God is One in the New Testament

By Anthony Buzzard

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How can one possibly miss the New Testament confirmation of the unique status of God as one Person? A well-known investigation into the Trinity reports: “The Jews believed in one God whom they called the Father…For an understanding of the growth of the doctrine of the Trinity the title ‘Father’ is of special importance, because in the Trinity one of the Persons is God the Father.”[1] Arthur Wainwright then presents the following New Testament texts to show “how New Testament writers expressed their belief in the unity of God and described Him as Father.”[2] This last statement would appear to be a practical admission that the New Testament writers were unitarians! What do you as a reader make of these statements?

Jesus:

“Why do you call me good? None is good except one, namely God” (Mark 10:18).
“The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29).
“Call no man your father on earth; for one is your Father, who is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9).
“And the glory which comes from the only God you do not seek” (John 5:44).
“And this is eternal life: that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).

Paul:

“…if so be that God is one. We know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one…Yet to us there is one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:4-6).
“For God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Rom. 3:30).
“Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one” (Gal. 3:20). “God is only one Person.”[3] “One God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:6).
“Now to the King, eternal, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17).
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Messiah Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

James and Jude:

“You believe that God is one; you do well” (James 2:19).
“One is the lawgiver and judge, who is able to save and destroy” (James 4:12).
“To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and power, before all time and now and forever” (Jude 25).

God is explicitly distinguished from Jesus Christ

“God” is here the Father, as is true some 1317 times in the New Testament. God is explicitly distinguished from Jesus Christ. Wainwright comments on the list of texts above: “The evidence shows that God was regarded as one; and the one God was believed to be the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Statements of this nature hardly seem to provide fruitful ground for the growth of a doctrine of the Trinity.” He then says that “if they are taken in connection with other statements in which the divinity of Christ is affirmed or implied, they lead immediately to the Trinitarian problem.”[4]

Wainwright is right about the Trinitarian “problem.” The problem does not arise however until the unitarian texts above are rejected. As to statements about Jesus’ supposed “divinity,” none of them challenges the statements about the Father being the only God. If they did challenge those unitarian statements they would contradict them. This in turn would lead to the conclusion that the New Testament contradicts itself in its definition of God. This I do not accept. And Jesus, the Jew and founder of our faith, as well as his chosen Apostles, knew who God was.

Once the New Testament unitarian texts are accepted for what they plainly say (in harmony with the whole of the Old Testament and with Jesus in Mark 12:28-34), the verses describing the so-called “divinity” of Jesus can easily be explained as descriptions of Jesus as the man Messiah, in whom the One God was uniquely active through His spirit, and who was exalted to the supreme position assigned to him by God the Father, as predicted in Psalm 110:1. Jesus in the New Testament is seen as the unique agent and reflection of the One God. His “equality” with his Father does not make him God. He is still the man Messiah. The truth then emerges that there is indeed still “one God,” but He has next to Him now “one mediator, the man Messiah Jesus,” as 1 Timothy 2:5 says so lucidly and simply.

Buzzard, Anthony (2007). A Simple Creed. In, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian (pp. 48-50). Restoration Fellowship.

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[1] The Trinity in the New Testament, SPCK, 1980, 41.

[2] Ibid., 41, 42.

[3] Amplified Version.

[4] The Trinity in the New Testament, 42.

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2018-12-29T08:42:31+00:00

About the Author:

Anthony Buzzard
Sir Anthony Buzzard was born in Surrey, England and educated at Oxford University and later at Bethany Theological Seminary. He holds master degrees in theology and modern languages, Hon. Ph.D. Sir Anthony F. Buzzard is one of the most persuasive and energetic voices of our day calling for Christians to pursue reformation and restoration in our time. He is the author of numerous books including: Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian: A Call to Return to the Creed of Jesus; and The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound. Anthony is the author of many theological articles and papers. He is the editor of Focus on the Kingdom and was co-editor of A Journal from the Radical Reformation. Retiring after 24 years on the staff of Atlanta Bible College, he continues to write, teach and travel, fulfilling a life-long desire to make the best of Bible scholarship available to the wider church-going public.