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The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun’s Thorough Reply to Former Jehovah’s Witness turned Atheist, Hector Heinz.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures are from the American Standard Version 1901
A Partial Reply to


The classic argument usually lies with a few scriptures, like John 17:3:

“And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ.”

Since Jesus Christ is also called God (a god) at John 1:1, the argument goes that Jesus must then be a “false god.”

The point that Trinitarians are hoping to further is that, since Jesus cannot be a false God, he must be the True God.

Or as Sam Shamoun states,

“It is our understanding that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is not a lesser god but the true God, Jehovah. The biblical data also teaches that there are more than one person who are addressed as the one true God, namely the Father and the Holy Spirit. (Cf. Jn. 17:3; Acts 5:3, 4) Yet, they are not three Gods but only one true God. (Cf. Deut. 6:4; Gal. 3:20)

I will show how this arguments is damaging to Trinitarians, and insulting to the Biblical view of God, and the language it uses.


For a thorough exegetical understanding of John 17:3, we recommend that our readers check the following article regarding this verse found here: JOHN 17:3: ONLY TRUE GOD.

After a careful examination of the article in question, one will discover that the only insulting thing is the manner in which JW apologists manhandle and twist the scriptures to their own destruction. (Cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16)

The point that JW apologists hope to demonstrate is that Jesus’ use of the phrase “true God” is not as restrictive as Trinitarians make it to be. The JW apologist’s aim in doing so is to justify the Jehovah Witnesses’ unbiblical category of a class of beings who are truly gods yet not in the sense that Jehovah God is. The JW apologist hopes to prove that these beings are actual gods but not in the non-derived sense as Jehovah God. JWs believe that these beings derive their deity solely from the true God, Jehovah. Hence, the JW apologist first assumes the Society’s belief in henotheism and then proceeds to read this assumption back into the text. It is primarily this assumption that forbids the JW from seeing the restriction that the biblical phrase “true God” has upon viewing anyone apart from Jehovah as god, irrespective if one claims that the source of deity is derived from the true God and is then imparted to the others. As has been documented elsewhere, this attempt of positing another category of gods is completely unbiblical.


When you really think about, these are diversionary, smoke and mirror tactics. It says, “Let’s get you, the hoi polloi, to think about something that is never mentioned in the Bible, the Trinity, and focus on the deity of Jesus, as if this will make up for the other, rarely mentioned Father and Holy Spirit.”


Heinz exposes his presuppositions from the outset. He already assumes that the Holy Bible never mentions the Trinity and therefore the Trinity cannot be biblical. Hence, it is not surprising that Heinz never discovers the biblical basis for the Trinity since he has already assumed his conclusion from the beginning. This essentially forces Heinz to argue in a circle.

We will soon discover that it is Heinz who is forced to use diversionary, smoke and mirror tactics in order to avoid the clear biblical basis for the Trinity. He is also forced to reject the clear evidence refuting his post-biblical 19th century JW henotheistic theology, a theology that Heinz is forced to impose upon the text of scripture due to his commitment to his “Mother” organization.

Finally, it is simply not true that Trinitarians rarely include the Father or the Holy Spirit into their discussion of the Trinity. Volumes of works have been written defending and establishing the biblical basis for the perfect Deity of all three members of the Godhead. Therefore, Heinz commits the fallacy of hasty generalization since he obviously has not taken the time to research the mass of literature regarding this issue. If he has then Heinz is simply being dishonest with his readers for making such an unwarranted claim.


One way they do this is to use the “True God vs False God” argument. I have dealt with the fallacies of this argument briefly, but at this time I will go deeper, thanks to a push by SamSham.


It is really sad to see JW apologists engaging in such polemical tricks. Heinz refers to me as Sam Sham, an obvious attack upon me. Heinz is guilty of committing the fallacy of ad hominem of the abusive kind. Instead of focusing on the issues, Heinz deems it necessary to mock his opponents as opposed to simply dealing with the arguments presented.


When we look into the Bible, we see that there is actually very little mention of “false gods.”
The King James Version never uses the expression once, the American Standard Version only uses it at Jeremiah 18:15. My RSV uses it several times in the apocryphal Letter of Jeremiah.


 To say that the Holy Bible makes little mention of “false gods” is not the same as the Bible being completely devoid of any and all references to false gods, entities wrongly viewed or worshiped as god. In fact, as we shall shortly demonstrate the little that the Holy Bible does mention of these false gods is thoroughly sufficient in debunking the claims made by Heinz and other JW apologists.

 Furthermore, Heinz erroneously assumes that the infrequent usage of the phrase “false gods” somehow trivializes my attempt of refuting JW henotheism. The Holy Bible doesn’t necessarily need to always negate the fact that all other gods are false, since the scriptures affirm this point in many different ways. One such way the Holy Bible denies the existence of other gods is its constant reminder that Yahweh alone is God. See my article for proof.

Paul himself in Galatians 4:8 distinguishes those who are “not God by nature” (me ousis theois) from the One who is.  Heinz may try to respond that Paul allows for others who are gods by nature, because theois is plural – however, the context precludes this interpretation – for Paul certainly wouldn’t condone being a slave to any but the true God.  Heinz may say the “gods” here are idols. Yet as I had already demonstrated in my monotheism paper both Paul and the OT indicate that there is an actual spiritual presence, more specifically a demonic presence, behind every idol:

“What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrificed they sacrificed to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:19- 20 NKJV

“They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to DEMONS which are not God– gods they had not knowngods that recently appearedgods your fathers did not fear.” Deuteronomy 32:16-17 NIV

“They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to DEMONS.” Psalm 106:36-37 NIV


“Let all be put to shame who serve CARVED IMAGES, Who boast of IDOLS. Worship Him, all you GODS… For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:7, 9 NKJV

Interestingly, the translators of the LXX understood the above reference to gods as referring to angelic beings:

“Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his ANGELS (angeloi).” Psalm 96:7

So we see that according to early Jewish thought, not only were there demons standing behind every idol but angels as well. This clearly establishes that not only are the idols considered nothing, but also the spiritual presence behind these idols is categorized as nothing.

Finally, another reason why the Holy Bible infrequently uses the phrase “false gods” stems primarily from the fact that not all who are called “gods” are necessarily false, nor are they true gods by nature. Rather, as I argued in my paper which Heinz mentions in his article, the terms “God” or “gods” are also applied figuratively to entities functioning as God’s emissaries, speaking to humanity on behalf of Yahweh, having God’s authority to function in his place.


Sam Shamoun makes much of what he thinks Stafford ignores in the BAGD, which says, “genuine, real … Of God in contrast to other gods, who are not real.” Stafford does not hide this, and if you take a closer look, it does not really say what you hope it says. The BAGD has italicized the word “real,” and the reason for this is plain. The scriptures posted in lexicons, such as BAGD, Thayers, etc, to determine false gods are never directed to anything living. They almost always refer to a worthless idol, or something equally without any substance.

That is why the RSV Annotated Study Bible says of the false gods, “Idols are helpless, useless, and not to be compared with celestial phenomena.” (ftn. Letter of Jeremiah) You will be hard pressed to find an example lexically of a living being described as a false god.


It is rather unfortunate that Heinz makes very little of Stafford’s misuse of BAGD.  Proof that Stafford misused this source (whether willfully or not is not for me to say) can be seen from his very own writings. In the first edition of his book, Stafford wrote:

“The Greek word translated ‘true’ (… alethinos) can have one of several meanings, depending on the context and usage of the author or speaker. According to BAGD, alehtinos can mean: ‘genuine, real… Of God in contrast to other gods, who are not real… true in the sense of the reality possessed only by the archetype, not by its copies.’ To illustrate this meaning of a ‘reality possessed only by the archetype, not by its copies,’ consider John 1:9, where John says concerning Jesus, ‘The true light[… to phos to alethinon] that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world’ (compare 1 Jo 2:8). Does this mean that Jesus’ disciples (Mt 5:14) are ‘false’ lights? No. It means they are not the original light, but copies of it, giving forth the light they received from Jesus.” (Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended- An Answer to Scholars and Critics, first edition, pp. 196-197 bold emphasis mine)

The implication of Stafford’s statement is that BAGD seemingly understood and applied alethinos in the same way that Stafford understood it, namely that John17:3 teaches that the Father is “true in the sense of the reality possessed only by the archetype, not by its copies”. This is clearly false. Stafford was seemingly aware of his misapplication of BAGD and corrected himself in the second edition of his book:

“The Greek word translated ‘true’ (… alethinos) can have one of several meanings, depending upon the context and usage of the author or speaker. According to BAGD, alethinos can mean: genuine, real… Of God in contrast to other gods, who are not real… true in the sense of the reality possessed only by the archetype, not by its copies. While BAGD does not attribute the archetypal meaning to alethinos in John 17:3, WE BELIEVE this sense best fits the use of ‘true’ in this and other passages.” (Stafford, second edition, p. 121 bold and capital emphasis mine)

The fact that Stafford clarified his use of BAGD affirms that Stafford misapplied at least this source and thereby gave a misleading impression to his readers.

This also demonstrates that Stafford’s rejection of BAGD’s understanding of the use of “true” in John 17:3 stems from Stafford’s post-biblical 19th century JW henotheistic theology that he imposes upon the text of scripture. Stafford’s commitment to the JW organization does not allow him to exegete scripture in light of its context, since the Society forbids its members from thinking independently in regards to assessing JW doctrine for biblical accuracy.

Furthermore, Heinz’s claim that these lexicons are not contrasting the true God with other living beings is erroneous. How does Heinz know this to be the case? Do any of these lexicons state this explicitly, or is Heinz simply imposing his own erroneous understanding into these sources? We challenge Heinz to show us where the sources alluded to above state that the term alethinos is used solely to contrast the true God with non-living entities who are not gods at all.

Heinz is apparently aware of his blunder and therefore ends up contradicting his own statement. We reproduce his statement here with bold and capital emphasis:

“…The scriptures posted in lexicons, such as BAGD, Thayers, etc, to determine false gods are NEVER directed to anything living. They ALMOST always refer to a worthless idol, or something equally without any substance…”

So which is it Heinz? Is it never or almost always? If it is almost always then you proceed to refute your own assertion since the use of “almost” negates the term “never”. If it is never then how can it be almost always? Perhaps Heinz can explain this obvious paradox for us.

Finally, BAGD is not alone in understanding alethinos in John 17:3 as implying that there is only one true God and that the rest are all false since other lexical sources are in agreement. Robert Hommel points out:

If BAGD is reliable in both their understanding of the various connotation of alęthinos and their specific definition in John 17:3, we would expect that other authorities would corroborate it. Similarly, if BAGD got it wrong with regard to John 17:3, we would expect other authorities to disagree.

Grimm/Thayer defines alęthinos as “contrasts realities with their semblances” for Hebrews 8:2 and 9:24, but “opposed to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated, pretended” for John 17:3 (p. 27). So, Grimm/Thayer, too, recognizes the correct connotation of alęthinos in John 17:3 as “true contrasted with false.”

In his Expository Dictionary, Vine recognizes Hebrews 8:2 and 9:24 as requiring the meaning: “the spiritual, archetypal tabernacle,” but defines alęthinos in John 17:3 as: “‘very God,’ in distinction from all other gods, false gods” (p. 645).

Louw and Nida similarly recognize several connotations for alęthinos, including those discussed. They define alęthinos in John 17:3 as: “pertaining to being real and not imaginary … ‘that they may know you, the only one who is really God’” (p. 667). Moulton and Milligan list a number of contemporary extra-biblical examples of alęthinos, including several by Christians in reference to God, and all carry the meaning ‘real’; ‘genuine’; ‘true, as opposed to false’ (p. 22).

Finally, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) does not specifically reference John 17:3 in its discussion of alęthinos, but says “As a divine attribute it has the sense of ‘reliable,’ ‘righteous,’ or ‘real,’” and cites 1 John 5:20, a verse Stafford relates to John 17:3 (IBID, p. 120). This meaning is contrasted with the archetype connotation: “In Heb 8:2 the heavenly tabernacle is ‘true’ in contrast to the earthly, and in Heb. 9:24 the human sanctuary is a copy of the true one, which is genuine as divine” (Abridged edition, p. 39).

So, we see that the standard lexical works specify the connotation of alęthinos in John 17:3 as “the only true God (as distinguished from all other gods, who are false).” This definition of alęthinos presents serious problems for Watchtower theology, for by saying “the only true God,” Jesus states quite clearly that any other who is termed “a god,” must be a false god.

The key point here is that REGARDLESS of how Heinz wants to interpret the verses that speak of ‘false gods,’ he has to face the music – as did Stafford – that the ARCHETYPAL connotation for alethinos is NOT supported by BAGD in this verse. Period.


This does not rule out living beings as being false gods, but according the Bible, early Jewish and Christian thought, the true/false enigma is not as restrictive as Trinitarians wish.


Heinz has apparently not read the article he claims to be rebutting, or at least did not read it carefully. Had he done so he would have found sufficient evidence where certain living beings are in fact classified as false gods.  Seeing that the Holy Bible does refer to actual living beings as false gods the “true/false EMIGMA” is only an enigma for henotheists!  The point is that the Bible says that the true God has a nature that is not shared by those CALLED “gods,” (legomenoi theoi [1 Corinthians 8:5]; cf., Galatians 4:8), but this nature IS shared by the Son. (Cf. John 1:1c; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3)

Furthermore, Heinz again makes a hasty generalization since neither early Judaism nor Christianity was monolithic by any means. There were and continue to be sects within these two groups. Yet for the most part, the general consensus of early Jewish and Christian thought were just as restrictive in regards to the true/false enigma as most Trinitarians are today.

Third, we have already provided a link addressing John 17:3 where the erroneous assertion that since the only true God is distinguished from Jesus Christ, Jesus therefore cannot be that true God has been thoroughly addressed. The truth is that John 17:3 completely incapacitates the JWs at this point, since this verse along with the others alluded to in my article destroy the JW attempt of positing another category of gods that are neither false nor true in the sense that Jehovah is truly God.


We have already mentioned John 17:3, where the “only true God” is distinguished FROM Jesus Christ. So damaging was this scripture to “Saint” Augustine, that he tried to change it so that “only true God” was read after “Jesus Christ” to make it sound like Jesus was the only True God.


Heinz introduces irrelevant issues and red herring arguments by bringing up St. Augustine. Since the issue is monotheism not Augustine’s integrity or “infallibility”, Heinz is now introducing the very same type of diversionary tactics he accuses Trinitarians of. Heinz needs to be careful in slinging mud against his opponents since the same accusations he uses against Christians can be used more forcefully against him.

One only needs to read the NWT translation of the Greek Scriptures in such places as Philippians 2:9-11 and Colossians 1:16-17 to discover that the JWs have deliberately inserted the word “other” into the text. This was done primarily to avoid the implication these passages have in accurately understanding the true nature and person of Christ. The NWT translation committee seemingly knew that these passages clearly teach that Jesus is Yahweh God, the Creator of all things and could not therefore be the first creation of God. Hence, in order to avoid this, they willfully manhandled God’s Word to suit their theological presuppositions.


Couple this with 1 Cor 8:6, “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.”

Heinz needs to answer who the legomenoi theoi of this passage are… (answer: gods many AND lords many).  Since theoi and kurioi are BOTH the “so-called gods,” Paul is EQUATING the two terms.  If he intends a distinction (essential to WT theology), then both Witnesses and Trinitarians have a dilemma.  For then we are to have one [true] God and one [true] Lord – two different beings.  Yet as I will point out below, Jude 4 refutes this attempt of positing two distinct beings, with one being God and the other Lord. As I will demonstrate the JW apologist is stuck at this point, if he is to remain logically consistent. The JW must explain how Jesus is his one and only Sovereign Master and Lord (regardless of HOW Jesus became DESPOTES and KURIOS), and how he honors (values) the Son equally with the Father, when the Son is inferior in NATURE to the Father. (Cf. John 5:22-23)


This scripture alone is disastrous to a Trinitarian, as Jesus is excluded from the term, “One God.”
In fact, if you take a look at QEOS as it is mentioned in the NT, the term is almost exclusively used of the Father. Trinitarian and Biblical theology both teach that Jesus cannot be the Father. So if Jesus is not the “One God” or “only True God,” as he is clearly distinguished from him, then where does that leave him?


Heinz shows that he really has not taken the time to read the Trinitarian responses to the JW misapplication of 1 Corinthians 8:6. Had he done so he would not have made such an outlandish claim. This verse no more proves that Jesus cannot be God then Jesus being Lord proves that the Father cannot be Lord also. In fact, the Holy Bible clearly states that Jesus is our only Sovereign Master and Lord while at the same time acknowledging that the Father is also our Sovereign Master and Lord:

My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord (ton monon despoten kai kurion hemon)Jesus Christ. Jude 4 NWT

One body, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which were called; one Lord (heis kurios), one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all [persons], who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 NWT

“And look! There was a man in Jerusalem name Sim’e-on, and this man was righteous and reverent, waiting for Israel’s consolation, and holy spirit was upon him. Furthermore, it had been divinely revealed to him by the holy spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of Jehovah (ton christon kuriou).  Under the power of the spirit he now came into the temple; and as the parents brought the young child Jesus in to do for it according to the law, he himself received it into his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Now Sovereign Lord (despota), you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration;” Luke 2:25-29 NWT

In that very hour he became overjoyed in the holy spirit and said: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth (kurie tou ourano kai tes gesbecause you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones, and have revealed them to babes. Yes, O Father, because to do thus came to be the way approved by you.” Luke 10:21 NWT

After being released they went to their own people and reported what things the chief priests and the older men had said to them. Upon hearing this they with one accord raised their voices to God and said: “Sovereign Lord (Despota), you are the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them… Even so, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with [men of] nations and with peoples of Israel were in actuality gathered together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, in order to do what things your hand and counsel had foreordained to occur. And now, Jehovah (kuriegive attention to their threats, and grant your slaves to keep speaking your word with all boldness…” Acts 4:23-24, 27-29 NWT

“You are worthy, Jehovah (ho kurios), even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11 NWT

And they cried out with a loud voice, saying: “Until when, Sovereign Lord (ho despotes) holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood upon those who dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:10 NWT

Whereas JW apologists must squirm their way through these passages, a Trinitarian is able to account for all these passages with no problems. The reason why Jesus can be our only Sovereign Master and Lord without this excluding the Father is because both the Father and the Son share the same eternal Being of the one true God. Hence, what is true of One is also true of the Other as far as their divine nature and attributes are concerned.

Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 8:6 actually affirms the essential equality that exists between the Father and the Son since Paul states that all things are from the Father and through the Son:

“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 Christthrough (di’) whom all things came and through (di’) whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 NIV

Paul also states that Jesus created all things for himself:

For by him ALL things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; ALL things were created by him and FOR (eis) him. He is before all things, AND IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Colossians 1:16-18 NIV

Yet, elsewhere the Holy Bible says that all things came from and through God and that Jehovah alone created all things for himself:

“This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who ALONE stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by MYSELF…” Isaiah 44:24 NIV

JW apologists claim that this passage does not prove that Jehovah created all things by himself, but that the context is refuting the false notion that the pagan gods of the nations were responsible for creation. It is in this light that Jehovah claims to be alone in creating the cosmos. Yet this reasoning cannot be sustained in light of the following passage:

“He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” Job 9:7-8 NIV

Job reiterates the point of Isaiah 44:24 and yet no mention of pagan gods can be found throughout the context. Therefore, the reasoning employed by JWs cannot be sustained since with or without the context of false gods, the OT is in agreement that Jehovah alone created all things.

“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth- everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7 NIV

“The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I FORMED FOR MYSELF that they may proclaim my praise.” Isaiah 43:20-21 NIV

For from him and through (di’) him and FOR (eis) him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36 NAB

“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, FOR (eis) whom and through (di’) whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10 NIV

We see that the Holy Bible clearly states that God is both the primary (“from”) and instrumental (“through”) cause of creation. Hence, for Paul to claim that Jesus was both the source (“in/by him all things were created”) and the instrumental cause of creation affirms that the apostle clearly believed that Jesus is Jehovah God (yet not the Father).

As NT scholar Richard Bauckham states in relation to Paul’s claim that all things are from God and through Christ:

“The description in its undivided, unmodified form is used elsewhere by Paul, specifically in Romans 11:36a: ‘from him and through him and to him [are] all things’. Here the statement simply refers to God, whereas in 1 Corinthians 8:6 Paul has divided it between God and Christ, applying to God two of the prepositions that describe God’s relationship as Creator to all things (‘from’ and ‘for’ or ‘to’) and the third of these prepositions (‘through’) to Christ. Although Paul’s formula in Romans 11:36 does not appear precisely in this form elsewhere, there are enough Jewish parallels to make it certain that Paul there simply quotes a Jewish formulation. That God is not only the agent or efficient cause of creation (‘from him are all things’) and the final cause or goal of all things (‘to him are all things’), but also the instrumental cause (‘through whom are all things’) well expresses the typical Jewish monotheistic concern that God used no one else to carry out his work of creation, but accomplished it alone, solely by means of his own Word and/or his own Wisdom. Paul’s reformulation in 1 Corinthians 8:6 includes Christ in this exclusively divine work of creation by giving to him the role of instrumental cause.” (Bauckham, God Crucified-Monotheism & Christology in the New Testament [Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K., 1998], p. 39 bold emphasis mine)

In fact, Bauckham claims that 1 Corinthians 8:6 is actually a Christian expansion of the Shema, the Jewish creed of monotheism found in Deuteronomy 6:4. Bauckham claims that Paul’s intention was to include Jesus in the identity of the one Lord of Jewish monotheism.

“Paul’s concern in this context is explicitly monotheism. The issue of eating meat offered to idols and participation in temple banquets is an instance of the highly traditional Jewish monotheistic concern for the loyalty to the only true God in a context of pagan polytheistic worship. What Paul does is to maintain this Jewish monotheistic concern in a Christian interpretation for which loyalty to the only true God entails loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. He takes up from the Corinthians’ letter (at the end of verse 4) the typical Jewish monotheistic formula ‘there is no God except one’ in order to agree with it and to give, in verse 6, his own fuller monotheistic formulation, which contrasts the many gods and many lords’ of the Corinthians’ pagan environment (verse 5) with the one God and one Lord to whom Christians owe exclusive allegiance.

Verse 6 is a carefully formulated statement:

a but for us [there is] one God, the Father,

b from whom [are] all things and we for him,

c and one Lord, Jesus Christ,

d through whom [are] all things and we through him.

“The statement has been composed from two sources, both clearly recognizable. One is the Shema’, the classic Jewish statement of the uniqueness of God, taken from the Torah itself, recited twice daily by all observant Jews, as we noticed in chapter 1. It is now commonly recognized that Paul has here adapted the Shema’ and produced, as it were, a Christian version of itNot so widely recognized is the full significance of this. In the first and third lines of Paul’s formula (labelled a an c above), Paul has in fact reproduced all the words of the statement about YHWH in the Shema’ (Deut. 6:4: ‘The LORD our God, the LORD, is one’), but Paul has rearranged the words in such a way as to produce an affirmation of both one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus ChristIt should be quite clear that Paul is including the Lord Jesus Christ in the unique divine identity. He is redefining monotheism as christological monotheism. If he were understood as adding the one Lord to the one God of whom the Shema’ speaks, then, from the perspective of Jewish monotheism, he would certainly be producing not christological monotheism but out right di-theism.  The addition of a unique Lord to the unique God of the Shema’ would flatly contradict the uniqueness of the latter. (Sam’s note- this is precisely what JWs have done by denying that Jesus is the one Lord of Jewish monotheism, namely Jehovah God) The only possible way to understand Paul as maintaining monotheism is to understand him to be including Jesus in the unique identity of the one God affirmed in the ShemaBut this is in any case clear from the fact that the term ‘Lord’, applied here to Jesus as the ‘one Lord’, is taken from the Shema’ itself. Paul is not adding to the one God of the Shema’ a ‘Lord’ the Shema’ does not mention. He is identifying Jesus as the ‘Lord’ whom the Shema’ affirms to be one. Thus, in Paul’s quite unprecedented reformulation of the Shema’, the unique identity of the one God consists of the one God, the Father, and the one Lord, his Messiah. Contrary to what many exegetes who have not sufficiently understood the way in which the unique identity of God was understood in Second Temple Judaism seem to suppose, by including Jesus in this unique identity Paul is certainly not repudiating Jewish monotheism, whereas were he merely associating Jesus with the unique God, he certainly would be repudiating monotheism (Sam’s note- the very precise thing that JWs are guilty of due to their unbiblical insistence that Jesus is not included in the identity of the one God, Jehovah).” (Ibid., pp. 37-39 bold emphasis mine)

Eminent NT Scholar N.T. Wright concurs:

“The pagan pantheon cannot be simply dismissed as metaphysically nonexistent and therefore morally irrelevant. It signals an actual phenomenon within the surrounding culture that must be faced and dealt with, not simply sidestepped. For this reason-which Paul will deal with in more detail in ch. 10-the allegiance of local paganism to this or that ‘god’ and ‘lord’ must be met with nothing short of the Christian version of Jewish-style, Shema-style, monotheism. It is this that Paul now states. Whatever its links with the Hellenistic-Jewish world of Philo and others, v.6 resonates thoroughly with echoes of the far more ancient and widespread formula from Deuteronomy 6:4. In the Hebrew the confession of faith begins with the words:

Shema Yisrael YHVH Eloheinu YHVH echad

In the Septuagint this reads:

Akoue ‘Israel kurios ho theos hemon kurios heis estin.

What Paul seems to have done is as follows. He has expanded the formula, in a way quite unprecedented in any other texts known to us, so as to include a gloss on theos and another on kurios:

all hemin

heis theos ho pater

ek hou ta panta kai hemeis eis auton,

kai heis kurios ‘Iesous Christos,

di’ hou ta panta kai hemeis di’ autou. 

Paul, in other words, has glossed ‘God’ with the ‘the Father’, and ‘Lord’ with ‘Jesus Christ’, adding in each case an explanatory phrase: ‘God’ is the Father ‘from whom are all things and we to him’, and the ‘Lord’ is Jesus the Messiah, ‘through whom are all things and we through him’. There can be no mistake: just as in Philippians 2 and Colossians 1, Paul has placed Jesus within an explicit statement, drawn from the Old Testament’s quarry of emphatically monotheistic texts, of the doctrine that Israel’s God is the one and only God, the creator of the world. The Shema was already, at this stage of Judaism, in widespread use as the Jewish daily prayer. Paul has redefined it christologically, producing what we can only call a sort of christological monotheism.

This fact is becoming more widely recognized in recent scholarship, though its omission from some of the older literature remains remarkable.” (Wright, The Climax of the Covenant, Christ and Law in Pauline Theology [Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1993 ISBN 0-8006-2827-6], pp. 128-129 bold emphasis mine)

Bauckham’s and Wright’s statements essentially affirm my point, namely that the use of the title “Lord” in reference to Jesus served to identify Christ as Jehovah. Therefore, in light of the preceding passages Paul used the terms “God” and “Lord” to affirm that both the Father and the Son are the one God, Jehovah.

Additionally, elsewhere in the NT Jesus is credited with the actual creation of the universe in much the same way that the Father is, further implying that the Son is Jehovah God (but not the Father). For instance, the inspired author of Hebrews writes:

“But about the Son he says… ‘In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:8a, 10-12

The author has the Father addressing the Son as the actual Creator of the cosmos. The author applies an OT passage, Psalm 102:25-27, referring to Jehovah’s work in creation and applies it to the Son. The author is affirming that the Son personally laid the foundations of the earth and that the heavens are the work of the Son’s hands. This inarguably demonstrates that at least to this writer Jesus is actually Jehovah God, the eternal Creator (yet not the Father)!

In his book, Stafford responds to the use of Psalm 102:25-27 in reference to the Son:

“… It will be shown that in 1 Corinthians 8:6 the apostle Paul makes a careful distinction between the ‘one God’ (the Father) as the one ‘out of [… ex (hereafter transliterated as ek)] whom all things are,’ and Jesus Christ as the one ‘through [di, a contraction of dia] whom’ all things came into being….

“Clearly, then, in context Hebrews 1:10-12 could not be teaching that Jesus is the Creator, for here, in the opening words to the Hebrews, it is clearly stated that God made all things ‘through’ His Son. Since Jesus’ role in creation has already been discussed (Heb. 1:3), it is not likely that in verses 10-12 the author would return to the same point he has explained earlier.  It could be that these verses from Psalm 102 are appropriately applied to the Son of God in view of his being the preexistent Wisdom spoken of in Proverbs 8. There he is described as a ‘master worker’ alongside his Creator, Jehovah. (Pr 8:22-31) B. W. Bacon acknowledges, ‘The passage could be made to prove the doctrine that the Messiah is none other than the preexistent Wisdom of Prov 8, 22-31, “through whom” according to our author [the author of Hebrews], v.2, God “made the worlds.”’

“It would certainly be appropriate to refer to the heavens and the earth as ‘the work of Christ’s hands’ in a secondary sense in view of his being mediator of the creative acts of Jehovah God. Indeed, as the ‘master craftsman’ Jesus was very much involved in Jehovah’s works. (Pr 8:30, Jerusalem Bible) Still, there seems to be another reason why Paul applies verses 25-27 of the 102nd Psalm to God’s beloved Son.” (Stafford, second edition, pp. 171-174 bold emphasis ours)

Stafford is operating under a certain set of assumptions that forbids him from allowing the text to say what it is in fact saying. Stafford assumes that since Jesus is the instrumental cause of creation, the heavens and the earth can only be the creative works of Christ solely in a secondary sense. We have already seen that the appeal to the preposition di’ when used of Christ actually reinforces the point that Jesus is in fact the Creator.

Furthermore, Stafford commits the fallacy of false dilemma, since to him Jesus cannot be the Agent of creation while at the same time being the actual cause of creation. Yet, this is a dilemma that Stafford imposes upon the text since the inspired author had no problem in viewing Jesus as both the Creator as well as the instrumental Agent of creation. In relation to the Father, Christ is the Agent through which all things came into being. Yet, in relation to creation both the Father and the Son, along with the Holy Spirit, are the one Creator with all three Persons being fully responsible for bringing all things into existence. (Cf. Genesis 1:2, 26-27; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30)

Let us also not forget that according to the author of Hebrews it is the Father himself who personally addresses his Son as the actual Creator of the cosmos!

Stafford continues:

“… Is it to prove that Jesus Christ is ‘Jehovah God of the Old Testament’ that the author of Hebrews makes such an application of Psalm 102? Again, those who embrace the doctrine of the Trinity would likely answer, ‘Yes, the fact that a verse was originally applied to God, and later applied to the Son proves that he is Jehovah God of the Old Testament.’

Using this type of reasoning one might feel justified in concluding that Solomon was Jesus Christ! Why? Because in the verses just previous to Hebrews 1:10-12 Paul wrote: ‘But reference to the Son: “God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness. You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.”’(Heb 1:8-9) As we have already discussed the translation ‘God is your throne’ in this chapter, we simply want to point out that these words were originally addressed to Solomon in Psalm 45:6-7, but here in Hebrews 1:8-9 they are applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. The book Reasoning from the Scriptures, page 414, adds more to the point:

It should be observed in Hebrews 1:5b that a quotation is made from 2 Samuel 7:14 and applied to the Son of God. Although that text had its first application to Solomon, the later application of it to Jesus Christ does not mean that Solomon and Jesus are the same. Jesus is ‘greater than Solomon’ and carries out a work foreshadowed by Solomon-Luke 11:31.

Paul no more intended to identify Jesus with Jehovah than he intended to identify Solomon with Jesus. He did, however, apply certain concepts and ideas expressed in those verses that were originally applied to Jehovah God and Solomon, to the Son of God. The application of Psalm 45:6-7 to Jesus at Hebrews 1:8-9 shows that God is the source of Jesus’ royal office and authority. Because Jesus ‘loved righteousness and hated lawlessness,’ Jehovah ‘anointed him with the oil of exultation.’ Paul’s words are, ‘God, your God [ho theos sou; lit. ‘the God of you’],’ when referring to the One who anointed Jesus.

“Jehovah was both the source of Solomon’s royal authority as well as his God. The same is true of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jehovah is the source of his authority and is also his God (compare Da 713,14; Mt 28:18; Php 2:9,10; Rev 3:2,12)…” (Ibid., pp. 172-173 bold emphasis mine)

Stafford commits several fallacies here. First, Stafford begs the question since he assumes that Jehovah is unipersonal and proceeds to read this into the text. Because of this assumption, Stafford argues that the application of Psalm 102 to Christ no more proves that Jesus is Jehovah then does the application of 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 45 to Christ prove that Jesus is Solomon. This exposes Stafford’s thinking, since to him Jehovah God is one in Being and one in Person much like Solomon is one being and one person.

Yet, Stafford is seemingly unaware that his argument actually reinforces the Trinitarian position. Just as Solomon was a son of David, sat on God’s throne and was God’s royal son Jesus also is David’s son, sits on the throne of God (the Father) and is himself God’s royal son. These passages show that both Solomon and Jesus shared similar functions, being divinely appointed kings and royal sons of God. The application of these passages to Christ affirms that the category of royal kingship and sonship includes both Solomon and Jesus, and not just Solomon alone. Therefore, these passages show that both of them shared similar titles and functions, not that they were the same person.

Likewise, that Psalm 102 is applied to Jesus affirms that the Son, much like the Father, is immutable, eternal and the one Creator of the cosmos. Hence, the application of Psalm 102 to Jesus proves that the Father is not the only Person who is the one true God but that the one Being of Jehovah includes both the Father and the Son. Hebrews 1:10-12 proves that both the Father and the Son are in fact Jehovah God, since both perform functions and works that Jehovah alone is said to perform. It does not show that the Son is the same person as the Father, but rather that the Son is the same in nature and essence.

Since Stafford believes that the Father alone is Jehovah, it is little wonder that he ends up with the analogy of Christ and Solomon. Yet, Stafford’s analogy only shows that his reasoning is flawed. Stafford commits the fallacy of false analogy and strawman argumentation. It does nothing to refute the Trinitarian position. In fact, it actually misrepresents what Trinitarians believe.

Stafford also commits a categorical fallacy since he assumes that because the Father is said to be Jesus’ God and the source of his authority, this somehow proves that Jesus is not the same kind of God that the Father is.  This fails to take into consideration that at the incarnation Christ truly became man and set aside his authority in order to take the form of a slave. (Cf. John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-8)

By becoming man and setting aside his authority, Jesus became subject to the Father. Jesus also entered into a new relationship with the Father. Whereas prior to the incarnation Christ related to the Father specifically as a Son, now after becoming flesh the Father became Jesus’ God due to Christ willfully becoming part of creation in order to save his people from sin. Since Christ retains his humanity (contrary to what Stafford would like to believe) the Father will continue to be Jesus’ God.

In order for Stafford’s argument to work either he or Heinz must present one single passage where the Father is said to be Jesus’ God even before the Incarnation. If they can show a verse demonstrating that prior to Christ’s human birth the Father was Jesus’ God while the latter existed alongside the Father in heaven, then they have a case. If they cannot produce such a passage then Stafford’s claim that Jesus has a God does nothing to refute the Trinitarian position.

Stafford might offer Micah 5:4 as evidence that the Father was God to the Son in His preexistence.  Yet this is a messianic prophecy, and as such refers to the Messiah AFTER the incarnation. (Cf. Micah 5:2) Therefore the appeal to Micah 5:4 will not establish the JW position.

Stafford also erroneously assumes that the application of Psalm 102 refers to Jesus’ exaltation during which time Christ became immortal. (Ibid., pp. 173-174)

The problem with Stafford’s reasoning is that the application of Psalm 102 in relation to Jesus’ immutability does not refer to Christ’s post-resurrection exaltation. Rather, it refers to Jesus’ pre-incarnate state when Christ created the cosmos. Therefore, from the very time that creation came into being Christ remains the same. Christ has always been and will continue to be immutable:

“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NIV

The only thing that became different is that at the incarnation Christ took on human flesh. Yet Jesus’ divine nature never changed since he never ceased from being God even while on earth. At the resurrection, Christ’s physical body became immortal and no longer experiences change.

Time to proceed to the second part of my rebuttal:

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