Being a Seventh-day Adventist for a few decades I had enough time to find that some of our co-believers reject the idea of triune God, including the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It motivated me to study this subject carefully, taking into consideration the Bible, the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy as well as various Adventist and non-Adventist theologians.
I don’t care what is the consequences of accepting or rejecting any doctrine or idea as long as I find sufficient proof that it comes from the Lord or is inspired by the enemy of truth. I prayed and carefully and honestly studied arguments for and against it. The result is, I have no doubt that both Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit are fully divine Persons. I spoke with various honest individuals who reject this truth, but they were never able to provide sufficient arguments, neither biblical nor from the Spirit of Prophecy to prove their point.
I know that the trinity idea can be found in some pagan religions and in Catholicism, but this doesn’t prove anything because Satan makes counterfeits of various biblical truths, including the Trinity. The dragon (Satan), the beast from the sea (papal Rome) and the false prophet (corrupt US government and fallen Protestantism) from Revelation 13, are the evil triune counterfeit of the divine Trinity. No wonder this concept can be found in some pagan religions.
The Bible doesn’t use the word “Trinity” but the idea of the three divine Persons (triune God) and the plurality of God appears in the Word of God many times. “In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). Similarly, there is no reason to doubt that Holy Spirit is a divine Person.
It is also true that some of the Adventist pioneers initially rejected the Trinity doctrine (due to their Arian roots), but Ellen White corrected them. For instance, M. L. Andreasen (one of the leading SDA theologians) didn’t believe in the Trinity. However, after he found in The Desire of Ages and other writings what Ellen White wrote on this subject, he changed his view. Initially, he questioned whether Ellen White had actually written some of her statements in The Desire of Ages and other books. But when he spent three months studying the original manuscripts, he was convinced of the accuracy of her published position. At the end of this article, I have included an interesting account of the progress of the Trinity doctrine in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
THREE QUARKS AND THE TRIUNE GOD
I find it very interesting that in the nucleus of every atom, there are three created by God quarks (smallest particles) that make one proton or one neutron. Those three quarks are bound together by a powerful energy called by scientists “the gluon” or “the strong atomic force”. I believe that God created protons and neutrons in this way to show us that like those three quarks bound together by the strong nuclear force make one proton or one neutron, also God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all bound together by the powerful everlasting Agape love thus making one Triune God.
The three Persons of the Godhead are one because they “permeate” each other (dwell in One Another). For instance, when One of Them suffers, Others feel the same. All three don’t have the beginning of their existence and are perfectly united in thoughts, power and love even though at the same time they are three separate Persons.
According to one physicist, “if quarks are forced into isolation, they decay in a micro-instant, as if they have no way to survive out of the relationship”. What he suggests is that the three quarks forming one proton or one neutron, can exist and survive only when they are together! If separated and forced to be alone they die and cease to exist!
Likewise, the three Persons of the Godhead greatly enjoy their eternal tri-union of love. Being alone would deprive God of the very purpose of His existence – the ability to love and to be loved. Therefore, being aware of this and knowing how great His love is, we can rightly assume that there was never a time when God was alone. He always (from everlasting times) had Someone Else to love and to be loved.
This is how I see it and to me, it is another miracle of God and a wonderful truth.
THE MISTERY OF GOD
God in all His splendour is an incomprehensible Being to us. That is why the Bible explains that “no one knows who God is except the Spirit of God, who searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). The same applies to the Son of God, whom the Bible refers to as the “mystery of God,” which we can only strive to understand (Colossians 2:2): “So that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ”.
From this significant statement, it follows that not a “natural” man (unconverted), but only a “spiritual” man, meaning one who is born of the Spirit and enjoys the internal presence of the Holy Spirit “who searches the deep things of God,” is capable of “striving to know the mystery of God, namely, Christ”. And only such a person becomes someone “to whom the Son chooses to reveal” this mystery to the extent that our limited minds can comprehend it: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27).
So, who is Christ, since the Word of God states that “no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”? Who is the Holy Spirit, since He “searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), and since “no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11)?
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST
Some people, referring to Philippians 2:6-7, claim that Christ Himself never “clung greedily to be equal with God”. However, they forget that this was the case even though Christ “was in the form of God,” which radically changes the meaning of this statement.
Furthermore, if Christ “did not cling to be equal with God,” it means that He could be on par with Him! If Jesus could never be equal to God the Father (if Jesus was created by the Father), it would be illogical to talk about the possibility of choosing such an option when it could never happen.
Moreover, Philippians 2:6-7 states that Jesus, having emptied Himself of many divine attributes, took on the form of a servant, which means that He was not one before! Therefore, it follows that since He existed before and was not a servant, He could only be either God or a rebel!
It is untrue that Christ was exalted by God the Father only as a result of His earthly merits. Many biblical texts testify that He was exalted before He came to earth, such as John 17:5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3).
The Bible in many places clearly implies that Christ was God before He appeared on earth. However, it should be remembered that to save us, He humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant and coming to earth burdened with our sinful humanity, which He conquered and put to death on the cross on our behalf. After redeeming sinful humanity on the cross, He rose from the dead in a new glorified humanity, and then ascended to heaven. However, He returned in a slightly different form and nature than the one in which He left heaven to save humanity. Now He stands at the Father’s side not only as the Son of God but also as the Son of Man, our Great Brother and Friend. It is this changed form of Jesus and His new and unique divine-human nature that was the reason why God decided, in a sense, to crown His Son again and honor Him with the same divine worship and glory that He already possessed (from eternity). That is why we find statements in the Bible that seem to suggest that God only commanded the creatures He created to show divine honor to Christ from a certain moment. A good example of this can be found in Hebrews 1:6,9: “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him’ (as if they did not do this before). But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy'”.
An incredible transformation took place in the Son of God through the union of His eternal divine nature with the mortal and created human nature, which, after resurrection and transformation, forever became inseparable from Him and will remain an integral part of His present divine-human Being for all eternity. This fact is also the basis for the incredible exaltation of all sincerely believing and saved inhabitants of the Earth, as they have become “partakers of the divine nature” in Christ and will forever share the same glorified human nature that the Son of God will bear throughout eternity.
Faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God requires acknowledging that His existence did not begin in the womb of Mary. Although He completely resembled us, there is something that clearly distinguishes Him from us—the fact that He existed long before His earthly existence, which we call preexistence:
He was the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).
“By Him, all things were created” (Colossians 1:16).
“He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
For all people, existence begins at birth. But with Christ, it was different. He did not come into existence only in Mary’s womb. He existed before, and eternally. He existed before all times:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
The Hebrew word used in Micah 5:2, translated as “origins” or “beginnings”, is not easy to translate. However, its context clearly refers not only to the preexistence of the coming Ruler but also to His eternal preexistence—”from ancient times” (see Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. IV, p. 1025).
According to Jammieson Faucet Brown Commentary, the word “eternity” used here to describe the origin of Christ is “the strongest Hebrew expression denoting infinite duration” (“The terms convey the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable”).
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (All major translations use the word “Everlasting”) (Isaiah 9:6).
Isaiah 9:6 also speaks of the eternal preexistence of a particular Person who is to come into the world. It is remarkable that this Being will be called, among other things, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. This is even more significant when we realize that this message was originally directed at recipients who professed strict monotheism, and the fact that Isaiah could refer to the Son as Mighty God and Everlasting Father was so astonishing that it clearly indicated that divine revelation broke through the prophet’s habitual way of thinking. The Son will be called the Father, even the Everlasting Father!
An example of a direct statement of preexistence can be found in Jesus’ prayer to the Father: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5).
“Very truly I tell you, Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I am! At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58).
The expression “I am” in this and similar verses suggests the idea of eternal existence, eternal preexistence. The Jews who were listening to Jesus at that time understood this message well because they picked up stones to kill Him for what they considered a great blasphemy (see John 8:59).
Desire of Ages, chapter the Light of Life: “The Pharisees, trying to portray Christ as insane, replied mockingly, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Then Jesus spoke with solemn dignity: ‘Very truly I tell you,’he answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM.’ A deep silence fell among those present. The Galilean claimed as His own the name of God revealed to Moses to express the idea of eternal existence. He declared Himself as the One promised to Israel, ‘whose origins are from of old, from ancient times’ (Micah 5:2). Again, priests and rabbis accused Jesus of blasphemy. His statement that He and the Father were one had already provoked their desire to take His life, and now, several months later, they declared, ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God‘ (John 10:33).”
Desire of Ages, Chapter Lazarus, Come out!: “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ In Christ lies the true (original) life, not borrowed or inherited. Whoever has the Son has life (1 John 5:12). The divinity of Christ is the guarantee of eternal life for believers. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
“In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. ‘He that hath the Son hath life.’ 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life.” Desire of Ages, p. 530.
“The world was made by Him, ‘and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3). If Christ made all things, He existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore.” Selected Messages, book 1, p. 247. (1906)
Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900: “Speaking of His preexistence, Christ directs the minds of His listeners to the distant ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. He who spoke to the Jews then was with God from eternity.”
“Equal with the Father, honored and adored by the angels, in our behalf Christ humbled Himself, and came to this earth to live a life of lowliness and poverty—to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet the stamp of divinity was upon His humanity. . . . There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129, bold added.
Despite clear statements about the divinity of Jesus and His equality with God the Father, we also find passages in the Scripture that require clarification. One of them is undoubtedly John 3:16, a favorite verse for many: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Problematic here is the word “one and only.” How could Jesus call Himself “one and only” if He is eternal? Was He begotten like us?
The word “one and only” is a translation of the Greek word “monogenes,” which appears nine times in the New Testament, including five times in reference to Jesus, and exclusively in the writings of the apostle John (see John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9).
It is interesting that the word “monogenes” appears in the writings of the author who also wrote his Gospel to document the divinity of Christ. He starts with this issue: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). It would be unthinkable for John, being a Jew, to ascribe divinity or even a divine title to any created being.
However, the Greek word “monogenes” also refers to other individuals. Let us pay attention to its meaning:
Luke 7:12: As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only (monogenes) son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the town was with her.
The deceased boy from the town of Nain was the only (monogenes) son of his mother. There is no mention of being begotten here. It rather speaks of uniqueness. The same is true in the case of Jairus’ daughter—she was also an only child, his monogenes, a unique child. The same can be seen in Luke 9:38.
The writers of the New Testament clearly testify that Christ deserves to be called God. This fact gains even greater significance as, except for Luke, all of them were Jews raised in an environment that adhered to strict monotheism, where divine titles were not casually used. Therefore, we must understand that their testimony of Jesus’ divinity must have come from a deep conviction resulting from inspiration by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:3: For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord (Yahweh); make his paths straight.'”
The above prophecy about Christ was taken by Matthew from Isaiah 40:3, where the prophet Isaiah used the word Yahweh in reference to the Son of God, considered the holiest of the Old Testament names of God.
Also, the construction of John 1:1 in the Greek language leaves no doubt about what the evangelist intended to convey. Approximately 65 years after Jesus’ death, He was directly called God by one of His closest disciples.
The same conviction was also expressed by Thomas: John 20:28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Is this merely an exclamation expressing Thomas’ astonishment, similar to other expressions used by people to convey surprise or emotional shock? Forcing such a conclusion would be an attempt to attribute contemporary practices to people living in New Testament times.
Firstly, the Jews were strongly cautious about committing blasphemy, so they did not use such expressions unless they were convinced they were using them in reference to the true God. Moreover, the construction of this passage does not allow for such an interpretation. We read that “Thomas […] said to Him.” In other words, the apostle was addressing Jesus; his words expressed faith in Him and were not exclamation meant to signify astonishment. Additionally, the fact that the Lord did not rebuke him for it indicates acceptance of the disciple’s confession.
Jesus as God is the same Jesus who offered Himself as a sacrifice for us. How much more significant should the crucifixion of the Master be to us when we know that the One who offered Himself for us is also God!
The New Testament is full of evidence of Jesus’ divinity. This can be witnessed through attributed characteristics such as eternity and creative power, the authority to forgive sins, and the function as the ultimate Judge.
Furthermore, the name Jesus is connected with God the Father, for example, in the formula of baptism (see Matt. 28:19). Also, in John 14:9, Christ used words that, in the mouth of an ordinary human being, would be an obvious blasphemy: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
2 Corinthians 13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Revelation 22:3 And there will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.
The above verses place Christ on an equal footing with God the Father. This is in line with Jesus’ declarations. For example, in John 10:30, we read His words: “I and the Father are one.”
The Greek word translated as “one” indicates the closest bond one can imagine. Jesus and the Father are one in essence, in nature, although they are distinct persons (otherwise, Jesus would have used a masculine gender for this word).
Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 11th edition, p. 363: “A dangerous error is the teaching that denies the divinity of Christ and claims that He did not exist before His advent into the world. This theory is accepted by many who declare that they believe the Bible, but this teaching contradicts the clear statements of Jesus regarding His relationship with the Father, His divine character, and His preexistence. This view cannot be maintained without twisting the words of Scripture. It not only obscures people’s understanding of the plan of salvation but also undermines faith in the Bible as the revelation of God. If people do not accept the testimony of the inspired Scriptures regarding the divinity of Christ, it is in vain to discuss this matter with them because even the clearest evidence will not convince them. Those who have embraced this error cannot properly comprehend the character and mission of Christ or the great plan of God’s salvation for humanity.”
Although the Old Testament does not explicitly teach the Trinity, it alludes to the plurality of beings within the Godhead. Sometimes God uses the plural pronoun, for example: “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26) and “Behold, the man has become like one of us” (Genesis 3:22).
At times, the Angel of the Lord is identified with God. The Angel of the Lord (who was certainly Christ) said to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:2,6).
The Gospel of John reveals to us that the Godhead consists of: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are three eternally coexisting Beings bound together by an extraordinary and mysterious bond, much like the smallest particles of matter in the universe—quarks, which often exist in threes and are connected by a mysterious force called a gluon.
Visible light or white light, which we receive from the Sun, consists of three primary colours: red, green, and blue. Scientists call them “the primary colours of light.” These three colours are the basic building blocks of all visible colours of the rainbow’s seven different hues. However, equal amounts of these three colours create one white light. I believe this is also a good example that can help us understand how three distinct and equal divine Beings can form one and be perceived and treated as one (unified) God.
Jesus existed from eternity and dwelled with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They lived together as coeternal, coexisting Beings in the highest mutual dedication and love. This long companionship testifies to the perfect and absolute love that existed within the Godhead.
All three Persons are divine, possessing the same divine power and qualifications. And although God is not singular in a personal sense, God is one in purpose, mind, and character.
This unity does not eliminate the personal distinctiveness of the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. At the same time, this personal distinctiveness within the Godhead does not negate the monotheistic teaching of the Scriptures that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God.
There is a definite order and arrangement among the persons of the Godhead. The Father seems to act as the source, the Son as the mediator, and the Holy Spirit as the executor. The incarnation beautifully illustrates the cooperation of these three Beings of the Godhead. The Father gave the Son, Christ gave Himself, and the Holy Spirit brought about the birth of Jesus (John 3:16; Matthew 1:18, 20).
Believers have been chosen for salvation, as Peter wrote, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).
The apostolic blessing encompasses all three Persons of the Godhead. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:13).
Quoting the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, the New Testament states, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:23).
By declaring that “the Word was God” and that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14), John drew attention to a profound truth. The Creator of the worlds, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelled, became a helpless infant lying in a manger. Surpassing all the hosts of angels, equal to the Father in dignity and glory, He humbled Himself to the extent of taking on humanity!
Jesus said that the Father had given Him all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18; John 17:2). He was omniscient, for the apostle Paul wrote that in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Jesus assured of His omnipresence, saying, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) and stating, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
The deity of Christ was evident when John declared, “In him (Christ) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4), and that He has life in Himself (John 5:26): “For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.”
Christ’s declaration, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), confirms that in Him is “life, original, unborrowed, underived.” He was recognized and acknowledged as both the Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16) and the Sustainer of all things, for “in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). He forgave sins (Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:5-7) and will judge the world at the end of time (Matthew 25:31-32).
His names reveal His divine nature. Immanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The Old Testament holy name of God, Yahweh, is applied to Jesus. Matthew used the words from Isaiah 40:3, “Prepare the way for the Lord,” to describe the work preparing the mission of Christ (see Matthew 3:3). The apostle John identifies Jesus with the Lord of Hosts, seated on His throne (Isaiah 6:1, 3; John 12:41).
His deity was acknowledged. John presented Jesus as the divine Word that “became flesh” (John 1:14). Thomas recognized the resurrected Christ as the divine being, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God.” The apostle Paul wrote concerning Him, “He is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5). The Epistle to the Hebrews presents Him as God and the Lord of creation (Hebrews 1:8, 10).
Jesus personally spoke about His equality with God. He identified Himself with the God of the Old Testament, saying, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). And His statement, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), confirms the fact that He shares a “oneness” with the Father in the sense of “possessing the same attributes.”
The Scriptures present Jesus as the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Hebrews 1:3). When Jesus was asked to show the Father, He replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
People worshiped Him (Matthew 28:17). “All the angels of God worship Him” (Hebrews 1:6). The apostle Paul wrote that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
If Jesus were not equal to the Father, such worship would be idolatry, especially since the Bible contains a strict prohibition against worshiping or bowing down to anyone other than God (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). Similarly, Isaiah states that Yahweh will not give His glory and praise to anyone else (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). This means that anyone who believes that Christ is not God is, in effect, suggesting that God encourages the breaking of His commandments or that He Himself made a mistake because His own Word commands us to worship Christ!
Many blessings proclaim the glory of Christ for all eternity (2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21; cf. 2 Peter 3:18).
Before the incarnation, Jesus was “in the form of God,” in other words, divine nature was His nature from the beginning (John 1:1; Philippians 2:6-7). By assuming the “form of a servant,” Jesus set aside His divine privileges. He became a servant of His Father (Isaiah 42:1) to fulfill His will (John 6:38; Matthew 26:39, 42). He clothed His divinity with humanity and was made “in the likeness of fallen human nature.”
The person of Jesus Christ possessed two natures. He was God and man. However, note what the incarnation entailed. The eternal Son of God assumed human nature, rather than the human Jesus attaining divinity. The shift occurred from Christ as God towards Christ as man, not the other way around.
In Jesus, these two natures united into one person. Christ is the unity of two natures. We do not encounter pluralism in Him as we do, for example, in the Trinity. The Bible describes Christ as one, not two beings. While some texts refer to His divine nature, and others to His human nature, there is always only one Being mentioned. Paul identifies the person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God (divine nature) who was born of a woman (human nature) (Galatians 4:4). Thus, Jesus, “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
When Christ came to this earth, the “body” was prepared for Him (Hebrews 10:5). When He assumed humanity, His divinity was clothed in humanity. This was not to occur through the transformation of humanity into divinity or divinity into humanity. He did not divest Himself for the sake of another nature but took on humanity. In this way, divinity and humanity were united.
Through the incarnation, Christ did not cease to be God, nor was His divinity reduced to the level of humanity. Each nature retained its position (identity). Paul stated that “in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
During the crucifixion, His human nature died, not His divinity, as that was not possible.
Understanding the mutual relationship of Christ’s two natures provides us with the proper view of Christ’s mission and our salvation.
Salvation could only be brought by the divine-human Savior. Through the incarnation, Christ assumed human nature to impart His divine nature to believers. Through the merits of the blood of God-man, believers can partake in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
Jacob’s ladder in the dream, a symbol of Christ, reaches us where we are. He took on human nature and conquered so that by taking on His nature, we too could conquer. His divine arm reaches the throne of God, while His humanity encompasses our kind, thus uniting us with God, earth with heaven.
The united divine-human nature of Christ makes His sacrifice of reconciliation effective. The life of a sinless human or even an angel could not atone for the sins of humanity. Only the divine-human Creator could redeem mankind.”
Hebrews 1:1-11 (Translated from Polish to English):
“God, who spoke in the past to our fathers through the prophets many times and in various ways, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of His glory and the representation of His essence, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (He ascended to the throne, not only as the Son of God but also as the Son of Man). So He became superior to the angels, just as the name He inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father’? (regarding Christ’s birth on earth) Or again, ‘I will be His Father, and He will be My Son’? And when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’ (this does not mean that the angels did not worship Him before, but now they are to worship Him as the Son of Man as well). Concerning the angels, He says, ‘He makes His angels winds, and His servants flames of fire.’ But about the Son, God says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore, God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.’ And, ‘You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment’ (quote from Psalms 102:25-27, where the word Yahweh is used, which Paul here again refers to Christ!) (BW)”
1 John 5:20 (Translated from Polish to English):
“We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—through His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (BW)”
Micah 5:1, BT (Translated from Hebrew to Polish):
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The Hebrew word “olam” in this context has the following meanings: eternal time, eternity, perpetual time, etc. In the plural form, the same word denotes ages, infinite time. Although the word “olam” does not always refer to eternity, in certain contexts, it clearly does. In Genesis 21:33, Yahweh is called the everlasting or eternal God (El Olam; see also Deuteronomy 33:27). Similarly, in Micah 5:1, it proclaims the eternal origin of the Messiah.
Isaiah 9:5, BW (Translated from Polish to English):
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be upon His shoulder; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Certainly, this verse does not prove that the Messiah is God the Father, but rather that just as the Father exists from eternity to eternity and is one with the Father.
Isaiah 6:1-10, BW (Translated from Polish to English):
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and lofty throne, and His train filled the temple. Above Him stood seraphim, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts (Hebrew: Yahweh of hosts); the whole earth is full of His glory.’ The thresholds shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.
Then I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord (Hebrew: Yahweh) of Hosts.’
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding a glowing coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’
Then I heard the voice of the Lord (Yahweh), saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said: ‘Here am I. Send me!’
And He said: ‘Go, and tell this people: Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.'”
Gospel of John 12:37-41, ESV (inspired John explains here that the God Yahweh, whom Isaiah saw in the above vision, is Christ!):
Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,
so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (ESV)
The phrase “he saw his glory and spoke of him” refers to the vision of the Lord seated on the throne in Isaiah 6:1, as the quote from Isaiah about the blinding and hardening of Israel also comes from the same chapter. Therefore, the one sitting on the throne was Christ, who was God before He came into the world. John identifies Christ with God, although he never claims that the Son and the Father are the same person.
Regarding the application of Isaiah 6:1-10 in John 12:39-41, the prophet Isaiah also wrote about the glory of the Messiah in other passages, such as 9:5, 6; 52:13-15; 53:10b-12. However, in John 12:41, it is mentioned that Isaiah both saw his glory and spoke of Him. The immediate context refers to Isaiah 6, not chapter 53 of the book.
Even if we agree with the critics’ opinion that the words “spoke of Him” refer to Isaiah 53, it is difficult to relate the phrase “he saw his glory” to that chapter because chapter 53 is not a vision. However, John says that Isaiah “saw” “glory,” which matches Isaiah 6, containing a vision of the glory of the Lord.
In Isaiah 6:1 in the Septuagint, the same Greek term for “saw” (aorist form of the verb chorao, eidon) is used, and the word “glory” (doksa) is the identical Greek word used in the Septuagint in Isaiah 6:3. The fact that John used the same vocabulary is significant.
David H. Stern, a Messianic Jew, wrote in his commentary on John 12:41:
“John clearly means to say that in this heavenly vision, Isaiah had the opportunity to see the future revealed glory of Yeshua [Jesus], and since Yeshua [Jesus] fits into the concept of Adonai [Lord], there is no reason to claim a priori that Isaiah’s vision referred to God the Father” (Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 321).
It is extremely interesting that by referring to the vision in Isaiah’s sixth chapter, in which the prophet saw the Lord Yahweh, John explains that the Lord Jesus was the God who spoke from the throne to Isaiah. However, even more interesting is that in Acts 28:25, Luke clearly implies that it was the Holy Spirit!:
And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” [footnote: Isaiah 6:9-10]
He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,
proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (ESV)
It appears that Isaiah in this vision saw Yahweh God in three Persons, seeing both God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That is why the angels cry out three times, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord (Hebrew: ‘Yahweh’) of hosts!”
1 Corinthians 10:1-4:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
and all ate the same spiritual food,
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (ESV)
Leon Morris wrote that Paul “refers to Christ and sees Him as someone who accompanied the Israelites and constantly provided them with drink. He applies to Christ the title Rock, used in reference to Yahweh (Deut. 32:15; Ps. 18:2, etc.). This transfer is significant for Christology because it clearly indicates the preexistence of Christ, as by saying that the Rock was Christ, Paul implies that Christ was Yahweh.”
1 Peter 1:10-11:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (ESV)
The Apostle Peter unequivocally states that the Spirit of Christ was at work in the Old Testament prophets. This means that Christ lived in heaven at that time as the eternal Son of God the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to reveal prophecies about the Messiah even before His earthly birth.
“For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.”
Context indicates that Jesus was the Lord who delivered Israel from the land of Egypt. Some manuscripts in this passage use the phrase “Lord Jesus” instead of “Lord,” while in other manuscripts, the title “Christ” appears.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
“The beginning” refers to Genesis 1:1-5, according to the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where the same phrase “it was” (Greek: egeneto) is used in relation to the act of creation, and the words “light” and “darkness” are mentioned:
“In the beginning [in the Septuagint, En arche, as in John 1:1] God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was [in the Septuagint, egeneto, as in John 1:3] light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
Therefore, the phrase “in the beginning” undoubtedly refers to Christ’s participation in the act of creation as the Creator.
“In the beginning was the Word.” Note that it is not said that the Word came into existence, but rather that when God began to create, the Word already existed, that is, it existed from eternity, as time and space came into existence only through creation.
If John wanted to say that the Word was the first creation of God the Father, he would have written, “In the beginning it became [egeneto] the Word.”
Furthermore, the statement that “Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made” clearly proves that the Word is not counted among the created beings. The use of the words “all things” and “nothing” excludes Christ (“the Word”) from the category of creatures.
Moreover, the fact that “in him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” suggests that all creatures owe their life to the Word, that is, to Jesus, even before He became a man.
At the same time, the apostle emphasizes the divinity of Christ by calling Him God. As noted in a footnote in the Poznań Bible:
“Theos (without the article) denotes the divine nature […] The Word (i.e., Christ), distinct from the Father as a Person, is identical with Him in terms of nature, He is God.”
What does it mean that “the Word was with God”? John uses the word pros, which in this context means an intimate, close bond. The same word appears in the writings of the apostle Paul, who wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12:
“Now we see as if in a mirror and as if in a riddle, but then face to face [pleading]. Now my knowledge is partial, but then I will know fully, just as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians).
Being face to face with someone (pleading), we are close to that person. John also mentions the intimate relationship between the Word and God the Father a little further:
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18).
The metaphor used here indicates the close bond that the Son of God enjoyed with the Father from eternity.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (NIV).
We learn here that Jesus is the firstborn over all creation. It is not about him being the first of the created beings because we immediately read that all things were created in him. Paul goes on to say that all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. The Son of God existed before creation, which owes its existence to him.
In what sense, then, is he the firstborn?
The end of verse 18 reveals it: “that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Such a meaning of the word firstborn is already shown in the Old Testament. Concerning a king from the line of David, Psalm 89:28 states, “I will make him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (NIV). It refers to priority, the highest position in relation to other kings.
The Son of God has preeminence over all creation. He exists from eternity, having priority in a temporal sense. He possesses a higher position, thus having preeminence in terms of dignity. He has a superhuman, divine authority since thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities were created in him. He is the Creator, and creation exists for him: all things were created through him and for him. He sustains creation, as everything holds together in him.
“In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (NIV).
The above passage proclaims the important truth that God the Father created the universe through the Son, who therefore must have existed before the beginning of time and space. The phrase “through whom” does not only denote passive mediation since Romans 11:36 states about God, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (NIV).
It is also worth noting that this passage demonstrates that Jesus Christ is the one who sustains all things by his powerful word, meaning he keeps the entire universe in order and upholds its existence. He does this through the power of his word, indicating his omnipotence, for only God, as the Creator and foundation of the entire universe, can speak with such authority.
“This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means ‘king of righteousness’; then also, ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace.’ Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever” (NIV).
Melchizedek, who appears as a very mysterious figure (see Genesis 14:17-20), was a typological representation in the Old Testament foreshadowing Christ. Jesus, as the Son of Man, had no father; as God, he had no mother or genealogy. As the eternal Son of God, he had no beginning of days, and being eternal, he has no end of life, thus exercising an everlasting priesthood without successors.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!'” (NIV).
Both Jehovah’s Witnesses and other opponents of the Deity of Christ claim that Jesus is only saying here that as the first creation of God, He existed before Abraham. However, the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has gone further and even changed the wording of the last part of this verse to “I have already been.”
Does this serious statement really have only that meaning? What does the context indicate? The reaction of Jesus’ listeners was clear: “So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (John 8:59, ESV). The Jews understood that Christ was equating Himself with God, and that is why they wanted to stone Him. The Law of Moses prescribed, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16, ESV). The Jews clearly considered that Christ had blasphemed. Which part of His statement was considered blasphemy? It was, of course, the phrase “I am,” in Greek ego eimi. Why did this formulation, though likely spoken in the Aramaic language, provoke such a violent reaction?
The Septuagint (Latin: seventy) – the first translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek (Koine) made by about 70 Jewish scholars who were to complete the translation within seventy days. Because it turned out that the individual texts of the translation were identical to the original, it was taken as a sign from God. King Ptolemy II, who commissioned the translation, was delighted with the work and gained great respect for the Bible. It was undoubtedly among the manuscripts in the Library of Alexandria.
In the Septuagint, in Exodus 3:14, Yahweh describes Himself as ego eimi ho On, meaning “I am who I am.” It is true that sometimes the phrase ego eimi (I am) does not have such a momentous meaning. However, the Savior used it several times in an absolute sense (John 8:24, 28; 18:4-6).
In the discussed passage, Jesus contrasts Himself (“I am”) with Abraham, who “came into existence.” However, the Son of God does not say about Himself, “I came into existence before Abraham.” He uses a word in relation to Himself that appears in the Greek translation of Psalm 90:2 (Septuagint):
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalter of the Greek Bible, Publishing House of the Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin 1996).
It concerns the Greek word ginomai, which appears both in John 8:58 and in the Greek translation of Psalm 90:2.
In Psalm 90:2, it is written:
“Before the mountains were brought forth (ginomai) or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
The statement of the Savior has a similar meaning: “Before Abraham was, I am,” with “I am” equaling “You are” from Psalm 90:2. This means “I am from eternity, always and forever.” Such a formulation equates Jesus with the Father, placing Him in eternity. It unequivocally proves His pre-human existence. It harmonizes with the truth contained in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (ESV).
In the Poznańska Bible (Polish translation), we find the following accurate commentary on the Gospel of John 8:58:
“The words ‘I am’ express that the existence of Jesus does not depend on time, that He has an eternal being like the being of God. They were understood and naturally regarded as blasphemy (cf. 10:30, 33). Since the Law prescribed stoning as the punishment for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16; Acts 7:58), the Jews reached for stones, but Jesus hid Himself among the crowd of disciples or became invisible and left the temple (cf. Luke 4:30).”
There are, therefore, many pieces of evidence for the eternal existence of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. So, if someone believes in a different Jesus, there is indeed a likelihood that they do not believe in Jesus at all and certainly do not believe in the true Christ. The danger of rejecting the truth about the Savior and who He is can be demonstrated by His own words:
“Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, ESV).
A sufficient proof that Christ is God can be found in the passage stating that “in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9, ESV).
Although we, through faith, also become “partakers of the divine nature” and the “fullness of God,” in our case, it is a gift resulting from the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, who Himself is the possessor and, in our case, the ‘carrier’ of this nature. The fact that we become partakers of the divine nature is related to our renewed and intimate communion and unity with God, as well as the restoration of God’s presence and His love in us. In the case of Christ, however, this nature is full and innate, not merely acquired and, in our case, only a semblance. Hence, regarding Christ, Paul speaks of the whole fullness of deity dwelling in Him.
Furthermore, just as the fact that Christ became a partaker of our sinful nature does not mean that He became sinful, because He acquired our sinful nature, the fact that we become partakers of His divine nature does not make us gods since it is not our innate nature but acquired.
Unlike us, Christ is the possessor of the fullness of the divine nature, which means He has always been God, an eternal, omnipotent Being equal to the Father. On the other hand, we have become adopted children of God in Christ through faith, and it is only because of this fact that our participation in the divine nature has become possible, as we have now become temples of the Holy Spirit Himself.
We can also be convinced that if Christ were not God, a passage like Colossians 2:9 would not exist! If Christ were not a true God, for this statement to be valid, God would have to change or remove the first commandment because such a declaration would incline us toward idolatry and giving divine worship to someone who is not God! Thus, the very Word of God would become a book that encourages sin and is full of contradictions.
If the Savior were not fully God, He Himself would not behave as God, and He would certainly rebuke those, like Thomas, who gave Him divine worship, especially since both were raised in the spirit of strict monotheism as Jews and were well aware of the first commandment.
When Paul and Barnabas, who were also partakers of the divine nature and could think of themselves as lesser gods deserving human worship, were once called gods, they immediately strongly objected, tore their clothes, and even started “shouting” to deny it. Would, therefore, this same Paul, who was also an Israelite brought up in the spirit of monotheism, write in his letter to the Colossians that “in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells”? Would he do this if he did not consider Christ to be God in the full sense of the word but only some lesser god? I am convinced that he would not write that sentence, even if, as some claim, he wanted to imply by it that Christ is a god with a lowercase “g.” If Paul believed that the Lord Jesus was not God, he certainly would not declare that in Him dwelled the whole fullness of deity for the simple reason that he would be aware that, by reading his letter, many would conclude that Christ is the true God!
By claiming that although Paul wrote that the whole fullness of deity dwells in Christ, he did not actually mean that the fullness of deity dwelled in Christ, opponents of the view of the Savior’s possession of a divine nature undermine the authenticity of inspiration and the authority of the Word of God, raising doubts about the reliability of this book. That is precisely why Ellen White wrote that those who question the divinity of Christ “undermine faith in the Bible as a revelation from God.”
“The Great Battle, Chapter of the Snare of Satan:
Another dangerous error is the teaching that denies the divinity of Christ… This theory is accepted by many who claim to believe in the Bible, but it contradicts the clear statements of Jesus regarding His relationship with the Father, His divine nature, and preexistence. This view cannot be maintained without distorting the words of Holy Scripture. It not only obscures people’s understanding of the plan of salvation but also undermines faith in the Bible as the revelation of God. If people do not acknowledge the testimony of the inspired Holy Scriptures regarding the divinity of Christ, it is futile to discuss this matter with them, for even the most explicit evidence will not convince them (that is why our discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses often end up this way): ‘But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14). Those who have embraced this error cannot properly grasp the character and mission of Christ or the grand plan of God’s salvation for humanity.
The position on the divine nature of Jesus is so firmly and clearly presented in the Bible that it remains a mystery how many Christians, reading the same Word of God, come to the conclusion that Christ could not have been God.
The only explanation seems to be that they have allowed the adversary of Christ and the enemy of God’s Truth to have greater access to their minds than the Holy Spirit. According to the aforementioned quote, this is the case because they have become more ‘carnal’ (sensual) than yielded to the Spirit.
Only a person who has been born of the Spirit and remains in that birth ceases to think in a carnal way and is able to understand the necessity of the dual divine-human nature of Christ. This is why, for example, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not experience such rebirth and the power of the Gospel of freedom because they do not accept righteousness solely through faith in Christ, still think in a carnal way and without the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God, they cannot comprehend that Christ could and had to be God in order to redeem humanity from sin and death and the universe from doubt.
When John in Revelation 19:10 worshiped an angel, the angel immediately protested, explaining that worship should be given only to God. However, in the same book written by John, we read that all—even those who do not accept the truth about the divine nature of the Savior—will ultimately worship Christ. Such divine honor is given to Christ, even in the 5th chapter of the book of Revelation written by the same John. He would not have written that ‘the Word was God’ or that Christ is the ‘true God’ (1 John 5:20) if he, like Paul, did not consider Christ to be ‘fully’ God.
Here is an example of true Jews, whose understanding can be fully relied upon, as both were born of the Holy Spirit and inspired by Him. The Jewish authors you refer to, who hold a different opinion, were not born of the Spirit, and therefore, their interpretation of this matter is carnal, and it cannot be relied upon nor engaged in profound analysis.
Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 390.
“There are three living Persons of the heavenly Trio. In the name of these three great Powers—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized. These powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.”
Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 247.
“Christ is God in nature, in the highest sense. He is God from everlasting, the highest and blessed being in the universe.”
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation (lit. emptied himself), taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name, which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
To correctly understand the meaning of this passage, it is necessary to analyze several other similar texts. One of them is found in Hebrews 2:9:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
In both of these texts, Paul informs us about the same thing, namely that Jesus, who was already God and the Creator, in order to have the right to represent us and save us, had to become one of us, that is, “lower than the angels.” The apostle Paul refers to this a bit further in the same letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 2:14):
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
Therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every respect. And when Christ fulfilled His mission, God exalted Him again, restoring Him to the same position He had before coming to save humanity. The difference, however, is that now Christ is the “Lord,” not only as the Son of God but also as the Son of Man, as He returned to the Father as a Being possessing two natures – divine and glorified human nature.
Therefore, in the second chapter of the letter to the Philippians, the author only tells us that the humbling of Christ and submission to the plan of salvation had a functional character, not an ontological one. The subordination of Jesus stems from His incarnation, so as a human being, Christ was even lower than the angels. But does this mean that Jesus, in whom “the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily,” is also lower than the angels by nature? Of course not!
When reading the biblical texts about Christ, we must consider the context and always ensure that what we read pertains to His divine or human nature. And thus, following this principle during the analysis of Philippians 2:6-7, we easily conclude that the phrase “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” in no way suggests that Christ was not God, but only that He was not like Nixon or Gaddafi, who “insisted greedily” on remaining in power!
Furthermore, in the Greek biblical dictionary, the word translated here as “form” or “nature” means “shape, form, and outward appearance” (with reference to Philippians 2:6-7). This means that as God, Christ possessed incredible divine glory, and if He had revealed Himself in such glory, we would have perished. So, in order to save us, He agreed to humble Himself and assume a form, shape, and outward appearance that was indistinguishable from ours.
If we approach this text honestly, there is no doubt that the author in no way suggests that Christ ceased to be God but only ceased to look like God!
“and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (NKJV)
In the letter to the Ephesians, we have “pleroma tou theou” in Greek, which means the fullness of God. However, in Colossians 2:9, we find “pleroma tes theotetos” in Greek, which means the fullness of divinity/divine nature (not the fullness of God). Divinity is a characteristic and somehow associated with divine nature, with being God. The word “theotes” appears only once in the Bible (in this verse, Colossians 2:9), and all dictionaries agree that “theotes” refers to divinity. Many of them add that it is related to divine nature. Consequently, in Jesus, the fullness of deity, divinity, and divine nature dwells bodily.
How, then, should we understand Ephesians 3:19? Let’s analyze the grammatical construction in which the word “pleroma” (fullness) appears, as well as the context. The word “pleroma” appears 17 times in the New Testament, and each time it is accompanied by the genitive case. The grammatical construction itself does not provide any particular information, so we must seek it solely and exclusively in the context, in Ephesians 3:14-19:
“For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (NKJV)
What is evident in this passage is that it does not speak of us being filled with the fullness of divinity or the nature of God but rather the fullness of God in the sense of the blessing of Christ’s presence within us and the gift of God’s love (agape).
A similar statement can also be found two chapters earlier in Ephesians 1:23:
“which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
The presence of God in us, in our bodies, is confirmed by other passages in the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 13:5
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
2 Peter 1:4:
“by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (NKJV)
In this verse, there is no verb like “possess” or “have.” There is only the word “koinonos,” which depending on the context can mean “participant” or “sharer.” The word “koinonos” is often used in the sense of “participating” or “drawing from.” Here is an example verse where it is used in this sense:
“Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” (1 Corinthians 10:18, NKJV)
Being a participant in this case does not mean possessing the altar. These priests draw from that altar.
In conclusion, these passages show that it is about the indwelling presence of God in us, in our bodies. It is about being participants in the divine nature, drawing from it, rather than possessing or having it.
WHY DID CHRIST HAVE TO BE BOTH GOD AND MAN IN ORDER TO SAVE US?
If the Redeemer could only be the Creator and God who cannot die, and it was only human nature, not divine nature, that experienced the second death on the cross, then what was the purpose of God’s sacrifice if He only paid the penalty for our sins as a human being? Why is it believed that the Savior had to be God as well? Wouldn’t it be enough if Christ, as the Second Adam, came solely as a fully human but not God?
The mystery of the union of divine and human nature in Christ makes the question you raised too difficult for us to answer in a way that satisfies everyone.
On the other hand, there are certain important and well-known facts that should lead us to the conclusion that in order to legally save us and to represent both us sinful humans and our Creator, Christ had to possess both divine and fallen human nature simultaneously.
In considering this topic, we must also remember that it was not God who, being holy and sinless, or the divine holy nature, that was condemned to a second death and had to die, but rather our human egocentric and fallen nature along with its core, which is the law of sin. Therefore, it was not the divinity of Jesus that was actually put to death in Him, as it was not even possible, but our representative sinful humanity was condemned and subjected to the penalty of a second death in Him.
However, as the Being responsible for the existence of mankind, whose nature later became corrupt, God felt obligated to personally save humanity, and He did so in His divine-human Son. Furthermore, although God did not have to and could not die a second death, He desired and was also forced by Lucifer to demonstrate to the entire universe that He loves His creatures and loves them so much that if it were possible, He would give His own eternal life for them.
And that is precisely what Christ demonstrated on the cross as the full representative of God in the flesh. However, in order to fully represent Him and for God the Father to save sinful humanity and demonstrate His love, Jesus undoubtedly had to possess the fullness of divine nature.
Of course, it is a mystery to us how it was possible that while possessing divine nature, Christ, while hanging on the cross, was convinced at one point that God had forsaken Him, and that if He remained on the cross to the end, He would bid farewell to life forever. Although we cannot understand what was happening with His divine nature and divine consciousness at that time, it does not change the fact that it was so, as the Word of God clearly states that even though in Him “all the fullness of the Deity dwells bodily,” He “became a curse for us,” which means that He had to experience eternal death, despite possessing innate divine nature alongside the sinful human nature.
If He had not lost consciousness of the resurrection and had not been convinced on the cross that He was under a curse, that He was completely cut off from God and perishing forever, then He would not have had the right to save us from eternal death. In that case, the passage in Romans 3:26, which states that God, while saving us, remained righteous (acted in accordance with the requirements of His immutable Law, which demands a second death from us), would be meaningless.
The Holy God was present in His Son through the divinity of Christ, and we, as criminals under God’s law and sinners, were present in Him through our fallen human nature, with which He voluntarily burdened Himself. Thanks to this, both the Son of God, being God, and God the Father, who is one with His Son through His divine nature, could legally save us from the penalty of possessing a corrupt nature, by putting to death forever that representative sinful nature in Christ (Romans 8:3). Additionally, by being present in His Son on the cross through His divine nature, God also freed (saved) the entire universe from any doubts about His love for the beings He created, demonstrating in Christ what a great sacrifice He is willing to make to save those whom He created.
Entities created by God and the Creator, and being His property, sinned and rebelled against Him, and His holy and unchanging law was broken, and therefore it required the presence of God Himself and the divine nature in Christ and God’s participation (through that nature) in the act of redemption and re-creation in Christ (the “restoration”) of those who transgressed that law. Therefore, Christ Himself had to be God and the Creator in order to recreate us in Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17,19).
When we purchase, for example, a new television with a warranty from Panasonic, and that television malfunctions, we do not report that problem to Sony, Audi, or Nikon service centers because they did not produce or “create” that device, but Panasonic did, and therefore only that manufacturer is obliged to repair or replace the faulty television with a new one.
Therefore, God Himself had to “repair” or “replace” the corrupted human race since He is the One who created us. And indeed, He accomplished this personally in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17,19), which was possible only because His Son was of the same essence as Him, possessing the same divine nature. God made the exchange of the corrupted humanity (present in Christ) for a new and perfect one precisely because the Savior Himself was God, and also because in Christ, the Father could be present by sharing the same nature, through which God, as a perfectly united Being with the Son, could personally “repair” the corruption of the human race by recreating it in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When God created the human race in the perfect and sinless Adam, God as the perfect Creator of perfect creatures embraced the eternal guarantee of Adam and us in him. And when Adam transgressed God’s law (sinned), resulting in the immediate corruption of his nature, the eyes of the whole universe were turned to the Creator, awaiting a solution to the problem that had arisen. At that moment, God immediately responded by providing Adam and Eve with the “repair warranty document” in Christ, in the form of clothing made from the skin of a lamb, symbolizing Christ. In Christ, God exchanged the old corrupted human race for a new one. Our task is merely to go to the “service center” and accept God’s offer.
The main reason why we are sentenced to death is not sin in the sense of breaking the law, but sin in the sense of possessing a fallen nature. We begin to understand this problem in the proper light when we realize that God can forgive us for our wrongdoings (sins), but He cannot forgive our corruption and the fact that we have become inherently selfish!
There was only one way to solve this problem and deal with our egocentric nature. The solution was to condemn and put an end to this law of sin. And that is precisely what God accomplished in Christ (Romans 8:3). It was necessary for the full divine nature to be present in Christ to serve as the “carrier” of this “virus” (the law of sin – our representative principle of selfish inclinations). It was thanks to the fact that Christ simultaneously possessed the divine nature that He was not degraded to the status of a sinful being by accepting our fallen nature since the holy divine nature protected Him from contamination. This also allowed Him to carry our representative law of sin to the “tree” (Galatians 3:13), where this law (“sin” in singular form) was cursed in Christ and eradicated once and for all (Romans 6:6; Romans 8:2-3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The divinity of Christ was necessary not only to serve as the “carrier” of our fallen nature and to protect Him from contamination resulting from the acceptance of our sinful state, but also to bring about reconciliation between these completely different and conflicting natures in Christ. This reconciliation occurred because Christ achieved a perfect victory over this nature and then carried it to the cross, where the sinful core of this nature (the law of sin) was condemned and forever put to death by God. As a result, in Christ, a perfectly reconciled, new, holy, free from the law of sin, and glorified humanity arose, which is reserved for all believers until the second coming of the Savior.
For Christ to represent the entire sinful human race on the cross, it was not only necessary for Him to take on our fallen nature, but we all had to be created in Him, which means He had to be our Creator (God). That is why we read in the Bible that “in Him (Christ) all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16).
If He were not the Creator (God), He would not have the right to represent all of us and carry us on the cross. If He were not the Creator, we could not be created anew in Him, yet the Bible clearly states that it is so (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:5; Galatians 6:15).
I believe that if Jesus had not created all of us and had not been God, then as a created being, but sinless and perfect, by accepting our fallen nature, achieving victory in it, and putting it to death in Himself on the cross, He might have had the right to represent and save at most one person, which would likely be Adam in such a situation.
However, it is precisely the fact that we were all created in Him and that He took on the representative nature of all of us that gave Him the right to represent all of us as a divine being and at the same time as the Last Adam (Hebrew “humanity”).
If Christ were not God, He could not fully represent God the Father, and Paul would not have written that “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God could not be fully represented by Christ if He were merely a created being lacking the fullness of the divine nature.
But it is precisely because Christ possesses the divine nature that God the Father could fully “dwell” in Him (“I in the Father and the Father in me,” John 17:21), fully suffer in Him to the same extent as His Son suffered, and decide to die on the cross forever for those He created.
Furthermore, although God did not die an eternal death in Christ because it was impossible, it can be said that His death in Christ on the cross was the equivalent of the second death. This is because a genuine decision for such a death was made, and because Christ, as the representative of the Father, felt like a sinner dying such a death.
For example, when it comes to us, all it takes is a decision in our minds to break God’s law, and it is treated as equivalent to sin in practice. Similarly, I think that the genuine decision for the second death made by God in Christ can be regarded as an actual act and equivalent to that death, especially since in His case, literal eternal death in practice is unreal.
However, remember that the above assumptions apply exclusively to the divine, immortal nature, which could not die an eternal death but could only make the decision for such a death. As for the human nature of the Lord Jesus, which undoubtedly represented our fallen nature, it was indeed condemned and bore the deserved eternal death in Christ on the “tree” (Galatians 3:13; Romans 8:3).
The fact that Christ possesses two natures also leads to another important conclusion, namely that it is precisely because not only our sinful and forever deceased humanity but also the divine nature were involved in the participation of the Lord Jesus that the resurrection of our new, glorified, and representative humanity could occur in Him.
STATEMENTS BY ELLEN WHITE ABOUT THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
“Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power”. (Desire of Ages, 671).
“In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with; but let us not forget that the three great powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel.” (8T, 254).
“They are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thus they are united with the three great powers of heaven.” (Letter 129, 1903; Ev 307.3).
“The inworking ministry of the Holy Spirit is our great need. The Spirit is all divine in its agency and demonstration. God wants you to have the gracious spiritual endowment; then you will work with a power that you were never conscious of before. Love and faith and hope will be an abiding presence. You can go forth in faith, believing that the Holy Spirit accompanies you” (Letter 77, 1895; Ev 299.1).
“The eternal heavenly dignitaries – God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit – arming them [the disciples] with more than mortal energy, . . . would advance with them to the work and convince the world of sin” (Manuscript 145, 1901; Ev 616.4).
“We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds” (Manuscript 66, 1899).
“The Holy Spirit is a person, for He beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.” (Manuscript 20, 1906; Ev 616.6).
“The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God.” (Manuscript 20, 1906; Ev 617.1).
“We are to cooperate with the three highest powers in heaven, — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, — and these powers will work through us, making us workers together with God.” (SpTB07 51.1; Ev 617).
White, Special Testimonies, seria B, nr 7, 1905: “The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight. The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be the express image of His person. The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fulness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. There are three living persons of the heavenly trio…” (SpTB07 63.2).
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
The translated from Polish article by Alfred J. Palla.
Who is Jesus Christ? Is He God? Some consider Him to be equal to the Father, while others see Him as a lesser God. Jesus used the name of God for Himself. For example, He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He wasn’t just saying that He existed before Abraham, because in that case, Jesus would have said, “I was” (Greek: Ego En). Instead, Jesus used the phrase Ego Eimi, which translates correctly to “I am,” not “I was.” Moreover, Jesus used the phrase “I am” in an absolute sense, without a qualifying noun (like “I am the door” or “I am the vine”).
In the Hebrew language, “I am” was the name of Yahweh revealed to Moses: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:14). The “I AM” in the above quote is a form of the name of God. Jesus applied it to Himself. The Jews had no doubts about it, so “they picked up stones to throw at him” (John 8:59). A man who claimed to be God was considered a blasphemer, and blasphemy was punished by stoning. The Jews said that they were stoning Jesus because “…you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33). The Apostle John wrote in more than one place that “the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because… he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). The Sanhedrin sentenced Jesus to death because when the high priest asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus did not deny it but confirmed it again, using the name of Yahweh (Mark 14:60-61). Jesus made other claims that would be shocking if He were only a man, for example:
“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
“I am the first and the last, and the living one” (Revelation 1:17).
“Whoever sees me sees him who sent me” (John 12:45).
Jesus said many things that would be inappropriate for a human being to say. How would we regard someone who claimed divinity? Think about it. Many consider Jesus to be a teacher of ethics but not the Supreme God. However, can we really consider someone a great teacher of ethics if they, while not being God, claim to be God? C.S. Lewis wrote about this dilemma:
“I am writing this to prevent the foolishness expressed by those who say, ‘I consider Jesus a great teacher of morality, but I cannot accept His claims to be God.’ These two things cannot be reconciled. Can a person who proclaims the things Jesus said be considered a great teacher of morality? They would be a madman, like someone who claims to be an egg or the devil. You must choose: Jesus was and is the Son of God, or He is a madman, if not something worse. You can call Him a fool, spit on Him, and kill Him. Or you can fall to your knees before Him and cry out, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Just don’t speak nonsense such as that He was merely a great sage and teacher. Because He did not leave us that option. Nor did He intend to.”
A person claiming to be God and not being so would be a liar or a madman. Was Jesus a liar? Even Jesus’ enemies could not prove Him guilty of sin (John 8:46). Was He a madman? There is no sane psychiatrist who would consider Jesus mentally unstable. Only one option remains, namely that Jesus truly was who He claimed to be, God.
The early Christians believed, just like the Israelites, that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Recognizing anyone else as God was a serious blasphemy for them, and worshiping anyone other than God was idolatry (Deuteronomy 14:14-15). It is significant, then, that the apostle Paul, who as a Pharisee came from a strictly monotheistic orthodoxy, regarded Jesus as God (1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Philippians 2:9-11)!
New Testament authors directly attributed Old Testament texts referring to the Lord Yahweh to Jesus, for example:
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you!”‘” (Exodus 3:14) – see John 8:58; 18:6.
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.'” (Isaiah 44:6) – see Revelation 1:17.
“The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13) – see 1 Peter 3:15.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'” (Isaiah 45:22-23) – see Philippians 2:10-11.
“A voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God!'” (Isaiah 40:3) – see Matthew 3:3.
New Testament writers repeatedly used the name “Son of God” interchangeably with the word “God,” confirming that they considered them synonymous:
The gospel of God (Romans 1:1) – the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16).
The power of God (Romans 1:16) – the power of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The peace of God (Philippians 4:7) – the peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15).
The church of God (Galatians 1:13) – the church of Christ (Romans 16:16).
The Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11) – the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).
The angels of God (Luke 12:8-9) – the angels of Christ (Matthew 13:41).
The kingdom of God (Romans 14:17) – the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13).
Prominent historian of Christianity, Jaroslav Pelikan, pointed out that the oldest Christian sermon, the oldest testimony of a Christian martyr, the oldest pagan account of Jesus, and the oldest prayer of the early Church (1 Corinthians 16:22) all depict Jesus as God. In my book “Secrets of the Bible,” I demonstrated that out of 39 non-biblical ancient sources (Roman, Greek, Jewish) that mention Jesus, 24 express the belief that Christ is God. Above all, Jesus is called God in the Holy Scripture:
Thomas said to the resurrected Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). The definite article (ho theos) is used in the Greek New Testament, leaving no doubt that it refers to the supreme God.
God the Father said to the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8).
Isaiah prophesied about Christ, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God…” (Isaiah 9:5).
In the New Testament, we read, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:23).
John stated that Jesus Christ is the true God: “And we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
Apostle Paul wrote about Christ, “Of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God” (Romans 9:5), and also, “…looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us” (Titus 2:11-14).
In this latter passage, “our great God and Savior” without a doubt refers to Jesus. In the Greek language, there was a grammatical rule that when two nouns of the same case are connected by the word “and” (Greek: kai), and only the first one is preceded by an article, then both nouns always refer to the same person. Apostle Peter used a similar construction when he wrote, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). This grammatical structure proves that Peter regarded Jesus as “our God and Savior.”
The apostles understood that in Christ there is “the fullness of divinity” (Colossians 1:19), so they referred to Him using Old Testament texts about Yahweh and used His name interchangeably with the word “God.” Does this mean that God the Father, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same person? This view is called modalism, which suggests that God only assumed the form of the Son or the Holy Spirit.
Some reject the possibility of God existing as the persons of the Father and the Son, citing contemporary Jewish monotheism. Unfortunately, Judaism has deviated in many ways from the biblical position over the centuries, so it cannot be regarded as the litmus test of biblical orthodoxy. Ancient Jews were monotheists, yet they had the idea of the Son of God. This is evidenced by some Jewish apocryphal writings and the discovery of the “Scroll of the Son of God” (4Q246) found in Qumran.
Modalism is difficult to reconcile with the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, which depict the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as having personal relationships with one another:
They can send one another:
The Father sends the Son (John 3:17; 10:36).
The Father sends the Spirit (Isaiah 48:16; John 14:26).
The Spirit sends the Son (Isaiah 48:16).
The Son sends the Spirit (John 15:26; 16:7).
They speak to one another:
The Son prays to the Father (John 17:1-26).
The Spirit intercedes for us with the Father (Romans 8:26-27).
The Father speaks to the Son (Hebrews 1:7-8).
They speak about one another:
The Father speaks about the Son (Matthew 17:5).
Jesus testifies about Himself, and the Father testifies about the Son (John 8:13-18).
They love one another:
The Father loves the Son (John 3:35; 5:20).
The Son loves the Father (John 14:31).
When God speaks of His love for the Son, is He actually saying that He loves Himself, and when He sends the Son, is He sending Himself? When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, was He at the same time the same person as the Father who spoke from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17)? The Holy Scriptures clearly speak of at least two persons: “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
The view that the Father and the Son are one person contradicts many biblical texts where the Father and the Son appear simultaneously as two persons:
“Then the LORD [Yahweh] rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD [Yahweh] out of heaven” (Genesis 19:24).
“The LORD [Yahweh] says to my Lord [Adonai]…” (Psalm 110:1).
“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:9-10).
The Father said to the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8).
Stephen, before being stoned, declared, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2).
In this last example, we read that “the Word was with God.” If “the Word was with God,” it means that God the Father is not the Word (Greek: Logos). Logos refers to Christ, who is here called God: “and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Even Jehovah’s Witnesses do not deny such reasoning, although they maintain that it refers to a “god” with a lowercase “g,” who owes his divinity to the Father. Therefore, in their translation of the Holy Scriptures (New World Translation), they rendered the phrase as “and the Word was a god,” justifying the lowercase “g” in “god” by the absence of the article. However, this is a weak argument, as the word “God” appears 282 times without the article in the New Testament, and yet Jehovah’s Witnesses have translated it as “God” with a capital “G” in almost all other cases in their Bible translation.
The apostle John began his Gospel by demonstrating that Christ is God, and at the same time, He is not the same person as God the Father (John 1:1). He concluded it with Thomas’ confession about Jesus: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). From this, it can be deduced that Jesus Christ is God but is not the same person as God the Father. However, the question remains: is Christ equal to God?
IS JESUS CHRIST A LESSER GOD?
Believers who do not accept the Trinity are generally called Arians, after Arius (250-336), who was the first to question the divinity of Christ in the 4th century. Arians, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, acknowledge that the Holy Scripture uses the term “God” in reference to Christ but explain that He is a God lesser than the Father. If that were the case, would Christ possess the attributes of the Supreme God, such as:
Omnipotence — Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
Omniscience — in Christ, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
Omnipresence — Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20); “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
Self-existence — “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:26); “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life'” (John 11:25).
Eternity — Jesus said of Himself, “I am the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:17). We read about Him, “His origin is from ancient times, from days of eternity” (Micah 5:1); Isaiah called Christ the “Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:5), and eternity implies a lack of beginning.
By the way, some argue that the concept of God’s omnipotence is internally contradictory because God cannot create a stone He cannot lift. They reason that if the Almighty could do anything, He could create a stone so heavy that He could not lift it. Since He couldn’t do that, it means He is not omnipotent. Amateur philosophers who use this supposedly logical example overlook the principles of logic that qualify the statement “The Almighty can do anything” by adding “The Almighty can do anything THAT IS POSSIBLE.” God cannot deny His nature, so we read, for example, that He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). According to the principles of logic, God cannot create a stone that cannot be lifted.
The impossibility of such a task, however, does not call into question the omnipotence of God but the logic of the person demanding something that contradicts the laws of logic. There is no contradiction between the fact that God is omnipotent and that He cannot do something that is impossible.
The Son of God possesses not only the attributes of the Supreme God mentioned above but also the nature of God: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). The word “imprint” (Greek: charakter) signifies not only external resemblance but also the identity of nature. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 1:19), and in the following chapter, he wrote, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The word “deity” (Greek: theotes) signifies God in the absolute sense. Paul could have used the word theiotes, which refers to the attributes of God (Romans 1:20), but he chose theotes, which refers to the nature of God. He also wrote that Jesus “…was in the form of God, [and] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). The phrase “in the form of God” (Greek: morphe) signifies possessing the nature of God. It does not merely refer to external or apparent resemblance, which could have been expressed by another Greek word (Greek: schema), but to the very nature of God, which is why Paul used the word morphe.
The early Christians worshiped Christ as God and prayed to Him. For example, Stephen prayed before his martyrdom, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). The prayers include the words “Come, Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20), and the last words of the New Testament: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:21).
In the book of Revelation, we read that Christ receives the same adoration and honor as God the Father (Revelation 5:13). If He were not equal to the Father, it would constitute idolatry and polytheism, as the book of Revelation strictly forbids worship and adoration of anyone except God (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). The Son of God receives “power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12), just as the Father does (Revelation 4:11). Furthermore, in Isaiah, it is written that Yahweh will not give His glory and honor to anyone else (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11), from which we can conclude that either Yahweh made a mistake or Yahweh is Christ. According to the Holy Scripture, Christ receives divine worship:
from humans (Matthew 14:33; 21:15-16; 28:17),
from angels: “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Hebrews 1:6),
from all creation: “…so that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:22-23); “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).
Arians, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, consider the Son of God to be subordinate to God the Father and thus inferior to Him. This view is known as monarchianism. One of their main arguments is based on Jesus’ words: “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Do these and similar verses prove that the Son of God is by nature inferior to God the Father? Or do they refer only to His role in the plan of salvation?
Christ, who was fully God, became fully human. It was not just an acting role, hence His title: “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). When reading texts about the Son of God, we must consider whether they refer to His divine or human nature because in His human form, Christ was obviously lower not only than the Father but even than the angels: “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9). This happened because Christ, who “was in the form of God… emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7-8). In order to save us, the Son of God could not rely on His divinity during His earthly ministry, which is why He said about His second coming, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
The subordination of the Son arises from the division of spheres of action in the plan of salvation among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it has a functional rather than ontological character. Jesus’ subordination results from His incarnation, which is why the human Christ was even lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). Does this mean that the Son of God is by nature lower than the angels? Not at all. As a human, Christ humbled Himself before humanity. Does it mean that He is by nature lower than humans? Certainly not.
Arians fail to prove from the Holy Scripture that the subordination of Christ took place before the plan of salvation, before Christ assumed human form. They cannot demonstrate that Christ is ontologically inferior to the Father. Their only arguments are titles given to Christ, such as “Son,” “Only Begotten” (Greek: monogenes), “Firstborn” (Greek: prototokos), or “Begotten,” which do not have a literal meaning. If we were to understand them literally according to Arian “logic,” that the Son of God had a beginning in time, then it would mean that not only did the prophet Isaiah make a mistake by calling Christ “everlasting” (Isaiah 9:6), but even the Supreme God made a mistake when He said:
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Isaiah 43:10).
The Creator declared that there was no God before Him or after Him. This statement contradicts the Arian claim that the Son of God came into existence at some point in the past. We have already established that the Son of God and the Father are not the same person, as they frequently appear together as two distinct individuals. Moreover, the Holy Scripture refers to Christ as God in John 20:28, Hebrews 1:8, and Isaiah 9:5. Since no God existed before Yahweh or after Him, logic dictates that the essence of the eternal God consists of at least the Father and the Son. This conclusion is further confirmed by the next sentence in the book of Isaiah: “I, the Lord, am the only Savior, and there is no other” (Isaiah 43:11). The New Testament also refers to Christ as the Savior in Matthew 1:21 and Acts 4:12. Therefore, if the essence of the God Yahweh did not include Christ, then God’s statement in the book of Isaiah would contradict the rest of the Holy Scripture.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE FULL DEITY OF CHRIST
One of the most commonly cited arguments against the full deity of Christ is a passage from the high priestly prayer of Jesus, in which He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). In these words, Jesus contrasted the Father with false gods and revealed Himself in communion with the Father, as knowledge of the Father and the Son is necessary for eternal life. If Christ intended to say that He Himself is not God, He would contradict many biblical texts indicating His equality with the Father (John 1:1, 5:18, 8:58, 10:30-33, Philippians 2:5). Furthermore, if the contrast was between the Father as the “only true God” and the Son, then by the same formula, Christ should be considered a false god, and the Scripture would be contradictory. This conclusion would be unfounded since in His high priestly prayer, Jesus did not set Himself against God but rather confronted God with false gods.
The same applies to the verse: “yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Does it imply that Christ is a lesser God because He is not called the “only God” in this passage? If we follow Arian “logic” and assume based on this text that Christ is not God because only the Father is called the “only God,” then we must also conclude that the Father is not Lord because only Christ is called the “only Lord”! As we can see, such “logic” leads nowhere. The apostle Paul did not question the deity of Christ in this context, as he wrote elsewhere that in Christ dwells the fullness of the deity (Colossians 2:9, Philippians 2:6), but he emphasized the unity of the divine essence composed of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Many people believe that the fact that Christ is called the “Son” proves that He has His beginning in the Father. However, such thinking is an anachronism because in biblical language, the word “son” does not always have a literal meaning. For example, we read about the “sons of Belial” (1 Samuel 2:12), “sons of light” (John 12:36), “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17):
“Synach buntu” Eph. 2,2, although in none of these cases it refers to literal sons. The same applies to the word “father”. Jesus called the devil “father” of the Jews who opposed His life John 8:44. In Greco-Roman culture, from which we inherit, the “father-son” relationship automatically implies subordination, but in Semitic culture, such a relationship was understood more in terms of the similarity of the son’s nature to the father’s, so instead of inferiority, it was associated with equality. Whenever Jesus spoke of God as “His” Father JOHN 20:17, He did not position Himself as inferior, but equal to the Father! This is how it was understood, as evidenced by the reaction of the Jews at that time: “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because… He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” John 5:18.
Christ is called in the Bible “the Only Begotten” JOHN 1:14,18; 3:16. This is usually translated from the Greek word “monogenes.” It consists of “monos,” meaning “only,” and “genos,” meaning “kind” or “species.” Therefore, “monogenes” means “one of a kind” or “unique.” The word could signify an only child or someone “unique” even if they were not an only child. In the latter sense, it does not refer to birth but uniqueness. For example, it was said of Isaac: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten (Gr. monogene) son” Hebrews 11:17. Isaac had an older brother, Ishmael (Genesis 21:1-21), and younger brothers (Genesis 25:1-6). The title “Only Begotten” (Gr. monogenes) was due to his uniqueness as the son of God’s promise GALATIANS 4:28. The same sense applies to the title of Christ, who was also the Son of God’s promise. It emphasizes the unique role of Christ in the work of salvation, perhaps by alluding to the “Only Begotten” Isaac, as Abraham’s trial of offering his promised son as a sacrifice foreshadowed the sacrifice made by God in Christ: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten (Gr. monogene) Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” JOHN 3:16.
The same applies to the title “Firstborn” (Greek: prototokos). It does not refer to the beginning of the Son of God, because Christ is also called the “Firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), and yet He was not the first person to be resurrected. Lazarus and many others were resurrected before Him. If we took the title “Firstborn” literally, as the Arians do, we would also have to accept that Christ was the first of the dead, which would be a falsehood. Using the title “Firstborn” as proof that Christ has a beginning is as much of an error as claiming that Christ was the first man to rise from the dead. The word “firstborn” in Scripture does not necessarily mean the first and oldest. For example, God bestowed this title on David (Psalm 89:28), who was the youngest in his family. This example illustrates that “Firstborn” is a title of Christ that does not pertain to birth and beginnings, but rather to authority and preeminence. Christ is the cause of resurrection and the head of the resurrected, hence the title “Firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). Similar meanings can be found in the titles “Beginning [Greek: arche] of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14) and “Firstborn of creation” (Colossians 1:15). They indicate that Christ is the cause and ruler (Greek: arche) of all creation, for “all things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
In one of Solomon’s parables, we read about God’s wisdom, which is often identified with Christ. Arians apply this parable to the beginnings of Christ, especially the statement: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth…” (Proverbs 8:22-23). Assuming that Christ is that wisdom, does it mean that He was created? Not at all. Firstly, the Hebrew word qana can be translated as “created,” but its more frequent and basic meaning is “brought forth,” “brought out,” “established.” God brought forth Jesus Christ for a specific mission—through Him, He revealed “the wisdom of God” to a sinful world. Secondly, parables are metaphors. Does anyone take pearls, goats, or the rich man and Lazarus from Christ’s parables literally? A literal interpretation of parables only leads to erroneous conclusions. Anyone who insists on it would have to accept that since God’s wisdom was created at some point in the past, God was without wisdom before creating it, which is absurd.
Lastly, let us consider the Messianic prophecy: “You are My Son; today I have begotten You” (Psalm 2:7). Does the word “begotten” prove that Christ has a beginning? It may seem so only if we ignore the biblical context. Scripture relates the words of this psalm to the incarnation of Christ (Hebrews 1:5-6). The incarnation of Jesus encompassed His birth, life, death, and resurrection, which is why we read: “And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this He has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You'” (Acts 13:32-33). Inspired biblical writers applied the phrase “today I have begotten You” to the incarnation of Christ.
“We cannot, therefore, use it according to our own whims, because at first glance it seems to fit as an argument against the eternal existence of Christ.”
“Such extraction of fragments from the Holy Scripture out of context is a ‘private interpretation’ that God warns us against in 2 Peter 1:20.
The titles ‘Son,’ ‘Only-begotten’ (Gr. monogenes), ‘Firstborn’ (Gr. prototokos), ‘Adopted’ or ‘Born’ refer to the role of Christ in the plan of salvation, not to His divine nature. The word ‘Son’ in Semitic culture was associated with similarity of nature and equality. ‘Only-begotten’ was called Isaac, even though he was not the only son of Abraham, and ‘Firstborn’ God called David, though he was not the youngest in his household. This proves that these words used as titles did not have a literal meaning. ‘Born’ refers in the Bible to the human incarnation of Christ. The literal interpretation of these titles to prove the inferiority of Christ, as done by Arians, is an example of anachronistic thinking, not honest exegesis of the biblical text.
The Holy Scripture calls Jesus God in John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8; Isaiah 9:5. Christ Himself did not hide that He is equal to God in nature in John 10:30; 14:9; 12:44, although in human incarnation, He was obviously lower than the Father and even lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). Christ used the divine name Yahweh for Himself in John 8:58, and the New Testament writers referred to Him with Old Testament texts about Yahweh (e.g., Isaiah 44:6 with Revelation 1:17), using His name interchangeably with the word ‘God’ (e.g., Romans 1:1 with Romans 1:16; Philippians 4:7 with Colossians 3:15).
Christ possesses attributes that belong to the Most High God, such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, and the fullness of the divine nature (Gr. theotes). Therefore, He can receive worship and adoration that are exclusively reserved for God, both from humans and angels (Revelation 5:12; 4:11). It follows that Christ cannot be a God lower than the Father because then the worship rendered to Him would be idolatry.
God the Father and God the Son appear in the Holy Scripture as two persons in Daniel 7:13; Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:8; Acts 7:56. Let us add to this the statement of God that no God existed before Yahweh, nor after Him (Isaiah 43:10), and we will see that the person of the Father and the Son both fit within the eternal God Yahweh. God said that no God existed before Yahweh, nor after Him, which proves that the Father and the Son are co-eternal, and there was no time when the Father existed without the Son (Isaiah 43:10).
Only God could redeem humanity because only God is equal to the divine Law that humans transgressed. No creature, not even sinless angels, can compare to the holy Law of God, and therefore, no creature could offer itself as a sacrifice to satisfy the requirements of God’s Law. If Christ were not fully God, He could not satisfy God’s justice expressed in His Law. Christ could save us because He is fully God.
“Christ is equal and consubstantial with the Father. If it were otherwise, the Father, by offering the Son for the sins of humanity, would act cruelly, pouring His righteous wrath on an innocent Son for the transgressions of humans. However, when we understand that God is both the Father and the Son, then we truly see that God the Father and the Holy Spirit also loved and suffered to the same extent as the Son, because they together constitute one God. In Christ, God suffered for us. That’s why we read that God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ: ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ’ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.”
THE TRINITY IN THE HISTORY OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
The last decade has seen increased antitrinitarian activity within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Four reasons for this activity should be mentioned. (1) The availability of information through the Internet. (2) Several other Adventist groups that emerged from the Millerite movement continue to hold to an antitrinitarian perspective. Examples would be the Church of God (Seventh Day), also known as the Marion Party; the previous view of the Worldwide Church of God; the Atlanta Church of God in Georgia (formerly of Oregon, Illinois, or the Age to Come Adventists), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (that branched from the Advent Christian Church). It should be noted that the Advent Christians, like Seventh-day Adventists, have embraced the trinitarian view. (3) Some think that the Trinity doctrine comes from Catholic theology and therefore must be false. Many have not realized that the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity has differences from the Seventh-day Adventist biblical doctrine of the Trinity. These include eternal generation of the Son and Divine impassibility, which are influenced by Greek philosophy. (4) Perhaps most significant, over the last few decades, some Seventh-day Adventists have thought to return to early historical Adventist faith, or what might be called neo-restorationism.
Some have failed to recognize the dynamic nature of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Historically, our doctrines have developed in the context of the original distinctive core of the three angels’ messages and kindred concepts. A small, though significant and growing segment of “historic” Adventists, are advocating a return to an antitrinitarian stance. Sabbatarian Adventism and Seventh-day Adventists have always been Bible-centered in their theology and doctrine. They have rejected a static creed and have ever sought to study, understand, and follow the Bible as the source of doctrine and the guide for experience. Consequently, it should not be surprising that Adventist doctrine has developed over time building upon previous and new Bible study.
As Sabbatarian Adventism emerged during the late 1840s, it brought various Christian truths and placed them in the framework of fulfilled prophecy and ongoing discovery of biblical teachings. A cluster of biblical teachings explained what had happened in 1844 and why Jesus had not come. The heavenly sanctuary, the end-time ministry of Jesus in the Most Holy Place, and the Sabbath as the seal of God were a particular focus. Adventist understanding of various theological perspectives continued to develop and improve over time. Two examples are the Sabbath and tithing. Early Adventists initially concluded, through Joseph Bates’s influence, that the Sabbath should begin and end at 6:00 p.m. It was in 1855, nearly a decade after the initial Sabbath emphasis, that J. N. Andrews’s biblical and historical presentation influenced believers to adopt sundown as the correct time to begin and end the Sabbath. Tithing first began in 1859 as systematic benevolence and had little or no link to the biblical teaching of 10 percent. It was not until the 1870s that a careful restudy of the topic led Seventh-day Adventists to adopt the tithing framework we practice today. A similar process is evident in Adventist understanding on the nature of God and the Trinity.
UP TO 1890: ANTITRINITARIAN PERIOD
Until near the turn of the twentieth century, Seventh-day Adventist literature was almost unanimous in opposing the eternal deity of Jesus and the personhood of the Holy Spirit. During the earlier years, some even held the view that Christ was created. It is very important to understand that Adventist views were not homogeneous. Theological tension within Adventism began during the Millerite movement and is illustrated by the two principal leaders, William Miller and Joshua V. Himes.
Miller, being a Baptist, was a trinitarian. He wrote, “I believe in one living and true God, and that there are three persons in the Godhead. . . . The three persons of the Triune God are connected.”1 Himes, a close associate of William Miller, was of the Christian Connexion persuasion. The northeastern branch of the Christian church “rejected the Trinitarian doctrine as unscriptural.”2 It is important to note that Millerite Adventists were focused on the soon coming of Jesus and did not consider it necessary to argue about the Trinity.
Two of the principal founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Joseph Bates and James White, like Himes, had been members of the Christian Connexion and rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Joseph Bates wrote of his views, “Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was an impossibility for me to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God.”3 James White wrote, “Here we might mention the Trinity, which does away [with] the personality of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ.”4 Both Bates and White were anxious to maintain the separate personalities of the Father and the Son. This concern was caused, in part, by the strong spiritualizing influence among Bridegroom Adventists during 1845 and 1846. A similar problem would resurface around the turn of the twentieth century with the de-personalizing of God and J. H. Kellogg’s pantheistic views.5
Though James White rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, he did believe in the three great Powers in heaven reflected in his first hymnbook.6 Though opposed to the Trinity, he did not believe that Christ was inferior to the Father. In 1877 he wrote, “The inexplicable trinity that makes the godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but that ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse.”7
Not all agreed with James White on the equality of Father and Son. During the 1860s, Uriah Smith, long-time editor of the Review and Herald, believed that Jesus was “the first created being.”8 By 1881, he had changed to the belief that Jesus was “begotten” and not created.9
A selective list of Adventists who either spoke against the Trinity and/ or rejected the eternal deity of Christ include J. B. Frisbie, J. N. Loughborough, R. F. Cottrell, J. N. Andrews, D. M. Canright, J. H. Waggoner, and C. W. Stone.10 W. A. Spicer at one point told A. W. Spalding that his father, after becoming a Seventh-day Adventist (he was formerly a Seventh Day Baptist minister), “grew so offended at the antitrinitarian atmosphere in Battle Creek that he ceased preaching.”11
In surveying the writings of various pioneers, certain concerns frequently appear. In rejecting the Trinity, some saw the orthodox Christian view as pagan tritheism. Others argued that the Trinity degraded the personhood of Christ and the Father by blurring the distinction between Them. While the early positions on the Trinity and deity of Christ were flawed, there was a sincere attempt to oppose certain legitimate errors.
By about 1890, Adventists had come to a more-or-less harmonious position that viewed Jesus as the begotten or originated Divine Son of God. He was seen as the Divine Creator with the Father. The nature of the Holy Spirit was lightly discussed, though the Holy Spirit was generally considered to be the omnipresent influence from the Father or the Son rather than a person.
FROM 1890 TO 1900: EMERGENCE OF TRINITARIAN SENTIMENT
As the 1890s began, two of the key thinkers on each side of the righteousness by faith/law in Galatians issue agreed on the derived divinity of Jesus. E. J. Waggoner wrote in his 1890 Christ and His Righteousness, “There was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God . . . but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning.”12 In 1898, Uriah Smith wrote in Looking Unto Jesus, “God alone is without beginning. At the earliest epoch when a beginning could be,—a period so remote that to finite minds it is essentially eternity,—appeared the Word.”13
The period after the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference saw a new emphasis on Jesus and the plan of salvation. This led to a consideration of His deity and what it meant for the redemption of humanity. A. T. Jones was among the first (with the exception of Ellen White) to suggest that Christ was eternally preexistent. Jones emphasized Colossians 2:9 and the idea that in Christ was the “fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He also described Christ as “ ‘the eternal Word.’ ”14 Though he avoided the word Trinity, in 1899 he wrote, “God is one. Jesus Christ is one. The Holy Spirit is one. And these three are one: there is no dissent nor division among them.”15
Ellen White played a prophetic role in confirming the eternal deity of Jesus and the Three-Person Godhead. As early as 1878, she referred to Jesus as the “eternal Son of God.”16 In The Desire of Ages, she wrote, “[Christ] announced Himself to be the self-existent One” and “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived.”17 She wrote of the Holy Spirit as the “Third Person of the Godhead.”18 Ellen White played an important role in urging the church toward a biblical trinitarian position. However, for years after the publication of The Desire of Ages, the church generally avoided these and other statements. While she never used the term Trinity in her published writings, she repeatedly conveyed the concept.
M. L. Andreasen questioned whether Ellen White had actually written some of her statements in The Desire of Ages and other books. During 1909, Andreasen spent three months at Elmshaven, California, and was convinced of the accuracy of her published position.19
FROM 1900 TO 1931: TRANSITION AND CONFLICT
During the first three decades of the twentieth century, the church remained divided in its position on the deity of Christ. The use of the word Trinity in print continued to be avoided. W. W. Prescott and A.T. Jones, both editors of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, were key supporters of the full and eternal deity of Jesus. During the 1890s, Prescott was slower than Jones to accept the new view. But after 1900, as editor of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, he published articles on the personhood and eternal nature of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.20 Still Prescott believed that Jesus had a derived existence from God the Father. At the 1919 Bible Conference, he presented a series of eight devotionals for the conference titled “The Person of Christ” that expressed this view. Careful discussion at this conference showed that there were varying opinions.21
The early twentieth century saw Adventists and Protestant Fundamentalists battling higher criticism and the “new modernism” growing in Christianity. Liberalism rejected the deity of Jesus and His virgin birth. Adventist articles defending the Bible view began to appear more frequently in church papers. Irrespective of individual differences on details, Adventist ministers pulled into line against liberal views. Naturally, those who rejected the eternal preexistence of Christ did not want to speak of His beginning and weaken the argument against higher criticism. Even articles on the Trinity were tolerated.22 The result was an increased appreciation of the full deity of the Son of God.
FROM 1931 TO 1957: ACCEPTANCE OF THE TRINITARIAN VIEW
F. M. Wilcox was crucial in facilitating the final transition to an accepted Seventh-day Adventist view on the Trinity through his guidance in the 1931 Statement of Fundamental Beliefs and his articles in the Review and Herald.23 Doctrinal summaries were carefully avoided during the first decades of the twentieth century, due in part to conflict on the Trinity. According to L. E. Froom, Wilcox was “respected by all parties for his soundness, integrity, and loyalty to the Advent Faith—and to the Spirit of Prophecy—he, as editor of the Review, did what probably no other man could have done to achieve unity in acceptance.”24 It was not until 1946 that the General Conference session officially voted a Statement of Fundamental Beliefs.25
During the 1940s, an ever-increasing majority of the church believed in the eternal, underived deity of Christ and the personhood of the Holy Spirit, yet there were some who held back and even actively resisted the change. These were mainly comprised of a few older ministers and Bible teachers such as J. S. Washburn, C. S. Longacre, and W. R. French. In 1944, Uriah Smith’s Daniel and the Revelation was revised and his comments on the derived nature of Christ’s divinity were removed.26
In 1957, the book Questions on Doctrine anchored the doctrine of the Trinity or Godhead for Adventists. While the book produced theological conflict in other areas, there was virtually no dissent on the book’s clear teaching of the Trinity.27 The current unambiguous statement on the Trinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs was revised and voted at the 1980 General Conference Session.
The process of adopting the Trinity continued from 1900 to 1950. Key influences in the change were (1) repeated published biblical studies on the topic, (2) Ellen White’s clear statements, (3) Adventist response to the attacks of modern liberalism on the deity of Christ and His virgin birth, and (4) F. M. Wilcox’s statement of Fundamental Beliefs and his Review and Herald editorials.
We may learn several lessons from the history of the development of doctrine of the Trinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. First, we must acknowledge that the development of Adventist theology has usually been progressive and corrective. This is clearly illustrated in the doctrine of the Trinity. The leading of the Holy Spirit is dynamic. Other doctrinal concepts developed in a similar manner. This development never supposed a paradigm shift that contradicted the clear biblical teaching of the heavenly sanctuary ministry of Jesus and the prophetic foundation of the church. Second, the development of the Trinity doctrine demonstrates that doctrinal change sometimes requires the passing of a previous generation. For Seventh-day Adventists, it took more than 50 years for the doctrine of the Trinity to become normative. Third, Ellen White’s unambiguous statements subdued controversy and provided confidence to transition to our current view. Finally, Adventist theology is always supremely dependent upon Scripture. The Bible tells us that the “path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”28 Hebrews 2:1 reads, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard.” It was ultimately the Bible that led Seventh-day Adventists to adopt their present position on the Godhead or Trinity.
1 Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller (Boston: Joshua V. Himes, 1853), 77, 78.2 Joshua V. Himes, “Christian Connexion,” in Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, ed. J. Newton Brown (Brattleboro, VT: Brattleboro Typographic, 1838), 363.3 Joseph Bates, Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates (Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press, 1868), 205.4 James White,”Preach the Word,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 11, 1855, 85.
5 See J. H. Kellogg, The Living Temple (Battle Creek, MI: Good Health, 1903), 26–36, 396–398, 450–460, 484–486.
6 Arthur L. White to Hedy Jemison, July 2, 1969; James White, comp., Hymns for God’s Peculiar People (Oswego, NY: Richard Oliphant, 1849), 47.
7 James White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 29, 1877, 72.
8 Uriah Smith, Thoughts, Critical and Practical on the Book of Revelation (Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press, 1865), 59.
9 Smith, Thoughts, 1881, 74.
10 J. B. Frisbie, “The Seventh Day Sabbath Not Abolished,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 7, 1854, 50; J. N. Loughborough, “Questions for Brother Loughborough,” Advent Review Sabbath and Herald, November 5, 1861, 184; R. F. Cottrell, “The Trinity,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 6, 1869, 10, 11; J. N. Andrews, “Melchisedec,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 7, 1869, 84; D. M. Canright, “The Personality of God,”Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, August 29, 1878, 73, 74; September 5, 1878, 81, 82; September 12, 1878, 89, 90; September 19, 1878, 97; J. H. Waggoner, The Atonement (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press, 1884), 164–179; C. W. Stone, The Captain of our Salvation (Battle Creak, MI: n.p., 1886), 15–20.
11 A. W. Spalding to H. C. Lacey, June 2, 1947.
12 E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press, 1890), 21, 22.
13 Uriah Smith, Looking Unto Jesus (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald, 1898), 10.
14 A. T. Jones,“The Third Angel’s Message Number 20,” General Conference Bulletin, February 27, 1895, 378; ibid., “The Third Angel’s Message Number 17,” General Conference Bulletin, February 25, 1895, 332.
15 A. T. Jones, editorial, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 10, 1899, 24.
16 Ellen G. White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, August 8, 1878, 49.
17 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1898), 470, 530.
18 Ibid., 671.
19 M. L. Andreasen, “Testimony of M. L. Andreasen,” Ellen G. White Estate Document File 961, October 15, 1953.
20 W. W. Prescott, Review and Herald, April 4, 1896, 232; General Conference Committee Minutes for February 15, 1902, cited in Gilbert Valentine, William Warren Prescott (PhD dissertation, Andrews University, 1982), 351; W. W. Prescott, “Studies in the Gospel Message,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 2, 1902, 4; ibid., “Our Place as Sons,”Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 23, 1902, 6; ibid., “The Eternal Purpose,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 23, 1902, 4; ibid., “Our Personal Saviour Jesus Christ,” Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, first quarter, 1921, 2, 9, 20; ibid., The Doctrine of Christ (Washington, DC:
Review and Herald, 1920), 3, 20, 21.
21 Donald E. Mansell, “How the 1919 Bible Conference Transcript Was Found,” Unpublished Paper, Ellen G. White Estate Document File, July 6, 1975.
22 Stemple White, Canadian Watchman, September 1923, 18; C. P. Bollman, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 15, 1923, 4; Lyle C. Shepard, Canadian Watchman, September 1927, 12.
23 F. M. Wilcox, “Christ as Creator and Redeemer,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 23, 1944, 2; ibid., Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 3, 1945, 5, 6.
24 L. E. Froom, Movement of Destiny (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1971), 413, 415.
25 Robert Olson and Bert Haloviak, “Who Decides What Adventists Believe: A Chronological Survey of Sources, 1844-1977,” Unpublished paper, Ellen G. White Estate Document File 326, February 24, 1977.
26 Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation (Nashville: Southern Publishing, 1941), 400; ibid., The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation (Nashville: Southern Publishing, 1944), 391.
27 Questions on Doctrine (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1957), 30, 31, 36.
28 Proverbs 4:18, KJV.