And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3)
If Jesus must be excluded if God is ”the only true…God”, then why is not Jesus excluded elsewhere where God is said to be ”the only” something? And why is GOD not excluded when JESUS is said to be ”the only....” something? If you check the verses below you will see examples of where either God or Jesus is called ”the only”, and yet most antitrinitarians have no problem including the other one. It’s only when it comes to John 17:3 where they for some reason do NOT want to include Jesus, and we already know the reason. If they did, they have to let go of a beloved verse which they have always viewed as proof for that Jesus isn’t God, and now they are left with nothing.
- Is the only one who is God – John 17:3, Is. 43:10, Is. 45:18, Ps. 86:10 (yet JESUS is too 1 Hebr. 1:8, 1 John 5:20, John 20:28)
- Is the only one who is Lord (despotes, Strong’s 1203) – Jude 4 (yet JESUS is too 2 Pet. 2:1)
- Is the only one who is King of Kings – 1 Tim. 6.15 (yet JESUS is too Rev. 17:14, Rev. 19.16)
- Is the only one who is Lord of Lords – 1 Tim. 6.15 (yet JESUS is too Rev. 17:14, Rev. 19.16)
- Is the only one to be exalted on that day – Is. 2:11, 17 compare also with Ps. 118:16 (yet JESUS is too Acts. 2:33, Acts 5:31, Phil 2:9)
- Is the only one who is immortal – 1 Tim. 6.16 (yet JESUS is too Hebr. 1:8-12)
- Is the only one who is Savior – Is. 43:11, Is. 45:21-22 (yet JESUS is too Titus 2:13, 2 Pet. 1:1, Acts. 13:23, Acts. 4:12, 1 Tim. 1:15)
- Is the only one who make wonders/miracles – Ps. 72:18, Ps. 136:4 (yet JESUS too Matt. 4:23, 8:27, Acts. 4:10)
- Is the only Creator and NO ONE was with him – Is. 25:24, Neh. 9:6 (yet JESUS is too Hebr. 1:10, Col 1:16-17)
- Is the only one who we should worship – Rev. 14:7, Matt. 4:10, Neh. 9:6 (yet JESUS too Matt. 28:9, 28:17)
- Is the only one who has Glory and who doesn’t share his glory with anyone – Is. 42:8, Is. 48:11 (yet JESUS too Phil. 2:9-13)
- Is the only one who is Lord – 1 Cor. 8:6 (yet GOD too Deut. 10:17, Is. 42:8)
- Is the only one who is Holy – Rev. 15:3-4 (yet GOD too Ex. 5:11, Is. 57:15)
The fear of accepting that Jesus is GOD in flesh
Antitrinitarians often cite John. 17:3 as an attempt to deny the deity of Jesus, by suggesting that Jesus would never call his Father ”the only true God” had he been God himself because there is only ONE God. It’s absolutely true that God is ONE, but why not ONE Godhead? Why cannot three persons be in the same trinity? Can God not be in any way he wants? Can God not be in a burning bush at the same time as he is in heaven, and at the same time as he oversees every single step that all people on earth make during the same second? Can he not be on every continent at the same time? Jesus can be on the right side of God, just like he is in the midst of a group who gathers together in his name.
Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
I’d like to believe that Jesus is present in our midst (albeit not in flesh) when two or more are gathered together in his name. Does this mean that he is unable to also be in the midst of other groups of people who gather together in his name somewhere else on earth – if they happen to gather together at the same time? Must we sit there with the hope that he is not already fully booked and unable to attend our meetings because his schedule is full and he is busy elsewhere? I’d like to believe that none of the persons in the Godhead have any problems at all to be in several places at the same time, and consequently Jesus doesn’t have any problems with sitting at the right hand side of God (the Father) despite being God himself. One pile of sand can be divided into three piles of sand, and our Lord can likewise be split apart should he want to. The persons in the Godhead are not divided in essence but they can split apart and act independently, but in unity, within the trinity.
Gal. 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
What would be a better way for Jesus to phrase himself? Should he have said: ”…that they might know thee the only true God, and myself Jesus Christ – the second only true God”? That would make it sound there were several true Gods, and there would be a risk that the people around him would misunderstand him, be confused and even enraged – way too soon in history because it wasn’t time for his death just yet. Jesus only wanted to show them that there is indeed ONE true God, and that is the one that he communicates with just like the people around him. Did he communicate with himself? No, he communicated with another person in the same Godhead. Jesus constantly prayed to God the Father (often called just GOD), and the last time was when he was on the cross. As God in FLESH Jesus communicated with God the Father in the same way as all other people – by praying – but he of course has a very special relationship since he shares the same Godhead. When Jesus was not in flesh (Jesus has always been with the Father from eternity past) but in spirit, he didn’t communicate through prayers. Since Jesus is both God and man, he would properly say that his Father is the only true God. Are there other true Gods? Of course not. There is only ONE. He was not denying His own divinity but affirming the truth that God is one, as the scriptures properly say.
”But Jesus is speaking about this ”only true God” in third person and that should mean that Jesus himself couldn’t be God”? It’s true that he referred to God in third person but he also refers to himself in third person! If Jesus cannot be God due to referring to God in third person, then neither can he be Jesus Christ by the same logic.
Jesus is not only God, but the son of God. He isn’t Joseph’s true son, so he must be someone else’s true son, and he is God the Father’s son (or sprung from the trinity). But it was also Jesus own decision to be born on earth, as he has always been a part of the trinity. I personally believe that when Jesus was born on earth, he behaved just like all other babies, and I don’t believe he had wisdom enough to know he was God at the age of 3 weeks, 3 months, etc. I don’t believe he knew he was God as a baby, because he was just a baby and behaved like babies normally do. As soon as he grew up and had the capacity to reason, he knew he was divine, and again, it was his own decision to be born as a man (first baby) on earth for our sake. His mission was to spread the gospel and die as a sin offering for all mankind, and he is also called son of man. As a man on earth, he too communicated with God (the Father). Jesus was also one of us.
Phil. 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
GOD is the true God
Jer. 10:10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
God the Father is the one true God
Joh. 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent
Jesus Christ is the true God – 1 John 5:20
1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
The most natural way to read ”this” or ”this one” above (or in similar statements) is to make it refer to the most previous person mentioned, which would here be Jeus Kristus. Or else John should have clarified exactly who he was referring to, if the most natural way of reading his text is supposed to be avoided. God is not a God of confusion. Take note of John’s way of starting out his letter in 1 John 1:1, where he states that the eternal life (Jesus) was with the Father – which is repeated in 1 John 15:19-20. Jesus is also the true light. It doesn’t make sense, if monotheism is true, to have two separate persons/Gods who both are called the eternal life, the true light, IAM, alpha and omega, the Lord of Lords, Savior, Creator, etc, and who on top of all are being worshiped. Either Jesus is God, or we have a God Senior and a God Junior, which is polytheism.
Ps. 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
1 Joh. 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
1 Joh. 2:8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.—22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 The same was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John. 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Joh. 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
Joh. 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Evangelical scholar Robert M. Bowman Jr. about John. 5:20:
Three considerations favor the Son. First, the closest antecedent for “this one” is Jesus Christ (“in his Son Jesus Christ. This one…”). Second, in 1:2 the “eternal life” is Jesus Christ (who was “with the Father”), an apparent example ofinclusio (repetition of a theme or idea at the beginning and end of a text). Third, the confession form “This one is…” (houtos estin) strongly favors Jesus Christ, rather than the Father, as the subject, since John uses this language repeatedly with regard to Christ (John 1:30, 33, 34; 4:29, 42; 6:14, 42, 50, 58; 7:18, 25, 26, 40, 41; 1 John 5:6; of the man born blind, John 9:8, 9, 19, 20; of the disciple, John 21:24; of the anti-Christ, 1 John 2:22; 2 John 1:7), but not once for the Father. John has just used this formula for Christ earlier in the same chapter (1 John 5:6). (Robert M. Bowman, The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity: An Outline Study, Part IV. The Son, Jesus Christ, Is God; *)
Dr. Robert A. Morey:
“That there may be a few rare exceptions to a general rule does not mean that one should approach a text of Scripture with the a priori assumption that it will be an exception to the normal rules of grammar.Instead, we should approach a text with the a priori assumption that the normal rules of grammar and syntax will apply unless there are cleargrammatical reasons to depart from those rules. “Please notice that we said ‘grammatical’–not ‘theological’–reasons. Just because the grammar of a text leads to an idea which contradicts what you believe, this does not give you the right to throw grammar to the wind. Theology cannot overthrow or ignore the grammar of the sacred text. It can only bow before it…”
“The Greek text of 1 John 5:20 is simple and straightforward. John used houtos fifty-five times in his writings. Thus, we are not talking about a rare usage of a rare word. There are plenty of places in John’s writings where houtos was used in the same kind of construction as found in 1 John 5:20 and no one has any problem with houtos referring back to the antecedent… Why then all the hysteria over whether houtos refers to Jesus in 1 John 5:20? Obviously, it is not the grammar or syntax of the Greek that causes people to question whether houtos refers to Jesus Christ per se. It is that it refers to Him as God. That is the real issue. “If the text read, ‘Iesou Christo. houtos estin zoe Aionios (‘Jesus Christ. This is Eternal Life’), there would be no controversy whatsoever.Houtos would be seen as referring to ‘Iesou Christo. But once you add ho alethinos theos to the phrase, then the controversy begins.”
“The evidence for Jesus being called ‘the true God’ and ‘Eternal Life’ is quite strong:
1. The general rule on pronouns is that it modifies the immediate antecedent. This means Jesus Christ…
2) While John elsewhere refers to Jesus as ‘Eternal Life’ (1 John 1:2), the Father is never called ‘Eternal Life.’ More importantly, in the immediate context, since Jesus is ‘eternal life,’ then to have Him in your heart is to have eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). In John’s writings, refers to zoe Aionios ‘Eternal Life’ Jesus.
3) John applies the adjective alethinos ‘true’ to Jesus many times…
4) That the Father is called ‘true God’ in John 17:3 and the Son is called ‘true God’ in 1 John 5:20 is no more a contradiction than the fact that they are both called the ‘true One’ (1 John 5:20; cf. Rev. 3:7).
5) The interpretation that ‘the true God’ refers to the Father leads to a meaningless tautology. Lenski explains: In the first place, if houtos has as its antecedent ‘the real God’ (the Father), then the statement is a tautology; John would say: ‘This real God is the real God.’ He would say it after having twice said: we know the real God and are in the real God.” (Morey, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues [World Bible Publishers, Inc., Iowa Falls, IA 1996], Part IV: The New Testament Evidence, Chapt. 17. God the Son, pp. 354-357) ”
A common objection to the most obvious understanding of 1 Joh. 5:20 – where houtos refers to the last person spoken of – is to present a verse where it’s NOT possible to read the verse in such a way. If such a verse could be found, the idea is that we are then exempt from reading ANY verse in the Bible according to the ordinary pattern if we don’t really want to – and particularly John 5:20 which is the ”problematic verse” that must be ”solved”. Such verses are not easy to find, but 1 John 2:22 is at least one example, and voilá – this discovery is used to find legitimate reasons to override the implications of John 5:20. So instead this verse is read in such a way that it agrees with the preferred doctrine, which is ”there is no way that Jesus is God”. Not due to grammatical reasons, but due to one’s own personal views (just like Dr. Robert A. Morey warns about). This is not an honest way to read the Bible, and it’s nothing but cherry-picking.
On top of this, there is a major difference between the two verses. Houtos must not refer to the last person spoken about but then this must be made clear in the context! To clarify who is the Antichrist, John adds the information (in caps below) that he who denies the Father and the Son is the Antichrist. No matter what language we speak, we would normally want listeners/readers to understand what we say, and if there is a chance that someone might misunderstand us we would rather want to express ourselves in such a way that misunderstandings can be avoided. If we want to deviate from the most common way to use houtos, extra clarification is needed.
1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He [houtos] is antichrist, THAT DENIETH THE FATHER AND THE SON.
Jesus is covered in GLORY and yet the Bible says God doesn’t share his glory with anyone…
Isaiah 42:8 I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Also Jesus is called true God and Lord
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the TRUE GOD, and eternal life. (more literally:…he is the true God)
Jude 4:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our ONLY Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Rom. 9:5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed GOD. Amen. (NKJV)
Hebr. 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
John. 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and MY GOD.29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Lord of Lords – there is only ONE – and yet both God the Father and Jesus Christ are called Lord of Lords
Other lords but God are mentioned in the Bible (like 26:13) and it’s not uncommon for a servant to call his master ”lord”, but the Bible also says there is one particular LORD who is LORD OF LORDS, and he ALONE is LORD.
Isaiah 37:20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou ONLY.
Deuteronomy 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
Psalm 136:3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
1 Tim. 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.
Matt. 22:42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
God the Father is the ONLY savior, and Jesus Christ as well, and both created the earth – ALONE
Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.
Titus. 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our SAVIOUR Jesus Christ;14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Isaiah 44:24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
According to John 1:3 and Col. 1:16-17 Jesus made all things, and absolutely NOTHING was before him. So God the Father could not have been before him since he is definitely something! Is God a liar?
Col. 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
There is only ONE God hat we shall worship, and JESUS allowed himself to be worshiped
It would have been so easy to quench the idea that Jesus is not God by showing Jesus correcting those who worshiped him, but not once did he do that. To Jesus will every knee bow and every tongue confess:
Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Zech. 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Acts. 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.