Monday, February 11, 2008

High Christology in Mark 5:19-20

A few weeks ago I was preaching on the exorcism of the Gadarene Demoniac in Mark 5:1-20 and was struck by something I saw in the last couple verses that I had not seen before.

In v. 19 Jesus tells the man from whom he cast out "Legion" to go tell his countrymen "what great things the Lord has done from you." Then in v. 20 Mark writes that the man went out to proclaim "all that Jesus had done for him." The indirect implication: Jesus is equivalent to the Lord (the God of the Old Testament).

Compare Luke’s version of the story:

Luke 8:39 "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you." And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

A great Christological lesson is being taught indirectly at the end of this passage. An affirmation is being made about Jesus’ identity.

Last Saturday morning while I was sitting at home in my pajamas, a couple of well dressed Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door and I was able to talk with them for a few minutes about what the Scriptures say about Christ. I was able to turn with them in their "New World Translation" to Mark 5:19-20 and then Luke 8:39. We also looked at John 10:30 ("I and my Father are one"); to Thomas’ words in John 20:28 ("My Lord and my God!") and Paul’s words in Romans 10:9 (If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord"…). They made no concessions, but maybe some seeds of doubt were sown in their minds that might dislodge their acceptance of what JWs teach about who Scriptures say Jesus is.


Anonymous said...

Jesus is the only begotten son of God, not GOD. Obviously you missed this point in your college training.

First century Christians knew that - why is it so hard for the clergy to miss that simple point?

Examine history very carefully and you'll see the advent of the trinitarian teachers arising in the 2nd / 3rd century with the adoption of this teaching in opposition to Arian Christian teachers, who believed that God and Christ were not equal/ seperate and therefore not the same.

Regarding the JW's - you should invite them back again for tea, they come to my house almost every Saturday for very engaging biblical discussions.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Truth Seeker,

Thanks for your post. Sorry but I do not agree with your analysis.

First, what is the Biblical evidence? Take a look at John 5:18 where Jesus' Jewish opponents charge him with "making himself equal with God." The charge against Jesus at his crucifixion was blasphemy (see Matthew 26:63-66).

The title "son of God" is the language of analogy. The early Christian affirmation is that Jesus is Lord (Greek: Kurios; the word used to translate the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh or Jehovah). This is why it is so scandalous when Paul says that one day every tongue will confess that "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2:11).

What did the early Christians believe about Jesus? Take a look at the extra-biblical letter of Pliny the Younger, written c. 112 AD as he writes about the growth of the Christian movement in Bithynia and notes how they gather early in the morning to sing hymns "to Christ, as to God."

The Trinity was not "invented" to answer Arius (see Biblical evidence for the Trinity in Matthew 28:19-2; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Rather, Arius was departing from orthodoxy.

To say that the early Christians did not worship Jesus as God pre-Nicea is a profound misreading of the New Testament and a gross revision of history.

Let me encourage you to live worthy of your moniker and seek the Truth (John 14:6)!

As for speaking with JWs I had no intention of demonizing them. I commend them for their zeal but it is not according to knowledge (Roman 10:2). When I asked one of the JWs about Thomas' words to Jesus in John 20:28, "My Lord and my God," she instisted that the word for "Lord" there is not the same word in Greek as that translated "Jehovah" in the New World Translation (as it is in Mark 5:19 for example). Anyone who reads Greek will see that it is the same word Kurios. Thomas was declaring that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament (again, this sort of shoots holes in the whole idea that early Christians did not believe Jesus to be equal in essence with God). Would you be willing to do a Bible study from an orthodox perspective? If you live in C-ville, please come join us any Sunday at JPBC ( or call our church office to set up a meeting.

Peace, Pastor Jeff