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Jesus' God is repeatedly described in scripture as the Father. So in John 20:17 it seems obvious that when Jesus said "I to go my God" that he meant that he was going to his father:

Joh 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Would Miriam and the disciples have understood "your God" to refer to the Father? Or to "the Trinity"? (Would there ever be any confusion in their minds as to who was being referred to when Jesus mentioned God?)

In other words, when Jesus said "I go to your God" would they have to stop and think, "Well, my God his right here in front of me"? Or, "I guess he means the other parts of the Trinity"? In other words, did they understand their God to be the same as Jesus' God, or as more complicated than his?

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    In my view: i) If Jesus said he was ascending to "...your Father" he surely could not have been ascending to the Trinity if that included himself; ii) No one had told them about the Trinity, so they could not have wondered whether Jesus meant the Trinity, the rest of the Trinity or so on; iii) The Trinity only became revealed during the 2nd/3rd century and agreed to be real during the course of the fourth century. Jun 24, 2016 at 21:35
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    @DickHarfield So by "my God" they understood "the father" and when he said "your God" they understood him to be saying the same thing? That's the pith of my question, that "your God" meant to them a unitary deity, "the father", nothing more complicated than that, right?
    – user10231
    Jun 24, 2016 at 21:43
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    Right. Until they (or anyone else) were told otherwise, they can only have thought in terms of one, unitary God. In my view, the repetition (my Father, your Father ... my God, your God) was a rhetorical device. Jun 24, 2016 at 21:48
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    @DickHarfield Yes, a device but with the net effect of "my God, who is also your God" and excludes Jesus from "participation" in "God". And coupled with "my father and your father" it connects with "my brothers" to indicate that he "participates" with the saints.
    – user10231
    Jun 24, 2016 at 22:18
  • See Gnomon, Bengel's commentary for the answer.
    – Michael16
    Dec 5, 2016 at 10:14

5 Answers 5

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The text does not offer how the disciples understood the words that Yeshua used. We can only assume that they understood "My God" to mean he was going to the same God that he calls "their God", since that's exactly what the text says and none of the disciples offer any objection. Otherwise, there would be two Gods: one God that Yeshua calls his own and one that he attributes to his disciples.

In 1782, Joseph Priestly wrote in A History of the Corruptions of Christianity:

Christ was a man, naturally possessed of no other powers than other men have, but a distinguished messenger of God, and the chief instrument in his hands for the good of men; this was the original faith of the Christian church, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles. It must strike every person who gives the least attention to the phraseology of the New Testament, that the terms Christ and God, are perpetually used in contradistinction to each other, as much as God and man . . .

Christ himself always prayed to this one God, as his God and Father. He always spoke of himself as receiving his doctrine and his power from him, and again and again disclaimed having any power of his own, John v. 19: "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself." Ch. xiv. 10: "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me."

He calls his disciples his brethren, John xx. 17: "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." Can any person read this, and say that the Unitarians wrest the Scriptures, and are not guided by the plain sense of them?

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  • "Can any person read this and say that Unitarians wrest the Scriptures, and are not guided by the plain sense of them?" - Yes, I am that person and I formulate my objections to the Unitarian interpretation in my post below. As to the OP, as I write in my answer, it is not a sincere question at all! It is a question of a Jehovawitnesser or a Unitarian (both modified Arians for Arius is their spiritual ancestor) who attacks the Trinitarian theology with a guise of a question. The author of the OP is not interested at all, he simply pushes his ideology though the "question". Sep 25, 2022 at 5:41
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When I first read this many many years ago, I saw a meaning that I had always assumed was how everyone saw it and never gave it another thought. But maybe I was wrong after all. In my mind, this was a celebratory note about the atonement that Jesus had just achieved: my God is now your God; my father is now your father. The disciples had witnessed the intimate relationship that Jesus had had with his God and Father, but that relationship had been just as out of reach to them as it was for us. But after Christ's atonement they are now brought near to God (Hebrews 7:18-20). There is an old testament picture of this in 2 Kings Chapter 2. After Elijah is taken up in a whirlwind (a picture of Chrit's ascension), his cloak fell and was picked up by Elisha. Elisha asks "Where now is the God of Elijah?" The answer came in Elisha's demonstration of God's power in parting the Jordan river in exactly the same manner as Elijah had just done. In simple logic, Elisha still had the same God; but he had him in a different way. Elijah's God had always been Elisha's God, but never like this. So when Jesus says "my God and your God" I believe he is saying that God is now your God in the way that He is (and always has been) my God.

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  • (+1) because I think this adds to the discussion. Welcome to the site and thank you for posting. I think I see what you are saying. But where do you see the scriptures refer to the work of Christ as an "atonement"?
    – user10231
    Dec 5, 2016 at 12:00
  • Sorry, not sure if I should reply to comments here or above, but in answer to your question, Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2 come to mind. Dec 6, 2016 at 22:59
  • An "assertion" is a "declaration" that something is so. Unless you provide a primary source or in some other way back up what you say there is no reason to post it because it is just hearsay. So the general rule of thumb for me is to be conscious of when I'm making a claim and then if I can back it up with evidence, do so but if not, strike it! Just walk through your post, find the assertions and then support them. Thanks. (Note: I'm not an authority here, just offering suggestions that lead to well received posts/answers).
    – user10231
    Dec 6, 2016 at 23:11
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Jesus says; "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, my God and your God." Now the Great is the mystery of the Godhead. Here in St John 20:17, we see Yeshua's statement of ascending to the Father as the "Son of man" and unique son of God Yeshua could truly state that the Father is his Father and his God! Just as he stated that the Son is always in submission to the Father and that the Father is greater than him. So it seems we have a mindset being dealt with here. One that the Jews didn't readily accept anyone calling themselves God to be God. Philippians 2:6-10 lets us in on the position of Yeshua as that verse cites he is the very nature, God. So in St.John 20:17 Jesus isn't omitting his divinity but rather appealing to a mindset that hasn't come into the full revelation of Christ. Remember after his death before his resurrection the Disciples still had many questions and didn't understand everything he spoke. The relationship here shows that he is empathetic towards their sorrow and is reminding them of the relationship as he applies to them not as God or as King although he is. But rather as brothers so that they would also identify with the closeness of their relationship to the Father. Later when he appears before Thomas who had doubts about his resurrection. Thomas speaks; "My Lord and My God"! So was Thomas seeing something different that Yeshua didn't know about himself? Of course not it's that Thomas finally received the revelation of how God is expressing himself and Thomas sees that Yeshua and The Father are one God. Thomas received the message that Yeshua had previously required Mary Magdalene to tell the brethren, that he was ascending to their father and their God. Yet Thomas Now sees that Christ is the manifestation of the invisible God in the person of the Son.

28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

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    It would help readers if you could break up this "wall of text" into paragraphs so as to make it easier to read.
    – agarza
    Sep 18, 2022 at 2:27
  • +1 a good answer, but break into paragraphs for an easier reading Sep 28, 2022 at 4:14
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Jesus and his brothers do indeed have the same God. There is only one God. However, the relationship sustained by Christ and by believers are not entirely alike. He calls God His Father, but he is also a part of the Holy Trinity. God is our Father; we are His by creation and the new birth. So while it is the same God being referred to, we must also be aware of the differences in perspective. Jesus' statement in this particular passage went show his followers their new relationship with God. He was personal, not just a distant spiritual power. They were now heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ as Paul says. This was a new concept for these Jews. Jesus was emphasizing this new relationship.

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    Welcome, @PastorShane. BH:SE is a little different from Christian Q&A sites. Rather than stating your theological opinion about the question, please provide the critical biblical scholarship or exegesis of the text itself that underlies your opinion. Here's the kind of answer we're looking for: meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/653/…
    – Schuh
    Aug 8, 2016 at 17:53
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    (-1) for appealing to the [to my mind, bogus] dogma of Holy Trinity rather than appealing to the scriptures, which is what we're concerned with here, not traditions.
    – user10231
    Dec 5, 2016 at 11:47
  • @PastorShane A good theological answer (+1), I subscribe under all words but would reformulate “part of the Trinity” as “one of the Trinity”. Sep 24, 2022 at 11:53
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The OP question is put in a kind of a rhetorical way, suggesting obliquely yet quite clearly that neither the Virgin Mary, nor the Lord's brothers nor disciples would consider Him to be God, for He said that He was going to His God - His Father, and that the same God was their Father as well.

In fact, this is not even a question, for the author of the OP, from the outset, holds adamantly that Trinity is, as he says in one of his comments, “a bogus dogma” and that this site is for dismantling and debunking such dogmas. In short, the purpose of the question is not to really clarify for himself something that is sincerely curious or interesting for him, but to attack the Trinitarians in a form of this ersatz-question in order to push his, to use traditional theological term, heretical agendum. To conclude: it is a perfectly insincere and ideology-based or ideologically biased question.

In what follows I will show how misplaced such a smug anti-Trinitarian conviction is and that Trinitarian vision is the Theo-logical outcome - and a necessary one for that matter - of a sincere, grammatically sound consideration of the Scripture, the outcome of a 100% exegesis and a 0% of eisegesis.

We learn from the Scripture, that God is called "Father" by Christ with His own reference in a totally different sense than with reference to other humans: He calls the Solomon’s Temple exclusively His Father’s Temple (Luke 2:49) and He, Christ is the "only-begotten Son", who is the necessary mediator for others to get access to God the Father (John 14:6), whereas He, surely, has this access immediately, and if so, then He also knows the Father without mediation, being the only Principle through whom the Father can be known and Their - the Father’s and the Son’s - mutual knowledge of Each-Other is equal and infinite (Matthew 11:27), and if so, then the Son, Christ is equal to God, and only God can be equal to God.

The crucial theological question is whether Jesus is necessary only for humans to access God the Father, or Jesus is necessary also for God the Father to access humans? Since surely the second is the case, (and this does not even need any quote from Scriptures for it is analytically so that if Jesus' incarnation is necessary for that new degree of intimacy for men that that they can call God the "Father", then Jesus out of logical or even analytical necessity is necessary for the Father for entering into this new intimacy with men) then Jesus is co-God with the Father out of theo-logical necessity.

That’s why in many an instance in Gospels the Lord allows Himself to be worshipped and when He comes to them after resurrection He is explicitly worshipped by the disciples (Matthew 28:17), which is a sacrilege unless He holds the same worshipable dignity as God; in fact, does not one of them, Thomas address the resurrected Lord - “my Lord, my God” (John 20:28)? And how otherwise even to think, for Thomas saw a clear logic: the one who says that He has authority to give His life and take it back after three days (John 10:18), and shows through resurrection that these words were not some idle talk or theological metaphors, but actual reality, then how else one can take it? Who but God has authority to remove life and give it back again to a mortal biological organism, human body? Thomas' confession is logical and the only possible, for neither any men or any angel can possess such an authority as to do such things without any prayers to God, but sovereignly, as God.

Thus, surely brothers and apostles have the same God to whom (according to human nature) ascends His co-eternal Son, worshipped by the brothers and disciples alongside with the Father.

Eventually, it is He, the only-begotten Son who bestowed upon mankind such an intimacy as to allow us to call God “father”, but He has this intimacy naturally and eternally, while we derivatively, through grace bestowed by Him, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:18). That is the sign of the bestowal, when He adds "and your God", for He wants them to be in the same intimate relationship with God the Father as He is, for neither Son nor the Father grudge Their divine life from humans created by Them, but want them to share in Their Life through the Life-creating Spirit that eternally comes out of the Father.

Thus, does He say that He ascends to God in sense that He ascends to the Holy Trinity? No! He says that He ascends to the Father according to His human nature, for according to His divine nature the Logos is always inseparably with the Father in Heavens, as He explicitly says that even while being on earth according to human nature, He simultaneously is with the Father in Heavens (John 3:13). But implicitly He of course, according to His human nature, ascends to the Holy Trinity, for God the Father is always there on the same level with the Son/Logos who is eternally born from Him and the Holy Spirit who eternally comes out of Him.

Moreover, see after all this drastic difference between God who "ascends amidst shouts of joy" (Psalm 47:5), that is to say Christ, and us, simple humans: He, Christ ascends with mediation of nobody, as the natural Son of the Father, whereas - just tell yourself sincerely! - can you or any man ascend to God the Father without mediation of Christ? Of course not (John 14:6)! And to Whom you shall hopefully ascend through Christ, that is to say to the Father, will not you see there on the same level also His Son, Christ, for He sits on the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19), which is a metaphor standing for the "on the same level with". Thus, is it possible for you to ascend to the Father without Christ and without co-ascending to Christ God?

Therefore, to ascend to the Father without co-ascending to the Son - and to the H. Spirit for that matter - is a theological impossibility and who assert this impossibility are not theologians, but idle quibblers about the Bible.

And of course Christ and His brothers have the same God, but He as the unique man having, along with a fulness of the adopted human nature, the same uncreated divine Nature with the Father and uncreated divine Hypostasis distinct from that of the Father, whereas brothers and apostles have everything - both natures and hypostases/personalities - created in themselves.

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  • @Down-voter My dear Sir or Madam, would you, please, initiate me into reasons for your “-“? It will take just 1-3 minutes of your time. But if you are unwilling to help me out of what you think is an error, then have a good day! Sep 22, 2022 at 3:34
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    You can modify this as much as you like but it remains thoroughly unbiblical. Mark 16:19 , right hand of God, not the Father as you opine. If it said, ‘right hand of the Father’, the Trinity construct might have some credibility but it does not.
    – Steve
    Sep 29, 2022 at 9:05
  • @steveowen I guess you have to consult basic tropes of literature to crack biblical metaphors correctly. “Right hand” of God is not a place of any creature, angel or archangel or man, it is the even or same level metaphor. Yes, Father is God, but as eternally Father He has co-eternal Son out of theological and Scriptural necessity which you so mercilessly (first of all towards your own intellect) disregard. Sep 29, 2022 at 9:46
  • @steveowen God sent His only-begotten Son to save the world (John 3:16), thus necessarily Logos was Son even before the incarnation, and since Logos co-created the “everything”, i.e. the entirety of created order, then Logos/Son is necessarily uncreated, and since time is part only of a created order, then the Son is also co-eternal, co-timeless with the Father; now, eternal and uncreated is only God. Why to cherish tormenting both grammar of the Scripture and your own immortal soul, which naturally desires truth you deprive it of. Sep 30, 2022 at 4:36
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    You echo the same hotchpotch of ideas that have zero Biblical support but from the confused wisdom of men: incarnation, co-eternal, uncreated, and twist scripture to fit the Creedal dogma because the Bible teaches a totally different Jesus. Thankfully, the scriptures will make much more sense to you one day soon and need no imaginative interpretation or alterations to align with the human narrative.
    – Steve
    Sep 30, 2022 at 8:14

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