Does this verse demonstrate that Jesus is included in the divine nature? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I’m a member on Facebook for a group to debate the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sadly, many witnesses really do not know what they’re arguing against when it comes to the Trinity. Most arguments against the Trinity are arguments against modalism. Also sadly, too many Christians outside of this group that are lay Christians would probably explain the Trinity using modalistic descriptions.
One passage that can regularly come up from JWs is 1 Cor. 8:6. They seem to think it really makes the case. Let’s look at it.
yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
There you have it! There is one God, the Father! Jesus is not that one God. Jesus is Lord, but He is not God. On a surface level, one can say, “If that’s the case, then the Father is God, but He is not Lord.” That is indeed problematic enough, but let’s go further in looking at this text.
There are two parallel themes.
1A: For us, there is but one God, the Father.
1B: From whom all things came and for whom we live.
2A: And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
2B: Through whom all things came and through whom we live.
There is indeed parallelism here, which is fascinating, but could there still be something more. Imagine that a Jew makes a statement that there is one God. What will other Jews immediately think of? The Shema, Israel’s great monotheistic statement.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
The terms Lord, God, and One, are all repeated here. Paul is using intertextuality to call to mind an Old Testament text. The same takes place in Romans 1. Paul uses terms like creator, and “male and female” to point to Genesis 1 as the basis for his argument for divine revelation in creation and for the wrongness of same-sex erotic practice.
What then Paul is doing is he is taking Jesus and he is slipping him into the Shema, Christianizing it and putting Jesus in the divine nature. Rather than denying the deity of Christ, Paul is emphasizing it in strong terms. Also, Jesus is presented as the means of creation, which is incredible since in Isaiah 44:24, God is said to have done creation alone.
“This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
the Maker of all things,
who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself,
Some can see this as wisdom, but if you read Jewish writings like the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom was taking on a more and more role of deity as a hypostasis of God. The formula is always the same in the New Testament be it John 1, 1 Cor. 8, Hebrews 1, or Col. 1. The Father is the source and the Son is the means.
I have presented this several times asking JWs to show where my exegesis is wrong. To date, no one has. Let’s look at some objections that are brought up.
“But Jesus is not His Father!”
Which shows the person doesn’t understand Trinitarian thinking. Saying Jesus is God is theological shorthand. It really is saying Jesus fully partakes of the divine nature. It in no way means Jesus is the Father.
“But the Shema never mentions Jesus!”
True, and irrelevant. This is progressive revelation. This assumes God had to reveal Himself as triune from the get-go or else He isn’t.
“But what about these passages that show Jesus is not God?”
And whatever passage is brought up needs to be discussed, but unless a JW wants to deny inerrancy, which I don’t think they do, then they need to explain this passage as well and show where my exegesis is wrong. If not, then you are saying this one passage teaches X and the other one teaches non-X, which is a denial of inerrancy.
The gauntlet has been cast down. I wait to see if any JWs are willing to pick it up and take the challenge. Show where the exegesis is wrong.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)