Continued from Part 6
John’s Jesus states: “Even in your Law it has been written, that the testimony of two men is true [i.e., valid or admissible; see Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15]. I am he who bears witness of myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness of me” (John 8:17-18). Does this passage show Jesus and God to be ontologically one? If Jesus and “the Father” were not two distinct entities how could they be considered two witnesses? If Jesus and God are one than there would in reality only be one witness. This statement also goes against the Torah’s precepts. According to the Torah, the two witnesses do not include the testimony of the person being judged.
The author of Hebrews says that Jesus is “not ashamed” to call his followers “brothers,” because they “are all from one [Father]” (Hebrews 2:11). The text says they are “brothers” of Jesus and implicitly sons of God. It does not say they are “brothers of God.” Jesus is no more part of God’s essence than any other individual.
The Book of Revelation says: “I [Jesus] am the first and the last, and the living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18). By connecting this verse with Isaiah 44:6, “I am the first, and I am the last,” some trinitarian commentators claim to find proof that Jesus is God. However, while the author of Revelation uses the prophet’s language in creating his own phraseology there is no comparison being made with Isaiah’s statement. He is expressing his belief that Jesus is the first and the last, not in terms of everlasting existence, but with regard to the manner of supposed resurrection. For this reason, the author calls Jesus “the firstborn of the dead” (Revelation 1:5). According to him, Jesus was the first one God raised from the dead to be “alive forevermore.” He is also the last one whom God will raise directly in this manner, for now it is alleged that God has given the power to resurrect the dead, the “keys of death and Hades,” exclusively to Jesus (see also John 5:21-22). These verses do not at all provide any ground for proclaiming Jesus as part of a triune deity.
The author of John states: “Jesus said to him: ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how do you say, “Show us the Father”?’” (John 14:9). If Jesus is actually God, this statement would contradict the assertion that “no man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12; cf. Exodus 33:20). When John’s Jesus says: “He who has seen me has seen the Father,” it is not to be understood literally as actually seeing God in a physical sense. The author of the Gospel of John claims Jesus is “the only begotten god [“son” in some manuscripts]” whose function is to explain God (John 1:18). He does not consider Jesus to be part of the Godhead, only a supernatural power who bridges the gulf between God and man.
In sum, the author of John does not consider Jesus to be a mere mortal, but neither does he believe that he is God. He considers Jesus to be God’s most intimate messenger, the Logos, who (as Philo states) is made the most exact image of God, but is not God Himself. The New Testament teaches that Jesus died. Yet, even Paul admits at Romans 1:23 that God is “immortal.” One who is immortal is not subject to death; such a being could not die for even a moment.