On the Divine Prerogatives of Messiah

 

Yeshua Walks On WaterFor many believers who once were Trinitarians, the discovery that Scripture doesn’t support the traditional Christian teaching that Messiah is G-d, has the initial effect of a certain disenchantment, an experience of their Lord and Saviour being relegated to a less exalted status. Oftentimes, their first reaction is: So Yeshua is a mere man?

Although this reaction is understandable, it is by no means correct. To describe Yeshua as “a mere man” is detrimental to his unique position. It evokes the wrong suggestion that — perhaps apart from his sinlessness — Yeshua wasn’t importantly different from other human beings or from the other prophets who had a divine mission to fulfil in Israel.

To get a better perspective on Yeshua’s position, we have to distinguish between the essential features of human nature, which are shared by Yeshua and us alike, and the specific prerogatives of the office of Messiah, which are uniquely his, and which imply huge differences between him and all other human beings, because of the gifts bestowed upon him by the Father.

It is well-known that after his resurrection Yeshua was given all power in heaven and earth (Mt. 28:18). And already during his earthly life he was not only the perfect man through the property of sinlessness. He was granted the power to work miracles and to forgive sins, as appears from the Gospels (Mt. 9:1-8).[1] He was also granted special knowledge (Mt. 17:24-27 & Jn. 1:47-51), although he was by no means omniscient (Mk. 13:32).

Before and after his resurrection, however, all the special powers and prerogatives of Yeshua were and are derived from G-d.[2] The Messiah sent by G-d is always totally dependent on the Father (Jn. 5:19). The essential difference between G-d and creature is thus fully maintained in the case of Yeshua. Only creatures are dependent beings, G-d never is dependent on anything in whatever way.

There are thus some perfections found in Yeshua, which are not normal human perfections, such as knowing things about the future, having the power to resurrect the dead and to be the Judge of all men, &c (Jn. 5:25-27). These are perfections Yeshua received because of his special position of being the Messiah, the second Adam, the cornerstone of the new creation. These perfections do however not in any manner imply that Yeshua himself is G-d. As I said, all these perfections are received —  and thus created — perfections.

The perfections and prerogatives bestowed upon Yeshua can be called “divine”, because they are in themselves superhuman, or supernatural. The prophets did at times share in some of them. Think for instance of Moses, to whom were given special miraculous powers when he appeared before Pharao. Yet it is clear as daylight that the “divine” powers that were shared by Moses in no way elevated him to the status of Deity. These powers indicated that he fulfilled a divine mission, i.e. a special mission proceeding from G-d. Similarly, the divine prerogatives and powers shared by Yeshua don’t make him G-d. They make him the special agent of G-d.

Since, ultimately, Yeshua is our only Mediator with G-d, the only one through whom we can receive atonement for our our sins and restoration to the status of being in full communion with G-d, he has a position which is incomparable to any other prophet. All the blessings relevant for our spiritual life come to us through him. Only on account of his merits are we able to become the children of G-d.

Being a creature thus in no way diminishes Yeshua’s unique status or his high exalted position.[3] It makes him the perfect agent of G-d, the one and only Mediator for all mankind.

_____________

[1] Cf. “If Jesus Isn’t God, How Did He Forgive Sins?” at: Biblical Unitarian.

[2] Cf. “How Did Jesus Do the Amazing Things He Did?” at: Biblical Unitarian.

[3] Cf. “Does the Teaching that Jesus is the Son of God, Not God Himself, Demean Him?” at: Biblical Unitarian.

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3 Responses to “On the Divine Prerogatives of Messiah”


  1. 1 don leflore November 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    What about Gen.1:1 and the Hebrew word for God Elohim which translates as a masculine plural noun. This is confirmed in 1:26 for this is the beginning of creation and there is only God and angels and angels can’t create so who would be the “US” and “OUR”. In John 1:1 isn’t the Word Christ the Creator who spoke and bought things into existence and what about the verse which Jesus says before Abraham was I am? Then who is the Holy Spirit that could not come unto Jeus left in John 14:26?

    • 2 messianic613 November 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      To Don Leflore:
      Although the word ‘Elohim’ is plural, this doesn’t mean that the things signified by it are also necessary in the plural. The word ‘Elohim’ can mean ‘judge’, ‘authority’, or ‘god’ in the plural as well as in the singular. These meanings are closely related, and can perhaps be summarized as ‘higher power’. In Ex. 7:1 Moses is made a god (Elohim) to Pharaoh, and in I Sam. 5:7 the pagan god Dagan is called an Elohim, without any suggestion that this god, or Moses, are thought of as a multipersonal entities.

      The plural form of ‘Elohim’ seems to have the sense of an intensification, of denoting a certain plenitude of power, either real (in the case of the true God and in human judges) or imagined (in the case of pagan deities). It is noteworthy that in Gen. 1:1 the verb form connected to ‘Elohim’ (‘created’ (Hebr. ‘bara’)) is in the singular (‘he created’), thus indicating a singular creating entity. For a more extensive treatment of the word ‘Elohim’ in Gen. 1:1, view: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/videos/genesis-1-1

      In Gen. 1:26 we have a plural of majesty or of emphasis, or both. Both are possible and neither of them introduces the necessity of angels participating in the act of creation. If a plural of majesty is intended, the meaning would be that G-d as the King of the angelic powers announces the creation of mankind in a royal manner to the heavenly court with the words: “Let us make man in our image”. In a similar manner, the British Queen can say: “We, Elizabeth, &c”. If a plural of emphasis is intended, the purpose of the emphasis would be about drawing the attention to the special act of making a creature in the image of G-d. For more about Gen. 1:26, view: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/videos/genesis-1-26

      The word which was in the beginning according to Jn. 1:1 is not simply identical with Jesus Christ. The word is the plan and purpose of G-d, which in the fulness of time obviously culminates in the relevation of Messiah. However, it is not said: “In the beginning was the Son”, but: “In the beginning was the word (logos)”. The Son, or Messiah, is an extension and continuation of the logos, but cannot be identified with the logos without qualification. The Son is not simply the word in absolute terms, he is the word made flesh. View: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/videos/but-what-about-john-1-1

      For an in-depth treatment of the first verses of John’s Gospel, consult Anthony Buzzard’s article: “John 1:1 Caveat Lector” at the Restoration Fellowship site: http://focusonthekingdom.org/articles/john1.htm

      An explanation of Yeshua’s word: “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn. 8:58) can be found at: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/john-8-58b

      As to Jn. 14:26, the common opinion that the Holy Spirit is a distinct divine person is a misunderstanding. It is a supernatural gift and power proceeding from G-d. In some texts “Holy Spirit” is a name of G-d because G-d is named after his gift or after the power exercised by Him. A good introduction on the subject of the Holy Spirit, in connection with an exposition on John 1:3, is given at: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/john-1-3


  1. 1 … but some doubted | Jeff's Jottings Trackback on November 24, 2011 at 10:05 pm

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