Greek Philosophy

and

the Trinity

 

 

Section Titles  (Click on a title to go directly to that section or scroll down to

begin reading this study.)

 

Introduction

The “logos”

The proper use of “logos”

Philo and the “logos”

Philo and the Demiurge

Pagan deities and the origin of the Trinity  

Early development of a triune God  

The influence of Plato

The influence of Aristotle

The influence of the Stoics

The influence of Middle-Platonism

Neo-Platonic influence

Gnostic influence

Conclusion

 

 

Introduction to Greek Philosophy and the Trinity

 

 

The doctrine of the Trinity, with it’s teaching on the Pre-Incarnate Christ (i.e. that Jesus existed as God the Son for all eternity), originated from Greek philosophy, and not the scriptures.  Prominent Greek philosophers which pre-date Christ had the most influence in the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.  The most notable of all philosophers in this regard was Plato.

 

One aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity is its influence on defining Jesus as the “Word” (from the Greek word “logos”) in John 1:1-3:

 

·        John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (NAS)

 

While the text does not define the Word as Jesus Christ, Christian theologians have assumed this is what the “Word” is.  The reason for such an assumption is their presupposition that Jesus is God the Son, the second member of the Triune God.  As such, they say, Jesus existed forever; that is, Jesus had no actual day of beginning.  While such theologians admit Jesus’ day of birth, their admission boils down to the fact that the birth refers to the day in which “God” the son was made into human form, or human flesh.

 

This belief in the pre-existence of Jesus as a “God” comes from the influence seen in Catholic Creeds, particularly the Athanasian Creed and the Nicean Creed.  It is the purpose of this study to show how these creeds were developed from integrating the philosophical teachings of Greeks such as Plato, Aristotle, Philo, and others, with theological concepts.

 

The Scriptures teach that Jesus is, and was a man.  Jesus was called “the son of God” not “God the son.”  Jesus was called, “the son of man,” not, “perfect God and perfect man...made into one Christ,” as the creeds teach.

 

The Jewish philosopher Philo used his mix of theology and Platonic philosophy to develop an elaborate teaching, which in many ways prefigures the language of 3rd century Catholic creeds espousing Christology, and defining the Godhead.  Some of the terms Philo used were later incorporated by the so-called ‘church fathers, such as Augustine, Eusebius, and many others.’

 

Palestinian Judaism prior to, and contemporary with Christ, believed in a divine union of God and man.  They referred to this divine union with humanity as the “hypostasis,” or that which referred to a person’s essential nature.  They believed human beings were pre-existent as sparks of divine life (each divine spark varying in degrees of illumination), who were incarnated (entering bodies of material flesh) at a particular point in time. 

 

The post-exilic Jews used their interpretation of the Talmud, and their oral traditions received (later known as kabbalism), to develop their theology.  By combining the ideas contained within these Jewish writings, with ideas from Greek philosophical writings, they personified “wisdom.”  To them, “wisdom” was God’s “creative function.”  They believed that this “creative function” of “wisdom” could best be observed in the sages of their day (e.g. philosophers, mystic teachers, etc.).  The called these so-called wise men divine sparks of the One God.  Like the Greeks, who worshipped their multiple pagan deities (e.g. Zeus, Hermes, etc.) in human form, so too, the Talmudic Jews worshipped their one God in the form of wise men who were “wisdom” and who acted as God’s “creative function” on earth.

 

The Talmudic Jews used other writings such as the books of Judith, Tobias, Enoch, and others, from which they would draw their concepts.  The book of Enoch was especially influential, using language like, ‘God said, “Let us make man in our own image.”  They interpreted this to mean that certain wise men or women were actually God personified as “wisdom.”

 

The post-exilic Judaism that existed in Alexandria, Egypt united Greek ideas and Hellenistic culture with theology.  This took place in universities and forums established there.  Philo, a Jewish mystic philosopher (30 BC - AD 45) was enamored with the philosophical teachings of Plato.  Plato made a distinction between the material world (which he taught was essentially useless), and the “intelligence” of man (which was the only enduring element of man’s existence).  Philo embraced this philosophy, and mingled it with theology.  Philo’s favorite theological study came from the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).  He wrote many volumes of commentary on the Pentateuch, allegorizing its contents into a mystical interpretation.

 

Philo believed the mysterious truths he had discovered within the Pentateuch were identical to the ideas and concepts taught in the writings of the Greek philosophers.  He taught that a person should look for hidden meanings.  In so doing, he believed those truly ‘enlightened’ individuals would discover the same meanings in scripture that had been transmitted by the Greek philosophers.  Of course this is a nonsensical notion, but Philo’s influence would shape the destiny of Christian theology for the next several centuries.

 

The “logos”

 

As mentioned in the Introduction, Christian and Catholic theologians have misused the Greek word “logos” in John 1:1 to represent the Pre-Incarnate Christ.  Unknowingly, such theologians derive their concepts about the “Word” (Greek = logos) from early Greek and Jewish philosophers.  They say that the “Word” mentioned in John 1:1 and John 1:14 both refer to Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Triune Godhead:

 

·        John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (NAS)

 

These well-meaning, but deceived individuals say that the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God,” refers to Jesus (the Word or logos a.k.a. “God the Son”) being with God (the persons of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit) during the time when the entire creation was being made.  This study will debunk such a notion, and show that the “Word” is not a person as they suppose, but rather the “reasonings, or thoughts, of God.”

 

Just because theologians misuse the word “logos” in their attempts to apply it to the Pre-Incarnate Christ, does not mean that “logos” has no proper application in scripture.  The Greek word “logos” was used by the Hellenistic empire hundreds of years before the New Testament was written.  Thus, it was the language God used to inspire the apostles to write their letters (epistles).  The Greek language itself is not pagan, although many of its words were derived from pagan theology, ideology, or philosophy. 

 

For example, the Greek word for “wisdom” is “sophia,” and comes from the Greek goddess of wisdom and knowledge whose name was “Sophia.”  Just because this word originated from a pagan goddess, does not mean its use is limited exclusively to her.  We now use the word wisdom in the NT in a completely different sense.  Yet, knowing the origin of such a word can help us understand what Paul was writing about when he said the Greeks seek “wisdom”:

 

·        1 Cor 1:22-29 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom (sophia):  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom (sophia) of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.  (KJV)

 

Proper use of “logos”

 

The Greek word for “logos” used in John 1:1 is in the verb form of the noun “logos.”  This means that John 1:1 could read simply, “In the beginning was the verb (logos).”  The meaning of the word “logos,” whether in its noun form, or its verb form is as follows (quotations taken from AMG Complete Word Study Bible and Reference CD)):

 

logo"  lógos; gen. lógou, masc. noun from légo (3004), meaning “to speak intelligently.  Intelligence, word as the expression of that intelligence, discourse, saying, thing.”

 

(I) Word, both the act of speaking and the thing spoken.

 

(A) Word, as uttered by the living voice, a speaking, speech, utterance (Matt. 8:8; Luke 7:7; 23:9; 1 Cor. 14:9; Heb. 12:19); a saying, discourse, conversation (Matt. 12:37; 15:12; 19:22; 22:15; 26:1; John 4:29; Acts 5:24). Metonymically, the power of speech, delivery, oratory, eloquence (1 Cor. 12:8; 2 Cor. 11:6; Eph. 6:19). To speak a word against someone (Matt. 12:32); to someone (Luke 12:10). The Word of God, meaning His omnipotent voice, decree (2 Pet. 3:5, 7; Sept.: Ps. 32:6 [cf. Gen. 1:3; Ps. 148:5]).

 

(B) An emphatic word, meaning a saying, declaration, sentiment uttered. (1) Generally (Matt. 10:14; Luke 4:22; 20:20; John 6:60; Sept.: Prov. 4:4, 20). In reference to words or declarations, e.g., which precede (Matt. 7:24, 26; 15:12; 19:22; Mark 7:29; John 2:22; 4:50; 6:60; 7:40; 10:19; Acts 5:24; Titus 3:8; Rev. 19:9); which follow (John 12:38; Acts 20:35; Rom. 9:9; 13:9; 1 Cor. 15:54; 1 Tim. 3:1; Sept.: 1 Kgs. 2:4). Followed by the gen. of thing (Heb. 7:28); the word, declaration of a prophet, meaning prediction, prophecy (Luke 3:4; John 12:38; Acts 15:15; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:3). With the meaning of a proverb, maxim (John 4:37). (2) In reference to religion, religious duties, with the meaning of doctrine, precept (Acts 15:24; 18:15; Titus 1:9; Heb. 2:2); words of faith (1 Tim. 4:6); word of men (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:17); of a teacher (John 15:20); especially of God, the Word of God, meaning divine revelation and declaration, oracle (John 5:38; 10:35); as announcing good, divine promise (John 5:24; Rom. 9:6; Heb. 4:2; Sept.: Ps. 50:6), or evil (Rom. 3:4 from Ps. 51:4; Rom. 9:28 from Is. 10:22, 23; Heb. 4:12). In relation to duties, precept (Mark 7:13; 8:55; Sept.: Ex. 35:1). Of the divine declarations, precepts, oracles, relating to the instructions of men in religion, the Word of God, i.e., the divine doctrines and precepts of the gospel, the gospel itself (Luke 5:1; John 17:6; Acts 4:29, 31; 8:14; 1 Cor. 14:36; 2 Cor. 4:2; Col. 1:25; 1 Thess. 2:13; Titus 1:3; Heb. 13:7). With “of God” implied (Mark 16:20; Luke 1:2; Acts 10:44; Phil. 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:2; James 1:21; 1 Pet. 2:8; Rev. 12:11); the word of truth (2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:15; James 1:18); the word of life (Phil. 2:16); the word of salvation (Acts 13:26); the word of the kingdom (Matt. 13:19); with the kingdom implied (Matt. 13:20; Mark 4:14); the word of the gospel (Acts 15:7); the word of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18); the word of His grace (Acts 14:3; 20:32). In the same sense of Christ, the word of Christ (John 5:24; 14:23, 24; Col. 3:16); the word of the Lord (Acts 8:25).

 

(C) Word or words, meaning talk, discourse, speech, the act of holding forth. (1) Particularly: (a) Matt. 22:15, “that they may entrap him in word” (a.t.); Luke 9:28; Acts 14:12, the one leading in the word; 2 Cor. 10:10; with en (1722), in, meaning in word or discourse (1 Tim. 4:12; James 3:2); in flattering words (1 Thess. 2:5); with diá (1223), through, by, meaning by discourse or orally (Acts 15:27; 2 Thess. 2:2, 15). In agreement lógos and érgon (2041), work, meaning word and deed (2 Cor. 10:11; Col. 3:17). Lógos and dúnamis (1411), power (1 Cor. 4:19, 20; 1 Thess. 1:5). In Heb. 5:11, “of whom we have much to say” (a.t.). With the gen. in 1 Tim. 4:5, “through the word of God and supplication” (a.t.). (b) Of teachers, meaning discourse, teaching, preaching, instruction (Matt. 7:28; 26:1; Luke 4:32, 36; John 4:41; Acts 2:41; 13:15; 20:7; 1 Cor. 1:17; 2:1, 4; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Pet. 3:1). (c) Of those who relate something as a narration, story (John 4:39; Acts 2:22). Metonymically for history, treatise, meaning a book of narration (Acts 1:1). (d) In the sense of conversation (Luke 24:17); answer, reply (Matt. 5:37). (2) Metonymically for the subject of discourse, meaning topic, matter, thing. (a) Generally (Matt. 19:11; Luke 1:4; Acts 8:21; Sept.: 2 Sam. 3:13; 11:18). (b) Specifically a matter of dispute, discussion, question, e.g., judicial (Acts 19:38); moral (Matt. 21:24).

 

(D) Word, meaning talk, rumor, report (Matt. 28:15; Mark 1:45; John 21:23). Followed by perí (4012), about, with the gen. (Luke 5:15; 7:17; Acts 11:22; Sept.: 1 Kgs. 10:6). Mere talk, pretense, show (Col. 2:23).

 

(II) Reason, the reasoning faculty as that power of the soul which is the basis of speech, rationality.

 

(A) A reason, ground, cause (Matt. 5:32; Acts 10:29; Sept.: 2 Sam. 13:22). With katá (2596) meaning with reason, reasonable, for good cause (Acts 18:14). In the sense of argument (Acts 2:40).

 

(B) Reason as demanded or assigned, meaning reckoning, account. (1) Used in an absolute sense (Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 4:5). (2) With sunaíro (4868), to reckon, compute together, meaning to take up account with someone, reckon with (Matt. 18:23; 25:19); with apodídomi (591), to give over, meaning to render an account of a business management (Luke 16:2). (3) Metaphorically with dídomi (1325), to give, or apodídomi, meaning to give an account, the relation and reasons of any transaction, explanation (Acts 19:40). With aitéo (154), to ask, beg, meaning to ask for a reason from someone (1 Pet. 3:15). In Heb. 4:13, “with whom we have to do” or we have to render an account. (4) With poiéo (4160), to make, do, to make account of, i.e., to regard, care for (Acts 20:24), meaning I take into account none of these things, I am not moved by them. (5) Followed by perí (4012), concerning someone or something (Matt. 12:36; Rom. 14:12).

 

(III) The word Lógos in John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1 stands for the preincarnate Christ, the spiritual, divine nature spoken of in the Jewish writings before and about the time of Christ, under various names, e.g., sophía (4678), wisdom (Prov. 8:12); Son of Man (Dan. 7:13); Word of Jehovah (Gen. 20:3; Is. 22:4).

 

(IV) As to the distinction between lógos and laliá (2981), speech: John 8:43 is a problematic passage in which we have both words, laliá and lógos, used by our Lord. He was debating with the Pharisees. They were listening to what He had to say, but they were not capable of understanding because they did not want to understand. The Lord said to them, “Why do ye not understand my speech [lalián]?” In other words, What I am saying to you seems to have no meaning whatsoever. And why did it have no meaning? The reason is explained in the balance of the paragraph, “Even because ye cannot hear my word [lógon],” or better still, “Because you cannot understand and obey [akoúo {191}] my lógon,” (a.t.) or speech, with its intended meaning. What the Lord really meant is that those who will not give room in their hearts to His truth will not understand His speech or utterance, the outward form of His language which His Word (lógos) assumes. Those who are of God hear God’s words (rhemmata, pl. of rhemma [4487], John 3:34; 8:47). The word rhemma here is equivalent to lógos. John 3:34 says that Jesus Christ, being sent of God, speaks exactly God’s utterances which those who are of God understand and which those who are not of God do not understand because they do not accept them as the utterance of God.

 

In John 1:1, Jesus Christ in His preincarnate state is called ho Lógos, the Word, presenting Him as the Second Person of the Godhead who is the eternal expression of the divine intelligence and the disclosure of the divine essence. This self–revealing characteristic of God was directed toward, and utterly achieved for mankind in the incarnation (John 1:14, 18).

 

Deriv.: álogos (249), irrational, without intelligence; analogía (356), analogy; analogízomai (357), to contemplate, consider; apologéomai (626), to answer back, respond; battologéo (945), to use vain repetitions; ellogéo (1677), to account, reckon in; eulogéo (2127), to speak well of, bless; logízomai (3049), to reckon, impute; logikós (3050), reasonable; lógios (3052), fluent, orator,

 

(Note:  above quotations taken from AMG Complete Word Study Bible and Reference CD)

 

We see from the AMG quotations that the following are the proper, and actual definitions of logos:

 

·        To speak intelligently.  Intelligence, word as the expression of that intelligence, discourse, saying, thing

·        Word, both the act of speaking and the thing spoken.

·        Word, as uttered by the living voice, a speaking, speech, utterance

·        An emphatic word, meaning a saying, declaration, sentiment uttered

·        Word or words, meaning talk, discourse, speech, the act of holding forth.

·        Word, meaning talk, rumor, report

·        Reason, the reasoning faculty as that power of the soul which is the basis of speech, rationality

·        A reason, ground, cause

·        Reason as demanded or assigned, meaning reckoning, account

 

We can conclude from the above, that the Greek word logos is used for thoughts, reason, and the actual expression of both thoughts and reason.  None of the definitions of logos are applied to an ACTUAL PERSON except the AMG’s comments on John 1:1, 14:

 

The word Lógos in John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1 stands for the preincarnate Christ, the spiritual, divine nature spoken of in the Jewish writings before and about the time of Christ, under various names, e.g., sophía (4678), wisdom (Prov. 8:12); Son of Man (Dan. 7:13); Word of Jehovah (Gen. 20:3; Is. 22:4).

 

In John 1:1, Jesus Christ in His preincarnate state is called ho Lógos, the Word, presenting Him as the Second Person of the Godhead who is the eternal expression of the divine intelligence and the disclosure of the divine essence. This self–revealing characteristic of God was directed toward, and utterly achieved for mankind in the incarnation (John 1:14, 18).

 

(Note:  above quotations taken from AMG Complete Word Study Bible and Reference CD)

 

Notice that they didn’t say, “In John 1:1 logos means Jesus Christ, the preincarnate Christ, but rather, “The word Lógos in John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1 stands for the preincarnate Christ, the spiritual, divine nature spoken of in the Jewish writings before and about the time of Christ, under various names, e.g., sophía (4678), wisdom.”  They actually acknowledge that the concept, or idea that Jesus as preincarnate Christ here originates from Jewish writings! These Jewish writings are most prominent in the man named Philo.

 

Also, note that they say, In John 1:1, Jesus Christ in His preincarnate state is called ho Lógos, the Word, presenting Him as the Second Person of the Godhead who is the eternal expression of the divine intelligence and the disclosure of the divine essence.”  As you journey through this study, you will see that the language “eternal expression” and “godhead” and “the divine intelligence” as well as many other non-scriptural terms referring to the preincarnate Christ, ALL ORIGINATE FROM GREEK PHILOSOPHY!

 

In John 1:1, when the verse states, “In the beginning was the word...” it is saying literally, “In the beginning was the thoughts and reasonings expressed...” This is a clear reference to the day of creation in Gen. 1:1. 

 

·        Gen 1:1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  (KJV)

 

In Gen. 1:1 God is seen creating the heavens and the earth.  Thus, the heavens and the earth, while being made, ARE the very expression of God’s thoughts.  His thoughts were made known in His creation.  Thus, the heavens and the earth declare God’s glory, because they are the product of how He expressed Himself in creating them:

 

·        Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.  (NKJ)

 

Next, we will examine different men who influenced the use, and misuse of the Greek word “logos,” beginning with the Jewish theologian and philosopher Philo.

 

Philo and the “logos”

 

Philo was a Greek speaking Jew (as were most of the Jews in the Graeco-Roman empire).  Therefore he used Greek terminology to describe his concepts of God and philosophy.  Philo taught the “logos” (Greek word for thought, reason, intelligence; or that which is spoken) was the extension of the “transcendent” God.  By “transcendent” he meant transcending the universe, or material existence (similar to what Plato had taught). 

 

To Philo, the one transcendent God was beyond the limits of ordinary experience.  To experience God, one would have to do so by way of intelligence or knowledge; that is, via the “logos” of God.  Simple folks could not understand God; this experience was reserved for only those elite few, who, by reason of their superior intellect, were able to “transcend” the ordinary, and be united with the divine thought (logos).

 

This concept of transcendence paved the way for Trinitarian doctrine.  The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is “three persons, mystically united into one Godhead”.  These three persons of the Trinity (Father, Son or Word, and Holy Spirit) are said to have co-existed for all eternity, long before the creation of this world.  These three “persons” of God are fully God individually, and yet collectively they are said to be God, united in a divine union (hypostasis). 

 

Since this concept is illogical, theologians state the Trinity can only be known in a mystic sense; apprehensible, but not comprehensible.  Thus, you have the same concept as Philo had; an unapproachable deity who transcends our ability to know or understand Him, unless through the Son, the Divine “Word” (logos) of the Father, who pre-existed with Him before time began. 

 

Philo and the Demiurge

 

Like Plato, Philo taught that God was a Demiurge; that is, a Platonic subordinate deity who fashions the sensible world in the light of eternal “ideas” (logos).  Gnostic teachers embraced this same concept, and said that the Demiurge was a subordinate deity who created the material world.  To both Platonic adherents, and to Gnostics, the world of matter was basically useless; Gnostics actually viewed are matter as intrinsically evil, and spirit was all that was “good.”  All that truly mattered and was esteemed by both groups was the world of thoughts and ideas.  To them, intellect was, in fact, their god.

 

Philo taught that the Demiurge created the earth through a hierarchy of divine beings.  This concept was necessary for Philo to align with Plato’s concept, in which he separated the “divine” (i.e. thought, or logos) from the “material” (the world of matter).  Philo taught that this hierarchy of divine beings which created the world were not “distinct” beings,” but rather, intermediary powers (acting as mediators).  The foremost of all of these “intermediary” powers he taught was the “logos.”

 

Philo’s multiplicity of divine intermediaries, who were not distinct, but were all a part of the “one” Demiurge, laid the foundation for the concept of what would later be called, “the Triune Godhead,” (i.e. the doctrine that there are three persons in one Godhead, which are neither confounded, nor confused).  Each intermediary was a part of the Demiurge, yet in and of itself, it was not the divine wholly.  The Trinity, in like manner, teaches that the three persons in the one Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are all a part of a co-equal membership; a group of deities combined into one main deity.

 

Philo’s “logos” was very similar to the Catholic “Pre-Incarnate Christ.”  Why?  Philo taught that the “logos” had a dual role, very similar to the role of the Trinitarian Christ:

 

·        The logos was the primary agent of the Demiurge in the creation of the world of matter.... Catholic theologians taught that Christ was the Pre-Incarnate “Word” (i.e. - logos) of God, through whom God made the world.

 

·        Philo taught that the logos was the means by which man could “apprehend” God...Catholic theologians taught that divine Godhead was revealed to mankind via the “human nature” aspect of Christ, who was the “logos” (Word) of God; that is, the expression, or thought, of the triune Godhead.

 

Philo further described the logos as one of Plato’s “forms” or “archetypes.”  An “archetype” meant that the logos was the original pattern, or model of which all things of the same type are representations, or copies.  This meant that to Philo, the logos itself was, in fact, divine thought.  The logos was the first of God’s ideas.  Philo even went so far as to call the logos, “the first begotten son.”  Even though Philo, as a Jew, believed in one eternal God, he had now created a theology that had God giving “birth” to an eternal thought, word, or logos.  It is easy to see that this is the origin of the catholic doctrine of the Pre-Incarnate Christ being “eternally begotten” (as the creeds state).

The Athanasian Creed states in part, regarding Christ:

 

“The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten...our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Substance of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance [Essence] of His Mother, born into the world.  Perfect God: and perfect Man....Equal to the Father, as touching His Godhead...Who although He be [is] God and Man; yet He is not two, but one Christ.... by the taking of Manhood into God.  One altogether; not by confusion of Substance [Essence]: but by unity of Person.” (emphasis added)

 

Another little known fact is Philo’s identification of the logos as, “the angel of Yahweh” in the Old Testament.  Catholic and Christian theologians alike would later identify Christ as “the angel of Yahweh” in the OT; they called this an “epiphany,” (an appearance or manifestation of a divine being).  To these Trinitarian theologians, the angel of Yahweh had to be Christ, as the Pre-Incarnate (before the days of His human nature & flesh), Second person of the Triune Godhead.

 

Pagan deities and the origin of the Trinity

 

The Graeco-Roman world had multiple deities.  The three most popular deities were: Isis, Serapis, and Cybele.  A Greek Trinity if you will.  Also popular amongst the Roman soldiers of the day was the pagan god, “Mithras,” who was said to be united with the sun, and who was considered the champion of light and darkness, good & evil.

 

Because the gods of one country within the Roman Empire were united with similar deities in another country, it was often decided they could be mutually worshipped under one banner.  This set a precedent for the Trinity as well; the uniting of three persons of God under the banner of one Triune Godhead.  The Graeco-Roman practice of uniting deities was known as “syncretism.”  They “syncretised” multiple gods into one common form of worship.  So too, with the Trinity, you have the syncretising of three divine beings into one Godhead, to be worshipped simultaneously.

 

The Graeco-Roman religions were cult like, and were labeled as “mystery religions.”  They had secret ceremonies that were not communicable to outsiders.  This laid the foundation for the Roman Catholic churches division between the priests, and the laity.  The priests were the secret initiates to the “mysteries” of the Catholic Church, which included a mystical understanding of the Godhead.

 

The many gods of the Greek pantheon (the gods of the people) were understood as personified attributes of one principle deity; or as manifestations of one power that ruled the universe.  The doctrine of the Trinity as defined in the Athanasian Creed states in part:

 

“And the Catholic faith is this; we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance [Essence].  For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: another of the Holy Ghost.  But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.”

 

Aristides (middle of the 2nd century), a Greek sophist, said all gods represent cosmic forces, emanating from one universal Father.  Plutarch (AD 100) taught the existence of intermediary subordinate gods, combined with the belief in a single, supreme deity.  The similarities to the Athanasian Creed are again evident:

 

“So likewise the Father is Almighty: the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.  And yet there are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.  So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.  And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.”

 

Early development of a triune god

 

Emperor Aurelius (274 AD) created a Roman cult state called, “Sol Invictus,” sun protector of the universe.  He made Sol Invictus one, universal godhead, under 100 names.  This is more evidence of forming a plurality of deities into one supreme godhead, not unlike the Trinity.

 

Aurelius also laid groundwork for what would later be the Catholic veneration of Mary as the “mother of God.”  Aurelius taught that Isis (a female deity) was, “The chiefest of the heavenly ones, the inclusive manifestation of gods and goddesses.... whose unique divinity the whole adores...”

 

A man named Mani, born in Babylonia (AD 216), had great impact on forming Catholic theology.  Manichaeism was a religion that combined Christian, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian thought into one religion.  Mani was a Gnostic who taught there were only two realities, or forces, opposed to one another:

 

·        Good; that is, God, light, truth

 

·        Evil or darkness, which equals matter (the material world)

 

Main taught that human souls are fragments of divine substance.  Thus, Mani introduced the idea of ‘dualism.’  Dualism was a further development of the concept of the hypostasis.  Dualism unites humanity and deity together.  Again, compare the Athanasian Creed:

 

“...that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man: God, of the Substance [Essence] of the Father; begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the Substance [Essence] of His Mother, born into the world.  Perfect God: and perfect Man.”

 

Mani had an organized religion with priests and bishops, not unlike the hierarchy of the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Manichaeism was practiced widely in Europe, Asia, and Africa until the end of the 3rd century.  It’s most notable convert was Augustine, who would later have tremendous influence on Christian theology, including the development of the doctrine of the Trinity and the Pre-Incarnate Christ.

The influence of Plato

 

Philosophy was considered the religion of the intelligent people in the Graeco-Roman world, drawing mainly from the teachings of Plato and Aristotle.

 

Pyrrho of Elis (300 BC) also taught skepticism, a philosophy espousing knowledge is impossible, and that suspense of judgment is the only rational attitude.  This prepared the way for the acceptance of the illogical nature of the Trinity; the idea that God was altogether “incomprehensible.”  Again, from the Athanasian Creed:

 

“The Father incomprehensible: the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.”

 

It is essential to understand Plato (429-347 BC) and his philosophy to understand the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.  Plato taught an abstract, transcendent world of forms and ideas which can be apprehended by the intellect alone.

 

Plato’s philosophy was that the human senses are being subject to great numbers of material objects, which are constantly changing.  The “intellect” therefore focuses on groups of common characteristics perceived by the senses.  For example, the sense of smell perceives a variety of changing odors.  The intellect takes these various odors, and groups them together into categories (e.g. fragrant and pungent).  These collective categories were called “forms” or Ideas” of the intellect.

 

Plato believed that what the intellect perceived as “forms” or “ideas” was what was real, not the senses by which the thoughts were collected.  Plato was the first New Age in this regard.  He was not unlike Christian Science religion, which also denies the existence of evil matter.  Plato believed the “forms” and “ideas” perceived by the “intellect” was what was real, unchanging, and eternal, and transcended what the material senses experienced.

 

Plato influenced the development of Christology (i.e. Catholic teaching about Christ).  Plato helped to destroy the truth of Jesus Christ being a man.  Had Plato lived during or after the time of Christ, he would have denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh (i.e. - that Jesus Christ was, in reality, a man with a body of flesh, and a rational human soul, and human spirit).  He would have even denied the reality of Jesus’ birth.

 

Plato’s philosophy was mingled together with skewed Talmudic Jewish and pagan theology.  The result was teaching that the human soul is a material entity, and the soul was only eternal as to it’s pre-existence prior to its incarnation (i.e. indwelling of human material flesh).  Of course this is an absurd position, but the devil was using Plato to ultimately corrupt mankind’s concept and relationship to the man Christ Jesus.  Plato created a foundation for a teaching that would profess Jesus as pre-existent deity, and that pre-existent deity was Jesus’ only meaningful existence.  Therefore, the life of the man Christ Jesus would be obscured for centuries, buried beneath the ruins of Platonic (demonic) philosophy.

 

·        Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”  (NAS)

 

·        I John 4:2-3  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the  spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.  (NAS)

 

·        II John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.  (NAS)

 

·        1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  (NAS)

 

According to Plato, the ‘soul’ of man (which would include Christ of course) belonged to the intellectual world of forms and ideas.  Christ would thus be considered the “form” of God; or also known as the “idea,” “thought,” or the “logos” of God.  According to Plato’s philosophy, Jesus would have to exist prior to His birth as the “eternal logos.”  This is exactly what most Christians believe about Jesus today!  They call Jesus the “Word” in John 1:1 (when John 1:1 is actually speaking of God the Father and His involvement in creating the world!).

 

Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus had a day of birth, an origin as a human being:

 

·        Matthew 1:18-25  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows.  When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit...But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins...Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son… And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus...  (NAS)

 

·        Matthew 2:1-2  Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,  "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him."  (NAS)

 

Plato never taught that the “form” of good was associated with a “god.”  In the writings of Timotheus, Plato portrays a “Demiurge” or Craftsman, who makes the “world-soul” by shaping the world out of pre-existing material.  This so-called Demiurge constructed the world according to its perception of intellectual “forms.”  Plato made it clear that the Demiurge was distinctly separate from the material world.  Even though Plato never believed in a god, his influence would play a critical role in shaping theological concepts regarding the man Christ Jesus.

The influence of Aristotle

 

Plato’s pupil Aristotle (384-322 BC), also a philosopher, modified Plato’s teaching.  Aristotle taught that the mind analyzes things in 10 categories:  substance (the essence of the individual thing), then quantity, quality, relation, place, date, position, state, action, and passivity.

 

Aristotle was more of a realist than Plato.  He accepted the reality of the material world.  His 10 “Categories” represent not only how the mind perceives the material world, but also the “modes” in which those material things objectively exist.  Aristotle’s “modes” or “forms” were unlike Plato’s...to Aristotle, the intellectually perceived “forms” of material were united in a “composite form” with material elements.  This made him somewhat of a pantheist, speaking from a theological viewpoint.

 

For example, Aristotle taught that the body and soul constitute a composite unity.  The physical body was like matter to the soul, but it was the soul that constituted the actual “form” which the body had taken.  Further, Aristotle taught that the “soul” is immortal, and “self-moving” (i.e. self perpetuating)...he believed the soul was the source of motion itself.  Aristotle contributes to the doctrine of Christ as the Pre-Incarnate God, a self-moving, self-perpetuating deity, through whom the worlds were “formed” or created.  Quoting again from the Athanasian Creed:

 

“But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.  Such is the Father, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.  The Father uncreated: the Son uncreated: and the Holy Ghost uncreated...The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal...for as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ.”

 

The influence of the Stoics

 

The Stoics taught that God was “dynamic reason” (logos), and that God was the “active principle” which forms matter.  The “active principle” or “logos” (i.e. God), exists in reality as “mind,” or “consciousness,” and dwells within the human body.  These characters were like new Age religions today.  It would be the same as the metaphysical mumbo-jumbo that says God is the “active principle” or the “life force.”  Catholic theologians would later use some of the Stoic language to refer to Jesus as, “the logos of God,” who, as the “mind” or “conscious thought” (logos) of Deity, was incarnated into a human body of flesh.  This is where the concept of Jesus being “God” in “human form” came from.

 

The Stoics said that the “God of logos” which made the material universe, and formed it, was, in fact, it’s “logos.”  This again is a form of pantheism.  It is saying that God is the same thing as that which He created.  This is where the idea that Jesus left His throne in heaven, to come to earth, and become a man came from.  Catholic theologians unknowingly used the Stoic concept to teach that Jesus, the God person of the Trinity, could in fact, become a man to die for our sins, and thus become the ideal sacrifice.

 

The Stoics also taught that there was “seminal logi” (seeds of birth) contained within the contents of scripture.  As weird as this is, Catholic and Christian theologians embraced a similar concept, and applied it to their Christology.  In a bizarre twisting of scripture, and mingling it with Stoic thought, theologians have concocted the idea the Christ is the Pre-Incarnate “seed” of God, who was “eternally begotten” by the Father.

 

The Stoic doctrine of the human nature that stated that man is an “emanation” from the “Divine fire.”  More new age stuff from an old age past.  Since they believed the human nature was simply an “emanation” from the Divine, they essentially taught that the human nature was itself the divine.  Thus, the Stoics pre-figure the teaching that Jesus Christ is “perfect God...perfect Man.”  Strange, but a fact.

 

In Stoicism, the “soul” is said to be the “logos” (God - the reason or word) in man.  The Stoics made a distinction between the “immanent logos” of man (meaning man’s own reason which was present in him), and the “expressed logos” (the “reason” or “godhead”, which was made known only through man’s own self-expression).  Stoicism further paved the way for Christology which said Jesus Christ was not only the “son of God,” (the immanent logos), but also “God...the Son,” (the expressed logos). 

 

Of course we know God cannot be called, “the Son,” but logic is tossed out the door when it comes to Greek influence.  The development of the “God the Son” idea is a direct take off of Stoicism, as is the terminology used in theological circles which calls Jesus, “the word made flesh” or God in human form” or “when God (the eternal logos or Word) became a man.”  This terminology is in direct conflict with what scripture teaches, because God can never become a man, or human in any sense:

 

·        Numbers 23:19  God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”  (NAS)

 

·        1 Samuel 15:29  “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”  (NAS)

 

·        Job 9:32  “For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together.”  (NAS)

 

Stoicism influenced many prominent men, like Marcus Aurelius (121-80BC).  Aurelius divided the human nature into three parts: body, animal, soul and intelligence.  Aurelius taught that the human “intelligence” is actually an offshoot of God, a “spiritual substance.”  Aurelius would have significant influence in the development of Christology that pictured Christ as the actual “essence” (substance) of God in human flesh.  Some theologians today have even gone so far as to say that the flesh that was crucified on the cross was “divine.”  These so-called scholars argue that Christ’s human form must also be “perfect God,” or else Christ’s sacrifice would not be a “perfect sacrifice.”  They fail to see Jesus as the sinless man, the “Lamb” of God, who offered himself up an unblemished man.

 

·        John 1:28-30  This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This is the one I meant when I said, “a man who comes after me...”  (NIV)

 

·        John 18:28-29  They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.  Pilate therefore went out to them, and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”  (NAS)

 

·        Mark 15:39  And when the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  (NAS)

 

·        Acts 2:22-23  “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.  (NAS)

 

 

Influence of Middle Platonism

 

The era of Middle Platonism was a reaction to the development of Stoicism and it’s adherents.  It was a time when Plato’s ideas were transformed into more of a theology.

 

In Middle Platonism, there was an attempt by man to understand truth about the “divine world” of thoughts and ideas, with the hopes of attaining to the greatest possible likeness to the Divine thought (logos).  Middle Platonists taught that God could not be comprehended, but only “apprehended.”  Popular Trinitarian apologists make the same nonsensical statement today, saying, “The Trinity cannot be understood, or comprehended.  It is a mystery.  However, it can be apprehended as a mystery.”

 

Middle Platonism was theistic, uniting the “Supreme mind” (i.e. the logos) of Aristotle with Plato’s “Good” (the Demiurge).  Third century theologians drew from Middle Platonic thought to create a Christ with a “dual nature”; that is, uniting Deity with humanity.  As the Athanasian Creed defines Christ, as, “perfect God, and perfect Man.”

 

Middle Platonism believed in intermediary deities.  They regarded the Supreme deity as being “utterly transcendent”, and unable to be understood, with the exception of being revealed through the intermediary logos.  The Trinity doctrine embraces this same basic concept, saying God is beyond our transcendent and beyond our understanding, being revealed through three separates persons (like the Greek intermediaries), particularly the Word (Christ the logos).

Neo-Platonic influence

 

The Neo-Platonic era is most distinguishable from the influence of a man named Plontinus (205-70 BC).  He was the founder of Neo-Platonic thought.  Plontinus was from Egypt, but was a Greek speaking monist (the view that there is only one kind of ultimate substance).  Plontinus believed there was only one ultimate substance with many parts. 

 

Plontinus taught that the highest “substance” (the Greek word, “hypostasis) was God, whom he called, “the One.”   From “the One” came everything; “the One” was the source of all, and remained “unchanged” and “undiminished.”

 

Plontinus taught there was an order to the hierarchy of “the One”:

 

First:  “the One”

 

Second:  The “hypostasis” (the substance or essential nature of the individual), which was the “mind or thought” (called the “logos”)

 

Third:  The “hypostasis” of the soul

 

This three-tiered hierarchy prefigures the Trinity doctrine developed in the second and third centuries.  When Trinitarianism developed, it would have the “One” changed to be the “Father”.  The “hypostasis” which was the “logos” would be altered to be the “Christ”, as the eternal “Word” (logos) of God.  The “hypostasis” or essential nature of the “soul” would come to symbolize the person of the Holy Spirit in Trinitarian theology.

 

Plontinus taught that mankind came from the “emanation” of the “One”(that is, the origin of mankind was from the Godhead through intermediate stages to matter).  Mankind then became the third “hypostasis” (essential nature of deity).  This third hypostasis of mankind was divided into two parts:

 

A.  “Matter” which is evil and illuminated

 

B.  “Mind” which is the higher element

 

The product of this thinking was that the “mind” nature of man (the higher element) was the part that was continually seeking to be in union with “the One,” that it might become like the One’s nature and likeness.  Trinitarian scholars would develop this concept into systematic teaching about Christ as the “hypostasis” (essential nature) of God.  Scholars would make Christ into the same thing as Plontinus’ “mind” (logos, or higher element of God).  Christ would become the third hypostasis of God, with His higher “element” being deity, and His existence as an actual man being obscured in terms like “flesh” or the “human nature.”  Once Trinitarian scholars had obscured the fact Jesus was, in fact, a man, their primary focus was to exalt His hypostasis (essential nature) as God.

 

Plontinus taught that the highest level, or goal of man consisted in his mystical (not apparent to the physical senses) union with “the One.”  Trinitarian scholars today teach that Jesus, as the Divine logos (i.e. Pre-Incarnate Deity) was united with a “human nature” which, like Plontinus taught, would never diminish His essential deity, but would also make Him humanity.  The book of Colossians warns us against following these cleverly designed theological deceptions, which are based solely on the philosophy and traditions of man:

 

·        Colossians 2:6-8  As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  (NAS)

 

Ironically, Greek thought and Trinitarian theology in their renderings of certain Greek texts have also heavily influenced the translators of our English translation, beginning primarily with the King James Version.  In an effort to imply Jesus Christ was “the Almighty” (as Plontinus taught the third hypostasis was essential the “One), Col. 2:9 was mistranslated as follows:

 

·        Colossians 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  (KJV)

 

The language, “all the fulness of the Godhead” makes this verse seem in agreement with Plontinus’ teaching.  Careful examination of the original Greek text reveals the translator bias here:

 

·        “Dwelleth” = 2730  katoikeo (kat-oy-keh'-o); from 2596 and 3611; to house permanently, i.e. reside (literally or figuratively).

 

·        “all” = 3956  pas (pas); including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.

 

·        “Fulness” = 4138 pleroma (play'-ro-mah); from 4137; repletion or completion, i.e. (subjectively) what fills (as contents, supplement, copiousness, multitude), or (objectively) what is filled (as container, performance, period).  Pleroma comes from the word 4137 pleroo (play-ro'-o); from 4134; to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc..  Pleroo comes from the word 4134 pleres (play'-race); from 4130; replete, or covered over; by analogy, complete.  Pleres comes from the word 4130 pletho (play'-tho); a prolonged form of a primary pleo (pleh'-o) (which appears only as an alternate in certain tenses and in the reduplicated form pimplemi); to "fill" (literally or figuratively [imbue, influence, supply]); specifically, to fulfil (time):

 

·        “Godhead” = 2320 theotes (theh-ot'-ace); from 2316; divinity (abstractly).  Theotes comes from the root word 2316 theos (theh'-os); of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with 3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very:

 

·        “Bodily” = 4985 somatikos (so-mat-ee-koce'); adverb from 4984; corporeally or physically.  Somatikos comes from the word 4984 somatikos (so-mat-ee-kos'); from 4983; corporeal or physical.  Somatikos comes from two words:  4983 soma (so'-mah); from 4982; the body (as a sound whole), used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively.   This word is from 4982 sozo (sode'-zo); from a primary sos (contraction for obsolete saoz, "safe"); to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively).

 

By combining the word meanings of the above, and comparing them with what actually exists in the original text, Colossians 2:9 should read as follows:

 

·        Colossians 2:9 (literal translation) = “Because residing in him is all that is completing the magistrate’s corporate body to save, deliver and protect [it].”

 

This literal translation makes much more sense than the KJV and other translations, which make the text, appear as though “all the fulness” of the Godhead (Deity) is crammed into a human body.  This would be impossible, since God is infinite (Psalms 147:5). 

 

When setting the literal translation alongside the context, here’s what it looks like:

 

·        Colossians 2:8-10  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  (NAS)  Because residing in him is all that is completing the magistrate’s corporate body to save, deliver and protect [it]. And in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.  (NAS)

 

We find that Col. 2:9 is actually an admonition to the corporate body of Christ to reside in Him (Christ) where they can become complete, and be saved, delivered, and protected from philosophy and empty deception!

 

Gnostic influence

 

In the Graeco-Roman world there were numerous Gnostic teachings.  Jewish Gnosticism predates the Christian Gnostics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries.  Gnosticism was a movement that was more widespread than Christianity at one time.  It was the product of syncretism, and it came from both pagan and Jewish sources.

 

The basic Gnostic philosophy taught that the material world (matter) was evil.  Christian Gnostics taught that God is good, and matter evil.  They denied that Jesus was made of flesh because that was evil substance.  They defined Jesus as part of the divine “good” aspect of deity.

 

One Gnostic leader, Christian Valentius, who taught in Alexandria, Egypt, and later in Rome (2nd century), said that God was “Bythos,” the supreme Father, who was “unbegotten” spiritual substance, from which material substance is derived.  Valentius said that God (Bythos) was eternal.  Further, he taught, from Bythos’ thoughts proceeded:

 

1.  Nous: origin of life and truth

2.  Logos: thought and life

3.  Man and church

 

Eventually, through a complex formula involving numerous intermediaries and deities, Valentius arrives with a formula for the “pleroma” (fulness) of the Godhead.  The Trinitarian formula uses Valentius’ ideas to create the Pre-Incarnate (pre-existent) Christ as God’s eternal  “logos” (or Word).

 

Gnostics also believed in Sophia, the female goddess of wisdom, and included her in their godhead.  This belief prefigures the Roman Catholic Church and it’s veneration of Mary, as the “mother of God.”

 

Gnostics taught that by the command of Bythos, the supreme deity comes...“Nous,” who is the origin of life and truth.  Nous then generates a new pair of eternal ones who are like Bythos, and calls them, “Christ” and the “Holy Spirit.”  This is the first systematic theology that was used as a Trinitarian formula. 

 

·        Bythos = The Father

·        Nous = Christ

·        Holy Spirit

 

Other than Valentius, the most important Christian Gnostic is the Syrian born Basilides (120-140 AD).  He lectured in Alexandria, and his teachings prefigure the development of the Pre-Incarnate Christ in more detail.  According to his teaching “Nous” (a god) comes into a human form to redeem mankind’s spirit, which had been imprisoned in bodies of material flesh.  Basilides also called Nous the “first-begotten.”

 

Trinitarian scholars would later use Basilides language and terminology to refer to Christ as the “first-begotten God” who left His throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human form.  Thus, to Trinitarians, Jesus became the God-Man, who came to earth from His ageless existence, to redeem mankind.

 

Conclusion

 

Understanding the root origin of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Pre-Incarnate Christ, helps one to see the man Christ Jesus more clearly in scripture.  Greek philosophy, inspired by Satan, was an attempt to rob the church of the knowledge of the son of God.

 

·        Ephesians 4:13-16 Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  (NAS)

 

·        1 Timothy 2:3-6 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.  (NAS)

 

 


 

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