We’re continuing our look through the New Testament tonight in wanting to come to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. We’re in the book of Acts and tonight, we’re going to look at another passage that I’ve heard used to argue against the deity of Christ. It’s Acts 3:13, but we’ll be looking at Acts 3:11-16 as a whole for the context:
11While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
A miracle has just been done in the healing of a crippled man at the gate called Beautiful. Peter is testifying about the miracle and telling them that it is in the power of Jesus, the one whom the Jews had crucified earlier, that this man was made to walk again. As I said, the verse used is Acts 3:13. What’s the problem?
It will be said that we believe in one God and that one God is Trinity and that that God is the God who revealed himself in Scripture. If that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how can that God glorify Jesus? Is that not implying that Jesus is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
It sounds impressive at first, but upon closer scrutiny, it’s still the same argument of unipersonalism. When the word “God” used in the Bible, we sometimes do have to get a greater context. It can refer sometimes to just the Father. It can refer to the entire Godhead. It can refer to one of the persons. (Most of the time in the NT, it will refer to the Father. It seems the writers wanted to differentiate and avoid confusion by calling the Father God and calling Jesus Lord.)
Now is Jesus the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Yes and no. If you mean he is included in the divine identity, yes. If you mean is he all that there is to God, then no. This could be said of each person in the Godhead however. It is true to say Jesus is God in that Jesus has the full nature of God. It is false to say God is Jesus, as if Jesus was the entirety of the Godhead.
With that being the case, it’s quite proper again to speak of one person with such a title and having him glorify another person who happens to be God. This is something I am quite sure Jews would have an easier time understanding than we moderns do today as our mode of thinking is quite different from theirs. It is not a valid objection to the Trinity or the deity of Christ however.
We shall continue going through Acts tomorrow.