CHRIST ETERNAL: THE PREEXISTENCE OF THE DIVINE SON IN CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

CHRIST ETERNAL:  THE PREEXISTENCE OF THE DIVINE SON IN  CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

A PAPER

IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT

OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY II

THEO 530-D09

BY

JEFFREY KRAUSE

INTRODUCTION

     Since the rise of the Christian faith, there has been debate among men and council’s regarding the true nature of Jesus Christ. Early centuries witnessed challenges to the nature of Christ in regards to His true humanity; with the likes of the Gnostics and others denying the full human nature of the Son. However, with the rise of Arianism in the fourth century, the one true faith was forced to deal challenges to the full deity and eternality of the Son; positing that Jesus was a highly exalted, yet temporal creature and the first of YHWH’s creations. While the challenges of Arius were dealt with at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, the lingering effects of this teaching remain even today.

The goal of this study is to demonstrate the preexistence and eternality of the divine logos, Jesus Christ, by a careful evaluation of the following topics; (1) the prologue of John with specific focus on verses 1, 14 and 18, (2) the New Testament evidence for Jesus being fully theos, (3) correlated references which refer to Jesus as YHWH, and (4) the meaning of Col 2:9 when considered in its broader context. In the end, it is the goal of this essay to demonstrate that the logos not only preexisted prior to His incarnation, but also, that He is by nature eternal, possessing the very attributes, substance and name of YHWH, the covenant God of Israel.

NEW TESTAMENT EVIDENCE FOR THE ETERNALITY OF CHRIST

THE PROLOGUE OF JOHN 1:1-18

     Perhaps the most well known verse of the New Testament (NT) is found in the opening of the Fourth Gospel, Jn 1:1. The ESV, NASB, KJV, HCSB, and other major Biblical translations commonly render this verse as “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God” (Jn 1:1, ESV). This verse has been challenged by the likes of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society,[1] which renders clause three “and the word was a god” (Jn 1:1c, NWT). Despite the NWT’s rendering, commentators throughout the centuries have seen this verse as direct evidence of the preexistence of the divine logos, declaring, “The beginning refers to the creation. Christ was in existence before the creation. He did not come into being at Bethlehem.”[2]

There are numerous considerations in evaluation of this amazing verse. The “beginning” which John references in clause one has one of two possibilities. First, John could be speaking about creation, where the author may be alluding to the Genesis 1 creation narrative as noted by the editors of the NET Bible when they proclaim, “For John, the words ‘In the beginning’ are most likely a conscious allusion to the opening words of Genesis.”[3] However, others are not so sure. F.F. Bruce links ἀρχῇ (arche > beginning) to past eternity when he states, “In the beginning . . . pushes back our conception of the purpose of God beyond even creation so that the Word, as the second person of the Trinity, existed in His own right.”[4] The latter of these understandings seems to be in view contextually when the remainder of Jn 1:1a is considered. James White explains;

The key element in understanding this, the first phrase of this magnificent verse, is the form of the word “was,” which in the Greek language in which John was writing, is the word en (the “e” pronounced as a long “a” as in “I ate the food”). It is a timeless word – that is, it simply points to existence before the present time without reference to a point of origin. One can push back the “beginning” as far as you can imagine, and, according to John, the Word still is. Hence, the Word is eternal, timeless. The Word is not a creation that came into existence at “the beginning,” for He antedates that beginning.[5]

     In noting White’s words, it is vital to recognize both the language and the framework in which John penned his Gospel. John’s selection of the word ἦν (en > was) in description of the logos is significant in that ἦν is the non-temporal, imperfect form of the verb εἰμί (eimi), or, existence.[6] Louw Nida agrees with the BDAG’s assessment of this word when it states, “to exist, in an absolute sense—‘to be, to exist.’”[7] Being non-temporal, John’s use of ἦν indicates that the divine logos preexists any temporal points of time, or, as White says in another place, “as far back as one wishes to push the “beginning” the Word is already in existence.”[8] Interestingly, John contrasts Jn 1:1a with that of 1:14a and the logos’ incarnation. In 1:14, John states “And word became flesh” (Jn 1:14a, ESV, emphasis added) and his use of “became” is quite significant in that he uses the Greek word ἐγένετο (egeneto). According to the BDAG, ἐγένετο, from the root γίνομαι, implies “to come into being through process of birth or natural production, be born, be produced.”[9] John’s point; when the Word is spoken about in regards to His fleshly existence via the incarnation, He is spoken about in temporal terms. Meaning, He has a point of origin in the created order, however, when the Son is spoken about in Jn 1:1a, He is referred to in eternal terms.[10]

John’s declaration of the logos’ eternality in clause one correlates with Jn 1:1b and the logos’ relationship with God. In this verse, two persons are in view, with the logos being found in the nominative case in the Greek, and God being found in the accusative. The importance of this is two-fold. First, while two persons are in view, the logos remains the subject of the verse. Next, regarding the logos’ eternality, clause 1:1b indicates that the logos has been in a personal, intimate relationship with (the) God (τὸν θεόν) for all eternity, hence proving both His divinity and His eternality. This understanding is further realized in 1:1c where John states καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (kai theos en ho logos). Here, John frames his words very carefully, implying neither a definite or indefinite understanding to this verse. In the case of the former, John’s use of the anarthrous θεός does not confuse the previously mentioned persons of 1:1b, where he has in view both the logos and “the God” (τὸν θεόν). Thus, the addition of the definite article (and the word was the God) would promote the ancient heresy of Sabbelinism, commonly known as Modalism, which is a Unitarian belief that states that the persons of the Godhead are a mode or manifestation of the same person. Likewise, John has already indicated in the first two clauses that the logos was eternal, thus, he is denying the possibility of Jesus being “a god” or a temporal, created creature. In short, Jn 1:1c bears with it a qualitative nuance, as noted by the following, “From a technical standpoint, though, it is preferable to see a qualitative aspect to anarthrous θεός in John 1:1c . . . Translations like the NEB, REB, and Moffatt are helpful in capturing the sense in John 1:1c, that the Word was fully deity in essence (just as much God as God the Father).[11]

Finally, all of the critical editions of the GNT (NA27/28, UBS 4th and SLGNT) assign the textual variant μονογενὴς θεὸς (monogenes theos) to the logos in verse 18, thus implying once again full preexistence and deity to the Son. The literal rendering of this verse is roughly “the unique God” or the “only one, himself God” (Jn 1:18b, NET). The NET is supported by other modern translations, such as the ESV, NASB, LEB and the NIV 1984. If correct, this rendering bookends the prologue of Jn 1:1-18, with John stating in verse 1 the eternality of Jesus and then restating the same teaching in verse 18 (as well as assigning creation to the logos in verses 3-4); thus demonstrating both the deity and eternality of the logos, the divine Son of YHWH.

NEW TESTAMENT EVIDENCE FOR JESUS AS THEOS

JOHN 20:28

          As noted in the previous section, the Fourth Gospel identifies the logos as theos, the divine creator. In support of this teaching, there are other explicit NT passages that identify the eternal Son as theos. For example, in Jn 20:28, after the resurrection, Jesus appears to the eleven disciples and while in the midst of them, Thomas, who doubted the resurrection, upon seeing the risen Christ proclaims “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28, ESV). Interestingly, this is a parallel statement in the original Greek, reading, Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου (ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou > “the lord [of] my and the God [of] my”). Thus, John 20:28 is consistent with Jn 1:1, 18 in that it specifically refers to Jesus as the divine creator and in this respect, as eternal God.

ROMANS 9:5

     However, the Gospel accounts are not the only location to testify of the truth of Jesus’ eternality and divinity. Rather, there are multiple locations in the Pauline corpus that also elaborate this truth. For example, Rom 9:5 states that Jesus “is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever” (Rom 9:5, ESV). Interestingly, the NWT of the WTBTS attempts to hide the divinity of Christ in this verse by rendering the text, “to whom the forefathers belong and from whom the Christ [sprang] according to the flesh: God, who is over all, [be] blessed forever. Amen” (Rom 9:5, NWT). This rendering is refuted by the whole of translation tradition, which places Christ as the object of divinity in this verse; translations such as the ESV, NIV 2011, KJV, NASB, HCSB, LEB, NET and even paraphrases such as the Message. The end result of this verse is Paul’s explicit referral of Jesus as theos.

TITUS 2:13 AND 2 PETER 1:1

     Likewise, Paul in Tit 2:13 and Peter in 2 Pet 1:1 both refer to Jesus as fully theos and thus eternal. Paul states that believers are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13, ESV). Similarly, Peter addresses his Epistle “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:1, ESV). While these two verses share similar readings in the Greek (“τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ⸂Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ” (Tit 2:13), “τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ” (2 Pet 1:1)) and in their English translation counterparts, the similarities go much further because these two verses are an example of the Granville Sharp construction. This rule of Greek grammar states, according to Daniel Wallace;

When the copulative και connects two nouns of the same case, [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill], if the article ὁ, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther description of the first-named person.[12]

White simplifies this rule when he states, “Basically, Granville Sharp’s rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word “and,” and the first noun has the article (“the”) while the second does not, both nouns are referring to the same person.”[13]    The impact of these verses in relation to Sharp’s construction is clear and unambiguous in that both authors are referring to Jesus as both God and Savior; with the impossibility of this verse referencing two separate individuals.[14] As White goes on to state, “This rule is exceptionless. One must argue solely on theological grounds against these passages. There is truly no real grammatical objection that can be raised.”[15] In the end, both apostles, sharing similar words and grammatical construction also share a similar conclusion regarding the Christ; He is God, Savior and fully divine. Hence the words of Robert Bowman when he concludes (regarding Tit 2:13), “The cumulative or converging effect of these observations is to show that we should indeed understand Titus 2:13 to refer to Jesus Christ as “our great God and Savior.” . . . We may be all the more confident, then, in asserting that the earliest Christology exemplified in the NT confessed that Jesus Christ is himself no less than God.”[16]

HEBREWS 1:8

     Finally, Heb 1:8-9 specifically refers to the Son as divine theos when it states, “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Heb 1:8-9, ESV). Utilizing a direct quotation from Ps 45:6-7, the author to the Hebrews in this verse links the ontology of the Son to that of very God, as seen when B.F. Wescott states of this verse, “It is commonly supposed that the force of the quotation lies in the divine title (ὁ θεός) which, as it is held, is applied to the Son. It seems however from the whole form of the argument to lie rather in the description which is given of the Son’s office and endowment. The angels are subject to constant change, He has a dominion forever and ever.”[17]

N.T. Wright adds, “First, in verses 8 and 9, the letter quotes Psalm 45:6–7. This is a breathtaking passage, because it addresses the king (the whole Psalm is about the king) as if he can be called ‘God’. It speaks of the king, in this godlike way . . . And the point of the Psalm, as Hebrews quotes it here, is that all this is to happen, not through angels (they are just assistants in the process), but through the true anointed king, the Messiah.”[18] When all things are considered, the text of Heb 1:8-9 refer to Jesus as both king and God; a teaching which is further clarified in the author’s further commentary in verses 10-12 of the text of Hebrews.

JESUS IDENTIFIED AS YHWH

PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11

     One of most common titles bestowed upon the divine Son is that of κύριος (kurios) or Lord and the impact of this title is often overlooked. In the era of Hellenization, the penning of the Greek translation of the OT took place, known as the Septuagint (LXX). Within the pages of the LXX, the divine name of הוהי (YHWH) is retranslated into the Greek form of Lord and when one considers the sociological setting of Jesus’ ministry, the background of the Biblical authors and the wide range of OT citations used in reference of the Son, it becomes obvious that at times, Jesus is being referred to as much more than Lord, but rather, as הוהי. An example of this is found in Phil 2:9-11, where the text reads, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11. ESV).

While the exact nature of the meaning of this verse is debated, the overall context of the verse helps to identify that “the name” given to Jesus as none other than the Tetragrammaton, the divine name of the covenant God of Israel. This is seen in the OT citation that Paul utilizes in the text, which is a direct citation from Isa 45:23, which reads, “By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance’” (Isa 45:23, ESV). The context of this passage of Isaiah is clearly YHWH, who is identified in verses 1,3, 5-8, 11, 13-14, 17-19, 21 and 24-25 and in this respect, it is justified to note that Isaiah’s text is being applied to the Son, thus identifying Him as Jehovah God. This understanding comports with modern scholarship, as noted by Moises Silva when he states, “Whether or not Paul composed the Christ-hymn, it patently expresses his own conviction that the worship of Jesus Christ does not compromise Israel’s monotheistic faith. On the contrary, Jesus Christ the righteous Savior bears the name of the one Lord, Yahweh, ‘to the glory of God the Father.”[19] Likewise, J.H. Greenlee states in support of this understanding that “The definite article with this noun indicates that it is a name which is known and honored”[20] and when the whole of Scripture is taken into account, it becomes evident that to utter the name of Jesus is to in essence, proclaim the name of YHWH, the kurios of the Greek LXX. The correlation then lies in Paul’s final clause of the Carmen Christi, where the apostle states that Jesus Christ will be honored as “Lord” of all creation.

Also, in verses 6-7 of Phil 2, Jesus is said to possess both μορφῇ θεοῦ (morphe theou > “form [of] God”) and μορφὴν δούλου (morphe doulou > “form [of a] slave”) in reference to His nature(s). These two statements run in parallel with one another to form the inevitable conclusion of Christ’s full deity and in that sense, His eternality. Dennis W. Jowers explains, “If the being who exists in the μορφή θεού is not necessarily divine, that is to say, then the being who exists in the μορφή δούλου is not necessarily human.”[21] The conclusion attained from these two statements can be seen in the following; if Jesus was truly human in His incarnation, then He was truly God prior to and during the incarnation, hence, His eternality.

Verse 6 also speaks to the Son’s “equality” or (ἴσα > isa) that He held as the second member of the Trinity; an equality that He did not consider holding onto. James Montgomery Boice makes this profound statement about Phil 2:6 and its use of the word ἴσα by stating, “Paul’s use of this word in reference to Jesus teaches that Jesus is equal to God.”[22]  Jesus emptied Himself of this equality according to the use of κενόω (kenow) in verse 7, which most likely refers to a veiling of His divine attributes, but, most certainly does not mean that Jesus rid Himself of the attributes of YHWH (for YHWH is immutable), as Wayne Grudem notes when he states, “We must first realize that no recognized teacher in the first 1,800 years of church history, including those who were native speakers of Greek, thought that ‘emptied Himself’ in Phil. 2:7 meant that the Son of God gave up some of His divine attributes . . . the text does describe what Jesus did in this ‘emptying’; he did not do it by giving up any of his attributes, but rather by taking ‘the form of a servant’, that is, by coming to live as a man.”[23] In essence, Jesus Christ is declared to be fully God and YHWH in the text of Phil 2:5-11 when these verses are read in light of Isa 45 and when the broader context of the Carmine Christi is considered.

This understanding of Jesus being identified as YHWH is likewise seen in the Gospel’s, specifically, John chapter 12 where the text reads, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him” (Jn 12:41, ESV). In view in John’s comments is the text of Isa 6:1, specifically, the LXX rendering which reads, “And it happened in the year that King Ozias died that I saw the Lord sitting in a throne, lofty and raised up, and the house was full of his glory” (Isa 6:1, NETS).[24] The Greek parallels regarding this verse are unquestionable as White notes when he states, “The linguistic parallels are overwhelmingly clear . . . There is only one reference to what Isaiah “saw” in these texts, and one reference to “his glory” as well, and it is in the introduction to Isaiah’s temple vision.[25] Further, while 6:1 specifically speaks in reference toאֲדֹנָ֛י   (adoney) in the Hebrew text of Isaiah, verses 4-5 qualify the person of reference by the use of the name הוהי (YHWH). Who did Isaiah see in his temple vision? Contextually, it was YHWH adoney, the covenant God of Israel. But, in reference to the NT citation, Isaiah saw the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, sitting on His thrown in full glory according to John.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:3-9 AND JUDE 5

     Jesus’ preexistence and eternality is further confirmed in the pages of the NT by 1 Cor 10 and Jude 5. Both of these texts refer to YHWH’s presence in leading the exilic people of Israel out of Egypt and both of these texts confirm that YHWH in these accounts was none other than the second member of the Triune Godhead. The text of 1 Cor 10 reads in part, “For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,and all ate the same spiritual food,and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ . . . We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents” (1 Cor 10:1-4, 9, ESV). While there are alternate interpretations of this text, the most obvious rendering is that of the pre-incarnate Christ manifesting Himself within the created order to lead His covenant people. This is further confirmed by the corollary verse in Jn 1:18a where the text states that “No one has ever seen God.” Taken in the proper context, this verse is surly speaking about the Father, while on other occasions in the OT narratives, individuals did point-in-fact see YHWH the Son (Gen 18:1, 32:22-32, Ex 33:22, Judg 13:22).

Likewise, Jude 5 in the updated NA28 renders its verse as “υπομνησαι δε υμας βουλομαι ειδοτας υμας απαξ παντα οτι ιησους λαον εκ γης αιγυπτου σωσας το δευτερον τους μη πιστευσαντας απωλεσεν” (Jude 5, NA28). This is similar to the ESV English rendering of, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5, ESV). While there is a messy textual variant present in this verse, modern interpretation is beginning to lean towards the rendering which describes “Jesus” saving a people from Egypt (ESV, NET, LEB in English translations, and, both the NA28 and SBLGNT in Greek critical texts), rather than the more traditional rendering of “the Lord,” which is common from both the KJV, NKJV and NASB traditions.[26]

HEBREWS 1:10-12

     Finally, there is the text of Heb 1:10-12, which is a direct citation of Ps 102:25-27 which states in speaking of YHWH as its subject (vs. 18-19, 21-22), “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. ‘Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. ‘But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end” (Ps 102:25-27, ESV).

There is possibly no other passage in the entirety of Scripture that speaks to the eternal nature of YHWH in such clear and unambiguous terms and in this regard, it is vital to note that in Heb 1:10-12, these words are specifically applied to “the Son” (vs. 2, 5 and 8), Jesus Christ. This citation comes on the heels of verse 3 of the text where the Son is referred to as the χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ (character tes hupostaseos autou), or, as the NET renders this verse, “the representation of his essence” (Heb 1:3, NET). Interestingly, while χαρακτὴρ can mean “reproduction,” this is contextually inappropriate in verse 3 for a number of reasons. First, Jesus is ascribed worship in the chapter (v. 6), He is seated in the place of kingly rule (v. 3), He is described as joint creator of the physical realm (v. 2), He is specifically referred to as theos (v. 8) and as previously noted, Ps 102:25-27 is used in reference to the Son, which speaks to the eternality of the one who is described as “the representation of his essence” (Heb 1:3, NET).

Also, Jesus here is said to be the “exact imprint of the nature” of God and χαρακτὴρ[27] in this verse is not a verb. Meaning, Jesus was never created as the representation of God, but rather, He simply is the representation of God. Finally, if Jesus is indeed the exact imprint or representation of God, then it logically follows that He possesses the same attributes of YHWH; to include omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence and eternality. When the evidence is complied, there is no doubt from a textual standpoint that Jesus is referred to as both theos and YHWH and in this sense, His eternality and divinity are demonstrated via the text of Scripture.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

     Colossians 2:9 is widely recognized as an absolute proof text regarding the nature of Christ’s divinity. The text reads, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9, ESV). The key term in this verse is the Greek word θεότητος[28] (theotetos) which means, according to Wright, “What he means, simply, is that Jesus was and is not simply a fully human being (though he is); not simply a man remarkably ‘full of God’ (though he’s that as well). He was and is the bodily form taken by God himself, God in all his fullness.[29] Such a statement by Paul comes immediately after his description of Christ as the creator and authoritative ruler (Col. 1:16), the preeminent one (v. 18) and the one in whom the fullness of deity is pleased to dwell (v. 19). He is also described as the πρωτότοκος (prototokos) or “firstborn,” which contextually is not speaking about a point of creation or existence, but rather, to His rightful inheritance as the heir of all creation as noted by Larry R. Hayler when he states, “We thus conclude that in Col 1:15 the phrase prötotokos pasës ktiseös is predicated of the préexistent Christ. Its thrust is to ascribe to him a primacy of status over against all of creation.”[30]

CONCLUSION

     As noted, the Scripture’s are clear and unambiguous in reference to the nature and eternality of the divine Son. John 1:1-18 clearly and demonstrate this point; calling the logos eternal via its use of the imperfect verb ἦν, as well as in its use of θεὸς in verses 1 and 18. This is confirmed in Jn 20:28 where Thomas calls Jesus both “Lord” and “God,” as well as in the Sharp constructions of Tit 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1 (God and Savior) and Heb 1:8 and its declaration that Christ is theos.

Moreover, Jesus is identified as YHWH, the covenant God of Israel in text such as Jn 12:41, Phil 2:9-11 and Heb 1:10-12; all of which are texts that apply OT Yahwehic passages to the divine Son in reference to His deity, status and attributes. Also under consideration was the text of Phil 2:5-11, which speaks to the status of the Son prior to, during and after the incarnation, indicating on all points that the Christ was both the form of God and equal to the Father. Finally, there is the text of Col 2:9. When coupled with its previous context, this section of Scripture undoubtedly points towards the Son as theos, the creator and heir of all things (Col 1:15-20).

Douglas McCready defines Christ’s preexistence in the following manner, “Préexistence in Christology means that the one we know as Jesus Christ existed in reality before he entered into our world through the incarnation.”[31] As noted in this study, not only do the Scriptures demonstrate Christ’s preexistence, but also, they speak to the true nature of the logos as one who is ontologically equal to God in all respects. This includes the attributes of YHWH, which leads to the conclusion that Christ is the eternal, preexistent God because He is YHWH incarnate.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Bowman, Robert, M. “Jesus Christ, God Manifest: Titus 2:13 Revisited.” JETS 51, no. 4 (Dec 2008).

Bruce, F.F. The International Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986.

Butler, J.G. Analytical Bible Expositor: John. Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2009.

Greenlee, J.H. An Exegetical Summary of Philippiansute of Linguistics. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1992.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine,. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.

Helyer, Larry R. “Arius Revisited: The Firstborn Over All Creation (Col 1:15).” JETS 31, no. 3 (Mar 1998).

Jowers, Dennis W. “The Meaning Of Μορφη In Philippians 2:6-7.” JETS 49, no. 4 (Dec 2006).

Louw, J. P., Nida, E. A. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains . electronic. Vol. 1. New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996.

McCready, Douglas. “He Came Down From Heaven: The Preexistence of Christ Revisited.” JETS 40, no. 3 (Sept 1997).

Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Kindle. Nashville, TN: Holman Publishers, 2000.

Rung, S.E. High Definition Commentary: Philippians . Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software., 2011.

Silva, Moises. Philippians: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Wallace, Daniel B. “Granville Sharp: A Model of Evangelical Scholarship and Social Activism.” JETS 41, no. 4 (1998).

Wescott, B.F., ed. The Epistle to the Hebrews the Greek Text with Notes and Essays. 3. London: Macmillan, 1903.

White, James R. “Granville Sharp’s Rule: Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://vintage.aomin.org/GRANVILL.html (accessed 12 04, 2012).

—. “Greg Stafford Attempts to Reply.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1921 (accessed 12 05, 2012).

—. “John 1:1: Meaning and Translation.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://vintage.aomin.org/JOHN1_1.html (accessed 12 04, 2012).

—. “The Pre-existence of Christ in Scripture, Patristics and Creed.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://vintage.aomin.org/The_Pre_Existence_of_Christ.html (accessed 12 05, 2012).

Wright, N.T. Hebrews for Everyone. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004.

—. Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004.


[1] The WTBTS, also known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[2] J. G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor: John , (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2009), 9-10.

[3] NET Bible® footnotes, copyright (c) 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission from http://bible.org.

[4] F.F. Bruce, The International Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986), 1232.

[5] James R. White, “John 1:1: Meaning and Translation.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://vintage.aomin.org/JOHN1_1.html (accessed 12 04, 2012).

[6] The BDAG places the primary meaning of this verb as “be, exist, be on hand . . .” W. Arndt, F.W. Danker, W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd, (Chicago: IL, University of Chicago Press, 2000), 282, (Cited hereafter “BDAG”).

[7] J. P Louw, E. A Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains . electronic ed. (Vol. 1. New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996), Logos.

[8] James R. White, “The Pre-existence of Christ in Scripture, Patristics and Creed.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://vintage.aomin.org/The_Pre_Existence_of_Christ.html (accessed 12 05, 2012).

[9] Ibid., 197.

[10] This point is noted via the words of A.T. Robertson when he states, “{In the beginning} (cf. Gen. 1:1). {Was} This Greek tense shows continuous existence, not origin. This is not “became” for the incarnation of the Logos (John 1:14).” A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville, TN: Holman Publishers, 2000), Kindle.

[11] Ibid., NET Bible.

[12] Daniel B Wallace, “Granville Sharp: A Model of Evangelical Scholarship and Social Activism,” (JETS, 41, no. 4, 1998), 605-606.

[13] James R. White, “Granville Sharp’s Rule: Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1,” http://vintage.aomin.org/GRANVILL.html (Accessed 12/04/12).

[14] The NWT of the WTBTS renders this verse in a manner that attempts to separate the terms God and Savior into two individuals, “while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus” (Tit 2:13, NWT). In this text, the NWT inserts the word “and” into the verse between “God” and “Savior,” thus denying Sharp’s construction and this rule of Greek grammar.

[15] Ibid., White, Grandville Sharp.

[16] Robert, M Bowman, “Jesus Christ, God Manifest: Titus 2:13 Revisited.” (JETS 51, no. 4. Dec 2008), 752.

[17] B. F. Westcott, Ed, The Epistle to the Hebrews the Greek text with notes and essays, 3rd ed. (London: UK., Macmillan, 1903), 26.

[18] N.T. Wright, Hebrews for Everyone, (London, UK. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 8.

[19] Moises Silva, Philippians: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2nd, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 112.

[20] J. H. Greenlee, An Exegetical Summary of Philippians, (Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1992), Phil. 2:9.

[21] Dennis W. Jowers, “The Meaning of Morphe in Philippians 2:6-7,” (JETS 49, no. 4, December 2006), 763.

[22] James Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1986), 269.

[23] Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 550.

[24] A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ©2007 by the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Inc. All rights reserved.

[25] James R. White, “Greg Stafford Attempts to Reply.” Alpha and Omega Ministries. http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1921 (accessed 12 05, 2012).

[26] Point-in-fact, there are a number of variant MS readings in this verse, as noted in the NA28 textual apparatus where it lists the following options;

απαξ παντας οτι θεος χριστος P72*

απαξ παντα οτι θεος χριστος P72C

υμας παντα οτι κυριος απαξ 01

απαξ παντα οτι ιησους 02 33C 81

παντα οτι ο κυριος απαξ 04* 630, 1505

απαξ παντα οτι ο θεος 04C2

υμας τουτο απαξ οτι ο κυριος 018

[27] Louw-Nida defines this term as, “58.62 χαρακτήρ, ῆρος m: a representation as an exact reproduction of a particular form or structure—‘exact representation.’ ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ ‘who is the reflection of his glory and the exact representation of his being’ He 1:3.” Ibid., Louw-Nida, Heb 1:3.

[28] The BDAG defines this terms as, “the state of being god, divine character/nature, deity, divinity, used as abstract noun for θεός (Orig., C. Cels. 7, 25, 9): τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θ. the fullness of deity Col 2:9.” Ibid., BDAG, 432.

[29] Wright, T., Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 167.

[30] Larry R Helyer, “Arius Revisited: The Firstborn Over All Creation (Col 1:15),” (JETS 31, no. 3, Mar 1998), 66.

[31] Douglas McCready, “He Came Down From Heaven: The Preexistence of Christ Revisited.” (JETS 40, no. 3, Sept 1997), 419.