Archive for the 'Sean’s Articles' Category

Before the Kingdom comes, a terrible time of darkness, violence, and tribulation will come. Just when it seems that all hope is lost, Jesus will come in the clouds, resurrect his followers, and establish his reign on the earth. For the first thousand years, Jesus will rule the earth from Jerusalem. During this time, many regular people will also be living. Thus, it will be the responsibility of the followers of Christ to function as priests to these people and administer the government. While this new theocracy is proceeding, the earth itself will be restored, like an antique car, to its former state of perfection (the Garden of Eden). After the thousand years, everyone who was not part of the first resurrection will be judged, Satan will be destroyed, and then God Himself will come perpetually to dwell on the earth with His children.

This is the second half of an article about the Comma Johanneum. To read part one click here.

Greek History

Now that I have recounted some of the Latin history of the Comma, I turn now to set forth the Greek evidence. In the following chart are some relevant Greek editions beginning with the most recent first.

Greek Orthodox New Testament (1904)
ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Πατήρ, ὁ Λόγος καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι·καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν

How the Most Trinitarian Verse in the Bible
Proves that the Bible Does Not Support the Trinity

The most Trinitarian verse in the Bible is found in 1 John 5.7 where the text reads “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”1 Recently in conversation with an acquaintance, I was challenged to accept the doctrine of the Trinity on the basis of this text. However, this scripture is fraught with difficulties and its history is long and dubious, involving both Greek and Latin manuscripts. Before turning to examine the Latin and Greek histories, I will begin by comparing two of the best known and most influential translations in English and German to more recent ones so as to demonstrate the exact difference between them. The words in bold below are known as the Comma Johanneum (henceforth Comma).

All is lost. All is lost. We thought he was the one. We thought he would save us. We thought at long last our redemption had drawn near–that after a century of occupation we would be free, that the songs of Zion could once again be sung in a free Judah with a son of David on the throne. We had dared to dream along with him that there would be a beautiful tomorrow, a bright future when justice and peace would kiss and God’s reign would stretch forth from his holy city. When he rode into Jerusalem, we rejoiced and shouted “Hosanna,” but he did not save. Darkness fills the land and a deep darkness in our troubled hearts, for this Messiah is no more.

Recently I received an email (through the Christian Monotheism website) asking whether or not Biblical Unitarians should worship Jesus. The answer to this important question depends a lot on cultural assumptions and translation bias. The typical argument that people use to prove that Jesus is God goes like this:

(1) In the Bible Jesus is worshiped.
(2) The Bible says that only God should be worshiped.
(3) Therefore, Jesus must be God.

I’m sure many of you have likewise had an opportunity to wrestle with this seemingly airtight argument for Christ’s deity. Before offering a rebuttal, I would like to look first at the culture of Jesus’ time and the meaning of the word often translated worship.

Martin Luther (a.d. 1483-1546) was an extremist. He believed all deeds were inherently corrupt and that only by an act of God’s sovereign grace could one be saved. Thus, ultimate salvation has nothing at all to do with works, it was entirely granted on the basis of faith alone in the words of God alone. Furthermore, the faith one has is itself a gift from God bequeathed to those he has predestined for salvation. Although Luther has now been dead for 465 years, he continues to cast a long shadow. All one has to do is listen to Christian radio, watch TV preachers, or peruse the local Christian bookstore to find virtual unanimous agreement on this issue (unless one happens to tune in to a Catholic program). It seems that non-Catholics universally condemn “works righteousness” and “salvation by works” as if the worst action would be to actually do something other than merely believe. Somehow, faith is good and works are bad. Those who strive to be holy are misguided while those who humbly confess they are incapable of doing good are virtuous. For some reason, I never see the bumper sticker “striving to obey God”, but frequently see the one that says “not perfect, only forgiven.”

Are you familiar with word clouds? They specify frequency using font size so that words that appear more often are larger and vice versa. What if this way of displaying data were applied to books of the Bible? Well, it seems, someone has already had that idea. Check out the following Youtube video. Thanks to Brian (not Keating) for sending this over. Here are each of the books of the Bible displayed in order.

Here is another similar video from the same person which displays the frequencies for the entire Bible at once:

Psalm 117:1-2
1 Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!

2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
And the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 117 is set among a collection of praise psalms known as the Egyptian Hallel (Psalms 113-118). Hallel is simply the Hebrew word for praise, and the Egyptian Hallel was the set of praise psalms typically sung during the Passover meal celebration every year (according to the Babylonian Talmud). In fact, Jesus and the disciples may well have sung them as part of their Passover celebration (Mark 14.26). Even so, rather than focusing on how Psalm 117 was and still is used for worship purposes, I would like to focus attention on its content and how it was later interpreted in the New Testament.

The following comes from an early Christian author, Hippolytus who wrote from Rome in the late second/early third century (selections from chapters 35 & 36):

Let all the faithful, whether men or women, when early in the morning they rise from their sleep and before they undertake any tasks, wash their hands and pray to God; and so they may go to their duties. But if any instruction in God’s word is held [that day], everyone ought to attend it willingly,…but if on any day there is no instruction; let everyone at home take the Bible and read sufficiently in passages that he finds profitable.

Tertullian on Abortion

I came across the following quotation in the reading for my ethics class. Most of us probably think abortion is a new ethical question brought on by the advent of modern science and technology. In fact, the early Christians were already wrestling with this question. The following is from Tertullian of Carthage (north Africa), a late second century teacher and defender of the faith. Here is what he writes to the Romans who were persecuting the Christians in his book Apology chapter 9:

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