1: I was raised Oneness, but didn’t start realizing it until I was a teenager. (My parents were more neutral on this in the home. We were just taught to believe in God, Jesus, live a Christian life, and love people. I am thankful for my parents and my upbringing.)
I was pretty heavy into Oneness (the belief that “God is one person who has manifested Himself in three primary ways: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”) from 1996 to 2002 (I married in 1998). My pastors were all Oneness, and in my studies I learned the “big texts.”
2: I rejected Oneness around 2003. What got me to thinking was how I kept reading about the “Father and Son” in the Bible (plus my Bible study skills were sharpening then). I didn’t understand near as much “Bible” as I do now, but I just couldn’t see how Scripture would speak of a Father and Son (the Father speaks about his Son at the baptism; the Son prays to the Father; John 17:5 “the glory I had with you”; John 8 “two witnesses”) and there not really be a Father and a Son.
This is what scares me about the Oneness position, there isn’t really a Son, it’s just a different mode or manifestation. (Illustration: Clark Kent gets into a phone booth and becomes Superman. Two roles are being played, but there’s only one person.) The one person is God Almighty, so the Son is just God turning into the Son to play a role.
So I accepted the Trinity, because at the time all I knew was either Oneness or Trinitarian - and I got my hand on several scholarly works on the Trinity, because I wanted the best this side had to offer. I have in-depth books/studies on Oneness and the Trinity, and of course I listened to lectures and debates constantly, always cross-referencing Scripture.
A good Oneness vs. Trinity Debate is: David Bernard vs. Gene Cook, and in my opinion Bernard crushed him. If I was an outsider listening in, I would have for sure thought Bernard’s position was the Scriptural one. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/lyGbol-YUH0
But… I still ended up on the Trinity, because I was trying to be honest with the text of Scripture. The scholarly books on the Trinity - their exegesis and explanation of key texts in Scripture - answered Bernard’s points adequately (I felt), even though Gene Cook didn’t do the best job.
3: In 2004 I began to find out there were other (minority) views, namely Arianism (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and Biblical Unitarianism. I studied both views out and the Arian position made more Biblical sense to me after watching and dissecting a debate between James White and Greg Stafford (I believe from 2003). Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/x-L3IoUq-fk
My studies developed from there through 2004 and 2005, and I accepted Biblical Unitarianism (mid 2005) studying tons through Anthony Buzzard, a professor at that time of the Atlanta Bible College. Through his website I listened to lectures, debates, read books, and I’ve been at this position since 2005 (constantly developing my views and arguments). I believe it’s the most well-rounded position on the subject, taking all the Biblical data into account.
Here’s some good debates and discussions on Biblical Unitarianism vs. Trinitarianism:
1 - https://youtu.be/-77IYnZq8Io
2 - https://youtu.be/b0t90eJe0q4
3 - https://youtu.be/c35_uFjEbx8
4 - (A) https://youtu.be/GL476wkUhqs (B) https://youtu.be/gqh09OByaBE
5 - https://youtu.be/9z3lS7cZV5Y
4: Answering the main verses I used to use…
ANSWER: Yahweh is one (cp. Mark 12:28-32), but the actual word Lord (Adonai or Adoni) isn’t used in Deut. 6:4. Yeshua is Adoni-Master-Lord, but he was made Lord by the one Yahweh (Acts 2:36). He is the second Lord in the English versions of Psalm 110:1, and the language there is post-resurrection (Ephesians 1:20-23). For God to have a Son doesn’t contradict the Shema - God the Father is still the one of the Shema, He just has a unique Son that He sent to accomplish the greatest of all missions upon the earth.
ANSWER: Interestingly enough, this verse is never quoted in the NT as pertaining to Yeshua. (Isaiah 9:1-2 is, but verses 6-7 are not specifically.) Some scholars view it as a reference to Isaiah’s son, others say it’s King Hezekiah’s royal succession after the death of King Ahaz. “Mighty God” is the king portrayed as divinity in that he represents Elohim on earth (Ancient Near Eastern context). “Everlasting Father” represents the king’s fatherly concern over the nation.
I think it’s okay to find a second fulfillment in Yeshua here, and the titles “El Gibbor” and “Aviad” can be viewed in a similar, but greater light (as in Hezekiah). No doubt Yeshua is a mighty one, look at his ministry: virgin born, sinless life, powerful teaching, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, opening blind eyes, walking on water, predicting his own death and resurrection. Aviad - father of eternity - could be Yeshua’s fatherly concern for humanity, but it could be father in the sense of first to obtain eternal, immortal life (Gen. 4:20-21, Jubal was the father of all who play the lyre and flute). [There are additional ways to understand Isaiah 9:6; “one long Hebrew name praising Yahweh.]
Trinitarians vigorously argue for “Mighty God” but explain “Father of Eternity” in a way that doesn’t conflate Yeshua with being THE Father. Oneness take them both as showing the absolute deity of Yeshua. I don’t think either position is a must.
ANSWER: Isaiah 43’s context is in the midst of the trial of the false elohim. A string of chapters where Yahweh speaks of His uniqueness as the one, true Elohim of Israel, who rescued Israel, and none of the elohim of the other nations did it.
It does not mean Yahweh can’t send a savior. In the post-Pentateuch book of Judges, Ehud, Othniel, and Shamgar are called savior - yasha in Hebrew - the same word Yahweh says he alone is. Nehemiah 9:27 says Yahweh sent saviors plural to Israel. Moshe was the savior of Israel. Yeshua is the sent savior that Yahweh raised up (see Acts 5:29-31).
Ultimately, all salvation comes from Yahweh. Think of a generator (Yahweh) and an extension cord (Yeshua) to your camper. You need both, but the ultimate power comes from the generator.
ANSWER: John 1:1 - ton Theon (noun) vs. Theos (adjective) in one sentence. Word = thought, speech (cp. Gen. 1 and Psalm 33). “All things were made by it” in some English translations from the Greek prior to the KJV. Illustration: blueprints in the mind of their designer. I told my young son once (5), “That Dodge caravan was at one time in the mind of its designer.” He said, “Daddy, how can that big van fit inside a man’s head?”
John 10:30 - It’s not one in person here but one in unity, togetherness, mind, will, and plan. The context is about keeping the sheep, and the Father is spoken of by Yeshua as the greatest (Jn. 10:29), and the sheep were given by the Father to the Son. A similar Greek construction is found in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8). The word one still means one, but it can function as a unifier. Our English word works the same way.
John 14:9 is understood easily by just reading the next verses. Yeshua is speaking of the miraculous works he is doing - the Father *in* him does the works. No doubt, there is a close relationship here, Yeshua is the greatest man to ever live, and no one will ever be as close to Yahweh as Yeshua.
ANSWER: There is a textual variant here, but it’s highly debatable (Nomina Sacra; Theos shortened and “he” or “who” look almost identical in Greek). I think “Theos” is a probable reading, but I think the understanding of manifested is key - to make known or reveal. Yahweh Elohim made himself known through the man Yeshua of Nazareth. When you look at Yeshua, it’s as close as you can get to looking at Yahweh - his character, demeanor, actions, speech, conduct.
ANSWER: First, Jesus is not the name of the Father. You can’t look at the NT and superimpose that over (back into) the OT (that’s anachronistic). So *name* of the Father in Mt28:19 is Yahweh.
“And the name of the Son” does NOT have to be the same name. Look at Genesis 48:16 - name (singular) and then two names are mentioned.
The baptisms in Acts are centered around calling on Yahweh (Acts 22:16) and confessing Yeshua (Acts 8, the eunuch). There’s never a case in Acts where we read of the person doing the baptism as having something specific to say (“baptismal formula”), it was the baptizee - the person being baptized - that called on Yahweh (the Father) and confessed the Son (Yeshua). [NOTE: The Holy Spirit could be better read as the beginning of verse 20, since we are taught by the Spirit of Yahweh upon our hearts and minds per John 16:13.]
Yahshua: Did He Pre-Exist? (Pt. 2)
The Word "By"
Yahweh created the world "by" (through) the Son (Hebrews 1:2 KJV). The Diaglott says Yahweh created the world "on account of" the Son. Any one of the three ("by," "through," or "on account of") is technically a correct translation of the Greek word di' or dia. Dia is in the KJV translated several ways, but usually it is translated as follows:
by - 243x
through - 100x
for - 106x
because - 24x
because of - 29x
for the sake of - 32x
The King's men did not translate the word di' incorrectly in Hebrews 1:2. By or through [are] correct translations of the word, but ONLY IF THE MESSAGE in the sentence agrees, or allows it. But alas, in this case the message of the sentence will not allow this translation.
Reason #1: Hebrews 1:2a reveals Yahshua to be the heir of what was created [see part 1 of this study].
Reason #2: More than 100 Scriptures show it was Yahweh (not Yahshua) who created the heavens and the earth. Hebrews 1:2 must agree with the 100 other Scriptures. For a list of these, see our paper, "Who is the Creator?"
Editors Note: You will find this paper
For these reasons, the sentence in Hebrews 1:2b must have originally read much like the Diaglott reads today, Yahweh "...in the last of these days spoke to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, ON ACCOUNT OF whom he constituted the ages."
Another acceptable translation would be, "...a Son, FOR whom he created the world."
Many times the King James Version as well as more modern versions translate dia as "for," "because of," [or] "therefore" (meaning "for this reason"). For a more detailed layout of the word di' (dia), ask for the paper, "Hebrews 1:2 - Berry."
This is not to say the King's men purposely mistranslated, nor is this to say they were dishonest. Not at all. On the contrary, they no doubt delivered what they believed to be a correct translation of Hebrews 1:2. We must realize, however, that all of the King's men believed the doctrine of the Trinity (one is three, and three are one). Believing this, they saw no contradiction between this Scripture (as they translated it) and the 100 Scriptures which show that Yahweh the Father is truly and personally the Creator of heaven and earth.
There are at least two other Scriptures in which di' should have been translated for, or on account of. These are Colossians 1:16-17 and John 1:10. Let us review these Scriptures, then return to our study in the book of Hebrews.
For by him (Yahshua) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth... all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16,17 KJV)
Just as in Hebrews 1:2, di' can be translated for, and on account of, as well as by or through. As indicated above, either way is technically correct for this word. However, the MESSAGE in this text must decide which is the proper translation. The same is true of the Greek word en (= the English in).
Since Yahweh is the Creator (Hebrews 3:4; Exodus 20:11; Matthew 21:33; Mark 12:7; Luke 20:14 [etc.]), and Yahshua is the heir, then Colossians 1:16-17 SHOULD TELL THE SAME STORY. Dozens of Scriptures in both Testaments tell us plainly that Yahweh is the Creator, and there is no other El but him. He alone is the only true El, Eloah, Elohim, and Creator.
Yahshua and the New Testament writers proved everything by Old Testament Scriptures, therefore New Testament Scriptures should (and originally did) agree with Old Testament Scriptures. The New Testament Scriptures are based on the older ones. This being true, it seems that a more exact reading of Colossians 1:16-17, and one which is agreeable to the Greek text, is as follows:
For in (en = in, to, unto, by) him were all things created, that are in (en) heaven, and that are on earth... all things were created on account of (di') him and for him.
He (the light, Yahshua) was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (John 1:10, KJV)
As we have discovered above, to agree with other Scriptures, and with the context of the message, a more acceptable reading is as follows:
He was in the world and the world was made for (di' - on account of, because of) him, and the world knew him not.
YAHSHUA: DID HE PRE-EXIST? (Pt. 2)
Did the Messiah pre-exist in some form before he was conceived of Mary, the [Hebrew] woman? Many people believe he did, while many believe he did not. Most if not all of these people seem to rely on the same source of information - the Bible, so why isn't there complete agreement, since all read from the same source? There are several reasons for non-conformity, some of which are as follows:
1. Background. A person whose church teaches the pre-existence is not likely to question whether this is true or false. Instead, it is accepted as fact. This is true of most religious views. Generally, it is only those doctrines which seem to be "new" which are examined to determine if they are true or false.
2. Bias. A preference for or against a doctrine can sometimes prevent a correct analysis of Scripture. This can be caused by a person's background, or by some other consideration.
3. Failure. Failure, for whatever reason, to understand the message of Scripture.
4. Translation. There is the possibility, in some cases, that the religious views of the translators have influenced their translation.
There are a number of Scriptures which seem to promote the pre-existence of the Messiah. Surely the most powerful of these is Hebrews 1:2.
In many and various ways [Yahweh] spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (RSV)
This indicates the heavenly Father is supreme. Also:
1. As most English versions read, he authorized the Son, Yahshua, to do the actual work in creating the heavens and the earth and all things in them.
2. Many believe that Yahshua, in a pre-existent state, was Yahweh's spokesman; a Son who spoke for him, and did Yahweh's work for him, such as, creating the world.
If either of these statements are indeed true - if Yahshua spoke the world into existence - then certainly the Messiah existed before the world existed. Let us now examine Hebrews 1:1-2.
What is a spokesman? "One who speaks in the name and behalf of another or others." (Readers Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1975)
Reviewing Hebrews 1:1 we see [that] Yahshua was not Yahweh's spokesman. Instead, the prophets were his spokesmen. Yahweh "spoke to our fathers by the prophets." Therefore, even if Yahshua pre-existed, he was not the spokesman who contacted "our fathers." It was, evidently, only in "these last days" that Yahweh "spoke to us by his Son" (Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20).
Yahshua the Heir
...but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed HEIR OF ALL THINGS... (Hebrews 1:2)
What does this say? Yahweh appointed his Son (Yahshua) to be his heir - to inherit "all things." Please keep in mind: A son does not inherit property which he, himself, has worked for. No. He owns that already. Instead, he inherits (becomes an heir of) his father's property. This indicates Yahshua did not, after all, create the world, since he is the heir to his Father's property. Does this agree with other Scriptures? Indeed, yes. Please note the following evidence.
Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into a far country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. AFTERWARD he SENT HIS SON to them, saying, They will respect my son. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, This is the HEIR; come, let us kill him and have his INHERITANCE. And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the OWNER of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? (Matthew 21:33-40; Mark 12:1-7; Luke 20:9-16)
The following points are clear:
1. The Father (Yahweh) was the householder.
2. The Father (Yahweh) planted the vineyard.
3. The Father (Yahweh) set the hedge, built the tower, and dug the wine press.
4. The Father (Yahweh) made the contract with the tenants; that is, Israel (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:8-19)
5. The Father (Yahweh) sent his servants (the prophets).
6. The Father (Yahweh) sent his Son (Yahshua).
7. The Son (Yahshua) was the heir of his Father's property (the vineyard with all its improvements).
8. The Son (Yahshua) was cast out and killed.
Obviously, Yahshua is both the Son and the Heir; not the owner, nor the householder. True, this is a parable, but in order to teach truth, a parable must agree with prevailing conditions. Other Scriptures - Scriptures which are not parables - agree with Hebrews 1:2 that Yahshua is the heir of Father Yahweh's property.
For all who are led by the spirit of [Yahweh] are sons of [Yahweh]... and if children, then heirs, heirs of Yahweh and fellow HEIRS WITH the Messiah... (Romans 8:14,17)
We inherit the promises made to Abraham: the kingdom (the world, the vineyard), and everlasting life, because Yahshua is the chief heir. By baptism into his name we, and the ancients, become "fellow heirs" with the Messiah (Galatians 3:16-19; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 11:7-10; Acts 20:32; 7:5-6; Romans 4:13; Ephesians 1:3-23; 1 Peter 1:3-4; Revelation 21:5-7).
Remember the mother of James and John? She asked the Savior to grant that her two sons will sit, one on Yahshua's right and one on his left in the kingdom of Yahweh. Yahshua's reply: This is not for me to grant, but my Father only. Why? Because Yahweh (the heavenly Father), being the Creator, is owner of all, while Yahshua (his Son) is the heir. [rf. Matthew 20:20-23]
I will tell of the decrees of Yahweh: He said to me, 'You are my son, today I (Yahweh) have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.' (Psalm 2:7-9; Hebrews 5:5)
Again, this shows Yahweh as both Father and Creator, and Yahshua as both the Son and the Heir. Ephesians 1:3-23 also shows Yahweh to be the Creator, the Father, and the owner of the inheritance. One day Yahshua will receive this inheritance, and make us (the saints, [Judahite] and Gentile) joint heirs with himself. Again, the following quotation reveals Yahweh as the provider and owner of the inheritance. Yahshua extends to us a share as joint heirs.
For every house is builded by someone; but he that built all things is Yahweh. (Hebrews 3:4, Bethel Edition)
These Scriptures are more than enough to confirm Yahweh as Creator, and Yahshua - his Son - will one day inherit his Father's property - his Father's creation.
By Whom He Made the Worlds
Hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, BY WHOM also he made the worlds... (Hebrews 1:2 KJV, the RSV reads "through whom he created the world.")
This very clearly states the world was created by the Son of Yahweh. This Son is Yahshua, of course. However, Scriptural evidence noted above indicates Yahweh did the creating, not Yahshua. Are we to believe the Apostles and the Gospel writers wrote two ways, sometimes reporting that Yahweh is Creator, and at other times reporting that his Son is Creator? Indeed no.
More than 100 Scriptures state clearly that Yahweh is Creator and Maker of heaven and earth (Exodus 20:11). Some of these indicate no other deity exists (Isaiah 44:6). No other deity helped him in his creating acts (Nehemiah 9:6). Except for the angels, he was alone in the creation (Isaiah 45:5-18). These are stated clearly - as clearly as Hebrews 1:2 states that Yahshua "made the world."
What shall we do? Do we cancel (erase, throw out) more than 100 Scriptures so that we can accept Hebrews 1:2 instead? Since this Scripture does not in most English versions agree with the 100, we should carefully examine Hebrews 1:2 and, hopefully, discover why it does not agree.
Based upon the text in John 2:19 I have been told many times that Yeshua raised himself from the dead. I take issue with such an interpretation of John 2:19 in light of the overwhelming evidence in the New Testament which teaches that "God" (YHWH) raised Yeshua from the dead.
1. The Greek text does not literally say “I will” but simply uses the Greek word egiro, meaning basically “to raise up." The text could just as easily be translated, "Destroy this temple, and in three days it will be raised."
2. Another understanding (taking the traditional KJV rendering) is that Yeshua had a vital part in his resurrection, seeing he lived perfectly before the Father. Yeshua could guarantee his resurrection by living a sinless life. Thus he says, “I will raise it up." (Compare this to where Peter told Jews “Ye have crucified him” in Acts 5:30. The Romans were actually the ones who crucified Yeshua, but the Jews were the ones who called for or demanded his crucifixion.)
3. Yeshua died. (Mt. 27:50; Lk. 23:46). He could not literally raise himself. In Scripture, death means death; unconsciousness (Ecclesiastes 9:2-6; Psalm 6:4-5; 30:9; 88:10; Isaiah 38:18).
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.