands had, without the slightest provocation, slain our best friend and benefactor-our elder brother-and brought him to an untimely, shameful, and agonising death ! No mortal in his senses is capable of such perverseness, while yet many, under the delusion of the cross, are daily guilty of it. Neither can it be conceived that such honour to the evil instrument would be agreeable to our departed brother, could his immortal spirit look on it. Would he not rather, in a burst of indignation, exclaim, ill the language of Christ, ” Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, ” If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets ” (Matt. xxiii. 29).

THE BEARER OF THIS CROSS DOES NOT PRAY IT MAY
PASS FROM HIM.

No language is too strong to express the indignation of our loving Brother at conduct so shameful, so unnatural. Nor does it improve the matter to pay this homage to an image of the murderous weapon, to lift it up, to gild, and wear it for a charm of the person, for an ornament of the house, and of the house of God. It does not lessen the offence to make this idol minister to the pomp of public worship, to the pride of life, the vanity of fashion, or sale of an article stamped with the image. No; this pagan image is a false cross, from which the holy apostles would shrink in horror, however the multitude of their successors honour it. This is a make-believe cross of pearl, gold, and precious stones, which the wearer cannot pray that it may be taken away from him, and which the multitude naturally covet, should it please God to give it them! How impious and blind to call this image the cross of Him who said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee. Take away this cup from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt ” (Mark xiv. 36). All the images of the heathen are an abomination in His sight. How much more those of Christendom, and, most of all, “the glory cross,” borne in solemn procession, adorned and set up in the house of the living God, to honour the most cruel death of His be loved Son at the hand of envious murderers! How much better such manners are in this age than those of the thirteenth century, when the visible head of the churches ordained festivals sacred to the memory of the various instruments of torture which afflicted our Lord unto death, the reader will judge.”

——————————————————————————————————————-

Of interest are these comments from Jesus: God, Man, or Myth (The Truth Seeker, 1950), which states:

“A stauros was a mere stake, and horrible to contemplate, it was used in the cruelest fashion to execute criminals and other persons….. It was sometimes pointed and thrust through the victim’s body to pin him to earth; or he was placed on top of the stake with it’s point upwards so that it gradually pierced his body; or he was tied upon it and left exposed till death intervened; and there were other methods too. There is not a scrape of evidence that a stauros was ever in the form of a cross or even of a “T” shape…………
1871.
CHAPTER I.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST NO IMAGE.
STAUROS and ZULON, are the only words in the Greek Testament descriptive of the wooden cross of Christ. Neither of them admit of the radical idea of a cross in English, or in any other modern language. In all the languages of Christendom, a cross consists of one line drawn through another. Two sticks, one crossing the other, are essential to constitute, and to present the universal idea of, a material, visible cross.
No such idea is conveyed by the Scripture words stauros and zulon. Stauros means “an upright pale,” a strong stake, such as farmers drive into the ground to make their fences or palisades- no more, no less. To the stauros the Roman soldiers nailed the hands and the feet of the King of glory, and lifted Him up to the mockery of the chief priests and elders of the people. Over Him, on the stauros, Pilate put His title: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” And no mortal is at liberty to affirm any other form of stauros on which our Saviour was lifted up than is implied in the meaning of that word, which alone the four Evangelists in the four Gospels use to describe the wood on which Jesus was lifted up.
ZULON, which I write for the easier pronounciation zulon, means “wood cut ready for use, a stick, cudgel, or beam; any timber; a live tree.” This is, as I have said, the only word besides stauros employed in the New Testament to signify the cross of Christ. The Evangelists use this word to signify the clubs or staves with which the company were armed when they arrested Jesus by night in Gethsemane. In the Acts, and rarely in the Epistles, it signifies the wood or timber on which Jesus was impaled alive.
Zulon, then, no more than stauros, conveys the English sense of a cross. Zulon and stauros are alike the single stick, the pale, or the stake, neither more nor less, on which Jesus was impaled, or crucified. Stauros, however, is the exclusive name given by all the Evangelists to the wood of Christ’s cross. The stauros Jesus bore, on it He was hanged, from it He was taken down dead. The Evangelists use this word also in the figurative sense: “Come, take up thy stauros, and follow me” (Matt. xvi. 24, Mark viii. 34, Luke ix. 23). “He that taketh not his stauros and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. x. 38). Neither stauros nor zulon ever means sticks joining each other at an angle, either in the New Testament or in any other book.
THE BRAZEN SERPENT.
When Israel in the wilderness murmured against God, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, and much people of Israel died. The penitent people besought Moses to pray the Lord to take away the serpents. Moses’s prayer was answered, not by removing the serpents, but by providing a remedy against their bite. By command of the Lord, “Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole. And it came to pass that if the serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived”(Numb.xx. 9). The healing power was not in the “pole,” neither was it in the brazen serpent, but in the word of the living God. The healing virtue resided not in these lifeless forms singly or jointly, but in the faith of the word which turned the eyes of the wounded to look that they might live. After the lapse of eight centuries, Judah came to believe there was miraculous power in that image, and they worshipped it. They did not make an image; they worshipped with incense, the same which Moses, by divine command, had made, and had elevated in the healing sight of the congregation. They worshipped it, not as the work of their hands, but as an instrument of salvation, set up by their great lawgiver. Notwithstanding, that good King Hezekiah, such as ” after him was none like him , nor any that were before him,” when he removed the high places and brake the images, and cut down the groves, brake in pieces also “the brazen serpent that Moses had made ; and he called it Nehushtan,” i.e., brass(2 Kings xviii. 4). So, were the veritable wood of Christ’s cross now before our eyes, it should sooner be cut -in pieces, and burned for wood, than be adored with incense, and reverence, and love. Is it any holier and better to reverence and love an image of that wood, to kiss it, to wreathe it with laurel, to bow down and worship before the image, which, whether of wood or stone, is man’s device, wrought into shape by the hands of man ?
Not an instance of exalting or honouring the visible form of the cross occurs in the New Testament. On the contrary, it is the emblem of our humiliation and sorrow, which being endured in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, through Jesus and the resurrection, “when our captivity will be turned again, as the streams in the south, our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing;” for we shall not only see Him as He is, but be like Him, having our vile body changed into the likeness of His glorious body, and our joint inheritance of all things with Christ Jesus in eternal life.
THE PUNISHMENT OF THE CROSS.
This was Inflicted on hardened criminals, and on resolute enemies, and on vile murderers and slaves, among all the renowned nations of antiquity. The manner and circumstances of the execution do not concern us now, so much as the instrument, respecting which Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible ” gives large information. “In Livy,” says Smith, even crux means a mere stake. More generally, the cross is called arbor infelix -Livy, Seneca ; or lignum infelix-Cicero. The very name of the cross was abhorrent not only to the flesh, but even to the eyes, ears, and thoughts of Roman citizens-Cicero proRab.5.” Yet the learned Dr Smith himself follows the learned of every name in Christendom, whether scoffer or believer, in confounding the cross monogram in various forms and fashions, calling and considering them as one and the same thing. …….Crosses must have been commonly of the simplest form, “because they were used in such marvellous numbers. Of Jews alone, Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800, Varus, 2000, Hadrian, 500 a day; and the gentle Titus so many that there was no room for the crosses, nor crosses for the bodies.”-Smith’s Dict. of the Bible. Alexander the Great crucified 2000 Tyrians, and both the Sogdian king and people, for their brave defence of their several countries. And Augustus crucified 600 Sicilians. Under such circumstances, men could not be particular about the form of the stauros, or the manner of applying it. Some were nailed, others were tied hand and foot and lifted up on the stauros; others on the tree. Others, also , were spiked to the earth with the stauros driven through their body, and others were spitted on it. Thus the crucifying or impaling was executed in the cruelest manner, and the sufferers were left to rot unburied, or to be devoured by the birds and beasts. In deference to the Mosaic law, the bodies were in Judea removed and buried, and the crosses were burned, to avoid legal defilement by the accursed thing, as it is written: “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but in any wise thou shalt bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that the land be not defiled ” (Dent. xxi. 23).
……page 20.
With these facts before us, showing the many and divers forms which the most learned and accurate are wont to call by one common name, ” the cross,” which name contradicts the form of the wood on which Christ suffered according to the Scriptures; and further, showing the corrupt use of this symbol in orgies of the ancient heathen, we are better prepared to take up the thread of the story from its beginning in the counterfeit Barnabas, and to follow it down through the labyrinth of error, until the initial of Tammuz has come to supplant the monogram of Christ on the standard of Rome, and to be exalted as the banner of Christendom. These are no dreams, but realities set forth not in opposition to the Church of our crucified Lord but in fidelity to the glorified Lord of the Church. For though Aaron and all Israel made of their ornaments the golden calf, and danced, feasted, and shouted before it, “Behold , these be thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt;” and though the chief Pontiff and all Christendom make an ornament of the image of the cross, and lift it in reverence and worship, on their person, on the church spire, and on the communion-table in the house of God and say, ” Behold the cross of thy Lord and Saviour! behold, these be thy Saviour, O Israel, which redeemed thee from the bondage of corruption! ” the images alike are idols-the image of the calf and the image of the cross, both are a pretence and an abomination, supplanting, with a dumb show, the presence of the living God, and closing the heart against Jesus Christ crucified Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. i. 24).
A GRAND MISTAKE.
Many Romans and some others think that by exalting an image of the cross, they honour the Lord Jesus Christ, in the spirit of the Apostle, who exclaims : ” God forbid that I should glory, save in the stauros of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. vi. 14). They little consider that the stauros is death to this world with shame and reproach on the sufferer. They little consider whether it is indeed honouring an upright man, our Friend, to set up in His name an image invented to commemorate Him through the ignominious weapon with which His relentless enemies put Him to death. Such honour more befits His enemies than His friends. Yet the very murderers themselves would be understood to glory in their deed, should they make such image their personal badge,-the recognised banner of their polity and the test of their brotherhood, and a charm of their person. It is time to shout aloud with Imbert: “Worship Christ, not the wood!” And, though rejected of men, we may hope with Him to be accepted of the Lord.
CHAPTER III
A SUMMARY.
The Scripture sense of the word stauros, for the cross of Christ, is in the concrete a pale, a strong stake, a wooden post; and in the abstract, it is a voluntary and patient suffering of shame, reproach, and torment unto death, in whatever form it may please God to lay it on us, whether by the rack, the wild beasts, the fire, or the hatred and persecution of godless men, for the sake of truth and righteousness, and in the hope of everlasting life. The Scriptures never speak of the stauros as an image or a sign, but always as a reality, cognisable to the senses, in every case known, by the sorrows and anguish of the sufferer. “Pilate wrote a title and put it on the stauros,” i.e., the wood. “Jesus said, He that taketh not his stauros, and followeth me, is not worthy of me ;” i.e., the stauros of personal shame and suffering for the truth and righteousness of God. “The preaching of the stauros is to them that perish, foolishness;” i.e., they see no sense in suffering wrong and injury patiently-“Lest they should suffer persecution for the stauros of Christ ;” ie., contumely and reproach for believing in the suffering and crucified Saviour. “Far be it that I should glory save in the stauros of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world; ” i.e., not the stauros of wood, but the self-sacrifice and offering of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ on the wood. In every sense, the Scripture stauros, first, is a pale or wooden and, secondly, the shame, the reproach, and the patient suffering of innocence before the world for righteousness’ sake. Joseph bore this form of the stauros while imprisoned by the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, till the Lord delivered him; and so Ignatius, being condemned in Antioch to be torn and devoured by the wild beasts for the faith of Christ, bore his stauros from } Antioch to Rome, where, in the amphitheatre, he suffered it, despising the agony and the shame. In every Scripture sense, the stauros of Christ is a living reality, and never that lying vanity, a senseless image and sign of the wood.
Inquiring about this image, three things surprise us:
I. The fact that a great variety of wholly unlike forms are, by the common and universal consent of the learned, called by the same name, “the cross,” and are understood to mean the cross or stauros of our Lord Jesus Christ.
II.That the figure of the cross, used among the primitive Christians, was X(hi), the Greek initial of Christ, for a sign of Christ, as authors to this day make in their manuscripts X for Christ, and Xmas for Christmas, and Xian for Christian.
III. The third thing that exceedingly surprises us is, to find that this sign and image commonly called the cross, was a profane symbol in heathen mysteries, exalted and honoured from Babylon to Jerusalem ‘ from the Nile to the Ganges, and from Syria to Britain many centuries before our era. These are facts fully established, but not generally known.
Following up our inquiry, we learn how, when, and by whom this pagan symbol found entrance among Christians, and we shall soon learn how it came at length to supplant the sign of Christ in the churches and on the banners of Christendom. For no writer of the age and the school of the apostles ever mentions, or alludes to any sign, image, or form of the stauros, other than its name implies, one pale or stake; except a certain man under the assumed name of ” Barnabas, the companion in labour of Paul, the apostle.” The counterfeit Nicodemus follows in the same path, setting forth the power of the sign of the wood in Hades. Minutius Felix and Tertullian, in the beginning of the third century, follow, coyly teaching that it is no worse for Christians to worship the wooden cross, than for the pagans to worship their wooden gods and trophies and eagles Cyprian,A.D.-950-8, acknowledges the sign in the form of the initial of Christ-not the pagan image, but “Christi signum, signum Dei-the symbol of Christ and of God.” And, finally, we learn that Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, A.D. 350, comes boldly forth for the sign of the wood, and for the wood of the stauros,} without saying ever a word about the form of the image of the stauros, or about worshipping it. He neither made nor vended images; but he pretended to have the original wood, with portions of which he parted, as a special favour to them that were worthy; and the wood grew in his keeping, so as, in his own words, ” to fill the whole world,” which many believed, if he did not.
It is time to awake to the fact that the Tammuz or old heathen cross, led the whole column of images, such as of the virgin, of the apostles, of the saints and martyrs, and of our blessed Lord himself, with their several altars, into the Catholic Church, by degrees, from the latter half of the fourth to the latter half of the eighth century; when image-worship was firmly and for ever established in the Roman Catholic Church by the seventh Ecumenical Council, which was the second Council of Nice, held A.D. 787. It is time to awake, for the same strong tide of formalism, which then overflowed Christendom, is now coming under the form and fashion of the same image of the Tammuz cross, to overwhelm the Protestant world. The self-styled Infallible in the flesh, whose mark is the cross, is no less confident of possessing the kingdom o the whole earth now, than the Jews were in the expectancy of that kingdom, when they crucified the Lord of glory.
The Greek initial of Christ is a sign bringing to the memory of Christians, in the midst of the torments of heathen persecution, both the name and the sufferings of Christ, with His victory over death, and His soon coming again to judge the quick and the dead, and to give His faithful followers inheritance in His everlasting kingdom. Hence they learned to recognise their fraternal fellowship in Christ by the sign of His monogram. Gibbon says, “In all occasions of danger and distress, it was the practice of primitive Christians to fortify their minds and bodies by the sign of the cross, which they used in all their ecclesiastical rites, in all the daily occurrences of life, as an infallible preservative against every species of spiritual and temporal evil.”-Gibbon, chap.xx
That the persecuted and suffering believers should ” fortify their minds and bodies by the sign of the stauros “of wood is inconceivable; but it is natural that, in their circumstances, they should fortify their faith by the sign of the initial of our Lord’s name, X for Christ. That this custom came at last to be superstitious is evident. After the boasted vision of Constantine, and the invention and the multiplication of the wood, in the name of the cross, had supplied the whole world, many superstitious practices of the heathen were adopted, perverting the faith, and changing the significant sign of Christ’s name into the present sign of the murderous tree.
…….page 74
IS THIS GLORYING IN THE IMAGE OF THE WOOD PLEASING TO GOD?
Could our blessed Lord himself be pleased with the evil tree? Could He make an idol of the wood on which He was nailed, then lifted up, and left to drink the vinegar and the gall in death? Can it be pleasing in His sight for His citizens to make an ornament of the image of that wood on which He was lifted up, amid the scoffs and jeers of the chief priests and rulers of His chosen people ? Can it be pleasing to the blessed Jesus to behold His disciples glorying in the image of that instrument of capital punishment on which He patiently and innocently suffered, despising the shame? It was a shame, else how did the innocent Sufferer despise the shame ? It was an infamous shame. Why should a rational man make an image of the instrument of it? Reverence and love the image! Lift it up and make an ornament of it! Bow down before it, and kiss the thing with his lips! It is monstrous. Were the crown of thorns taken from the Saviour’s wounded head, or the rod with which they smote the Judge of Israel on the cheek, or the nails which fastened His bands and His feet to the tree, really brought to our view, they would, with the spear which pierced His side, be objects of abhorrence to every loving heart. We hear of ” Israel’s judicial blindness.” What else is this which leads Christendom to boast of the instrument on which “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many ?” (Heb.3 ix. 28). That it is most unnatural will plainly appear when we bring the case home to our own heart. Suppose we take up reverently in honour, and glory in, and even kiss a weapon which, in cruel hands had, without the slightest provocation, slain our best friend and benefactor-our elder brother-and brought him to an untimely, shameful, and agonising death ! No mortal in his senses is capable of such perverseness, while yet many, under the delusion of the cross, are daily guilty of it. Neither can it be conceived that such honour to the evil instrument would be agreeable to our departed brother, could his immortal spirit look on it. Would he not rather, in a burst of indignation, exclaim, ill the language of Christ, ” Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, ” If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets ” (Matt. xxiii. 29).
THE BEARER OF THIS CROSS DOES NOT PRAY IT MAY
PASS FROM HIM.
No language is too strong to express the indignation of our loving Brother at conduct so shameful, so unnatural. Nor does it improve the matter to pay this homage to an image of the murderous weapon, to lift it up, to gild, and wear it for a charm of the person, for an ornament of the house, and of the house of God. It does not lessen the offence to make this idol minister to the pomp of public worship, to the pride of life, the vanity of fashion, or sale of an article stamped with the image. No; this pagan image is a false cross, from which the holy apostles would shrink in horror, however the multitude of their successors honour it. This is a make-believe cross of pearl, gold, and precious stones, which the wearer cannot pray that it may be taken away from him, and which the multitude naturally covet, should it please God to give it them! How impious and blind to call this image the cross of Him who said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee. Take away this cup from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt ” (Mark xiv. 36). All the images of the heathen are an abomination in His sight. How much more those of Christendom, and, most of all, “the glory cross,” borne in solemn procession, adorned and set up in the house of the living God, to honour the most cruel death of His be loved Son at the hand of envious murderers! How much better such manners are in this age than those of the thirteenth century, when the visible head of the churches ordained festivals sacred to the memory of the various instruments of torture which afflicted our Lord unto death, the reader will judge.”
——————————————————————————————————————-
Of interest are these comments from Jesus: God, Man, or Myth (The Truth Seeker, 1950), which states:
“A stauros was a mere stake, and horrible to contemplate, it was used in the cruelest fashion to execute criminals and other persons….. It was sometimes pointed and thrust through the victim’s body to pin him to earth; or he was placed on top of the stake with it’s point upwards so that it gradually pierced his body; or he was tied upon it and left exposed till death intervened; and there were other methods too. There is not a scrape of evidence that a stauros was ever in the form of a cross or even of a “T” shape…………

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YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE

 

LUKE 23:43-“Truly I tell you today,You will be with me in Paradise”(NWT)-
Where should the comma be placed?
The above is how The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures render Jesus’ well known words to the criminal beside him on the stake. This is not how most translations so render. Most place the comma before the word “today” so that it then reads:”I tell you the truth,today you will be with me in paradise”-New International Version. Or, as the Todays English Version reads, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.” With the use of the pronoun “that” before “today” the TEV is agreeing with those that use a comma before “today” to show that the criminal was to be with Jesus in Paradise that very day.
One ‘Christian’ website says:
“Of course, there is ONE English version which does put the comma after the “today” in Luke 22:43 – the New World Translation, the “Bible” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But their reason for doing so is their preconceived theology, not grammar. JWs do not believe the righteous go directly to “paradise” after death. They believe people enter a state of non-existence at death, only to be “re-created” at the resurrection.However, even in the NWT, every place else the phrase occurs, the comma is placed directly after “you.” So the burden of proof would be on them to prove why the phrase should be punctuated differently this one time and to explain why Jesus would have changed His lifetime practice while at the point of death.So the reason the ALT and most every other version places the comma before “today” is consistency and simple logic. There really is no reason to place the comma after “today” – unless someone is trying to uphold their pre-conceived theology.”-emphasis mine.
Is it true that the reason why the NWT place the comma after “today” is because of “their preconcieved theology?”
It should be made known that the stance taken by the NWT translators is not so unique. The book,”Reasoning from the Scriptures,”(WTB&TS;, p.288.)quotes German Bible translator L.Reinhardt in his ftnote,” The punctuation presently used[by most translators]in this verse is undoubtedly false and contradictory to the entire way of thinking of Christ and the evildoer…[Christ] certainly did not understand paradise to be a subdivision of the realm of the dead,but rather the restoration of a paradise on earth.” Did Reinhardt have a “preconceived theology” aswell? J.B.Rotherham was a Bible translator and British clergyman and definitely did not share a “theology” with Jehovah’s Witnesses over this passage before us.Yet…..
I have before me a 1878 copy of the translation by J.B.Rotherham, which the title page reads:
At Luke 23:42,43 we can read;
“And he was saying:Jesus! remember me,whensoever thou mayest come in thy kingdom.And Jesus said to him,Verily,to thee I say,this day,with me shalt be in the paradise.”
Note that Rotherham has placed the words “this day” between two commas. So the reader is left to make his own choice whether the words “this day”,as made by Jesus, is in reference to the time he made the promise or it has reference to when that promise would be fulfilled. To this rendering Rotherham has a footnote that reads;
“b It is left for the reader to determine
whether the words “this
day” sho uld be
joined (A)with the former
part of the sentence,or (B)
with the latter.In favour
of (A)may be urged(1)the
fact that semeron,”this day,” does not always
stand first in the clause to which it
belongs(see Lu.ii.11;v.26;xxii.34;
Ac.xx.
26;xxii.3;
xxiv.21;xxvi.29; (2) that
being essentially
a demonstrative
word,it will bear any
reasonable stress which may be laid upon it,whether it be placed before or after the words it qualifies; (3)that it is far from meaningless if regarded as belonging to the opening words of asserveration (“Thou dost ask to be remembered then: verily thou art assured now. As on this day of my weakness and shame, thou hast faith to ask, I this day have authority to answer”); (4)that the latter part of this verse is thus left free to refer to the very matter of the supplicant’s request (“Thou dost ask to be remembered when I come in my kingdom:thou shalt be remembered then, and with distinguished favour:thou shalt be in my kingdom; shalt be with me in the very paradise of my kingdom, in the garden of the Lord-Is.li.3[Sep. paradesios]; Eze.xxxvi.35; compare Ge.ii.8[Sept.paradesios];Re.ii.7-in that most central and blessed part of the coming kingdom, of which thou dost believe me to be the destined king.” On the other hand, in support of (B)it may be said, (1)that our Lord’s well known formula, “Verily I say to thee,” “Verily I say to thee,” in every instance stands thus simply alone without any other qualifying word; (2)that the double emphasis produced by attaching “this day” to the words coming after(“This day,with me shalt thou be”)is exactly matched by chap.xix.5(“This day,in thine house I must needs abide”); (3)that no ingenuity of exposition can silence the testimony of Lu. xvi.23,25 to the conscious comfort of seperate souls in Abraham’s bosom;(4) that in the days of our Lord, that state of waiting consolation was sometimes termed “paradise,” to which state, therefore, the believing listener might not unnaturally understand the speaker to refer; and (5) that,although this interpretation does not regard the Lord’s reply as covering of the precise intention of the petitioner, it must nevertheless have been to him a pre-eminently satisfactory answer, no better pledge of a place in the future kingdom being conceivable than an immediate place in the paradise of waiting souls in the companionship of the annointed king. (For the various and not always consistent views of the Jews in the days of our Lord regarding “Paradise,” see Smith’s Bible Dictionary, under that word:it was far off in the distant East, further than the foot of man had trod-it was a region in the world of the dead, of Sheol, in the heart of the earth-or, again, it was in the third heaven, etc, etc, -From this account it will be seen what weight should be attched to Jewish opinion in connection with what Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, Lu.xvi.)”
We also have J.B.Rotherham’s The Emphasised New Testament,A New Translation being based on the Westcott and Hort Greek Text, it being an “entirely remodelled” edition of the above work, being issued I believe in 1897. In this ‘revision’ Rotherham now reads at Luke 23:43:
“And he said unto him-| Verily | I say unto thee this day: | With me ||shalt thou be in Paradise.” With a short ftnote saying;”Or:”|| This day|| |with me| shalt,” &c.;”
It appears by this time he favoured that the word semeron had reference to the time the promise was made rather than to the time it was to be fulfilled. Rotherham showing the [traditional favoured] alternative in a short ftnote.
The book This Means Everlasting Life(1950,WTB&TS;)on pp.281, 282,reads:
“The English translation by Dr.Wm.Cureton of an old Syriac Version of the gospels* agrees with that and renders Luke 23:43: “And he said to Jesus, My Lord, remember me whem thou comest in thy kingdom. Jesus said to him, Verily I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Eden’s garden”
(Ftnote* reads: “Remains of a Very Ancient Recension of the Four Gospels in Syriac by William Cureton, DD., F.R.S., published in London, England, in 1858 and dedicated to “His Royal Highness The Prince Consort, K.G.,” Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of Great Britain.”)
It then quotes Rotherham’s translation and then reads: “The Modern New Testament from Aramaic by G.M.Lamsa(1940) says: “Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you today, You will be with me in Paradise,”
The Concordant Literal New Testament renders it: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Verily, to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in paradise.”
The above edition with the Greek text and commentary on facing pages, page 93, we read: “The Lord will not come into his kingdom until after the great judgements which commence the Lord’s day. …The Lord assured the malefactor that his request will be granted, and that his present sufferings shall be exchanged for the delights of that day.”
(We have a copy of George M.Lamsa’s translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta The New Testament From The Ancient Eastern Text being a later printing of a 1957 edition published by A.J.Holman. Lamsa’ translation herein reads at Lu.23:43: “Truly I say to you,Today[2] you will be with me in Paradise.”-the ftnote reading: “2 Ancient texts were not punctuated. The comma could come before or after today.”)
The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Annointed(1958)by James L. Tomanek: “Indeed today I say you, you shall be with Me in the paradise.(Arrowhead Press, Pocatello, Idaho,1958)
The Gospel of History, Charles A.L.Totten: “Verily do-I-say unto-thee to-day – With me, thou-shalt-be, in Paradise.” (Destiny Publishers, Merrimac, Mass,1990)
The Companion Bible in it’s Appendix 173 says:
“The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority, the Greek manuscripts having no punctuation of any kind till the ninth century, and then it is only a dot(in the middle of the line)separating each word…..The verb “to say”, when followed by hoti, intoduces the ipsissima verba of what is said; and answers to our quotation marks. So here(in Luke 23.43), in the absence of hoti = “that”, there may be doubt as the the actual words included in the dependent clause. But the doubt is resolved (1) by the common Hebrew idiom, “I say unto thee this day”, which is constantly used for very solemn emphasis…….; as well as (2) by the usage observable in other passages where the verb is connected with the Gk. semeron = to-day.
“1 With hoti:-
“Mark 14:30: “Verily I say unto thee,that(hoti) ‘this day….thou shalt deny me thrice'” Luke 4:21: “And He began to say unto them, that(hoti) ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.'” Luke 5:26: “Saying(hoti=that), ‘We have seen strange things to-day.'” Luke 19:9: “Jesus said unto him that(hoti), ‘This day is salvation come to this house.’ ” For other examples of the verb “to say”, followed by hoti, but not connected with semeron(to-day), see Matt.14:26; 16:18; 21:3; 26:34; 27:47. Mark 1:40; 6:14;,15,18,35; 9:26; 14:25. Luke 4:24,41; 15:27; 17:10; 19:7.
2. Without hoti:-
“On the other hand, in the absence of hoti (=that), the relation of the word “to-day” must be determined by the context.
“Luke 22:24: “And He said, ‘I tell thee, Peter, in no wise shall a cock crow to-day before thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me.'” Here the word “to-day” is connected with the verb “crow”, because the context requires it. Compare Heb.4.7. It is the same in Luke 23:43: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Verily I say unto thee to-day[or this day,when though they were about to die, this man had expressed so great faith in Messiah’s coming Kingdom, and therefore in the Lord’s resurrection to be it’s King- now, under such solemn circumstances] thou shalt be, with Me, in Paradise.'” For, when Messiah shall reign, His Kingdom shall convert the promised land into a Paradise. Read Isa.35, and see note on Ecc.2.5″
“We must notice also the Article before “Paradise”. It is “THE Paradise”, viz the paradise of which the prophets tell in such glowing language, when the Lord shall come in his Kingdom. See Ps.67,4,6;…..
“It has no connection with Babylonian, Jewish,and Romish tradition, but is a direct answer to the malefactor’s prayer. His prayer referred to the Lord’s coming and His Kingdom; and if the Lords answer was direct, the promise must have referred to that coming and to that Kingdom, and not to anything that was to happen on the day on which the words were being spoken.
“It is alleged that the Lord’s promise was a reply to the man’s thought; but this is an assumption for which no justification can be found. Moreover, how can we know what his thought was, except by the words he uttered?
“The Lewis Codex of the Syrian N.T. reads in v.39: “save Thyself and us to-day”. So the Lord’s word “to-day” may have reference to the revilings of the one, as well as to the request of the other.”-Appendix 173.
(Dr. Bruce M. Metzger wrote concerning the Curetonian Syriac:”The Curetonian Syriac, rearranges the order of words, joining semeron[today] not with met emou ese[you will be]. But with amen soi lego[truly to you I say]-“Truly I say to you today, that with me you will be….”)
A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E.W.Bullinger, DD.page 811 says:
“And Jesus said to him, Verily, to thee I say this day, with Me shalt thou be in the Paradise.” The words to-day being made solemn and emphatic. Thus, instead of a remembrance, when He shall come in…His kingdom, He promises a presence in association (meta, “with”) Himself. And this promise he makes on that very day when he was dying…Thus we are saved (1) the trouble of explaining wht Jesus did not answer the question on its own terms; and (2) the inconvenience of endorsing the punctuation of the Auth[orised]. Vers[ion]. as inspired; and we also place this passage in harmony with numberless passages in the O.T., such as “Verily I say unto you this day,” etc.; “I testify unto you this day day.” etc. Deut.vi.6; vii.1; x.13; xi.8;,13,23; xii.13; xix.9; xxvii.4; xxxi.2, etc., where the Septuagint corresponds to Luke xxii.43.”
Prof Wilhelm Michaelis translates: “Truly, already today I give you the assurance: (one day)you will be together with me in paradise.”
A footnote in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Reference Edition(1984) says:
“Today.” Although W[estcott and]H[ort] puts a comma in the Gr. text before the word “today,” commas were not in used in Gr. uncial mss. In keeping with the context, we omit the comma before “today.” Syc(fifth cent.C.E.)renders this text: “Amen,I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Garden of Eden”- F.C.Burkitt, The Curetonain Version of the Four Gospels, Vol.1, Cambridge, 1904.”
We note that James Parkinson, on his website, has stated:
“Punctuation
Punctuation was not used when the Bible was written, nor for many centuries afterwards. Sometimes just a comma can make a difference. More significant than changing commas in Ephesians 1:4, 5 and Colossians 3:16 is the case of Luke 23:43.
Luke 23:43 (Recommended translation)
“And Jesus said unto him. Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (AV)
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
Grammatically the comma goes equally well before or after the word “today.” Rotherham, the New World Translation, and Concordant place it after. It is preferred to go after “today,” because until the third day, according to Acts 2:3 1, Christ went to “hell”–which is not normally considered Paradise.”-emphasis mine.
The two volume encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures(Vol 2. p.575.1988, WTB&TS;) says, partly, under the article PARADISE:
“Luke’s account shows that an evildoer, being executed alongside Jesus Christ, spoke words in Jesus defense and requested that Jesus remember him when he got into his kingdom. Jesus reply was: Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.(Lu 23:39-43) The punctuation shown in the rendering of these words must, of course, depend on the translator’s understanding of the sense of Jesus’ words, since no punctuation was used in the original Greek text. Punctuation in the modern style did not become common until about the ninth century C.E. Whereas many translations place a comma before the word “today” and thereby give the impression that the evildoer entered Paradise that same day, there is nothing in the rest of the Scriptures to support this. Jesus himself was dead and in the tomb until the third day and was then resurrected as “the firstfruits” of the resurrection. (Ac 10:40; 1Co 15:20; Col 1:18) He ascended to heaven 40 days later. Joh 20:17; Ac 1:1-3, 9. The evidence is, therefore, that Jesus’ use of the word “today” was not to give the time of the evildoer’s being in Paradise but, rather, to call attention to the time in which the promise was being made and during which the evildoer had shown a measure of faith in Jesus. It was a day when Jesus had been rejected and condemned by the highest-ranking religious leaders of his own people and was thereafter sentenced to die by Roman authority. He had become an object of scorn and ridicule. So the wrongdoer alongside him had shown a notable quality and commendable heart attitude in not going along with the crowd but, rather, speaking out in Jesus’ behalf and expressing belief in his coming Kingship. Recognizing that the emphasis is correctly placed on the time of the promise being made rather than on the time of its fulfillment, other translations, such as those in English by Rotherham and Lamsa, those in German by Reinhardt and W. Michaelis, as well as the Curetonian Syriac of the fifth century C.E., rendered the text in a form similar to the reading of the New World Translation,quoted herein. As to the identification of the Paradise of which Jesus spoke, it is clearly not synonymous with the heavenly Kingdom of Christ. Earlier that day entry into that heavenly Kingdom had been held out as a prospect for Jesus’ faithful disciples but on the basis of their having “stuck with him in his trials”,something the evildoer had never done, his dying on a stake alongside Jesus being purely for his own criminal acts. (Lu 22:28-30; 23:40, 41) The evildoer obviously had not been “born again”, of water and spirit, which Jesus showed was a prerequisite to entry into the Kingdom of the heavens. (Joh 3:3-6) Nor was the evildoer one of the “conquerors” that the glorified Christ Jesus stated would be with him on his heavenly throne and that have a share in “the first resurrection”.- Re 3:11, 12, 21; 12:10, 11; 14:1-4; 20:4-6. Some reference works present the view that Jesus was referring to a paradise location in Hades or Sheol, supposedly a compartment or division thereof for those approved by God. The claim is made that the Jewish rabbis of that time taught the existence of such a paradise for those who had died and were awaiting a resurrection. Regarding the teachings of the rabbis, Hastings Dictionary of the Bible states:” The Rabbinical theology as it has come down to us exhibits an extraordinary medley of ideas on these questions, and in the case of many of them it is difficult to determine the dates to which they should be assigned. . . . Taking the literature as it is, it might appear that Paradise was regarded by some as on earth itself, by others as forming part of Sheol, by others still as neither on earth nor under earth, but in heaven . . . But there is some doubt as respects, at least, part of this. These various conceptions are found indeed in later Judaism. They appear most precisely and most in detail in the mediaeval Cabbalistic Judaism . . . But it is uncertain how far back these things can be carried. The older Jewish theology at least . . . seems to give little or no place to the idea of an intermediate Paradise. It speaks of a “Gehinnom” for the wicked, and a Gan Eden, or garden of Eden, for the just. It is questionable whether it goes beyond these conceptions and affirms a Paradise in Sheol.- 1905, Vol. III, pp. 669, 670. Even if they did teach such a thing, it would be most unreasonable to believe that Jesus would propagate such a concept, in view of his condemnation of the non-Biblical religious traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. (Mt 15:3-9) Likely the paradise truly familiar to the Jewish malefactor to whom Jesus spoke was the earthly Paradise described in the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Paradise of Eden. That being so, Jesus’ promise would reasonably point to a restoration of such earthly paradisaic condition. His promise to the wrongdoer would therefore give assured hope of a resurrection of such an unrighteous one to an opportunity to life in that restored Paradise.- Compare Ac 24:15; Re 20:12, 13; 21:1-5; Mt 6:10.”
Also, the Awake magazine of August 8th, 1979, pp26-28 says, in part:
The Problem of Punctuation;
“The grammatical aspects of the Greek text allow for placing a comma (or, colon) either before or after “today.”But how did the writer Luke punctuate the sentence? The truth is, he did not! Professor Oscar Paret explains that the form of Greek script in which the New Testament was written “is composed solely of capital letters . . . loosely set next to one another without any punctuation to separate words and sentences. Greek literature used this script down to the 9th century C.E.” Thus in translating Jesus’ statement W. G. Ballantine, a professor of Hebrew and Greek, did not insert punctuation: “I tell you truly to-day you will be with me in Paradise.”-The Riverside New Testament. Some have contended, however, that the expression “I tell you truly” or “Truly I tell you” does not allow for adding the word “today” to it. Is that true? Note what Dr. George Lamsa* writes:”According to the Aramaic manner of speech, the emphasis in this text is on the word “today” and should read [as it does in the New World Translation], “Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”. . . This is a characteristic of Oriental speech implying that the promise was made on a certain day and would surely be kept”.- Gospel Light from Aramaic on the Teachings of Jesus. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves provide numerous examples of this solemn idiom using “today”.- Zech. 9:12; Deut. 4:26, 39, and 40 other instances in the book of Deuteronomy alone.Further, The Companion Bible explains that the absence of the Greek word for “that”(” hoti”) in Jesus’ promise is noteworthy. If the text had read either,”I tell you – that- today . . . ” or ” I tell you today -that- you . . . “the meaning would be settled. But in the absence of “that”, the relation of the word “to-day” must be determined by the context”.

The above is a reproduction of one the best witnesses to the text of the Greek New Testament, it being the Vaticanus 1209 of the 4th century C.E. (See “Life Does Have A Purpose,” p.27, WTB&TS;, 1977) Note that what we know as Luke 23.43 it has punctuation, a mark or ‘comma’, not before the word semeron but after. Here we have then a Greek Ms that is punctuated and agreeing with the NWT’s choice connecting “today” with “Truly I tell you” rather than with “you will be in paradise with me.” Interestingly, E. Earle Ellis remarks in The Gospel of Luke in The New Century Bible Commentary(pub. by Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids Michigan, reprint of 1983): “A few reasonably early manuscripts place the comma after “today” and thus continue the parousia reference of verse 42.” This undoubtedly shows that this scholar has knowledge about the punctuation in the Vaticanus Ms at Luke 23.43, as well as others. (He then considers this against the “usage elsewhere” but which we have addressed above and below). If there are in existence “a few reasonably early manuscripts” that place a comma or a mark after “today” this surely is evidence that the ‘mark’ that one can see in the Vaticanus 1209 was placed there on purpose and is not a “blemish” or a “blot” as some have tried to argue. A witness, Rudy Carmona, wrote to the Biblioteca Apostolica, Rome, the custodians of this important Greek ms, in early 1995 asking, among other questions, about the color of the mark in this manuscript at Luke 23.43. He recieved a reply from a member of the “Academic Staff of the Vatican Library who is a Patristics Greek specialist”(quoting Stafford’s JWD2 book, p.547)whom testified that it was itself dated to the 4th century, the same century as the manuscript and not a mark that was placed there by some later medieval copyist. Of course, this scholar could see the ms himself and unlike some who have been found to think otherwise! All this of course shows that the claim by Mantey(in a letter to the WTB&TS; often seen reproduced on the internet)that there are no Greek manuscripts that support the puncuation found in the NWT was false.
To conclude then.The critic’s comments quoted at the beginning of this page said that “the burden of proof would be on them[the Jehovah’s Witnesses]to prove why the phrase should be punctuated differently this one time…” The above is a reply to this request. But it is not good enough for any critic to just say that the rendering as found in the New World Translation is based upon a “preconcieved theology.” True, what the translators beliefs are will influence how they treat Jesus’ words to the evil-doer. But the above I believe does show that anyone who holds to a different position(which they have every right to) should not just use the theology “card.” That just does not and should not convince, or prove anything to the contrary.
Regarding;
“Jehovah’s Witnesses and Luke 23:43 — A Case Study in Watchtower Interpretation,” Part Three in a four-part series on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible (an article from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1989, page 23) by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.
“It is highly significant that out of the 74 times the expression occurs in the Bible, the NWT places a break immediately after it 73 times; Luke 23:43 is the _only_ exception. (Most translations follow this pattern in all 74 instances.) These breaks are placed in one of two ways. In 10 cases, the NWT has the word “that” immediately after the expression, so that the text reads, “Truly I tell you that…” (e.g., Matt. 5:18; 16:28; Mark 3:28; Luke 4:24). In 63 cases, the NWT inserts a comma immediately after the expression and capitalizes the following word (e.g., Matt. 5:26; 26:13, 21, 34; Mark 8:12; 14:9, 18, 25, 30; Luke 11:51; 21:32; John 1:51; 21:18). Unless there is overwhelming evidence from the context that Luke 23:43 is an exception to the above pattern, it should be translated according to Jesus’ normal usage of the expression. This leads me to my second observation (related to the first): _JWs usually interpret a biblical text deductively rather than inductively._ That is, they usually base their interpretation on what they have already concluded must be true (“deductive” reasoning) rather than examining all of the relevant material in Scripture before drawing a conclusion (“inductive” reasoning).”
To this arguement by Robert M. Bowman Jnr:
Firstly, Bowman’s examples are not that “significant.” The fact is that there is a difference between the 73 times the expression “Truly I tell you that…” occurs and when Jesus uses it as recorded for us by Luke at Luke 23:43. It is only at Luke 23:43 that “today” follows “Truly I tell you.” This is significant because of a frequent Hebrew idiom. E.W.Bullinger,already quoted, says regarding this Hebrew expression; “I say unto thee this day” was the common Hebrew idiom for emphasising the occasion of making a solemn statement(see Deut.iv. 26,39,40; v. 1; vi. 6; vii. 11; viii. 1,11,19; ix.3; x.13; xi. 2,8,13,26,27,28,32; xiii. 18; xv. 5; xix. 9; xxvi. 3,16,18; xxvii. 1,4,10; xxviii. 1,13,14,15; xxix. 12; xxx. 2,8,11,15,16,18,19; xxxii. 46).-How To Enjoy the Bible.Stafford (Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, 2nd edition, p.550, 551)says that when the 40 examples that Bullinger cites of this Hebrew expression are analysed “it becomes clear that Bowman’s characterisation of NWT’s placement of the comma after “today” as “unlikely” is not based on a careful consideration of the facts. Indeed, …at least 33 [are] parallel [to] Luke 23:43 in using a verb of speech or command with “today.””
Stafford goes on to cite other examples such as Genesis 22:14; 25:33; 41:9; Deut.9:6; 29:10; 30:6. More could be cited. All these examples from the LXX are clearly to be understood with semeron, “today,” connected with the preceding verb so as to stress the veracity and significance of what is being said. Bowman has totally ignored this. We find a similiar use of semeron by the apostle Paul at Acts 20:26 ” I-am-witnessing to you in the today’s[semeron]that clean I am from the blood of-all.” Paul wanted to emphasise that right up to that time, that very day, he, by preaching the kingdom to them in Asia, was, therefore, free of any accusation that he had neglected his command to preach, and by listening men could be free of condemnation. As Paul often used the Greek translations of the O.T. this common Hebrew expression would have been immediately in front of him and was well suited to make the forceful point he wished.
Likewise with Jesus. This expression, used to “make a solemn statement,” Jesus used toward the thief who asked him to remember him. There would be great difficulty for anyone to come up with a more solemn time for this expression- the very day that Jesus was to die a horrible, painful and even ignoble death to all appearences. Yet Jesus could still promise the thief that he would remember him and on that very day when all seemed so dark around him. He could still say, “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in paradise.” And this he did.
It is a fact also worth noting that if Luke wanted to seperate semeron, “today,” from “truly I tell you” he could have placed hoti, “that,” before “today” so as to seperate “today” from the preceeding speech and so make “today” a part of “with me…” In fact Luke does this 5 times-2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 19:9 and 22:61.
We might add here then that what leads Bowman into his “second observation” that is, according to him “they[JW’s] usually base their interpretation on what they have already concluded must be true (“deductive” reasoning) rather than examining all of the relevant material in Scripture before drawing a conclusion (“inductive” reasoning)” is plainly fallacious. Of course, what is apparent to any unbiased reader of this discussion is that it is Bowman himself that has not examined “all of the relevant material in Scripture” and it is he who is guilty of his own accusation toward the NWT’s editors, which accusation is strikingly prepossessed and partial.
The above also disposes of the criticism made by the website quoted at the head of this page:
“But [the NWT’s editor’s]reason for [placing a comma after “today”] is their preconceived theology, not grammar. JWs do not believe the righteous go directly to “paradise” after death. They believe people enter a state of non-existence at death, only to be “re-created” at the resurrection.However, even in the NWT, every place else the phrase occurs, the comma is placed directly after “you.” So the burden of proof would be on them to prove why the phrase should be punctuated differently this one time and to explain why Jesus would have changed His lifetime practice while at the point of death.”

Obviously, and somewhat unfortunately, the critic appears to have made the same blunder as Bowman with the “relevant material in Scripture.” The “burden of proof” then, is now with those who contend that the thief entered the “paradise,” mentioned by Jesus, that very day.
Prof. Carl W. Conrad, Department of Classics/Washington University, wrote upon where he thought it best in a translation of Luke 23:43 to place the comma, that is, with “truly I tell you today,….” rather than with “….,today you will be with me in paradise.” This was a change in his previous viewpoint following a number of other contributors on the bgreek list. For his remarks please click here. Then from that page search for the professor’s remarks on Luke 23:43 that appeared on January 15th, 2000.
See here also. Comments by Nick Lunn, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Nairobi, Kenya
Addendum-2: In a recent discussion on CARM(March 2004) a trinitarian challenged that the “paradise” that Jesus mentioned was not the “paradise” that was the garden in Eden of Genesis 2 and 3. Herewith is an excerpt from one post which shows quite clearly the strong if not incontrovertable link between the “paradise” of Jesus’ words at Luke 23.43 and the “garden” in Eden of Genesis 2.8, 9, 15-17; 3.23 which shows also the shallowness of the objections that were offered. The trinitarians’ words are in blue:
“Yes, I do know of another “paradise” and this is the one mentioned in Genesis. Eden was called a “gan” which is the Hebrew for “garden.” The LXX translators used the Greek word “paradeisos” in reference to this. This was, of course, an earthly “paradise.”
“Not all gardens are paradises.”
“The one in Eden was…
“….and there is no indication that the paradise mentioned in the NT is a garden.”
“The Greek word in question is a loan word from Middle Iranian and means “garden, park or paradise.”
“I am aware of the LXX translation’s rendering of the Hebrew in Genesis as “paradeisos”, but I can’t think of any reason to view that translation as inspired.”
“Yet this was the version that most of the NT authors used and quoted from and the Hebrew word “gan” was rendered by the Greek word “paradiesos.” Remember, the word Jesus spoke to the thief on the stauros was certianly not the Greek “paradeisos” as he would have spoken to him in Hebrew or Aramaic. But when Luke wrote his gospel he wrote in Greek and used the word “paradeisos” to descrbe what Jesus referred to. As this word in the LXX is the one used in the translation of Genesis(13 times in chapters 2-3) and it itself means “garden, park” one can immediately see a possible connection with Jesus’ words with that of the first “paradise,” the “garden of Eden” mentioned in the Bible. Would the thief be conversant with this “paradise” or “garden”? Very likely.
“It may or may not be an adequate translation of the word in question.”
“As you can see it is more than “adequate” for the word means “garden, park or paradise.” It was used in the Greek with this meaning from the 4th century B.C.E onwards”
“The Bible, in its original languages, mentions paradise only three times, and none of them are in the OT. Your “of course” is overstating the case. Of course it was an earthly garden. It does not follow that it was a paradise, even if that is how the LXX called it.”
“Of course, what you have failed to see is that the very word Luke used, “paradeisos” means “garden, park or paradise”! What “garden” is mentioned in the original OT and which one do you think the Jewish thief would be familiar with?”
“But, hey, just for fun, do you think that the Garden of Eden was still a going concern when Jesus was crucified? ”
“Actually, yes! For the Jews wrote much upon this subject and it was expected that the “paradise” that Adam lost was to be brought back.”
“Or when the trip to paradise Paul described took place? What evidence do you have that any of the three references to paradise that actually exist in the Bible (as distinct from uninspired translations of it) are referring to Eden, or anything like it? ”
“In the “garden” of Eden there were two trees planted, one being, “the tree of life,” and “in the middle of the garden.”-Gen.2.9; 3.22. In Revelation 2.7 we can read: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Although the “paradise” here is not the earthly one to come this scripture takes up the thought of Gen.3 where after the fall Man was barred from the tree of life. This shows that the word the LXX translators used for the Hebrew “gan” in Genesis was very appropriate and that when Luke wrote his account and he too used this very word it undoubtedly points to the same “paradise” and which the thief would be familiar with. The thief would not have been aware of Paul’s experience of this “third heaven,” which he called “paradise”!-end
We hope you found this excerpt of some interest and of some value. In accord with the above we observe that the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern at Luke 23.43 reads: “Yes! I promise that you will be with me today in Gan-“Eden.”-italics ours. It is very likely that when Jesus spoke to the thief he used the Hebrew word “gan.” So the thief would have heard, if we are to translate what Jesus said into English, “Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in the garden of Eden.” When the thief heard those words what “garden” could he think of but the one mentioned in Genesis? Jesus was promising that the thief would be ‘with’ Jesus in a restored Earth, a “paradise” Earth and this was not to be on the day both Jesus and the thief died but in the future when Jesus’ kingdom would rule over the Earth.-Revelation 21.1-4. And was not that the request of the thief to be “remembered” when Jesus came into his “kingdom”? Yes! Jesus will remember this thief and resurrect him in the future when Jesus is King in the Kingdom of God. Luke 23.43 has been correctly punctuated in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

(contributed)

Any questions or challenges for  this article may be considered for disusssion by emailing challenges@truetheology.net

Regards,

Rotherham

COMMENTS ON THE ORTHODOXY OF THE HISTORICAL—PATRISTICAL AGE

COMMENTS ON THE ORTHODOXY OF THE
HISTORICAL—PATRISTICAL AGE

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA:

Even after the elimination of Gnosticism…the Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter (the Unitarians) at the beginning of the 3rd century still forming the large majority. (e.a.)—11th edition, 1910-11, Vol. XXXIII (33), p. 963; and ibid., 1892, Vol. XXI (21), p. 127.

Why could it be said that circa the year 200 the “Unitarians (those believing God to be one person) were still forming the large majority”? Because they had the original Christian understanding of God as a monad; a single individual. The new idea (to “Christianity”) of God as more than one person, a doctrine of a minority deviating from the Bible teaching, found relatively few adherents. Historical confirmation of this accurate account of the situation includes these statements:

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA:

Unitarianism as a theological movement … antedated Trinitarianism by many decades. Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly Unitarian. The road which led from Jerusalem (the location of the first Christian congregation) to Nicea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding God; it (Trinitarianism) was, on the contrary, a deviation from this (early Christian) teaching. It (Trinitarianism) therefore developed against constant Unitarian or at least anti-Trinitarian opposition, and it was never wholly victorious…Earl Morse Wilbur, in the introduction to his History of Unitarianism enumerates a number of anti-Trinitarian groups which deserve attention in this connection; among others he refers to the Ebionites, the Sabellians, the Samosatanians, and the Arians…it must be reemphasized that the concept God, understood as a single, undivided personality, precedes the Nicean notion of a Deity defined as three persons sharing one essence. Unitarianism is the early norm, Trinitarianism a latter deviation from this norm. It is therefore more proper to speak of Trinitarianism as an anti-Unitarian movement than of Unitarianism as an anti-Trinitarian mode of theological speculation. (e.a.)—1956, Vol. 27, p. 294L.

 

Arius denied that Christ was an unoriginated being, but was created out of nothing and therefore in essence must be different from the Father. He also affirmed that though Christ were the Son of God … were he in the truest sense a son, he must have come after the Father, therefore the time obviously was when he was not, and hence (the Son was) a finite being. These doctrines…contained nothing essentially new or original in thought and had been more or less prevalent in the Chruch for three or four generations. (e.a.)—ibid., Vol. 2, p. 250.

“Three or four generations” takes us back to the “period of origins” of the Christian congregation.

The book The Formation of Christian Dogma, by Martin Werner, D.D., professor of systematic theology, history of doctrine and history of philosophy, at the University of Bern, supplies the following:

Eusebius of Caesarea has written as one who originally stood close to Arianism…Christ- ians (to him “Arians”) seek, so he maintains, to support monotheism…they have knowledge of a heavenly realm of ‘divine powers’ (dynameis), archangels, angels, and incorporeal pure spirits, with which God surrounds himself. The Logos-Christ was the oldest of these beings, God had set him at the head of the whole creation as the supreme ‘director’. In that the Logos-Christ belongs to these divine powers, which stand subordinate to God the Father, the Scriptures (Wisdom of Solomon and Hebrews) ascribe to him ‘divinity’. In his function as the supreme director of the creation he was, as any other angelic-being, fundamentally an ‘organ of the divine activity’. The view of Eusebius here simply revolved about the combination of Angel-Christology and Logos-doctrine which was found in the West from Justin to Lactantius.

With the Angel-Christology Arianism was also given certain other theses against which the Chruch in its new and antagonistic theology (the Trinity doctrine) sharply contended. These theses in previous expositions of doctrinal history have been set forth in a completely unjustified manner exclusively as the doctrine of Arius. These theses concerned here are, namely that the Logos was a creature (ktisma) and God alone was to be reckoned as agennetos; (“ungenerated”, “unorignated”) that he, (the Logos-Christ) ex ouk onton, (“from not being”) was created before Time, and that it can thus be said: en ptoe, hote ouk en, kai ouk en prin genetai; (“at sometime, he was not, and he did not exist before he came to be”) that the Son-Logos is, accordingly, in relation to the being of God, to be defined as allotrios (“alien to”) and anomois (“unlike”). Col. i, 15 was naturally taken as scriptural evidence for the creatureliness of Christ, but the crucial Old Testament passage of Pro. viii, 22 ff., which was so highly valued by tradition, was also utilized. According to this old Post-Apostolic tradition, the two concepts of ‘create’ and ‘beget’, which were used here in juxtaposition, were understood as synonyms in the sense of ‘create’….Phil. ii, 5-11 constituted for the Araians an important instance of scriptural evidence, which caused Athanasius considerable embarrassment….Arius… secured a whole series of proof-texts against the thesis of the substantial identity of the Son with the Father, which was maintained by the Athanasian (Trinitarian) neo (“new”)-orthodoxy.

The Arians, truly conscious of their unity with the old tradition of the Church did not fail in establishing the unscriptural nature of the new Nicene formula of the homoousia (‘same substance’ or ‘nature’) of the Son and his ‘generation’ from the ousia (‘substance’ or ‘nature’) of the Father. And they also laid claim to the tradition of the Church on their own behalf and even charged Alexander the bishop of Alexandria, in the first stage of the conflict, with having expounded himself to them the doctrine, for which he was now condemning them …The fact alone that previous to the rise of Arius, the old Angel-Christololgy was still a living force in many circles, explains the ready and widespread sympathy which showed itself for Arian doctrine. If this doctrine, according to the complaint of Hilary and Epiphanius, could infect the communities of almost entire provinces of the Empire, and is the Neletians of Egypt, as well as the Donatists, thought ‘arianly’, this was all due, not to the Arian missionary activity, but for the most part to a simple process of sympathetic response. It meant that all were now being counted as Arians who hitherto had always thought in terms of the Angel-Christology. (e.a.)

Irenaeus (in the second century) could still interpret Mk. xiii, 32 in the following manner: the Son confessed not to know that which only the Father knew; hence ‘we learn from himself that the Father is over all’, as he who is greater also than the Son. But the Nicene theologians had now suddenly to deny that Jesus could have said such a thing about the Son. In the long-recognized scriptural testimony for the Logos-doctrine provided by Prov. viii, 22 ff. The exegetes of the second and third centuries had found the creation of the pre-existent Logos-Christ set forth without dispute and equivocation. But now, when the Arians also interpreted the passage in this way, the interpretation was suddenly reckoned as false….A theologian such as Tertullian by virtue of his Subordinationist manner of thinking, could confidently on occasion maintain that, before all creation, God the Father had been originally ‘alone’, and thus there was a time when ‘the Son was not’. When he did so, within the Church of his day such a statement did not inevitably provoke a controversy, and indeed there was none about it. But now, when Arius said the same thing in almost the same words, he raised thereby in the Church a mighty uproar, and such a view was condemned as heresy in the anathemas of Nicaea.” (e.a.)—pp. 155-8.

We can see, that, the views of Arius were closer to the understanding of the relationship of the Father and the Son to those of the first century Christians than the views of Athanasius and his followers.

Christianity and the Roman Empire, by noted Roman Catholic scholar William Edward Addis, gives us an insight into the religious turmoil caused by the attempt to introduce the notion that God was more than one person.

The bulk of Christians, had they been let alone, would have been satisfied with the old belief in one God the Father, and would have distrusted ‘the dispensation,’ as it was called, by which the sole deity of the Father expanded itself into the deity of the Father and the Son….Tertullian…‘All simple people,’ he writes, not to call them ignorant and uneducated, (and these always form the greater part of believers) since the rule (of faith) itself transfers them from the many gods of the world to the only true God, take fright at the dispen- sation….They will have it that we are proclaiming two or three Gods. We, say they, hold to the rule of One….It became, however, more and more clear that the old belief in the sole godhead of the Father was no longer tenable in the church. (e.a.)—London, The Sunday School Association, 1893, p. 174.

On this one might ask: ‘Why was “the old belief in the sole godhead of the Father” no longer tenable in the church? This was the original Christian belief: Why now change it?’ The “old belief in the sole godhead of the Father” was that which had led new believers out of the pagan false teachings into the light of Christianity. The “old belief in the sole godhead of the Father” was, and still is, the Biblical belief!

We have looked back to the Patristics and have seen a pronounced understanding that the Father, Jehovah God was the Highest, no one was His ‘equal in all things’.

The following authors have given an accurate account of the early Christian teaching concerning the Father and the Son. A review of their findings will reinforce the truth that the Trinity doctrine never was, and cannot be, a part of true Christianity.

John Martin Creed in The Divinity of Jesus Christ, wrote:

When the writers of the New Testament speak of God they mean the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When they speak of Jesus Christ, they do not speak of him, nor think of him as God. He is God’s Christ, God’s Son, God’s Wisdom, God’s Word. Even the Prologue to St. John (John 1:1-18) which comes nearest to the Nicene Doctrine, must be read in the light of the pronounced subordinationism of the Gospel as a whole; and the Prologue is less explicit in Greek with the anarthros theos (the word “god” at John 1:1c without the article) than it appears in English…The adoring exclation of St. Thomas “my Lord and my God” (Joh. xx. 28) is still not quite the same as an address to Christ as being without qualification (limitation) God, and it must be balanced by the words of the risen Christ himself to Mary Magdalene (v(erse). 17): “Go unto my brethren and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” Jesus Christ is frequently spoken of in the Ignation Epistles as “our God”, “my God”, but probably never as “God” without qualification.

Arthur Weigall has written in The Paganism in Our Christianity:

The early Christian mind stopped short before the revolutionary doctrine that Jesus was God…Throughout the First Century, indeed nobody would have dreamed of regarding Jesus as God…for all the Christians of the First Century and most of those of the Second Century would have regarded it (the Nicene-Athanasian Creed) as sheer blasphemy. (e.a.)—New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928, pp. 181, 186, 189, 190.

Historian Philip Schaff recounted:

The victory of the council of Nicea over the views of the majority of the bishops was a victory only in appearance…An intermediate period of great excitement ensued, during which council was held against council, creed was set forth against creed, and anathema against anathema was hurled. (e.a.)—History Of The Christian Church, Grand Rapids, Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Company, original of 1910, reprinting of 1979, Vol. III, p. 632.

Richard Patrick Crosland Hanson, who at the time of publication (1981) of his, The Continuity of Christian Doctrine, was Assistant (later full) Church of England Bishop Of Manchester, and Professor of Historical and Contemporary Theology at the University of Manchester, reported:

Further, by the beginning of the Arian controversy there already existed a number of different and sometimes diverse theological traditions concerning the Christian doctrine of God which contributed to make the controversy more lasting and more stubborn. Before we look at the example of doctrinal development which this century (the Fourth) displays, I must say something about the Arian controversy in whose bosom this development took place. It is now nearly seventy years since the last book in English devoted solely to the subject of the Arian controversy was published. This is a testimony at once to the immense complexity of the subject, to the lack of interest in it to be observed among English-speaking students of theology, and also to the extraordinary unwillingness of English scholars to write books…The consequence is that most students of theology whose only language is English have gained a quite unrealistic and indeed obsolete idea of the causes and nature of the controversy. The account of the controversy that is widely prevalent runs something like this: Early in the fourth century a wicked heretic called Arius started some highly un-orthodox doctrine about the divinity of Christ. This dangerous heresy was soon answered, at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325, when the correct reply was given by the orthodox bishops, a reply which had always been available and which had for long been well known by all responsible theo- logians. But a small band of unorthodox, Arian bishops gained the ear of the emperor who succeeded Constantine and these were by their machinations able to overthrow the plans of the orthodox, prevent the obvious truth being openly acknowledged and prolong the controversy for another forty or fifty years, at the end of which period the villainous heretics were deposed, the suffering and virtuous orthodox reinstated and Catholic truth gloriously vindicated in the new version of the Nicene Creed.

This is a travesty of truth. The only reason this quite unrealistic picture has so long prevailed is because the last author to write books in English upon the subject – Gwatkin – unfortunately gave currency to this misrepresentation. Gwatkin branded Arianism as a thinly disguised form of pagan polytheism produced for the benefit of the pagans who were flooding into the Church, once it had been recognized and given approval by the Emperor Constantine. Gwatkin, who whatever his defects as a theologian was a good ecclesiastical historian, should have paused to consider chronology. (ea).

In this controversy there came to a head a vitally important question which had been waiting for a satisfactory answer for a long time and had never received one…The Council of Nicaea in 325 was of course an attempt to answer it, but it must be recognized that in this respect it failed. The wording of its formulas was ambiguous and open to misunderstanding. The Eastern (Greek speaking) bishops were entirely justified in regarding at least one of its statements as liable to lead to rank heresy, if not actually designed to lead there. It was in fact, ignored by all contestants in the controversy for more than twenty years after it had met.

The first point to observe is that the development of the doctrine of the Trinity in the fourth century involved as least one direct contradiction of traditional, not to say Catholic (“universal”) doctrine, and one reversal or reduction of a lively tradition of theological thought which had been entertained widely in the Church since the second century. The contradiction constituted the abandonment of an economic concept of the Trinity (The doctrine of the Father using His Son and His holy spirit to accomplish His purposes; not a concept of three equal persons. Compare, Gen. 1:2; 2 Pet. 2:21). There can be no doubt at all that the vast majority of the theologians of the Chruch before the time of Origen, and many after his time, had taught and believed that the Son was produced by the Father for the purpose of creating the world, revealing the Father and redeeming mankind in that created world. Some of them held that the Son had always been immanent in the Father from eternity and for the purpose of creation was caused to become a distinct though not independent entity from the Father. But they would all have said that there was time, or possibly a situation, when the Son or Word was not that which he was when as the Father’s agent he created the world. This applies not just to Justin and the other Apologists, but to Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Novation, Lactantius, Aronbius and Victorinus of Pettau. (e.a.).

Now, the champions of the Nicene standpoint during the Arian controversy entirely denied an economic Trinity. This point is clear enough in Athanasius’ frequent attacks upon the Arian doctrine (which had indeed plenty of support in the teaching of earlier ages) that “there was a time when he (the Son) did not exist.” It becomes crystal clear in the theology of the Cappadocian Fathers, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa. So frequently do these fathers deny that there is the least interval, and particularly the least interval of time, between the Father and the Son, that it is not worth giving specific references. Here is something which we must honestly call a direct contradiction between widely received earlier teaching that in its day ranked as orthodoxy and later orthodox dogma. (i.e., the new “orthodoxy”, the Trinity doctrine) (e.a.).

The Cappadocian Fathers…either reject or throw cold water upon the models and figures which earlier writers such as Justin and Tertullian had used to express the relation of the Son to the Father, as tending to subordinationism such as that of the of ray from the sun, branch from the root.. It is worthwhile emphasizing these two points, first that fourth-century developments of the doctrine of the Trinity meant a contradiction of much traditional, indeed time-hollowed, doctrine, and second that in one respect it represented a reduction, perhaps even a reformation, of existing tradition…the defenders of the Nicene faith…all formally subscribed to the philosophical axiom of the impassibility of God, which is certainly not an axiom honored in either the Old Testament or the New. Their attempt to meet the Arian argument that as Jesus Christ was manifestly vulnerable to suffering so the Son must have been vulnerable – doing so by taking refuge in a theory of two natures of which only the human one (“the human nature”) suffered – was unconvincing and was to make plenty of trouble for later Christological thought. (e.a.).

They (the Cappadocians) were also maintaining a different argument, that is, the co-divinity and unity of all three Persons of the Trinity rather than the divinity of the Son alone, which was the main preoccupation of Athanasius. They have been accused of a philosophical confusion so drastic as to render their account of God as one ousia (“substance”, “nature”) and the three hypostases (“persons”1) virtually worthless. And they were reduced to “affirming a coequal Trinity, whose members stand to one another in relation of cause and effect.” We must certainly acknowledge that in the thought of the Cappacocian fathers we can see a clash between philosophical assumptions and fidelity to the Biblical witness. (e.a.)—New York, The Seabury Press, 1981, pp. 51, 2, 4-9, 60.

THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE ONLY TRUE GOD-John 17:3

THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE ONLY TRUE GOD-John 17:3

(Since there are images imbedded in this document, it will be necessary to download the pdf LINKED AT THE BOTTOM in order to see them)

As was presented prior to this article, it is believed that the body of Christ would never find themselves in contradiction to an unmistakable Biblical teaching. That statement should be self-evident.

As we have seen, not all teachings or Biblical statements are explicit and unmistakable, but there do exist those which are and are beneficial in our search for the true body of Christ among the counterfeits that would arise.

It is proposed in this article that there is a glaring error on the part of many who claim to be the body of Christ, and that has to do with what one could easily refer to as the very foundation of Christianity. Who is the “only true God” and the sole object of our worship? Is it one person? Is it more than one person, such as two, or three? Are the scriptures explicit as to who is the “only true God”?

The answers to the above questions would present a large differentiation as far as numbers and choices of those who claim to represent the true body of Christ. Since the Trinitarian religions represent by far the majority of all claimed “Christian” religions, this would negate a large portion of the “Christian” population if the “only true God” is only one person, and not three, or even two. It would necessitate a focus upon those religions which teach the truth about the identity of the “only true God” and who he is, eliminating the rest of the world of Christendom who would in effect, be worshipping a being that does not exist.

The focus of this article will be John 17:1-3 and any scriptures that are deemed as relevant, not just to the wording of the verse, but relevant as to how the understanding of the verse should be affected.

John 17:1-3
1 Jesus spoke these things, and, raising his eyes to heaven, he said: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, that your son may glorify you, 2 according as you have given him authority over all flesh, that, as regards the whole [number] whom you have given him, he may give them everlasting life. 3 This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.

From the outset, it seems undeniable according to the words of Jesus, that there is only one person who is the only true God, that being the Father. Jesus unambiguously makes that statement. There are however, as one can imagine, objections to the claim that it is explicit and unambiguously declaring the Father to be the “only true God” in the sense the he alone is God Almighty, to the exclusion of other persons.

Before considering these objections to this claim, let us take a look at the words used in the Greek language and see how they are used elsewhere and in what manner. Doing so can help us to determine how we should understand what is said in John 17:3. The important words for us to examine are the words for “only” and “true”. “Only” is the Greek word “monos” and “true” is the Greek word “alethinos”. Let us first examine phrases which use the word “monos”.

ONLY = MONOS

The definition for monos, within the context of John 17:3 is given as “alone”(without a companion) or “only”. Thayer’s presents the following information:

(see pdf version for image)

The word occurs 47 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Every time that it occurs, it simply means “only” or “alone” within the context that it is framed. For instance, Mark 6:47 says:

“ 47 Evening having now fallen, the boat was in the midst of the sea, but he was alone on the land.”

I think all would realize that this does not mean that Jesus was the only person in the world left on land, but within the context of what was being presented, he was standing alone on the land, no one was with him within the immediate vicinity. So we can see that the word does not have an absolute, universal meaning to it when it says that someone was alone or the only one, but it does carry that meaning within the given context, which sometimes must be discerned by the scenario presented.

TRUE = ALETHINOS

Thayer’s offers the following for “alethinos”:

(see pdf version for image)

BlueletterBible.org provides the following summary of the definitions for alethinos:

1) that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine
a) opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended
b) it contrasts realities with their semblances
c) opposite to what is imperfect defective, frail, uncertain
2) true, veracious, sincere

When it comes to John 17:3, it would seem undeniable that the Father is called the “only” (only, alone) “true” (real, genuine) “God”. In a totally unaffected reading of that statement, this tells us that the person of the Father alone is the true God, which naturally would exclude anyone else.

But, due to the fact that the Trinitarian world does not accept the Father as the only person who is God, they must take exception to the otherwise clear and explicit statement that it is indeed only the Father. In other words, they would say that there are other considerations which “affect” the way that this verse should be understood.

The general objection takes the following form:

The word “only” is being used to differentiate between false gods and the true God and not
necessarily to the exclusion of the Son. They therefore claim that the phrase is to be understood contextually, in the context of being contrasted with false gods. They use Jude verse 4 as proof of this understanding. There we see that Jesus is called our “ONLY Master and Lord”:

Jude 4 My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.

It is argued that since the Father is referred to as Lord, Jude 4 would not be disqualifying the Father as our Lord anymore than John 17:3 would disqualify the Son from being the “only true God”. Both, it is argued, are context dependent.

It is further argued since we agree there is but ONE God, if Jesus is also called “god”, then he must be a false god, since there can only be one true God, making all other gods false.

Let us examine the above claims in the light of the scriptures and see if they are strong enough to overturn the explicit statement that the Father alone is the true God.

We have already determined that the word “only” is a context dependent word so there is nothing wrong with the claim that context could affect the meaning of the Father being the “only true God”. But what exactly is the context that we are dealing with in John 17:3, and what does the context tell us as to whom Jesus included or excluded within that title?

The claim is that the reason Jesus said the ONLY true God was to draw a contrast between the Father and the false gods of the world. If that is the case, although there is no mention of false gods in the context, why would that message only include the Father, and not the Son, or the Holy Spirit for that matter? If the intent was to highlight the only true God, who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, why only draw attention to the Father as that only true God? The claimed context does nothing to excuse the limiting of the title to the Father. The question still remains. Why only the Father?

Jude 4 does not present a problem since that occurrence too is context dependent and the context is in contrast to men who try and draw us away from God, who in effect, act as our master and lord by doing so. In contrast with those ones, Jesus is the ONLY Master and Lord.

So we don’t deny the context dependent understanding of the word “only”, such as we have at Jude 4, but there is nothing in the context of John 17:3 that would excuse not including the Son and the Holy Spirit from the recognition of the “only true God”. Furthermore, the Son actually removes himself from the title of “only true God” by contextually separating himself from that title with the words “AND the one whom YOU (the only true God, the Father) sent forth. The Son is clearly not included in the title via the immediate context.

The claim that making Jesus “a god” would necessitate making him a false god, also presents no problem to the Unitarian position, because the claim ignores the different connotations that “true” can possess. Yes, it can mean as mentioned above, an opposite to that which is false. However, as witnessed within the same work, it can also be used as; 1: b) in regard to those which are mere semblances of the reality.

Proof of this is the fact that Moses was called “elohim”, as were angels and human judges. Jesus called some of the Jews of his day “gods”, and all of these references are in a favorable context. Would we suppose that Moses, angels, human judges, etc. were called “G/god” in the sense that they were “false” gods?

Notice the following scriptures:

(Exodus 7:1) 7 Consequently Jehovah said to Moses: “See, I have made you God (elohim—plural) to Phar´aoh, and Aaron your own brother will become your prophet.

(Psalm 8:5) 5 You also proceeded to make him a little less than godlike ones (elohim—plural), And with glory and splendor you then crowned him. (speaking of angels according to Paul at Hebrews 2:7

(Hebrews 2:7) 7 You made him a little lower than angels; with glory and honor you crowned him, and appointed him over the works of your hands.

(John 10:34-37) 34 Jesus answered them: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “YOU are gods (plural of theos)”’? 35 If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came, and yet the Scripture cannot be nullified, 36 do YOU say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son? 37 . . .

There seems to be no question among Trinitarian commentators that these ones were called god in the sense that they were representing God the Almighty, or in other words, they were semblances of the real, but not the real thing.

Notice the following comments:

(JFB) Exodus 7:1 I have made thee a god–“made,” that is, set, appointed; “a god”; that is, he was to act in this business as God’s representative, to act and speak in His name and to perform things beyond the ordinary course of nature. The Orientals familiarly say of a man who is eminently great or wise, “he is a god” among men.

(JFB) John 10:34-36. Is it not written in your law–in Psalms 82:6, respecting judges or magistrates.
Ye are gods–being the official representatives and commissioned agents of God.

(Henry) John 10:34-36 1. By an argument taken from God’s word. He appeals to what was written in their law, that is, in the Old Testament; whoever opposes Christ, he is sure to have the scripture on his side. It is written (Ps. 82:6), I have said, You are gods. It is an argument a minore ad majus—from the less to the greater. If they were gods, much more am I. Observe, (1.) How he explains the text (v. 35): He called them gods to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken. The word of God’s commission came to them, appointing them to their offices, as judges, and therefore they are called gods, Ex. 22:28.

Parallel comments by scholars are numerous. That is no doubt why Thayer’s lexicon gives as one of the meanings of the word “theos” as:

4) whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble him in any way
a) God’s representative or viceregent
1) of magistrates and judges

It can also be seen when looking at other scriptures that use the word “true” that the contrast is not always in regard to the other things being “false”, but in regard to the other things merely being a semblance of the real or genuine thing. This can be seen when considering the following examples:

(Hebrews 8:2) 2 a public servant of the holy place and of the true tent, which Jehovah put up, and not man.

*All the other tents used by Israelites are not FALSE tents, but would only be a semblance of the ultimate tent mentioned here in Hebrews.

(John 1:9) 9 The true light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world.

*Christians, who also serve as a light to the world, would not be FALSE lights but would merely be semblances of the real light, Jesus.

(John 6:32) 32 Hence Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Moses did not give YOU the bread from heaven, but my Father does give YOU the true bread from heaven.

*Manna was not FALSE bread but was just a semblance of the real bread, Jesus Christ.

An attempt is made in regard to 1 John 5:20 where it is claimed that the Son is called the “true God”. If this is the case, then we must understand John 17:3 differently than what it explicitly tells us. But is this claim true? Does 1 John 5:20 call the SON the “true God”. Let’s take a look and see what we find.

1 Jn 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Is it not clear who the “true” one is that is referenced in this verse? Does not the phrase, “we are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ” make it obvious that the Son is NOT referenced here as the one who is being called “true”, but is someone else, someone who has a SON called Jesus Christ? That would clearly be the Father. The first two instances of the word “true” are unmistakably in reference to the Father since it is said of this “true” one, that they were “in” HIS (the true one just mentioned twice) Son. Rather than calling the Son the “true God”, this verse confirms for us that the Father is indeed that “true God”, the same true one mentioned twice before in the preceding sentence.

It is noteworthy that many Trinitarian scholars admit that this verse does not call the Son, the true God. Notice the following:

In Harris’s book, “Jesus
as God”, in the chapter that deals with 1 John 5:20. He discusses all aspects of
the verse that bear on the subject, and concludes the following:”Although it is certainly possible that hOUTOS refers back to Jesus
Christ, several converging lines of evidence point to “the true
one,” God the Father, as the probable antecedent. This position,
hOUTOS = God, is held by many commentators, authors of general
studies, and, significantly, by those grammarians who express an
opinion on the matter.”The group of scholars who favor hOUTOS = God, as listed by Harris,
is as follows:

Commentators: Huther, Alford, Haupt, Wescott, Holtzmann, Brooke,
Dodd, Preisker, Stott, Smalley, Grayston.

Authors: Findlay, Harnack, Dupont, Howard, Wainwright, Taylor,
Segond.

Grammarians: Winer, Buttman, Winer and Schmiedel, Robertson, Turner,
Zerwick and Grosvenor, BAGD

We could also add G. Johnston (Peake’s Commentary), and William
Loader to the above list. Loader’s words are worth quoting:

“Knowing the true God; avoiding idolotry. The Greek of 5.20 has
only the true (one) and reads literally: we know that the Son of God
has come and has given us understanding `so that we know the true
(one) and we are in the true (one)’, in his Son Jesus Christ. `This
(one) is the true God and eternal life.’ It is clear from this
that `the true (one)’ is God throughout. Christ is his Son. In the
final sentence this (one) most naturally refers still to God, not to
Christ, as some have suggested. It is not unknown for Christ to be
given God’s name (Phil. 2.9-11) or even to be called `God’ (Heb. 1.8-
9; John 1.1), but that would run contrary to the theme here, which
is contrasting true and false understandings of God for which
Christ’s revelation is the criterion.

5.20 reminds us of Jesus’ prayer according to John 17:3: `This is
eternal life: to know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom
you have sent.’ This is the life which is ultimately at stake in
the issues addressed in the epistle. The author has already
reminded us of that in 5.13, to which, in the structure of this
final segment, 5.20 corresponds.” (William Loader in The Johannine
Epistles (from the Epworth Commentaries, Epworth Press, 1992), pp.
79,80

It is abundantly clear, even from the words of well recognized Trinitarian scholars, that it is far from certain that the Son is here referred to as the “true God”. The immediate context is very clear as to who is the “true” one.

However a point of scriptural pattern arises when we find that Daniel Wallace, a respected Greek scholar, states that “houtos” never refers to the Father in the writings of John. This is presented in his well-known grammar, Beyond The Basics” on pages 326 and 27 under his discussion of 1 John 5:20.

He repesents there what he believes is the strongest argument that “houtos” refers to the Son rather than the Father. He admits that it is not conclusive, but statitical arguments are not to be ignored, especially if all the examples line up on one side of the fence. He believes that the fact that “houtos” is only applied to the Son in a positive light is because it is being used a theological motif intended only for the Son. This would mean statistically, there would be no reason to take “houtos” in 1 John 5:20 as a referent to the Father, since with John, it occurs nowhere else. This would neceissitate then a different view of John 17:3 where the Father is called the ONLY true God. It would mean that the Son too is “true God” so that the word ONLY in 17:3 could not be excluding the Son, even though the context would clearly do so because the Son actually removes himself from the application of the title to himself as mentioned above.

However, upon a closer examination of the word “houtos” and its usage in the above described manner by Wallace, there is evidence that even Wallace admits in a footnote that stands against the theory. He notes that there are places in the writings of John that deny that John was trying to use the word exclusively in reference to the Son in a positive fashion. The two examples that he mentions are John 6:71 and 1 John 2:22.

(John 6:71) 71 He was, in fact, speaking of Judas [the son] of Simon Is·car´i·ot; for this one(houtos) was going to betray him, although one of the twelve.

(1 John 2:22) 22 Who is the liar if it is not the one that denies that Jesus is the Christ? This(houtos) is the antichrist, the one that denies the Father and the Son.

In both these cases, it denies the idea that John was using “houtos” in some theologically significant way as a positive reference only to the Christ. In the two places above it was used to identify both Judas and the antichrist. Therefore, this theory does not exist without exceptions within the writings of John. And as far as “houtos” actually being used in eference to the Father, we do have an example outside the writings of John where the Father is identified by “houtos”. In Acts 17:24 we find:

(Acts 17:23-24) . . .. 24 The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this(houtos)One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples. . .

The context that follows that verse is unmistakably in reference to the Father. Therefore, we find no unmistakable pattern of ‘houtos” in John as referring to only the Son and we find that other writers had no issue with identifying the Father with “houtos”.

What is more, the word “houtos” is directly related and derived from the realted pronoun “autos”, which we find numerous times in the writings of John that it is applied to the Father. This evidence weakens the strength of any theological motif being established in regards to a pronoun.

Therefore, as many Trinitarian scholars agree, the reference in 1 John 5:20 is best seen as referring to the Son. When one examines the places where we find the phrase “true God” outside of 1 John, it is always a reference to the Father. Of course this only happens in two places, John 17:3 and 1 Thes. 1:9, but in both places it refers unmistakable to the Father. Plus, as we have seen, the references to the “true one” in the target scripture, 1 Jn. 5:20, prior to the “houtos”, clearly refer to the Father. For these reasons, there is certainly no strength to the argument that “houtos” must refer to the Son in 1 Jn. 5:20.

Two other verses should be considered which have caused some to think that the Son of God is unequivocally referred to as the Almighty God which would affect the presented understanding of John 17:3.

The first is John 20:28. The exclamation of Thomas to Christ: “My Lord and my God” has caused many to conclude this puts Jesus on the same level as the Father, Jehovah, as to godship. This has been made even stronger in the minds of some because of the inclusion of the definite article “the” in the Greek before both “Lord” and “God”. Are such conclusions justified? On the usage and grammar of the Greek here, please note:

The article in Jn 20:28 is explained by the mou (mou, moo, “of me”) which normally requires the article before it; by its use with the vocative [case]…and by its presence in the established formula ‘the lord and the god’…It should be further noted that ‘the god of me’, whether it is taken as vocative [direct address] or nominative, [identification] is predicative in sense and so cannot be used as evidence either way to show whether the
god in New Testament usage ever appears as subject of a statement referring to Christ.”—Karl Rahner, S.J., Theological Investigations, Vol. i, p. 136.
The adoring exclamation of St. Thomas “my Lord and my God”: (John xx.28) is still not quite the same as an address to Christ as being without qualification God.—John Martin Creed, The Divinity of Jesus Christ, p. 123.
“In John xx. 28 o` ku,rio,j mou kai. o` qeo,j mou, it is to be noted that a substantive in the Nominative case used in a vocative sense and followed by a possessive could not be anarthrous (see Hoskyns and Davey, Commentary, in loc.); the article before qeo,j may, therefore, not be significant.” C.F.D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 116.

So the use of the article in this particular construction by Thomas, as admitted by the above Trinitarians, toward Jesus does not necessitate removal of Jesus from the general class of ‘god’ to the position of “the God” of unqualified significance, the God of all persons, the unique God, the only true God.

Due to the ambiguity of how Thomas’ words should be understood, they should be regarded in light of the unambiguous statement of John 17:3, that the Father is the only true God.

Another scripture that deserves mention is Titus 2:13.

About the year 1803, one, Granville Sharp, promulgated what he considered to be six rules of Greek grammar; that which is known as his ‘RULE I’, he stated it in this way;

When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill,) if the article o&, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participle and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther [further] description of the firstnamed person”. (e.a.)—Granville Sharp, REMARKS ON THE USES OF THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE IN THE GREEK TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, Philadelphia: B.B. Hopkins And Co., Third Edition, 1807, p. 3.

(On pages 19, 22, Sharp used 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 3:13 as examples of the syntax under consideration and application of his ‘rule’. By using “always” Sharp stated his “rule” as a law.)

In other words—according to Sharp—‘When two nouns of the same grammatical case are joined by the Greek word for ‘and’ (kai), if only the first noun has the article, both nouns always refer to the same subject.’

There are admitted exceptions to this stated rule such as when the nouns in the sentence are plural nouns or when the nouns in the sentence are names of individuals.

The reason there is no concern over Titus 2:13 for the Unitarian position is due to the fact that just like the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” can be taken as the semantic equivalent of a proper name, since it includes a proper name, so can the phrase Savior Jesus Christ. If Savior Jesus Christ can be seen as the equivalent of a proper name, since it includes a proper name, then Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1 present no theological problem for the Unitarian position.

There is also this consideration as presented by other Trinitarian scholars in regard to Titus 2:13. I Let’s briefly review what Trintarian scholar Gordon Fee says in his commentary on Titus (NIB Commentary).

On p. 196, Fee explores whether Paul meant to apply the terms “our great God and Savior” to one person or two. He decides that since there is one single definite article preceding the words “great God,” both nouns [God and Savior] should be applied to the same person. This is in harmony with the Granville Sharp rule. But note what else Fee mentions.

The next question that comes up is: who is the “great God and Savior”? Is it
Jesus or is it the Father? This depends on what Jesus Christ is in apposition
to. Fee suggests that Jesus Christ is in apposition to “the glory of God” (DOXHS
TOU MEGA’LOU QEOU). Thus, Tit. 2:13 would be telling us that “What will finally
be manifested is God’s glory, namely, Jesus Christ” (196). So Fee says that the “great God and Savior” is God the Father while Jesus is the great God’s glory. In fact, as Fee points out, the view
that he offers is not a new one but was also offered by F.J.A. Hort in 1909 and aslo by Greek scholar Phillip Towner.

Therefore, even Trintarians deny any absolute application of Jesus in this verse being the “great God and Savior”.

After the above considerations, there can be no reason, contextual or otherwise, to take the words of John 17:3 any other way than the way that they naturally and explicitly read. There is nothing in the immediate or distant context to affect the meaning of those words, in fact, just the opposite. As well, referring to the Father as the only TRUE (in the ultimate sense, real, genuine) God does not require all others who are called god to be “false” gods. Doing so, would make Moses, the angels and divinely appointed human judges all false” gods, a truly untenable position.

John 17:3 unmistakably identifies the Father alone, as the Only Tue God. This is an explicit contradiction to the Trinity doctrine. The absolute nature of this verse should govern our views of any other references that might ambiguously suggest that Jesus is God, for, as we know, the absolutes should govern the non-absolutes.

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Who really is the faithful and discreet slave?

Amid the prophecies of Jesus Christ concerning his parousia and revelation, or as many would refer to as the last days prophecy, beginning at Matthew 24:3 and continuing into chapter 25, we find a statement or two at 24:45-47 about a “faithful and wise servant” which has caused a great deal of discussion as to who is designated by that title and what exactly is their role within Christianity.

Let’s first look at the passage in question and follow what it says.
Matthew 24:24-47:
45 “Who really is the faithful and discreet* slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so!+47 Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings.

Luke’s version of the account reads as follows:
Luke 12: 42-44 And the Lord said: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? 43 Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so! 44 I tell you truthfully, he will appoint him over all his belongings.

Since these words were amid an array of parousiac events, we should understand this appointment spoken of as being “during” the parousia as all the prophecies in this passage are likewise, parousiac events.

What can we tell about the nature of this appointment? How would they be OVER the household of God? Notice how this same passage is rendered in other translations. (The above was from the New World translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

Matthew 24:45New International Version (NIV)

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?

Matthew 24:4521st Century King James Version (KJ21)

45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

Matthew 24:45American Standard Version (ASV)

45 Who then is the faithful and wise [a]servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season?

Matthew 24:45Amplified Bible (AMP)

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has put in charge of his household to give the others [in the house] their food and supplies at the proper time?

Matthew 24:45BRG Bible (BRG)

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

BRG Bible (BRG)
Blue Red and Gold Letter Edition™ Copyright © 2012 BRG Bible Ministries.

Matthew 24:45Darby Translation (DARBY)

45 Who then is the faithful and prudent bondman whom his lord has set over his household, to give them food in season?

Matthew 24:45Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

45 Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season.

Matthew 24:45International Standard Version (ISV)

The Faithful or the Wicked Servant

45 “Who, then, is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has put in charge of his household to give the others[a] their food at the right time?

Matthew 24:45-51J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Vigilance is essential

45-47 “Who then is the faithful and sensible servant whom his master put in charge of his household to give others their food at the proper time? Well, he is fortunate if his master finds him doing that duty on his return! Believe me, he will promote him to look after all his property

Matthew 24:45King James Version (KJV)

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

Matthew 24:45New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

45 “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?[a]

AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON WITH SIMILAR RENDITION.

From the above renditions we see that someone, called a faithful and wise/discreet servant/slave would be in CHARGE OF, APPOINTED OVER, BE RULER OF GOD’S HOUSEHOLD which would include the whole of Christianity.
The greek words in question are “kathistēmi epi”. The meaning of kathistemi is given as:

I.to set, place, put

A.to set one over a thing (in charge of it)
B.to appoint one to administer an office
C.to set down as, constitute, to declare, show to be
D.to constitute, to render, make, cause to be
E.to conduct or bring to a certain place
F.to show or exhibit one’s self
i.come forward as

The meaning of “epi” is given as:
ἐπί epí, ep-ee’; a primary preposition; properly, meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution (with the genitive case), i.e. over, upon, etc.; of rest (with the dative case) at, on, etc.; of direction (with the accusative case) towards, upon, etc.:—about (the times), above, after, against, among, as long as (touching), at, beside,[b] × have charge of,[/b] (be-, (where-))fore, in (a place, as much as, the time of, -to), (because) of, (up-)on (behalf of), over, (by, for) the space of, through(-out), (un-)to(-ward), with.

This would be the case for Christianity during the parousia of Christ according to where this prophecy is found.

This reminds us of the role of the Apostles during the first century when Christianity was in its beginning phase of existence.

Notice what is revealed for us in the following passages and related comments:

Hebrews 13:17 told the first century Christians to be obedient to those who were taking the lead among them. Hebrews tells us that those ones ‘will render an account for our souls’. Who would that have been in the 1st century? Would it not have been the Apostles, who were acting as a governing element among the congregations of Christianity?

Paul said that there were those who gave ORDERS in connection with ‘how to walk and be pleasing to God’;

1 Thessalonians 4:1,2-
Finally, brothers, we request YOU and exhort YOU by the Lord Jesus, just as YOU received [the instruction] from us on how YOU ought to walk and please God, just as YOU are in fact walking, that YOU would keep on doing it more fully.2For YOU know the orders we gave YOU through the Lord Jesus.

The first century Christians were said to adhere to the ‘teachings of the APOSTLES’. (Acts 2:42)
Acts 2:42
And they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to sharing [with one another], to taking of meals and to prayers.

It is abundantly clear that the Apostles had a special authority in the 1st century congregation.

In reality, the idea of a governing element, made up of men, is everywhere apparent in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Consider the following points and questions:

Romans 16:17 17 Now I exhort YOU, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that YOU have learned, and avoid them.
Divisions in ‘what? What teachings are they in reference to? Would it not be the teachings of the Apostles? (Acts 2:42)

2 Thessalonians 3:6 6 Now we are giving YOU orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition YOU received from us.

Who is the WE giving the orders if there is no such thing as a Christian governing element?
What is it they received from the US that they needed to adhere to?
Again, does this not bespeak Apostolic authority?

2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 13 For YOUR part, brothers, do not give up in doing right. 14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.

Where did this letter come from that they had to be obedient to? Why was it spoken of as OUR WORD, and not God’s word?

Who was the OUR? Where was this obvious authority coming from?

Titus 3:10-11 10 As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition;

11 knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned.
How would you know if someone was promoting a sect if there was no governing element in regard to doctrine? Who determined what the ‘promotion of a sect’ entailed? Answer: APOSTOLIC TEACHING.

Titus 2:15 15 Keep on speaking these things and exhorting and reproving with full authority to command. Let no man ever despise you.

Who had “full authority to command” and what did that mean for those under their authority?

Notice 1 Thessalonians 4:1,2-
Finally, brothers, we request YOU and exhort YOU by the Lord Jesus, just as YOU received [the instruction] from us on how YOU ought to walk and please God, just as YOU are in fact walking, that YOU would keep on doing it more fully.2For YOU know the orders WE gave YOU through the Lord Jesus.

Throughout his letters to the different congregations we here Paul speaking of the ‘orders’ or ‘instructions’ that the congregations had been given by the WE. Who was the WE? Did you notice Paul didn’t say to them “God instructed you”, but he said “WE” instructed you? Why did he not say ‘God instructed them’? Why does it say that THEY INSTRUCTED them on HOW TO WALK AND BE PLEASING TO GOD?

It should be readily apparent that the Apostles were speaking with authority to the congregations scattered about. The Apostles were in CHARGE OF, Appointed OVER, or had RULERSHIP over the household of God, the whole of Christianity.

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders.
Correction. Appointment. Again, clealry indicative of an element of authority.

And again, Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

If there was no governing element within the 1st century congregation, who were the leaders that they were to submit to and obey? How were these ones responsible for the souls of the congregation to the extent that they would have to make an accounting for them?

This idea of a governing element within Christianity is embedded within many passages of the Bible.
Consider: Paul said at 1Cor. 13:11: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peacably, and the God of love and of peace will be with you.”
“The apostles and older men… to those brothers in Antioch… Since we have heard that some from among us have caused you trouble with speeches, trying to subvert your souls, although we did not give them ANY INSTRUCTIONS” – Acts 15:23-24

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I GAVE YOU ORDERS.

2 Thes. 2:1,2 However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of YOU 2 not to be quickly shaken from YOUR reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.

Many more examples can be offered if necessary. But a careful reading of the Christian Greek Scriptures will reveal in undeniable fashion that the first century congregation continuously functioned with the backdrop of a governing element within it, primarily recognized through the Apostles. After the Apostles would pass from the earthly scene and much later in history, another ruler over the household of God would be appointed. So again, how do we identify them? That becomes the noteworthy question at this time.

The answer can be found in the very passage that we started with. Notice that it states that this slave/servant would be giving food at the proper time. Naturally this FOOD would be Biblical truths and their aim or goal would to be to always teach the truth. Does this mean that they would speak infallibly? No, no one today is inspired by God in an infallible manner. But we would surely expect them to teach correctly the fundamental or elementary teachings of Christianity.

Those elementary teachings are listed for us in the bible itself at Hebrews 6:1,2. Notice: Therefore, now that we have moved beyond the primary doctrine+ about the Christ, let us press on to maturity,+ not laying a foundation again, namely,[b] repentance from dead works and faith in God, 2 the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands,+ the resurrection of the dead+ and everlasting judgment.[/b]

They would surely be teaching the correct identity of God, the proper view of faith, the proper view of repentance, the correct understanding of baptism, the correct understanding of the laying on of hands, the correct understanding of resurrection and everlasting judgment.

If we identify who it is that is properly teaching those elementary doctrines then we have likely found the identity of that faithful and discreet slave mentioned by Christ to be active during the last days at Matthew 24:45-47.

The churches of Christendom do not properly identify God when thy teach the Trinity doctrine, melding God and Christ together as one God when the scriptures clearly present the Son to be a different being than the Father. That is an extreme, fundamental error on their part and therefore would not qualify them as the faithful and discreet servant. The Trinity doctrine is NOT true food from God’s word but a pagan concoction.

The same is true when it comes to everlasting judgment. Their version of everlasting judgment becomes completely skewed via the introduction of the non-dying /immortal soul. The scriptures clearly teach that the soul dies when the body dies and there is no such teaching as “eternal torment”.. In fact, the scriptures do not speak of a dichotomy between the body and the soul, they are intrinsically connected. The IMMORTAL SOUL or ETERNAL TORMENT doctrine is not TRUE food from God’s word, It too is a pagan concoction.

When it comes to the resurrection. They do not acknowledge that there is to be a resurrection of the UNRIGHTEOUS as well as the righteous. The Bible is clear that the unrighteous millions who never experienced a full opportunity for salvation, will receive one.

Because of these fundamental errors, the churches Christendom do not qualify as the faithful and discreet slave mentioned by Jesus.

However, I believe that without a doubt, Jehovah’s Witnesses have properly taught and defended the true fundamental doctrines of the above issues mentioned. We welcome the opportunity to prove the correctness of that claim.

Therefore, it is affirmed that the faithful and discreet slave is to be found among the spiritual leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom they refer to as the “governing body”, who has the authority among them to teach what the Bible presents as truth. If it can be shown that Jehovah’s witnesses are not teaching the truth of God’s word in these fundamental doctrines, then they too would not qualify as the faithful and discreet servant.

If the reader has questions, comments, objection or challenges to the above information please send an email to challenges@truetheology.net

“Disgraced” in the lake of fire?

“Disgraced” in the lake of fire? The Greek VERB “basanizo”, rendered as “will be tormented” at Revelation 20:10 in most Bibles, has created much discussion as to its intended meaning. Its root word noun is basanos and is rendered as “torment” in most translations. However, as has been pointed out in most lexicons and other publications, the primary meaning of the word is “the touchstone”, which in our language is rendered “basanite”. The verb would be “to test by the touchstone”. “Basanizo” is often given the primary meaning in the lexicons of “to test by the touchstone”. Basanite is a stone that can be used to reveal whether something is made of gold or not, such as “fool’s gold”. If true gold is scraped against Basanite, it makes a distinguishing mark that reveals it to be true gold, as opposed to something fake. It is a fitting symbol in connection with something that has been shown to be revealed as fake or invalid. The claims of Satan and his cohorts, in the end, could be said to have been “touchstoned” for all eternity, as their claims of sovereignty will be shown to be invalid. Naturally, such a revelation that reveals ones claims as invalid is a humiliation, a shame or a disgrace to that individual. Interestingly, it appears that the LXX translators regarded the word “basanos” as a direct parallel to a Hebrew word that means exactly that; shame, humiliation or disgrace. If this can be demonstrated as true, is this not a meaning of the word that has been overlooked by many translators of the Christian Greek scriptures? Could it be then, that humiliation, shame or disgrace is a valid rendition for the word “basanos” and its verbal derivations in the Christian Greek scriptures? In other words, rather than saying that Satan and others will be tormented in lake of fire forever, it would be that they would be “disgraced”, “shamed” or “touchstoned” in the lake of fire forever. It’s readily defended that the lake of fire is a place of destruction, of death, and the enemies of God will certainly be disgraced eternally by means of their destruction in the lake of fire. Their claims of sovereignty and slanders against God will have been “tested by the touchstone” and shown to be invalid, resulting in their eternal disgrace, their eternal “basanos”=disgrace, shame, humiliation.(according to LXX usage) In fact, many other verses incorporating the word “basanos” and its derivatives could read much the same. Rev. 14:10,11: The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be DISGRACED (basanizo) with fire and brimstone (destruction) in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their DISGRACE(basanos) ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Rev. 18:10, 15 Standing afar off for the fear of her DISGRACE(basanos), saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her DISGRACE(basanos),weeping and wailing, Not that every instance of the word would lend itself to that particular meaning, but many, if not most, would. So this could help us to understand the divine choice behind the word “basanizo” when speaking of the fate of Satan and others. Leaving the word rendered as “torment” conjures all sorts of wrong ideas and seems, for many, to lend support to the idea of “eternal torment”, because in English, that’s exactly how it reads. How much easier it would be to see it as “disgrace” or something similar, as it is used in the LXX. Notice the evidence as found in the LXX: Ezekiel 16:52,54 VERSE 52- Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own SHAME for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy SHAME, in that thou hast justified thy sisters. In the Hebrew the word for SHAME in both occurrences is kelimmah. It is defined as follows: kelimmah: disgrace, reproach, shame, confusion, dishonour, insult, ignominy a. insult, reproach b. reproach, ignominy In the KJV, in the 30 times that the word occurs in the Hebrew, it is rendered as; shame 20, confusion 6, dishonour 3, reproach 1 Verse 54 of the same chapter displays the same scenario with the word kelimmah: 54 That thou mayest bear thine own SHAME, and mayest be CONFOUNDED in all that thou hast done , in that thou art a comfort unto them. Again, SHAME answers to kelimmah and CONFOUNDED answers to the Hebrew kelal, which is defined as : 1 to insult, shame, humiliate, blush, be ashamed, be put to shame, be reproached, be put to confusion, be humiliated. The word occurs 38 times and the KJV renders it as: ashamed 12, confounded 11, shame 7, blush 3, hurt 2, reproach 2, confusion Two more examples can be shown to demonstrate this same pattern of words and meanings. Ezekiel 32:25 and 30 Ezekiel 32:25 25 They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their SHAME with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that be slain. Ezekiel 32:30 30 There be the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword, and bear their SHAME with them that go down to the pit. In both cases the Hebrew word rendered as SHAME is kelimmah. However, when comparing the LXX equivalents to these words that were used, an interesting feature arises as to the word that we generally render as torment, that being “basanos” or the verb “basanizo” In the LXX we read at Ezekiel 16:52 52: “And carry your TORMENT! (basanos) by which you corrupted your sisters in your sins which you acted lawlessly above them above yourself. And you, be ashamed and take your dishonor! in that you justified. Again notice how the Hebrew reads and notice the relevant Greek expressions used as equivalents of the Hebrew ones. Here are the two pieces side by side and note that the word “torment” is used as an equivalent for the Hebrew “shame”. Hebrew: Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own SHAME (kelimmah) for thy sins Greek “And carry your TORMENT!(basanos) by which you corrupted your sisters in your sins This comparison reveals that the Greek word “basanos” can be regarded as semantically equivalent to “kelimmah”. This should underscore the non-necessity of rendering “basanos” as “torment”, but rather as “shame” or “disgrace” or “ignominy” based upon LXX usage. The same occurs when we compare the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures shown above with the LXX. Ezekiel 16:54 Hebrew: 54 That thou mayest bear thine own SHAME,(kelimmah)… Greek LXX So that you should carry your torment (basanos)… Ezekiel 32:25 and 30 Eze 32:25 They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their SHAME (kelimmah) with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that be slain. 30 There be the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword, and bear their SHAME (kelimmah) with them that go down to the pit. GReek LXX verse 25 is combined with verse 24 in the LXX: 24+25-There is Elam and all his force surrounding his tomb, all the slain having fallen by the sword and the ones going down uncircumcised into the earth of the depth, the ones putting the fear of them upon the land of life, and they took their TORMENT(basanos) with the ones going down into the pit in the midst of the slain. verse 30 There are the rulers of the north, all these, all the commandments of Assyria, the ones going down with the slain, with the fear of them. And in their strength being ashamed they sleep uncircumcised with ones slain of the sword and they carry away their TORMENT (basanos) with the ones going down in to the pit. In all the above cases the Hebrew kelimmah, which means disgrace or shame or ignominy is rendered by the Greek basanos, demonstrating their semantic equivalence when it comes to definition. Therefore, references to basanos and the verbs derived from it, could refer to the disgrace, shame or dishonor that they receive from being touchstoned, obviously drawing from the idea of being examined and found guilty or invalid, resulting in everlasting shame, disgrace and dishonor. If any reader would like to challenge the information presented in this article please send an email to challenges@truetheology.net

 

Did Christ receive the kingdom of the world in the first century CE?

Did Christ receive the kingdom of the world in the first century CE?

Revelation is a book which is regarded by most as having been written toward the very end of the first century. Some regard it as having been written around 66 CE, but there is no real tangible evidence to establish that date. The tangible evidence suggests the later date. But regardless, it was written far after the date of 33 CE which is what is important for this particular venture.

The symbols presented in the book are said to be of things which must shortly take place. (1:1)There are also clues that can be derived from other portions of the Bible that can identify the time period being focused upon in relation to the fulfillment of the prophecies.

For instance, John states that he came to be in the Lord’s day by inspiration. The Lord’s day is not Sunday nor is it Saturday as if the “Lord’s day” referred to the weekly Sabbath, for Christians are no longer under the weekly Sabbath observance. The Lord’s Day, via the surrounding context, is identified with the coming of the Lord with the clouds when every eye will see him. (1:7) This is an explicit parallel to the closing events associated with the parousia of Christ as mentioned in the Olivet Sermon. The important thing to remember as we proceed is that the book of Revelation opens with the timing of the parousia, whether it be seen as the “advent” or the “presence” of Christ. The timing of the parousia, which includes the revelation of Jesus Christ, is also referred to as the Lord’s Day elsewhere in the Bible.

(1 Corinthians 1:6-8) . . ., 7 so that YOU do not fall short in any gift at all, while YOU are eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also make YOU firm to the end, that YOU may be open to no accusation in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here the revelation of Jesus Christ and the Lord’s day are clearly connected. So we have a reference from the opening verses of the book that tells us that, in effect, John came to be in the “parousia” via inspiration.

Another important point to remember is that we are told by the Apostle Paul that the holy ones do not receive their resurrection to heaven until the parousia of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15:22-23) 22 For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.

Or as some would render “at his coming”. Regardless, the holy ones do not take their thrones, nor do they ascend to heaven before the parousia of Christ but AT or DURING that parousia. Therefore, their heavenly presence or receiving their thrones, likewise, occurs with the parousia, not before.

Allusions are made to the effect of the holy ones being in heaven or on their thrones during some of the visions that follow which naturally tells us, based upon the same criteria as before, that these visions are in the timing of the parousia and revelation of Christ, or what some would refer to as the “end times”.

Of particular interest is the 12th chapter in helping us to determine when Christ would take his throne and receive the kingdom of the world. While it is apparent that in 33 CE, Christ began to reign at least in some fashion, we find evidence that suggests “another” reign that would have to be established at a later time, which is the purpose of considering chapter 12.

Of particular note, is this verse:

(Revelation 12:5-6) 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. And her child was caught away to God and to his throne. 6 . . .

Some have applied this solely to the birth of Christ, but this simply will not work in harmony with the rest of the vision, since this “child” is referred to as more than one individual, a class of individuals, those who have been assigned the witnessing work to Jesus.

(Revelation 12:17) 17 And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.

So we have the REMAINING ones of the male child identified as those who will shepherd the nations with an iron rod and as the ones assigned to bearing witness about Jesus. This would be the church, the holy ones, that are included in this male child, because they are promised upon their conquering that they will shepherd the nations with an iron rod.

(Psalm 2:9) 9 You will break them with an iron scepter, As though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.”

Whereas this a clear prophecy about Jesus, it is also directly applied to those who conquer, the holy ones.

(Revelation 2:26-27) 26 And to him that conquers and observes my deeds down to the end I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he shall shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels, the same as I have received from my Father,

Therefore this male child is a reference to Jesus Christ and also the holy ones who constitute the heavenly government, being kings, priests and judges who do not get caught away to God and their throne until the parousia of Christ occurs according to Paul. So the holy ones can not be caught away to heaven until their resurrection, for it would only be by that means that they could be caught away to God and to their throne.

Therefore, the timing of verse 5 of chapter 12 must at least in part refer to the parousia of Christ. This is in total harmony with John’s words that he came to be in the Lord’s day via inspiration. And that also fits with the words that the signs are said to “shortly” take place, which would tell us that the visions had not yet transpired at the writing of the book.

So then, in relation to this male child being caught away to God and to his throne, we have the Devil being ousted from heaven, we have at least SOME of the male child caught away to heaven. I say SOME, because it is apparent that there is a REMAINDER of her seed who are still on earth and bearing witness to Jesus and being harassed by the Devil who was cast down to the earth to wreak havoc for a short time.

The question is, can this vision be applied to the events of 33 CE?

It could be claimed that the kingdom is first born in 33 CE via the woman, later, it is caught away to God via resurrection, first of all Christ, and then the holy ones when the parousia occurs, and then they are given their thrones once the remaining ones of her seed, being persecuted by the Devil, have joined the initial ones who were resurrected to heaven, as is also indicated by Revelation 6: 11:

And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled also of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they also had been.

Therefore, the interpretation might be attempted that in 33 CE the kingdom was born first with Christ, later to be joined by the holy ones when the parousia occurs. Also that the Devil was ousted from heaven at 33 CE and went off to wage war with the holy ones, the remaining ones, minus Jesus, who was now caught away to God and to his throne as the primary seed, during his short period of time, which would now have lasted over 2000 years.

One objection to this interpretation is the fact that the visions are said to be future from the time of the writing the book. Therefore, if the features of the visions are yet future, then one could conclude that the actual birth of that kingdom seed by the woman was yet future, especially since we know that the church’s being caught away to God could not happen until the parousia.

This is in harmony with the fact that John received these inspired visions after he came to be in the Lord’s Day, the parousia and the revelation of Christ. That would make the timing of the visions entirely within the parousia, not before.

In response to this objection it could stated that there are clear references to past events or personages within the visions, and this is true, at least on occasion. However, to apply the events of chapter 12 to 33 CE in the manner presented, it places nearly the entire vision in the past, which stands in contrast to the opening words of the book and the time period in which John found himself under inspiration, that being when “every eye” would see the Son, also referred to as the ‘revelation” of Jesus Christ.

Further, it must also harmonize with what happens when we plug this vision in with the vision mentioned in Daniel chapter 7? Does the situation change as to the timing of this received kingship by Christ, as to the birth or initiation of this kingdom? Does it confirm or deny the 33 CE application?

Let’s take a look and see.

In chapter seven, verses 7-13 establish for us that the son of man did not receive his kingdom until after the actions described the conspicuous horn, and in fact, this same horn is prominent clear up to the time of the parousia because verses 21 and 25-27 clearly show his persecution of the holy ones right up until the time that they take possession of the kingdom, which as we have learned, does not happen until the parousia.

This horn best answers to an outgrowth of the Roman empire, which is represented by the fourth beast in the vision. In fact, it is difficult and a severely strained interpretation to make it apply otherwise. Regardless of the other details of the prophecy, the important feature that we need to take from this, for this particular venture, is the TIMING of the event of the son of man receiving his kingdom, which clearly had to take place after the outgrowth of the Roman kingdom, an outgrowth which lasts clear down until the parousia.

Daniel the 7th chapter, taken in harmonious fashion with Revelation chapter 12, tells us that regardless of when one would think that Christ received the kingdom of the world, it could not have been established before the events of the conspicuous horn, which would have been far into the future approaching the time of the parousia.

Rotherham