If the disciples had difficulty grasping these concepts, why would we expect that they understood the complex nature of Jesus, the Messiah? In fact, it is quite clear they did not. How could we expect first century monotheistic Jews to understand that this man Jesus was, in fact, the God of the OT? Could this not be part of what Jesus meant when he told them, "I have much more to say to you, more than you can bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." John
The synoptics give us the best indication of how the disciples viewed Jesus for the first 15-20 years, referring to him primarily in terms of the Messianic and apocalyptic Son of Man as seen in Daniel
Paul's influence cannot be underestimated. He makes it clear that he "did not receive it [his gospel] from any man...I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." (Gal
2:11-12) We have already seen how Paul's references to Jesus are markedly different from the synoptics. Add to this the descriptions of the eternal nature of Jesus (Phil
1:15ff) and Paul's influence is clear. Next we have Luke's account in Acts
where Jesus interacts with the disciples in prayer as one would expect with God (9:4ff; 16:7). By the time of John
in the late first century the understanding of who Jesus was had developed more fully, and so had the concepts of the divinity of Jesus and the trinity.
As I mentioned at the top of this page, I continue to affirm orthodox belief in the deity of Jesus and trinitarian theology. I affirm the creeds by faith as well.
Your comments are welcome.
Have you ever studied the "Binitarian" view of God that many early Christians had pre-Nicea?
Bill from Canada
Yes, I have read a great many of the documents pre-Nicea. If you read my book review on
, you will see that I show how the trinity developed in Christian history. I think some of the early writers probably would not have held to a strictly trinitarian view, but would have left the Spirit out of that equation. In my paper I do not actually deal with this, but only with the deity of Jesus.
Many Christian doctrines developed over time. Some I do not agree with, others I do.
It can be tricky, but very little of these differences have much to do with salvivic theology. Not sure God is as worried about the details as we are...but that is just my opinion. People who study and teach theology desperately disagree with me on this.
Thanks for responding to my email regarding the 'Binitarian' view of God in pre-nicea times. I have come to espouse the binitarian view myself after much Scriptural study and find it uplifting to know that there were early Chrisatians that believed the same.
I have no trouble accepting "Trinitarians" as sincere and genuine Christians (yet in error) but I have experienced nothing but rejection and contempt by almost all Trinitarians who view me as either a heretic or someone who needs to be saved!
The point I want to make is: I've known and walked with the Lord as a "Trinitatarian" for some 25 years and now I've continued to walk with the Lord over the last 5 years as a "Binitarian".
Its unfortunate that there needs by such acrimony over the correct understanding of the 'spirit of God' and whether or not this is a third person in the Godhead.
What is important is what [we] believe about Jesus!!
You are treading on ground that Christians hotly disputed in the early church.
We are taught from our youth in Christian churches that the trinity is THE orthodox position, and we are correct to teach this - the trinitarian view started taking shape in the NT and then again in early second century writers. When doctrines were finally formalized was NOT the beginning of the doctrine.
Look, I believe in the trinity, but I do have some intellectual issues with that view. You stated that what is important is what you believe about Jesus. Really? Why is Jesus important, but not the Holy Spirit?
If you say because you can find deity of Jesus in the NT texts I would answer twofold:
1. the deity of Jesus is NOT as clearly found in the NT as we would like - except some of Paul, John's gospel, and Revelation.
2. the NT texts were not available to ALL first century Christians.
Many Christians in China, India, Soviet Russia, etc. never had ALL the NT available to them.
Why is this important?
Because what Christians have believed through history has not always been based on the NT texts, and even now we have multiple positions based on the same texts...enough to have developed thousands of denominations.
Sadly, mistreating one another is something Christians have also been guilty of throughout history. I have done it and I would guess that you have also. We are ALL guilty. We are ALL sinners in need of God's grace which He generously offers.
Interesting that Jesus did not push belief in dogma as much as we do:
Love God, love your neighbor.