“Proof Texts” Against Christ’s Deity?

Some false religions opposed to the Deity of Christ try to sustain their defective Christology by reading their preconceived notions into selected Bible verses. When these “proof texts” don’t seem to fit into their playbook, they resort to semantic juggling. Below, some of the Bible verses utilized by Jehovah’s Witnesses (the most common of the bad lot) are examined.

Proverbs 8:22 “The LORD possessed me (RSV: created) me in the beginning of his way…”

This is often laced with 1 Cor. 1:24 “Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God” to conclude that Jesus, being God’s wisdom, is a created being. Now, if Jesus was created and not eternal, that means God’s power and wisdom are not eternal – that means He didn’t attain power and wisdom until a certain point in time. This is nothing short of a blasphemy.

Verse 23 reads: “I was appointed from eternity.” The Hebrew word for “eternity” here is “olam” which is also used to describe Jehovah’s eternity in Psa. 93:2; 106:48 and Isa. 40:28. So, if Jesus is the wisdom speaking in Prov. 8:22, certainly, He is eternal with God the Father.

Some object by saying the word olam has a wide variety of meanings. This is a desperate grasp at straw. Various Bible translations render the word as “ancient times” (NIV, TEV, REB, CEV), “days of age-past time” (Rotherham), “ages untold” (Knox) “days of eternity” (MLB, NASB, Darby), “from everlasting” (KJV, RV, NKJV, ASV) “everlasting ages past” (LB) and “from ancient days – eternity” (Amplified).

The Funk and Wagnalis Standard Dictionary of the English Language defines “eternal” as having neither beginning nor end of existence; infinite duration or existence, everlasting; endless or limitless time. Whether in Hebrew or English, the word conveys the same meaning. Taking a closer look at Prov. 8:22, however, it’s clear that the “wisdom” being referred to is a personification rather than being Jesus, due to the pronouns used.

For example, in verses 1-3, this wisdom is addressed as “it” and as “she” in 9:1-4. Even the Watchtower Society admits that: “…it is not unusual in the Scriptures for something that is not actually a person to be personalized or personified. Wisdom is personified in the book of Proverbs (1:20-33, 8:1-36); and the feminine pronominal forms are used if it in the original Hebrew, as also in many English translations…” (Insight on the Scriptures, 1988, 2:1019).

Isaiah 9:6 “…And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

It is argued that though Jesus is called Mighty God, He is still not God but “a god.” But this same title is used for Jehovah:

Isa. 10:21 “A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.”

Jer. 32:18 “…The Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name.”

Using Watchtower logic, this would mean God is just “a god.” How ridiculous. Just as Jesus is called “everlasting Father,” God is also called “the everlasting God” (Isa. 40:28) and “everlasting king” (Jer. 10:10). The only valid conclusion is that Jesus is God.

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The New World bible’s distortion of this text has been discussed here. Contrary to the wishful thinking of modern Arians/JWs, the import of this passage refutes their belief in a “big God and a god.” The first line, “In the beginning was the Word” reads in Greek: “En arche en ho Logos.” The “en arche” conveys eternal existence of the Word (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1:81). Verse 3 also shows us the Word is the Creator, while vs. 18 calls Him “God the one and only” who revealed the Father.

God made a covenant with Israel saying: “Do not worship any other gods, or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them” (2Kings 17:35). Yet in the NT, Christians are said to be “serving the Lord Jesus” (Rom. 12:11, Col. 3:24). Why? Because Jesus is not “a god” or a “godlike” one, but God incarnate (Rom. 9:5; 1Tim. 3:16). Jesus was also “worshipped” by men in John 9:30-38, Matthew 15:25 etc.

There was no way 1st century monotheist Jews would have offered worship to Christ if they believed He was a “little god.” An objection often raised is that Jesus was only “respected” like angels and men were e.g Genesis 19:1.

The Hebrew word there is “shachah” (Strong #7812) which means to “bow, crouch, fall down, humbly beseech, obeisance, reverence, make to stop, worship.” A reference work says it means “to prostrate oneself before any one out of honour … Those who used this mode of salutation fell on their knees and touched the ground with the forehead … and this honour was not only shown to superiors, such as kings and princes, 2 Sam. 9:8 but also to equals” (Geserius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, 813).

The Greek word for worship, proskuneo, occurs 22 times in the NT in connection with God the Father and 14 times in reference to worship of Jesus. The New World bible gets around this by rendering proskuneo as “obeisance” when it is applied to Jesus but as “worship” when applied to Jehovah. This trick falls flat because Jesus indicates that the same worship given to Him is also given to the Father (Jn. 5:23, 20:28).

In Revelation 7:11, the worship directed to God is also directed to Jesus who is “in the midst of the throne” (v. 17). We also see that blessing (5:13, 7:12) glory (4:8-11, 5:13), and power (4:11, 7:12) were directed both to God the Father and Jesus Christ. This destroys the “Jesus-is-a-god” heresy into ashes.

John 14:28 “…The Father is greater than I”

A Muslim who trots out this verse is shooting himself in the leg theologically, because the concept of the Fatherhood of God is strongly rejected in Islam. The others use this to show that since the Father is “greater” than Jesus, that means He is essentially inferior to the Father.

The Greek word for “greater” used here, meizon does not mean greater in the sense of a higher type of being, but rather greater in the sense of position, rank or authority. Bauer, Danker and Arndt define meizon as “greater…of rank and dignity.” Louw and Nida: “pertaining to having a higher status in comparison to something else.” The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament define it as “Greater … in the sense of position not essence.”

Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson noted that the “greater” is “not a distinction in nature or essence (cf. [John] 10:30), but in rank in the Trinity.” The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament list dozens of extra-Biblical Koine texts, all of which define meizon as “greater in rank or position” in the sense of one in authority, rank and honour of a Roman senator. Not once does it imply ontological greatness. The same word is used in Jn. 15:20

“No servant is greater than his master.”

A master is greater than his servant, not in the sense of being a higher being, but in the sense of occupying a greater status, dignity and authority. Thus, Jesus was saying the Father is “greater” because His position in Heaven is one of greater authority and dignity than the Son occupies on earth.

He was telling His disciples to rejoice because He is returning to the right hand of the Father, to “the glory [He] had with [Him]” before He came to earth (Jn. 17:5). He laid aside this glory and humbly took the “nature of a servant” (Phil. 2:7) and was to regain this full glory at His ascension.

1 Corinthians 11:3 “…the head of Christ is God”

The previous explanation also applies here. Trinitarians agree that the Father is a separate Person from Christ and that He is “superior” to Him, but this superiority is in rank or position, not in terms of essence or nature. This verse says God the Father is greater than Christ while Christ is greater than man – it’s a positional superiority – which is consistent with their equality. It places the husband as the “head” of the wife just as God is the “head” of Christ. The rank/order implied is spiritual authority.

That God the Father is the Head of Christ or that the Son is subject to Him does not lessen the equality between them. Jesus was also “subject” to Mary and Joseph (Lk. 2:51), yet we do not say He was lesser in essence or being than His earthly parents. As the Eternal Word, Jesus is one with the Father, but as the Incarnate Christ, He is subordinate to the Father. This is because:

“Christ merely surrendered the independent exercise of some of his relative or transitive attributes. He did not surrender the absolute or immanent attributes in any sense…” (Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979, 216-7).

Colossians 1:15 “[Jesus is] the firstborn of all creation”

This is used to support the idea that Jesus was first created by God and as God’s junior partner or master workman created all other things. The Greek word for “firstborn” here is prototokos (Strong #4416) which means “pre-eminence” and “eternal pre-existence” according to Greek lexicons. It doesn’t mean “first created” which has a different Greek word, protokistos.

“Firstborn’ points to eternal existence … We must carefully avoid any suggestion that Christ was the first of created things which is contradicted by the following words: ‘In Him were all things created” (Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, 3:468).

David was called “firstborn” yet he was Jesse’s youngest son (Ps. 89:27). This title was in terms of his ascendary of the kingship of Israel. In the same vein, Jesus is called the firstborn of all creation because He “is the visible representation and manifestation of God to created beings; the likeness expressed in this manifestation is involved in the essential relations in the Godhead.” (W. E. Vine, Dictionary of N.T. Words, “Image”)

Verses 16 and 17 of Colossians 1 put all of creation in the realm of Christ’s power. He holds all things together and by him “all things consist.” In other words, Jesus is the Creator who created all things and holds the universe together by His own power. A. T. Robertson concurs: “Paul takes both words to help express the deity of Jesus Christ in his relation to the Father as eikon (image) and to the universe as prototokos (Firstborn)” (Word Pictures, 4:478).

The Watchtower theory that Jesus is a created-creator-archangel is as far from the Bible as the North pole is from the South pole.

Revelations 3:14 “[Jesus is] the beginning of the creation of God.”

This is also used to support the heresy that Jesus was the first being created by Jehovah. The Greek word rendered as “beginning” arche, is defined by the Manual of Greek Lexicon as “uncreated principle, the active cause of creation” (p. 62). It’s pointing to Jesus’ pre-existence.

Someone may object that arche in Rev. 3:14 means “first created,” but this holds no water. Jehovah Himself said “I am…the beginning [arche] and the end” (Rev. 1:8, 21:6). If Jesus was created because of the word arche attributed to Him, does that mean Jehovah too was created because the word applies to Him as well? No.

Thayer’s lexicon defines arche as “origin, active cause.” Strong (# 756) defines it as power, first, chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank). It’s from the word we got the term architect. However, the eternity of Christ negates the idea that he was created. Creation is unique to God alone. He has said:

“I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens. Who spread out the earth by myself” (Is. 44:24)

“He alone stretches out the heavens…” (Job 9:8)

“Have we not all one father? Did not one God create us…?” (Mal. 2:10)

Unlike the Watchtower Society which teaches that Jehovah created Jesus and Jesus through the active force (“holy spirit”) created all things, the Bible is clear that God has no “junior partners” or a “master craftsman” in creation. If God alone is the Creator, certainly there is no other being who can create that is not Deity. No matter how much non-Trinitarians try to slice the cake, their doctrines are not founded on the Bible and their “proof texts” are therefore invalid.

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