What the Trinitarian perspective on John 8.28?

by slimboyfat 49 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Magnum

    Joh 8:28 is one of many passages that, to me, indicate very simply and straightforwardly that Jesus and God are completely separate entities as JWs teach. Other passages indicate that God "sent" Jesus, "approved" of him, "loved" him, etc. Such language logically indicates that they are separate and distinct. Wasn't the Bible supposed to have been written in a way that would be clear to the masses, to common people? To try to make such passages harmonize with the Trinitarian view requires mental gymnastics that are beyond the ability of the common man. Why would the master teacher, Jesus, speak in such an esoteric way, a way that would misrepresent or cause people to believe wrongly?

    I have thought about this a lot lately. My only answer to that question would be that maybe he was intentionally speaking in a way that would hide the real truth in order to see who would dig deeper and put forth effort to arrive at truth... sort of like the way he did with parables; he would speak in parables to see who would come back to him and try to figure out what he really meant.... to see who was really interested and would put forth effort to find truth.

    My current belief is aligned with that of JWs. I don't believe Jesus was hiding anything with his language; I'm just exploring that option. To me, the great bulk of the NT shows the separateness and distinctness of Father, Son, and holy spirit. Consider Mt 3:16,17:

    As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

    How could this passage allow for the Trinitarian belief? It shows all three elements of the so-called Trinity in three different places at the same time. God was in heaven, Jesus was on earth, and the holy spirit was in between ("descending"), all at the same time. That, to me, just makes it clear that they are separate and distinct. Also, God said he was "well pleased" with Jesus; doesn't that logically indicate they're separate?

    P.S. A few weeks ago Sea Breeze, mentioned on this site Joh 2:19-21:

    Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

    I have given some thought to that, the Trinitarian argument being that Jesus resurrected himself (or at least his body?). That is, to me, one of the best Trinitarian arguments. I even looked at the Greek to see whether the verb (in "I will raise it") was in the passive voice so that it could mean "it will be raised," but the verb is in the active voice, so it should be translated with an actor (indicating someone performing action) as in "I will raise it," not "it will be raised" which does specify the actor.

    I'm still pondering this passage. However, right now I feel that the overwhelming bulk of the evidence shows that God and Jesus are separate. I think of this: Suppose a wreck occurs at the big intersection and 997 out of a 1000 eyewitnesses say the traffic light was green, but three say it was red. I think it would be reasonable to be assume that the light was green and to try to figure out why the three said it was red. Was the sun obscuring their vision? Do they have some kind of color-blindness? Are they lying?

    I think of Trinitarian "proof texts" as being like the three witnesses in the illustration above. I completely grasp the Trinitarian argument in connection with Joh 2:19-21; I'm just trying to explore the passage in the context of the entire NT (the 997 witnesses) and what I consider to be the overwhelming evidence concerning the nature of God and Jesus.

  • slimboyfat

    Yes I agree Magnum, there are a few texts that are difficult for non Trinitarians to explain. I would add John 20.28 and a few others. But set that against dozens and dozens of passages that show Jesus is separate and subordinate to God in knowledge, power, and age. Even some verses that I once thought were problematic (Heb 1.10 and Rev 22.13) I am now convinced make much more sense from an ‘Arian’ understanding.

  • aqwsed12345

    You may read: John 8:28

    The fact that the Son was "sent" by the Father does not imply that the Son is ontologically inferior, that He is not God but merely a created archangel, as claimed by the WTS. There is a great difference between sending and being sent; a king can also be sent by his advisor on a diplomatic visit, or by his doctor to a spa, without this implying the superiority of the sender. It is also dogma, that there are so-called Trinitarian missions. According to Scripture, the Father sends the Son: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (Jn 3:16; cf. 5:23.) "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son." (Gal 4:4) The Father sends the Holy Spirit: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate" (Jn 14:16), and the Son sends: "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father… he will testify about me." (Jn 15:26; cf. 16:7, Lk 24:49, Gal 4:6.) Following these passages, the Church Fathers discuss the missions, especially with deep and tender thoughts by the Cappadocians and Augustine (August. Trin. IV 20, 28; cf. Petav. Trinit. VIII).

    As for the nature of these missions, human missions are mainly characterized by two aspects: the sent acts under the influence of the sender in his mission; and for its fulfillment, chooses a position and undertakes activities appropriate to the nature and content of the mission.

    Regarding the sender's influence on the sent, this can generally be of three kinds. The sending can be a command, by which a superior sends a subordinate; advice, as when a doctor sends a prince to take a bath; or emanation, as when a mother gives birth to, "sends" her child into the world, or the sun sends its rays to the earth. When talking about the relationship of sending and mission among the divine persons, only the third type of mandate can be considered. The divine persons are completely equal in power and dignity, differing only in origin and (logical) succession; thus, this can only be the basis for the missions. It follows that only a begotten Trinitarian person can be sent, and only a begetting one can send, in the order appropriate to the nature of the origins. Indeed, according to Scripture, the Father is not sent but sends, both the Son and the Spirit; the Son is the sender of the Spirit and sent by the Father; the Spirit is sent by both the Father and the Son but does not send. The mission corresponds as a relative (correlative) behavior to sending. Related concepts are going and coming; but they are not identical: one can come without being sent; as indeed the Savior says of the Father (Jn 14:23): "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." Roughly the same must be said of giving, which presupposes giving, but one can also give oneself; thus, the Father too.

    Another aspect of sending is choosing a new position and activity corresponding to the mission's content and nature. Since new, previously unoccupied places are not applicable to the divine persons, and outwardly directed activities are common to all three persons, the endpoint of the mission (terminus missionis) for the divine persons can only be that, as a result of the mission, the sent person establishes a new relationship with creation, i.e., establishes a new mode of presence.

    For a complete elaboration of the concept of Trinitarian mission, we should distinguish between internal and external Trinitarian missions. Internal missions are the processions, and the external ones are the continuations of these processions into the world. Thus, internal missions are eternal, necessary, and remain within God; external ones are temporal, subject to God's free decision, and extend into the world. When Trinitarian mission is mentioned without any qualifier, it always refers to the external; and in the sense of our previous conclusions, with Thomas Aquinas, it can be defined as: "The Trinitarian mission is the eternal procession of the Trinitarian person with the addition of a temporal effect, a new mode of presence or operation." (Thom I 43, 2 ad 3.)

  • slimboyfat

    I am not here arguing that God is superior because he “sent” Jesus. I’m arguing that God is superior because he “taught” Jesus before he sent him. In order to teach somebody something you have to tell them something they don’t already know. Therefore God is superior to his Son in knowledge. This contradicts Trinitarian dogma that divine persons are equal in age, power, and knowledge.

  • Elmer

    Why are you guys arguing over the Trinity? There are countless threads on this forum already, and have exhausted the subject ad nauseam. Why spin your wheels on something so petty?

  • aqwsed12345


    Let me tell you something that might surprise you: the Trinity does NOT teach that the Father and the Son are "the same" person, this is taught by Sabellianism, also known as modalism. Jehovah's Witnesses confuse Christian Trinitarianism with modalism. Only modalism identifies the person of the Son with the Father, not Trinitarianism. However, modalism, which regards the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as three successive appearances of a single divine person, was rejected by the church in the 2nd-3rd centuries as heresy. Contrary to the Watchtower Society's portrayal, Trinitarianism also includes the distinction of persons and their submission to one another in the work of salvation. No "theological mystery" (Trinitarianism?) can or wants to change this. It has nothing to do with Trinitarianism to say "he was his own son, that he sent himself, and approved of himself." According to Trinitarianism, one person (the Father) sent another (the Son), on one hand, their relationship was always real in everything (not merely apparent), and on the other hand, all this happened within the Godhead (not between the Creator and one of his creatures). It's interesting to note the Society's line of reasoning: readers of their publications must always think of the Father when they see the word "god," but when the Bible names the Son as such (see Jn 1:1,18, 20:28, etc.), they must immediately think of the word "god" in a relativized sense as a "title" (?). However, the original Greek text and copies from before the 7th-8th centuries made no distinction between a capital "G" and a lowercase "g," since they used only capital letters.

    The Church never professed modalism because it was deemed heretical at its emergence in the 2nd-3rd centuries. Modern modalists also do not call themselves Trinitarians but rather "Unitarians." It's not the Trinitarians, but they who claim that Jesus is God, and that Jesus is simultaneously the Father and the Spirit.

    Those who profess this are modalists, and they indeed are not in accordance with the Bible. However, this is not an argument against Trinitarianism, which affirms the distinguishability of persons.

    Naturally, part of Trinitarianism is that the divine persons have different roles in salvation history and act in submission to one another, and that the Son, having become human as the Messiah, was lesser than the Father. However, it's also part of the doctrine that despite their different roles, the persons testify about each other and act in perfect harmony, but this does not signify superiority or inferiority.

    That the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, does not mean to the Trinitarian that there are three separate gods in one, but rather, within the one Godhead, three persons can be called God because, based on the data of the Bible, they see that all three possess attributes that only God could have, and do things that only God could do.

    The Watchtower Society projects its own logic onto Trinitarianism. True, the name of the God of the Jews is Yahweh or Jehovah. It is also true that Jesus called the Father God, and God his Father. But only for the Society does it logically follow that the formula Jehovah / God = the Father. For "believers in the Trinity," the divine name Yahweh or Jehovah does not just designate one person but the Godhead itself (theotokos, Col 2:9), within which they identify three persons. The second person is named "the Son" (ho huios), his human name is "Jesus," and according to his mission, "Christ." The third person indeed has a name, as the Bible speaks of only one "Holy Spirit," thus often simply "the Spirit" (to pneuma). "Believers in the churches of Christianity" worship the same God by the same name (Jehovah / Yahweh) as Jehovah's Witnesses, only they claim that Jehovah God is more than the Father: He is also the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  • aqwsed12345


    That the Father "taught" the Son does not mean that He is lesser in knowledge, but that the origin of His knowledge is the Father. If the Father has given "everything" to the Son, including all His knowledge, then He is not lesser than Him. It is also a dogma that: "Whatever the Son is or has, He has from the Father, and is the principle from a principle."

  • slimboyfat

    Not going to dignify inevitable “why are you talking about something I don’t find interesting or useful” posts as anything other than some kind of unwitting cry for help. I don’t go around pointing out threads a don’t find interesting. I just don’t read them. If you are so insecure you can’t bear the thought of other people talking about things you don’t agree with you’ve got your own issues to attend to.

  • aqwsed12345


    In fact, Scripture does not exclusively attribute Jesus' (body's) resurrection to the Father. John 2:19-21 explicitly teaches Jesus' active participation in His resurrection ("in three days I will raise it up"), and John 2:22 also teaches that His disciples understood this specifically in terms of resurrection from the dead. But the same is taught by Christ in John 10:17-18 ("...I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again...") and 11:25 (“I am the resurrection and the life."), thus Jesus was not merely a passive "sufferer" of the resurrection.


  • slimboyfat
    That the Father "taught" the Son does not mean that He is lesser in knowledge,

    I think it means exactly that. You can’t teach somebody something unless you know more than they do. If you can claim otherwise then we might as well give up on language and logic altogether.

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