Who Is Messiah?
Revised April, 2018

Part One


Part Two

Where is the Proof?
History and Development
Jesus Had To Be A Man

Where is the Proof?

Trinitarians know that the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. When this is pointed out, they will sometimes respond that this doesn't prove anything because, "The word 'Bible' isn't in the Bible either!" But in fact the word Bible is from the Greek word biblos meaning 'book' and does in fact appear in the Bible, referring to the written Scriptures. Yet, even if that word weren't used, the idea of written Scriptures is certainly present, and described by other good words, such as "scripture," "writing," and the oft-repeated phrase, "It is written."

Compare this to the Trinity. While the word "Trinity" (as well as other Trinitarian language such as "three persons in one God," "triune," "one substance," "eternally begotten," etc.) is absent from Scripture, it is claimed that such language was coined after the Canon of Scripture was completed to describe concepts that are in the Bible. This should send up a red flag for any Bible student. It suggests that God didn't do a good enough job communicating His nature in the Scriptures inspired by Him. If God were indeed "one essence existing in three persons" surely in His infinite wisdom He could have come up with words to describe it in the Scriptures He inspired. But there is nothing that suggests such a concept in the Bible. Why would the full communication of the nature of God be left up to people writing two hundred or more years after the New Testament was completed?

Nevertheless, Trinitarians claim that the concept, if not the language, of the Trinity is in the Bible. But when they are asked to show where it appears, they don't point to any Scripture that directly says God is three persons. They can't, because there is no such passage of Scripture. (The closest any verse comes is I John 5:7-8; see below.)  What they point to for proof is the verses that clearly state that the Father is God, then to verses that seem to say Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. The notion is inferred logically from the fact that these three “persons” are called God. There is only one God, yet three persons are called God, so logically they must be three persons in one God.

The problem with this logic is that, first of all, it directly contradicts the clear Scriptures which state that the Father is the one and only true God (John 17:1-3; I Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6). Secondly, there are better ways to understand the few verses which call Jesus and the Holy Spirit "God." We saw in what sense Jesus is called God (in only two verses for sure) above, and the Bible presents the Holy Spirit as God's operational presence and power, not a person. 

Most Christians think of the Holy Spirit as a person, partly because it is used with personal pronouns, such as "He," "Him" and "Who" in most English Bibles. The words "he" and "him" are used because the Greek pronouns are masculine in gender. Greek, like many other languages, assigns gender to many inanimate objects, so the use of a masculine pronoun does not automatically make the noun a person. Since we don't assign gender to inanimate objects in English, the masculine pronouns would be translated as "it" unless it was assumed that a person is referred to, as in the case of the holy spirit.  Yet even in the King James Version, Romans 8:16 refers to "the spirit itself." And the word translated "who" can also be translated "which," as it is in a number of verses referring to "the spirit."

Grammar aside, the Bible nowhere presents the Holy Spirit as a person.  For one thing, it is never given a proper name. God's proper name is given as Yahweh, and His Son's name is Jesus. But the Holy Spirit is simply called the Holy Spirit. The epistles frequently include greetings from the Father and the Son. However, never do they give greetings "from the Holy Spirit." Why would this be so if the Holy Spirit were a co-equal, co-eternal person?  (See a detailed examination of this subject in the article on the Holy Spirit, which also deals with the few verses which seem to call the Holy Spirit “God.”)  So just the fact that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all thought to be called God does not in itself prove the Trinity. Only the Father is unequivocally called the one true God.

Furthermore, there is no Scripture anywhere that presents God as more than one person. Quite the contrary, the Bible declares God to be "one" and presents Him as a single personal being, while Jesus Christ is declared to be the "only-begotten Son of God" and not "God the Son." In all of the thousands of references to God in the Bible, not one can be demonstrated to mean a plurality. He is always one.

It is often thought that Jesus claimed that both he and the Father were one God when he said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). But we saw from the context that when the Jews accused him of blasphemy, he responded with his clarification that he was the son of God. He could not have been saying that He was God. The word for "one" is the same word used a few chapters later, when Jesus prays that "all may be one."

John 17:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
[see NASB]

Jesus could not have meant in John 10:30 that he was "one substance" with the Father, for in his prayer in chapter 17 he prayed that all may be one in the same way, "as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee," and he could not pray that all people may be "one substance, co-equal, and co-eternal." In both cases "one" is used in the sense of one in purpose, one heart, the same as when a married couple becomes "one flesh" (Matthew 19:5,6; Mark 10:8). Jesus and his Father are one in heart and purpose, and he prayed that all may be one in the same way.

Only a few verses refer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit together (Matthew 28:19; I Corinthians 12:3-6; II Corinthians 13:14; I Peter 1:2). But they all just list the three. From other Scriptures we know that the Father is God, the Creator. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, not God the Son, and only ever called God in a secondary, representational sense. And the Holy Spirit refers to God's power and presence in action, especially as concentrated in the risen Christ. Nowhere does it say that they are "three persons in one God," co-equal, co-eternal, or of the same substance.

The only verse in the Bible that says anything resembling "three persons in one God" is I John 5:7-8. This passage has been one of the most hotly contested passages in the Bible, due to its lack of textual evidence. The majority of scholars consider it to be an interpolation.  The KJV reads, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." But the words in bold, referred to as the Johannine Comma by theologians, are not found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. For this reason most modern versions omit it. For example, the NASB words it as, "For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement."

There are some who maintain the passage's validity, however. (See a discussion of this in a Closer Look article.) But even if it were in the original, the fact is that these verses, as written, do not prove the Trinity any more than John 10:30. The Father, His Word, and His Spirit are all one in purpose and function just as Jesus said he and the Father were. The verse does not say they are "one substance" nor are they called "three persons in one God."

One verse that is supposed to imply plurality in God is Genesis 1:26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." The fact that He says "Let us..." is supposed by some to mean He was speaking to the Son. But there are two other possibilities. It may be an example of the "plural of majesty" as when a king uses the royal "we." Or, God may have been addressing His angels, as Job 38:6-7 describes the angels rejoicing at the time of God's creation. Either way, the next verse (verse 27) strongly suggests that He worked alone when it says, "So God created man in his own image." It would be illogical to claim that the use of "us" in this and only three other verses (Genesis 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8) means that God is plural, when references to God are used with singular verbs and pronouns some twelve thousand times throughout the Bible. God stressed that He created the universe by Himself in Isaiah 44:24.

The word elohim is said by some to be a plural word, because it has a plural ending (-im) in Hebrew. If that were the case, though, it should be translated "gods" in every case. Merely having a plural ending does not necessarily mean it is plural in meaning. There are other words in Hebrew that have plural endings but are actually singular in meaning, such as chayyim (life), panim (face), and mayim (water). Elohim is sometimes used to refer to plural people (Psalm 82:6) or plural gods (Exodus 20:3,23), but is also used of singular (false) gods (Judges 11:24; I Samuel 5:7) as well as singular people who are obviously not plural (for example, Moses in Exodus 7:1 and the king in Psalm 45:6). The context must determine whether plurality is actually intended.

When used of God, Elohim is used with singular verbs and pronouns in the approximately 2300 places where it occurs. In addition, other names for God, such as YHWH (some 7000 occurrences) and Adonai, (some 449 occurrences), as well as the Greek New Testament name, Theos (about 1317 occurrences), all take singular pronouns and verbs (except for the four verses mentioned above, Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8). Not one reference to God in the Bible can be shown to represent Him as a multipersonal being, as "uni-plural" or as "triune." God is emphatically declared to be one person.

Some have tried to suggest that the Hebrew word for "one," echad, carries with it a plural meaning, and can refer to a "compound unity." They refer to two becoming "one flesh" in Genesis 2:24, but this is another way of saying "one in purpose," as in John 10:30 and 17:21-22. One still means one. They also refer to verses in which "one" is defining a compound element, such as "one people" (Genesis 11:6, 34:16), "one cluster of grapes" (Numbers 13:23), or "one congregation" (Ezra 2:64). But in all these cases, it is the noun that echad modifies which gives it the compound quality, not the word echad itself. The words "cluster," "people," and "assembly" are words that have a compound meaning. But echad still means "one." It is one cluster, one people, one congregation. One always means one.

There are a few other "proof texts" that are commonly used to prove that Jesus is God from the Scriptures. Colossians 2:9 says that in Jesus "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." This verse says that the fullness of God dwells in Christ. It does not say that he is God in a human body. II Corinthians 5:19 says that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." There is a big difference between having God in you and being God yourself.

Another "proof text" is John 8:58, "Before Abraham was, I am." This is used to prove that Jesus existed before he was born. But could he contradict what he has clearly said elsewhere? He said he was not God but the Son of God in John 10:36, and that His Father was the only true God in John 17:3. In his discourse with the Jews here in chapter 8, he had not said, as the Jews claimed, that he had seen Abraham (v. 57), but rather that Abraham rejoiced to see his day (v. 56). Jesus was the center of God's plan, and his day was the subject of God's promises to Abraham. The lamb was "crucified before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8; I Peter 1:20).

When Jesus said "I am" in this context, it is thought to be a quote of God's reference to Himself as I AM in Exodus 3:14. In that verse, when Moses asked what God's name was and whom he should say sent him, God replied, "I AM THAT I AM" and then said, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) renders "I AM THAT I AM" as ego eimi o on and then the second "I AM" as simply o on. God was not just saying "I AM I AM." The phrase "I AM THAT I AM" literally means "I am the being" or "I am the self-existent one." The phrase o on means "The Being" or "The Self-existent One." God told Moses to say that "The Self-existent One" sent him.

However, Jesus did not claim this title. "I am" in John is not ego eimi o on, but just ego eimi. It is a common phrase which simply means "I am he" or "I am the one." The blind man used the same phrase when he said "I am he" in John 9:9. Jesus used it twice before in the same chapter in which he said, "Before Abraham was, I am."

John 8:
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
[see NASB]

Jesus wasn't saying he was "the Great I AM" or the "Self-existent One" as God is. He was simply saying "I am he," which he defined in verse 25 as "I am who I have been saying I am from the beginning." He'd been saying all along that he was the Son of God, not God in the flesh. And verse 28 says as plain as can be, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He." The Son of Man is a title for the Messiah that originated in Daniel, and was a title that Jesus often used of himself. He uses it here, adding "I am he" (ego eimi). He also used the phrase "I (that speak to you) am he" in John 4:26, when he identifies himself as the Messiah to come. Son of Man and Son of God are Messianic titles, as well as "Messiah" itself, all of which refer to the One who was to come and declare God's will, judge the world, and rule on God's behalf, as well as offer himself as the ultimate sacrifice. This is who and what Jesus claimed to be.

Because this was all part of God's plan, it is said that Jesus "came from God" (John 8:42). It also says he "came down from heaven" (John 6:38,41,42,51,58). Does that mean he existed as the Eternal Son before he came to earth? To "come down from heaven" is a Hebrew idiomatic expression that means something or someone came from God. In John 6:49-50 he said that the manna in the wilderness was bread which "came down from heaven." Did that make the manna God? Did the bread pre-exist in heaven? Jesus came from God and was part of God's eternal plan. That's why he is said to have had glory with the Father before (John 17:5).

It is often claimed that Philippians 2 describes how God the Son put aside his godly characteristics and humbled himself.

Philippians 2:
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
[see NASB]

I mentioned above that verse 6 does not say that he was God, but that he was in the form of God. The word for "form" is the Greek word morphe, meaning the external appearance. The word for "robbery" is harpagmos, meaning something to be seized. He did not think being equal (isos, same as in John 5:18, above) with God was something to be seized or grasped at. The Trinitarian slant on this is that Jesus, being God, chose to empty himself of his divinity and humbled himself as a servant. This is not stated in this verse, however, but is read into it. He was the visible representation of his Father, not his Father in human form. If he had been God, how could we "let this mind be in [us] which was also in Christ Jesus"?

Colossians 1 is a section that has several "proof texts" in it.

Colossians 1:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
[see NASB]

This section is misunderstood largely because of the poorly translated prepositions, as well as the failure to understand the exalted position of Christ. I mentioned before how "the image of the invisible God" refers to his being the perfect representation of God. He is also the firstborn of every creature in the new creation, which will be completed when he returns. Then verse 16 refers to creation. The first word "by" (in the beginning of the verse) is actually en or "in." The second word "by" (near the end of the verse) is dia meaning "through" or "for the sake of" and the word "for" is eis, which can be translated "unto" or "for." The verse literally says, "In him were all things created that are in heaven and that are on earth...all things were created through or for the sake of him, and for him."

The next verse continues with the prepositions. "Before" is pro and can refer to rank or importance as well as time. The word "by" in this verse is again en. He is before all things in rank and importance, and it is in him that all things consist. All these things describe the most highly exalted person in all of creation, second only to God himself, and that is exactly what Jesus Christ is.

There are other verses that are sometimes used to try to prove that Jesus is God, and that God consists of three persons. This is intended to be only a starting point. I exhort the reader to examine what Trinitarians say about them, and also examine what Unitarians say about them, and determine what the Bible says. All of the "proof texts" are reading the later doctrine of the Trinity back into the Scriptures. The fact is that it did not even exist as a doctrine until hundreds of years after the Canon of Scripture was closed.

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History and Development

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and not God the Son. His belief about God reflected the central tenet of Jewish faith, that God is One.

Mark 12:
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
[see NASB]

Jesus quoted the Shema in this passage. When he did, the scribe readily agreed with him. Was Jesus a Trinitarian or did he affirm the Jewish unitarian monotheistic creed? Jesus and the scribe both agreed that YHWH was the One True God and there was no other. The scribes, and indeed all Jews from Old Testament times on, held that God was one, and never considered it in a Trinitarian sense. The word "discreetly" in verse 34 is translated "wisely" or "intelligently" in other versions. Jesus concluded their discourse with the statement, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." If Jesus was a Trinitarian, he'd have been dishonest to agree with the scribe.

Had Jesus believed that God was one essence, but existing in three persons, it would have constituted a major departure from traditional Jewish doctrine. Such a departure on the part of Jesus or his disciples would have been met with questions and controversy as well. But no such controversy ever occurred in the first century Church. There was controversy about the need for Messiah to be crucified, about the need to keep the letter of the Law, and especially about the inclusion of Gentiles in the Church. But no controversy ever arose in the first century concerning the definition of God as more than one person.

None of the apostles subscribed to the notion that Jesus was God. The first century Church (who were mostly converted Jews) believed that Jesus was the Messiah promised to Israel. However, when more and more Gentiles became Christians, Gentile thinking came to dominate the Church, replacing Hebrew thinking, as discussed in the article about the Hebrew Origins of the Bible. With the loss of Hebrew understanding, the terms "Son of God" and "Son of Man" lost much of their meaning and eventually took on new meaning, based on Greek philosophical ideas. Similarly, words like "Lord," "God," "Person" and "Word" acquired new meaning when the Hebrew understanding was lost. Confusion arose as to the exact relationship between God and Jesus.

Gnosticism was a philosophical movement that predated Christianity, and stemmed from a variety of sources. There are a number of variations, but the basic theme that they have in common is that the spiritual is good, and matter is evil. Escape from the evil of matter was considered to be dependent on gnosis or special knowledge available to those who are fully initiated. Christians who embraced Gnosticism began to develop a different interpretation of Jesus. He could not be fully human to them, since matter is evil, so they began to theorize that he was either a spiritual being who inhabited a body, or else only "appeared" to be human (a belief known as "docetism").

Those who considered him a spiritual being considered him to be a "lesser god" created by God some time after the beginning, but still many years before his birth. But if that were the case, he would not have been entirely human. Likewise, if he only "appeared" to be human, he did not truly come in the flesh. John refuted these ideas in his epistles.

I John 4:
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
II John
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
[see NASB]

In addition, Greek philosophy, particularly stoicism, spoke of a supreme rational principal, which they called logos. It also taught that "hypostases" were realities which derived from higher essentials. The highest principle was called "the One" and from that was derived the second hypostasis, called Mind. From this came the third, or the Soul. Such ideas were incorporated into Christian doctrine as early as the second century Apologists, after the Hebrew understanding of the Messiah was largely lost. They began to describe the Word as a pre-existent person, created by God, but inferior to Him. This shift from the historical coming of the Messiah in the flesh to the incarnation of a pre-existent being, provided the foundation for the doctrine of the Trinity.

Historian Paul Schrodt, in his book The Problem of the Beginning of Dogma in Recent Theology, writes the following:

The world of the second century was marked in its philosophy and religion by a strong syncretism [mixing of alien systems of thought]. The highest expression of this tendency was, of course, Gnosticism. Within its dualism between spirit and matter, cosmological speculations and progressive emanations (Aions) from the highest God linking via these aions to matter, there was found also a place for a revised Gospel of salvation through Christ.

With the Church this hellenization has remained and is to be found first amongst the apologists of the second century...The Church's monotheism always retained a certain heathen, philosophical pluralistic coloring. This strange coloring of the doctrine of God began with the taking over of the heathen-philosophical notion of Logos, which in the heathen background had a different meaning. In John's gospel the Logos is tied to the notion of "teacher" and "teaching." In the philosophy of that time it was, on the contrary, only one Aion of the Most High God. It was in this last meaning that the apologists [Justin Martyr and others] read Philo's doctrine of the Logos into Scripture.

Thus the Logos, or Word, was changed from God's preexisting purpose to a preexisting person. Justin Martyr (mid 2nd century) proposed that it was the Son of God, rather than the word of God, which existed before, and appeared as an angel in the Old Testament. Still, the Son was not yet "co-eternal" or "co-equal" with the Father, as later developments described him.

Tertullian was the first Christian writer to use the term "trinity" to describe three "persons" having "one substance," around the end of the 2nd century. But he still considered the second and third persons to have proceeded from the first to fulfill a specific function. Origen (early-to-mid 3rd century), on the other hand, considered them to have always existed. He coined the term "eternally begotten" or "eternally generated" which is actually a meaningless contradiction in terms, since "begotten" means someone is brought into existence. But "three persons in one substance" means "God" is now a "substance" or an "essence" rather than a person.

Such language, which is essential to the doctrine of the Trinity, was coined to explain the apparent contradiction between Jesus being deity (in whatever sense) and the belief in only one God. Had these Christian writers simply maintained the original Jewish understanding of God and Lord, along with the understanding of Messiah being God's Son and thus His ultimate representative, there would have been no contradiction. There would therefore have been no need to coin new language which, in addition to being illogical and self-contradictory, is found nowhere in the Bible. Instead they believed that Greek philosophy provided a way to explain the complex nature of God. They then took these foreign concepts and read them back into the Scriptures, in an attempt to prove that the concepts were Biblical.

As time went on, differences in the nature of the Son and of his relationship with the Father grew more contentious. Athanasius taught that Jesus was co-equal with God, while the Arians believed he was inferior to the Father (though they still believed he preexisted his birth). The heated division over these questions necessitated the Council of Nicea in 325. Under the leadership of the Emperor Constantine, it was officially declared that Jesus was God. The Nicene creed states that he was "begotten of the Father before all ages; God from God; Light from Light; True God from True God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made." In 381, the Council of Constantinople added the designation that the Holy Ghost was "the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified; and who spoke through the prophets."

The doctrine was further developed in the middle ages, as witnessed by the Athanasian Creed of the fifth century. It states that "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith; which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: that we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one; the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal."

However, complete equality with regards to their origins was still not claimed for all three, but rather it states, "The Father is neither made, created, nor begotten. The Son of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding." After the Reformation, this distinction was dropped and the definition of the Trinity was fully developed into three persons in one God, completely equal in origin as well as substance, power, and glory.

Since the first introduction of these doctrines, there were always individuals or small groups that opposed the "orthodox" teaching. They were generally excommunicated, exiled, and often persecuted and even killed. Yet there have always been small pockets of Biblical Unitarians throughout history. The 16th century Anabaptists and the Radical Reformation brought it more into the open, and during the 1800s many more people came to an understanding of this view of Jesus. Today, many Biblical scholars recognize that the Scriptures present Jesus Christ as the only-begotten Son of God, and not God the Son. However, they are in the minority and often ridiculed or berated. Nevertheless, they present a sound case that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be shown from the Bible, and in fact is refuted by it.

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Jesus Had To Be A Man

This is not meant to be an exhaustive consideration of this topic. I refer you to other Biblical Unitarian writers, all of whom back up from Scripture their view that Jesus is the Son of God and not God. It is important to recognize who he is, since his identity as the promised Messiah is part of the Gospel of the coming Kingdom, the acceptance of which is the key to eternal life.

If the Father and the Son are co-equal, co-eternal persons, and one "essence," how can they have separate wills? Yet Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). If Jesus were God, he would have just naturally done His own will. But he made a point of being obedient and always doing the Father's will. This is a great example to us as well. And when he died on the cross, it was not an automatic action. The Bible tells us that he did not want to die on the cross. He asked the Father if there were any other way besides that torturous death. "Nevertheless," he said, "Not my will but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42). If he were God he would just be doing his own will. But as God's Son, he had to choose to do his Father's will and not his own. Besides, if he were God he could not have been the sacrifice for our sins, since sin came by man, and a man had to be sacrificed.

Another important point is that being a man he did not have immortality inherently. He was given immortality, as the firstborn from the dead. This is significant as he is the first of the new creation of people who will rule on God's behalf in the Coming Age. If he were God, or if he were some other kind of pre-existent, eternal being, he would have already had immortality, and would not have gained anything. But because he came in the flesh and was truly a human being, his resurrection from the dead is the guarantee that those who believe in him will also be raised up on the last day, and be given eternal life. This gift of life was first bestowed on Jesus when he was raised, as the first fruits from the dead, and will be given to those believers who are raised when Christ returns.

Many of the obvious differences between God and His Son (such as God cannot die, God cannot be tempted, God knows everything, God is all powerful, etc.) are explained away by Trinitarians by saying that Jesus had two distinct natures: one of them "fully God," and one of them "fully man." Thus the "God" part of Jesus did not die, was not tempted, is all-knowing and all-powerful, etc. But the "man" part of him did die, was tempted, is limited in knowledge and power, etc. There are two problems with this. First of all, there is no Scripture that says anything of the kind. Secondly, Trinitarians don't even claim that he is "half God and half man" but that he is "100% God and 100% man." But nobody can be 200% of anything. Besides, if Jesus had this (logically impossible) dual nature, how in the world could we identify with him or be imitators of him?

The whole relationship between God and man is exemplified in the relationship between Jesus and his Father. If he were God, or somehow a co-equal person with the Father, how could we hope to emulate that? But we can be imitators of Christ as the Son of God. And because he was a man and experienced the same things we do, he is able to strengthen us. Trinitarians claim that the relationship within the Trinity is supposed to be an example of unity in the Church. But how can that be? Members of the Church are not multiple persons within one being or essence. They are members of a family, and "one in purpose" as Jesus said he and God were. The love of the Father for His Son is our example, not love among "different persons within Himself" (a phrase which doesn't even make sense).

Trinitarians often make the claim that the doctrine is indeed illogical by our standard of reason, because it is based on God’s higher standard of reason, which we can’t understand. If that were the case, then somewhere in His written revelation to us it would have to be explicitly stated. If it is not based on human reason, then it could not have been reasoned out or inferred from any of the supposed "implications" in the Scriptures, as Trinitarians claim it is. God would have to make a specific, though seemingly illogical, statement that he was "three persons, yet one God." He would have to make such a statement, and perhaps include the statement that it does not fit with our reason, so we must simply accept it on faith. But of course He made no such statement anywhere in Scripture.

This is not to make the claim that we understand everything about God. Certainly there are things mentioned in the Scriptures that are mysterious to us, or at least seemingly paradoxical. But how many persons God is, is not one of those things, since He repeatedly tells us that he is one. We are told that the Scriptures give us knowledge of "everything that pertains to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3). Yet they make no explicit statement regarding the Trinity, or the two natures of Jesus which supposedly explain the very clear distinctions between God and His Son.

Often Trinitarians are concerned that saying Jesus is not God somehow lessens or denigrates his position.  But the fact is that he is the most exalted person who ever lived, the central focus and purpose for all of creation, the only-begotten Son of God, the Messiah promised since the beginning.  Yet calling him God in the flesh not only misses the point but in fact lessens and denigrates the Father’s unique position as the one and only true God.

The very idea of the Trinity didn't even exist until many years after the Scriptures were completed. How can it be divine revelation? Such an important doctrine would surely need to have been included in the Canon of Scripture, wouldn’t it? We are told by mainstream Christianity that we are not Christian and not saved if we do not believe that God is three persons in one God. But the Bible never makes such a statement. It only says we must believe that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of God."

The primary key that was constantly stressed in the first century was believing in who Jesus was, as the Messiah and promised king of the Kingdom. When the understanding of who Jesus was became muddled, so also did the understanding of his primary message, the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the ultimate goal of believers, God's Kingdom on earth. The whole interconnected message of Christianity has become muddled in the Christian Church, and the doctrine of the Trinity is one part of that muddle. I encourage the reader to search the Scriptures diligently to see whether these things are so.

For further study:

°         http://www.christianmonotheism.com/

°         http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/

°         http://www.wrestedscriptures.com/b08trinity/trinity.html



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Mark Clarke
E-mail: mclarke@godskingdomfirst.org