Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog


Trinitarian or Henotheistic in Nature? Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We resume our discussion by focusing on what the inspired Scriptures teach concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.


After examining all the relevant passages in determining the precise biblical manner in which the term God is used, we are still left with the following question: In what sense is Jesus identified as God?

The biblical evidence leaves us with just three possibilities, namely Jesus is the true God, a false god, or god in a representational/functional sense.

Both modern day Arians such as the JWs and Trinitarians agree that Jesus is neither a false god nor is he god simply functionally. The only category left is that of true gods, and yet JWs cannot possibly embrace this fact. This is due to what we had noted earlier that to JWs Jesus is not the true God Jehovah, but Jehovah’s first-created Son, Michael. That is why JWs and other modern day Arians like Stafford must argue for another class of gods that are neither true nor false, but derivative copies of the true. In this way, Arians erroneously assume that this allows for Jesus to be Jehovah’s premiere copy and image in relation to the other derivative images.

It is our understanding that the Holy Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is not a lesser god but the true God, Jehovah. The biblical data also teaches that there is more than one Person identified as possessing all the essential attributes of Deity, namely the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. John 17:3; Acts 5:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Yet they are not three Gods but only one true God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; John 5:44; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 1:17, 2:5; James 2:19).

It is precisely these biblical factors that drove the early Church to formulate its belief that God is one infinite tri-personal Being subsisting in three eternally distinct Persons.

This being the case, we would expect to find the Holy Bible ascribing specific divine characteristics and titles of Jehovah to the Lord Jesus Christ. Qualities such as immutability, eternality, creatorship etc. should be true of Jesus if indeed the Holy Bible teaches that Christ is fully God in essence. We would also expect to find verses where Jesus is clearly referred to as God, as well as receiving the worship due only to God. If all these factors are present within the inspired writings, we must therefore come to the conclusion that Jesus is Jehovah, even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.

With that just said, we now go forward with the biblical witness.



“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Psalm 102: 25-27 NIV


“But about the Son he says… ‘In the beginning , O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’" Hebrews 1:8a, 10-12 NIV

The astonishing fact about this passage is that the author not only attributes an Old Testament text of Jehovah to Jesus, but also ascribes to Christ the work of creation and the divine characteristic of immutability!

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Not only does this verse teach the immutability of Christ, but the author of Hebrews is essentially saying here the same thing about Jesus that the apostle John says about the Father:

“Grace to you and peace from him who IS and who WAS and who is TO COME,…” Revelation 1:4 ESV

In any event, coming as it does at the end of Hebrews, this affirmation of the Son’s immutability forms an inclusio with the reference to the same affirmation found at the beginning in Hebrews 1:10-12, thus bracketing the book and highlighting all the more the significance of these testimonies to Christ.



“… from everlasting (olam) to everlasting (olam) you are God." Psalm 90:2

Art thou not from everlasting (miqqedem), O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die…” Habakkuk 1:12 KJV


“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old (miqqedem), from everlasting (olam).” Micah 5:2 – cf. Matthew 2:1-6; Luke 2:4-7

“In the beginning was (een) the Word, and the Word was with God (ton theon [the God]), and the Word was God (theos). He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into existence (egeneto); without him nothing came into existence (egeneto) that has come into existence (ho gegonen). In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind… He was in the world, and though the world came into existence (egeneto) through him, it did not recognize him… The Word became (egeneto) flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 14

The Greek phrase een is the imperfect tense of the verb eimi, denoting continuous past action or existence. John is affirming that Jesus as the Word was already existing before the creation of time, since time itself is part of the things which God created or brought into being through Christ.

This means that Jesus absolutely preexists all things which were created. This makes Jesus eternal since anything existing before the beginning of the time-space continuum is timeless, having no beginning or end. In contrast to this, John uses the term egeneto in relation to the Word becoming flesh. This term is an aorist tense implying a point of origin.

Thus, whereas the Word was always in existence he was not always flesh, but became man at a specific point in time.

That one of John’s main points for writing was to affirm Jesus’ eternal prehuman existence can be clearly seen from his first epistle:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” 1 John 1:1-2 NIV

Christ is the eternal life that was with the Father and who later manifested himself to his followers. What makes this statement truly remarkable is that John concludes this epistle by identifying the true God as the eternal life!

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

Ordinarily the pronoun refers to the immediate antecedent, who in this case is Jesus. Since this verse forms an inclusio with what is said at the beginning of the epistle, where Jesus is referred to as the eternal life that was with the Father, there is every reason to believe that John is here referring to Jesus as “the true God and eternal life.”

Furthermore, since there can only be One who is eternal life, and since John clearly tells us that it is the true God who is eternal life, this means that Jesus must be the true God; otherwise we would have to assume that John believed that a creature was actually the eternal life in the same way that the true God is!

In light of this, John’s statements conclusively prove that Jesus was not a lesser god created by Jehovah, but the eternal God who eternally shares the same divine essence equally with the Father with whom he was.

The following verse also points to Christ being uncreated:

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him and to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth from all things, is first of all, by translation, "King of Righteousness," and is then also king of Salem, that is "King of Peace." In being fatherless, motherless, without genealogy, having neither a beginning of days nor end of life, but having been made like (aphomoiomenos) the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually." Hebrews 7:1-3 NWT

The author of Hebrews uses the mysterious manner in which Genesis depicts Melchizedek (cf. Genesis 14:17-20) to illustrate the eternal nature of Christ and his priestly work.

Melchizedek is pictured as an eternal figure having no recorded birth, death or human descent. These points have been deliberately omitted in order to depict Melchizedek as an Old Testament type of Christ. The Greek term aphomoiomenes comes from aphomoioo. Here is how the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament defines the word:

Aphomoioo. This verb means “to copy”, rarely “to compare,” and in the passive “to be or become like” or “make oneself out to be like.” The only NT instance is in Heb. 7:3, which says that Melchizedek “is like” the Son of God. The point may be that the Son of God is the prototype, or that the OT text is taken to be a Messianic prophecy, i.e., a sign that points forward to Christ. (Gerhard Kittel & Gerhard Friedrich ed., Abridged in one volume by George W. Bromley [Grand Rapids, Mi., Eerdmans, 1985], p. 684; italic emphasis ours)

What this means is that Melchizedek typifies Jesus, being a mere shadow of the One who was to come, in the sense that he points to Christ’s uncreated and abiding nature. Jesus is the reality of what was only typified in Melchizedek.

In other words, the point that Hebrews is establishing is that Jesus is an eternal being, having no beginning and ending, and continues on as an eternal priest.

The NIV Study Bible, compiled by some of the world’s leading biblical scholars, notes that,

“… contrary to the practice elsewhere in the early chapters of Genesis, does not mention Melchizedek’s parentage and children, or his birth and death. That he was a real, historical figure is clear, but the author of Hebrews (in accordance with Jewish interpretation) uses the silence of Scripture about Melchizedek’s genealogy to portray him as a prefiguration of Christ. Melchizedek’s priesthood antiquates Christ’s eternal existence and his unending priesthood…”

W.E. Vine indicates that,

“He was made ‘like unto the Son of God,’ and the similarity lay in this, that he had ‘neither beginning of days nor end of life.’ Accordingly it was as the Son of God that Christ was without beginning of days. His Sonship was therefore unoriginated and eternal.” (Vine, The Divine Sonship of Christ [Klock & Klock; Minneapolis, reprint 1984], pt. 2, pp. 16-17; italic emphasis ours)

George W. Zeller & Renald Showers conclude:

“The strong testimony that this verse presents for the eternal Sonship of Christ must not be missed. The blessed Spirit of God guided the pen of Moses in such a way that the biography of Melchizedek says nothing about his parents or his birth or his age or his death. These deliberate omissions were for the purpose of presenting Melchizedek as a type of the Son of God... As the ‘Son of God’ He was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.’” (Zeller & Showers, The Eternal Sonship of Christ - A Timely Defense of this Vital Doctrine [Loizeux Brothers, Inc.; 1993 by George Zeller], p. 48; italic emphasis ours)

The final witness to the eternal nature of Christ includes:

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15-17 NIV

It is clear that the doxology is directed to Jesus since he is the only Person who is mentioned in the immediate context. Thus, not only is Jesus eternal and immortal he is also called the only God!

That Paul says he is invisible here is no legitimate objection or barrier to this being a reference to the Son, for even though the Son assumed a visible appearance in the Old Testament and was seen by men, a fact Stafford and JW’s would admit, and permanently assumed a visible form in the incarnation, as the New Testament clearly teaches since, in his divine essence, Jesus is invisible just like the Father is invisible:

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he SAW him who is INVISIBLE. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” Hebrews 11:24-28 NIV

This passage clearly says Moses identified himself with and suffered reproach for the sake of Christ, and goes on to say that he saw him, evidently Christ, even though he is invisible. And even if one insists on interpreting this as a reference to God the Father, the fact of the matter is the author of Hebrews would still be saying that there was a way that Moses was able to see God the Father even though he is invisible, in which case it can be no objection that Jesus is not essentially invisible since he was seen in Old and New Testament times. This passage teaches by implication that being essentially invisible does not preclude assuming a visible form.

In fact, JW’s have a problem here since in their theology the Father is not essentially invisible, having as he does a literal, visible form, albeit a “spiritual” one.

While most people say they believe in God, many do not think of him as a real person. Is he? Well, it can be seen that where there is intelligence there is a mind. For example, we may say, ‘I cannot make up my mind.’ And we know that where there is a mind there is a brain in a body of a definite shape. So, then, the great mind responsible for all creation belongs to the great Person, Almighty God. Although he does not have a material body, he has a spiritual one. A spirit person has a body? Yes, the Bible says: “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” – 1 Corinthians 15:44; John 4:24.

Since God is a person with a spiritual body, he must have a place to live. The Bible tells us that the heaven’s are God’s “established place of dwelling.” (1 Kings 8:43) Also, we are told that “Christ entered…into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:24) Some humans will be rewarded with life in heaven with God, at which time they will receive spirit bodies. They will then see God, the Bible says, and also be like him. (1 John 3:2) This, too, shows that God is a person, and that he has a body. (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth [Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn NY, 1989], p. 36-37) (italics original)

This means that in terms of their theology Paul could not possibly be referring to the Father in 1 Timothy 1:15-17 as “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,” for the Father is not essentially invisible in their theology and has no need of assuming a visible form for the purpose of revelation.

Therefore, the JW assertion that Jesus is the first of God’s creation cannot be sustained in light of the clear biblical witness to the eternality of Christ.

We now come to the conclusion of part 3. Please continue with the fourth part of our examination.