Source of His Life
33. (a) As a Son, what did Jesus render to the One who was his Father? (b) How far did Jesus say that all men were to honor the Son?
ALL along the evidence has been mounting up from John’s own writings that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. This very fact in itself argues that Jesus as a Son was dependent upon God and was not equal to God. A son is not greater than his father, but must honor his father, according to God’s command. As God’s Son, Jesus said: “I honor my Father.” (John 8:49) How, then, can anyone say he was making himself God or the equal of God when he said: “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him”? (John 5:22, 23, AV) In those words Jesus was not telling us to honor him as being the Father or as being God. He did not say we were to honor the Son as much as the Father.
34. In this regard, why was the Son to be honored, and how much?
34 Look at Jesus’ words again and see why he said he was to be honored just as the Father is to be honored. Jesus said that the Father had appointed him to be judge, to act as the deputy or representative of God the Supreme Judge. Hence as God’s appointed Judge the Son deserved to be honored. By honoring the Son we show respect for God’s appointment of the Son as Judge. If we do not honor the Son as Judge, then we do not honor “the Father which hath sent him.” But that does not mean we honor the Son as being God himself or honor the Son as much as God himself, who sent the Son.
35. (a) Who was it that honored Jesus, and how much? (b) As to greatness, how did Jesus compare with God and with Abraham?
35 Even God the Father did not honor or glorify the Son as his equal. But God did honor or glorify his Son Jesus Christ more than all his other sons. Certainly, then, the one whom God honors or glorifies, we too ought to honor. In fact, God requires us to do so. Jesus himself said: “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God.” (John 8:54, AV) Jesus’ Father was the God of the Jews. They did not consider Jesus to be a God-Man, God himself in the flesh; and Jesus did not pretend to be God. He said that the Deity who the Jews said was their God was the One who honored Jesus. Then Jesus went on to declare he was not as great as God but was greater than Abraham because of having a prehuman existence in heaven.
36. What does the title “father” mean, and what did the heavenly Father appropriately give to the Son of God?
36 The title “father” means a male parent, and a male parent means a progenitor, an author or source, one who begets or brings forth offspring. Since God was the Father of Jesus, was Jesus also dependent upon God for life? Only Jesus’ own words could give a convincing answer to this question. Note now these words of Jesus: “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:25, 26, AV) God as the Father is the Source of life; and he gives to his Son the privilege to have life in himself. We can therefore appreciate what John 1:4, 5 (AV) says of the Word or Logos: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
37. From whom and through whom does the life that enlightens men come?
37 The life that enlightens men who are going down into the darkness of death is from the Father as the Source and is through the Son as the channel. The Son received the life from the Father. So the apostle Peter could well say to his Master Jesus Christ: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”—John 6:68, 69, AV.
38. How did Jesus compare the origin of his own life with that gained by those who feed upon him by faith?
38 When speaking of himself as a human sacrifice to be laid down for the life of believing men, Jesus showed the origin of his own life, saying: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” (John 6:56, 57, AV) Eaters who live by Jesus begin to live by means of him. So too Jesus began to live by means of God. So if the Son Jesus had been coeternal with his Father and without a beginning of life, how could he truthfully say: “I live by the Father”? Hence Jesus was really a Son of God in having received his life from God. He got his life from his heavenly Father just as much as a man who feeds on Jesus’ human sacrifice by faith gets life through Jesus and lives by him. Were it not for Jesus as a human sacrifice, the man would never live forever in God’s new world. So were it not for God, the Son would never have lived.
39, 40. (a) Upon what did Jesus’ continuance in life depend? (b) How was Jesus’ dependence upon God for life shown in another way miraculously?
39 Jesus’ own continuance in life depended on his obedience to God his Father. Very fittingly, then, when Jesus was tempted by the Devil to turn stones into bread to break his forty-day fast, Jesus applied to himself the words of the prophet Moses: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4, AV) Jesus’ dependence upon God the Father for life is shown in another way. How? In that God raised his Son Jesus from the dead on the third day after he laid down his human life in sacrifice.
40 In John 5:21 (AS; RS; Dy) Jesus spoke of God’s power to resurrect the dead and give them life, saying: “As the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom he will.” Jesus did not raise himself out of death; he depended upon his immortal Father in heaven to raise him up out of death. On the third day of his sacrificial death God raised up his Son and gave him life again and his Son received it, accepted it or took it up again. It was just as Jesus had said: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”—John 10:17, 18, AV.
41. How and why did Jesus lay down his life, and how did he take it back again?
41 Jesus laid down his life (Greek: psykhé; soul). Of course, the Roman soldiers killed him at Calvary, but Jesus permitted them to do so, and this was in harmony with his Father’s will, or by his Father’s commandment to Jesus. Jesus took back his life, not that he took his human sacrifice off the altar or that he raised himself to life, but that on the third day God commanded Jesus to rise from the dead. Jesus did so by accepting or receiving life at his Father’s hand, by God’s authority. As Jesus said: “I have the right to receive it back again; this charge I have received from my Father.”—New English Bible.
42. How is Jesus, as he said to John, “the first and the last”?
42 Jesus now lives again in heaven. After his return to his Father there, Jesus appeared in a vision to the apostle John and said: “I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” He was the first and the last in the matter of resurrection, for John speaks of him as “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, . . . him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood.” (Rev. 1:17, 18, 5, AS) He was the first one on earth that God raised from the dead to be “alive for evermore.” He is also the last one whom God raises thus directly, for now God has given an unlocking power, the “keys of death and of Hades,” to the resurrected Jesus. So during his kingdom Jesus as Judge raises and gives life to whom he will.
43. (a) How do trinitarians argue as to the meaning of Revelation 3:14? (b) But about whose work of creation did Jesus there speak?
43 All this helps us to get the true meaning of what the resurrected Jesus told John to write to the congregation in Laodicea, Asia Minor. Jesus said: “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14, AV)* Trinitarians argue that this means that Jesus Christ is the Beginner, the Originator or Origin of God’s creation; and they can point to An American Translation and Moffatt’s translation, which read: “The origin of God’s creation.” Note that expression “God’s creation.” This, of course, does not mean creating God, for God is uncreated. Jesus said “God’s creation,” not, “creation by me,” as though he were talking about things created by him. He was talking about works created by someone else, namely, God’s creative works.
44, 45. (a) In what case is the Greek word for “God”—in the nominative case or in the genitive case? (b) What does the so-called Subjective Genitive indicate, according to grammarians?
44 In the Greek text the word for “God” [Theoũ] is in the genitive case. Now in Greek as well as in English the genitive case can mean a number of different relations or connections that the word in the genitive case has to the person or thing that it modifies.
45 According to Dr. A. T. Robertson it can be a genitive of a number of kinds, such as the Possessive Genitive, the Attributive Genitive, the Subjective Genitive, the Objective Genitive.* One Greek grammar explains the genitive of source or author by saying: “The Subjective Genitive. We have the subjective genitive when the noun in the genitive produces the action, being therefore related as subject to the verbal idea of the noun modified. . . . The preaching of Jesus Christ. Rom. 16:25.”* Another Greek grammar explains the sense of the subjective genitive, saying: “The SUBJECT of an action or feeling: . . . the good-will of the people (that is, which the people feel).”*
46 Thus the expression “the creation of God” could mean the creation possessed by God or belonging to God. Or, it could grammatically mean also the creation produced by God. The apostle John helps us by his writings to know which kind of genitive it is in the Greek. However, it is agreed by producers of the Greek text of the Christian Scriptures that Revelation 3:14 quoted or borrowed its Greek words from Proverbs 8:22.* As translated by Charles Thomson from the Greek Septuagint, Proverbs 8:22 reads: “The Lord created me, the beginning of His ways, for His works.” Certainly there the word “beginning” (Greek LXX: arkhé) does not mean Beginner, Origin or Originator. Plainly it means the first one or original one of God’s ways to be created. This same thought is conveyed in Revelation 3:14 in regard to the “beginning of the creation of God.” Hence the word “God” must be in the Subjective Genitive.
47. (a) When was there an interruption of the life of the Word? (b) How, then, was Jesus Christ the “beginning of the creation of God”?
47 John quoted Jesus as saying that he received his life from his Father, God. There was an interruption of this life, not when “the Word became flesh,” but when he was killed as a man and lay dead for three days. Then he was restored to life by Almighty God’s power, to be alive forevermore, immortal. At his resurrection Jesus Christ was God’s creation or a creation by God. But at the very beginning of all creation Jesus was God’s creation, a creature produced by God. As the Word “in the beginning” in heaven he was the first of God’s creation, “the chief of the creation of God.” (Yg) By means of him as an agent God made all other things, as stated in John 1:3. He was not the Origin or Originator of God’s creation. He was, rather, the Original One of God’s creation.
48. (a) Why can it be said that the New World Translation renders Revelation 3:14 correctly? (b) To whom do John’s writings ascribe all creation?
48 The New World Translation renders Revelation 3:14 correctly as follows: “the beginning of the creation by God.” In all his writings the apostle John does not apply to Jesus Christ the title Creator (Ktístes) but John ascribes all creation to the “Lord God Almighty, which was and is [ho ōn], and is to come,” the One seated on his heavenly throne. To him it is said: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:8-11; 10:5, 6, AV) The Word was God’s first heavenly creation.
“MY LORD AND MY GOD”
49. How did it happen that the apostle Thomas said to Jesus: “My Lord and my God”?
49 Teachers of the Trinity doctrine will argue that the Godship of Jesus Christ is proved by the words of the apostle Thomas in John 20:28. Thomas had told the other apostles that he would not believe that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead until Jesus materialized before him and let him put his finger in the print of the nails by which he had been fastened to the stake and until he thrust his hand into Jesus’ side, where a Roman soldier had jabbed him with a spear to make sure of Jesus’ death. So the following week Jesus reappeared to the apostles and told Thomas to do as he had said, to convince himself. “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (AV) In the original Greek text this expression literally reads, word for word: “The Lord of me and the God of me.”
50. According to Greek Professor Moule, does the use of the definite article the before God necessarily mean that Jesus was called the very God?
50 So the trinitarians argue that Thomas’ expression “the God” spoken to Jesus proved that Jesus was the very God, a God of three Persons. However, Professor C. F. D. Moule says that the article the before the noun God may not be significant so as to mean such a thing.* Regardless of that fact, let us take into account the situation back there to be sure of what the apostle Thomas meant.
51. On Jesus’ resurrection day what message did Thomas receive from Jesus, and so what did Thomas know as to Jesus and his worship?
51 Less than two weeks previously Thomas had heard Jesus pray to his heavenly Father and say: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3, AV) On the fourth day after that prayer, or on his day of resurrection, Jesus sent a special message to Thomas and the other disciples by means of Mary Magdalene. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.” (John 20:17, 18, AV) So from Jesus’ prayer and from this message through Mary Magdalene, Thomas knew who his own God was. His God was not Jesus Christ, but his God was the God of Jesus Christ. Also his Father was the Father of Jesus Christ. Thus Thomas knew that Jesus had a God whom he worshiped, namely, his heavenly Father.
52. Why should we not read the wrong meaning into Thomas’ words: “My Lord and my God”?
52 How, then, could Thomas in an ecstasy of joy at seeing the resurrected Jesus for the first time burst out with an exclamation and speak to Jesus himself as being the one and only living, true God, the God whose name is Jehovah? How could Thomas, by what he spoke, mean that Jesus was himself “the only true God” or that Jesus was God in the Second Person of a Trinity? In view of what Thomas had heard from Jesus and had been told by Jesus, how can we read such a meaning into Thomas’ words: “My Lord and my God”?
53. Why did Jesus not reprove Thomas for what he said?
53 Jesus would have reproved Thomas if Jesus had understood that Thomas meant that he, Jesus, was “the only true God” whom Jesus had called “my God” and “my Father.” Certainly Jesus would not take a title away from God his Father or take away the unique position from God his Father. Since Jesus did not reprove Thomas as if addressing him in a wrong way, Jesus knew how to understand Thomas’ words, Scripturally. And so did the apostle John.*
54. This point in John’s account would have been an excellent place for him to do what with regard to John 1:1?
54 John was there and heard Thomas exclaim: “My Lord and my God.” Did John say that the only thing for us to conclude from Thomas’ words was that Jesus was God, “the only true God” whose name is Jehovah? (Ps. 35:23, 24) Here would have been an excellent place for John to explain John 1:1 and say that Jesus Christ, who was the Word made flesh, was God himself, that he was “God the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.” But is that the conclusion that John reached? Is that the conclusion to which John brings his readers? Listen to the conclusion that John wants us to reach:
55, 56. (a) To make us believe what about Jesus Christ did John write the things in his account? (b) So to what conclusion do we follow John up to this point?
55 “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe.” That we might believe what? “That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”—John 20:29-31, AV.
56 In his life account of Jesus John wrote the things to persuade us to believe, not that Jesus is God, that Christ is God, or that Jesus is “God the Son,” but that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” The trinitarians designedly twist things by saying “God the Son.” But we take John’s explanation the way that he words it, namely, “Christ, the Son of God.” We follow John to the same conclusion that he reached, that Jesus is the Son of the One whom Jesus calls “my Father” and “my God,” in this same twentieth chapter of John. Hence Thomas was not worshiping “God the Father” and “God the Son” at one and the same time as equals in a “triune God.”
57 Thomas worshiped the same God whom Jesus Christ worshiped, namely, Jehovah God, the Father. So if Thomas addressed Jesus as “my God,” Thomas had to recognize Jesus’ Father as the God of a God, hence as a God higher than Jesus Christ, a God whom Jesus himself worshiped. Revelation 4:1-11 gives a symbolic description of this God, the “Lord God Almighty,” who sits upon the heavenly throne and who lives forever and ever; but the next chapter, Revelation 5:1-8, describes Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who comes to the Lord God Almighty on his throne and takes a scroll out of God’s hand. This illustrates the meaning of Jesus’ words to Thomas and the other apostles: “I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28, AV) Jesus thus recognized his Father as the Lord God Almighty, without an equal, greater than his Son.
See also Revelation 3:14, AS; Dy; RS; Ro; Lamsa; Confraternity
See A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, by A. T. Robertson, pages 495-505, edition of 1934.
See A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, by Dana and Mantey, page 78 of the 1943 edition.
See Greek Grammar, by Dr. Wm. W. Goodwin, page 230 of 1893 edition.
See page 613, column 1, of the Student’s Edition of The New Testament in Greek, by Westcott and Hort, in the section entitled “Quotations from the Old Testament.” See also page 665, column 1 (1960 edition) of the Novum Testamentum Graece, by Dr. Eberhard Nestle, in its List of Passages Quoted from the Old Testament. See also Novi Testamenti Biblia Graeca et Latina, by Joseph M. Bover, Society of Jesus, page 725, footnote 14.
In the Greek Septuagint Proverbs 8:22 reads: “Kýrios éktisen me arkhèn hodôn autoû eis érga autoû.” See also The Septuagint Version—Greek & English, published by S. Bagster and Sons, Limited.
We quote Professor Moule: “In John 20:28 Ho kýrios mou kai ho theós mou [that is, My Lord and my God], it is to be noted that a substantive [like God] in the Nominative case used in a vocative sense [in address to Jesus] and followed by a possessive [of me] could not be anarthrous [that is, without the definite article the] . . . ; the article [the] before theós may, therefore, not be significant. . . . the use of the article [the] with a virtual Vocative (compare John 20:28 referred to above, and 1 Peter 2:18, Colossians 3:18ff.) may also be due to Semitic idiom.”—Pages 116, 117, of An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, by C. F. D. Moule, Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, 1953 edition, England.
For instance, to show that a vocative in Greek ordinarily has the definite article before it, we note that in 1 Peter 2:18; 3:1, 7 the literal word-for-word translation reads: “The house servants, be subject . . . In like manner, [the] wives, be . . . The husbands, continue dwelling.” in Colossians 3:18 to 4:1: “The wives . . . The husbands, . . . The children . . . The fathers . . . The slaves . . . The masters.”
The translator Hugh J. Schonfield doubts that Thomas said: “My Lord and my God!” And so in a footnote 6 on John 20:28 Schonfield says: “The author may have put this expression into the mouth of Thomas in response to the fact that the Emperor Domitian had insisted on having himself addressed as ‘Our Lord and God’, Suetonius’ Domitian xiii.”—See The Authentic New Testament, page 503.
However, we do not go along with such a suggestion.