Jesus Christ—God’s Beloved Son
“Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’”—MATTHEW 3:17.
1, 2. (a) What simple truth does the Bible teach regarding almighty God and Jesus Christ? (b) What do the religions of Christendom teach?
JESUS CHRIST was baptized at the age of 30 by being immersed in water. When he came up out of the water, a voice from heaven said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) That voice was God’s voice. On another occasion, in prayer to God, Jesus said: “Father, glorify your name.” And when Jesus had said that, God’s “voice came out of heaven: ‘I both glorified it and will glorify it again.’”—John 12:28.
2 From these accounts, even a child can understand that the relationship between almighty God and Jesus Christ was that of a father and his beloved son, two different individuals. Yet, this simple Bible truth is denied by the religions of Christendom. They insist that Jesus Christ is God Almighty himself, the second person of a Trinity, the third person being the holy spirit.
3. How is confusion about the Trinity doctrine shown?
3 That teaching has caused great confusion among the people of Christendom’s religions, which is one reason why the New Catholic Encyclopedia calls the Trinity a mystery. Indeed, it causes confusion even among the clergy, for that encyclopedia also says: “There are few teachers of Trinitarian theology in Roman Catholic seminaries who have not been badgered at one time or another by the question, ‘But how does one preach the Trinity?’ And if the question is symptomatic of confusion on the part of the students, perhaps it is no less symptomatic of similar confusion on the part of their professors.”
4. What is the official teaching of the churches regarding the Trinity?
4 That confusing doctrine is the central belief of Catholic and Protestant religions. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion . . . Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.’” Similarly, in a court case involving Jehovah’s Witnesses in Greece, the Greek Orthodox Church said: “The fundamental doctrine of Christianity, in which all Christians confess belief . . . regardless of sect or dogma, is . . . the Trinity, that God is One in three persons.” The Greek Orthodox Church also stated: “Christians are those who accept Christ as God.” It said that those who do not accept the Trinity are not Christians but heretics.
5, 6. Why is it important to know the truth about this matter?
5 However, if this “fundamental” Trinity teaching of Christendom is not true, if it is a lie, then the opposite would be the case. True Christians would reject it. Those who have apostatized from Christianity would cling to it. With what consequences for the latter group? In the last book of the Bible, “a revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him,” we read concerning those who are disqualified from eternal life in God’s Kingdom: “Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone liking and carrying on a lie.”—Revelation 1:1; 22:15.
6 Because of its importance, we should be informed as to where this Trinity concept originated and why it originated. Who is really behind it? What does modern Bible scholarship have to say about it? But before discussing these matters, let us examine further what God’s own inspired Word says.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
Not ‘God the Son’ but “God’s Son”
7. What does an impartial study of the Bible reveal about Jesus?
7 Never did Jesus claim to be almighty God himself. Any impartial reading of the Bible without preconceived ideas about the Trinity will verify that. For example, at John 3:16, Jesus said: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son.” Just two verses later, Jesus again said that he was “the only-begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) When the Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy, he answered: “Do you say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son?” (John 10:36) Jesus did not say that he was ‘God the Son’ but that he was “God’s Son.”
8. What testimony did an army officer and those with him give?
8 When Jesus died, even the Roman soldiers standing by knew that Jesus was not God: “The army officer and those with him watching over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things happening, grew very much afraid, saying: ‘Certainly this was God’s Son.’” (Matthew 27:54) They did not say, ‘this was God’ or ‘this was God the Son,’ because Jesus and his disciples taught that Jesus was the Son of God, not God Almighty in human form.
9, 10. What powerful testimony is given in the Gospels about the relationship between God and Jesus?
9 God himself testified that Jesus was his beloved Son, as the Bible writer Matthew noted when Jesus was baptized. (Matthew 3:17) Other Bible writers noted the same. Mark wrote: “A voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.’” (Mark 1:11) Luke said: “A voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.’” (Luke 3:22) And John the Baptizer, who baptized Jesus, testified: “I have borne witness that this one [Jesus] is the Son of God.” (John 1:34) So God himself, all four Gospel writers, and John the Baptizer clearly state that Jesus was the Son of God. And some time later, at the transfiguration of Jesus, a similar thing happened: “A voice [God’s] came out of the cloud, saying: ‘This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him.’”—Luke 9:35.
10 In these accounts, was God saying that he was his own son, that he sent himself, and that he approved himself? No, God the Father, the Creator, was saying that he had sent his Son Jesus, a separate individual, to do God’s work. Hence, throughout the Greek Scriptures the phrase “Son of God” is used to refer to Jesus. But not once do we see the phrase ‘God the Son,’ for Jesus was not almighty God. He was the Son of God. They are two different persons, and no theological “mystery” can change that truth.
The Father Superior to the Son
11. How did Jesus show that God was superior to him?
11 Jesus knew that he was not equal to his Father but in every way was in a subordinate position. He knew that he was a beloved Son who had deep love for his Father. That is why, time and again, Jesus made statements such as the following: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing.” (John 5:19) “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38) “What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me.” (John 7:16) “I know him [God], because I am a representative from him, and that One sent me forth.” (John 7:29) The one who does the sending is the superior. The one who is sent is the lesser, the servant. God is the sender. Jesus is the one who is sent. They are not the same. As Jesus expressed it: “A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth greater than the one that sent him.”—John 13:16.
12. What illustration demonstrates Jesus’ subordinate position to the Father?
12 This is also made clear in an illustration Jesus gave. He likened his Father, Jehovah God, to the owner of a vineyard who traveled abroad and left the vineyard in the charge of cultivators—who obviously picture the Jewish clergy. In time, the owner sent a slave to get some of the fruit from the vineyard, but the cultivators beat the slave and sent him away empty. Then the owner sent a second slave, and the same thing happened. He sent a third slave, who got the same treatment. Then the owner (God) said: “I will send my son [Jesus] the beloved. Likely they will respect this one.” But the corrupt cultivators said: “‘This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may become ours.’ With that they threw him outside the vineyard and killed him.” (Luke 20:9-16) Again, this makes it plain that Jesus is subject to the Father, sent by the Father to do the Father’s will.
13. What clear Bible statements show that God was Jesus’ superior?
13 Jesus himself said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) We should believe Jesus, for he surely knew the truth about his relationship to his Father. The apostle Paul also knew that God was superior to Jesus, and he said: “The Son [Jesus] himself will also subject himself to . . . God.” (1 Corinthians 15:28) This is further seen in Paul’s statement at 1 Corinthians 11:3: “The head of the Christ is God.” Jesus acknowledged that he had a superior God when he said to his disciples: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.”—John 20:17.
14. What other scriptures show that Jesus was not God Almighty?
14 Jesus mentioned God’s superiority when the mother of two of the disciples asked that her sons sit one at the right and the other at the left of Jesus when he came into his Kingdom. He answered: “This sitting down at my right hand and at my left is not mine to give.” (Matthew 20:23) If Jesus had been almighty God, it would have been his to give. But it was not. It was his Father’s to give. Similarly, when relating his prophecy about the end of this system of things, Jesus stated: “Concerning that day or the hour nobody knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32) Had Jesus been God Almighty, he would have known that day and the hour. But he did not know because he was not the All-knowing God. He was God’s Son and did not know everything that his Father knew.
15. When Jesus was about to die, how did he show subjection to God?
15 When Jesus was about to die, he showed subjection to his Father in praying: “Father, if you wish, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) To whom was Jesus praying? To himself? No, he was praying to his Father in heaven. This is clearly shown by his saying: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” And then, at his death, Jesus cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) To whom was Jesus crying out? To himself? No, he was crying out to his Father who was in heaven.
16. How does the death and resurrection of Jesus show that he could not have been the almighty God himself?
16 After Jesus died, he was in the tomb for about three days. Who resurrected him? Since he was dead, he could not resurrect himself. And if he was not really dead, then he could not have paid the ransom for Adam’s sin. But he did die, and was nonexistent for about three days. The apostle Peter tells us who resurrected Jesus: “God resurrected him by loosing the pangs of death.” (Acts 2:24) The superior, God Almighty, raised the lesser one, his beloved Son, Jesus, from the dead. To illustrate: When Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead, who was superior? Jesus was superior, since he could bring Lazarus back from the dead. (John 11:41-44) It was the same when God resurrected Jesus. God was superior, since he could bring Jesus back from the dead.
17. What other evidence is there that Jesus was not God?
17 Jesus could not possibly be God himself, for Jesus was created by God. Note how Benjamin Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott renders Apocalypse (Revelation) chapter 3, verse 14: “These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness [Jesus], the beginning of the creation of God.” Similarly, Colossians 1:15, 16 says of Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth . . . All other things have been created through him and for him.” So in heaven almighty God directly created his Son and then “by means of him,” or “through him,” created other things, much as a skilled workman might have a trained employee do work for him. Those things created “by means of him” did not include Jesus himself, for God had already created him. Thus, he is called the “firstborn,” the “only-begotten.” When a child is the firstborn, the only-begotten, it never means that the child is the same as the father. It always means that there are two different personalities involved, father and child.
Holy Spirit—A Person or an Active Force?
18. What does the Bible teach regarding the holy spirit?
18 What about the supposed third person of the Trinity, the holy spirit, said to be equal in power, substance, and eternity to Father and Son? Nowhere in the Bible is the holy spirit mentioned with God and Christ as being equal to them. For instance, on the occasion of Jesus’ baptism, Mark 1:10 shows that the holy spirit came down upon Jesus “like a dove,” not in a human form. The holy spirit was not some person coming upon Jesus but was God’s active force. That power from God enabled Jesus to heal the sick and resurrect the dead. As Luke 5:17 says in the Diaglott: “The Mighty Power of the Lord [God] was on him [Jesus] to cure.” Later, at Pentecost, the apostles also were given the power from God to heal the sick and raise the dead. Did that make them part of some “godhead”? No, they were simply given power from God, through Christ, to do what humans ordinarily could not do.
19. Why is it not possible for the holy spirit to be the third person of a Trinity?
19 That same active force is mentioned at Ephesians 5:18, where Paul counsels: “Keep getting filled with spirit.” Similarly, Acts 7:55 says that Stephen was “full of holy spirit.” And at Pentecost, the followers of Jesus “all became filled with holy spirit.” (Acts 2:4) Can a human get filled with another person? No, but he can get filled with the power that comes from God. That holy spirit is the same force that God used to create the universe. As Genesis 1:2 says: “God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.”
20. What vision did Stephen see that further demonstrates that the Trinity is not the truth?
20 After Jesus was resurrected, Stephen had a vision of heaven and “caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:55) Thus, two separate persons were in evidence in heaven: (1) God and (2) the resurrected Jesus Christ. No holy spirit is mentioned in this vision because it was not any third person of a Trinity. The holy spirit, being God’s active force, would proceed from God but not as a separate being. That is why Stephen saw only two persons, not three.
21, 22. (a) What admission does a religious encyclopedia make about the holy spirit? (b) What points will our next article include?
21 Regarding the holy spirit, the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “The O[ld] T[estament] clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person, neither in the strictly philosophical sense, nor in the Semitic sense. God’s spirit is simply God’s power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly.” It also states: “The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God’s spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God.”
22 In view of all these facts, this “fundamental” Trinity doctrine of Christendom cannot be true. God’s own Word refutes that claim. It shows clearly that Jehovah God is the loving Father and that Jesus Christ is his beloved Son, a Son who had such love for his Father that he was willing to be obedient to the death. However, some contend that there are scriptures that seem to indicate support for the Trinity, so in our next article, we will examine some of them. Also, we will discuss why this doctrine has become such an important part of Christendom and where it originated.
How Would You Answer?
□ What does the Bible teach about God and about Jesus?
□ How do the Scriptures show the Father and Son relationship?
□ What are some scriptures that show that God is superior to Jesus?
□ Why could the holy spirit not be a part of a Trinity?
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Jesus declared: “The Father is greater than I am”