Rescuing the Nature of Jesus & His Actions

Jesus the Adoptive Son & Earthly Voice of God's Will

Jesus knew himself to be the divinely adopted Son of God, both a prophet and sage, sent by God to prepare the nation of Israel, the Jews, and the world for the messianic age. We know that Jesus did not minister to the Jews of Judaea in order to cement a legacy of a revised or supersessionary religion. He modeled his end times ministry off of the prophecies in Isaiah and was dutifully influenced by the ministry of John the Jewish Baptist. Ultimately, our modern Christian interpretation of the term "the Messiah" is foreign to the historical interpretations of Jesus' time.

Jesus came to John the Baptist at the Jordan River as a repentant sinner. Jesus undertook to hear John's teaching and resolved to walk in the way of righteousness, returning to Torah, in complete obedience to God. At the moment of Jesus' immersion, as he came up out of the water, he & John experienced something unexpected — a vision of the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus and the apprehension that he was counted & divinely adopted as a beloved son of God, in whom God was well pleased. This indicated to him that he was to be God's viceroy, and he recounted this experience to his disciples in order to indicate the beginning of the prophetic mission he was instructed to go on.

Jesus connects his mission with the vision of national salvation in Isaiah. For Jesus, the Servant of Isaiah is Israel, and there are dimensions to Jesus' life that form analogies to what took place to the Servant: in particular, as the Servant suffered and was exalted, so Jesus will suffer and be exalted, as the Servant was misclassified, so Jesus was too. But the Servant of Isaiah was always Israel and Jesus understood this. We can conclude, then, that among the images and figures which Jesus consulted in his life in order to make sense of what God's plan for him was, the Servant of Isaiah was one figure among others. It does not seem to stand above the others, and it certainly does not stand as tall as the Son of man. But, the Servant image does still stand as one of the candidates for how Jesus understood himself.

The aim of Jesus was to live according to the will of God, of which the Law, with the Prophets, formed the chief revelation. His viewpoint was ordinary Judaism but with a more simplified application at times. He behaved as a pious Jew of Galilee would have been expected. The mission of Jesus was a proclamation of the coming of God’s kingly rule, a regathering or reconstituting of the tribes of Israel at the End-of-the-Age. Jesus addressed his proclamation to Israel in its promised land. Jesus understood his main task was to be the center of the movement which was a revival. This revival was the realization of the Kingdom of God among mankind on earth. Jesus’ mission was to initiate a straightforward challenge: Be better than than the Pharisees. Outdo them in righteousness. Live the Covenant with God to the fullest, following the Law carefully, paying attention not only to the required conduct but also the corresponding right attitude. Plan for the kingdom of God.

As God’s adopted Son of man & the earthly voice of God’s Will, Jesus saw his death as not only his: it was a completely representative death. Jesus understood his death was going to be substitutionary and protecting. In stating that the bread represented his body and the wine represented his blood of the covenant, Jesus was teaching that his very existence was comprised of obeying God’s Word, obeying Torah completely, and following the covenantal agreement between Israel and God. Finally, when Jesus was executed he gave this mission over to his disciples. In the great commission to his disciples he commanded them to follow his teachings and preach them. But he never authorized them to ordain new apostles nor change or modify his teachings.

Jesus Was Not Literally Preexistent

Preexistence is used within the pages of the New Testament overlapping with the hopes, theologies, and lingo of Second Temple Jews in their understanding of preexistence. The readers of the New Testament who fail to properly set biblical texts regarding preexistence within this historical context of a First Century Jewish framework will result in flawed and confused beliefs.

Preexistence in the B’reshith Rabba (“Genesis Rabba”)
The first text regarding the proper contextual setting of preexistence comes from the Jewish midrash on the Book of Genesis known to scholars as B’reshith Rabba (“Genesis Rabba”). It reads similar to the Mishnah, offering rabbinic commentary on various biblical passages. It is mostly written in Aramaic with the remainder in Hebrew. It was probably written in the 5th century CE. It demonstrates rather significant and noteworthy lines of thinking which can be traced back to the Second Temple period.

Its opening chapter and verse make an interesting comment regarding God’s plans and purposes:
The architect moreover does not build it out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how to arrange the chambers and the wicket doors. Thus God consulted the Torah and created the world, while Torah declares, ‘In the beginning God created,’ ‘beginning’ referring to the Torah, as in the verse, ‘The Lord made me as the beginning of His way.’” (Gen. Rab. 1.1)

The author begins with an illustration of an architect who uses plans and diagrams in order to create his project. This illustration is then applied to that way God consults his Torah in order to create the world, thereby equating the Torah with the plan/diagrams and the world with the architect’s project. While every Jewish reader of the five books of Moses is well aware of the fact that Torah was not officially given until Sinai (in Exodus 19-20), the author of Genesis Rabba thinks otherwise. For him, the Torah is so important and valuable within the plans and purposes of God that it
must have preexisted. This author goes so far as to say that Torah was consulted by God when he created the world as indicated in Gen. 1:1. Torah is also equated with the personified Lady Wisdom (Prov. 8:22).

The author of Genesis Rabba is not content with simply ascribing this status to Torah. He goes on to speak of quite a few other things which came before the Genesis creation:
Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of the others was already contemplated. The Torah and the throne of glory were created…The creation of the Patriarchs was contemplated…[The creation of] Israel was contemplated… [The creation of] the temple was contemplated…The name of Messiah was contemplated.” (Gen. Rab. 1.4)

In effect, six things preexisted and were with God from the beginning:
Torah, the throne of glory, the Patriarchs, Israel, the temple, and the name of the Messiah. These things are divided into two groups. The former, which include the Torah and the throne of glory, were actually in existence before the creation of the world. The latter four (Patriarchs, Israel, the temple, and the name of the Messiah) were “contemplated” by God. In other words, these four things were in God’s mind, plan, and purposes from even before the Genesis creation according to Genesis Rabba.

Focusing for now on the name of the Messiah and the way in which it preexists, Genesis Rabba is not teaching a literal preexistence, as in, something which physically and tangibly exists prior to its creation with God. Rather, this sort of preexistence resided in God’s contemplation, his mind, and his thoughts. This is “notional preexistence” a distinction from “literal preexistence.” The author of Genesis Rabba argues that the Torah and God’s throne
literally preexisted. But the Patriarchs, Israel, the temple, and the Messiah’s name only notionally preexisted.

Preexistence in the Targums of Zechariah
Looking at one of the targum readings from the biblical book of Zechariah. A targum is an Aramaic paraphrase/translation of the Hebrew text. The targum readings had their beginning around the inception of the second temple period where they would be spoken during times of worship. Eventually these oral readings of the Hebrew texts were put into written form. When one examines various targum readings of the Hebrew Bible, it becomes apparent that they regularly served as interpretations of how the respective passages were being read.

The targum reading which I am interested in for this post comes from Zech. 4:7. In this text an angelic intermediary is speaking to the prophet Zechariah. In the midst of an oracle concerning Zerubbabel the angel says,
“What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!'” In this passage, the targumist latched onto the “top stone” which God promises to bring forth. In interpreting this top stone the targumist wrote:
God will reveal His Messiah whose name is spoken from the beginning [days of old].”

The topstone is interpreted as the promised Messiah. However, the targumist adds a noteworthy tidbit concerning this figure. The Messiah has had his name spoken from the beginning. This is similar language to what we observes in Genesis Rabba 1:4 where the name of the Messiah was contemplated before the creation of the world. In that instance the Messiah (or perhaps simply his name) preexisted notionally, that is, in God’s mind and purposes. The targumist uses similar terminology here when he speaks of the preexisting name of the Messiah.

There is no indication here that the targumist thought that God’s Messiah
literally preexisted. Rather, it was his name which goes all the way back to the beginning. For the targumist, God has already planned out a particular name for the Messiah who, from the perspective of the prophet Zechariah, is still yet to arrive on the scene.

Again this goes back to the Second Temple Judaism’s understanding of the preexisting Messiah in a manner which is
notional rather than literal. The Messiah’s name was planned from the beginning.

Preexistence in the Testament of Moses
This document is located in modern editions of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, a collection which, among other fascinating works, contains a group of Jewish documents called  ‘testaments.’ Testaments are writings which place the final farewells and instructions into the mouth of a famous figure from Israelite history. Today scholars have identified and categorized testaments written about such figures as Abraham, Job, and each of the twelve sons of Jacob. The Testament of Moses was likely composed in the first century CE, making it very relevant for NT studies. It details Moses’ final instructions to his successor Joshua before he enters into the promised land. Since the figure of Moses was highly regarded within Jewish circles, surely his final will and testament would contain valuable words and exhortations.

The first chapter of
T. Moses is fragmentary, likely beginning with the year of Moses’ life in which he gives this testament. Moses summons Joshua unto him and begins speaking about God and the purposes of creation. In the midst of this speech, Moses says something striking about himself:
But He did design and devise me, and He prepared me from the beginning of the world to be mediator of His covenant.” (T. Moses 1:14)

In this statement Moses recounts how God “designed” him and “devised” him. Additionally, Moses was “prepared by God.” When did these designs and preparations take place, one might ask? Moses says that it occurred “from the beginning of the world.” However, these plans of God were for an intended purpose, namely
 that Moses would be the mediator of the covenant.

It seems that noteworthy figures such as Moses could be described as ‘preexisting’ by second temple Jews. However, this sort of preexistence was within God’s designs, devises, and preparations. This is
notional preexistence, a preexistence which is in God’s mind and plans.

This is not saying that Moses literally existed with God in heaven before the world. Rather, he is such a prominent person in God’s purposes for Israel (mediator of the holy covenant) that he was divinely planned long ago.

Preexistence in the Babylonian Talmud
The Talmud is the rabbinic commentaries of the Mishnah collected into written form. The Hebrew word talmud means “teaching, study, and learning.” This collection is the embodiment of rabbinic Judaism’s concern to study the Torah in meticulous detail. In some ways, the Talmud has had a considerably stronger influence on Jewish life and practice than even the Hebrew Bible.

Within the Babylonian Talmud is a passage of noteworthy interest for our study. In the tractate
Pesahim (which means “Passover”) we find this statement:
Seven things were created before the world was made, and these are they: Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the throne of glory, and house of the sanctuary, and the name of the Messiah.” (b.Pes. 54a)

It would be prudent for us to examine the specifics of this passage closely. Seven particular concepts are mentioned as having been created prior to the creation of the world. However, a discernible difference can be observed when we attempt to categorize these seven concepts. The Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the throne of glory, and the house of the sanctuary are all tangible things, either objects or locations. The remaining three concepts (Torah, repentance, the name of the Messiah) are intangible (I mean, how can God create an act of repentance apart from it existing as a concept?). An almost identical statement regarding these ‘preexistent’ concepts appears latter in the Talmud (
b.Ned. 39b), suggesting that this line of thinking was not isolated with one particular sage.

Regarding “the name of the Messiah,” one of the concepts within our ‘intangible’ pile, it is prudent for our study to speculate how this relates to Ancient Jewish understandings of a preexistent Messiah. Is the tractate
Pesahim saying that the human Messiah physically existed in space and time prior to the creation of the world? Sadly, it would see that this is not the best reading of this passage. Rather, the manner of preexistence ascribed to the name of the Messiah, strictly speaking, is notional and conceptual preexistence.

Preexistence in The Prayer of Joseph
The Prayer of Joseph appears in the collection of texts called the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. This document was composed in the first century CE, written in either Aramaic or Greek. The third century CE Church Father Origen notes that the Prayer of Joseph was being read by Jews in his day (Commentary on the Gospel of John 2:31). This suggests that this document made an impact within at least some Jewish communities over the first three centuries of the Christian church.

The opening verses, based loosely off of Genesis 32:24-31, narrate Jacob’s dialogue with an angel (with whom he wrestles). During his introductory speech he makes the following admission concerning his forefathers:
Abraham and Isaac were created before any work of God” (Prayer of Joseph 1:2)

The author of the Prayer of Joseph puts into the mouth of Jacob this comment concerning Abraham and Isaac. Before God created any work, he made these two figures. This sounds very similar to what we observed regarding Moses whom the
T. Moses describes as having already been designed by God from the foundation of the world. We likewise observed in Genesis Rabbah that the Patriarchs were spoken of as preexisting within God’s plans and contemplations.

Regarding the Prayer of Joseph, however, it sounds as if Abraham and Isaac
literally existed prior to their respective births.  The translator of this text, J. Z. Smith, offered a helpful footnote regarding this particular question. In Charlesworth’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Smith comments that the term “created before” should be rendered literally as “pre-created.” This seems to give the impression that Abraham and Isaac were, in some sense, pre-created, i.e., with God from the beginning.

The divine passive “were pre-created” indicates that God was the active Creator. It would seem very strange to argue from this passage that these two patriarchs
literally existed before the Genesis creation.

All in all, it seems that the preexistence spoken of in the Prayer to Joseph involves
Abraham and Isaac as existing notionally and conceptually with God from the beginning, giving them a higher status worthy of the founding fathers of Israelite religion.

Preexistence in Jeremiah
Having already looked at some of the extra-biblical evidence for ‘preexistence’ (and having concluded this Jewish preexistence was maintained within the plans and purposes of God rather than literally existing) it is now prudent to look at some of the biblical passages where this theme occurs. To quickly recap our findings from the previous five installments of this study, we observed that within Jewish preexistence speculation:

-things such as the Patriarchs, the nation of Israel, the temple, and the name of the Messiah preceded the creation of the world within God’s contemplations

-the name of the Messiah could (therefore) be spoken from the beginning

-Moses was designed, devised, and prepared from the beginning for a specific purpose

-the most noteworthy things within Judaism (Torah, repentance, the temple, the name of the Messiah) could be spoken as having been created before the world was made

-Abraham and Isaac were similarly spoken of in preexisting terms

The best way of accounting for all of this evidence is to conclude that everything of value exists with God in his mind, even from the beginning of creation. The manner of this ‘preexistence’, is notional rather than literal. With this in mind, let us look at the commissioning of the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. The opening chapter of his book records a dialogue between the prophet and God, wherein the following words are spoken:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations
(Jer. 1:5)

Again we are faced with the similar theme of God knowing (Heb: 
yada) an individual before they were born. The parallelism in this passage helpfully interprets the manner in which God ‘knew’ Jeremiah, for the prophet was consecrated for the specific purpose of being God’s mouthpiece unto the nations. This act of consecration (Heb: kadash) sets Jeremiah aside as a special figure, a prophetic figure. We have already noticed that such noteworthy figures such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and the [name of the] Messiah were described as, in some way, ‘preexisting’ for designated purposes. Jeremiah seems to be described in similar terms. Before he came into existence in the womb of his mother, Jeremiah was already set apart and appointed by God as a major prophetic figure.

This is another instance of
notional preexistence, where a noteworthy figure resides within God’s plans and purposes prior to his birth. It would be an ill-conceived exegetical move to read this language literally as if the human being Jeremiah literally existed prior to his birth, something which commentators are reluctant to do.

The consensus of Jeremiah commentators (Holladay, Craigie, Kelley, Drinkard, Bright, Thompson, Miller) regard Jer. 1:5 as an exposition of the prophet’s
elect choosing by God before he was born in order to function as a prophet. This is ample evidence for Jewish preexistence within the pages of the Hebrew Bible, a preexistence which is within God’s plans and purposes as an idea residing with God from the beginning.

Preexistence in 2 Kings
This passage appears in the midst of the episode where the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s utters a threat toward the kingdom ruled by Hezekiah. The Judean king, however, sincerely prays to the God of Israel for deliverance. The God of Israel hears the plea from King Hezekiah and sends word through the prophet Isaiah.

Yahweh’s response spoken through Isaiah is quite long, but within the reply comes these words:
Have you not heard? Long ago I did it.
From ancient times I planned it.
Now I have brought it to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of ruin
.” (2 Kgs 19:25)

It is important to take note of the verb tenses in this passage. The action in question is spoken of as having already occurred “long ago,” using the qal perfect of the Hebrew verb
asa. In the next line, the parallelism unpacks the former statement with another completed action, “I planned it,” also in the qal perfect. This Hebrew verb, however, is yatsar, which means ‘to form or create.’ It has been translated as “planned” because these actions of God, having already accomplished and created the act (and choosing this very moment in the narrative to bring them to pass), strongly suggest that we are talking about Jewish preexistence. As we have observed, Jewish preexistence speaks of things stored up in God’s plans and purposes, often speaking of them as having already occurred. The same phenomenon, I suggest, is occurring here in 2 Kings 19:25.

God reveals that he has planned from a long time ago to demolish Sennacherib’s cities. These plans are so sure to come to pass that they can be spoken of
having already occurred in the past. Even the Septuagint translates the two primary verbs in the aorist. This is textbook Jewish preexistence, my friends. Imagine coming to this text without any understanding of how Jewish writers portrayed God’s plans and purposes for the world. The sincere (but uninformed) reader would instinctively read this passage literally, immediately becoming confused.

This manner of preexistence is notional, rather than literal preexistence, that Jewish preexistence deals with plans and concepts within God’s contemplations.

Preexistence in 2 Baruch 4
This work was penned after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in the year 70 CE, with one of its key themes being an attempt to wrestle with the problem of why God allowed for the Romans to triumph over the Jewish house of worship. Scholars are fairly unanimous in dating this document to either the end of the 1st century or the beginning of the second century CE.

In the fourth chapter the unknown author describes a dialogue between God and Baruch. It is necessary that I quote the passage in full (verses are given in parentheses):
And the Lord said to me: “This city will be delivered up for a time, and the people will be chastened for a time, and the world will not be forgotten.”
Or do you think that this is the city of which I said: “On the palms of my hands I have carved you?
It is not this building that is in your midst now; it is that which will be revealed, with me, that was already prepared from the moment that I decided to create Paradise. And I showed it to Adam before he sinned. But when he transgressed the commandment, it was taken away from him–as also Paradise.
After these things I showed  it to my servant Abraham in the night between the portions of the victims.
And again I showed it also to Moses on Mount Sinai when I showed him the likeness of the tabernacle and all its vessels.
Behold, now it is preserved with me–as also Paradise.

It should be pointed out that the Jewish temple was “already prepared (4:3)” from the time when God created Paradise (i.e., from the foundation of the world). I have noted in previous installments of this study that the temple was often spoken of as having preexisted within God’s plans and purposes (
Gen. Rabbah 1:4; b.Pes. 54a; b.Ned. 39b). In those studies it was concluded that this manner of preexistence was not literal, that is, where the temple structure physically existed in space and time up in heaven. Rather, those texts described this magnificent building, which is of no small importance to Jewish theology, as already planned within God’s mind. The author of 2 Baruch seems to be saying the same thing here. In 4:5 the author additionally notes that this building was shown to Moses along with the the “likeness” of the tabernacle and the accompanying vessels (which were eventually crafted and built later). It should also be noted that 2 Baruch predates both Genesis Rabbah and the Babylonian Talmud references.

Secondly, the language used the prepared temple is that of it being “with me,” used twice in this passage (4:3; 6). This is extremely fascinating, especially in light of the Prologue of John’s Gospel where the personified Logos is spoken of having been “with God” in the beginning (John 1:1b).

Since the temple seems to only be preexisting as a concept rather than as a literal structure, the meaning of it being “with God” further suggests that it is a part of God’s plans and purposes. Similar uses of such concepts being “with God” can be observed in Job 10:13; 23:14; 27:11; Prov. 2:1; Wis. 9:9; Sirach 1:1. The close proximity of the dating of John’s Gospel with the dating of 2 Baruch strongly allows for the interpretive overlap of these themes.

In sum, the document of 2 Baruch demonstrates that Jews spoke of the important things of Jewish theology as having been prepared beforehand in God’s purposes, even going so far as to say that they were with him. This further contributes to my working hypothesis that ‘preexistence’ within Jewish modes of discourse was
conceptual and ideal, rather than literal.

Preexistence and the Logos
The term "logos" dovetails perfectly with the previous Biblically Hebraic fact. If the later christian translators of both the Old & New Testaments were biased in translating passages such as the famous ones of John 1 where they render the term “logos” as "Word". The translators even expanded upon their bias in John 1 by rendering the term "Word" with a capital “W".

Let's look at the possible Greek meanings of the term "logos." The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines some of the meanings as follows:
1. Motive 2. mental faculty 3. Reasoning 4. Intent 5. Thought 6. Divine Expression
What is really illuminating is the fact that, according to Strong's Concordance a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus first used the term "logos" around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe. Thus, we have a historic precedent which shows the proper understanding of "logos" is as the "Divine Plan, thought, or motive" of the Almighty Creator. Furthermore, when this corrected rendering is applied to John 1:1-3 the term "logos" can be shown to not be referring specifically to the Messiah (much less some mysterious "Word-man") but, instead, refers to the Divine Plan from (or through) which God created all things and which included the Messiah as the crowning achievement! As a side note, the use of the personal pronouns "he" and "him" are NOT concrete and early versions of Scripture -- Tyndale's original translation for example -- used the term “it".

John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Divine plan/motive/thought, and the Divine plan/motive/thought was with God, and the Divine plan/motive/thought was God. The same (Plan) was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it and without it was not any thing made that was made.

In other words, in the beginning God had a Divine Plan. This Divine Plan was, of course, with God since it was His master plan -- conceived in His Divine Mind. The only information mankind has available to understand God is His Torah (instructions) -- His Divine Plan. Through study of that Plan one can grasp aspects of God. There is nothing else available with which the characteristics of God can be understood. Therefore, His Divine Plan -- being the very manifestation of God's Divine thought and Mind -- is God! Jesus, as the perfect servant and appointed emissary of God, revealed the character of God the Father more than any other man; however, everything he did and preached was accomplished within the sphere of God's Plan. Therefore, the Plan of God is still the only way we have of understanding the Father. Of course, since God is Spirit, the use of terms such as "mind" are anthropomorphic so that we can grasp the basic concepts.

Anthropomorphism: attribution of human characteristics or to nonhumans: the attribution of a human form, human characteristics, or human behavior to nonhuman things such as deities in mythology and animals in children's stories.

The concept that the Torah or Mind (thought, Plan) of God is inseparable from God is a long standing, traditional Jewish understanding of the Creator! It is comparable to you and your mind (mental faculty, reasoning) being inseparable. It can be said that you ARE your mind; thus, you ARE your "logos" (thought, mind). (It does seem, however, that Traditional Christian and Church of God leaders may have somehow become separated from their mental faculties -- or "lost their minds".) So, just as a human can be said to be his/her mind, God can anthropomorphically be said to be His mind (logos). Later verses could be correctly construed to interject the sublime and ultimate ingredient of His Plan, which is the Messiah. However, this "Plan" or intent for a future Messiah was only in the Mind of God and did not physically and literally get "begotten" until Jesus was anointed the son of God some 2000 years ago.

There is no argument that "word" is one possible rendering; however, why would the translators choose the most nebulous possible rendering of the term "logos" in areas such as John 1? The rendering of "word" is completely illogical in the first chapter of John unless one is already predisposed to belief in the Biune or Triune God and intentionally biases the translation to support a "mysterious" inner meaning. The historic precedent mentioned earlier, and the more clear rendering of Divine "plan" or "motive" or "thought" or "intent," makes far more sense and removes all mystery! So what we have in crucial verses of the New Testament is an intentionally ambiguous and biased translation done in such a way so as to hide the far clearer translation of the Greek word “logos"!

Additional support for the opinion that "intent" or "motive" or "thought" is the better rendering of "logos" in John 1 is its clear agreement with the standard Jewish understanding of the preexistence of the Messiah which we covered earlier.

So, in summary, the doctrine of the Biune and Triune God, and the deity of the Messiah, rides largely upon a grossly incorrect understanding of "preexistence" and an intentionally ambiguous and "mysterious" translation of the Greek term "logos."

Jesus Was Not Triune

Origins of the Trinity
An idea that became popular among Christians around the fourth century was that of a trinity of gods. It was not, however, a new idea conceived by Christians, for there is much evidence of widespread belief in similar ideas throughout earlier recorded history.
Many scholars believe that the Trinity, as taught by Christians, comes from Plato as suggested in the Timaeus, but the Platonic trinity is itself merely a rearrangement of older trinities dating back to earlier peoples.

In Indian religion there is the Trinitarian group of Brahma, Vishna, and Shiva; in Egyptian religion there is the group of Kneph, Phthas, and Osiris. In Phoenicia the trinity of gods were Ulomus, Ulosuros, and Eliun. In Greece they were Zeus, Poseidon, and Aidoneus.

In Rome they were Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. In Babylonia and Assyria they were Anos, lllinos, and Aos. Among Celtic nations they were called Kriosan, Biosena, and Siva, and in Germanic nations they were called Thor, Wodan, and Fricco.

Trinities of gods existed in other cultures as well, including, but not limited to, those of Siberia, Persia, Japan, Scandinavia, and Mexico. We can see, therefore, that although the Trinity is characteristic of the Christian religion, it is by no means peculiar to it.

The New Bible Dictionary explains that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity was the result of several inadequate attempts to explain who and what the Christian God really is ... To deal with these problems the Church Fathers met in [A.D.] 325 at the Council of Nicaea to set out an orthodox biblical definition concerning the divine identity.” However, it wasn't until 381, “at the Council of Constantinople, [that] the divinity of the Spirit was affirmed.

While Tertullian introduced the term “trinity,” what he taught and believed is different to what the trinity doctrine is today. And since he introduced this term, than that means the trinity doctrine as taught today did not exist in the time of Tertullian. And if it did not exist in his time, then it could never have existed in the time of Christ and the apostles.
Tertullian however did introduce pagan ideas into the worship service. He taught oblations for the dead and made the sign of the cross on the forehead of worshipers. He also dipped people three times to baptize them. Tertullian freely admitted that he had adopted these ideas from pagan teachings and could not support them from Scripture, but he thought that if Christians adopted some heathen rituals of the pagans that they would find it easier to join Christianity.

Wikipedia states what Tertullian believed on the Godhead:
Tertullian was just a forerunner of the Nicene doctrine and did not state the immanent trinity. His use of
trinitas (Latin: 'Threeness') emphasised the manifold character of God. In his treatise against Praxeas he used the words, “Trinity and economy, persons and substance.” The Son is distinct from the Father, and the Spirit from both the Father and the Son. “These three are one substance, not one person; and it is said, 'I and my Father are one' in respect not of the singularity of number but the unity of the substance.” In his book Tertullian against Praxeas, he also states that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father and did have a beginning as the begotten Son of God. He also did not teach that the Holy Spirit was a literal being. So the trinity doctrine as we know it today did not even come from the man who introduced the word Trinity.

So the doctrine of the trinity wasn't formalized
until long after the Bible was completed and the apostles were long dead in their graves, and long after the man who introduced the word Trinity was dead and in his grave. It took later theologians centuries to sort out what they believed and to formulate the belief in the trinity.

Dogma Codified By Man
The book World Religions From Ancient History to the Present indicates that today's belief in the Trinity evolved over many years of heated political argument. The book states: The great Arian controversy of the fourth century, which split the Church in two, stemmed from the preaching .... that the Son was a created being who did not eternally exist and, therefore, was a sort of demi-god, subordinate to the Father.
The Emperor Constantine summoned the first General Council of the Church of Niceae, in 325, to settle this dispute and so reunify the Church. It condemned the teaching of Arius and produced a creed which declared that the Son is of one substance with and co-eternal with the Father. Theodosius I convened the second General Council at Constantinople, in 381, which endorsed his definition of Catholicism, finally condemned Arianism .... and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed. A further dispute arose between the monk Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople in 428, and Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria about the two natures in Christ ....There was ferocious argument ... in which Rome joined on the side of Alexandria against the pretentious claims of the upstart see of Constantinople. Thus politics entered into the dispute.
Once again the state intervened. The third general council of the Church at Ephesus, in 431, was called by the two emperors, Theodosius II of the East and Valentinian III of the West. It condemned Nestorianism, and Nestorius was exhiled to the Egyptian desert in 435 …. [At] the final session .... the Catholic Church in East and West accepted what is known as the .... doctrine on the Trinity.
This statement of belief, together with other doctrinal definitions ... [has] ever since been accepted by Eastern and Western Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians.

Only a Negative Consensus of the Trinity
By no means are theologians' explanations of the trinity doctrine clear. Religious writer A.W. Tozer in his book The Knowledge of the Holy states that the trinity is an “incomprehensible mystery” and that attempts to understand it “must remain forever futile.” He admits that Churches, “without pretending to understand,” have nevertheless continued to teach this doctrine (1961, pp. 17, 18) He then remarkably concludes, “The fact that it cannot be satisfactorily explained, instead of being against it, is in its favor.” — (p. 23)

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary in its article on the trinity concedes that the Trinitarian concept is humanly incomprehensible, “It is admitted by all who thoughtfully deal with this subject that the Scripture revelation here leads us into the presence of a deep mystery; and that all human attempts at expression are of necessity imperfect.” — (1988, p. 1308)

Cyril Richardson, professor of Church history at New York's Union Theological Seminary, though a dedicated Trinitarian himself said this in his book
The Doctrine of The Trinity, “My conclusion, then, about the doctrine of the Trinity is that it is an artificial construct ... It produces confusion rather than clarification; and while the problems with which it deals are real ones, the solutions it offers are not illuminating. It has posed for many Christians dark and mysterious statements, which are ultimately meaningless, because it does not sufficiently discriminate in its use of terms.” — (1958, pp. 148-149)
He also admitted, “
Much of the defense of the Trinity as a 'revealed' doctrine, is really an evasion of the objections that can be brought against it.” — (p. 16)

A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge states regarding the trinity, “Precisely what that doctrine is, or rather precisely how it is to be explained, Trinitarians are not agreed among themselves.” — (Lyman Abbott, editor, 1885, “Trinitarians”)

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia acknowledges that “
'trinity' is a second-century term found nowhere in the Bible, and the Scriptures present no finished trinitarian statement.” — (1988, Vol. 4, “Trinity,” p. 914). It further states that “church fathers crystallized the doctrine in succeeding centuries”—long after the apostles had passed from the scene.

Martin Luther who was the German priest who initiated the Protestant Reformation said, “
It is indeed true that the name 'Trinity' is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man.” — (reproduced in The Sermons of Martin Luther, John Lenker, editor, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 406)

Historian and science fiction writer H.G. Wells in his noted work
The Outline of History stated, “There is no evidence that the apostles of Jesus ever heard of the trinity—at any rate from him.” — (1920, Vol. 2, p. 499)

The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism says, “
Today, however, scholars generally agree that there is no doctrine of the Trinity as such in either the OT or the NT ... It would go far beyond the intention and thought-forms of the OT to suppose that a late-fourth-century or thirteenth-century Christian doctrine can be found there ... Likewise, the NT does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity.” — (Richard McBrien, general editor, 1995, “God,” pp. 564, 565)

And the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary states, “
The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the NT.” — (Paul Achtemeier, editor, 1996, “Trinity”)
Professor Charles Ryrie wrote, “
Many doctrines are accepted by evangelicals as being clearly taught in the Scripture for which there are no proof texts. The doctrine of the Trinity furnishes the best example of this. It is fair to say that the Bible does not clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity . . . In fact, there is not even one proof text, if by proof text we mean a verse or passage that 'clearly' states that there is one God who exists in three persons.” — (Basic Theology, p. 89)

He goes on to say, “
The above illustrations prove the fallacy of concluding that if something is not proof texted in the Bible we cannot clearly teach the results . . . If that were so, I could never teach the doctrine of the Trinity.” — (p. 90)

Shirley Guthrie, professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary wrote, “
The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. Neither the word 'trinity' itself nor such language as 'one-in-three,' 'three-in-one,' one 'essence' (or 'substance'), and three 'persons,' is biblical language. The language of the doctrine is the language of the ancient church taken from classical Greek philosophy.” — (Christian Doctrine, 1994, pp. 76, 77)

God’s Names
There are many words used in original Bible manuscripts which translate to the English "god." In Hebrew, there are four such words: el, elah, eloah, and elohim. These words are all common nouns which can mean "great" or "mighty" or "ruler" and are used to describe the many different men and beings mentioned in the Bible. These titles should be properly looked at and translated within the context that they are stated. Biblical hebrew does not flow like english, or any other modern language.

The Bible mentions that, in many cases, some mortal men are considered gods (great/powerful). Moses was called a god(great/powerful): "And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god [elohim] to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." (Exodus 7:1) And in the first book of the Bible, Abraham is called a god (great/powerful): "The Hittites answered Abraham, 'Hear us, my lord; you are a mighty [elohim] prince among us.'" (Genesis 23:4-5)

Angels are called gods (great/powerful): "
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then you eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods [elohim], knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5) A specific reference to a messenger of the Lord is made at Judges 13:21-22 which states: "But the angel [elohim] of the Lord appeared no more to Mano'ah and to his wife.” References to angels as gods are found in dozens of other places in the Bible. Other groups, too, are called gods. In the second Old Testament book, the judges appointed by Moses are called gods (great): "Then his master shall bring him unto the judges [elohim]..." (Exodus 21:6, KJV; also see Exodus 22:8-9, 28)

Even the princes of Egypt are referred to as gods (great/powerful): "
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods [elohim] of Egypt [princes] I will execute judgments: I am the Lord." (Exodus 12:12)

In the New Testament, the Greek word most translated "god" is theos, however it is important to point-out that this word is also a common noun applied to all types of gods. Even Jesus made mention of mortal men being called gods: '"In your own Law it says that men are gods!" he replied.' (John 10:34)

The ruler Herod is also called a god: "
On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and made an oration to them. And the people shouted, 'The voice of a god [theos], and not of man!'" (Acts 12:21-22)
Although there are many words translated as "god" in the English language, the Bible clearly states that there is but one true eternal Supreme deity and He has a name. In Bible manuscripts, God Almighty is named to by the letters YHWH generally called the Tetragrammaton.

Jesus Explicitly Denied He Was God
On one occasion a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call ME good? No one is good but One, God." Jesus is not here referring to moral goodness. Notice that the man called him "GOOD Teacher." Jesus is responding to the man's address, "GOOD Teacher" and responding to the goodness of his teaching, not talking about moral goodness. Now observe what the Scriptures say and Jesus himself said about his teaching:

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. (John 3:27)
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:16-17)
My Teaching is not mine, but His who sent me. If any man's will is to do His will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:16-18)
Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him. (John 3:2)
When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father taught me. (John 8:28)
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father abiding in me does His works.... the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me. (John 14:10, 24).

In response to being called "GOOD Teacher," Jesus indicates that "no one is good but God alone." What he means is abundantly clarified by other statements he makes about his teaching. His good teaching is not his own but his Father's who sent him. Jesus here denies that he is good. "Why call ME good [teacher]. No one is good but God alone."

God’s Holy Spirit Is Not a Person
Probably one of the most accentuated subjects in most Christian religions has been that of the Holy Spirit. It is probably the least understood subject, too. To get the true meaning of the Holy Spirit, we must obtain the true context in which the term is used and, also, harmonize its meaning throughout the Bible.

The English word "spirit" is usually translated from the Hebrew (ruach) and Greek (pneuma) words meaning "wind" or "breath,"(19) and by several extended meanings: "dominate feeling," "spirit persons," and "vital or active force.” An example of the Hebrew word trans translated as "wind" is found in Zechariah: "...
Flee from the land of the north, says the LORD; for I have spread you abroad as the four winds [ruach] of the heavens...." (Zechariah 2:6)

In Job is found an example of the same word translated as "air": "One is so near to another that no air [ruach] can come between them." (Job 41:16)
There are numerous scriptures translating the words as "sprit persons": "
Then a spirit [ruach] came forward and stood before the LORD...." (1 Kings 22:21) and "...immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit [pneuma]...." (Mark 1:23)

When the Bible speaks of God's Holy Spirit, it speaks of God's invisible active force. There is no Bible description which indicates that it is a person. A fine example of this idea is expressed in a story about Samson:
Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and he came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion roared against him, and the Spirit [ruach] of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion asunder as one tears a kid...." (Judges 14:5-6)

The New Testament "texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; some Bible verses also speak of God's Holy Spirit as being the disposition of God, either in Himself or in others. God's disposition can take the form of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, truth, promise, etc.

The idea of the Holy Spirit being part of a "Godhead" was not in the minds of the the Disciples nor any member of the Original Mission in Jerusalem. The place and character which the Holy Spirit now possesses in Christianity can be credited to the Cappadocians.

Concerning the Christian Trinity concept, J. L. Mckenzie, in his book, Dictionary of the Bible, states: "
The Trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of 'person' and 'nature' which are G[ree]k philosophical terms; actually the terms do not appear in the Bible.”(23)

Research, therefore, proves that even the concept of the Trinity, as taught by various Christianities, did not exist, and could not have existed, during all of Biblical history. The deduction, by factual research and logical reasoning, is that there is absolutely no evidence or proof that there is a Trinity. The evidence, in fact, proves the opposite -- there is definitely not a Trinity.

Jesus the Exorcist & the Context of His Miracles

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