Jesus and the Father are both God; but there is only one God; but Jesus and the Father are distinct from one another—how can we reconcile these distinctions? How can we explain these truths without explaining them away? Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus give us some powerful verses to help us understand these powerful truths.
Jesus and the Father are Distinct
I know this truth makes many of my Oneness Pentecostal brethren uncomfortable, but we must be honest with the Scriptures. Time and time again in just the three little pastoral epistles, God the Father and Jesus are talked in ways that show a distinction.
- God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Lord (1Tim1:2)
- I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels (1Tim5:21)
- I give thee charge in the sight of God…and before Christ Jesus (1Tim6:13)
- God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2Tim1:2)
- I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ
- Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ (Tit1:1)
- from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior (Tit1:3)
- …the Holy Ghost; which he (God the Father) shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Tit3:5-6)
All of these verses show that Jesus and the Father are distinct from one another. God is the Father and Jesus is the Lord. Paul is God’s servant, but he is Jesus’ apostle. The Father gives us the Holy Ghost through Jesus Christ. We would be blind if we did not see a difference between Jesus and the Father.
Let’s think for a moment. Jesus is God, and the Father is God; can God be a different person from God? Jesus prayed to God; can God pray to God? Jesus was anointed by God; can God anoint God? God raised Jesus from the dead; can God raise God?—or for that matter, can God die??
All of the conundrums I just listed—and many more—confront us if we try to use the Trinity to reconcile differences between Jesus and the Father. Jesus is distinct from the Father; that does not mean that the Trinity is true. The way that we interpret the differences between Jesus and God is through the incarnation.
We know that Jesus is God. But Jesus is not only God. Jesus is also a man. Look at some of these verses about the true humanity of our Lord.
- For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1Tim2:5)
- And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh (1Tim3:16)
- Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel (2Tim2:8)
And here are a few from other places in the New Testament, just for good measure.
- The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power fo the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Lk1:35)
- God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law (Gal4:4)
- And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Jhn1:14).
The fact that Jesus is repeatedly called “Christ” should indicate what the distinction is. Christ means “anointed.” Since he is a man immeasurably anointed and invested with God’s Spirit (John 3), we call him “Christ,” the anointed one. Jesus is God. But he is also a man. And as such, any way that we men can relate to God, Jesus can also relate to God—except sin. The difference between Jesus and God the Father is simply this: Jesus is a man and God is a Spirit (John 4).
On this level—the difference between humanity and divinity—Jesus and God are distinct from one another. The Father anoints Jesus: God anoints a man. Jesus prays to the Father: a man prays to God. God is Jesus’ Father and he is God’s Son. Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in him (Jhn14:10-11). All of this show a relationship between two persons—a human person and a divine person, God and a man, the Father and his Son.
When we understand the true humanity of Jesus we are able to avoid the error of trinitarianism. The trinity doctrine teaches that God is three divine persons who all are distinct from one another and who all relate to one another, but who are somehow the same God. It just sounds like polytheism, doesn’t it??
The doctrine of Christ’s true humanity shows us that we can make a distinction between Jesus and God—just like the Bible does—without believing in the Trinity. I ask again, did God anoint God? No. But God anointed a man; the Father anointed his Son. The key to understanding God does not lie in a complex and convoluted Trinity, but in the simplicity which is in Christ. One God, the Father; one mediator, his Son, the man Christ Jesus, our Lord (1Tim2:5).
But just in case anyone thinks that focusing on Jesus’ humanity takes away from his divinity, we’ve got you covered! Keep your eyes open for an upcoming “TitusTuesday” post to see how Jesus is not just a man, but is also himself God!