The Trinity (IIIb)

The NT Witness: The Self-Understanding of Jesus (Synoptics)

As we continue the NT data (and related historical documents), we move the 2nd type of data in our list:

  1. Creedal/liturgical formulas that 'suggest' or even make explicit plurality within God;
  2. Portrayal of multiple agents as "being God" and portrayal of those same agents as "interacting with God";
  3. These agents will be appropriately treated as deity (e.g. prayed to , worshipped), whereas attempts to treat OTHER agents so will result in rebuke or censure.

We have already seen that the earliest documents of the Judeo-Christian community reflect a plurality-in-unity understanding / experience of God. We have already seen how this plurality was already incipient in the Old Testament.

Methodologically, as we move to our SECOND criteria, we will need to look for data supporting the deity of Jesus (and His distinction from/personal interaction with the Father) and the deity of the Spirit (and His distinction from/personal interaction with the Father), and then consider contrary data.

My plan for the former of these two is to examine:

Jesus self-understanding--His words in the Synoptics (do they reflect a consciousness of being deity?)

Summary: The claims of Jesus in the Synoptics:

  1. To be the Messiah, the King of the Jews, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah
  2. To be the divine, eschatological Son of Man of Daniel 9 (considered blasphemous)
  3. To be the UNIQUE Son of God (considered blasphemous)
  4. To be Lord of the Sabbath
  5. To be able to forgive sins (considered blasphemous)
  6. To be an appropriate object of religious faith
  7. To be the Heir to God
  8. To be greater than King David, Solomon, Jonah, the Temple
  9. To be 'owner' of the angels and the Elect
  10. To speak eternally binding and existent sayings--own His OWN authority
  11. To be "able" to abolish the OT scriptures
  12. To be the authoritative interpreter of the OT
  13. To be the issue upon which the eternal destinies of humans depend(!)
  14. To be worth higher loyalty and commitment that the family
  15. To have EXCLUSIVE knowledge of the Father, and the SOLE 'dispenser' of that knowledge
  16. To send prophets
  17. To be omnipresent
  18. To be of equal status with the Father and the Spirit, and to share 'the Name' with them
  19. To be able to grant derivative authority over evil spirits
  20. To be able to grant kingdom authority IN THE SAME WAY the FATHER does(!)
  21. To be "God" visiting them (as promised in the OT messianic prophecies)
  22. To be co-operative/interchangeable in some operations with the Spirit
  23. To have special knowledge of heavenly events
  24. To have ALL authority in HEAVEN
  25. To have authority over the Holy Spirit(!)

Conclusion: The Synoptics, often considered to portray an "earthly Jesus" and not the "divine Christ", provide ample data for both! The claims above are simply TOO NUMEROUS, TOO 'HIGH', TOO consistently understood as being claims to deity (and hence, deserving the term 'blasphemy' by the Jewish religious establishment of the day) for us to make this Jesus a 'mere man--noble, sublime, wise--but still JUST a man'. No, the data is quite clear--Jesus reflected a self-consciousness of being God. There are times, predictably, in the economy of redemption, in which His humanity and servant-nature revealed itself, but those passages CANNOT 'explain away' the import of the above mass of data. The Synoptic gospels consistently portray a Jesus who understood Himself as the divine Son of God and eschatological Son of Man, and one totally consistent with the early creedal/liturgical forms of the church.

The Christian ThinkTank...[] (Reference Abbreviations)