Bart's Invitation

General discussions about Christianity including salvation, heaven and hell, Christian history and so on.
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Bart's Invitation

#1

Post by DonCameron » Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:44 am

Bart said…

“If you wish to peruse (the identify of Jesus Christ) in another thread…that deals with this cardinal and most important of issues, then I invite you to do so.”

And so the following is offered only for the purpose explaining how I can read the same book of John that Bart and others have read, but come away with a different understanding about what John wanted his readers to believe about Jesus.

I view the Book of John as a kind of “Who Done It?” mystery. It contains many clues having to do with the identify of Jesus and who he claimed to be. But it isn't until the end of the book where the author finally explains what all his clues add up to: “The butler did it.”

Although the normal way to read a “Who Done It?” book is to start at the beginning and then try to figure out the clues as they come along. But I didn't read the Book of John this way. I cheated! I started at the end of the book. I wanted to discover 'who done it' before looking at any of the clues so that I wouldn't misunderstand any of the following clues…

1) John 1:1: John said, “the Word was God.”

2) John 5:18: Jesus was accused of making himself equal to God.

3) John 8:58: Jesus said, “before Abraham was I AM.”

4) John 10:30: Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.”

5) John 10:33: Jesus was accused of making himself God.

6) John 14:9: Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”

7) John 20:28: Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and My God.”


What do all these clues add up to? Many on this Forum may feel that that the only reasonable; the only possible way to understand them is to conclude that Jesus is God. You may not understand how anyone can see all these clues and not reach the same conclusion. While I cannot speak for anyone else, I can only explain why the above clues don't add up this way for me.

It is because they don't add up that way for the author wrote them. John adds them up to a different answer. And I put an awful lot of weight to the way he adds them up at the end of his book…

“To be sure, Jesus performed many other signs also before the disciples which are not written down in this scroll. But these (clues) have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that, because of believing you may have life by means of his name.” - John 20:30,31

It is like he is saying, “I don't care what you think I meant when I wrote 1:1, 5:18, 8:58, 10:30,33, 14:9, 20:28 or anything else I said. Everything I have written about Jesus is so that you may believe that Jesus is, not God, but rather that he is the Son of God.”

Once I know what John wants me to believe about Jesus, why would I believe something different? It's like I would be saying to John, “I don't care what you said you wanted me to believe about Jesus. You are mistaken. I know that all those clues you wrote mean that he is not just the Son of God. He is also God.”

To me it would be like telling the author of a “Who Done It?” that he was wrong when he said that “the butler did it.” Is it likely that the book's author made the mistake, or is it more likely that that the reader has misunderstood the author's clues?

It has seemed to me that I have three choices:

(1) Try to understand the above clues so that they agree with what John said at the end of his book (that Jesus is the Son of God), or

(2) Ignore what John said at the end of his book, or

(3) Try to understand John's statement at the end of his book so that all the above clues still mean that “Jesus is God.” (This latter approach would be like trying to understand the author's conclusion that “the butler did it” in such a way that allows the reader to believe that “the maid did it.”)

I try to do #1. But is it possible to understand the above clues so that Jesus comes out to be what John said at the end of this book? If anyone is interested in how I do it, let me know.

Don

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Re: Bart's Invitation

#2

Post by Byblos » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:35 am

DonCameron wrote:Bart said…

“If you wish to peruse (the identify of Jesus Christ) in another thread…that deals with this cardinal and most important of issues, then I invite you to do so.”

And so the following is offered only for the purpose explaining how I can read the same book of John that Bart and others have read, but come away with a different understanding about what John wanted his readers to believe about Jesus.

I view the Book of John as a kind of “Who Done It?” mystery. It contains many clues having to do with the identify of Jesus and who he claimed to be. But it isn't until the end of the book where the author finally explains what all his clues add up to: “The butler did it.”

Although the normal way to read a “Who Done It?” book is to start at the beginning and then try to figure out the clues as they come along. But I didn't read the Book of John this way. I cheated! I started at the end of the book. I wanted to discover 'who done it' before looking at any of the clues so that I wouldn't misunderstand any of the following clues…

1) John 1:1: John said, “the Word was God.”

2) John 5:18: Jesus was accused of making himself equal to God.

3) John 8:58: Jesus said, “before Abraham was I AM.”

4) John 10:30: Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.”

5) John 10:33: Jesus was accused of making himself God.

6) John 14:9: Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”

7) John 20:28: Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and My God.”


What do all these clues add up to? Many on this Forum may feel that that the only reasonable; the only possible way to understand them is to conclude that Jesus is God. You may not understand how anyone can see all these clues and not reach the same conclusion. While I cannot speak for anyone else, I can only explain why the above clues don't add up this way for me.

It is because they don't add up that way for the author wrote them. John adds them up to a different answer. And I put an awful lot of weight to the way he adds them up at the end of his book…

“To be sure, Jesus performed many other signs also before the disciples which are not written down in this scroll. But these (clues) have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that, because of believing you may have life by means of his name.” - John 20:30,31

It is like he is saying, “I don't care what you think I meant when I wrote 1:1, 5:18, 8:58, 10:30,33, 14:9, 20:28 or anything else I said. Everything I have written about Jesus is so that you may believe that Jesus is, not God, but rather that he is the Son of God.”

Once I know what John wants me to believe about Jesus, why would I believe something different? It's like I would be saying to John, “I don't care what you said you wanted me to believe about Jesus. You are mistaken. I know that all those clues you wrote mean that he is not just the Son of God. He is also God.”

To me it would be like telling the author of a “Who Done It?” that he was wrong when he said that “the butler did it.” Is it likely that the book's author made the mistake, or is it more likely that that the reader has misunderstood the author's clues?

It has seemed to me that I have three choices:

(1) Try to understand the above clues so that they agree with what John said at the end of his book (that Jesus is the Son of God), or

(2) Ignore what John said at the end of his book, or

(3) Try to understand John's statement at the end of his book so that all the above clues still mean that “Jesus is God.” (This latter approach would be like trying to understand the author's conclusion that “the butler did it” in such a way that allows the reader to believe that “the maid did it.”)

I try to do #1. But is it possible to understand the above clues so that Jesus comes out to be what John said at the end of this book? If anyone is interested in how I do it, let me know.

Don


Don,

The problem I see with the way you read this is best summarized by what you said:
DonCameron wrote:It is like he is saying, “I don't care what you think I meant when I wrote 1:1, 5:18, 8:58, 10:30,33, 14:9, 20:28 or anything else I said.


The highlighted indicates that you're taking your pre-conceived notions of what Jesus is and trying to interpret what John said only in that context. How exactly do you arrive at the conclusion that what John was saying is like he's saying what you said? The fact is, Jesus has 2 distinct natures the apostles had to wrestle with, one being his divine nature as proclaimed by him, and the other his human side. His physical, human side was explained as being the 'Son of God' nature, the one that was prophecized and the one that most people will understand and can relate to at the time. Where do you think christianity would be today if Jesus was proclaimed to be God to the people? There's no question that the apostles preached Jesus' sonship. His divinity, to a large extent (with few exceptions), was mostly left for him to proclaim.

What impression would you walk away with and who are you going to believe when Jesus says:

“before Abraham was I AM.”

“I and my Father are one.”

“If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”

This is straight from the source, Don, and its meaning is undeniable.
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#3

Post by Turgonian » Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:00 am

Jesus is described as God's Word and Wisdom, which was, in Jewish literature, seen as eternally begotten by God, and equally divine. It wasn't like there used to be a dumb 'god' which said, 'Hey, I think I need to beget some Wisdom!' So although Wisdom (Jesus) is begotten by God the Father, and although He is dependent on his Father, He is equally divine, and not to be divided from Him.

Philo, a Jewish author around Christ's time, called God's Wisdom a 'second God' -- not because he thought God needed an inferior being to be/contain His Wisdom, but because he thought that God's Word and Wisdom was to some degree independent. Which we have seen, in the person of Jesus.

For more, see the article Jesus: God's Wisdom, from which much of my information comes.
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#4

Post by Byblos » Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:32 am

Turgonian wrote:Jesus is described as God's Word and Wisdom, which was, in Jewish literature, seen as eternally begotten by God, and equally divine. It wasn't like there used to be a dumb 'god' which said, 'Hey, I think I need to beget some Wisdom!' So although Wisdom (Jesus) is begotten by God the Father, and although He is dependent on his Father, He is equally divine, and not to be divided from Him.

Philo, a Jewish author around Christ's time, called God's Wisdom a 'second God' -- not because he thought God needed an inferior being to be/contain His Wisdom, but because he thought that God's Word and Wisdom was to some degree independent. Which we have seen, in the person of Jesus.

For more, see the article Jesus: God's Wisdom, from which much of my information comes.
Loved the link Turgy, thanks. Another link provided at the bottom of that one titled Trinity Beyond Comprehension I found to be quite relevant too.
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#5

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:12 pm

Don,

On what basis do you assert that Jesus as God, and Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and Son of God are mutually exclusive terms, especially in view of the passages in John that you reference?

Of course there's far more to the deity of Christ and the Trinity than just this, but as you're making the assertion that this title overrides all that is said earlier in John's Gospel I'd be interested in hearing how you make this leap.

Regards,

Bart
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#6

Post by DonCameron » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:45 pm

Hi John,

You mentioned three of the clues I had listed and then asked, "What impression would you walk away with and who are you going to believe when Jesus says:

before Abraham was I AM.”

“I and my Father are one.”

“If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”


Well, since John is the one who wrote these things that Jesus said, and since he later explained that the reason he wrote them is "so that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God," then therefore I don't want to walk away with a different impression. I try to understand what Jesus said so that it agrees with what John later explained.

Take John 10:30 for example. First of all I've noticed that Jesus didn't say, "I and my Father are one God." He simply said said their were "one." And since John said he wrote what Jesus said so we may believe that he is the Son of God, therefore I don't assume that Jesus meant that he was God.

Especially so when I realized that Jesus went on to deny that he had just claimed to be God. In verse 32 the Jews accused him of making himself God because of what he had just said. But in verse 36 Jesus said, "I said I am God's Son." And that is exactly what John later explained at the end of his book. - 20:31

And there is something else that indicates to me that Jesus not only didn't claim to be God in the above case, he never did. When I went to his trial I noticed that even those wicked Jewish leaders had to finally admit that Jesus had never claimed that he was God. They truthfully (for a change) acknowledged that he had only claimed to be "God's Son." - 19:7. Again, this is the same thing that John later said that he wanted us believe. - 20:31

What about Jesus' statement at John 14:9 when he said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father”? Since I assume that you don't believe that Jesus is the Father, I don't know why you mention this verse. If Jesus had said, "If you have seen me you have seen God," then I could understand why it is mentioned.

As far as Jesus' statement that "Before Abraham Was I AM" is concerned, first of all I again don't want to understand it so that Jesus comes out as someone other than "the Son of God" who lived before Abraham was born. In the process of trying to understand what Jesus meant, I've looked to see if there are any different ways of translating this verse. Here are a couple of them...

Jesus said to them, "For sure, I tell you, before Abraham was born, I was and am and always will be!" (New Life Version)

"Believe me," said Jesus, "I am who I am long before Abraham was anything." - (The Message)


But perhaps the most convincing argument for me that Jesus did not claim that he was the I AM of Exodus is because nobody brought up his statement at his trial. When Pilate asked, "What accusation do you bring against this may?" nobody said, "He claimed to be the I AM." And as mentioned above, no one brought up anything about Jesus having ever claimed to be God. Such charges were not brought of Jesus' religious trial the night before either. - 18:19-27

And so again, I try to understand all the clues so that they agree with what John said he wanted us to believe - that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." I assume that John knew exactly what Jesus was claiming in all of the clues he gave us. If he thought Jesus had claimed to be God I would expect that that's what he would have said at the end of his book.

Don

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#7

Post by DonCameron » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:51 pm

Hi Bart,

You said...
On what basis do you assert that Jesus as God, and Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and Son of God are mutually exclusive terms, especially in view of the passages in John that you reference?

Of course there's far more to the deity of Christ and the Trinity than just this, but as you're making the assertion that this title overrides all that is said earlier in John's Gospel I'd be interested in hearing how you make this leap.
I'm sorry but I don't understand your quesiton. Can you re-word it for me?

Don

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#8

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:07 pm

DonCameron wrote:Hi Bart,

You said...
On what basis do you assert that Jesus as God, and Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and Son of God are mutually exclusive terms, especially in view of the passages in John that you reference?

Of course there's far more to the deity of Christ and the Trinity than just this, but as you're making the assertion that this title overrides all that is said earlier in John's Gospel I'd be interested in hearing how you make this leap.
I'm sorry but I don't understand your quesiton. Can you re-word it for me?

Don
Don,

If John sees Jesus as the Christ, (which is a greek rendering of the Hebrew term Messiah) and the Son of God, why do you believe that indicates John did not believe Jesus was God himself, especially in view of the verses you refer to earlier which appear to be very clear in that regard?

That's what I mean by mutually exclusive. You seem to indicate that only one or the other is possible and that both cannot be true at the same time.

Are you attempting to psycho-analyze John perhaps and attribute some motive behind his use of those titles as trying to discount what he recorded earlier?

Does that help clarify it?

Regards,

Bart
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#9

Post by Turgonian » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:28 pm

DonCameron wrote:Well, since John is the one who wrote these things that Jesus said, and since he later explained that the reason he wrote them is "so that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God," then therefore I don't want to walk away with a different impression. I try to understand what Jesus said so that it agrees with what John later explained.
Of course, being the 'Son of God' does not exclude being God incarnate. The article on the main board states:
Claiming to be the Son of God also conferred the title of Messiah or the anointed One. Psalms 2 talks about the Messiah (mashiach), whom it says is God's Son. This great messianic Psalm warns the reader to do homage to the Son and take refuge in Him, since He will rule the nations and judge the earth.
II Corinthians 5:10 also states that Jesus Christ will judge the earth. But Isaiah 3:13-14 says YHWH (God) will judge the earth. You can find a lot of other 'striking resemblances' here (please check this list -- it won't take long to read!).
Don Cameron wrote:Take John 10:30 for example. First of all I've noticed that Jesus didn't say, "I and my Father are one God." He simply said said their were "one." And since John said he wrote what Jesus said so we may believe that he is the Son of God, therefore I don't assume that Jesus meant that he was God.
John had already hinted many times that Jesus was, in fact, God. John is not a 'Who Done It' where the big puzzle is solved at the end: 'Jesus is only the Son of God!'
No, Jesus didn't come right out and say 'I'm God! KNEEL!' But He gave plenty of indications that He was God, by ascribing to Himself characteristics of God (check that list I linked). The Jews knew that very well, because they knew the Scriptures. Jesus didn't have to explain. If I say, 'I have green eyes and a lightning-shaped scar on my forehead, I enjoy riding a broomstick and attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,' a lot of people around me will know I'm saying I'm Harry Potter -- even though confusion may arise some centuries afterwards.
Don Cameron wrote:Especially so when I realized that Jesus went on to deny that he had just claimed to be God. In verse 32 the Jews accused him of making himself God because of what he had just said. But in verse 36 Jesus said, "I said I am God's Son." And that is exactly what John later explained at the end of his book. - 20:31
Jesus isn't denying He has made Himself, in effect, equal (ontologically) to God. He is asking why the Jews accuse Him of blasphemy, since He is substantiating His claim by doing what the Father does and by doing miracles.
Don Cameron wrote:And there is something else that indicates to me that Jesus not only didn't claim to be God in the above case, he never did. When I went to his trial I noticed that even those wicked Jewish leaders had to finally admit that Jesus had never claimed that he was God. They truthfully (for a change) acknowledged that he had only claimed to be "God's Son." - 19:7. Again, this is the same thing that John later said that he wanted us believe. - 20:31
And John says, 5:18, 'For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God'. Like I said, the Jews understood what the title implied, and so did John. John didn't conceive of a difference between 'Son of God' and 'equal with God'.
Don Cameron wrote:What about Jesus' statement at John 14:9 when he said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father”? Since I assume that you don't believe that Jesus is the Father, I don't know why you mention this verse. If Jesus had said, "If you have seen me you have seen God," then I could understand why it is mentioned.
Father, Son and Spirit are one being, but three different persons. Jesus is, as it were, the physical 'mirror image' (incarnation, or hypostasis, if you will) of the Father.
Don Cameron wrote:And so again, I try to understand all the clues so that they agree with what John said he wanted us to believe - that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." I assume that John knew exactly what Jesus was claiming in all of the clues he gave us. If he thought Jesus had claimed to be God I would expect that that's what he would have said at the end of his book.
Remember the Gospel was initially written for Jews. Also consider John 5:18, quoted above.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#10

Post by DonCameron » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:36 pm

Hi Bart,

Yes, your last note helped. You asked...

"Why do you believe that ("Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God") indicates that John did not believe Jesus was God himself."

I does seem reasonable to me that if John believed that Jesus was God, or that he had claimed to be God, then that's what he would have said...

"To be sure Jesus performed many other signs also before the disciples t hat are not written down in this book. But these things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is God, and that, because of believing you may have life by means of his name."

But of course, he didn't say that. Why not? I assume it is because that's not what he believed and therefore that's not what he wanted his readers to believe.

You mentioned that the verses I listed appear to very clear in establishing that Jesus had in deed claimed to be God. I'll get back to you on some of them later.

Don

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#11

Post by puritan lad » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:38 pm

"To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." - JOHN OWEN

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#12

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:45 pm

DonCameron wrote:Hi Bart,

Yes, your last note helped. You asked...

"Why do you believe that ("Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God") indicates that John did not believe Jesus was God himself."

I does seem reasonable to me that if John believed that Jesus was God, or that he had claimed to be God, then that's what he would have said...

"To be sure Jesus performed many other signs also before the disciples t hat are not written down in this book. But these things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is God, and that, because of believing you may have life by means of his name."

But of course, he didn't say that. Why not? I assume it is because that's not what he believed and therefore that's not what he wanted his readers to believe.

You mentioned that the verses I listed appear to very clear in establishing that Jesus had in deed claimed to be God. I'll get back to you on some of them later.

Don
Don,

With all due respect, you're attempting to read something into the text that does not necessarily follow.

Trying to define John's inspired writings by what he did not say in one place verses another is not a valid method of hermeneutics, and certainly not a valid means of explaining things he did say away.

This is the same John whom God inspired to write Revelation as well. Jesus is worshipped there in several contexts. Do you believe God has changed in terms of the First Commandment and would Jesus receive such worship, reserved only for God, if he were less than God?

Further, the onus would be upon you to determine what John meant by the title, "the Son of God" and show that it did not confer the status of Deity. I believe it's clear within the Scripture that that title itself is reflective of his deity.

Regards,

Bart
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#13

Post by DonCameron » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:36 pm

Hi Turgonian,

You brought up John 5:18...
John says, 5:18, 'For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God'. Like I said, the Jews understood what the title implied, and so did John. John didn't conceive of a difference between 'Son of God' and 'equal with God'.


What was "this cause" that made the Jews so upset that they wanted to to kill Jesus? It was that He had simply referred to God as "my Father" in verse 17. I have to wonder what possible connection is there between Jesus referring to God as his Father, and claiming to be equal to God?

This seems to be a very strange reaction when it is realized that the Jews themselves were guilty of doing the same thing. In 8:41 for example, they referred to God as their Father but nobody accused them of therefore claiming to be equal to God. When we refer to God as our Father are we claiming to be equal with him?

And too, there were several other instances when Jesus referred to God as "my Father" right in front of the Jews but nobody even flinched. - 8:49, etc.

But there is something else I noticed. Immediately after those Jews accused Jesus of claiming that that he was equal with God it looks to me that he denied it. He answered their charge by saying...

"Most truly I say to you, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing."

That sure doesn't sound to me like Jesus was claiming to be equal with God. I cannot picture God the Father ever saying, "I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative." That just doesn't sound like something Almighty God would ever say.

Don

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#14

Post by FFC » Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:44 pm

Don wrote:"Most truly I say to you, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing."

That sure doesn't sound to me like Jesus was claiming to be equal with God. I cannot picture God the Father ever saying, "I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative." That just doesn't sound like something Almighty God would ever say.
Then you must not have read the passage in Philippians that Bart already suggested to you:

Phil 2:5 ¶ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:


Phil 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Phil 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:


Phil 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.


Phil 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:


Phil 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;


Phil 2:11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.



* emphasis mine
"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible." - Corrie Ten Boom

Act 9:6
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

DonCameron
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Philippians 2:5,6

#15

Post by DonCameron » Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:47 am

Hi FFC,

I had referred to John 5:19 where it looks to me that Jesus denied that he was equal with God when he said that he could not not do a single thing on his own initiative but only what he beheld his Father doing.

You then referred me to Philippians 2:5,6...

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God."

I assume that you feel that this shows that Jesus didn't see anything wrong with him claiming to be equal with God - and therefore Jesus is equal with God, or that he did claim to be equal with God.

There is something about the above rendering of this verse that concerns me. Since we are told to think the same way Jesus thinks abouit this matter of equality with God, it makes it sound that therefore you and I should also think that it is not robbery for us to claim to be equal with God. But we know that is not true. It would be wrong for us to claim such a thing.

The answer for me is found in a different translation of this verse that says the exact opposite. The New American Standard Bible renders it this way...

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."


Now that makes sense to me. Just as you and I would never try to grasp on to the idea that we are equal with God, neither did Jesus.

Don

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