The Trinity and Acts 2:36

Does Acts 2:36 disprove the deity of Christ? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve had two times where I have interacted with someone online from the group called the Iglesia Ni Cristo, a cult group that seems to have the strategy online of “Say the same thing over and over preferably very loudly and ignore anything to the contrary.” Last night, I encountered someone who seemed to think the only verse in the Bible worth talking about was Acts 2:36. This is one a lot of skeptics of the deity of Christ and/or the Trinity use.

So what does the verse say?

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

The idea is rooted in the word “made.” If Jesus was made Lord and Christ at His resurrection, then He was not these things before. Right?

The Greek word is ποιεο and if you want to base your argument on this word, well good look. Unfortunately, it’s one of those words that has a lot of meanings behind it. Here’s what you can find at BlueLetterBible.com.

  1. to make
    1. with the names of things made, to produce, construct, form, fashion, etc.
    2. to be the authors of, the cause
    3. to make ready, to prepare
    4. to produce, bear, shoot forth
    5. to acquire, to provide a thing for one’s self
    6. to make a thing out of something
    7. to (make i.e.) render one anything
      1. to (make i.e.) constitute or appoint one anything, to appoint or ordain one that
      2. to (make i.e.) declare one anything
    8. to put one forth, to lead him out
    9. to make one do something
      1. cause one to
    10. to be the authors of a thing (to cause, bring about)
  2. to do
    1. to act rightly, do well
      1. to carry out, to execute
    2. to do a thing unto one
      1. to do to one
    3. with designation of time: to pass, spend
    4. to celebrate, keep
      1. to make ready, and so at the same time to institute, the celebration of the passover
    5. to perform: to a promise

So let’s go a different route. Let’s start with Lord and limit our usage to Lukan usage before the resurrection. Luke 1:43 has Elizabeth referring to Mary as the mother of her Lord. In Luke 2:11, the angels say that born in Bethlehem is Jesus, who is Christ the Lord. In 3:4, John the Baptist prepares the way for the Lord and then here comes Jesus.

In 5:8, Simon calls Jesus, Lord. A leper does the same in 5:12. In 6:46, Jesus asks why call Him, “Lord, Lord” and not do what He says? The friends of the centurion call Jesus Lord in 7:6 and Luke calls Jesus Lord himself in verse 13 and again in 31.

In 9:54, two of Jesus’s disciples refer to Him as Lord and two would-be disciples do so in verses 57 and 61. Luke again calls Jesus the Lord in 10:1 and the returning disciples in verse 17 call Jesus Lord as well.

Honestly, I suspect at this point this is getting repetitive. You can search on your own and find the numerous places where many people in the Gospels call Jesus the Lord in Luke and this before His resurrection. So what about Christ?

Yep. Luke 2:11 mentioned above and Simeon is told in the came chapter he won’t die until he sees the Lord’s Christ. Demons declare Jesus to be Christ in chapter 4 and in chapter 9, Peter makes his great declaration of faith that Jesus is the Christ.

So now, either all of these verses are wrong or need to be reinterpreted or Acts 2:36 needs to be.

So how do we read Acts 2:36 then?

It’s easy. The resurrection was the action whereby God declared that Jesus was indeed Lord and Christ. It is God’s vindication of the claims of Jesus. It in now way means that Jesus became Lord and Christ at that point or else Jesus Himself is wrong many times throughout the Gospels and surely should have corrected all those people giving Him those titles.

Thus, the INC and the JWs and anyone else using this verse just really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, such groups will continue to do so because they don’t know better. They will also avoid contrary scholarship that disagrees because sadly, they don’t want to know better.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/12/2017: Michael Bird

What’s going to be on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night I recorded the latest episode of the podcast and on it, I discussed the adoptionist position with a leading scholar. Why record last night? Because my guest is all the way in Australia and due to time differences, we had to handle things differently.

Adoptionism is the idea that Jesus hasn’t always been the Son of God. He was adopted at one point in His lifetime be it at His birth, baptism, or resurrection. My guest has taken a look at the arguments scholars put forward for this and has put forward a brief but powerful book on the topic. His name is Michael Bird.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael grew up in Brisbane before joining the Army and serving as a paratrooper, intelligence operator, and then chaplains assistant. It was during his time in the military that he came to faith from a non-Christian background and soon after felt a call to ministry. He graduated with a B.Min from Malyon College (2001) and Honours and Ph.D from the University of Queensland (2002, 2005). Michael taught New Testament at the Highland Theological College in Scotland (2005-9) before joining Brisbane School of Theology as lecturer in Theology (2010-12). He joined the faculty at Ridley as lecturer in Theology in 2013.

Michael describes himself as a “biblical theologian” who endeavours to bring together biblical studies and systematic theology. He believes that the purpose of the church is to “gospelize,” that is to preach, promote, and practice the Gospel-story of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembered by students for his mix of outlandish humour and intellectual rigor, he makes theology both entertaining and challenging.

As an industrious researcher, Michael has written and edited over thirty books in the fields of Septuagint, Historical Jesus, Gospels, St. Paul, Biblical Theology, and Systematic Theology. His book Evangelical Theology is an attempt to develop a truly gospel-based theology that promotes the advance of the gospel in Christian life and thought. He is the co-editor of the New Covenant Commentary Series, an associate editor for Zondervan’s The Story of God Bible Commentary, and an elected member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (the international society of New Testament scholars).  He speaks often at conferences in the Australia, the UK, and USA and is currently working on a New Testament Introduction co-authored with N.T. Wright. He also runs a popular blog called Euangelion.

Michael is married to Naomi and they have four children.

We talk in this show about the Jewish context of the Gospel accounts and how Jesus fits into them. We look at passages like Romans 1, Acts 2:36, Philippians 2, and the baptism of Jesus in Mark 1. We also cover the importance of the understanding of the Old Testament and look at ideas such as Jesus being based more off of Greco-Roman imagery instead of Jewish thought.

The show was only an hour long, so that leaves plenty more for those interested in getting the book. I hope you’ll be looking forward to this episode. Please also consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus, The Eternal Son

What do I think about Michael Bird’s book published by Eerdman’s? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I should point out at the start that the copy I am reviewing is an unproofed and unedited review copy sent to me courtesy of Eerdman’s. I thank them for their generosity. This was done in advance so I could interview Dr. Bird as soon as possible on this book.

There are some ideas that are tossed around so often that most of us accept them without going back to check the evidence. Did Christopher Columbus believe that the Earth was round in contrast to people who thought it was flat? Obviously. Did the Spanish Inquisition kill millions of people? Definitely. Many of us heard these ideas growing up so much that it never occurred to us to question them.

It’s not just the man on the street that has this. Scholars can have this as well. There’s often no need to reinvent the wheel after all. There have been landmark works written to argue that the early Christology of Christianity was adoptionist in Jesus, that Jesus was chosen to be the Son of God at His baptism. So the scholars are referred to, it’s an idea set in stone, and we move on.

Fortunately, there are scholars like Michael Bird who think that even old ideas need to be examined and perhaps it could be that the emperor of adoptionism really has no clothes. Dr. Bird has made it his goal to show this in a book that is relatively short, but don’t let the size fool you. What is said in a smaller number of pages should have enormous impact.

Bird looks at the classic texts used and raises powerful questions about them. For the start, these includes Romans 1:3-4 and Acts 2:36. I know the latter is one I have also seen unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses use to argue their viewpoint. It looks sadly like many scholars have the same kind of misunderstanding that these people do.

From there, we go to the book of Mark. How does Mark present Jesus? If one looked at the baptism in isolation, perhaps one could get an adoptionist viewpoint, but then one needs to consider the introduction, the conclusion, everything in between, the Jewishness of the author, the culture it was written in, you know, the little things like that.

Bird takes a look at the way YHWH was seen in Israel along the lines of the creator/creature divide. Then the question has to be how does Jesus fit in. There’s much more than just the pre-existence of Jesus as Mark regularly shows Jesus in a unique position in relation to YHWH. One other such example is the forgiveness of sins in Mark 2. Bird realized that too often he was looking at that and thinking in a post-Christian sense where for instance, in many traditions, including Protestant, a priest can pronounce forgiveness. I attended a Lutheran church in Knoxville. The pronouncement of forgiveness was common.

This might be common for us, but it was not for Jews of the time. Jesus did something incredibly unique in that. Bird goes on to look at other instances like Jesus walking on the water and what the Olivet Discourse means for Jesus and the introduction of Mark. I could go on, but you get the idea.

He then looks at how adoptionism arose looking at key suspects in the second century like the Shepherd of Hermas and the Ebionites. He’s still not convinced either of these is the key. Somehow though, the belief obviously did arise.

Bird’s work is excellent and I must quote the very last paragraph in full.

A Christology that presents us with a mere man who bids us to earn our salvation is an impoverished alternative to the God of grace and mercy who took on our flesh and “became sin” so that we might become the “righteousness of God.” I prefer a Christology where the Son was crucified on the cross for us, was glorified in the resurrection for us, and was exalted to heaven for us—so that on the appointed day, we all would attain adoption as children of God and the redemption of our bodies in the new creation.

If I had one criticism, it would be this, and I do have an unedited and unproofed version so that could change, but I missed something in this book. Bird usually writes with a lot of his Australian humor thrown in that makes me laugh regularly and I was looking forward to more of that. I do hope a final release will have all of that. It’s become iconic for Bird’s writings and makes his much more of a joy to read than others.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

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