The Oneness Delusion
The Oneness Delusion

The Oneness Delusion

Problems with Oneness Doctrine – Modalism

Here we will outline the problems with oneness doctrine including the key scriptural references. Although there are over 760 NT passages that make a clear distinction between God and Jesus, we will focus on the most compelling verses covering Jesus and the Father being separate witnesses, the explicit distinction between the person of God and Jesus, common distinctions in the New Testament, and verses that show a visual distinction. Further we will look at how Jesus acted according to God’s plan as a servant, that God exalted/appointed Jesus. A key point of reference will be how Jesus is identified by the Apostles in the book of Acts. References are provided as to the necessity of the Messiah of prophecy being an agent of God and we will look at why the humanity of Christ is essential to the Gospel. Passages are quoted in the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise indicated.                                

Jesus and the Father are counted as two witnesses 

In John 8:16, Jesus say that he does not judge alone but “I and the Father who sent me.” No where in the New Testament is the distinction between the Person of God and that of Jesus more explicit. This is because in verse 17, Jesus referred to the Law stating that “the testimony of two people is true.” Jesus counts himself and his Father as two people when he says in verse 18, “I am the one who b ears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

John 8:16-18, Jesus and the Father are two witnesses

16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

Explicit distinction between the person of God and Jesus

These verses provide the strongest distinctions between God and Jesus not only in reference to them being separate persons but also provides distinction with respect to ontology (the Father being identified as God who is greater than all)

John 8:42, I came from God and I am here – I came not of my own accord, but he sent me

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

John 8:54, It is my Father who glorifies me

54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

John 10:14-18, I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 10:29, My Father is greater than all

29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 14:9-12, I am going to the Father

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:20-24, We will come  to him and make our home with him

20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

John 14:28, The Father is greater than I

28 You heard me say to you, ​‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

John 17:1-3, you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 20:17, I ascend to my God and your God

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ​‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

1 Corinthians 8:4-6, There is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ

“… there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

In a strict sense in the category of “gods” there is one God the Father. In the category of “lords” there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. God made him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36, Phil 2:8-11)

Acts 2:36, God has made him both Lord and Christ

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Acts 3:18, God foretold that his Christ would suffer

18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.

Acts 4:26, against the Lord and against his Anointed

26 The kings of the earth set themselves,  and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

Philippians 2:8-11, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Galatians 1:3-5, Jesus gave himself according to the will of God the Father

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 2:5-6, There is one God and one mediator

5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

A mediator is an independent person from the God that he mediates for. 

1 Corinthians 11:3, the head of Christ is God

3 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.

2 Corinthians 1:2-3,  the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort

Colossians 1:3, God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you

Hebrews 9:24, Christ entered heaven to appear in the presence of God

24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

God went into heaven to appear in the presence of God?

Revelation 11:15, kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ

15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 12:10, kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ

10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Revelation 20:6, Priests of God and of Christ

6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Common Distinctions in the New Testament

In a strict sense, there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor 8:6) Correspondingly, numerous scriptural references (15x) use the term “God” in reference to the Father and the term “Lord” pertaining to Jesus. The typical phrase used in Paul’s greetings is, “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. These references include Romans 1:7, Romans 15:6, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, 2 Corinthians 1:2-3, 2 Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 1:1-3, Ephesians 1:2-3, Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 5:20, Ephesians 6:23, Philippians 1:2, Philippians 2:11, Colossians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:2-3.

Many numerous scriptural references (15x) say that God raised Jesus from the dead, indicating a distinction between Jesus who was raised and God who raised him. These references include Acts 2:23, Acts 2:32, Acts 3:15, Acts 4:10, Acts 5:30, Acts 10:40, Acts 13:30, Acts 13:37, Romans 6:4, Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 6:15, 1 Corinthians 15:15, Galatians 1:1, Colossians 2:12, and 1 Peter 1:21.

There are numerous scriptural references (13x) that refer to Jesus being at “the right hand of God” indicating a distinction of the God and Jesus who is at his right hand. These references include. Mark 16:9, Luke 22:69, Acts 2:33, Acts 5:31, Acts 7:55-56, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:17-19, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 12:2, and 1 Peter 3:22.  Accordingly, it only the one God and Father who is literally God, and Jesus acts on behalf of God as God’s right-hand man.

Visual distinction between God and Jesus

Acts 7:55-56, Stephen saw the glory of God, and Jesus at the right hand of God

55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Revelation 5:6-12, the lamb near the throne, took the scroll from God on the throne

6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 7:15-16, God is on the throne – the lamb is in the midst of the throne

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Modalism results in two Jesus’s

In reference to Revelation 5, If you say the Lamb (between the throne and the four living creatures) is Jesus and God (who sits on the throne) is also Jesus. Then the  result is Jesus taking the scroll from the right hand of Jesus – two Jesus’s

Revelation 5:6-12 

6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Jesus acted according to God’s plan (not his own) as a servant

Matthew 12:18, “Behold my servant whom I have chosen”

 18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me”

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

John 5:30, “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me”

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 7:16-18, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”

16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

John 8:26-29, Jesus spoke as the Father taught him

6 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

John 12:49-50, The who sent him has given him a  commandment – what to say and what to speak

49 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. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

John 14:24, “The word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s”

24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

John 15:10, “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love”

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Acts 2:22-24, “A man delivered up according to the plan and foreknowledge of God”

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 3:26, “God raised up his servant”

26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

1 Peter 2:23, He entrusted himself to him who judges justly

23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Galatians 1:3-5, Jesus gave himself according to the will of God the Father

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 2:8-11, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God exalted / appointed Jesus 

Acts 10:42, he is the one appointed by God to be Judge

42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:24-27, God has put all things in subjection under his feet

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.

Ephesians 1:17-21, God raised him and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places

17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Philippians 2:8-11, Jesus exalted on account of his obedience

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hebrews 1:9, God, your God, has anointed you

9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you  with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Hebrews 2:5-8, God exalted someone who was lower than the angels

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Hebrews 4:15-5:6, Every high priest  appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 5:1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 5:8-10, Jesus has been designated by God a high priest

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

How Jesus is identified by the Apostles

The book of Acts chronical exactly what those chosen by Christ proclaimed about who Jesus who he is. The Apostolic testimony of Jesus is that “the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 2:36, Acts 3:18-20, Acts 5:42, Acts 9:20-22, Acts 17:1-3, Acts 18:5, Acts 18:28) It is apparent that the core Apostolic teaching is that Jesus is the Messiah (not that he himself is God)

Acts 2:22-28, Peter preaches the resurrection

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Acts 2:29-36, Peter preaches, “God has made him (Jesus) both Lord and Christ”

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Acts 3:13, God glorified his servant Jesus

13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.

Acts 3:17-26, Peter preaches Jesus the Christ (Messiah) of God

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ​‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Acts 5:30-32, God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior

30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Acts  5:42, The primary message of the Apostles –  “the Christ (Messiah) is Jesus”

42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 9:20-22, Saul’s message as he begins to preach

20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 10:34-43, Peter preaches to the Gentiles

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13:36-41, Forgiveness through Christ

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: 41 “‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

Acts 17:1-3, Paul’s Preaching in Thessalonica

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

Acts 17:30-31, Paul at Athens

  30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Acts 18:5, Paul’s preaching in Corinth

5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.

Acts 18:28, Paul’s message to the Jews

28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Acts 26:15-23, Paul’s Testimony of his conversion

 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

The Messiah of prophecy is an agent of God

The Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament (Tanakh) describe the coming son of man as an agent of God through whom God will establish a everlasting priesthood and kingdom. Quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise indicated. 

Deuteronomy 18:15-19, “God will raise up for you a prophet – I will put my words in his mouth”

15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ​‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ​‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

Psalms 110:1-6, “The LORD says to my Lord”

1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.

Psalms 8:4-6, “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands”

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,

Psalms 110:1 (LSV), YHWH to my Lord

A PSALM OF DAVID. A declaration of YHWH to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, || Until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

Isaiah 9:6-7, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given”

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 52:13, “My servant shall act wisely”

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.

Isaiah 53:10-12, “By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous”

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus in reference to the apostolic prayer for empowerment 

The apostles directed their prayer to the Father and in doing so they referred to Jesus as “your holy servant Jesus.” They understood that Jesus is an agent of God.

Acts 4:24-31, Believers pray to the Father “the name of your holy servant Jesus”

24 … they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

The essential humanity of Christ

1 Timothy 2:5-6, summarizes the Gospel in one sentence, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” It is this which Paul refers to as “the knowledge of the truth” in verse 4 that God wants all people to come to and be saved by. It is for this very reason in verse 7 that Paul was appointed a preacher and an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

1 Timothy 2:3-7 (ESV)

3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

1 Tim 2:5-6 is framed as the truth of the Gospel. What is this core truth? It is summarized as follows:

    1. There is one God (God is our Savior and desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth)
    2. There is one mediator between God and men
    3. The mediator is a man
    4. The mediator is Christ (the Messiah) Jesus
    5. The mediator gave himself up as a ransom for all
    6. The testimony of the Messiah was given at the proper time. (i.e., according to Gods predestined plan)

All the points above are critical to our understanding of the identity of God and Jesus and the distinction between the two. Here Jesus is distinguished from God in four ways:

  1. Jesus is the mediator between God and men
  2. Jesus is a man
  3. Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all
  4. Jesus is the Messiah of God’s plan

These four aspects of who Jesus is affirm that the humanity of Jesus is core to the Gospel message. Corresponding to these criteria, Jesus cannot be God in a literal ontological sense:

1.  A mediator between God and man is a separate party from the God and the men he mediates for. That is a mediator is a third party. There is only one God, so the mediator between God must have a separate ontological distinction from God. 

2. The mediator is a man. God is not and cannot become a man.  God is infinite, man is finite. The infinite cannot be finite and remain infinite. Man is dependent on oxygen, food and water. God is dependent on nothing. Man is mortal while God is immortal. God who is immortal cannot die by definition. The ontological classifications of God vs man are categorical distinctions that cannot be crossed.

3. The mediator gave himself as a ransom for all. God cannot give himself as a ransom as God is immutable and cannot die. Rather it was necessary that the remedy for the sin of man be of a type of Adam – a man who was made in the likeness of the first Adam – a direct creation of God made without sin. 

4. The mediator is the Messiah (Christ) of God’s plan foretold by the prophets. The Messiah of prophecy is a human agent of God – the “Son of Man”

The humanity of Christ is essential to the gospel as shown at the link below. God is not a man but the Messiah of prophecy is necessarily a human servant of God – his anointed as Jesus is the Son of Man of the messianic prophecies. Adam was a type of the one who was to come and Jesus is the last Adam. Atonement is through the flesh and blood of the human Messiah (Christ). Jesus, our high priest mediates a better covenant with his own blood. Jesus is a servant of God who mediates for us. The one God and Father is the God and Father of Jesus. God our savior exalted Jesus at his right hand as leader and savior. The Son of Man is destined to judge the world in righteousness. 

How Jesus is God without being God in an ontological sense?

Agents of God are called God. Jesus can be called God because he represents God. 

In Hebrew thought, the first cause or ultimate cause is not always distinguished from secondary or proximate causes. That is to say, the principal is not always clearly distinguished form the agent (the one commissioned to carry out an act on behalf of another). Sometimes the agent standing for the principal, is treated as if he were the principal himself, though this is not literally so. Principal and agent remain two distinct persons. The agent acting and speaking for the principal is the principal by proxy (a person authorized to act for another). 

The Hebrew term for agent or legal emissary is Shaliach which is comparable of the Greek world Apostolos and the English word Apostle. An apostle is an agent commissioned by a principal. We read in Hebrews 3:1-2, Jesus is the apostle and high priest of our confession and was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses was also faithful in all God’s house.

Agent, Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, R.J.Z Werblowski, G Wigoder, 1986, p. 15.

Agent (Hebrew. Shaliach); The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum,  “a person’s agent is regarded as the person himself” (Ned. 72B; Kidd, 41b) Therefore, any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal, who therefore bears full responsibility for it. 

What about John 14:9 and other passages in John?

The key to understanding the context of John 14;9-10 is John 14;20 where Jesus says, “in that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

John 14;9-10, 20, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…  20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 

To be in the Father does not literally mean to be the Father. Jesus will be in us and we will be in Jesus, that does not literally make us Jesus.

~

Thus, it is obviously not literally when Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Didn’t Jesus Identify himself as God by saying “I am” (ego eimi)

Jesus is the Word (Logos) made flesh –  Doesn’t that prove he is one and the same as God?

So what is the correct understanding regarding God and Jesus?

Hard questions for Modalists

  1. How is Jesus and the Father two witnesses? (John 8:16-18)
  2. Did Jesus learn obedience. Why would God need to learn obedience? (Heb 5:8)
  3. If Jesus himself is the Father, wouldn’t it be pointless to say “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)
  4. Does God raise himself up as a servant? (Acts 3:26)
  5. Does God need to entrust himself to himself as at says he “continued entrusting himself to him who judges  justly”? (1 Peter 2:23)
  6. Did God highly exalt Christ and give  him the name  that is above every name because he was obedient to himself? (Phil 2:8-9)
  7. Does it make any sense to say that God exalted himself? (Phil 2:9, Eph 1:17-21)
  8. A high priest works on behalf of God in relation to men, so how is it that God designated himself a high priest? (Heb 5:8-10)
  9. If Jesus already is God and all things are subjected to God, does it make any sense to say “God has put all things in subjection under his feet”? (1 Cor 15:24-27)
  10. If Christ is God, how can it be said that Christ has entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf”? (Heb 9:24) Did God go into heaven to appear in the presence of God?
  11. Why does Jesus say numerous times he is going to the Father if he is the Father? (John 14:12, John 14:28, John 16:17, John 16:28)
  12. How can God be tempted in every way we are and also sympathize with our weaknesses? (Heb 4:15)
  13. Jesus was taught by God. Does God need to learn anything? (John 8:28)
  14. If Jesus, is God, he would have the Holy Spirit within himself. So rather from descending from heaven and reside with him, wouldn’t it rather emanate from him? (Luke 3:22)
  15. If Jesus is himself God, why would an angel be needed to strengthen him? (Luke 22:42-43)
  16.  God has no need to anoint himself. Why would Jesus need to be anointed by God with the Holy Spirit? (Luke 4:18, Acts 4:26-27, Acts 10:38)  
  17. Why does Jesus have no glory in himself if he is God? (John 8:54)
  18. If Jesus himself is the Father, what sense does it make to say that the Father loves Jesus because he lays down his life? (John 10:17) 
  19. Jesus said that Father is greater than all. Why not just say that he is Greater than all? (John 10:29, John 14:28)
  20. Why does Jesus refer to the Father as the only true God and as himself as the one that he had sent? (John 17:1-3)
  21. Why does Jesus refer to God as His God and his Father if he himself is the Father? (John 20:17)
  22. Why is the Father referred to the one God and source of all things while Jesus referred to as the the one Lord (as a distinction between him and God) in 1 Cor 8:5-6?
  23. Peter said that that God made Jesus both Lord and Christ. Does this make any sense if Jesus is Lord to begin with? (Acts 2:36)
  24. If Jesus is God, why doesn’t say that Jesus gave himself according to his own will, rather than the will of our God and Father (Gal 1:3-4)
  25. In distinction to God, Jesus is referred as a man who is the one mediator between God and men in 1 Tim 2:5-6. How can God be both the mediator and the God he mediates for? 
  26. Why does Paul say “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” rather than “blessed be our God and Father Jesus Christ”? (2 Cor 1:3)

From Oneness to Biblical Unitarian

Many past oneness believers have come to the realization the the doctrine is not consistent with the balanced testimony of scripture. They have realized the the doctrine is apparently supported by a handful of vague verses when interpreted a particular way. However the unitarian understanding is supported everywhere in the New Testament and with the most explicit references. The main sticking point among oneness believers is maintaining the deity of Christ. But upon close examination no where does the New Testament it suggest that  we have to believe that Jesus the one God and Father. Rather we see him as the human Messiah that God made both Lord and Christ.

Additional resources refuting oneness doctrine (modalism)

21st century reformation has a website directed  specifically to those who are of a oneness background of oneness persuasion. This site is made by those who have also come from a oneness background. 

21st Century Reformation

Articles

www.21stcr.org/subjects/oneness-pentecostalism/oneness-pentecostalism-articles/

Videos

www.21stcr.org/subjects/oneness-pentecostalism/oneness-pentecostalism-videos/

Audio

www.21stcr.org/subjects/oneness-pentecostalism/oneness-pentecostalism-audio/

Books

www.21stcr.org/subjects/oneness-pentecostalism/oneness-pentecostalism-books/