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Matthew 18:20 (NIV):

20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Is Jesus literally omnipresent?

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    The words state a literal truth. Some believe that truth and they experience it. Some seem to doubt that truth and they do not experience it. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 4:54

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Note the statement of Paul (who was NOT omnipresent) in 1 Cor 5:3

Although I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, ...

Thus, we have several options to understand Matt 18:20 -

  1. Jesus is present by His [Holy] Spirit, who is omnipresent
  2. The believers are present in the Spirit of Christ just as they were present with the spirit of Paul; that is not literally but having the same mindset as Christ

Of these two option, I prefer the first (but modified by the comments below) because Jesus spent several chapters in John 14-16 telling the disciples that He could NOT be with them in person so would sent the Advocate = the Holy Spirit, to be with them -

  • John 14:16 - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever--

  • John 14:26, But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

  • John 15:26 - "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father--the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father--he will testify about me.

However, this is a vexed subject about which there is much valid debate, so we cannot be too dogmatic. The simplest, most literal understanding is to take both positions literally and conclude that:

  • Jesus is present will all of us via His Holy Spirit as promised in John 14:16, 26, 15:26
  • Jesus is present personally where "two or three are gathered" (Matt 18:20).
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    "Jesus is present by His [Holy] Spirit, who is omnipresent" How does this follow? Jesus says he will send the Advocate. If the HS is everywhere, why does it have to be sent? Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 18:13
  • @OneGodtheFather When you open up a new business location the manager can begin working from that location from day one and may have worked for the company from its conception but there will always be an official start date for a new chapter. The Holy Spirit is sent in His official capacity Acts 2 Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 3:33
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The passage suggests the opposite - Jesus is not claiming to be omnipresent.

"Omnipresent, adjective, present everywhere at the same time."

Rather, the statement is claiming conditional presence. "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."

If Jesus were claiming omnipresence here, he could say "Where anyone is, there am I with them."

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    What about "conditional omnipresence"? Imagine one million groups of 2 or more people each gathering in Jesus' name, then Jesus should be able to be present in those one million places simultaneously. In other words, Jesus can potentially show up in an unlimited amount of places in the universe at the same time, subject to a condition. Would you call that "conditional omnipresence"?
    – user38524
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 15:00
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator I'm not sure about the term 'conditional omnipresence'. Perhaps 'conditional multipresence' is more accurate. Certain Christians believe Jesus is present in the Eucharistic bread and wine, but that bread and wine isn't everywhere. In theory, could this entail omnipresence? Perhaps, but I don't think that's the thrust of the statement, and would require more work to arrive at. Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 17:04
  • You’re trying to differentiate between His omnipresence and when He chooses to manifest. Unfortunately your argument falls apart the moment two groups decide to meet simultaneously in two different locations. If He cannot manifest Himself in both locations simultaneously He lied but if He can, then this is proof of omnipresence Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 13:02
  • @NihilSineDeo I can talk to 2 people simultaneously on the phone. You can keep adding callers to the call. Does that mean I'm omnipresent? Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 17:05
  • @OneGodtheFather - what about one million simultaneous callers?
    – user38524
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 17:54
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Surprise, surprise, but Jesus is not the source of those words: They originate with the Father.

Believest 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)

He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:24)

The Father was in Jesus, and speaking through him. That is the very essence of "Immanuel," which means "God with us." Because those were the words of the Father, it is easy to understand how they might be true, for the Father is certainly omnipresent.

For further evidence, consider the following verses:

John 1:18 -- No man has seen God at any time. John 4:24 -- God is a spirit. Eph. 4:4 -- There is one spirit. John 17:3 -- The Father is the only true God.

Touching on Paul's teaching as found in 1 Corinthians 5:3, one can observe something important. Paul's spirit could be present at their meeting even though he was bodily absent. To speak of the spirit of Paul is, therefore, biblical. However, to speak of "Paul the Spirit" would be spiritualism, ascribing to the spirit distinct being-hood. While all flesh has a spirit, that spirit is not a separate being. To consider it as a separate being is unbiblical, and spiritualistic.

Observe the dictionary definition for "spiritualism":

spiritualism |ˈspiriCHo͞oəˌlizəm|
noun
1 a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead, esp. through mediums.
2 Philosophy the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality.

Likewise, the Bible never once uses an expression like "God the Spirit" or "Christ the Spirit" or "Jesus the Spirit." We may see "Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11), but that spirit is not styled by its own title as if it were a separate being, i.e. the Bible does not reference "Christ the Spirit." Clearly, to do so would be spiritualism.

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    And what you’re implying is that Jesus won’t be present only the Father because apparently only the Father is God and not also Jesus. “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.” ‭‭John‬ ‭14:23‬ just to top it off previously He said “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest MYSELF to him.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭14:21‬ Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 12:57
  • @NihilSineDeo Jesus is able to be in every place only through his representative, the Holy Spirit. His humanity is not omnipresent. "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I." (John 14:28) If Jesus were omnipresent, he would not have spoken in this manner.
    – Polyhat
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 13:10
  • What you’re not factoring in, is a time stamp. He said that whilst in a human body, of course the Father is greater than He when He has lowered Himself and limited Himself to a human. Not to mention you completely ignored the verses where He claims to personally be present. Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 13:44
  • @NihilSineDeo Read my response above again and you will see that the words Jesus is speaking are not his own. Naturally, the Father can legitimately claim to be personally present, and Jesus' use of future tense could apply even to the New Earth. We must be careful not to force Bible texts to say what they do not actually say.
    – Polyhat
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 13:51
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    You are definitely guilty of forcing the text, either negligently, ignorantly or deliberately. The fact that the words were the Fathers doesn’t change the words that say He (Jesus) AND the Father will come and dwell with the believers (plural). Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 14:32

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