Q&A on the Godhead

From BelieveTheSign
Trinity diagram.png

This article is one in a series of studies on William Branham and the Trinity - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:

We have done our best to provide answers below on questions that have been emailed to us. Please feel free to email us if you have further questions.

Is there such a thing as eternal sonship?

Please see our article on Eternal Sonship.

Did God leave Jesus Christ on the cross?

William Branham stated:

Now notice this quickening Power, Zoe, bringing the Word, the mind that was in Christ was in you then. I'm trying to show you, that, you, when you raised. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised up you, also. And also quickened to Life, with Him, you are now quickened to Life, although then you were but an attribute in His thoughts, but God had saw all in Him, at the finish, see. When God looked down upon the body...
The Spirit left Him, in the garden of Gethsemane. He had to die, a man. Remember, friends, He didn't have to do that. That was God. God anointed that flesh, which was human flesh. And He didn't... If He'd have went up there, as God, He'd have never died that kind of death; can't kill God. But He didn't have to do it.
But, remember, He went there with you in Him. See, God had never separated the Bride from the Groom, yet. So when God looked down upon the body of Christ, He saw both male and female. It was all redeemed in that one body. See? They are one, same, same Word. The same Word, spoke of the Groom, speaks of the Bride.[1]
He died more death in Gethsemane than He did on the cross." [2]

However, it states in Romans 5:6 and 8, Romans 8:34, Romans 14:9 and 15, 1 Corinthians 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:14 that CHRIST (the anointed one) died. He died as he had lived - as the Christ.

William Branham's understanding of this issue was clearly non-scriptural. Read more about this in our study on John 18:6.

What is the meaning of "begotten"?

Question:In John 3:16 the bible says: "For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believe in him should not perish but have Everlasting Life."

I guess my question is: Does a Spirit have a beginning? But Jesus, was begotten. That must have happened sometime, whenever. And if the begotten Son occurred sometime, isn't it reasonable to assume he had a beginning. If the Son was begotten does it not mean that in fact the Son had a beginning and therefore the Father had a beginning but God, the creator is Eternal?

Answer: There are a number of passages in the KJV in addition to john 3:16 that also use the term "begotten", including the following:

...(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)...[3]
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.[4]
he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the bonly begotten Son of God.[5]
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world.[6]

The word "begotten" used in these passages is the Greek word "μονογενής" (monogenés) which means pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class. For example, in Hebrews 11:17 it states "he who had received the promises presented his only son" or "… was ready to offer his only son". Abraham, of course, did have another son, Ishmael, and later sons by Keturah, but Isaac was a unique son in that he was a son born as the result of certain promises made by God. Accordingly, he could be called a μονογενής son, since he was the only one of his kind.[7]

This is a clear example of the current inadequacy of some passages in the KJV. The above passages are translated completely differently in more modern translations. In fact, in virtually all of the newer translations, the term "begotten" is rarely, if ever used in these passages:

John 1:14

...we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.[8]
We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.[9]

John 1:18

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.[10]
No one has ever seen God. The unique God, who is close to the Father’s side, has revealed him.[11]

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.[12]
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.[13]

John 3:18

...but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.[14]
...but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s unique Son.[15]

The Son in the Old Testament

Question: Why, in the Old Testament is the existence of a Son not even mentioned in the same context as is in the New Testament?

The Old Testament is filled with types and shadows of the New Testament.

Israel was God’s son in the Old Testament dispensation (“Israel is My son, My firstborn” Ex. 4:22), and the experience of Israel’s testing in the wilderness there anticipates and foreshadows the testing of Jesus as the Son of God in the wilderness in the New Testament dispensation.[16]

A CHILD BORN/A SON GIVEN

Isaiah has been called the evangelist of the Old Testament. This is due in part to the second half of Isaiah’s prophecy, which emphasizes salvation rather than judgment. But the primary reason Isaiah is called the evangelist of the Old Testament is that his book is filled with images and prophecies concerning the coming Savior. One of the clearest and most powerful of these prophecies is found in Isaiah 9:6 and 7.
The Savior, while born into this world as a child, was more than that. Isaiah 9:6 titles Him a “Son… given.” This title clearly calls to mind John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

There are many other references to Christ in the Old Testament:

ANOINTED ONE (MESSIAH)

As noted above, individuals were anointed with oil to commission them for some special service to God and His people. In a stunning prophecy specifying “seventy weeks” from a command to restore and build Jerusalem, the prophet Daniel announces the coming of Messiah the Prince, who will “make an end of sins,” make “reconciliation for iniquity,” and “bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan. 9:24). Daniel also predicts the death (cutting off) of the Messiah, “but not for Himself” (v. 26), a subsequent destruction of Jerusalem, and the appearance of an enemy who will desecrate the holy place until he is put down (v. 27). In this prophecy, which blends the priestly and kingly aspects of the Messiah’s ministry, He is also give the divine title, “the Most Holy” (v. 24)
Daniel’s prediction concerning the Messiah is not the only place where His deity is affirmed. Psalm 2, recognized by ancient Jewish commentators as well as by Christians as a messianic psalm, speaks of the “nations” (v. 1) raging against “the Lord and… His Anointed” (v. 3).
The Scriptures presenting the Messiah (the Christ) as the Anointed One clearly establish the fact that the Person who will come to deal with sin and establish His righteous rule is indeed God Himself.

BRANCH

The term “branch” is a common metaphor for family relationships. As a branch grows from a tree, so metaphorically the Messiah is said in Scripture to be David’s “Branch of Righteousness” (in other words, a descendant of that king; Jer. 23:5). Similarly, Isaiah 11:1 predicts that “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse [David’s father], and from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (NIV). Jeremiah 33:15 quotes the Lord as saying, “I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness.” But the Messiah is more than a descendant of David. He is also called the “Branch of the LORD” (Is. 4:2). Jeremiah is even more clear in giving the Messiah a divine title, Yahweh sidkenu. Zechariah, however, emphasizes the priestly ministry of the Branch. In 3:9 we learn that the Lord, through His Servant the Branch, “will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” In 6:12 and 13 we read that “the Man whose name is the BRANCH” is to “sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne.”

IMMANUEL

This name is associated with perhaps the most famous prophecy in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah declares, “the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). The promised child was not simply to be miraculously conceived, but also was given a name that in Hebrew means “God with us.” In fact, the way the name is constructed gives it a slightly different emphasis: “WITH US is God!” God is not just to be “with us”in the traditional sense, but is to be WITH US in a unique sense. The One who is to be born of a virgin is God, come to earth as a true human being! He is to be with us in our humanity, born into the world as an infant as we are, and yet at the same time fully God.

GOD’S SERVANT

A number of chapters in Isaiah are dedicated to the description of a person called the Lord’s Servant. It is clear from these passages, called “servant songs,” that God had chosen Israel to be His servant, charged with glorifying Him among the nations. But Israel failed in this mission. So Isaiah introduces God’s coming individual who will serve Him as a Servant and who will accomplish the mission God gives to Him. These scriptures include Isaiah 42:1–13; Isaiah 42:14–25; 43:1–28; Isaiah 49; Isaiah 50; Isaiah 52:13–53:12.

Robert T. France has summarized the servanthood of Jesus, as revealed in Isaiah.

The Servant was chosen by the Lord (42:1; 49:1) and endowed with the Spirit (42:1). He was taught by the Lord (50:4), and found his strength in him (49:2, 5). It was the Lord’s will that he should suffer (53:10); He was weak, unimpressive, and scorned by men (52:14; 53:1–3, 7–9); meek (42:2), gentle (42:3), and uncomplaining (50:6; 53:7). Despite his innocence (53:9), he was subjected to constant suffering (50:6; 53:3, 8–10), so as to be reduced to near despair (49:4). But his trust was in the Lord (49:4; 50:7–9); he obeyed him (50:4–5), and persevered (50:7) until he was victorious (42:4; 50:8, 9).

The many chapters in Isaiah devoted to Jesus as God’s Servant make the title “Servant” one of the most significant of the names and titles of Jesus in the Old Testament.

HOLY ONE

“Holy One” is one of the exalted titles of God Himself (p. 49). Yet the same title is given to the Messiah in Psalm 22:3 (NIV) and in Psalm 89:18. Perhaps the most striking application of this title to Christ is seen in Psalm 16:10 - For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. In the first recorded sermon in the Book of Acts, the apostle Peter quoted Psalm 16:10 as evidence that Christ’s resurrection was in full harmony with the Old Testament.

KING OF GLORY

The title “King of glory” occurs only in Psalm 24, a psalm that is clearly messianic.

MAN OF SORROWS

This familiar title is found in Isaiah 53:3, the prophet’s powerful preview containing many details of the death and resurrection of God’s Servant, Jesus. The title reflects the fact that all during Jesus’ earthly ministry as God’s Servant,

PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE/THE STONE THE BUILDER’S REJECTED/SURE FOUNDATION

These distinctive titles of the Messiah are found in Isaiah and the Psalms. The title “sure foundation” is found in Isaiah 28:16. A parallel title, “the stone which the builders rejected,” comes from Psalm 118:22.

PRINCE OF PRINCES

The Hebrew phrase rendered “Prince of princes” (Dan. 8:25) means “Leader of leaders” or “supreme Leader.”

REPROACH OF MEN

Psalm 22:6 is the source of this title of the Messiah. It echoes the theme of Isaiah 53, namely, that people will reject the Messiah before He accomplishes His mission and opens the door for all to a saving relationship with God. Psalm 22 not only describes the Messiah in these painful terms, but also predicts the same words spoken to Jesus on the cross by enemies who ridiculed Him in His time of suffering (Matt. 27:39–44; Luke 23:35, 36).

RULER

Micah 5:2 predicts, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.”

SEED

The Hebrew word rendered “seed” means “offspring” or “descendant.” This name or title is found in Genesis 3:15, which is the Bible’s first prophecy concerning the Messiah.

STAR OUT OF JACOB

The messianic title “a Star shall come out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17) was uttered by a pagan prophet, Balaam.[17]

Eternal vs. Everlasting

Question: Do the words, Everlasting and Eternal have the same meaning?

Answer:: There are two words which are translated as "everlasting" - ἀΐδιος (aidios)and αἰώνιος (aionios). "Eternal" is also a translation of these two words, as well as αἰών (aion).

William Branham taught that there was a difference between "everlasting" and "eternal":

But then read the other, "But these shall go into eternal (That's a different. See?), Eternal Life. Eternal comes from the word of eternity, and eternity had neither beginning nor end. It's forever and forever. Now, that should answer that (See?), because if you'll just read the Scripture real close, you'll see. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous..." The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, be punished for a space of time: maybe a billion years, I don't know; but you'll certainly be punished for your sins.[18]
Now, hell, we'll go back to that awhile. I tell you that--that there cannot be... I do believe in a burning hell. Yes, sir, the Bible said so, the lake of fire. Now, but that cannot be an everla--it cannot be an eternal. It could be... The Bible never says it's eternal; it says everlasting hell. Don't say the word "eternal"; it says an everlasting hell. Now, it's prepared for the devil and his angels; an everlasting hell, not an eternal one.
Now, after... That soul may be tormented there for its doing for ten million years, for all I know. I don't know what everlasting might be in God's sight. It might be for five minutes; it might be for a million years; it might be for ten million years; but there will come a time when that soul will cease to be.[19]

We have another example of William Branham's theology being all over the map as he also said exactly the opposite:

"He that heareth My Word," Saint John 5:24, for instance. "He that heareth My Words and believeth on Him that sent Me, has Eternal Life." Or, King James puts it "everlasting," which is "Eternal," rightly. [20]

Let's look at what the Bible actually says:

And these shall go away into everlasting (αἰώνιον) punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (αἰώνιον).[21]

The Greek word for everlasting and eternal in this verse is the same Greek word, which is why modern translation use the word "eternal" for both words in this verse.

“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”[22]

This is another clear case of william Branham's lazy or sloppy theology.

Three Persons

Question: The concept of three "persons" in the Godhead leaves me with some more questions. God in three persons, blessed Trinity, the song says. But can a Spirit be a person?

The Bible states in Isaiah 46:9-10 (NIV):

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’

Then again in John 4:24 (NIV) it says:

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Why, when we read about the goings on in the Throne Room, there is always One sitting on the throne. Even in Revelation 5 there is One sitting on the throne and the Lamb in the midst of the throne.

These questions may seem silly, but it bothers me sometimes.

Answer: The Holy Spirit is a "he" not an "it".

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [23]

The Spirit is a he. "He" has to refer to a person. The Spirit is not an it, and the Spirit is not, therefore, a liquid, so you cannot say in a sense, “I want more of the Spirit,” and think in terms of gallons. You can’t say, “I have a gallon of the Spirit, and I need 10,” because if the Spirit is a person, then when we talk about being filled with the Spirit or having less or more of the Spirit, we have to think, what does it mean to have less or more of a person? You see, when a person comes into the house or out of the house, he’s either all the way in or he’s all the way out. I mean, he’s in or he’s out.[24]

Modalism (which is primarily what William Branham taught) basically says that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are just phases of the same God. But that ignores John 1:1-2:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.[25]

The Father was with the Son. The Son was with the Father. The word "with" is very important.

Later on in the chapter, down in verse 18 John brings it out a little further. He says the Son was in the bosom of the Father. Now let’s think about that. What is John saying? How many people are there in your life who have a right to your bosom. Put it this way. If you were lying on the rug, if you were lying on a couch, or lying in your bed, how many people are there, without asking permission, who could just walk up, stretch out next to you and lie up against your breast? How many people are there in life like that? For some of you there is no one. For some of us it’s just a very, very small number.

So don’t you see, the posture of being in someone’s bosom means a personal relationship of incredible intimacy and centrality and primacy in somebody’s life. Then, keep this in mind. The Father and the Son had no bodies. They had no real breasts. So what does it mean when John says they were in one another’s bosom? The answer has to mean they were wrapped up in one another. Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” We’re talking about spiritual unity, spiritual oneness.

This is amazing. Many biblical scholars are sure that when John was writing that, he was thinking about … In the book of Proverbs, there is this very artistic and poetic place where it talks about God creating the world, and by his side was the divine wisdom. In Proverbs 8, wisdom speaks like this. It’s almost for sure that John was thinking about this when he penned these words.

Wisdom says... “when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always...[26]

See? “… the Word was with God …” And. “Through him all things were made.”

Augustine says if you’re a non-Trinitarian… Many people believe in God, but they’re non-Trinitarians. They say, “Well, there’s only one God, one Person. Jesus was a nice man, or Jesus was a kind of created being, but there’s only one Person, one God.” Augustine says if you are non-Trinitarian in your view of God, you have a defective God. You have a God who never loved anybody until he created the world. God existed from all eternity, but until he created at least angels, or until he created other human beings, other persons, he had never had a relationship.

Augustine says not only do you have an imperfect God, but you have a God who created to meet a love need. He created in order to have love. Augustine says that’s not true of the God of the Bible. Love and relationship are eternally inherent in him. He has always had love and relationship beginninglessly. Therefore, when he created the world and he created other persons and angels and human beings, he created not to get love, he created to give love. He created not to use us to meet his needs, he created just to let us take in the richness and the spillover of the love he had within himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. [27]


Footnotes

  1. IT IS THE RISING OF THE SUN JEFFERSONVILLE.IN 65-0418M
  2. 57-0418 THE.COMMUNION
  3. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 1:14 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  4. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 1:18 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  5. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 3:18 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  6. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Jn 4:9 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  7. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., 590 (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996).
  8. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 1:14.
  9. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible, Jn 1:14 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).
  10. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 1:18.
  11. International Standard Version, Jn 1:18 (Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation, 2011).
  12. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 3:16.
  13. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Jn 3:16.
  14. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 3:18.
  15. International Standard Version, Jn 3:18 (Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation, 2011).
  16. Phil Roberts, "The Temptation of Jesus", in Jesus for a New Millennium: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew, ed. Ferrell Jenkins, Florida College Annual Lectures, 85 (Temple Terrace, FL: Florida College Bookstore, 2001).
  17. Larry Richards, Every Name of God in the Bible, Everything in the Bible series, 94 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001).
  18. QUESTIONS.AND.ANSWERS.ON.HEBREWS.1_ JEFF.IN COD WEDNESDAY_ 57-0925
  19. THE.SMYRNAEAN.CHURCH.AGE_ JEFF.IN ROJC 185-227 TUESDAY_ 60-1206
  20. HE.CARES.DO.YOU.CARE_ JEFF.IN V-12 N-4 SUNDAY_ 63-0721
  21. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 25:46 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  22. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 25:46 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).
  23. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 16:13 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  24. Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
  25. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 1:1–2,18 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009).
  26. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Pr 8:29–30 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001)
  27. Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).


Navigation