1

Mark 12:29-30 says: Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. (ASV)

Who is the only God identified in the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4 and Mark 12:29?

Jesus spoke of God as a Person, his Father. Has the meaning of God shifted to a substance or essence?

Did Jesus confessed one God in number or one God not in number but in nature?

  • 1
    Who said it was replaced? I am unaware of any such suggestion. – Dottard Jun 8 at 8:11
  • I'm not suggesting it was replaced, I'm asking if it was replaced. I should edit my question to make it clearer. Thanks for the comment. – Alex Balilo Jun 8 at 8:41
  • by whom was it replaced? – Perry Webb Jun 8 at 9:32
  • I am asking the same question. – Alex Balilo Jun 8 at 9:38
  • 1
    @AlexBalilo: As it currently stands, I consider this question unanswerable, since it forces the answer-giver to make objective rulings about who is, rather than who could be, the entity referenced by the expression. Making a reasoned argument for a certain possible interpretation is one thing, but disproving all others beyond a shadow of a doubt is an entirely different matter altogether... – Lucian Jun 10 at 22:47
1

Preamble

The Bible, itself, is the preeminent reputable source.

Mark 12:28-34 (KJV)

28And one of the scribes came, and ... asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
...
32And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
...
34And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Clearly, the man who asked the question, and all who were listening, had no trouble discerning what Jesus meant by the statement, "The Lord our God is one Lord"

BTW, it is unlikely that Jesus and the Scribe communed in Greek, but the Greek of Mark's Gospel is identical to the LXX Greek of Deuteronomy 6:4, which causes me to wonder why the English translations differ from how the Jews translate it:
"the LORD is our God κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν, the LORD is one. κύριος εἷς ἐστιν".

Here is one modern Jewish source's(1) contribution concerning what was likely the shared understanding of Jesus and the Scribe:

God is One

One of the primary expressions of Jewish faith, recited twice daily in prayer, is the Shema, which begins "Hear, Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is one". This simple statement encompasses several different ideas:

  • There is only one God.
  • No other being participated in the work of creation.
  • God is a unity. He is a single, whole, complete indivisible entity. He cannot be divided into parts or described by attributes.
  • Any attempt to ascribe attributes to God is merely man's imperfect attempt to understand the infinite.
  • God is the only being to whom we should offer praise.

The Shema can also be translated as "the LORD is our God, the LORD alone", meaning that no other is our God, and we should not pray to any other.

There is only ONE God. Both Christians and Jews know this!


Manifestations of God

  1. Exodus 3:2-4 (KJV)
    2And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
    Is it sensible that Moses, or any man should worship "a bush" because from it the words of God were delivered?
  2. Exodus 20:1-22 (KJV)

    1And God spoke all these words, saying, 2I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage
    ...
    18And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

    20And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
    21And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
    22And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

    Is it sensible that Moses, the children of Israel or any man should worship "heaven" or "a mountain" or "thick darkness" because from them the words of God were delivered?

The invisible God must manifest is some visible way in order to be sensible to men, but sensible men will not confuse the manifestation of God with God, himself.


God said to Israel through the prophets (KJV):

Deuteronomy 32:39

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

Isaiah 41:4

Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah 43:10

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isaiah 46:4

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isaiah 48:12

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

Isaiah 51:12

I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;

Isaiah 52:6

Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.

God says to mankind through Jesus Christ:

John 8:24 (KJV)

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:28

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

John 13:19

Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.

Revelation 1:18

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Revelation 2:23

And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.*

The bag of bones that bore the name Jesus was no less a manifestation of God than was the burning bush, the heavens, the mountain or the thick darkness. God knit Himself a body within the womb of Mary. This body was used by God to do His deeds, and deliver His words that quickeneth (2):

63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
-- John 6:63 (KJV)

10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
-- John 14:10 (KJV)

19Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
-- John 5:19 (KJV)

28Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
-- John 8:28 (KJV)


Conclusion

The bag of bones as a manifestation of God differs from the burning bush, heaven, the mountain and the thick darkness, in that it is eternal - the invisible God raised the bag of bones from the grave and will continue to manifest in like form forever as king and ruler of the New Heaven and New earth.

Anyone who worships Jesus as if he were a different being to God is an idolater. The eternal Spirit that alone moved the Father to speak creation into existence, is the same eternal Spirit that alone moved Jesus to deliver the words of truth and life and give himself up to the cross.

There ought to be no confusion: there are many manifestations of God, but One God who is to be loved with all of one's heart and soul and might.


Notes:

  1. The Nature of God - (mechon-mamre.org)

  2. Strong's G2227 - zōopoieō

| improve this answer | |
  • Can you please explain "God knit Himself a body within the womb of Mary" and "The bag of bones as a manifestation of God differs from the burning bush, heaven, the mountain and the thick darkness, in that it is eternal - the invisible God raised the bag of bones from the grave and will continue to manifest in like form forever as king and ruler of the New Heaven and New earth". and " Anyone who worships Jesus as if he were a different being to God is an idolater.". – Alex Balilo Jun 14 at 1:39
  • If you would like to take this to a discussion room. I will join you there. – enegue Jun 14 at 2:03
  • No I don't want to take this to a discussion room. I just wanted to clarify some of the statements in your answer clarified. – Alex Balilo Jun 14 at 2:10
  • The comments area is not for discussion. You have used it correctly to let me know you have some things you want explained, but I don't think I need to add them to my answer. For example, I would have to ask you what you understand by Jesus words, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing", but that would be a misuse of the comments area. – enegue Jun 14 at 2:27
  • @enegue "The eternal Spirit that alone moved the Father to speak creation into existence, is the same eternal Spirit that alone moved Jesus to deliver the words of truth and life and give himself up to the cross" - does not this formulation lead to a subordinationism in Trinity, a very strange type of it also, for in usual subordinationist doctrines it is the Father who holds upper hand over the Son and the Spirit, but in this formulation Spirit is who instigates both Father and the Son. Did Spirit also instigate Father to emit Him? Then the Principle of the Trinity is not Father but Spirit. – Levan Gigineishvili Jun 15 at 11:38
0

Historical Context
This is one of several tests different religious groups used to try and trap Jesus (Mark 12:13):

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
(Mark 12:28) [ESV]

This test came from a scribe, a "γραμματεύς." Scribes were men learned in the Mosaic law and in the sacred writings, an interpreter, teacher who examined the more difficult and subtle questions of the law; added to the Mosaic law decisions of various kinds thought to elucidate its meaning and scope, and did this to the detriment of religion.1 It is important to remember this context: the scribe is trying to trap Jesus. In other words, if the answer was obvious, there is no trap. Here is the complete answer Jesus gave:

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12)

The first part of the answer Jesus gives is taken from Deuteronomy:

1 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (Deuteronomy 6)

The essence of the scribe's "trap" is the relationship of the Shema to the Torah. The greatest command is not one of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-21). It was not spoken directly from the LORD to the people; nor was it written on the two stone tablets (Deuteronomy 5:22). It was only given after the people became terrified of the LORD and perhaps most significantly, it was not given to those who were brought out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:23-33). How can one claim the greatest commandment is something which was not given to those who actually experienced the LORD's deliverance?

Jesus avoided the trap by saying the greatest command was actually composed of two different commands which could still be called a single command. The second part is taken from Leviticus:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

Of this section of Leviticus Baruch J. Schwartz says:

...there is no such things as a command pertaining merely to relations between human beings...every commanded or prohibited action affects the sacred realm and is in the category of laws between God and human beings...The chapter expresses this by presenting an admixture of laws from every sphere - from worship to fairness in commerce, from legal proceedings to reverence for the Temple, from idolatry and the avoidance of pagan practices to family relations, from the use of the name of God in oaths to support for the needy, from the sanctity of first fruits to theft and fraud - all on equal footing; punctuating the separate paragraphs with the repeated refrain I am the LORD or I the LORD am your God, which is approximately equivalent to "because I, the LORD, say so." The opening and closing vv. (2 and 37) provide the key to meaning: You shall be holy (v. 2). You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My rules: I am the LORD (v. 37).2

This command was given to those who were brought out of Egypt. While it was the second one cited by Jesus, it was the first one given and there is a connection to the Shema:

Only through faithful observance of God's commands can the Israelite fulfill the sacred charge of being holy. This is repeated in Num. 15:39-40, recited every morning and evening as part of the Shema prayer...3

The Shema prayer is composed of three parts:

Shema Prayer                     Historical "giving" of the prayer
Part 1: Deuteronomy 6:4-9        Numbers 15:39-40
Part 2: Deuteronomy 11:13-21     Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Part 3: Numbers 15:39-40         Deuteronomy 11:13-21

Had it been in effect, the only portion of the morning and evening Shema prayer which those who were brought out of Egypt could recite is from Numbers:

39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. 40 So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God.” (Numbers 15)

Therefore, the answer Jesus gave is actually a summary to the Shema prayer:

Shema Prayer                    Greatest command "now"   Greatest command "then"   
Part 1: Deuteronomy 6:4-9       Deuteronomy 6:4-5        Leviticus 19:18
Part 2: Deuteronomy 11:13-21                             Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Part 3: Numbers 15:39-40        Leviticus 19:18

Both the Shema and the Scripture Jesus used have similar ending: I am the LORD, or as Schwartz says: Because I the LORD say so. Therefore, historically Deuteronomy 6:4-5 was appended to the greatest command which initially was simply: Love your neighbor as yourself. Yet "now" begins: And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Why? Because I the LORD say so.

The Followup
The scribe acknowledged the correctness of Jesus handling of the Law:

32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12)

And then Jesus made this statement to the scribe:

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:34)

Despite correctly embellishing Jesus' answer by including the inefficacy of animal sacrifice, the scribe was not far from the Kingdom of God. That is, he was close, but there was still something he was missing.

There were two things the scribe failed to grasp. First, he was not a disciple. Jesus gave a good answer, but the scribe's response was to give Jesus a "legal brief" not to become a follower. Secondly, Jesus had not yet made the final sacrifice by which those were were "far off or near" could gain entry to the Kingdom:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:17-18)

Until Jesus gave up His life even those who were near were like those who were far off.

Conclusion
Who is the one Lord we should love?

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. (John 15)

By abiding in Jesus' love, His disciples abide in the Father's love. Moreover, Jesus replaced the second part of the greatest command:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:33)

Just like the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt were not given the Shema, but were told to love others as self, the disciples are given a law of love to others. But the standard is much higher: love of self is replaced by Jesus' love. No longer will loving others as one loves self suffice. No! Now one is to love others the way Jesus loved us, which is to say, He gave His life for us.

The God we are to love is the one who commands us to love, not as we love ourselves, but as He loves us.


1. γραμματεύς
2. Baruch J. Schwartz, The Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 252
3. Ibid.

| improve this answer | |
-1

For a while, just put aside the terms like "substance" and "essence" but take an analogy: rays of the sun say to plants: you should love and worship only the one sun, because unless the sun, you will all wither and cease to live!" But, can the sun provide living to the plants unless it sends its rays? No. Therefore, the rays should be necessarily co-loved and co-worshiped with the sun (by the plants, I mean).

The same applies in theology but to an incomparably and other dimensionally greater degree of unity and inseparability than the physical analogy of the sun and its rays, for we deal in theology, in speaking of God, with the sphere totally devoid of corporeality, to the effect that it is far more impossible, even other-dimensionally impossible to imagine a division of unity of the Father and the Son than it is possible with the physical sun and its rays.

Below I shall demonstrate that God's new covenant with humans entails that humans cannot engage in this new covenant, cannot fulfil its precepts unless through Jesus Christ, who is necessary for uniting God in terms of this new covenant. But I shall also demonstrate that neither God can engage humans in His new covenant with them unless through His Logos, the Latter also called Jesus Christ after the Incarnation. Now, if God is impotent to engage humans in His new covenant with them, that is to say, if God is impotent to save humans but through His Logos, then given the absurdity of the statement "God is impotent to save humans" and the truth of the statement "God is potent to save humans only through Jesus Christ", makes Jesus Christ also God by a [theo]-logical necessity.

God is one, and this one God makes a new covenant with the humans through Jesus, so that only by following the statutes of the new covenant, the new commandments of Jesus (who does not say, by the way, that those are God's commandments and that He only transmits them, but calls them "My commandments" and reveals Himself as not just a trustee of them, but the very Fountainhead of them (cf. John 13:34)), can humans say that they are pleasing God. Now, those commandments, as Jesus says, is impossible for humans to fulfil without Jesus Himself helping them, which He expresses even more intimately and inseparably, comparing Himself to wine and the disciples to twigs (John 15:5).

Thus, nobody can come to the God, i.e. fulfil the novel impossible commandments that make us compatible to God's new covenant with us, unless through Jesus.

But, now see, that it works double ways: not only we cannot please God unless through Jesus, but neither God can help us to please Him unless through Jesus. Thus, Jesus is necessary for the new covenant of God with humans to function both for humans and God. Just like God not only does not but cannot create universe unless through His Logos, so also God cannot help us pleasing Him unless through His Logos, who after the Incarnation is called also Jesus. If God cannot create the universe without His Logos, then Logos is incomparably greater than the created universe. But can Logos still be created before the creation of the universe, so that we may hold a theory of a double creation (as weird as this may sound): that God first creates His Logos, and then He is necessitated to use this Logos in creation of the universe. But this is an absurd hypothesis, for if God cannot create even the universe without His Logos, then how could God create Logos who is incomparably greater than the created universe being its Creator alongside with God?

Because those suppositions are absurd and mythological, the true theology holds equal divinity of the Father and the Son/Logos and gives Both the same worship (John 5:23) through their co-eternal Spirit who teaches humans this equal divinity and Lordship of the Father and the Son (1 Cor. 12:3).

Now, given all that, you can wisely and safely apply also philosophical categories and terms of "essence" and "substance". Like the sun and its rays comprise one reality or substance, insofar as they cannot be imagined separately but imply each other, so Father and the Son are the same reality, in that neither can be imagined without the other, for They imply each other. Yet, while identical in reality, or "essence" you may say, which is another Latin synonymous term, They are also different for Father is the eternal Source of the Son and not vice versa. Thus, the true theology holds both absolute and unsplittable identity of Godhead together with absolute and unmix-able difference in the same Godhead.

Conclusion

Eventually, to respond to your question in the light of the above discussion: Jesus says people to love the Father, but it is impossible to love the Father without co-loving the Son in the same way, not any less than it is impossible for plants to love their life-giver sun without co-loving in the same way the rays sent by the sun that are the indispensable principles of them having life. Yet in the sphere of theology this is even in an incomparably higher and other-dimensional degree of unity and inseparability of love. Thus, who does not love the Son just as s/he loves the Father, is a liar and apostate, if not consciously and out of ill-intent, then simply ontologically, as a victim of ill-grounded theology.

| improve this answer | |
  • Did Jesus confessed one God in number or one God not in number but in nature? – Alex Balilo Jun 8 at 9:56
  • Jesus confessed One God the Father who was always Father and thus had always, eternally the Son, who thus is also God, as rightly says John in his prologue. – Levan Gigineishvili Jun 8 at 10:02
  • Hey, down-voter! Thanks for reading and voting, but if you find my comment erroneous, then, please, if you are a kind person, help me out of my error, whether it is theological, grammatical or stylistic. But if you have down-voted my comment out of any other reason than the mentioned three, I pity that other reason. – Levan Gigineishvili Jun 9 at 3:55
  • If that's address to me you are mistaken. Presumption bring nothing but strife. I don't know and don't have to prove who down voted you. I'm not here for points.I do not seek my own glory. – Alex Balilo Jun 9 at 4:51
  • 1
    It is addressed to the down-voter, and since you are not the one, how can it possibly address to you? – Levan Gigineishvili Jun 9 at 5:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.