Chapter 3 – Living Person
To die, Jesus must first have been alive. Life precedes death. Jesus existed. He was a
real human being who ate and drank, who worked and got tired, and who had both
friends and enemies.
Jesus was the superlative human being, who lived for the praise of God’s glory. For an
intense 3 years, he preached the good news of God and went about doing good echo endnote('cxiv'); ?>. He
healed people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Because he loved them,
Jesus lay down his life for his friends, and prayed for his enemies echo endnote('cxv'); ?>. His enemies would
kill him, but his friends would see him alive again!
Understanding the truth about the living body and person of Jesus will compel you to
discard your misconceptions and share the true Bible teaching with others.
This claim is supported by the following Scripture references:
- body to serve (Phil 2:7)
- sent to preach gospel (Lk 4:43)
- body to be perfected (Heb 5:9)
- body prepared for sacrifice (Heb 10:5)
- shared flesh & blood nature (Heb 2:14)
- made his will the Father’s will (Mt 26:39)
- healed every disease & infirmity (Mt 4:23)
- lay down his life for friends (Jn 15:13, 10:11-18)
Each of these eight Bible references is discussed in terms of relevant teaching Points
followed by So What implications, with respect to Jesus and then to his disciples.
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#1 – Philippians 2:7 – body to serve
This verse is in a context of Paul urging the believers in Philippi to “do nothing from
selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves”.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he
was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but
emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto
death, even death on a cross.
- Jesus is being cited as the ultimate example of humility for believers to emulate.
- “form” [Greek, morphe] in v. 6 should be understood in light of its usage in v. 7, where it speaks of status or role, i.e., Jesus had the mindset of a servant.
- “human form” [Greek, anthropos] in v. 8 is the general term for man.
- As a human being, Jesus had free will. He could choose to do what he wanted. He chose to take on and perform the role of a servant echo endnote('cxvi'); ?>.
- Jesus’ ongoing choice to always obey the will of his Father resulted in a life that
always served the purpose of God. Jesus did by choice what divine angels do by
nature. Born Son of God, Jesus clearly had status, but he never sought to use it to
get around doing the job given to him.
- “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” most likely is an allusion
to what Adam and Eve did, when they sought to be “like God, knowing good and
evil” (Gen 3:5,22). Eve, deceived by the serpent’s lies and desiring fruit she
believed would make her wise, grasped at equality with God by taking the fruit
and eating it. Adam knowingly chose to eat the forbidden fruit. Exercising their
free will as human beings, they made a disastrous mistake: they disobeyed God’s
command, and thus “sin came into the world”. This event becomes the basis of
the passage in Romans 5:12-21 which compares and contrasts Adam & Jesus.
Through Adam Through Jesus
- sin came into the world …and death through sin
- took away the sin of the world…(Jn 1:29)
- death reigned…over (all men)
- abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2Tim 1:10)
- many died through one man’s trespass
- those who receive… the free gift of righteousness, will reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ
- one trespass brought condemnation
- one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal & life for all men
- by one man’s disobedience…many were made sinners, …
- so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous
- Law came in …sin increased, …
- grace abounded all the more
- sin reigned in death, …
- grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life
- Jesus’ comparison with Adam is only valid if Jesus was a human being having
choices to obey or disobey, in exactly the same way as Adam had. It cannot apply
if somehow Jesus was a God-man, i.e., the divine triune God-the-Son with human
nature added on, because then the comparisons with Adam are simply unfair.
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#2 – Luke 4:43 – sent to preach the gospel
Jesus had spent the previous evening healing all those who were sick with any disease.
He healed everyone who had been brought to him. Clearly, Jesus had made a big impact.
42 And when it was day he departed and went into a lonely place. And the people
sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them; 43 but he
said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities
also; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of
- The people wanted Jesus to stay longer; it would have allowed him to both heal
and preach further.
- “went into a lonely place” would have been for privacy, as well as for praying and
- God sent Jesus to preach; Jesus made this assignment a priority.
- The phrase: “to the other cities also” indicates Jesus had a program or plan for
preaching. Jesus first went to the Jewish people, but also went to Gentile territory
to heal and teach (e.g., Mt 15:21-28).
- Healing was just part of Jesus’ ministry. Preaching the “good news of the
Kingdom of God” was his primary purpose.
- God and Jesus are clearly distinct beings. God is the sender, Jesus is the one sent.
This is not language describing a common equality between two divine beings.
- Jesus went to the synagogues first, as an obvious place to preach and teach. Later,
when the crowds grew, he spoke outdoors on the hillside and on the seashore echo endnote('cxvii'); ?>.
preached the message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven echo endnote('cxviii'); ?> is at hand,”
which message John the Baptist had correctly anticipated and introduced in his
ministry. This kingdom idea was welcomed, as it entailed (1) the land of Israel,
according to God’s promises to Abraham (2) a throne in Jerusalem, according to
God’s promises to David (3) peace, righteousness restoration by the Messiah,
according to the prophets echo endnote('cxix'); ?>. But two things were challenging: the call for
repentance [a life-change], and Jesus’ claim to be Christ.
- While Jesus clearly spoke of his impending arrest, death and resurrection, those
things were not understood by the apostles (cf. Lk 9:22, 45) and thus were not yet
part of the gospel they preached. After his resurrection, Jesus spent an additional
40 days speaking to them of the Kingdom of God (cf. Acts 1:3) indicating it
remained a key component echo endnote('cxx'); ?>.
- As instructed by Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostles first
began proclaiming his death and resurrection on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
Going forward in the Acts record, the full gospel is shown to entail both “the
things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12).
This realization of two key components of the gospel is important. Many
Christian churches today appear to ignore the teaching about the Kingdom of God
and focus only on grace and salvation in Jesus.
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#3 – Hebrews 5:9 – body to be perfected
This verse is part of the discussion on how the perfection of Jesus enabled him to become
part of a high priesthood that was far superior to that of the Levitical priesthood of
Aaron echo endnote('cxxi'); ?>.
7 In the days
of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries
and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his
godly fear. 8 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
- “in the days of his flesh” refers to the time when Jesus was alive as a human
being, as distinct from when he was resurrected and became a divine being.
- “prayers and supplications” are the actions of a godly man who is seeking the help
that comes from God.
- “with loud cries and tears” illustrate strong emotions that are naturally part of the
makeup of a living man.
- “to him who was able to save him from death” i.e., Jesus prayed to God who
would deliver him “out of” [Greek ek] the tomb. It was God’s plan that Jesus
should die, and should then be raised to eternal life.
- “he was heard for his godly fear” teaches two aspects: (1) God listened to and
acted upon the cries of His Son, and raised Jesus from the tomb (2) Jesus
feared echo endnote('cxxii'); ?> God, as every living man is urged to do (e.g., Prov 1:2-7). This is a
reverential fear – not merely a fear of His power and retribution, but rather a
wholesome dread of displeasing Him.
- “he learned obedience through what he suffered” shows that Jesus did not
automatically do his Father’s will – he had to choose to obey. Making the right
choice every time brought suffering. He suffered when he said ‘no’ to the natural
self. He suffered from the hostile reaction of others.
- “and being made perfect” [Greek teleiotheis
= being perfected] indicates an
ongoing process toward completeness. The process of suffering was a learning
experience for Jesus. His ‘perfection’ was the end result of that experience. This
interpretation is confirmed by similar language in Heb 2:10. This phrase then is
not teaching that Jesus was perfect from the start. Rather, because he never
sinned even once (cf. Heb 4:15), Jesus could be presented by God as a blameless
‘perfect’ echo endnote('cxxiii'); ?> sacrifice.
- “he became the source of eternal salvation” in the sense that God put forward
Jesus as the means of salvation; see the wording of Acts 4:12.
As a human being who had now become undying, Jesus became eligible for the
perpetual priesthood of the unique king-priest Melchizedek.
- The fact that Jesus was God’s Son did not preclude the necessity for him to learn
obedience. A good example of this is shown in Lk 2:41-52, which illustrates how
Jesus’ honoring his parents was the right way to honor the Father.
- It makes sense that Jesus had godly fear. It was part of his pleasing the Father,
and needed for him to overcome temptation. This was how Jesus triumphed and
why God exalted him. However, it is difficult to understand or explain this “fear”
from a Trinitarian point of view. If Jesus had been born perfect [the God-man
viewpoint], why should he fear disappointing the Father-Son-Holy Spirit? He
would not be afraid of sinning, since he had a nature that could not sin. In effect,
the Trinitarian viewpoint removes any real struggle or suffering of Christ. Such a
conclusion flies in the face of true Bible teaching.
- Like any other living human being, Jesus had free will. Unique echo endnote('cxxiv'); ?> from every
other man or woman who has lived or will live, he chose to never serve self, and
always serve God. This uniqueness was always the result of his choice, not his
nature. Jesus was not born perfect. He was trained and developed by the
discipline of his loving Father (cf. Heb 12:7) so that when the final act of
obedience was accomplished, Jesus had completed the ‘perfecting’ process.
How Jesus was ‘Perfect’
Correct Teaching Incorrect Teaching
- perfected by suffering
- born perfect
- chose to obey, i.e., to not sin
- had nature that could not sin
- disciplined by loving Father
- as the God-man, no need for discipline
- godly fear, cried out for help
- if the God-man, no need for fear etc.
- Disciples of Jesus know what it is like to choose to do right and thus not sin (e.g.,
1Jn 3:9). But they cannot know what it is like to have never failed to obey God.
Sooner or later, they will have yielded to their desires or weaknesses echo endnote('cxxv'); ?>xv, and
sinned before God. Yet their failure is not counted against them echo endnote('cxxvi'); ?>, if they have
put their trust in God and His offer of salvation through Jesus the Christ. God has
provided that all-encompassing single sacrifice (Heb 10:12, cf. Gen 22:8), and the
outcome for disciples is described this way:
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 then to wait until his enemies should
be made a stool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for
all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to
us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after
those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them
on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their
misdeeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no
longer any [need for an] offering for sin.
- For a detailed consideration of how the term “perfect” is used in
the New Testament, refer to the Appendix study paper section on
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#4 – Hebrews 10:5 – body prepared for sacrifice
Like Hebrews 5:9, the context of this verse continues the discussion on how the
resurrected Jesus confirmed and introduced a far better covenant than that of the Mosaic
law. In this case, the literal sacrifice of the life blood of Jesus totally surpassed all the
offerings under the law.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings
thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and
sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy
will, O God,’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.” 8 When he said above,
“Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt
offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added,
“Lo, I have come to do thy will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the
second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body
of Jesus Christ once for all.
- Verses 5-7 are quoting from Psalms 40:6-8, a Psalm of David which includes the
words “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust…”. These were words
that Jesus lived by.
- The writer to the Hebrews explicitly applies the words of this prophetic Psalm to
Jesus. Two key points are: (1) “a body prepared” by the LORD and (2) Jesus’
response being “I have come to do thy will.”
- could purify follower’s conscience
- could not affect worshipper’s conscience
- brought life
- showed death
- For the Jews who had become Christians, offerings according to the law of Moses
were no longer required, since the one-time all-encompassing “offering of the
body of Jesus Christ” had occurred. Jesus was “the end of the law” (Rom 10:4).
- Jesus’ literal body was part of the sacrifice, since it housed Jesus’ breath of life
for around 33 years. His body was also seen as the Passover lamb, without
blemish (1Cor 5:7, Heb 9:14). But it was Jesus’ will echo endnote('cxxvii'); ?> that made his whole life
a full self-sacrifice. Jesus’ example is the basis of Paul’s appeal to the believers at
Rome: “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”
It was not an animal’s involuntary death that ultimately mattered but Jesus’
voluntary laying down of his life. The shed blood of animals was really
inconsequential, for it could not “perfect the conscience of the worshipper” (Heb
9:9) much less bring life. These sacrifices were all temporary in nature, pointing
ahead to the redemptive work of Christ. The shed blood of Jesus was absolutely
consequential, for it could “purify conscience from dead works to serve the living
God” (Heb 9:14) and bring life to those who would believe in him. These
differences are shown in the table below:
|Shed blood of Jesus||Shed blood of sacrificial animal|
The phrase “when Christ came into the world” (v.5 in the opening reference)
needs interpretation. Those who take a Trinitarians viewpoint may argue that it
refers to how God the Son left the realm of heaven and came down to earth to live
in a human body prepared by God the Father.
Those who check out relevant cross references such as Heb 1:6,
Jn 1:6-11, 3: 17-19, and Acts 3:22-26 will determine that the
phrase refers to how the Christ came to the Jewish world first, as
prophesied by Moses and fulfilled by Jesus. As John the Baptist
was sent from God (Jn 1:6) and specially prepared to alert the
Jews about the coming Christ (Jn 1:19-23, 3:27-28), so was Jesus. He was a
prophet raised up by God and sent first to the people of Israel as their long-
awaited savior (cf. Acts 3:17-21). [The same gospel would soon be preached to
and accepted by the Gentiles – Acts 13:13-49.]
- For Jesus, doing the will of God meant obeying His commandments gladly, with
all his heart, mind, soul and strength. He loved doing it, because he loved his
Father. And because he loved God, he loved every person he met, and treated
them accordingly echo endnote('cxxviii'); ?>. This fully pleased his Father. Jesus said, “For this reason
the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again” (Jn
For a disciple, doing the will of God is accomplished by following Jesus’
example. It means obeying God’s commandments gladly, with all your heart,
mind, soul and strength (cf. Mk 12:30), because you love Him. Why? Because
- He has become your heavenly Father,
- He sent Jesus to save you from your sins and
- Jesus showed and taught you the way to love both God and man (e.g., Mk 12:28-34).
- Romans chapter 12 elaborates on what ‘presenting your bodies as a living
sacrifice means’ (v.1). It starts with mind renewal, so that a disciple can best
determine specifically what God would have him/her do. This transformation
from worldly thinking to godly thinking leads to a whole new way of doing
things. The internal change is shown in how a disciple treats others. Giving your
whole self in the purpose of God and using your God-given talents to serve and
help those you encounter, is being like Jesus. This leads to a principle that Jesus
himself followed when he faced his enemies: “Do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good” (v. 21).
The entire chapter is
reproduced below. Read and study it for your own understanding;
embrace its teaching and live like the resurrected Christ.
1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your
bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by
the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is
good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of
himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,
each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him. 4 For
as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have
the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and
individually members one of another.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if
prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; he who
teaches, in his teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who
contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of
mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love
one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in
your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. 14 Bless those
who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who
rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do
not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of
all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it
is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your
enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you
will heap burning coals upon his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good.
- Write down your thoughts on what the following challenges can mean for you:
- present your body as a living sacrifice –
- be transformed by the renewal of your mind –
- the measure of faith which God has assigned you –
- hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good –
- associate with the lowly –
- live peaceably with all –
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good –
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#5 – Hebrews 2:14 – shared flesh & blood nature
Like Hebrews 5:9 and 10:5, this verse is part of the discussion on how the resurrected
Jesus is superior in every way.
9 But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned
with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God
he might taste death for every one. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by
whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of
their salvation perfect through suffering…
14 Since therefore the children share in
flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook
of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of
death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were
subject to lifelong bondage.
- “he himself likewise partook of the same nature” is clear and unmistakable: Jesus
was a living flesh-and-blood man who shared human nature in every respect. He
breathed, ate, drank, asked questions, wore clothes, washed, had emotions,
became tired, slept, wept, rejoiced, prayed, praised, confronted, learned, taught,
worked, was angry, was tempted to sin, was persecuted for telling the truth, felt
pain, could die, did die.
- “might destroy … the devil” has already been covered in detail in the Chapter 2 –
Dead Body, reference #6 discussion.
- “made lower than the angels” refers to the fact that human beings are mortal (cf.
Heb 7:8) and thus die, whereas God’s angels are immortal and therefore cannot
die (cf. Lk 20:36).
- “crowned with glory and honor” is the fulfillment of the Dan 7:13-14 vision. The
idea is expanded in detail in the awesome description found in Rev 5:6-14.
- “by the grace of God” adds another aspect to the death of Jesus; it was more than
a prerequisite in the plan of salvation. It also revealed the character of God.
- “might taste death” is not talking about the possibility of death but its certainty.
In the same way, “might destroy the devil” is not suggesting a possible
destruction but the certain destruction of this devil.
- “…he, for whom and by whom all things exist…” refers to God, not Jesus (cf.
1Cor 8:6). This understanding is confirmed by the phrase that follows: “…in
bringing many sons to glory” (e.g., Rom 8:18-21).
- “it was fitting that he … should make …perfect through suffering” means it was
exactly the right way for the Father to mold His Son to perfection using the tool of
life experience and the hands of wicked men.
- “the pioneer of their salvation” obviously points to Jesus. The idea is that he was
the leader [Greek, archegos] or first to take this path. Later in Heb 12:2, Jesus is
again called “the pioneer… ”, with these words added: “… and perfecter of the
faith”. Thus God made Jesus the prime component in the plan of salvation by
honing his faith to perfection.
- Jesus is shown to have started off with a human nature, but is now “crowned with
glory and honor”. Why? Because with the help of his Father, Jesus was perfected
and thus became the way of salvation for all men.
- Jesus benefited from his own sacrifice, as did the high priests
before him. Then, having offered first for himself and then for the
people, Jesus is put by God to save others who are willing to be
perfected the same way. These two assertions are confirmed by
considering the details provided in Hebrews, as shown in the
Ch 7:26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy,
blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for
his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he
offered up himself. 28 Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as
high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law,
appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.
Ch 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that
have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with
hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the Holy
Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus
securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons
with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for
the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who
through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the
mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the
promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems
them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
Ch 9:24 For Christ
has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a
copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of
God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high
priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; 26 for then he
would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as
it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the
sacrifice of himself.
Ch 10:12 But when
Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 then to wait until his enemies should
be made a stool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for
all time those who are sanctified.
Some churches think Scripture teaches the pre-existence of Jesus, i.e., he was
alive elsewhere in a way other than a human being. However, there is no Bible
verse that plainly says, for example, “Jesus existed before he was born of Mary”.
In fact even the term “pre-exist” is clearly a self-contradictory nonsense.
Those who hold a Trinitarian viewpoint claim that because Jesus was God the Son
for all eternity, of course he existed before becoming a man. But again, there is
no Bible verse that has the phrase “God the Son” or “three Gods in one” or the
words “Trinity”, “co-eternal” or “co-existent”. This makes the Trinitarian claim
an assertion that has no explicit proof from Scripture echo endnote('cxxix'); ?>.
Why such strong language? Because Bible truth is at stake. Of course, those who
teach the Trinity as essential gospel truth echo endnote('cxxx'); ?> have their passages to bring forward.
But not a single one of them have those critical words listed above. Therefore,
their argument is rightly assessed as having no verse that explicitly mentions
‘triune’, ‘three in one’, ‘God the Son’ etc echo endnote('cxxxi'); ?>. This obvious shortcoming is
usually admitted by even the staunchest of Trinitarians. But this stand is often
rationalized by stating that the Trinitarian doctrine is a ‘mystery’ that hides in
passages, and needs to be brought out by trained clergy. Here is an example
[italics and underling are mine] of such rationalization by a well-known
Trinitarian Bible teacher:
“Yet we also must recognize that the Bible gives us not an explanation of
the truth, but rather an extrapolation of the truth. The Bible works the
truth out so the concept of God being three in one, or triune, is not
explained, but it is worked out in its pages. Therefore, it is absolutely vital
that we understand that Jesus – the Word – does not derive his being from
his Father. He is God is his own right, co-equal, co-eternal, possessing the
very deity of the Father, including the attribute of self-existence. If that
were not so, then he could not be the Lord Jehovah” echo endnote('cxxxii'); ?>.
This is an honest admission. But then, having no actual Bible explanation, see the
assertion: “it is absolutely vital that you understand Jesus” as being on a co-equal,
co-eternal level with God. To make the triune viewpoint clear, he also asserts
Jesus “does not derive his being from his Father”. This is not truth.
Having been raised in a Trinitarian church, I simply accepted the teaching of the
minister. When I began to read Scripture for myself, many questions arose,
especially about the doctrine of the Trinity. The fact is, the whole idea of the
Trinity did not become ‘official’ church doctrine until sometime in the 4th
century; and that by decree from the recently-converted emperor Constantine echo endnote('cxxxiii'); ?>.
You can determine this information on your own by researching relevant library
books, searching the web, or contacting me for more information.
- If Jesus pre-existed, then all the Bible evidence and arguments that he was a
human being in the same way as the rest of mankind, must be incorrect. But the
Bible text is the basis for determining what is accurate. That Bible evidence is
correct. Therefore, the idea of Jesus pre-existing [or always existing] must be
- Since Jesus did not pre-exist or always exist, it makes sense that God had to bring
him into existence. God did so by means of the virgin Mary and the Holy
Spirit echo endnote('cxxxiv'); ?>. God fathered Jesus and perfected him to be the one-time sacrifice, the
“Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). This is the true
teaching of Scripture, to be understood, accepted and acted upon by those who
want to get it right with Jesus.
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#6 – Matthew 26:39 – made his will his father’s will
This verse is part of the description of the experience of Jesus in the garden of
Gethsemane, a few hours before his arrest by the Jews, who planned to kill him.
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsem’ane, and he said to his
disciples, “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the
two sons of Zeb’edee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to
them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So,
could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter
into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the
second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink
it, thy will be done.”
- Reading further in Matthew’s account, we see that Jesus actually prayed three
times, “saying the same words” (v.44, cf. Mk 14:39-41). This demonstrated his
persistence in taking this vital matter to God in a very urgent situation.
- Luke’s account describes the intensity of Jesus as “… being in an agony, he
prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as great drops of blood falling down
upon the ground” (Lk 22:44).
- “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” plainly indicates that Jesus was
asking for possible alternatives to (1) the impending crucifixion and death
predicted by Scripture and (2) what the Father had revealed to him. For example,
only a few hours earlier at the last supper with his apostles, Jesus said “For the
Son of man goes as it has been determined…” (Lk 22:22). Jesus knew the plan.
He knew the outcome. And he was absolutely committed to do God’s will. Yet
he still asked.
- The fact that Jesus asked for other possibilities proves he had free will right up
until the end. This is a privilege that God has given to human beings. Jesus
exercised that privilege, and asked his Father to ensure that the will of his
obedient Son would continue to be fully aligned with the one and only God whom
- This episode in Gethsemane makes no sense if Jesus is somehow still part of a
triune God. Two and only two wills are involved here: (1) God, who is Father to
Jesus, and (2) a man named Jesus, who is seeking to please his Father, who is the
one and only God. There is no hybrid will of a God-man or God the Son here.
It is because Jesus agonized to do right that the strength of his desire is revealed.
He had always willed to do right before God. But now the showdown event had
come. Like never before, Jesus was facing down the possibility of choosing his
own way rather than God’s way. He could do wrong. He could disobey. If so, he
would sin. If he sinned even once, he would not be the sacrifice suitable to God.
- Jesus did not want to sin. His spirit was willing, but his flesh – his human nature
– was treacherously weak. So what did Jesus do?
- earnestly prayed
- sought help from his disciples [they failed]
- prayed again
- [God sent an angel to help]
- prayed again a third time
- resolutely decided to make his will, God’s will.
- Jesus had taught his disciples to pray to God and say “Thy will be done on earth
as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). In Gethsemane, he was practicing what he preached,
when he voiced his decision “not my will, but thine be done”. The life of Jesus
proved that the power of God coupled with a willing spirit does overcome the
flesh. Jesus continued to use this winning combination right up to the end.
- Jesus is the ultimate triumph of a human being made in God’s image whose
passion was to please his Creator and Father. He would follow wherever God’s
Spirit led. Suffering and death were both triumphs in his dedicated life.
If the apostles in the garden with Jesus could not keep awake and pray with him
when he asked, can disciples today expect to do any better? Yes, because readers
of the gospel account can learn from their mistakes. But did those men not have
the excuse of their own individual stress, doubts and “sleeping for sorrow’ (Lk
22:45)? No, because such ‘excuses’ are really human rationalization. How many
disciples of Jesus use the phrase “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” as an
excuse for failing, i.e., sinning. Jesus stated those words as a vital challenge.
Those who would be disciples must face the reality of human weakness and
natural desire to give in to temptation. They must fight hard and repeatedly to
overcome in the power of God’s spirit.
- made sure he knew what God wanted
- as God-man, already knew
- chose to make his will God’s will
- as God-man, already had it
- fervently prayed for strength to overcome
- if God-man, why the need?
- said “no” to self, and so crucified the flesh
- if God-man, why the struggle?
- Jesus expects his disciples to overcome in the same way he did. This is clearly a
big challenge, but the expectation is both reasonable and realistic. The standard
must be high, since Jesus is the one being measured against. The request is fair
since the nature and tools Jesus had are the same available to his followers. We
know Paul did it, as did the first century disciples, as do disciples today. Those
who are led by the Spirit overcome the flesh every day echo endnote('cxxxv'); ?>.
God asked His Son Jesus to die, even though he had never sinned. Jesus obeyed.
God asks Jesus’ followers to accept that sacrifice as a covering for themselves,
since they are powerless to save themselves. God puts forward Jesus as the
standard to recognize and pursue, knowing that even the best of
disciples will fall short. Some will be willing to die for Christ’s
sake, but most are not able. The Father knows this, and is
merciful. Nevertheless, He deliberately disciplines all of His
children for good and their eternal welfare. Such is the teaching
of Hebrews chapter 12:
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run
with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the
pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of
the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility
against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
4 In your
struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? —
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage
when you are punished by him. 6
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that
you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom
his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all
have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides
this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them.
Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For
they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for
our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline
seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of
righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Write down your thoughts on the main points above; for example:
- sin which clings so closely –
- pioneer and perfecter of the faith –
- not grow weary or fainthearted –
- disciplines him whom he loves –
- the peaceful fruit of righteousness –
How Jesus Overcame ‘the flesh’
|Correct Teaching||Trinity Teaching|
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#7 – Matthew 4:23 – healed every disease & infirmity
This verse is part of the description of the extent of how Jesus healed people in the
northern provinces of the land of Israel.
23 And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the
gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the
people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick,
those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics,
and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the
Decap’olis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
- “disease …infirmity…pains, demoniacs, epileptics and paralytics” [distinctive
Greek words are used: nosos, malakia, basanos, daimonizomai, seleniazomai, and
paralutikos respectively] illustrate the many kinds of illness that Jesus healed and
cured. Some of the sickness would have been open to view and physical, while
others may have been internal or psychological. It would seem likely that Jesus
would have relieved their emotional stresses as well
- These were bonafide healings, complete and often instant. Jesus was the master
physician. Other accounts record how he healed everyone who was brought to
him, and in many cases, he touched them (cf Lk 4:40-41). No wonder the crowds
came to him! However, when people would have kept him from leaving them,
Jesus said “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities
also; for I was sent for this purpose” (Lk 4:42-43).
- In a context of people calling a physician to assist when they were sick, Jesus
declared that he had come “to call …sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:31-32). Thus
his primary concern was spiritual healing of the whole person, not merely the
physical, emotional or psychological.
- Nevertheless, when a woman came up secretly to touch the edge of his garment in
the midst of a crowd, Jesus perceived that power had gone out from him. He was
not upset by this, but took the time to have the woman come forward to tell what
she had done, so that she would recognize that it was her faith that made her well.
There is more to the story. Jesus had been on his way to heal the dying 12-year
old daughter of a man named Jairus. He had stopped his journey for the sake of
the woman, but then a servant of Jairus came running and said “Your daughter is
dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore”
(Lk 8:49). But Jesus said, “do not
fear; only believe, and she will be well”. And then he went on to raise her from
the dead, to the astonishment of the mourners, and the amazement
of the parents. As a final comment for the benefit of the little girl,
Jesus “directed that something should be given her to eat”.
What a great story! Read it for yourself [Luke 8:40-56].
- In the same chapter 8:26-39, Luke [who was a practicing physician] wrote about
Jesus’ encounter and healing of a mentally-imbalanced echo endnote('cxxxvi'); ?> man. Named
“Legion, for many demons had entered him”, he had been “kept under guard and
bound in fetters” for everyone’s protection. But he had evidently escaped and
was now living naked among the tombs. When his healing was complete, the
man was found “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind” echo endnote('cxxxvii'); ?>.
This story has an exciting ending:
38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with
him; but he sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare
how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming
throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
- Many interesting healings of Jesus are recorded in the NT. They are interesting
because of the circumstances, the people involved, and the outcome. Here are a
- There was the episode in the far north near the city of Tyre where Jesus at
first appeared disinclined to heed the begging of a Greek woman. Yet
once his lesson was perceived, he did heal her daughter (Mk 7:24-30).
- A man who was paralyzed and bedridden was taken by his four friends to
Jesus to be healed. But Jesus was inside a building surrounded by a crowd
of people and hostile scribes.
So the determined four opened up part of
the roof above Jesus, and let down their invalid’s pallet. Jesus declared
that it was the faith of the friends who had made the paralytic well. (Mk
2:11-12, Lk 5:18-26, Mt 9:2-8 echo endnote('cxxxviii'); ?>). This healing generated instant fierce
criticism from his enemies. The debate immediately turned to whether
Jesus had the authority from God to forgive sins. The fact that Jesus
completely healed people proved that God had given him such authority
- A widow had lost her only son, who was being carried on a bier in the
midst of a large crowd. Jesus had great compassion on her. Quietly
stopping the procession, Jesus said “‘Young man, I say to you, arise’.
And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to
his mother.” (Lk 7:14-15). Here’s how this story ended:
- Jesus deliberately healed on the Sabbath echo endnote('cxxxix'); ?>. Why? Because the
need was on that day, and he wanted to instruct his enemies that God
provided the Sabbath for doing good, not for following man-made
rules and traditions. Doing right had priority.
- Jesus purposely came late to the help of Lazarus, a man whom he
Thus Lazarus died and was in the tomb for four days before
Jesus arrived to share the grief of the two sisters. The timing was
God’s. And Jesus wept. Then he called forth the dead
Lazarus from the tomb, and ordered that he be unbound
from the grave bandages. Read the exciting story for
yourself in John 11.
Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great
prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”
17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of
Judea and all the surrounding country.
- There was the episode in the far north near the city of Tyre where Jesus at
- As a suitable summary of how the healings by Jesus fit into everything else, read
what Peter said to a group of Gentiles gathered especially to listen to him:
Acts 10:34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I perceive that God
shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does
what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the word which he sent to
Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),
37 the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from
Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus
of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing
good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses to 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 manifest; 41 not to all the
people but to us who were 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 ordained by God to be judge of
the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that every
one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Write down your thoughts on the main points above; for example:
- God shows no partiality –
- preaching good news of peace –
- the baptism which John preached –
- healing all that were oppressed by the devil –
- hanging him on a tree –
- he is the one ordained by God to be judge –
- all the prophets bear witness –
- forgiveness of sins through his name –
- your pick
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#8 – John 15:13, 10:11-18 – lay down his life for his friends
The first reference is part of Jesus’ message to the apostles at the ‘last supper’, while the
second passage is part of Jesus’ teaching about what a ‘good shepherd’ does. However,
the quotations are displayed and discussed in chronological sequence.
Jn 10:11 I am the
good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the
sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them
and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the
sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 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 heed
my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father
loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it
from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have
power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”
Jn 15:9 As the Father has
loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my
joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that
you love one another as I have loved you. 13
Greater love has no man than this, that
a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I
command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know
what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from
my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you
and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide;
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I
command you, to love one another
Both passages record how Jesus will “lay down” his life (a) for the sheep (b) for
his friends. It is the job of a “good shepherd” to take care of the sheep, even to
the point of dying to protect them. It was the Master’s love for his beloved
disciples that moved Jesus to go willingly to his death.
- The first passage reflects a broad teaching, while the second focuses on a specific
application. Both proclaim the kind of love Jesus had for those who would follow
him. To effectively protect sheep from a wolf, the shepherd must face down the
attacker, and so risk his own life. To protect his own disciples from arrest and
possible death by the Pharisees, Jesus stepped out to meet the attacking crowd,
and pleaded that they let his friends leave unharmed (Jn 18:1-9).
- “sheep” is a term used to describe followers of Jesus. All are part in making up
the “flock” or group of believers. Jesus stated there was only “one flock”, that is,
a single, corporate body of believers echo endnote('cxl'); ?> who were regarded as his.
- Appreciate the intimate relationship: “I know my own, and my own know me”,
and “You are my friends…I chose and appointed you”. Note that the friendship of
Jesus was explicitly tied to the doing of his commandments. And what was the
most significant command? It was “…to love one another” (v.17).
- Jesus moved the relationship with his apostles from being servants to that of being
friends. This was a huge upward recognition. They were already privileged
insiders. Judas had left, so Jesus was referring only to the eleven.
- Jesus claimed to have “power” to lay down his life, and to take it up again. The
Greek word exousia echo endnote('cxli'); ?> conveys ‘power of choice’ or ‘authority’ as well as
physical power or influence. As shown in Chapter 2, it was God who actually
made Jesus alive again while the choice to submit to death belonged to Jesus.
- “bear fruit” means showing in outward attitude and activity what is going on
inside one’s mind. Jesus expected his apostles to be what he had taught by word
and personal practice. He was also indicated what results he expected when they
went out preaching to and teaching others.
- Jesus “lay down his life” from the beginning of his ministry, not just when he
went to the cross. It was the daily effort to confront and overcome temptation to
sin in all of its various manifestations, whether internal or external. This daily
practice is what he preached to his followers in Luke 9:
he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
24 For whoever would save his life
will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.
- Who are the “sheep” in this church-body of Jesus? Clearly those who are counted
‘in’ by Jesus and God echo endnote('cxlii'); ?>. When does that happen? It begins now, but will only
finally be revealed when Jesus returns, sets up his throne, and separates the
“sheep from the goats”
(cf. Mt 25:31-46). In that parable, the outcome is plain
and very sobering: the ones chosen as “sheep” are welcomed into the
Kingdom and receive eternal life; the one identified as “goats” are
cast out into the eternal fire echo endnote('cxliii'); ?>. What are his criteria? Read the
exciting and personally instructive Matthew 25 passage for yourself.
What is this love spoken about and practiced by Jesus? Clearly it is not an
intellectual exercise but a doing thing. It is directly tied to keeping God’s
commandments, as distinct from merely having nice religious ideas about God. It
is certainly others-oriented based on what Scripture says vs. self-oriented based
on what man imagines. It is not a feeling, but a mindset that seeks out the welfare
and ultimate good of others. This love is expected to be lived out in Jesus’
disciples, else they are not regarded as his true followers. Understand therefore:
- Any non-Christian religion does not have the love as spoken by Jesus; this
includes atheism and agnosticism.
- Christian church affiliation, denominational membership, ecclesia label,
parentage, position or church honors are not part of the criteria that Jesus
uses to determine whether you have his love in you.
- Feeling spiritual, having rich, sacred or glorious experiences, mastering
Bible teaching, or memorizing and flawlessly quoting Scripture may not
reflect the love of Jesus at all. “The Lord knows who are his” (2Tim :19).
- Any non-Christian religion does not have the love as spoken by Jesus; this
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Jesus chose to serve God every day of his life, and successfully did so for his entire
lifetime. He was clearly no ordinary man, nor even an extraordinary man, but a unique
man. He was a person prepared by God to do a job that no one else had done or could do
(cf. Is 59:16-17, Rom 3:9-24). It would start with a unique birth, and continue on in
every stage of Jesus’ life, as his Father perfected him through a process of discipline and
Physically, Jesus was a human being exactly like the rest of mankind. This was
necessary for him to become and qualify as the ‘perfect’ sacrifice. For example, Jesus
could be tempted, but he never yielded to the temptation, and therefore he never sinned.
He focused completely on his assignment, which was to preach and enact the gospel of
the Kingdom of God. He determined to be obedient to God in every way, even if it
meant being falsely condemned to death and giving up his own will.
It was fitting that Jesus was not only mortal, but had free choice. He chose not to sin, and
was killed for it! That life of obedience was the necessary path that led to eternal life,
first for Jesus, and then for all who would follow the same path (cf. 1Cor 15:23).
The diagram below illustrates what the true teaching about the person of Jesus is for, and
therefore what false teachings must be contended against.
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- What does it mean for a believer to be disciplined by God for his/her own good?
- What are three aspects of Jesus’ life that disciples are expected to imitate in their own lives?
Why? How might they be done in today’s world?
- What are some of the major features of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached? Support
your answer with relevant Bible references from both New and Old Testaments.
- If Jesus did not pre-exist in any form of being prior to his birth by Mary, what impact might that
have on the churches who do teach his pre-existence?
- What do you think you need to do to “get it right with Jesus”?
The reader is encouraged to ponder and then answer these
questions. If desired, send the answers to the author, whose
home address and e-mail address can be found in the Foreword.
A response to your effort is promised.
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- Look in the Appendix for Strong’s Concordance analysis
about the following words: perfect, discipline,
- Check out the study paper “What we will do in the
Kingdom of God on earth” in the Appendix.
Make Your Notes