'Replies from Christadelphians'

5.  Tim Miles……(cont.)

19th September, 2004 >

(Continued from page 238)

You write:  Brethren is a sriptural phrase Dave.
matt 23.8
rom8.29 clearly showing that Christ will b the firstborn among many brethren (and which also shows that Christ was foreknew. Not actually alive with God before his birth. But if he was the so were we, because we are 'predestined' in vs 30.

so im not sure why u didnt think brethren was a scriptural phrase because there is many more.

TCE: Again, we would advise you to read more carefully Tim.

We wrote: In response to the Christadelphian speaker's claim:

'... he [Thomas] coined the name Christadelphian to distinguish a group which could seek conscientious objection from involvement in the American Civil War. How could brethren shoot brethren? And he coined the name Christadelphian - and it might sound strange in some peoples ears which is one reason why they say well, they're a cult - because we haven't heard that name before. But all it means is 'brethren in Christ'. Christa - Christ, adelphos - brethren. And John Thomas took that name - he didn't pluck it out of the air - it's quite a Scriptural phrase, isn't it? 'Wherefore He is not ashamed to call them, brethren' - Hebrews Chapter 2 tells us. When Paul writes to the Colossians, he writes to ' the brethren in Christ'. That's all that expression Christadelphian means. And it speaks the truth.'

We wrote, on page http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page63.html of our website:

'But Palmer's real aim is to introduce the definition of CD by throwing in a couple of Bible quotations, using the term 'brethren' (Gk. adelphoi), and then concluding - '
it's quite a Scriptural phrase, isn't it?' Well, no, it isn't actually, Stephen - it isn't found in Scripture at all. (Later, note his views on the word 'Trinity' which is not found in the Bible).

Obviously, the word 'brethren' is found in Scripture, as is 'adelphoi', and they are combined to make up the word 'Christadelphian'. 
But we were making the point that the complete word Christadelphian does not appear anywhere in Scripture.  You should have seen the clue to the fact we were referrring to 'Christadelphian' [which we abbreviated to CD to save space in the original tract] in the reference to the word 'brethren' - which is not a 'phrase'.  Does this mean that the Christadelphian cult does not exist?  Obviously not, for Dr Thomas made up the word to describe the 'brethren in Christ' which he founded.  In a similar way, the word 'Trinity' (or, more correctly, 'Triunity') was coined to describe a doctrine which orthodox Christians find clearly enunciated in Scripture.

You write:  Concerning the trinity, i have composed a list of Biblica references that disprove the Trinity and should hopefully explain so verses that Trinitarians [sic]

Some trinitarians asks why could Jesus then forgive sins? Check out John20.22-23. (It is the power of the holy spirit that forgives sins)

TCE: Do these verses (v22-23) really support your view?:

John 20:21-23; '21 Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'

This is a similar expression to Jesus' commission to Peter:
'Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven' (Matthew 16:19). In both statements the Greek verb of the second clause is a periphrastic future perfect (estai dedemenon, 'will be bound'; estai lelumenon, 'will be loosed'), a rare form in koine Greek.  Generally it is explained as an alternative for the simple future passive, having lost its original force. Apparently, however, in this instance it may retain the meaning of the future perfect, which implies that its action precedes that of the first verb of each sentence. As in English today, the future perfect was a dying tense that ultimately disappeared from common usage. The appearance of the form is therefore all the more significant. The delegation of power to the disciples to forgive or to retain the guilt of sin thus depends on the previous forgiveness by God.  This gift of the Holy Spirit (v22) is connected with the action of forgiving or retaining sins. It was not the work of the disciples to forgive sins, but the work of the Holy Spirit through the disciples as they fulfilled the Great Commission (Matthew  28:18-20).  Under the leadership of the Spirit, the church proclaims salvation and the accompanying forgiveness; in that sense, the church performs by gospel proclamation the import of this verse (cf. Matthew 16:18-19).  The commission to forgive sins is phrased in an unusual construction. Literally, it is: 'Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven.'  The first verbs in the two clauses are aorists, which imply the action of an instant; the second verbs are perfects, which imply an abiding state that began before the action of the first verbs. God does not forgive men's sins because we decide to do so nor withhold forgiveness because we will not grant it. We announce it; we do not create it. This is the essence of salvation. And all who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearer accepts or rejects the Lord Jesus as the Sin-Bearer.  This concept underlies Paul's verdict on the man in the church at Corinth who was guilty of gross immorality and seemed unrepentant (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).  J.R. Mantey ('The Mistranslation of the Perfect Tense in John 20:23, Matt 10:19, and Matt 18:18' in JBL 58 (1939): 243-49) points out that the Greek fathers never quoted this passage in support of absolution.

So this reference to the Holy Spirit in relation to the forgiveness of sins fails to prove that Jesus does not forgive sins, and these verses are a particularly poor choice to try and prove otherwise. 

That a distinction must be drawn between God's
actual act of justification, whereby he pardons and constitutes the sinner righteous, and his subsequent declaring of this act of justification whereby he openly acquits the justified sinner before others is borne out by our Lord's actions in connection with the woman who washed his feet in Luke 7:36-50.  He openly declares to Simon the Pharisee and to the woman herself that her many sins were forgiven (v47-48) 'because she loved much [hoti gapsen polu]' (v47).  But it is apparent that she had already been actually forgiven on some previous occasion because her acts of devotion toward him (the fruit and evidence of a lively faith) were due, he states, to her having already had 'her debt cancelled' (v41-43).  The chain of events then is as follows: On some previous occasion Jesus had forgiven her and this provoked in her both love for Him and acts of devotion toward Him. This outward evidence of her justified state evoked from Christ his open declaration to Simon that she was forgiven.

Jesus clearly had the power to forgive sin:
'... the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins' (Luke 5:20-25).  The Pharisees were right (Luke 5:21) - only God can forgive sins!  This is consistent with the other accounts of this miracle healing:

Matthew 9:6  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

Mark 2:7  Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? ... 10  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) ...

Clearly, Jesus shares the ability to forgive sins with the Father:

Mark 11:25  And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

You quote: 'John14.28 clearly stating that they differ and God is by far greater.'

TCE:  Many people make the same mistake and think that John 14:28 proves that God the Father is 'greater' than the Son:

JN 14:28 'You heard me say, `I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for
the Father is greater than I.

You have, of course, made an additional mistake in adding words to Scripture when you write: 'God is by far greater.'  As we will show, the Greek simply does not say what you are trying to make it say - and this is a standard ploy of Christadelphians (both young and old!).

We should first note that Jesus is telling His disciples that they should be glad that He is going back to the Father.  Why should they be glad?  For two reasons:

  1. Jesus suffered on earth in His role as Saviour God but was returning to His position of glory alongside the Father;
  2. If Jesus did not return to heaven the disciples would not receive the Holy Spirit who would empower them to do 'greater works than these'; although they would be full of grief at the death of Jesus their sorrow would turn to joy after they witnessed the resurrection and even more after Pentecost.

Note that the
'greater [than] me(I)' is the Greek: meizon mou - and therefore means that the Father is positionally greater (He was in glory in heaven and retained full omnipresence!)  while Jesus, the Man of Sorrows and suffering Servant King, was positionally lower here on earth and had restricted His ministry to being empowered through the Holy Spirit while He had taken a human form.   So the statement 'the Father is greater than I' refers to position rather than essence.  Jesus was speaking from the standpoint of his humanity, the incarnate state he assumed in order to fulfill the purposes of redemption.  He had already acknowledged that, while on earth: 'the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing' (John 5:19).  The numerous statements that the Father had sent Him confirm that Jesus had restricted His own omnipotence and omniscience and was acting under authority in the power of the Holy Spirit and - as the Perfect Son of Man - was obligated to fulfill the Father's commands.  But, after His resurrection, Jesus returned to the Father and was again glorified in His presence with the glory He had with the Father before the world began (paraphrase of John 17:5) and before He subjected himself to death on a cross.  Jesus is never inferior to the Father in any way, for His Godhood is unchangeable but, appearing in the form of a man, He is described in His servant state perfectly in Philippians 2:5-11 (q.v.).

Any who try and interpret
John 14v28 in the way cults and false religions interpret it, ultimately  make men greater than the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, and the Father [this subject is dealt with in more detail in 'The Trinity']!

You quote:  James1.13 Jesus was tempted by the devil, but God clearly can never be.

TCE:  Do the words from James prove your point?:

13When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

Almost any Scripture quoted alone can seem to prove whatever we may want it to prove - but the whole counsel of Scripture is needed to find the absolute truth as far as God wants us to know it.

Christadelphians teach that Jesus had a sin nature
(What They Believe, p. 74) and needed to save himself before he could save us (Christadelphian Answers, p. 24).  They also deny that Jesus is God in flesh (Christadelphian Answers, p. 22) and that Jesus existed prior to his incarnation (What They Believe , p. 85,86).  Although Christadelphians also deny the full efficacy of Christ's death (the substitutionary atonement of Christ - Christadelphian Answers, p. 25; What They Believe, p. 71) on the cross and the fact that He was fully God and fully Man, Scripture fully supports orthodox belief.  Two Scriptures partially explain the reason Jesus, our High Priest, could be tempted - yet not sin:

Hebrews 4:1515For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

Philippians 2:4-114Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christadelphians, and many other cults, deny the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ - that the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary is completely sufficient to pay for the sins of the world.  The orthodox view is that Jesus must be God to be able to offer a sacrifice of value greater than that of a mere man. He had to die for the sins of the world - as Scripture declares clearly (
1 John 2:2: 'And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world').  Only God could do that and Jesus must be man to be able to be a sacrifice for man.  As a man He can also be the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5: 'For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus').

So the reason why Jesus can be fully God - as He clearly claimed in many places (
John 5:17ff.; 8:24, 58; 10:28ff.) - and yet be tempted as we are while He was a Man on earth - is because He took on the nature of men!

You write:  John1 is a frequently used Chapter for trinitarian doctrin so i'll give my views on that
what do i believe is the word? i believe the word is
the 'plan' or even more simply the 'word'
If God was always the word then
how come the word has a begining in vs1 . No God made the word and God was the word or plan. All references to 'He' or 'Him' could just as easily be translated 'it'.  vs 4 in him was life and the light of men. The holy spirit gives life and understanding in darkness.

TCE:  Christadelphians would like to associate other ideas with 'the Word' and the definitions given in Christadelphian material, which we partially detailed in the first reply to you, give rise to the kind of speculation you make by inserting the idea of 'the Word' being 'the plan' into the text: 

'Jesus unanointed, or Jesus anointed, had no existence in the era of the Adamic creation'
(John Thomas. Eureka, vol. 1, p.406)

'What John is saying, (in John 1:1) therefore, is that in the very beginning there existed the Wisdom or purpose of God' (Logos: The Pre-existence of Christ, p.13)

'The Father regarded him with love ... to the Father*s mind, he was present' (Robert Roberts: Christendom Astray, p.163)

Jesus did not have 'any existence prior to his supernatural birth' (The Christadelphian XL, 1874, p.56)

There is absolutely no Scriptural warrant for such ideas, so we can easily discount your claim that
'God made the word and God was the word or plan.

In the booklet: 'Who is Jesus Christ?' (page 13), in reference to
Acts 1:14:

'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory of the only begotten full of grace and truth'

the Christadelphians state:

'When did the begettal take place? When the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. By that means, the Declaration of Divine wisdom found its substance and reality in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.'

It is interesting to note that they call wisdom 'divine' by saying that divine wisdom became flesh.  How can they fail to see that, by the Christadelphian definition, Jesus is divine since He is the incarnation of divinity?

The trouble with all cultic beliefs is that they arise from human speculation fuelled by demons - and not through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The views held by the Christadelphians mean that they never have the Holy Spirit to '
give[s] life and understanding in darkness' and this leads to such statements as 'references to 'He' or 'Him' could just as easily be translated 'it'.'
Greek grammar requires that, if a noun is neuter in gender then, technically, associated adjectives & pronouns must also be shown as neuter, even if the reference is clearly to a person.  Greek & other languages have grammatical gender, and natural gender words.  For readability, translators normally adopt the grammar and idiom of the language chosen.  Although the French word for 'tree' is masculine in gender, English speakers and writers obviously do not conclude that French trees are 'men'.  Careful investigation proves that Greek neuter nouns (pronouns and adjectives) are used for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (as well as angels, demons, babies etc.)  But we should not therefore conclude that, because a noun is neuter in gender, it makes the person spoken of an 'it'.  Fortunately, context is always a big factor in translation and we can know for certain when the text refers to 'he', 'she', or 'it' [in 'The Trinity' we give a reasoned explanation for the Holy Spirit being 'He' and not 'it'].

Greek expert, E.A Vines details the Greek words translated 'He' or 'It' as follows:

Note: This pronoun is generally part of the translation of a verb. Frequently it translates the article before nouns, adjectives, numerals, adverbs, prepositional phrases and the participial form of verbs. Apart from these it translates one of the following: 
autos (846), 'he himself and no other,' emphatic, e.g., Matt. 1:21, where the RV brings out the emphasis by the rendering 'it is He'; 3:11 (last clause), where the repeated 'He' brings out the emphasis; in some cases it can be marked only by a circumlocution which would not constitute a translation, e.g., 8:24; this use is very frequent, especially in the Gospels, the epistles of John and the Apocalypse; see also, e.g., Eph. 2:14; 4:11; 5:23, 27. See SAME, SELF, THIS, VERY. 
houtos (3778), 'this, this person here,' is always emphatic; it is used with this meaning, sometimes to refer to what precedes, e.g., Matt. 5:19, 'he (shall be called great)'; John 6:46, ''he (hath seen)'; often rendered 'this,' e.g., Rom. 9:9, or 'this man,' e.g., Matt. 27:58, RV; Jas. 1:25; 'the same,' e.g., Luke 9:48. See THAT, THIS, THESE. 
ekeinos (1565) denotes 'that one, that person' (in contrast to No. 2); its use marks special distinction, favorable or unfavorable; this form of emphasis should always be noted; e.g., John 2:21 '(But) He (spake)'; 5:19, '(what things soever) He (doeth)'; 7:11; 2 Cor. 10:18, lit., 'for not he that commendeth himself, he (ekeinos) is approved'; 2 Tim. 2:13, 'He (in contrast to ''we') abideth faithful'; 1 John 3:3, '(even as) He (is pure)'; v. 5, 'He (was manifested)'; v. 7, ''He (is righteous)'; v. 16, 'He laid down'; 4:17, '(as) He (is).' See OTHER, THAT, THIS. 
Note: The indefinite pronoun tis, 'anyone, any man,' is rendered 'he' in Acts 4:35, KJV (RV, rightly, 'any one'); in Heb. 10:28, RV, 'a man.'
Note: The pronouns used are the same, in their neuter forms, as Nos. 1, 2, 3 under HE.

(Continued on page 240)

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