2

In his book Christ Before Creeds, Jeff Deuble states "the Trinitarian construct has some inherent scriptural or logical inconsistencies and contradictions which cannot be easily ignored."1 One verse he places in this category is in Matthew:

Matthew 28:18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Deuble comments "why would 'all authority in heaven and and on earth' have to be given to Jesus? Wouldn't this already be his by virtue of him being God?"2 The tactic of raising a specific issue which is summarily dismissed without examination is frequent in Deuble's work. Of course the Biblical answer to his question is straightforward:

Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

On the sixth day of creation, God gave some of His authority to the first man and woman. Therefore, Matthew reports Jesus stating He had successfully reclaimed what God had given to the first man.

Deuble's treatment of Matthew 28:18 seems to be based on the understanding only God could claim to have authority over everything in heaven and on earth. This belief raises some interesting points. First, Deuble acknowledges Jesus is making a statement to be God. Certainly a Gentile converting from a polytheistic upbringing of many gods each with limited authority would make that connection.

Second, if the interest is to understand Christ before creeds, Paul's use of the Greek Old Testament in Corinthians seems purposeful to connect Christ to Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 16:14-18

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

As he often does, Paul connects various OT passages to show who he believes Jesus to be. In this case he begins verse 16 with Leviticus 26:12 (also Jeremiah 32:38 and Ezekiel 37:27). Then he uses Isaiah 52:11 (also Ezekiel 20:34, 41) before ending with 2 Samuel 7:14, which in the LXX was made by κύριος παντοκράτωρ, Lord Almighty, one who has authority to make the promise.

Revelation picks up Paul's terminology and understands it in light of Jesus' claim in Matthew:

Revelation 16:7

And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”

Authority is an attribute which progresses from Matthew where Jesus, who is Lord, has all authority in heaven and on earth. To Paul where Christ is Lord Almighty. To Revelation where He exercises His authority by making judgments, and is called Lord God Almighty.

Does Matthew 28:18 have Jesus making a claim to have that which describes God and is that claim developed by Paul and in Revelation to show Jesus is Lord God Almighty?


1. Jeff Deuble, Christ Before Creeds, Living Hope International Ministries, 2021, p.46
2. Ibid.

2 Answers 2

1

1 Corinthians 11:3

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man and the head of Christ is God.

This verse is plain as to who is over the other. The Trinity demands equality in the three but this verse shows the Father is over the Son.

1 Corinthians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

The same words appear in Ephesians 1:3, Colossians 1:3, and 1 Peter 1:3 . These verses say Jesus has a God and Jesus also said he has a God.

John 20:17

Jesus said to her, do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and to your Father and to my God and your God.

John 17:3

And this is everlasting life that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Revelation 1:6

and he has made us kings and priests to his God and Father...

Revelation 3:12

I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God.

There are more like these but all seem to confirm that Jesus had a God, his Father. You would think that this alone would destroy the Trinity.

1
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    – agarza
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 4:45
0

First century Israel was essentially governed by a Roman military dictatorship. Further, this delegated authority (eg, Matt 8:9, Luke 7:8, 20:20) always traced its source via the various layers of the militia and governors to a single source, the supreme Roman emperor. As such, delegated authority was pervasive and well-understood.

Thus, when Jesus is questioned, He is regularly asked questions about the source of His authority, Matt 21:23, 24, 27, Luke 9:1, 10:19, 20:2, Mark 11:28, 29.

It is in this context that Jesus is regularly recorded as delegating various types of authority to His disciples such as:

  • John 1:12 - the authority to become "Children of God". [Jesus was THE Son of God.]
  • Matt 10:1, Mark 3:15, 6:7, Luke 10:19, etc, Jesus gives authority to the disciples over disease, etc.
  • Rom 12:3, 2 Cor 10:8, 13:10 - Paul boasts about the authority given the apostles to build up the church
  • Rev 20:4 - the saints are given authority to judge

Therefore, Matt 28:18, (and John 5:27, 10:18) cannot be used to establish Jesus' divinity or otherwise, because it clearly discusses Jesus receiving authority from God the Father; and thus says nothing about Jesus' divinity or otherwise.

Indeed, anti-trinitarian proponents use this very verse to demonstrate that Jesus was not innately divine, but only had delegated authority.

If one wishes to see innate authority of Christ, one needs to look elsewhere such as Matt 9:6, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24, Phil 2:5-8, Acts 2:22, Mark 1:22.

9
  • 1
    Jesus as God and man is beyond our ability to explain though many have tried. We don't understand how God the Father delegated to God the Son, but how can all authority on heaven and earth be delegated to anyone but God? People were only delegated earthly authority.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 23:50
  • @PerryWebb - I fully agree. However, we must choose our hermeneutic weapons carefully to win theological arguments.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 2:55
  • Delegated authority is real authority is it not? Only God could truthfully claim to have all authority in heaven and earth (exactly as a Gentile would perceive the claim). You dismiss two very real issues. First is man's "innate" authority given at creation. Second is the thinking the Messiah would have limited authority: He would remove the Romans. Even if the Messiah was understood as a divine entity, He was never seen as having all authority precisely because only God could claim to have all authority in heaven and on earth. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 5:30
  • @RevelationLad - Uh? Is that not exactly what Matt 28:18 is saying. I do not understand your comment. In any case, this is not the place to debate.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 8:53
  • @Dottard -- the kenotic theory would explain Matt. 28:18 since it is after Christ's resurrection. However, the kenotic theory attempts to explain what we cannot. Still, it is noteworthy how much the kenotic theory does explain.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 10:09

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