(2 Corinthians 13:14)
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
The Trinitarian Question
The question that trinitarians present to oneness believers concerning these benedictions and salutations is about the way the scriptures read. For example, in the scripture cited above. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." At face value without having an understanding, this could present a look of pluralism or plurality in the Godhead. In other words God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are being mentioned in these verses. This is another one of their arguments in scripture where they're kind of stuck if they do and stuck if they don't.
See, the problem with trinitarians is that they try to label false doctrines on our behalf. They try to say that we take doctrinal stances that we don't actually believe in. For example, they say that we deny that there is any distinction between the Father and the Son at all. They try to label us as "Jesus-only". They say we do not believe in the Father. They say that we believe that there is no distinction between The Father and the Son. Truth is; they are wrong. Yes, The Father and the Son are one. Yes, Jesus is the embodiment of the Father, but there is a distinction between the Spirit and the flesh, the Deity and humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The deity is what is known as Father, or the eternal God. The humanity is the man, Christ Jesus. Where a lot of trinitarians misrepresent our stance, whether purposely or not, is in the statement that we deny any distinction at all. This is simply not true.
We Have No Issue
Trinitarians say these passages show the distinct persons of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in one verse. This, according to them, shows plurality. In no way, shape or form does the salutations or benedictions show plurality in the Godhead. In fact, upon a closer examination, they show the exact opposite.
These passages are making reference to the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ. They talk about the Spirit and they talk about the man. They talk about the deity and they talk about the humanity. That does not mean these are two persons. It refers to two aspects of the same person. I would never deny the fact that I possess a body and a spirit, yet I would never say that I was two persons because of it.
Because of this understanding, we have no issue with these written greetings just the way that they are written. We have no problem with the salutations making reference to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. We understand that the writers are making a clear and unmistakable reference to the Spirit and the humanity of Jesus Christ, His dual nature.
The hypocrisy of the whole issue is that trinitarians believe in the dual nature of Jesus Christ, yet ridicule us for using it as our explanation for seemingly plural examples of the Godhead. The reason is because their dual nature is much different from biblically explained dual nature. The bible explains very clearly that God the Father dwells in His son Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:10). Trinitarians, however, will not say that God the Father was the Spirit nature of Christ; they say it is God the Son, a completely unbiblical term in and of itself.
This is the reason we have no problem with the way the salutations are written. Taken at face value, they say exactly what we believe and teach, namely the dual nature of Jesus Christ. For us to mention God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ together is fine as long as we understand that it is God the Father IN the Lord Jesus Christ. It is acceptable to label the Father as distinct from the Son. It is acceptable to label the Son as distinct from the Father in the sense of natures but not in the sense of persons. It is reasonable to say that the Father is the Spirit nature and the Son is the human nature. It is all right to make distinction in the natures of the Father and the Son, but it becomes improper when we try to separate them into persons and that's what trinitarians are trying to stretch out of this scripture.
As an example of this understanding I will use my own person. I am the son of Linda Giunta and the father of Joseph Giunta Jr... That does not make me two persons; it just means that I hold more than one title as pertaining to who I am. The aforementioned titles are two of the hats that I wear as Joseph Giunta. Nobody would ever argue that I should hold two social security numbers or two birth certificates, one as the son of Linda and the other as the father of Joseph Jr. When it comes to Jesus, it is much the same. There is no logical or rational reason to assume that because God is both the Father and the Son that He should be considered two persons. Why does it have to be two persons? Scriptures are clearly talking about the Spirit and the Deity of Jesus Christ, namely, the Father; and about the humanity and the human nature of Jesus Christ, namely, the Son.
The Trinitarian Dilemma
So, we see that there is no problem when we take the salutations and benedictions at face value, but, now, let's take it a step further. When we analyze these salutations we will notice that it says things like "God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ bring you peace", and "God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you" notice in these verses it does not say "God the Father the Lord Jesus Christ AND the Holy Ghost." Only in one benediction does it mention the three supposed "persons". 2 Corinthians 13:14 gives this benediction and uses the words, Lord Jesus Christ, God and Holy Ghost all in the same verse. Let's take a look. The verse says...
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
The first problem I see with this is the trinitarian use of the word God. According to them God is comprised of three persons. So this is actually not mentioning three persons, but the Son (Lord Jesus Christ), the trinity (God) and the Holy Ghost. Where is the specific mention of the Father? This, of course, presents a problem for triune theology. So what is really meant by this benediction?
A Great Blessing
If you read this chapter, even the whole letter to the Corinthian church you will see that Paul attributes many traits and characteristics to God. He talks of God's mercy (1:3), His grace (1:2), His comfort and consolation (1:5), His liberty (3:17) and many other traits as well. It is not a problem for us to see these many things God encompasses in each role of the Godhead. It actually further demonstrates our point that God is not three persons, but rather one Spirit that manifests in three ways.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost..."
Paul didn't say God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost be with you. He talked about 3 attributes that refer to 3 titles.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ..." It does not say "the Lord Jesus Christ". It says "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ". It is accurate to say that grace is from the Lord Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ in His humanity is the one that died on the cross for us and gave us that grace. His sacrificial death on the cross is how we access grace. Because of what Jesus subjected His own self to upon that hill of Calvary you and I can find atonement in His blood. Thank you, Jesus for showing us grace.
"The love of God..." It does not say 'God'; it says the LOVE of God. Would anybody argue that Jesus Christ is not God? Of course not. So did the love not come from Jesus Christ? Of course it did. What we understand is that the love aspect of God's nature is best shown in His action as Father. John 3:16 - "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son..." When Paul referred to the love of God he was accurately attributing the love characteristic of God to the act of the Father sacrificing His only begotten son. This whole plan of mankind's existence and salvation came to fruition because we have a loving Father who had it in Him to redeem mankind from our sin nature. He took upon himself the form of a servant and in His humanity, died to fulfill His plan. I'd say love is an accurate word to describe this plan.
"The communion of the Holy Ghost..." Notice that the verse does not say "the Holy Ghost be with you". It says "the COMMUNION of the Holy Ghost." How is the church in unity or in communion with one another except through the spirit of God, or as the scripture calls it, the Holy Ghost? Because we have the Holy Ghost we are unified. Because we have the Holy Ghost residing within us we are part of the body. It's when we are baptized in the Spirit of God that we become the sons of God (Jn 1:12). I am able to be connected to the rest of the church because I have the same Spirit as they do. We are like-minded because we are driven by the same Spirit and purpose. Communion comes from the Holy Ghost.
When we see Paul give this benediction to the I Corinthians he is not saying that three persons of the Godhead are with them; rather that the grace, love and communion of God were to be with them. He was pronouncing a blessing over them, as they went that they would remain in the grace that was shown to them, the love that was bestowed upon them and the communion that would hold them together as a strong body of believers.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost..." As we have seen, this is not talking about three persons. It is attributing characteristics of God to the different manifestations that He did them in. He gave us love as Father. He gave us grace as Son. He gives us communion as the Holy Ghost. That does not show us three persons, it simply means that the characteristics Paul is mentioning here are attributed to the different manifestations, or the titles, that God performs His actions in. This is not the trinity, this is pure oneness.
Where is the Holy Ghost?
Another issue for the trinitarians stance is the fact that the Holy Ghost is never mentioned in any of the salutations. In every place that a salutation is given mentioning what the trinitarians would call "persons' it neglects to mention the Holy Ghost. Why? Paul always offers "grace... and peace... from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Why does he never bring the Holy Spirit into the equation?
In the previous discussion about 2 Corinthians benediction, the subject matter was different than it is here in the salutations. In the benediction Paul says "the grace OF the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love OF God, and the communion OF the Holy Ghost..." The subject matter is the attribute that belongs to God. Grace, love and communion are the pronounced blessing, not the person of God. However, in the salutations it is the other way around, "grace and peace... FROM God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The subject matter is no longer the characteristic of God, but God from whom these things come. This makes all the difference in understanding these verses of scripture.
So when talking about the person of God, why is the Holy Ghost never mentioned in the salutations? This would be a great opportunity to show the world the trinity. Here's the reason why, it would be absurd to call God the Father and the Holy Ghost in the same statement. That would be like saying Joe Giunta and Joe Giunta. Imagine someone asking for me by two titles and expecting two persons to come. "Would the father of Jazmin Giunta and the husband of Jessica Giunta come forth?" That is a redundant statement. I am the father of my daughter and the husband of my wife. I am but one person. These salutations never mention the Holy Ghost and the Father in the same breath, because the Father IS the Holy Ghost. There is but one Spirit of God (Ep. 4:4).
The next question a trinitarian will present in this case is that if Jesus is the Father, wouldn't that be the same thing? Wouldn't it also be redundant to mention the Father and the Son? The answer is no. It is not the same. To say Father and Holy Ghost is to say the same thing. It is using two words to describe the same Spirit. To say God and to say Jesus is not to say the same thing necessarily. To say God and Jesus could be describing the dual nature of Christ. When we say these two things, God and Jesus, we could accurately be talking about the Spirit and the humanity of Jesus Christ. It only refers to Father and to Son because that is not redundant. That is Deity and humanity. But it would never say Spirit and Spirit because there is only one Spirit. This shows us that the Holy Ghost and the Father are not separate entities, but one Spirit that manifests Himself in Jesus Christ's person. This again shows true biblical oneness, not tri-unity.
Talk About Distinction
Romans 1:7 says, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." According to the trinitarians we should see God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ, two separate and distinct persons. Let's take a closer look.
That word AND in the English language would sometimes show distinction. It is a conjunctive word that means the first thing that we're talking about, is distinct from but connected to the second thing that we are talking about. God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ would therefore show separation or distinction between the two persons, according to the trinitarians. There are a number of problems with that way of thinking. One of those problems is found in Galatians 1:4. This verse tells us that Jesus "gave himself for our sins... according to the will of God and our Father." We immediately see the major issue at this point. Paul uses this word AND here in mentioning God and our Father. Was Paul trying to show distinction between God and our Father? Is God a separate and distinct person from the Father? Everyone who reads this would see that Paul is clearly not making distinction between persons of the Godhead here. He is simply saying that Jesus' sacrifice was the will of God, who is our Father.
When scripture says "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" trinitarian proponents want to denote a separation between two distinct persons of the Godhead, but when it says "God and our Father" they do not make the same distinction.
Colossians 1:3 says, "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you." Is this yet another and even clearer picture of distinction between God and the Father? Of course not. Again, we have this word AND supposedly separating God and the Father into distinct persons. Not one trinitarian would dare say God is a different person than the Father. Not one person in the world would even dare to say that God is distinct from the Father, but when scripture shows the Father and the Son, suddenly we are supposed to make a comprehensible distinction between persons. Why is there a distinction when it is between Father and Son, but not a distinction between God and the Father? Oneness believers agree that there is no distinction between God and the Father, what we are showing is that just because the bible uses the word "and" does not mean that we are seeing two separate and distinct persons. The Father is no more separate from the Son than is God from the Father because of the word "and".
That word "and" doesn't absolutely denote a distinction or a separation. In some cases it can in the English language, not in every case. In this case it doesn't. We know this because when we are using the translation from the Greek text we see the word's true rendering. Ephesians 1:2 says, "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, AND the Lord Jesus Christ."In the English that word "and" is translated from the Greek word "kai". This word can be translated as "and". It is also translated in some other verses as "even" or rendered as "who is". In the Greek (which is where we get our King James from), we would see these salutations to read "God our Father EVEN the Lord Jesus Christ." All of a sudden it doesn't seem like a separation anymore, now it seems like God our Father and He's giving us His name. "God our Father EVEN the Lord Jesus Christ." That sounds very oneness to me.
Colossians 1:2 says, "...Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ." This verse again shows Paul using the word "kai". In this case, the verse could very accurately be translated as "God our Father "WHO IS" the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Greek New Testament (which is the original form of the English New Testament) it doesn't use the word "and". Further, in the ' Greek there is no punctuation, so there are no comma's to mark separation as there are in the English. We use commas to denote separation or pauses in our sentences, whereas, in the Greek they don't use punctuation, they use words for everything. So if they wanted to use a word to denote a separation, surely the word would not have been "kai". In English we can use the word "and" with the use of a comma to show a separation because we use punctuation to show distinction. Greeks do not use punctuation to show distinction. All of the distinctions that are made between the persons or things talked about within the subject of a topic are separated through the use of words not punctuation.
Surely they would have chosen a better word to show a true and obvious separation if they were denoting a distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son. They would not have used a word that would have been translated as EVEN. "God our Father "EVEN" the Lord Jesus Christ." "God our Father "WHO IS" the Lord Jesus Christ." This is absolute oneness.
Romans 1:7 (looking at the word "kai" being rendered) would read "grace to you and peace from God our Father 'EVEN' the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:2 would read "grace unto you and peace from God our Father even the Lord 'WHO IS' Jesus Christ." Again, we see absolute oneness.
Greeks had no problem with this rendering; the early church fathers had no problem with it. Paul and Peter and John and James, had no problem with the way it was written. It was only after the introduction of the Nicene trinity and the separation of persons that this even became an issue. On what premise should we stand; upon biblical credence or upon the end result of an epic clash between backslidden church officials?
In closing, whether we look at the salutations the way they are written in English using the word AND denoting the distinction between the dual nature of Christ, or if we use the true rendering of the Greek and the word "kai", as "even" or "who is", we, as oneness believers in the Godhead, are fine with it, seeing how either way preaches untainted oneness theology. Trinitarians that get distinction of persons out of these salutations are clearly reaching for anything to back their stance and only ending up with a handful of straw. They pull out two titles that were spoken of and call it two distinct persons. The devil will use anything he can; he will twist any little thing he can to try to find his self a trinity. Everywhere he goes to get one, they must be fresh out, because in every question brought up, we still fail to see a trinity.
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