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Confusing the Two Lords of Psalm 110:1

A Way to Guarantee a Misunderstanding of the Bible - Page 2

The recovery of the Old Testament as the basis of apostolic Christianity will put an end to the age-old desire of commentators to find in the text of Scripture cherished beliefs dating from the post-biblical councils. The misreading of Psalm 110:1 as support for the Deity of Jesus is the symptom of a widespread confusion over the identity of the two Lords. The vice-like grip of tradition causes even scholars to read into the Bible what they expect to find there! It is a mistake to claim that Jesus is Jehovah when in fact he is the Messiah appointed to that supreme office by Yahweh. The Smith’s Bible Dictionary footnote deserves to become a headline summoning us to belief in Jesus as the Messiah, not God. And in the Jesus who as a Jew faithful to his heritage did not budge one inch from his conviction that “the Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4, affirmed by Jesus in Mark 12:29).

A current discussion of Jesus in relation to the One God has persisted. “Giants” of Christology battle over 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 where it has been alleged that Paul “expands” the Shema (“Hear, O Israel”) by including Jesus in it. The argument is put this way: God is the Father but the Lord in the “one Lord” of the Shema is Jesus! This is an astonishing attempt to derail the strict monotheism of Scripture. It could never have been advanced if the careful distinction between the “lords” of Psalm 110:1 had been given the weight it deserves. Where scholars normally busy themselves with the exact meaning of the words of Scripture in the original languages, discussion of Psalm 110:1 has turned a blind eye to the Yahweh/adoni distinction. In many cases the second lord has been carelessly reported as Adonai! Is this a subconscious desire to hold to a traditional Trinitarian belief in God as three Persons?

Surely the time must have arrived for the massive influence of Psalm 110:1 on New Testament Christology to be fully acknowledged, and necessary corrections to false arguments based on the failure to distinguish Deity titles from non-Deity titles be made. Jesus is called “our Lord” scores of times in the New Testament. He is officially the Christ and thus the “Lord Christ” some 550 times. When in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 Paul places Jesus next to God, Paul carefully distinguishes the Father as the One God of the Shema (Deut. 6:4) from the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah. “Our lord Jesus Christ” is the constant echo of the “my lord [Christ]” of Psalm 110:1. “Our lord Jesus Christ” could not possibly be Yahweh Himself, since no one speaks of “our Yahweh” or “my Yahweh.”

The New Testament is not a Trinitarian document. It is a strictly a unitarian document reflecting the central creed of Jesus who acknowledged the One Lord (Yahweh) of the biblical creed (Mark 12:29) in complete agreement and with the full approval of a Jewish scribe! Paul affirms the Shema with equal conviction, realizing too the amazing exaltation of the man Messiah Jesus, the unique mediator between the One God and mankind.

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of very candid comments from Trinitarian and other writers. They must demonstrate to the open-minded that the ancient creeds, which were based on philosophical and not biblical terminology, need to be replaced by the straightforward creedal statements of Jesus and Paul.

Here are some of those telling quotations. Your friends should be encouraged to think about them:

International Critical Commentary (John 1-4), 2009, p. 51:

“Since most readers of the gospel of John approach the gospel with a firm belief in the Nicene dogma of the Holy Trinity, a plea for caution is here imperative. Those who listened to Jesus during his life time [and the warning should apply to those who desire to listen to him today] did not come already endowed with faith in a Trinitarian Godhead, nor did those who heard the preaching of the Apostles; it was not a matter of teaching people who already believed in a Holy Trinity that one of March, 2012 those divine persons had become a human being. Neither in Judaism nor elsewhere is there any trace of such a belief.” Nor is there a trace of such teaching in Jesus, who stood solidly on the creed of Israel, Mark 12:28-34.

Hugh Anderson, New Century Bible Commentary on Mark, p. 280. Mark 12:29:

“We must suppose that the Markan form goes back to oral tradition passed on by a Church that did not any longer recite the Shema [they gave up on Jesus’ creed!]. But here at least in his statement of the first commandment Jesus stands foursquare within the orbit of Jewish piety. [Why do we not follow him?] Jesus’ statement consists entirely of an almost word for word citation of two Old Testament texts Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19, the former at the heart of Jewish piety and both much canvassed by the rabbis.”

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. 4, pp. 133, 134) on Logos (word):

“Jesus Christ is the incarnate form [embodiment] of the Logos…Grace and truth are the nature of the logos [Paul speaks of grace and truth and logos]. They are the content of the revelation [it, the logos] given in Jesus Christ (v. 17b) which replaces the Mosaic nomos, the Torah [David calls the Torah logos also]…The terms logos (word) and nomos (law) are interchangeable in Psalm 119. The statements concerning the pre-existence and majesty of the Torah are now intentionally heaped upon the logos (John 1:1). It was in the beginning with God. It was with God and was God, or divine. All things were made by [through] it. In it was life. It was the light of man. In the rabbis’ theses are sayings about the Torah. But they are now statements about Christ. In him the eternal word of God and the word of creation, the word of the Law is not just passed on (‘given’) but enacted (egento).”

Dr. John A.T. Robinson on John 17:3:

“In the first place it should be noted that John is as undeviating a witness as any in the New Testament to the fundamental tenet of Judaism, of unitary monotheism (Rom. 3:30; James 2:19). There is one true and only God (John 5:44; 17:3). Everything else is idols (1 John 5:21). In fact nowhere is the Jewishness of John [and of Jesus], which has emerged in all recent study, more clear. The only possible exception is in 1 John 5:20, where ‘this is the true God’ could grammatically relate not to the Father, but to the immediately preceding words ‘His Son Jesus Christ,’ though the ‘his’ in ‘His Son’ must refer to ‘the one who is true,’ that is God the Father, as everywhere else [including Malachi 2:10: ‘Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us?’].

“The ambiguities of phrasing in the Johannine epistles are notorious, but I find it very difficult to be persuaded by such as Schnackenburg, Bultmann and Brown that it is Christ who is being designated as ‘the true God’ [contradicting John 17:3 and the rest of the Bible!]. I am convinced with Westcott, Brooke and Dodd that the remaining Johannine usage, particularly ‘This is the true God, this is eternal life’ (1 John 5:20) and ‘This is eternal life, to know You who alone are true God’ (John 17:3) which I believe the former deliberately echoes, requires the reference to be to the Father. There is also the parallel in 2 John 7 where ‘this is the deceiver and the Antichrist’ must refer to the secessionists and not to the immediately preceding words ‘Jesus Christ coming in the flesh.’”


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Reprinted with permission from Focus on the Kingdom Volume 14 No. 6, March, 2012

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