Is Jesus a Demi-God?
#3 “The Little Big Words of the Holy Spirit.”
Is Jesus a god or the God?
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
This is a third part to “THE” little Big Words of the Spirit.
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The ancient Greek poets, Homer, Pindar, and Hesiod described dead heroes as “half gods.” The Roman poet Ovid used the term in reference to minor gods. The writer Capella proposed a hierarchy of gods; i.e., major gods, genii, demigods, semones, and the lesser fauns and satyrs. In historic Hindu there are half gods, half humans called devas that fit the usage of the word demigods. Heracles (Hercules) and Karna were demigods.i
I have mentioned about me being indoctrinated in my youth by the Jehovah Witness and Seventh-Day Adventist brand of Christianity.
“Church workers” knock on your door. You will experience the following attitude toward Jesus if the workers are invited to teach a Bible class in your home. According to them Jesus is not deity. Jesus is but an angel. And an argument is made from the original Greek in John 1:1, “Jesus as the Word is a god” and not “the God.”
While I may be criticized by some for using so much “original Greek” in my lessons, I seek not only to inform (1) why translations different from one another but (2) to show that teachers that claim the King James is in error because of the Greek are in error. I'm sure, that anyone unfortunate to sit in the Bible class mentioned will be confused by the argument that Jesus is “a god” and not “the God” from John 1.
The argument proceeds, “Since Jesus is not 'the God' then he must be a subordinate being; hence, the argument is made that Jesus is an “archangel” or demi-god named Michael. He's superior to the other angels (“arch”) but is not God.
This argument is commonly made among the misinformed. The Bible teaches, first of all, in Philippians 2:6 that Jesus thought it not “robbery” (KJV) to “persist in grasping equality with the God-- τον Θεόν (“the God,” Vamvas). Therefore, Jesus must have been initially equal with God. The GNB version: “He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.” As Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.” Jesus and the Father are one. You cannot say that about any angel.
The Hebrew writer clearly states that God has never said to any of the angels, "You are my Son, because today I have become your Father!" Neither has God said to any of them, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son!" (Hebrews 1:5, ; CEV). “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1: 6 KJV). First, you only worship God (Revelation 22:9). Second, if an angel, Jesus would have to worship Himself.
“For in him dwells all the fullness of the deity bodily,” (Colossians 1:9, ABP). We understand then that Jesus is deity in the flesh but how can we explain John 1:1?
The main problem is trying to force English grammar upon the Greek. Just a brief revisit to our own English grammar and then make a comparison.
In English we use word order to identify the subject and predicate. For example, consider the sentence, “The man is John Whittier.” English grammar demands that “man” is the subject because it precedes the predicate “is John Whittier” (verb-predicate noun). There are two kinds of predicate nouns. (1) Sometimes the subject and predicate noun are interchangeable. (2) But not always. Although it appears that the subject noun and the predicate noun are interchangeable in this expression, the meaning can be altered if we do it. If “the man” is the subject, then one is identifying a specific man. If “John Whittier” is the subject, then the meaning could be that one is distinguishing John's gender. John Whittier is the man. The point is, knowing the subject is important in communicating, whether English or Greek.
Greek sentences, however, like many other languages such as Deutchen, etc., is not bound by word order. Word endings are used to indicate the case and gender; not word order. The subject can be anywhere in relation to its verb. The problem with our example “man” and “John Whittier” is that they are both in the nominative case in any language. The endings would be the same. So how can we know what the subject in Greek is? The answer is that the Greek lets you know that man is the subject by including the word “the.” Koine has specific rules regarding the use of the definite article “the.” The predicate noun on the other hand omits the word “the”, especially if predicate noun IS NOT interchangeable with the subject. Therefore, the translator knows that “the Word” in John 1:1 is the subject although it is inverted and follows the verb “is” in the original Greek; i.e., “Και -and- θεος -god- ην -is- ο -the- λογος -word” (GNT-WH+). The subject is identified by the article “the.” There is no “the” before God; therefore, God is the predicate noun.
If there were definite articles before each word then the nouns would be interchangeable. Bible scholar A. T. Robertson commented that if both subject and predicate have articles, “both are definite, treated as identical, one and the same, and interchangeable.” Robertson uses an example of Matthew 13:38, which reads: “The field [Greek, ho a‧gros′] is the world [Greek, ho ko′smos].” The grammar enables us to understand that “the field is the world” but “the world is also the field.” But this is not the situation in John 1:1.
The scholar James Allen Hewett emphasizes: “In such a construction the subject and predicate are not the same, equal, identical, or anything of the sort.”ii Hewett uses 1 John 1:5, which says: “God is light.” In Greek, “God” is ho the‧os′ and therefore has a definite article. But phos for “light” is not preceded by any article. Hewett says, “One can always . . . say of God He is characterized by light; one cannot always say of light that it is God.” Similar examples are found in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit,” and at 1 John 4:16, “God is love.” In both of these verses, the subjects have definite articles but the predicates, “Spirit” and “love,” do not. So the subjects and predicates are not interchangeable. These verses cannot mean that “Spirit is God” or “love is God.”
Greek scholars and Bible translators such as William Barclay and Jason David BeDuhn ascertain that John 1:1 highlights, not the identity, but a quality of “the Word.”iii The absence then of a second definite article indicates quality or character of the subjectiv which is the case here. This harmonizes with the other passages such as Philippians 2. In John 1:1 the word “God” is speaking of Jesus' nature and not that He is a demigod. He is deity. He is currently on the right hand of the Father and has all authority in Heaven and Earth.
Deity comprises of God, the Father, God, the Holy Spirit, and God, the Son. Together they comprise the Elohim of Genesis 1:1.