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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rev. 5:6 and Rev. 5:13 "Throne"

Rev. 5:6 and Rev. 5:13

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne [of God]." - Rev. 5:6, NIV.

Some trinitarians also imply that the slain Lamb (obviously the heavenly-resurrected Christ) must be God because he is in the middle of God's throne in this verse.

There is never any doubt that the one seated on God's throne in Rev. 4 and 5 is God.

"They [the 24 elders] lay their crowns before the throne and say: `You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things." - Rev. 4:10, 11 NASB.

But the Lamb is never called God, nor does he sit on the throne of God in these two chapters. He approaches God, and is clearly differentiated from God:

"To him who sits on the throne [God] and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory...." Rev. 5:13, NASB.

So why is the Lamb standing in the center of the throne of God? Well here is how it reads in the original Greek: "And I saw in midst of the throne (en meso tou thronou) ... lamb standing...." Thayer tells us of this NT Greek word meso:

"in midst of, i.e. in the space within, tou thronou [`the throne'] (which must be conceived of as having a semicircular shape [c-shaped]: Rev. iv. 6; v. 6."

Thayer continues with an explanation of Rev. 5:6 that meso means

"between the throne and the four living creatures and the elders (i.e. in the vacant space between the throne and the living creatures [on one side] and elders [on the other side], accordingly nearest the throne." - p. 402, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House.

Highly trinitarian New Testament expert A. T. Robertson also takes this to mean "before" or in front of the throne. - Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. vi, p. 328.

Accordingly, many modern trinitarian translations use "between" here (rather than "in the center of"): "between the throne and the four living creatures"- (1) RSV, (2) The Jerusalem Bible, (3) NASB, (4) NAB (1970 ed.), (5) NRSV, (6) The Amplified Bible (1965), (7) MLB (1969), (8) Beck's The Holy Bible in the Language of Today (1976), (9) C. B. Williams' New Testament in the Language of the People (1963), (10) REB, (11) Living Bible.

But no matter how you wish to translate en meso tou thronou, it is obvious that the Lamb's being there does not make him God. Simply look at Rev. 4:6 and the complete Rev. 5:6. We see in Rev. 4:6 that the four living creatures are en meso tou thronou just as the lamb is in 5:6! If that means the Lamb is God, then it also means the four living creatures are God!

A further examination of Rev. 4:6 reveals this additional information concerning "en meso tou thronou" and the throne of God. These 4 living creatures ("beasts" - KJV) are "in the midst of the throne and around the throne." This could mean that they are positioned around the throne so that each one is standing in the center of each side. For that reason, the translators of TEV and GNB translated it:

"surrounding the throne on each of its sides." CBW and Beck both translate: "in the middle of each side of the throne." (Cf. RSV, MLB, and LB.)

This understanding and these renderings by modern trinitarian Bibles correlate well with Ezekiel's vision of Jehovah's throne at Ezek. 1:15-22 where the 4 living creatures (Cherubs) are stationed at each corner of the throne (or chariot which supports the throne).

It could also mean the four living creatures are in the central position in heaven (or in the throne room) where the throne of God is located. For this reason, The Jerusalem Bible reads: "in the center, grouped around the throne itself."

The above gives us good evidence for determining what en meso tou thronou may mean for the position of the Lamb in Rev. 5:6.

Or merely examine all of the scripture in question. Rev. 5:6 reads literally in the Greek:

"And I saw in midst of the throne [en meso tou thronou] and of the four living [creatures] and in midst of [en meso] the older persons lamb having stood as having been slaughtered."

Again we see the four living creatures in the "midst" of the throne, and also the Lamb is in the "midst" of the 24 elders. The 24 elders, then, must also be in the "midst" of the throne with Jesus. So, this trinitarian "evidence" means the 24 elders are God too!

Let's examine the scriptural visions of God on his throne in a little more detail.

Ezekiel's inspired vision of God on his throne shows these details:

"From the midst of it [the vision of fire] came the likeness of four living creatures [Cherubs, angels]. And this was their appearance: they had the form of men, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings." - Ezek. 1:5, 6, RSV.

Notice that Ezekiel tells us that these 4 Cherubs at the 4 corners of God's throne (Ezek. 1:26) look just like men except for 4 faces (and wings) which are further described in verses 10, 11. We know, therefore, exactly what they looked like. Any significant variation from a man's likeness has been carefully explained by Ezekiel.

Now look at the description of God himself as Ezekiel continues his vision. Ezekiel again tells us that "seated above the...throne was a likeness as it were of a human form." - Ezek. 1:26, RSV. And again Ezekiel describes all the significant differences from the appearance of a man (v. 27): brightness, gleaming like glowing bronze, fiery appearance from the waist down. Except for these significant differences the vision of God looks like a man! Not three persons; not a man with three heads; not a man with three faces, etc. but just like a man! IF God were 3 persons, Ezekiel's vision surely would have given us some indication of that (such as his description in this very same vision of the 4 aspects of each of the 4 Cherubs shown figuratively by 4 distinctive faces for each person which he gave just before this description of God).

But, instead, we are shown the one person, like a man seated on God's throne whereas trinitarians should be insisting that three equal persons should be somehow represented there!

"This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah." - Ezekiel 1:28, ASV and The King James II Version, Fourth Ed.

We see the same thing in the throne vision of Rev. 4 & 5 and 19:4.

"lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne! And he who sat there [the Lamb later approaches this one - vv. 6, 7] appeared like jasper and carnelian and round the throne was a rainbow...." - Rev. 4:2, 3, RSV.

Obviously this is a single person who differs from the likeness of a man only in the brilliant, glowing colors of his person. (Notice that John doesn't hesitate to describe the figurative details of the 4 cherubs as they differ from human likenesses - as did Ezekiel above - in vv. 6, 7 and even describes a figurative 7-headed beast of his own in Rev. 13:1.) But John, who is, of course, very familiar with the figurative descriptions of Ezekiel (4-faced person) and Daniel (4-headed beast) uses nothing (figurative or literal) to represent God as anything more than a single person!

This single person on the throne is obviously the only true God, the creator (Rev. 4:10, 11 - see The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, p. 588) and this does not include the person of Jesus Christ: "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb." - Rev. 7:10, RSV. ("All glory to him who alone is God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord" - Jude 25, Living Bible. - cf. John 17:1, 3, NEB.)

This one person, with the likeness of a man, seated upon the throne is worshiped by those in heaven as Jehovah God!

"and the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, `Amen, Hallelujah!'" - Rev. 19:4, RSV.

"Hallelujah," as is well known, means "Praise Jehovah." (Today's Dictionary of the Bible; Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, etc.)

Notice Rev. 21:3, 5.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne. [So this must be God, right? - - - Wrong!], saying, `Behold the tabernacle of God is among men and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be among them.'"

Now notice in verse 5:

"And He who sits on the throne said, `Behold I am making all things new.'" - NASB.

We see that although the first voice was from the throne, it was still not from God. The second voice was from the one who sits on the throne (God).

Another vision of God in heaven is noteworthy. "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God." - Acts 7:55, TEV.

Please note: God is a single person here who is not Jesus Christ. If it had said, "Stephen ... saw God's glory. Yes, he saw Jesus standing at the right side of the Father," then we could accept one possible interpretation as Jesus and the Father both being God. (But why isn't the "person" of the Holy Spirit standing here also - or in any other vision of God in heaven?) But as it's worded by the inspired Bible writer, this is simply not a permissible interpretation.

Yes, we never see God represented in visions, dreams, etc. as more than one person (and this person is never Jesus or the Holy Spirit). Whenever personality can be determined, the person shown to be God in heaven is always the Father, Jehovah alone.

We never find the word "trinity" (or anything remotely equivalent) used by the Bible writers. We don't even find the word "three" used to describe God in any sense! ("God is three;" "There is only one God in three persons;" "Jehovah is three;" etc.) This alone makes the "evidence" for a trinity totally incredible and completely unacceptable! - see the IMAGE study.

So we find, as usual, that the evidence for a Trinity is so ambiguous, so indirect, that the same type of "evidence" can be used to "prove" that many others are "God" - see the "TRIN-TYPE" study. This simply cannot be! Anything of such essential importance to man's salvation and God's true worship cannot be so inconclusive.

Can we imagine that other teachings of such essential importance to man's salvation could be so vague? Just look at the massive number of straight-forward statements that openly declare that Jesus is the Messiah! He is our Savior, and we had better believe it if we want to please God and receive life!

We don't have to add up little bits and pieces, hints, strained interpretations, and vague references to patch together a life-saving doctrine. God clearly and repeatedly reveals the necessities for life.

For more, see:

Exposing the False Reasoning Behind Trinity Proof Texts  (Examining the Trinity)

Trinity Index (Examining the Trinity)

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood")

Acts 20:28  ("God...with his own blood")
Trinitarians, for obvious reasons, prefer this translation of Acts 20:28 - "... to shepherd ["feed" in some translations] the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." - NASB.  This certainly seems to be excellent evidence for a "Jesus is God" doctrine.

But there are 2 major uncertainties about the proper translation of Acts 20:28.  Either one of those uncertainties completely nullifies any trinitarian "evidence" proposed for this Scripture!

First, even some trinitarian Bibles translate this verse, "the church of the Lord." - NEB; REB; ASV; Moffatt.  Since Jesus was often referred to as "the Lord," this rendering negates any "Jesus is God" understanding for Acts 20:28.
Yes, even the popular trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, p. 838, Vol. 2, Zondervan Publ., 1986, uses this translation for Acts 20:28 also: "to feed the church of the Lord"!
And the respected, scholarly trinitarian work, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 480, United Bible Societies, 1971, explains about this first uncertainty concerning the translation of Acts 20:28.  Although, for obvious reasons, preferring the rendering "the church of God" at this verse, this trinitarian work admits that there is "considerable degree of doubt" about this "preferred" rendering.  They admit that "The external evidence is singularly balanced between `church of God' and `church of the Lord.'"
Second, even some trinitarian Bibles render this verse, "to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son." - RSV, 1971 ed.; NRSV; NJB; (also see TEV and GNB).
The New Testament Greek words tou idiou follow "with the blood" in this scripture.  This could be translated as "with the blood of his own."  A singular noun may be understood to follow "his own."  This would be referring to God's "closest relation," his only-begotten Son.
Famous trinitarian scholar J. H. Moulton says about this: 
"something should be said about the use of [ho  idios, which includes tou idiou] without a noun expressed.  This occurs in Jn 1:11, 13:1; Ac 4:23, 24:23.  In the papyri  we find the singular used thus as a term of endearment to near relations .... In Expos. vi. iii. 277 I ventured to cite this as a possible encouragement to those (including B. Weiss) who would translate Acts 20:28 `the blood of one who was his own.'" - A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. 1 (Prolegomena), 1930 ed., p. 90.
Highly respected trinitarian New Testament scholars Westcott and Hort present an alternate reason for a similar rendering:

"it is by no means impossible that YIOY [huiou, or `of the Son'] dropped out [was inadvertently left out during copying] after TOYIDIOY [tou idiou, or `of his own'] at some very early transcription affecting all existing documents.  Its insertion [restoration] leaves the whole passage free from difficulty of any kind." - The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. 2, pp. 99, 100 of the Appendix.
And A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 481, tells us:

"Instead of the usual meaning of dia tou haimatos tou idiou [`through the blood of the own'], it is possible that the writer of Acts intended his readers to understand the expression to mean `with the blood of his Own.'  (It is not necessary to suppose, with Hort, that huiou may have dropped out after tou idiou, though palaeographically such an omission would have been easy.)  This absolute use of ho idios is found in Greek papyri as a term of endearment referring to near relatives.  It is possible, therefore, that `his Own' (ho idios) was a title which early Christians gave to Jesus, comparable to `the Beloved'."   

Therefore, we can see that a rendering similar to RSV's "the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own son [or `beloved']" is obviously an honest, proper rendering.
Although the UBS Committee didn't actually commit itself one way or another on this rendering of tou idiou at Acts 20:28, it did mention that "some have thought [it] to be a slight probability that tou idiou is used here as the equivalent of tou idiou huiou [`his own Son']." - p. 481.  Obviously this includes those trinitarian scholars who translated the Revised Standard Version (1971 ed.) and Today's English Version.

Note the the even more certain conclusion of trinitarian scholar, Murray J. Harris, after an extensive analysis of this passage:

"I have argued that the original text of Acts 20:28 read [THN EKKLHSIAN TOU THEOU HN PERIEPOIHSATO DIA TOU AIUATOS TOU IDIOU] and that the most appropriate translation of these words is 'the church of God which he bought with the blood of his own one' or 'the church of God which he bought with the blood of his own Son' (NJB), with [HO IDIOS] construed as a christological title. According to this view, [HO THEOS] refers to God the Father, not Jesus Christ.

"If however, one follows many English versions in construing [IDIOS] adjectivally ('through his own blood'), [HO THEOS] could refer to Jesus and the verse could therefore allude to 'the blood of God,' although on this construction of [IDIOS] it is more probable that [THEOS] is God the Father and the unexpressed subject of [PERIEPOIHSATO] is Jesus. So it remains unlikely, although not impossible, that Acts 20:28 [HO THEOS] denotes Jesus."  - p. 141, Jesus as Theos, The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus,  Baker Book House, Grand rapids, Michigan, 1992.
Since so many respected trinitarian scholars admit the possibility (and even the probability) of such honest alternate non-trinitarian translations for Acts 20:28, this Scripture can't honestly be used as proof for a trinity concept.

For Much More Concerning This Scripture, See:

Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood") (Defending the NWT)

ACTS 20:28 (IN Defense of the NWT)

Does Acts 20:28 really say that God bought the church with his "own" blood? (Search For Bible Truths)

Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood") (Examining the Trinity)

A Response to Alleged New World Translation "Errors" (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

"The Sahidic Coptic version...does not speak of 'the church of God which he purchased with his own blood,' (Acts 20:28) (NWT and Coptic)

(Also see the SCRIPTURE INDEX.)

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Was the Ark of the Covenant Used as a Form of Idol Worship Because it Has the Image of Cherubs?

A key argument against the cherubic representations coming to be on the Ark as a form of idol worship is the fact that Jehovah God Himself ordered that they be placed in the temple for the purpose of making the priesthood fully aware of His presence. (Ex. 25:19-21) Also, they could not be objects of veneration by the people, because the people in general did not see the cherubs and therefore were not induced to treat them idolatrously. (Num. 4:4-6, 17-20) Instead of encouraging idolatry, these cherubic representations constantly reminded Israel’s priesthood of their relationship to the Most High, the ruling King in Israel, the One who exacted exclusive devotion. (Deut. 6:13-15)

Additionally, when once an apostate priesthood presumed to use the ark of the covenant with its carved cherubs as a charm, Jehovah God allowed the Philistines to capture it, to the great dismay of the Israelites and of aged high priest Eli in particular. (Sam. 4:3, 4, 11, 17, 18)

More excellent information about this can be found in the 11/1/80 Watchtower; 'Cherubs in Israel’s Worship—Why No Idolatry?'

And the 12/1/59 Watchtower, ‘You Must Not Bow Down to a Carved Image’; (next to the last paragraph in particular.)

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