In the Trinity theory, God is one Being but three co-equal and co-eternal Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In this view, Jesus, together with the Father and the Spirit, is the Ultimate Reality; the uncaused Cause.
The Bible does have a very high view of Jesus. Through Him, for example, God created all things and, through Him, God maintains all things (e.g., Heb 1:2-3). Jesus, therefore, always existed. However, this article shows that the Bible maintains a consistent distinction between God Almighty and Jesus Christ (e.g., Rev 21:22) and presents Him as subordinate to God (1 Cor 11:3).
It is difficult to understand who the Son of God is. Since we are trying to understand the infinite, we must accept that it may even be impossible to understand. We must realize how small we are, compared to the universe. We are like one-cellular organisms existing in a drop of water that floats around in the oceans of the world. We do not know where we are. Compared to the Infinite, our existence is fleeting. How could we hope to understand the One who exists without cause?
During the first three centuries, while Christianity still was persecuted by the Roman authorities, Christians believed that Jesus Christ is the Logos or Word of God who always existed in the Father but who became a separate Being when God wanted to create (see The Apologists). They all thought of the Son as subordinate to the Father (see Origen).
But in the fourth century, after Christianity became legalized, a great controversy erupted in the church about who the Son of God is. Later in that century, Christianity also became the sole official religion of the Roman Empire. But it came at a price. A series of articles on the historical development of the Trinity doctrine shows that it was the Roman Emperors, particularly Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian, who decided that the church must adopt the Trinity doctrine. They appointed the bishops and manipulated the church councils. In other words, the church inherited the Trinity doctrine from the Roman Empire:
The dragon gave him (the beast) his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2).
Although the Trinity doctrine is inconsistent with the Bible, it became the most important doctrine of the church. People who do not accept it are regarded as outsiders and even killed. But now, in the end-time, the truth of the Bible is being revealed, and I suspect that the first great controversy in the church will also become the last great controversy.
“One God” phrases
The Bible is very clear that ONLY ONE GOD exists. Several New Testament verses contain related phrases, for example:
- “God is one” (Mark 12:28-30; James 2:19; Gal 3:20);
- “The one and only God” (John 5:44);
- “One God” (1 Cor 8:6; 1 Tim 2:5; Eph 4:4-6);
- “Only God” (Jude 1:25; John 5:44; 1 Tim 1:17); or
- “Only true God” (John 17:3).
The important point is that, in all these verses, the Father alone is God. In contrast, such verses often identify Jesus Christ as “Lord.” For example:
“There is but one God, the Father …
and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 8:6).
A Consistent Distinction
The Bible consistently maintains a distinction between God and Jesus. For example, all letters of the New Testament begin by making a distinction between God and Jesus. For instance:
“Peace from GOD our Father,
and the LORD Jesus Christ”
See also 1 Cor 1:3-4; Eph 1:2-3; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; Philem 1:3; 1 Thess 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:2 and 2 John 1:3; cf. Eph 6:23).
Another example of the distinction which the Bible maintains between Jesus and God is that Jesus is the Image of the invisible God:
God is invisible, unknowable, and incomprehensible. God, the Father, “dwells in unapproachable light, whom NO MAN HAS SEEN or can see” (1 Tim 6:16-17; cf. 1 John 4:12; John 1:18; 6:46).
Jesus “is the IMAGE of the invisible God” (Col 1:15; cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Heb 1:3; John 1:18).
If God is invisible, while Jesus is His visible image, then Jesus is distinct from God. Therefore, if we want to base our definition of God is on the Bible, then we must use that title only for the Father.
The Father is Jesus’ God.
Jesus referred to the Father as His God (John 20:17; Matt 27:46). Even 60 years after His resurrection, when He gave to John the Book of Revelation, He referred to the Father as His God (Rev 3:2, 12; cf. 1:6). Paul, similarly, described the Father as “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:17; cf. Heb 1:8-9). And since God is also His God, Jesus prayed to God while on earth (John 17:1; Luke 6:16).
Jesus is at God’s right hand.
The New Testament often states that Jesus, at His ascension, “was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of GOD” (Mark 16:19; cf. Acts 7:56; Matt 26:62; Acts 2:33; 7:55; Rom 8:34 and Eph 1:20). This is the position of power over the entire universe; subject only to God.
The One who exists without cause.
A number of New Testament verses identify God, the Father, as the Ultimate uncaused Cause of all things, in distinction to Jesus. For example:
“There is but one God, the Father,
FROM WHOM ARE ALL THINGS …
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
BY whom are all things” (1 Cor 8:6; cf. 2 Cor 5:18-19; 1 Tim 6:13; Heb 1:1; John 1:3).
Many other examples
Many, many other passages may be listed to show that Jesus is both DISTINCT from God and SUBORDINATE to God. For example:
Before He had to suffer and die on the Cross, Jesus pleaded with His Father: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matt 26:39; cf. Matt 2:12, 22; Mark 10:18).
The book of Revelation distinguishes between “God and … the Lamb” (Rev 14:4; cf. 11:15; 21:22-23; 22:1, 3).
The Father “alone possesses immortality” (1 Tim 6:16).
Various articles are available on this website that address possible objections to the view proposed above. For example:
Of the about 1300 times that the word Greek theos appears in the New Testament, it refers to Jesus about 7 times. But theos may be translated as “god” or as “God.” To translate the instances of theos, that refer to Jesus, as “God” is an application of the Trinity doctrine; not proof there-of. (For a further discussion, see, for example, the article on Hebrews 1:8 or on the word theos.)
Jesus’ statement, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) means to be united in purpose and in work (see John 17:21-23).
Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9) because He “is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15.
Both John 1:1 and 1:18 refer to Jesus as God but both verses also make a distinction between God and Jesus. The Greek grammar requires John 1:1c to be translated as, “the Word was like God” and the original text of verse 18 is disputed.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus always existed and God created “all things” through Him (Heb 1:2), but this describes the Son only in terms of our little universe, for time and “all things” refer to our universe. Beyond our universe exists a completely incomprehensible but the true reality that is the source of our universe.
Fourth Century Controversy
The controversy about the nature of Christ arose early in the fourth century. An article series on this website shows that the Trinity doctrine became accepted in the church during the fourth to sixth centuries after the church became the official religion of the Roman Empire, with the Emperor as the actual head of the church. That article series shows that the decisions to adopt the Trinity doctrine were not taken by independent Church Councils, but by the Roman Emperors; particularly:
- Constantine, through his insistence on the word homoousios in the Nicene Creed in AD 325;
- Theodosius, through the edict of Thessalonica in AD 380 in which he made the Trinity doctrine the only legal religion of the Roman Empire, and eradicated all other Christian belief systems from the Roman Empire through fierce persecution; and
- Justinian who, after Arian tribes took control of Europe during the fifth century, in the sixth century significantly weakened these tribes and established the Byzantine Papacy, which, over the next two centuries, made an end to all resistance to the doctrine of the Trinity also outside the Roman Empire.
After this followed the Middle Ages, during which people were not allowed to read the Bible, and the church, through her control over civil authorities, put people to death that opposed her teachings: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (Rev 18:24)
This means that the church received the Trinity theory from the Roman Empire. As stated in Revelation 13:2, and as discussed in other articles on this website, the dragon (the Roman Empire), gave the beast from the sea (the Church of the Middle Ages) “his power and his throne and great authority.”
Subordinate to the Father
This article is the first of four that shows that Christ is distinct from and subordinate to God, the Father. The other articles provide evidence that:
- The Son is subordinate to the Father,
- The gospel of John, specifically, presents the Son as suborinate to the Father and that
- Only the Father is the Almighty.
This website also opposes other traditional doctrines of the church, such as the doctrine of eternal torment, but the most vicious attacks on this website are aimed against its views about the Trinity. Many regard the Trinity doctrine as the identifying mark of true Christians. As soon as one rejects the Trinity doctrine, you are no longer regarded to be a Christian.
– END OF SUMMARY –
The Father is the Only God.
Only One God
In opposition to the prevailing polytheism of the surrounding nations, one of the primary messages of the Old Testament is that there is only one God. For example:
The Shema announces:
“Hear, O Israel!
The LORD is our God,
THE LORD IS ONE!”
“The LORD” (Yahweh) declared:
“I am the first and I am the last,
and there is NO GOD BESIDES ME”
(Isaiah 44:6; cf. 45:21-22; 43:10-11).
The New Testament confirms this principle. For example, when asked what the most important commandment is, Jesus quoted the Shema:
“Hear, o Israel!
THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD”
James similarly wrote:
“You believe that GOD IS ONE;
you do well” (James 2:19).
The Father is the “one God.”
A number of verses in the New Testament (NT) contain the phrase “one God” and in all such instances, the Father alone is God:
“There is but ONE GOD, THE FATHER …
and ONE LORD, JESUS CHRIST” (1 Cor 8:6).
“For there is ONE GOD
and ONE MEDIATOR between God and mankind,
the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).
“There is … ONE LORD,
one faith, one baptism,
ONE GOD AND FATHER of all
who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6).
These verses, in contrast to the “one God,” identifies Jesus as “Lord.”
There are many texts in the Bible that mention the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the quoted verses specifically define God, and must, therefore, be regarded as very important when we ask who God is.
The Father is the “only God.”
The following are the New Testament verses that contain the phrase “only God” or “only true God.” These verses confirm that the Father is the only God, while Jesus is identified as Lord:
“To the ONLY GOD our Savior, through Jesus Christ our LORD, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority” (Jude 1:25).
Jesus said, “you do not seek the glory that is from THE ONE AND ONLY GOD” (John 5:44).
In prayer, Jesus said to the Father, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
“To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the ONLY GOD, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim 1:17).
And in all these verses, the Father alone is God.
Note also the word “through” in Jude 1:25, quoted above. This word often describes the relationship between the Father and the Son. Everything we receive from God, we receive through His Son. And all glory we give to God, we give Him through His Son.
Is it then not sufficiently clear, from the above, that the New Testament presents the Father alone as God? If Jesus prayed to the “only true God” (John 17:3), how can Jesus also be God?
A Consistent Distinction
James White is perhaps the best-known Trinity apologist today. He emphasizes that the New Testament makes a distinction between the Father and the Son. However, that point is rather obvious. Our argument is rather that the New Testament consistently makes a distinction between God and the Lord Jesus, which means that Jesus is not God, as the New Testament uses the term “God.”
The introduction to every New Testament letter makes a distinction between God and Jesus. For example:
“Peace from GOD our Father,
and the LORD Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:7-8).
“Grace be unto you … from GOD our Father,
and from the LORD Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:3-4).
“Blessed be the GOD and Father
of our LORD Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3).
See also Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, Philemon 1:3, 1 Thessalonica 1:1, James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:2 and 2 John 1:3; cf. Eph 6:23).
Therefore, if we want to derive our definition of the term “God” from the New Testament, then we must use that title for the Father alone.
(Do not place any reliance on the capital letters in the verses quoted. Remember, the New Testament was written only in capital letters.)
Jesus is the Image of the invisible God.
God is invisible.
God “dwells in unapproachable light,
whom no man has seen or can see”
(1 Tim 6:16).
“No one has seen God at any time”
(1 John 4:12; cf. John 1:18).
“Not that anyone has seen the Father,
except the One who is from God;
He has seen the Father” (John 6:46; cf. Col 1:15; John 4:24).
The last verse quoted (John 6:46) identifies the Father as God and as distinct from Jesus. The Invisible God is the Source all things. He exists outside our physical realm of time, space and matter:
“By faith we understand …
that what is seen
was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb 11:3).
Jesus is His image.
Jesus “is the IMAGE of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).
“Christ, who is the IMAGE of God” (2 Cor 4:4)
“He is the radiance of His glory and
the exact representation of His (God’s) nature”
(Heb 1:1, 3).
God is invisible, unknowable, and incomprehensible. Human beings are unable to comprehend a Being that is not limited in space or time and Who exists without cause.
But in His Son, appearing in a form that we are able to understand, God becomes knowable, visible, and audible to the material creatures of the universe. For that reason, He is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14). If God is invisible, while Jesus is His visible image, then Jesus is distinct from God and, therefore, not God.
The Father is Jesus’ God.
Jesus referred to the Father as “My God.” For example:
“I ascend to MY FATHER and to your Father,
to MY GOD and to your God” (John 20:17).
Hanging on the Cross, Jesus cried out:
“MY GOD, MY GOD,
why have You forsaken me?“ (Matt 27:46).
Jesus identified the Father as His God even 60 years after His resurrection when He gave the Book of Revelation.
“He has made us to be a kingdom,
priests to His God and Father” (Rev 1:6).
“I have not found your deeds completed
in the sight of MY GOD” (Rev 3:2)
“I will write on him the name of MY GOD” (Rev 3:12).
Paul similarly described the Father as Jesus’ God:
“The Father of glory” is
“the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:17).
Since God is also His God, Jesus prayed to God when He was on earth (John 17:1; Luke 6:16):
“In the days of His flesh,
He offered up both prayers …
to the One able to save Him from death” (Heb 5:7).
The entire John 17 is a record of Jesus’ prayer to “the only true God” (John 17:1, 3). “He spent the whole night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:16).
Jesus is at God’s right hand.
The New Testament often mentions that Jesus is at God’s right hand. For example:
At His ascension, Jesus “was received up into heaven and sat down at the RIGHT HAND of GOD” (Mark 16:19).
Stephen, just before he was stoned, said, “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the RIGHT HAND of GOD” (Acts 7:56).
Other examples include Matthew 26:62; Acts 2:33; 7:55; Romans 8:34 and Ephesians 1:20.
His position at God’s right hand is the position of power over the entire universe but subject to God. That confirms that Jesus is both DISTINCT from God and SUBORDINATE to God.
Trinitarian apologists claim that the Bible only makes a distinction between the Father and the Son but these examples make a distinction between God and Jesus.
The one who exists without cause
The Bible identifies only the Father as the uncaused Cause of all things. For example:
“There is but one God, the Father,
from whom are all things …
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
BY whom are all things” (1 Cor 8:6).
“All things are from God,
who reconciled us to Himself through Christ”
(2 Cor 5:18-19).
“In the presence of God,
who gives life to all things,
and of Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 6:13).
“God … in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, …
through whom also He made the world”
(Heb 1:1; cf. John 1:3; Rev 4:11).
The first verse quoted (1 Cor 8:6) identifies God as the Father. All of these verses contrast God with Jesus and identify God as the uncaused Cause of all things. The only begotten Son, therefore, is not the Almighty uncaused Cause of all things.
Note also the words “through” and “by” in these verses, indicating that God works “through” His Son. In this universe, God always works through His only begotten Son.
Many other examples
Many, many other passages may be quoted where God and Jesus are mentioned as distinct from one another. For example:
Before He had to suffer and die on the Cross, Jesus pleaded with His Father, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;
yet NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL.”
(Matt 26:39 – Note that the Father and Jesus have distinct wills.)
The book of Revelation contains phrases such as “to God and to the Lamb” and “of God and of the lamb” (Rev 14:4; cf. 11:15; 21:22-23; 22:1, 3), which confirm that Jesus is distinct from God.
The Father “alone possesses immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). The immortality of all other beings is dependent on His immortality.
When Jesus was a baby, “God” warned his father Joseph “in a dream not to return to Herod” (Matt 2:12, 22).
Jesus asked the young ruler, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except GOD alone” (Mark 10:18).
Various articles have been written to address possible objections to the view proposed above. Perhaps some may be mentioned:
Jesus is called God.
Of the about 1300 times that the word Greek theos appears in the New Testament, it refers about 7 times to Jesus. So why is Jesus called “God” in those instances? The reason is that the word theos may be translated as “god” or as “God,” depending on to whom it refers. It is up to the translators to decide when they will translate theos as “God” and when as “god.” To translate the instances of theos that refer to Jesus as “God” is an application of the Trinity doctrine; not proof there-of. (For a further discussion, see, for example, the article on Hebrews 1:8 or on the word theos.)
I and the Father are one.
In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Some people read into this verse that Jesus just is the Father. To be “one,” however, does not mean to be literally one Person. Jesus, in His prayer for His followers, defined the term to “be one”:
“That they may be one as we are one“ (John 17:21-23).
To “be one,” therefore, means to be united in purpose and in work. It describes a relationship between distinct beings. As Jesus said, He did the works of the Father (John 10:32) and He only did what pleased the Father (John 8:28-29).
He who has seen me
When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus responded:
“He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9)
Some use this to say argue Jesus is the Father, but given the verses quoted above, we should rather conclude that Jesus said here that He is THE EXACT IMAGE of the Father. For a further discussion, see Seen the Father.
Both John 1:1 and 1:18 refers to Jesus as God. However, the same two verses also make a distinction between God and Jesus by saying:
“The Word was with God” (John 1:1) and
“No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).
Why is He called God if He is not God? The article series on John 1:1 concludes that the Greek grammar requires John 1:1c to be translated as:
“The Word was like God.”
John 1:1 then has the same meaning as Philippians 2:5, which says that Jesus, before His birth, “existed in the form of God” and had equality with God.
The article on John 1:18 shows that the original text is disputed. Many ancient manuscripts refer to Jesus as huios (son) and not as theos (god). But even if John originally did describe Jesus as theos, we must still remember that, in the Greek language, the word theos is used for any supernatural and immortal being. It is up to the translator to decide whether to translate theos as “God” or as “god.”
Jesus is God if …
Since the New Testament consistently makes a distinction between the Father as God (theos) and Jesus as Lord (kurios), and since we should derive our terminology from the Bible, we should conclude that the Father alone is God.
However, since the word theos may be translated as “god” or as “God,” before we can ask whether Jesus is God, we must first define the word “God.”
God created all things through His Son (Heb 1:2) and Christ upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3). It is possible to define the title “God” so as to include Jesus, but then we will have two Gods.
But if we define God as the Almighty; the Uncaused Cause of all things, then the Father alone is God. The Father is the only true God (John 17:3) and the only truly immortal Being (1 Tim 1:17; Rev 4:10); the invisible and unknowable Ultimate Cause of all things (Rev 4:11). He is our God and also Jesus’ God. The Lord Jesus is always subject to and subordinate to the only true God. To use Bible terminology, “God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3).
Who is Jesus?
Given how the Bible describes Jesus, for example, that God created all things through Him (Heb 1:2) and that Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3), we find it difficult to distinguish between God and Jesus. But consider the following:
This universe is finite.
It contains a fixed quantum of mass/energy and has existed for a fixed period (13 billion years). Since everything that begins to exist must have a cause, the universe was caused by something.
Beyond the universe
Since things exist, and not nothing, something must exist without a cause and, therefore, without a beginning. Since time and energy/mass came into being when the universe came into being, time does not exist in the completely incomprehensible but true reality which exists beyond our universe, and which is the source of our universe.
The Son of God
Therefore, even if we say that there never was a time that Jesus did not exist, that statement describes the Son only relative to our little universe. And even though God brought “all things” into being through His Son, “all things” must be limited to this universe, for “all things” do not include God or the Son Himself. In other words, there still exists an incomprehensible reality outside the time, space and mass in terms of which the unique Son of God is described.
That incomprehensible reality, I would propose, is God. However, it is not humanly possible to understand God. Why is there not nothing? How can we understand a being that exists without cause? “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us” (Deut 29:29).
We need to accept what the Bible revealed, such as that the Bible identifies the Father alone as the Almighty, and not speculate about things that have not been revealed.
Inherited from the Roman Empire
A series of articles on this website discusses the history of the development of the Trinity theory.
First Three Centuries
The series starts with articles that show that Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and other church fathers of the first three centuries were not Trinitarians. They had a very high view of Christ, and even described Jesus as theos but always as subordinate to the Father, who they identified as the only true and almighty theos.
The controversy over the nature of Christ arose early in the fourth century when a presbyter named Arius taught that, with respect to the Son, “there was when He was not.” But since he also believed that the Son existed before time began, the phrase “there was when He was not” does not refer to time but simply means that the Father was the Ultimate Source of all things. In other words, the Son received His existence from the Father and, therefore, was subordinate to Him.
To bring an end to the controversy, Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea of the year 225 and exerted his influence on the formulation of the Nicene Creed. That creed declared the Son to be “true God from true God.” To justify this view, the Nicene Creed ventured that the Father and Son are of the “same substance” (homoousios).
However, over the fifty years following Nicaea, more or less from 330 to 380, the church rejected the Nicene Creed and returned to Arianism. Constantine’s successors, Emperors Constantius and Valens were Arians and actively encouraged the church to reverse the Nicene Creed. They exiled bishops teaching the Nicene Creed and crushed the Nicene party.
But then Theodosius – an ardent supporter of the Nicene Creed – became emperor in 380. In the same year, he outlawed Arianism and exiled all Arian bishops. He did this before the famous 381 Council. Arian church leaders were not allowed to attend that council. Consequently, that council accepted and refined the Nicene Creed.
After Theodosius died, the Western Roman Empire weakened. Germanic tribes, who previously migrated into the Empire, reached such large numbers and high positions in the Roman army that they, in reality, controlled the Western Roman Empire. Over the course of the fifth century, they divided the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. Since these Germanic peoples were Arians, the Western Empire was Arian once again!
In the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire), with Constantinople as its capital, Nicene Christianity remained dominant.
To free the Roman Church in the west from Arian domination, Emperor Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the sixth century, sent troops to combat the Arian nations and significantly weakened them. His troops dispersed the Vandals to the fringes of the empire, forced the Ostrogoths back north to South Austria, and barricaded the Visigoths with the new province of Spania.
Some Arian nations remained, but after liberating the Roman Church from Arian domination, the Byzantine Empire continued to protect, strengthen and reign over the Roman Church in the west. Through two centuries of Byzantine rule over the Papacy (known as the Byzantine Papacy), the Byzantine Empire, through the Roman Church, converted the remaining Arian kingdoms, one after the other, to Nicene Christology.
Given the facts reflected in this brief overview, it is not possible to deny the decisive influence which the emperors had on the church’s acceptance of the Trinity doctrine. As mentioned above, Constantine and Theodosius respectively manipulated the key creeds of 325 and 381, and Justinian, through the Byzantine Papacy, wiped Arianism out.
This means that the church received the Trinity theory from the Roman Empire. As stated in Revelation 13:2, the dragon (the Roman Empire), gave the beast from the sea (the Church of the Middle Ages) “his power and his throne and great authority.”
Other Available Articles
- Is Jesus God? – List of all articles
- The historical development of the Trinity doctrine – List of Articles
- All articles – List of all article series on this website