The Bible teaches that there is one God, the Father, and one Messiah and Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the divinely conceived Son of God. Those are very important truths, and this article will give evidence that supports them. In doing so, this article will also show that Jesus Christ is the fully human “Son of God,” and not “God the Son,” and thus it will also give evidence that shows that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity.
For clarity’s sake, it is helpful to understand what the Trinity is. The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and the three of them are co-equal, co-eternal, and share the same essence, and together those three individual “Persons” are one triune God; also, Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man, and both Jesus’ divine nature and his human nature live together in his flesh body. The doctrine of the Trinity, though widely believed, is never stated in the Bible.
We do not present this article to antagonize or attack anyone, but rather because we believe an honest and rigorous examination of the biblical evidence will support that the Father alone is God and Jesus is His created Son. Furthermore, we think it is important for Christians to know the truth about God, Jesus, and the holy spirit (the holy spirit is covered in our article, “What is the Holy Spirit?”).
There is value in truth, and God and Jesus deserve to be known for who they really are. Knowing that there is only one God, and that He is not triune and thus sharing His identity with two others, elevates Him to His rightful position as the one God of the Bible, the Creator of the universe, and the One who we love with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Similarly, knowing that the Lord Jesus is who Peter said he was, “a man approved of God” (Acts 2:22 KJV), elevates him to his rightful position. He is the only begotten Son of God, who loved so much that he lived a sinless, obedient life and died on the cross for us, whom God raised from the dead and who now stands at God’s right hand as God’s second in command, administering the things of God.
Something that is openly admitted by theologians but not known by many Christians is that the doctrine of the Trinity is not stated in the Bible but is actually “built” by piecing together statements that are said to support it. However, something that is generally believed by Christians is that the Trinity is a mystery and no one can understand it, and so doctrinal discussions about it are often avoided or brushed aside and ignored. Worse, the teaching that the Trinity is a “mystery” has been used as a club to beat down doubters and dissenters, and those people are often branded as “heretics” and their role in Christianity minimized (the idea the Trinity is a mystery is covered in section #17 below).
Thus, the Trinity stands as an unchallengeable but never-understood fortress in the center of Christianity. But Christians should get their doctrine from the Bible. What if a careful examination of the Bible showed that there was no Trinity? What if careful study showed that Yahweh was the one God of the Bible, and Jesus was who Peter said he was, “a man approved of God” and not a “God-man”? What if the “mystery” of the Trinity was not a mystery at all, but an erroneous doctrine that was formulated over time? This study will show that Jesus was indeed a fully human man approved by God.
This short article can only summarize some of the major points about who God and Jesus Christ really are. For further study, a bibliography of some of the books on the subject is included at the end of this article. Also, it is not the intention of this article to explain the verses that are traditionally used to support the doctrine of the Trinity, such as John 10:30 or 8:58. Each of those verses can be understood in a way that supports the Biblical Unitarian position, and they are covered in the REV commentary on those individual verses at revisedenglishversion.com.
Basic Problems with the doctrine of the Trinity
The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. Although that does not rule out the possible existence of the Trinity, it is supporting evidence that the doctrine is unbiblical.
Trinitarians differ, sometimes greatly, in their definitions of the Trinity. The Eastern Orthodox Church differs from the Western Church on the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. Also, Trinitarians who hold to the “classic” definition of the Trinity, that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man while on earth, believe differently from Kenotic Trinitarians, who believe that Jesus set aside his godhood while he was a man on earth. Oneness Pentecostals say the classic formula of the Trinity is completely wrong. Yet all these claim that Christ is God and that the Bible supports their position.
A study of the history of the Christian Church shows a definite development in the doctrine of the Trinity over the centuries. For example, the Apostles’ Creed, in its early form believed to date back to shortly after the time of the apostles themselves, does not mention the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. Furthermore, it only states, “I believe in ‘the holy spirit,’” which could just as easily refer to the gift of holy spirit as it could to a third “Person” in the Trinity. The Nicene Creed, written in 325 AD and modified later, added the material about Jesus Christ being “eternally begotten” and “true God,” and about the Holy Spirit being “Lord.” But it was the Athanasian Creed, most likely composed in the late 400s or early 500s AD, that was the first creed to explicitly state the doctrine of the Trinity, and it includes that if a person does not believe it, he will perish everlastingly. Yet that point seems to contradict the Bible, because when Peter addressed the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, although Peter did not mention the Trinity or that Jesus was God in the flesh, about 3,000 people in the audience were saved (Acts 2:41).
It seems that if the doctrine of the Trinity was genuine and central to Christian belief, and especially if belief in it was necessary for salvation as many Trinitarians teach, it would have been clearly stated in the Bible and in the earliest Christian creeds.
There is no Trinity in the Old Testament
God gave the Scriptures to the Jewish people, and the Jewish religion and worship that comes from that revelation does not contain any reference to, or teachings about, a triune God. Since God gave the Old Testament to the Jews, surely they were qualified to read and understand it, but they never saw the doctrine of the Trinity in it; in fact, quite the opposite. Throughout their history, the Jews fiercely defended the fact that there was only one God.
Jesus himself tied the greatest commandment in the Law together with there being only one God. An expert in Old Testament law asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important one. Jesus said to him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God….” (Mark 12:29-30 KJV). The Jewish scholar, in accordance with the teachings of the Rabbis and the revelation and practices given to the Jews, would have believed that Yahweh was the only true God. But Jesus never corrected him or tried to modify his beliefs, he simply reinforced what this man already believed—that only Yahweh was God.
The Old Testament foretold that Jesus would be a human being
The Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah foretold that he would be a human being. He would be the offspring of Eve (Gen. 3:15); a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18), a descendant of Judah (Gen. 49:10); a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15); a son of David (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Isa. 11:1); a king ruling under Yahweh (Ps. 110:1); and a ruler from among the people of Israel (Jer. 30:21). That explains why the people were all expecting a human Messiah.
Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, was expecting a human Messiah and did not know how she could give birth to the Messiah without having sex with a man (Luke 1:34-3). Although some Trinitarians claim that there are a few Old Testament prophecies such as Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:2 that show that Jesus is God, it’s important to note that the ancient Jews, to whom those prophecies were given, never understood them to mean that their Messiah would be both God and human. Those few prophecies can be translated and understood in a Biblical Unitarian way.
Psalm 110:1 merits special attention because it is especially clear but has been misunderstood and misrepresented. Most English versions read like the ESV: “The LORD says to my Lord….” The word “LORD” is Yahweh, but then many Trinitarian commentators argue that “my Lord” in this verse is the Hebrew word adonai, another name for God, and is therefore proof of the divinity of the Messiah. But the Hebrew text does not use adonai, it uses adoni (pronounced “a-do-nee”), which is always used in Scripture to describe human masters and lords, but never God.
The Hebrew words
The New Testament teaches that Jesus was a man
The New Testament teaches that Jesus was a man. For one thing, Jesus himself said so. For example, in John 8:40, Jesus said he was “a man who has told you the truth” [emphasis ours]. Jesus was not being disingenuous and hiding his “divine nature.” He was making a factual statement that reinforced what the Jews were expecting of the Messiah—that he would be a fully human man.
The apostles also taught that Jesus was a man. For example, in his sermon to the crowds gathered on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter made a very clear declaration that Jesus was a man approved of God: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you…” (Acts 2:22 KJV). Here Peter clearly taught that Jesus was a man, and that God did miracles “by him.”
It seems that if there were a Trinity, when Peter had the ears of the Jewish nation gathered together on the Day of Pentecost would have been a good time to introduce it to the Jews. But instead Peter told the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah they had been expecting: a man approved of God.
Like Peter, Paul also taught that Jesus was a man. For example, when he was in Athens, Paul taught a crowd of unsaved Gentiles about Jesus Christ and said that God would judge the world “by the man whom He has appointed” (Acts 17:31). Paul never said or implied that Jesus was anything but a “man.” But especially since Paul’s Greek audience was polytheistic, it seems that if there was a Trinity that Paul would have taught it to the crowd. Whereas the Jews would have likely been very upset if someone taught there was a Trinity, these polytheistic Greeks would almost certainly not have been upset, so this would have been a perfect time to introduce the subject to people. But instead, Paul said that Jesus was a man appointed by God.
There are a number of other New Testament verses that state that Jesus was a man. For example, Romans says that a man, Adam, caused sin to enter into the world, and also that a man would have to redeem it from sin. Romans 5:15 (ESV) says, “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Some theologians teach that only God could pay for the sins of mankind, but the Bible specifically says that a man must do it.
1 Timothy 2:5 says that it is Jesus, the man, who was the mediator between God and men. 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This verse calls Jesus Christ a “man” even after his resurrection.
Trinitarian doctrine tries to explain the verses that say Jesus was a man by saying that he was a man, but he was also 100% God at the same time. But there are problems with that. One is that there is no single verse that says Jesus was both God and man. The God-man doctrine is built from many verses. Furthermore, scholars admit that there are only about eight verses in the entire New Testament that can be understood to say that Jesus is God, and every one of them can either be translated in a way the supports the Biblical Unitarian position, or disputed textually, or can be explained from the use of the word “God” in the culture. In contrast, the clear verses where Jesus is said to be a “man,” such as when Peter or Paul taught their audiences that Jesus was a man appointed by God, are not disputed and in the context there does not seem to be any good reason those men would not have said that Jesus was a God-man if in fact that is what he is.
Actually, Hebrews seems to clear up the subject when it says that when Jesus was on earth, he was made like us in every way: “Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Heb. 2:17 ESV). This verse shows that Jesus was not both fully human and fully God at the same time. If he was, he would not be like us in every respect. If we believe that Jesus was a fully human man, this verse can be seen to be completely true, but if Jesus is fully God and fully human, it is confusing at best. None of us would have the doubts, worries, and fears, that we do if we were God.
Jesus was like Adam
Adam, the first man, was fully human and by his sin brought sin into the world. Jesus is called the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), but it seems that designation would not be appropriate if Jesus was not fully human in the same way that Adam was. Also, Adam is called a “type” of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:14). The word translated as “type” in many English versions is the translation of the Greek word tupos (#5179 τύπος), which can be defined as “a type, pattern, model, or example of something else.” Although the KJV translates tupos as “figure,” most of the more modern versions say “pattern” (NIV), “prototype” (HCSB), or “type” (ESV, NAB, NASB). Adam was a type, prototype, or pattern of Christ because he was fully human and began without a sin nature—and Jesus was the same: fully human and made without a sin nature. The reason that no other human male after Adam could be a “type” of Christ is that we are all born with a sin nature. But if Jesus was 100% man and 100% God, then Adam could not be a “type” of Christ, because Adam did not have a “God-nature.”
Jesus has a God
The Bible says in many verses that there is only one God, and “God” does not have a God. For example, in Isaiah 44:6, God says, “…there is no God besides me.” In contrast, Jesus had a God. When Jesus was on the cross, he called out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) [emphasis ours]. He also spoke of his God to Mary Magdalene, saying, “…I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God” (John 20:17) [emphasis ours].
Even after he was standing at the right hand of God and administering the things of God, Jesus still called God, “my God.” In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says about those who are victorious that he will “write on him the name of my God” and “the name of the city of my God” that comes down out of heaven from “my God.” (Rev. 3:12). That Jesus had a God is solid evidence that he is not a co-equal, co-eternal “God” in a triune God.
Jesus called God “the only true God.”
Jesus called the Father “the only God” (John 5:44 ESV). The New American Standard Bible goes so far as to translate it as “the one and only God.” The straightforward reading of this verse is that Jesus did not think of himself as God.
Similarly, on the night he was arrested, Jesus prayed to God that people would “know you, the only true God” (John 17:3). It seems disingenuous, or at least confusing, that Jesus would refer to his Father as “the only true God” if he knew that both he and “the Holy Spirit” were also “Persons” in a triune
Jesus was part of God’s creation
Colossians 1:15 (ESV) calls Jesus “the firstborn of all creation.” Scholars disagree on what this phrase means, but that is primarily because the doctrine of the Trinity obscures its simple meaning. Trinitarian doctrine states that Jesus is “eternal,” but if that is true then he cannot be the firstborn “of all creation,” because that would make him part of the creation—Jesus would be a created being. But the simple reading of Colossians 1:15 seems clear: Jesus is a created being. The BDAG Greek-English lexicon [entry under “creation”] explains the Greek word translated “creation” as “that which is created…of individual things or beings created, creature.” Not only was Jesus a created being, he is also called the “firstborn” from the dead because he was the first one in God’s creation who was raised from the dead to everlasting life—a point that is also made in Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5.
God is eternal, but Jesus had a beginning
God was not born; He is eternal. In contrast to the eternal God, Christ is “begotten,” that is, born. Jesus Christ had a beginning. Jesus is never called “God the Son” in the Bible, but he is called the “Son of God” more than 50 times, and a “son” has a beginning. The very fact that Jesus is the “Son of God” shows he had a beginning. Trinitarian doctrine denies this, and invents the phrase “eternally begotten.” But “eternally begotten” is not in the Bible, it was invented to help explain the Trinity but is actually a nonsensical phrase; the words are placed together but they cancel each other out. “Eternal” means without beginning or end, whereas something that is “begotten,” by definition, has a beginning.
We cannot approach the Bible with wisdom and “reason together” with God (Isa. 1:18
The Bible teaches that Jesus and God are two distinct beings.
There are many verses where Jesus and God are portrayed as two separate beings. There are too many examples to list, but for example, in Mark 10:18, Jesus told the rich young ruler that he was not good, but “God” was good; in Luke 2:52, Jesus grew in favor with “God” and with men; Jesus said to the Jews that he was “a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (John 8:40 ESV); and he told his disciples, “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 ESV, emphasis ours).
Also, the Church Epistles were authored by both God and Christ. For example, 1 Corinthians 1:3 (ESV) says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Book of Revelation shows both God and “the Lamb” ruling in the eternal city (Rev. 22:1, 3). In all these examples, Jesus is shown to be separate and distinct from “God,” which is what the people of the time believed and expected.
The Trinitarian explanation of these verses is that Jesus is God, so when Jesus speaks of himself and “God,” then “God” means “the Father.” But the Bible never says that. It is only because Trinitarian doctrine asserts that Jesus is God that the assumption is made that when Jesus and God appear together, “God” is means “the Father.” But the simple and straightforward reading of Scripture is that there is Jesus and there is “God,” so Jesus is not God.
Jesus and God have separate wills. Jesus prayed to God, “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV; cp. John 5:30). If Jesus and the Father are the same “one God,” then they would have one will. Trinitarian doctrine claims that Luke is referring to Jesus’ human will, not his divine will, but that is problematic. For one thing, the Bible never says anything like that, it is an invented explanation. It would also mean that Jesus had two wills in conflict with each other inside him, one human and one divine. But that surely cannot be the case: Jesus himself taught that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24).
The Bible says that Jesus is an “heir” of God (Heb. 1:2), and a “joint-heir” with us (Rom. 8:17). But if Christ is a co-eternal “Person” in the “Godhead,” then he cannot be an heir “of God” because, being God, he would be full owner of everything and there is nothing he could “inherit.” Jesus cannot be God and an heir of God at the same time.
The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the “image of God” (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4). But if Christ is the image of God, then He cannot be God, because a person cannot be himself and an image of himself at the same time. Jesus can be called the “image” of God because he always did the will of God and acted like God Himself would act. The fact that Jesus was the image of God is why Jesus could say that if you had seen him, you had seen the Father.
Ephesians 4:4-6 is recognized by many Christians as listing seven of the most essential doctrines of the Christian Faith. It says there is one God and one Lord and one spirit. This verse teaches exactly what the Jews expected based on the Old Testament, and what Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others taught: that there was one God, one Lord, the Messiah, and one spirit of God. There are three separate things being spoken about here, but not “one God” composed of both Jesus and God, and “the Holy Spirit” as well.
- The Bible teaches that the Father is God
1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) says, “for us there is one God, the Father…and one Lord, Jesus Christ.” This simple and straightforward language elucidates that the Father is God and the Son is “Lord,” making a clear differentiation between the two. Furthermore, that distinction is even clearer when we consider that in the Greek culture the word “God”—although it was used more loosely than we do in English and was used of pagan gods and even human rulers—was used in a more restricted manner than was the word “Lord,” which was used of many different kinds of people in authority.
1 Corinthians 8:6 starts out, “for us there is one God,” and if the doctrine of the Trinity were true, we would expect it to finish in a typically Trinitarian fashion, such as, “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We would certainly not expect it to name only the Father as “God” and omit “the Holy Spirit” altogether.
- God is greater than Christ
Jesus said: “…the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28 ESV). In contrast, the orthodox formula of the Trinity says that the Father and the Son are “co-equal.” We see no reason not to believe Jesus’ simple statement.
God is greater than Christ, just as Christ is greater than we are. 1 Corinthians 3:23 (KJV) says, “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” When the Bible says, “you are Christ’s,” it is saying, “you belong to Christ” and many English versions say exactly that (i.e., CJB; HCSB; NASB; NET; NJB; NLT). So the verse is saying, “and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (NASB). It seems apparent that Jesus cannot be God and belong to God at the same time.
The Bible teaches that God is the “head” of Christ, that is, He is Christ’s leader: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3 ESV). The Trinitarian explanation of this verse is that God was the head of Christ only while he was on earth, but the Bible never says that. In fact, the Bible shows us the opposite: God is still the head of Christ and directing him even after he ascended into heaven (Rev. 1:1; 14:14-15).
God “made” Jesus Lord. In Peter’s teaching to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, he taught that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36 ESV). In order to make Jesus Lord, God must have greater authority than Jesus. Furthermore, if Christ was God, then he was already “Lord”—in which case God would not need to “make” him Lord.
It has also been taught that because Jesus is called “Lord,” he must be God. But “Lord” (the Greek word is kurios) is a masculine title of respect and nobility, and many others besides God and Jesus are called “Lord,” However, that can be hard to see in English Bibles because many times kurios is not translated as “Lord,” and that confuses the issue.
1) property owners are called Lord (Matt. 20:8, kurios is “owner” in NIV)
2) heads of households were called Lord (Mk 13:35, owner=kurios).
3) slave owners were called Lord (Matt. 10:24, master=kurios).
4) husbands were called Lord (1 Pet. 3:6, master (NIV) =kurios).
5) a son called his father Lord (Matt. 21:30, sir=kurios).
6) the Roman Emperor was called Lord (Acts 25:26, His Majesty=kurios).
7) Roman authorities were called Lord (Matt. 27:63, sir=kurios).
Christians take Jesus as their “Lord,” but that is not the same as saying he is “God.”
The Bible says that even in the future, the Son will be subject to the Father. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him [God] who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28 ESV). If Jesus is subject to the Father in the eternal future, then it seems the teaching that the two of them are “co-equal” is wrong.
Jesus was consecrated (sanctified) by God. John 10:36 (ESV) says: “do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (Jn. 10:36 ESV). The fact that Jesus was consecrated, or as it is translated in other versions, “sanctified,” by God shows he is not God, because God does not need to be sanctified.
Philippians 2:6 (ESV) says that Christ “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (cp. NAB; NASB; NET; NIV; NJB; Rotherham). There is some disagreement among scholars as to how to translate the Greek text, so other English versions translate the verse somewhat differently. Nevertheless, the point of the verse is that Jesus Christ was highly exalted by God because he was humble and did not seek equality with God. If Jesus was God, then he would never have needed to seek equality with God in the first place—it would have been inherent in him.
Jesus received his direction and his doctrine from his Father, God. In John 5:19 (ESV), he said: “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.” Jesus repeated that in several different ways. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge…because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John. 5:30 ESV). “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16 ESV). “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (John. 8:28 ESV). “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49 ESV). If Jesus was God, and co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, then he would not have needed to be directed by his Father.
The Old Testament referred to the Messiah as the servant of God. For example, in Isaiah 52 and 53, which speak of the suffering and death of the Messiah, the Bible refers to the Messiah as God’s “servant” (Isa. 52:13). When the disciples prayed to God in Acts, they called King David God’s “servant” (Acts 4:25), and later in that same prayer they called Jesus “your holy servant” (Acts 4:30 CSB; ESV; NAB; NASB; NET; NIV; NJB). They equated the Messiah as servant of God, like David was—rather than referring to Jesus as if he was God himself (cp. Matt. 12:18; Acts 3:26). Jesus is not God but the servant of God, just like the Bible says.
There are many verses that indicate that Jesus’ power and authority were given to him by the Father. If Jesus was the eternal God, then he would have always had those things that the Scripture says he was “given.” Christ was:
- Given “all authority” (Matt 28:18).
- Given “a name above every name” (Phil 2:9).
- Given work to finish by the Father (John 5:36).
- Given those who believed in him by the Father (John 6:39; John 10:29).
- Given glory (John 17:22, 24).
- Given his “cup” (his torture and death) by the Father (John 18:11).
- “Seated” at God’s own right hand (Eph. 1:21).
- “Appointed” over the Church (Eph. 1:22).
These verses and others like them make no sense if Christ is “co-equal” with the Father. Taken at face value they show Jesus is a man approved of God.
A rich young ruler came to Christ and called him, “Good Teacher” (Luke 18:18 ESV). Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19 ESV). If Jesus was telling people that he was God, why did he not complement this young ruler for calling him “good?” That Jesus gave the man a mild rebuke and said that no one was good except “God” is evidence that Jesus was not teaching people that he was God. Jesus was very quick to make the distinction between himself and God, and in doing so affirmed what this Jewish man would have already believed: that there is one God, and Jesus was certainly not that one God.
Despite the popularity of the term “Deity of Christ,” the phrase never appears in the Bible, nor is Christ ever called “Deity” in the Bible. “Deity” is from the Latin “Deus,” which means “God,” and the phrase “the Deity of Christ” as it is popularly (but not biblically) used means the “Godness” of Christ.
Colossians 2:9 (ESV) says that in Christ “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This verse is stating that God (the Deity) placed all His fullness in Christ, which is quite different from saying that Christ is himself a Deity. Earlier in Colossians, the concept is made clear: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (Col. 1:19 NIV84). That is true. But the fact that Christ has “all the fullness” of God does not make him God. Ephesians 3:19 says that Christians should be filled with “all the fullness of God,” as well, but that does not mean Christians will somehow become God.
- Major differences between Jesus and God
Jesus grew in wisdom, but God is all wise. The Bible says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom” (Luke 2:52 ESV). Also, Jesus “learned obedience” (Heb. 5:8). God does not need to learn. Trinitarians assert that it was Jesus’ human part that grew and learned, but there is not a single verse that makes that distinction.
Jesus had limited knowledge, whereas God does not. Mark 13:32 (ESV) says: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Even after His resurrection, Jesus still receives knowledge from God: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him” (Rev. 1:1 ESV).
The Scripture teaches that it was fitting that “God” should make Jesus “perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10). God is, and has always been, “perfect,” but Jesus needed to attain perfection through His suffering.
To perfectly obey God throughout his ministry, Jesus needed the gift of holy spirit, and he received it at his baptism (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22), and had it upon him when he started his ministry (Luke 4:18). If Jesus was God, he would not need holy spirit, which is the very nature of God. God placed the gift of His holy spirit on the leaders and prophets of the Old Testament so that they would have spiritual power and be able to hear from Him via the spirit upon them (i.e., Num. 11:17-29; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 16:13; 1 Chron. 12:18; 2 Chron. 15:1; Micah 3:8). Furthermore, the Old Testament prophecies, such as those in Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; and 61:1, indicated that God would put His spirit upon His Messiah, showing that he was not fully equipped without it. Jesus needed the gift of holy spirit to be spiritually powerful just as the other prophets did. Acts 10:38 (REV) says: “Jesus, the one from Nazareth—how God anointed him with holy spirit and with power, and he went around doing good, and healing all those who were being oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him.”
Jesus was “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15 ESV), yet the Bible is clear that God cannot be tempted: “for God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13 ESV).
At times of weakness or difficulty, angels ministered to and strengthened Jesus. Luke 22:43 (ESV) says: “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him” [in the garden of Gethsemane]. Humans need to be strengthened; God does not need to be strengthened by angels or by anyone or anything else (cp. also Matt. 4:11, Mark. 1:13).
Scripture says very plainly that Jesus died. God cannot die. Romans 1:23 and other verses say that God is immortal. Orthodox Christian doctrine is that only the human side of Jesus died, but that assertion is based on assumptions. There is no verse of Scripture that says anything like “only Jesus human nature died.”
Hebrews 2:10-11 teaches that we are “brothers” of Jesus and “sons of God,” and Jesus is never ashamed to call us such. Hebrews is making a distinction between God and Jesus that is very important and that we lose if we think Jesus is God. If that were the case, we would be “brothers of God,” but we clearly are not that. A Trinitarian explanation is that we are brothers of the man part of Jesus, but that is adding to the text. The Bible nowhere says or implies that; it is an assumption to support Trinitarian doctrine.
We are commissioned to do “greater works” than Jesus. In John 14:12 (ESV), Jesus told his disciples that “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” If Jesus was God, then his statement would be a commission for us to do greater works than God—which is not possible.
If Jesus Christ was God, he would have to have the attributes of God. Most theologians agree that some of God’s attributes are: unoriginated, self-existent, immortal, all wise, all good, all-powerful and omnipresent. But Jesus had none of those attributes.
- He was not unoriginated. Christ was the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16).
- He was not self-existent. “I live because of the Father” (John 6:57).
- He was not immortal. Jesus died and God resurrected Him (Acts 13:30).
- He was not all wise. Jesus “grew in wisdom” (Luke 2:52).
- He was not all-powerful. Whereas “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), Christ said, “the Son can do nothing by Himself” (John 5:19).
- He was not omnipresent. After Lazarus died, Jesus told his disciples “I am glad I was not there” (John 11:15).
- God is spirit, but Jesus is flesh and bone
God is Spirit (John 4:24) yet even after his resurrection, Jesus said about himself that he was not a spirit, but flesh and bone. When Jesus appeared to his apostles, he said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39 ESV). That Jesus is still flesh and bone today is exactly what we would expect if Jesus is a “man approved of God.” Part of the great hope that we Christians have is that in the future Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21 ESV). So in the future we will have bodies like Jesus’ body, but that hardly seems appropriate if Jesus is God in the flesh.
- Jesus never taught the Trinity
John 1:18 says that Jesus made “God” known to people. But if “God” is a triune God composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then Jesus did not make God known. Jesus never taught the Trinity, even when he had good opportunities to do so. For example, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42), he told her that he was the Messiah (John 4:26), but nothing more. Similarly, when Jesus asked the Apostles who they thought he was, and Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus did not take that opportunity to teach them the Trinity (Matt. 16:17-20). Also, when Jesus healed the man who had been blind from birth, he told him that he was the Messiah but did not say a word about the Trinity (John 9:35-38). When the rich young ruler called Christ, “Good master,” Jesus not only did not teach the man the Trinity, he rebuffed him and said the only one who was good was God (Mark 10:17-18).
Other examples could also be given, but the point is that even when Jesus had the opportunity to teach the Trinity, he never did. That is astounding if the doctrine of the Trinity is correct, because the people were expecting a human Messiah, not “God in the flesh.” So when Jesus told them he was the Messiah but did not say anything about there being a Trinity, he was only reinforcing what they already thought. There does not seem to be any compelling reason not to take Jesus’ words at face value; that he was the human Messiah the Jews were expecting.
- Jesus’ miracles do not prove he was God
It is sometimes said that the miracles Jesus did proved that he was God. But almost every miracle that Jesus did on earth was done in some form by earlier prophets or by the apostles. These include healing the sick, raising the dead, multiplying food, and even walking on water. In fact, the Old Testament prophets did some amazing miracles that Jesus did not do, including splitting an ocean apart (Moses), stopping a river (Joshua), making the sun stop in the sky (Joshua), and calling down fire from heaven (Elijah). God was the one who worked the miracles through the prophets, and He worked them through Jesus also (Acts 2:22).
- The dual-nature of Jesus is never called a “mystery”
It is said that no human can understand the doctrine of the Trinity because it is a mystery. But the Bible never even uses the words “Trinity” or “dual nature” of Christ, much less defining them as mysteries. Furthermore, the Greek word mustērion (#3466 μυστήριον) refers to a “secret” in the religious or sacred realm, it does not mean “mystery” in the modern sense of the word. This fact can be documented from any number of lexicons or Bible dictionaries and it is also clear in the Bible itself. The Bible says that many of the mustērion of God have now been made known, proving they were not actually unknowable “mysteries,” but were God’s secrets that are now revealed (i.e., Rom. 16:25, 26; 1 Cor. 2:7-10; Eph. 3:4, 5, Col. 1:26).
The reason why many English Bibles continue to translate mustērion as “mystery” in spite of the fact that the scholars and many clergy know that “mystery” is an inaccurate translation is due in large part to the many unbiblical and even self-contradictory doctrines that have crept into the Church over time. When even the clergy could not explain or understand these doctrines, the translation “mystery” became generally accepted because the concept of a “mystery” was a handy way to present inexplicable doctrines to the average Christian. People who challenged these and other traditions of the Church were quickly labeled “heretics” and persecuted, so the translation “mystery” went mostly unchallenged.
Although the Bible says that certain things were secrets, like the Gentiles being included in the Church (Rom. 11:25; Eph. 3:4-6), or the way that living believers would be changed in the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51), there is no verse that says the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ is a mustērion (secret). But if the doctrine of the Trinity or of the dual nature of Christ were true, we would certainly expect that the Bible would include them among God’s mustērion. To us, the most logical reason the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ are not referred to in the Bible as a mustērion (a secret) is that they are not biblical doctrines in the first place.
Not only are the Trinity and dual nature of Christ not “mysteries,” they are contradictions. Doctrinal statements such as “eternally begotten,” “three ‘Persons’ in One God,” and “Jesus is both 100% human and 100% God,” are actually just simple contradictions. This has been recognized for a very long time, and more than a hundred years ago William G. Eliot wrote: “Mystery and contradiction are very different things. The former is something beyond our sight, or seen imperfectly. The latter is plainly seen to be untrue. …we know enough to see that two contradictory statements cannot both be true. …So when Christ asserts that he did not know of a certain future event (see Mark xiii. 32), the assertion that he was nevertheless Omniscient, is evidently a denial of what he said” (Discourses on the Doctrines of Christianity, American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1870, p. 6).
In order to fully love and worship God and Jesus, it is important to know who they really are. God, the Father, is the Creator of the universe, the Author of the plan of Salvation, the Father of Jesus Christ, and our One God, and removing Him from that exalted position and having Him share His position as “God” with two other “Persons” diminishes who He really is and what He alone has done. Furthermore, making Jesus into God, instead of elevating him, actually diminishes who he was and is, and what he accomplished and is still doing. It demeans Jesus because his courage, mental tenacity, love, and great faith are unparalleled in human history. He went through life like each human does, with doubts and fears and concerns, and with the possibility of sin. His true greatness is lost if he is God, because “with God all things are possible.” Believing Jesus is God also demonstrates disbelief in Jesus’ own words when he made statements such as “my father is greater than I” and when he prayed to the Father as “the only true God.” Also, it makes it impossible for us to identify with him and strive to be like him, for how can we ever hope to live like God?
By restoring the Father to His unique and singular position as God, He receives all the worship, credit, respect and awe He deserves as the One True God. By restoring Christ to his position as the man approved of God—the only-begotten Son of the Father, the last Adam, the one who could have sinned but voluntarily stayed obedient, the one who could have given up but loved us so much that he never did, and the one whom God highly exalted to be our Lord—then Christ receives all the worship, credit, respect and awe that he deserves, and we can draw great strength and determination from his example.
Some very helpful books:
Broughton, James and Southgate, Peter. The Trinity, True or False? The Dawn Book Supply, 66 Carlton Rd., Nottingham, England, 1995.
Buzzard, Anthony F. and Hunting, Charles F. The Doctrine of The Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. International Scholars Publications, Lanham, MD, 1998.
Dana, Mary. Letters Addressed to Relatives and Friends. James Munroe and Co., Boston, 1845, reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.
Eliot, William G. Discourses on the Doctrines of Christianity. American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1870.
Farley, Frederick. Unitarianism Defined: The Scripture Doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. American Unitarian Association, Boston, MA, 1873. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151.
Graeser, Mark; Lynn, John; and Schoenheit, John. One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith. Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 2010. Fourth edition.
Hyndman, J.S. Lectures on the Principles of Unitarianism. Alnwick, 1824. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.
Morgridge, Charles. True Believer’s Defence Against Charges Preferred by Trinitarians. Boston: Benjamin Greene, 1837. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.
Navas, Patrick. Divine Truth or Human Tradition. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN, 2011.
Newton, Sir Isaac. An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture. London: John Green, 1841.
Norton, Andrews. A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians. American Unitarian Association, Boston, 10th Edition, 1877.
Rees, Thomas. The Racovian Catechism. London: 1818. Reprinted 1994 by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, 180 Robert Curry Drive, Martinsville, IN, 46151, STFonline.org.
Snedeker, Donald R. Our Heavenly Father Has No Equals. International Scholars Publications, San Francisco, 1998.
Zarley, Kermit, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. Servetus the Evangelical, 2008.