THE GOD OF JESUS: PART FIVE
Theos & Kurios – God & Lord
The Greek word translated “God” in the NT is theos. It occurs 1,343 times. Theos means to have power, authority and majesty. It is equivalent to elohim in the OT. The Septuagint translates elohim as theos. As is true of elohim in the OT, theos can apply to the one true God, pagan gods, and even to humans who have been granted power and authority. Theos is used to apply to Greek gods in Greek literature. Therefore, theos, like elohim, does not have intrinsic meaning of deity but can define one considered deity or having the powers of deity. In the NT theos is translated into the English word God and by context can be seen to almost exclusively designate the Father. We also see theos referencing Jesus in several NT passages. As we move through this material, we will examine each one of the passages where theos references Jesus to determine if such references establish Jesus is God equally with the Father.
The Greek word translated “Lord” in the NT is kurios. This word appears 749 times in the NT. In Greek its basic meaning is to have power and authority and characterizes a person to whom another person or thing belongs. The word implies someone having power over others. It also denotes a respect and reverence with which servants greet their master. In NT Scripture, kurios is applied to God the Father, to Christ Jesus and occasionally to others. The great majority of the time it is applied to Christ.
The various occurrences of the word lord in the NT are all translations of the Greek word kurios. Since this word is used in association with the Father, the Son and others, context must be considered in determining who is being identified. Kurios, by itself, does not establish or connote deity. Other information must be known to establish deity where kurios is used to identify someone that may be considered deity.
Because the Septuagint uses kurios to translate the Hebrew YHWH and Elohim into Greek, some believe this word, when applied to Christ in the NT Greek Scriptures identifies Christ as God (Greek: Theos). It is believed when applied to Christ; the Greek kurios is equivalent to YHWH and Adonai and identifies Jesus as the God of the OT. Therefore, Jesus is seen as the God of Israel. Since Trinitarianism sees the one God (YHWH) as distinctions of Father, Son and Spirit, it is believed God manifested Himself to Israel through God (YHWH) the Son. The Hebrew Scriptures, however, consistently identify YHWH as the Father. YHWH as Father is identified in the OT narrative as the one and only Creator God of Israel. YHWH is never identified in the OT as God the Son. As pointed out previously, the phrase "God the Son" does not appear in Scripture.
Deuteronomy 32:6: Is this the way you repay the LORD, (YHWH) O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
1 Chronicles 29:10: Therefore David blessed the Lord (YHWH) before all the congregation; and David said: "Blessed are You, Lord (YHWH) God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever (NKJV).
Isaiah 63:16b: You, O LORD, (YHWH) are our Father; our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Isaiah 64:8: Yet, O LORD, (YHWH) you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Psalm 89:26: He will call out to me, You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior (The He, refers to David calling out to God).
Malachi 2:10a: Have we not all one Father? Did not one God (Elohim) create us?
Trinitarian theologians argue the Father cannot be the Father without the Son and the Son cannot be the Son without the Father. Since Scripture shows the Father has existed eternally, it is concluded the Son has also existed eternally and the Father and Son, along with the Spirit, indwell each other as the single Being called YHWH. As seen in the above Scriptural passages, however, it is the Father who is seen as God with no mention of anyone else. This is true throughout the OT narrative.
In the NT Scriptures, God is consistently identified as Father. Jesus constantly spoke of God as our Father. The Father is seen not only as the Father of Jesus but the Father of us all and of all creation. As will be seen as we proceed with this discussion, God became the Father of Jesus and Jesus became the Son of God the Father at the time of His begettal some 2000 years ago. The idea the Father can only be the Father if the Son has eternally existed with the Father is not upheld by the Scriptures.
In Isaiah appears a prophecy of the coming of Jesus. In this prophecy the child to be born is described as Mighty God and Everlasting Father. Since YHWH is identified in the Hebrew Scriptures as Father and Mighty God, it is believed this passage about the coming of the Son identifies the Son as YHWH since the Son is identified as Mighty God and Everlasting Father.
Isaiah 9:6-7: 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 (Hebrew: gibbor) God (Hebrew: el), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD (YHWH) Almighty (gibbor) will accomplish this.
The Hebrew for mighty is gibbor and means to be powerful and strong. In the Hebrew Scripture this word is used around 150 times and refers to men about 95% of the time with only a few references to God. The Hebrew word for God in this passage is el. This word means strong, mighty and mighty hero. This word appears around 200 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and is largely used in reference to YHWH but is also used of men and angels.
Exodus 3:15 and Isaiah 42:8 identify the name of God as YHWH. YHWH is identified in the Hebrew Scriptures as Father. Is YHWH also the Son in addition to being the Father? Is YHWH a tri-unity of Father, Son and Spirit? When Isaiah writes about the zeal of the LORD (YHWH) bringing about the birth of the Son, is he saying YHWH, in His internal union of Father, Son and Spirit is bringing about the incarnation of the distinction in the "Godhead" called the Son? Are the Son and Father, along with the Spirit, the one and only true God in every respect except that of being each other? In Micah is a prophecy that expositors generally agree pertains to the coming of Christ.
Micah 5:4: He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD (YHWH), in the majesty of the name of the LORD (YHWH) his God (Elohim). And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
Here YHWH is seen as the God of the promised Messiah. Trinitarians conclude YHWH here refers to the Father and when Micah writes of the Son accomplishing things in the name of YHWH his God, he is using the word YHWH to designate the person of the Father in the Trinitarian relationship that is Father, Son and Spirit who together are God (Elohim). To make this work, however, you would virtually have to read this passage in the following manner:
Micah 5:4: He (The Son, Jesus) will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Father (YHWH), in the majesty of the name of the Father (YHWH) his God (Elohim). And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
As can be seen, believing YHWH is a reference to the Father still makes the Father the God of Jesus. If the Father is the God of Jesus, how can Jesus be that same God?
In another prophecy believed to be about the coming of Christ and uttered many years after the reign and death of King David, Ezekiel writes that YHWH will establish David as a Prince over Israel. We know that Scripture shows the Messiah to be a descendant of David and in Scripture is identified with David in Messianic prophecies.
Ezekiel 34:23-24: I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD (YHWH) will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD (YHWH) have spoken.
This passage of Scripture shows YHWH as the God of Israel in contrast to a servant of YHWH spoken of as the prince David who will be their shepherd. If the prince is a prophetic reference to Christ, which most expositors believe, then Christ is shown to be a servant of YHWH. This would preclude Christ being a co-equal, non-subordinant distinction of a Trinitarian God called YHWH. This coordinates well with 1 Corinthians 15:28 where Apostle Paul writes of Jesus being subservient to the Father and Psalm 110:1 where David shows the Son not as YHWH or Adonai but as adoni, the glorified agent of YHWH seated at His right hand.
In the Ezekiel passage, YHWH is quoted as saying He will be their God and His servant David (Christ) will be prince among them. YHWH is their God and David (Christ) is their prince. If Jesus is also YHWH, this prophecy makes no sense at all.
All this being considered, it should be apparent when Jesus is referred to as “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father,” He is not being identified as YHWH. These are titles of honor given to Jesus Christ as YHWH’s agent in facilitating YHWH’s will as the promised Messiah. These titles do not mean the Messiah is YHWH as it is plain from the passage in Micah that the Messiah relates to YHWH as His God and in Ezekiel as the servant of YHWH. The Septuagint translates “Everlasting Father” as “Father of the age to come” and the Brown, Driver and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, translates “Mighty God” as “divine hero.”
Jesus is seen as the Father and divine hero of the age to come. The age to come is the New Covenant age which is inaugurated by YHWH by facilitating the Christ event. Jesus is pictured here as YHWH’s agent in bringing to fruition YHWH’s redemption of mankind. The very language of these passages precludes Jesus being YHWH.
Let’s look at Isaiah 42:1 and 61:1.
Isaiah 42:1: Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Most scholars see these two passages as prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah records YHWH as speaking of the Messiah as YHWH’s servant in whom YHWH delights and upon whom YHWH will put his Spirit. In Isaiah 61:1 the Messiah is pictured as the one speaking and saying the Spirit of the Sovereign YHWH is on Him and YHWH has anointed Him. In Luke 4:18, we see Jesus seeing Himself as fulfilling this passage. Once again, the very language of Scripture shows the Son as the anointed servant of the Sovereign LORD (YHWH) and not that the Son is the Sovereign LORD (YHWH). To conclude all this rhetoric is between two co-equal and con-substantial indwelling distinctions of a single Being called YHWH runs contrary to the very language of Scripture. Scripture consistently shows YHWH as the one and only Sovereign God who has a Son who is subservient to Him as His anointed servant.
In the NT it is plainly revealed God is called Father because He is of all, over all, through all and in all. God is not Father only because He begat the Son. God being eternal Father is not predicated on His having an eternal Son as is argued by Trinitarians. The word Father is applied to the one and only Supreme Creator God because He is at the genesis of all reality, not just the reality that is His directly begotten Son.
Ephesians 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.