Friday, 8 May 2015

Jesus using the third person singular when speaking of God

How can we understand Jesus being the one true God when God's son is quoted using the third person singular of God? We have a few options. Here is one of many examples of this usage from Revelation:

Revelation 22:18 NIVUK
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.

So if we apply this general question to this specific example, we get something like, if Jesus is as God as the Father is God, and if Jesus knew that and John knew that, then why would Jesus not be quoted saying: "I will add to that person..." or "we will add to that person..."? I think it is a very good question that we are not encouraged to query.

Here are three options I can see:
1. When Jesus says "God", he is not referring to the full Divine being of God, that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but rather the one person of the Father. This then would need the third person even though Jesus is no less God Almighty than the Father.
2. When Jesus says "God", he is referring to the One God, of whom he is one of and not all three of the three members of that Divine being. So even though he knows he is God, it would be improper or unnatural for him to assume the first person singular or plural, since that would be to assume that he is the Father and the Spirit when he is not. This then would need the third person.
3. Either Jesus or John should not be assumed to have grasped Jesus' divinity in this way, hence the need for the third person.

There may be some other options for the Trinitarian here. One however they are unlikely to go for is: " Jesus doesn't say he will add to that person... he simply says God will add". Most serious Trinitarians would sensibly avoid that mistake because they know that not only does Jesus elsewhere use the third person pronoun he in reference to Theos, God, but because they also know that in the Greek the verb form used for will add is third person, regardless of whether or not we have the pronoun.

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