Jehovah`s Witness/before AD 381

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Question
QUESTION: Hi Brenton

You say:

“My look at history is not  “tainted by Watchtower propaganda”.  I have looked at secular sources for that.  Can you be absolutely and brutally honest with yourself and honestly say that your outlook on the holy spirit has not been tainted by your religious background.?  

Let’s remember that you also said;

“The idea that the holy spirit was a person developed over several centuries and it was not until the council of Constantinople in 381 AD that  “pneuma hagion” was recognised as a person.”


When you looked at other sources, other than the propaganda the Watchtower pumps you, did you happen to noticed that before AD 381 the early church recognised the Holy Spirit as a person?

Irenaeus (120-202) "For I have shown from the scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man.” (Against Heresies, book 3, chapter 19)

Tertullian (155-220) "Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are, one essence, not one Person” (Against Praxeas, chapter 25)

Hippolytus  (170-235) “A man, therefore, even though he will it not, is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject, Himself excepted, and the Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three.” (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus, section 8)

As you can see these early church writers (and these are just a few) all recognised the Holy Spirit as a person long before AD 381!

ANSWER: Hi Cos

Thank you for keeping the questions short.

Your correct.  I  had not worded that very well. In talking about the "... “pneuma hagion” was recognized as a person" until 381 B.C. (council of Constantinople) was in relation to being  officially recognised as being apart of the trinity.  I did not make that clear, and I can see how I gave the wrong idea, for that I apologise.

I have on my computer much of the writings of the "church fathers". So, yes I knew that early church writers had a varying views of the holy spirit just as I am aware that they had varying view's on if Jesus was created or not. Yes some early "christian" writers express the idea of co-equal unity, while others did not.  They did not all,  agree with each other.  I have read  parts of the "Church Father's" and there is confusion even from the same writer at times (according to the way their works have been translated) as to what these "Church fathers actually believed.

As far as the development of the trinity and the introduction of the holy spirit to the doctrine, I have formed my view after reading many different works.

Any works I have read on the council of Nicaea and Constantinople show that the even though the council of Nicaea the holy spirit was acknowledged, almost as an add on.


This is what the 230 - 300 "bishops" (defending on the source) agreed too as per https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/nicea/

QUOTE

"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, of the substance of the Father; God of God and Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made, of the same substance as the Father, by whom all things were made, in heaven and on earth: who for the sake of us men and our salvation, descended, became incarnate, and was made man, suffered, arose again on the third day, and ascended into the heavens, from where he will come again to judge the living and the dead;

And in the Holy Spirit."

End Quote


The council of  Constantinople "...differs in a number of respects, both by addition and omission, from the creed adopted at the First Council of Nicaea. The most notable difference is the additional section "And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver-of-Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. And [we believe] in one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, [and] we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen..."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed

From the following web site is one where I learnt that the "church father's" did not say much about the holy spirit.

https://www.academia.edu/215530/Proto-Trinity_the_development_of_the_doctrine_of_the_Trinity_in_the_first_and_second_Christian_centuries


QUOTE
The Spirit has largely been neglected in this study for the simple reason that the Spirit was largely neglected by the early Christian fathers..... it was not until Christianity was overtly influenced by Platonism that Christians began to speculate about a personal role for the Spirit within the Godhead and even so it would take several more centuries for anything like an orthodoxy on the subject to be established-  P 80

End Quote

From the following site http://www.earlychristianhistory.info/trinity.html

QUOTE
The underlying basis for what eventually became the Trinity concept did exist as a tentative or nebulous idea in the heads of some early Christian writers, but was never laid out specifically until the middle of the 4th century. End Quote

A few other sites that speak of the history of the trinity, thus the history of the holy spirit. Some sites seem to be from different religious bodies, I have not spent time  working out just who they are. So some of these sites have links to other theological discussions that I do not necessarily agree with.  I was only interested in what they had to say on the history and development of the trinity

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/trinity-history.html

http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/the-surprising-or

http://www.quotedstatements.com/earlychristians.pdf

http://www.cogwriter.com/trinity.htm

http://seminary.thoughts.com/posts/a-brief-history-of-the-doctrine-of-the-holy-s



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

So we are in a sort of agreement then that the personality of the Holy Spirit was held well before AD 381.

Even though this understanding was not formulated into a creed until the forth century, I will contend that it was officially recognised by the early church because those that spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person were well known as preachers and theologians in the early church.

And can I say, please be careful of what you read from certain groups on the internet who themselves have a bias religious slant as is evident from some of the links you mentioned I am well aware of these groups you reference in the links.  

Brenton you say

I have on my computer much of the writings of the "church fathers". So, yes I knew that early church writers had a varying views of the holy spirit just as I am aware that they had varying view's on if Jesus was created or not. Yes some early "christian" writers express the idea of co-equal unity, while others did not.  They did not all,  agree with each other.  I have read  parts of the "Church Father's" and there is confusion even from the same writer at times (according to the way their works have been translated) as to what these "Church fathers actually believed.

First you say you have the writings of the early church, and then you say that they had “varying views” of the Holy Spirit. Can you please expand and point me to these “varying views” about the Holy Spirit. Also please show me where this “confusion” you claim was imputed to the early church writers by way of translation.

ANSWER:  Hi Cos
Sorry for the delay, I have had some very difficult malware on my computer to get rid of.  Commercial anti malware did not remove it so I learnt how to do it by hand by looking through and  examining the registry.  Took a long time.

(For some reason I can not present any Greek fonts on this page today, so Greek words are represented with English fonts)


Yes, we are in a “sort” of agreement.  Some early teachers did considered the personality of the holy spirit.  The main point is, is it was not officially recognized  as such by the then few “church fathers” who agreed to the creed in 381. The eastern and Western “church” were divided as to that creed. It still took some time for the whole idea of the trinity and thus the personality of the holy spirit to be widely accepted.

I appreciate the warnings about the internet, but did you notice what I said   “So some of these sites have links to other theological discussions that I do not necessarily agree with.  I was only interested in what they had to say on the history and development of the trinity “  I am aware of the way that many people try to put their own slant on the Bible

You mentioned that some sites  “ have a bias religious slant”.  Now, to be honest here, what makes their view more biased than your view, or my view?   I was only interested in aspects of history. When you look at their information you can see the research  that they had done into the history of the trinity.

We all have a biased view of the Bible.  That is why we need to dig deep into what the Bible has to say, and not listen to theologians.

When I read people like Pink, and even you your self, I see a particular religious bias toward the holy spirit because you both (along with just about every one else, even those sites I mentioned) refer to the holy spirit as “he” or “him” and capitalize the “S”.  To me that is a religious bias.  

I gave evidence from a well known  trinitarian, Biblical Greek Scholar  and Author of Biblical Greek Text books, Daniel  Wallace where he tells us that no where in the Bible is the holy spirit ever referred to in the masculine gender. http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2015/7/koinonia.htm   If the Bible witters never referred to the holy spirit as having masculine qualities, that raised the question why should we? Is it not the wise thing on our part to understand what the Bible writers view of the holy spirit is?


You say that you believe in the idea that the holy spirit is an individual because “it was officially recognized by the early church because those that spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person were well known as preachers and theologians in the early church.”

Now that depends on what you call the early church.    I consider the 1st  century Bible Writers the early “church” and not the “ preachers and theologians” of the second third and fourth centuries.


You asked me to show where the “early church fathers” had conflicting ideas on the holy spirit.  At the moment I can not do that. Personally I put no credence in the second  third and fourth century “church fathers”.  Their writings are interesting to read, but I did mot study them or make many notes of various points. (there wasn't a great deal that interested me.  I haven't kept a record of any about the holy spirit but I did keep a few in relation to Jesus and God)  I read  many of the writings to see  how the pure waters of truth slowly developed into the  “apostate” teachings as they gradually went away from the  teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Some of their writings are in harmony with scripture and much of it is not.

Starting in the first century there were problems among those that had become Christians.  The great apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3) had already started.   In the book of Acts is this warning  “and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.”.(Acts 20:30  NWT). Fellow believers would become prominent and draw people after themselves.   Why would Christians be so easily lead astray?  Because to be a follower of the Christ is not easy.  They wanted the benefits, but not the hard word.  They wanted to have their ears tickled. That is, they wanted to hear pleasant, nice  things that did not seem so hard,  teachings that pleased them.  To be able to please some of these Christians false stories were preached that made life easier   “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the wholesome teaching, but according to their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled. 4 They will turn away from listening to the truth and give attention to false stories ” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4  NWT)

Paul gave the warning to “to reject empty speeches that violate what is holy” and he names a few  who “deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some” (NWT 1Ti 1:19, 20; 2Ti 2:16-19).

He  also gives a warning to the Hebrew Christians to be careful not to develop  wicked heart (Heb 3:12)  He also  said that  . . “.there will also be false teachers among you. These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves” ( 2 Peter 2:1 NWT)

So no,  the teachings of the second third and fourth century  “preachers and theologians” are not to be trusted as truth.


You also asked about my claim that  “there is confusion even from the same writer at times (according to the way their works have been translated)”.  In particular you asked about translation.  There is bias in the way that whoever did the translation of  those “early theologians”.  This is particularity seen in the works presented by the Catholic Church. The first thing that I easily picked up on was the constant use of “Holy Ghost”  in place of holy spirit.  That alone suggested to me straight away that there would be theological bias in the translation.  

I do not have any of the original language writings, but about 8 years ago I found a  very brief discussion on a phrase used by Justin Martyr in his first apology chapter 63.   The translated words into English are  “nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God ”.    I have seen that phrase used on different web sites to try to show that Justin taught that Jesus was God.  

I can not verify the Greek used here as I do not have a copy of the works by Justin in Greek. The discussion I found gave this as the Greek   “OS LOGOS KAI PRWTOTOKOS WN TOU QEOU KAI QEOS UPARXEI”.

This, very literally reads in English,  “THE LOGOS AND FIRST-BEGOTTEN OF THE GOD AND GOD TO-BE”.  Now, I know that there is theological bias in the way that has been translated when the translator has said  “ the first-begotten Word of God, is even God ” (italics and bold mine)

The grammatically correct way to translate that into English is  “the first-begotten Word of God , is to-be  a god

The first occurrence of the word God is in the accusative case with the definite article proceeding it.  The second word god is in the nominative case, the same as the word “Logos” (Word).  Now, there is something about the word “theos” here that a translator needs to take into account, and that is, that it is a singular  anarthrous predicate nominate noun that is followed by a verb ( uparcei).  In the construction where  a  singular  anarthrous predicate nominate noun that is followed by a verb is used, we are not being told anything about identity, but about a quality of the noun.  

Strongs Greek lexicon says this about  uparcei   “to begin under (quietly), i.e. come into existence (be present or at hand); expletively, to exist (as copula or subordinate to an adjective, participle, adverb or preposition, or as auxil. to principal (verb): —  after, behave, live.”

Another Greek Lexicon attached to one of my programs gives the following

1) to begin below, to make a beginning
1a) to begin
2) to come forth, hence to be there, be ready, be at hand
3) to be


The NAS Bible translates this word in the following ways “been (2), being (9), belonging (1), exist (1), existed (1), gone (1), live (1), owned (1), possess (1), possessions (11), private means (1), property (1).

The translator of Justin Martyr's work used the word “even”.  I have used “to-be”

Thayer's Greek Lexicon  gives  this detail “ to be,  with a predicate nominative”.  That is what we have in the Greek text here, a predicate nominative (theos) preceding the verb  uparcei

So that phrase that that is often quoted as being what Justin Martyr taught is a very biased and poor translation.  That raises my suspicions as to all the other works that have been translated in English, and I would doubt that there exists an accurate and  unbiased translation of any of the so called "church fathers". There are a lot of passages by these various "preachers and theologians in the early church" (according to the translation we have) that become very contradictory in what they say.

Just in those two aspects of theological bias I put no reliance on any of the English translations of the “church fathers”.  That is why for me, the only authority is Gods word the Bible, and finding, and using, an English translation that has the least theological bias in it that I can. And why I diligently try to compare suspect English texts with the ancient languages.

So, please, it is no good trying to use the "church fathers" as absolute proof of what the fist century Christians believed, as they had, to varying degrees, strayed from what was written.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,


Thanks for getting back to me.

You ask;

“You mentioned that some sites  “ have a bias religious slant”.  Now, to be honest here, what makes their view more biased than your view, or my view?”


Brenton, you claimed to have read secular views other than what the Watchtower propagates, instead by you listing those site, it come across that you only read from those that have the same view you have, that’s not getting the full picture, ergo my comment.

But more importantly there are some that hide and twist information to try and make their claims more viable, their slant so to speak. Do you know any that have done this? You would agree that it is a very dishonest practice, right?

Now regarding the matter about what Daniel Wallace says, I did not want to overwhelm you with more than one post and topic at a time, as you requested, so I have held back with posting a reply to you regarding his stance and the application of ascribing personal pronouns to the Holy Spirit. This is for another time.

You go on,

“You say that you believe in the idea that the holy spirit is an individual because “it was officially recognized by the early church because those that spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person were well known as preachers and theologians in the early church.”

“Now that depends on what you call the early church.    I consider the 1st  century Bible Writers the early “church” and not the “ preachers and theologians” of the second third and fourth centuries.”


Firstly I said that “I will contend” that the belief held by the early church was that the Holy Spirit is a person.

Now what is really troubling is that at first you had that it was AD 381 when this was supposedly to have come about, but then you said that you were mistaken about that, and claimed instead that the early church had “varying views” about the Holy Spirit, but at the moment you are unable to verify the claim, so instead, you push back and say that anything after the 1st century, to you has no “credence” as what the early church believed and their claims “are not to be trusted”.

Away, let’s just have a little look at what some said from the first century.

The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians was written just before the end of the first century, in this epistle Clement claims that it was the Holy Spirit who said “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man Story in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness” (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 13). Clement has the Holy Spirit speaking.

In one of the authentic Epistle of Ignatius (Ad 35-107), who was a disciple of the apostle John, he writes “But the Holy Spirit does not speak his own things, but those of Christ, and that not from himself, but from the Lord; even as the Lord also announced to us the things that he received from the Father.? (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 9). Here the Holy Spirit is again said to speak.

You go on and claim that the writings of the early church after the first century are what you deem as the apostasy. But, my friend, the writings of the early church clearly explain that they are for the purpose of refuting apostate teaching!

I guess when all else fails then just lump them all together as apostates…isn’t that what you now seek to establish?

Let’s note that Jesus clearly says that His Church on earth will continue and will not cease at any time. (Matt 16:18).

Now keeping this in mind, if we are to go on your assumption that the early church writers was apostate, and considering how they wrote prolifically about “other” heresies prevalent at the time denouncing them, it’s interesting that they didn’t write about your “form” of beliefs or anything similar until the 4th century when Arianism reared its ugly head!

This is a curious thing don’t you agree; you would expect to find these early “apostate church” writers of the second and third centuries, as you must now consider them, would have at least mentioned and condemn those who believed things contrary to what they believed, right? Your form of beliefs are definitely contrary to these “apostate” writers who, for one, considered the Holy Spirit to be a person…yet nothing!

Please really think on this, it’s only logical that IF these early church writers were apostate as you make out, then they certainly would have written about those who hold to your views, but there is nothing until Arianism comes along!

Remember Jesus’ church will always prevail and not cease.

Your religion and those of the web sites you quoted hold the view that at the end of the first century the real church, or whatever you want to call the church, ceased and then emerged again later, centuries later. This idea is false.

But…for you, not only is the writings of the early church apostate, but you claim that the translators of the early church had theological bias when they translated the writings of the early church.

You go on about the translators of Justin Martyr and how, to you, they incorrectly worded a passage from Justin Martyr First Apology chapter 63.

But I want to go to your excursion into the word you cite as “uparcei” and how you claim that this word is defined by Strong’s Lexicon and by Thayer’s and another anonymous lexicon “attached to one of your programes”

The definition’s you cite are for the word  “huparcho” Strong’s number 5225, which you failed to mention.

When we understand what “huparcho” means then we will see why the translators of Justin Martyr choose the wording they used.

Vines Dictionary has for the word “huparcho”

“denotes ‘to be, to be in existence,’ involving an ‘existence’ or condition both previous to the circumstances mentioned and continuing after it.”

Without getting into the discussion (we can if you want) on anarthrous predicate nominate nouns, we need to ask the simple question, which one of the following is correct?

“the first-begotten Word of God, is in existence a god”

Or

“the first-begotten Word of God, is in existence God”
(which means the same as “the first-begotten Word of God, is even God”)

Justin was in no way advocating polytheism, “a god” next to God; remember his is writing to pagans, and that is what they would have thought if he meant “a god” right?

I’m only trying to show that simply “a god” would not work in this context without going into a long discussion on the errors surrounding what you see as anarthrous predicate nominate nouns.

I hope you can see this.

The writings of the early church show us what they believed, you might not like it, and want to dismiss them as being apostate/wrongly translated, or whatever else, just because they don’t fall in line with your theology, yet your own religion tried (and failed) to make out that these same early church writers were in harmony with what the Watchtower teaches. At least I hope you can see through the Watchtower’s attempted deception…even though you don’t like what the early church actually believe!

Answer
Hi Cos

Sorry for the delay, this has taken a lot of reading and research.


QUOTE
instead by you listing those site, it come across that you only read from those that have the same view you have, that’s not getting the full picture, ergo my comment. …...  But more importantly there are some that hide and twist information to try and make their claims more viable, their slant so to speak. Do you know any that have done this? You would agree that it is a very dishonest practice, right?
End quote

Yes I have to agree that many sites do present very biased information, and,  if they do it purposely, it is a dishonest practice.  I have read many, very biased sites, in  in particular about Jehovah's Witnesses and the NWT that present very  unscholarly ideas about those topics. Bias does exist.

I am assuming that you are referring to the sites on the history and development of the trinity doctrine.  Are you suggesting that they are biased in presenting historical information?  I did not go to those sites because they gave a slant that I wanted to portray, or, because they had the same view as me.  I listed them because of the research into other authorities that that have done. They were not giving their opinions without stating why and providing relevant source material.  I did not go to those sites because of their general theological views.  I have very little interest in their religion or theological writings. It was their research on history that interested me.  If you think that they are putting  forward a twisted view, then, please, by all means examine what they have to say and refute their arguments with as many sources as they use.

You said “....Please really think on this, it’s only logical that IF these early church writers were apostate as you make out, then they certainly would have written about those who hold to your views, but there is nothing until Arianism comes along!....”

First of all JWs are not Arians  (c. 260 – c. 336 AD) as he had a different view to what he have.  Second, Arius was not the originator of what is now known as the Arianism.  He was just more vocal and out spoken on the topic.  He took up on the ideas of Paul Of Samosata, (c. 201 - c. 300 AD). The so called Arian idea in  the post Christian era actually had its roots even earlier.  They can be seen in the writings of people such  Tertullian (c.155 – c.240 AD) and Origen (c.185- c.232 AD).  The first century Christian Bible writers certainly did not teach a “trinity” like doctrine, so in that regard the Arian ideas and those of Tertullian and   Paul Of Samosata were based on what the first century Christians taught although their understandings were not in full agreement with the first century Bible writers.

Origen had confusing and contradictory writings about the nature and relationship of Jesus and God while Tertulian correctly said that Jesus was created.  Origen's writings can, and have been be used by both ideologies to support their views.  

You ask - “I guess when all else fails then just lump them all together as apostates…isn’t that what you now seek to establish?” -   Are you  suggesting that I have failed in my argument because I have played down the second, third and fourth century theological writers?  What I am trying to establish is that we should be looking only at the authority of the Bible and what that teaches and not what men have taught, especially after the warning was given that there would be a falling away (apostate teachings, heresies).  And yes even some teachings that we have had have changed, the reason is by drawing closer to the what the BIBLE has to say on a matter and by continually examining all relevant material.  if one looks at those teachings that have changed, in the light of the Bible texts that were used to explain them at the time the reasoning used were always Bible based.  We have always looked to the Bible to interpret itself.

Now about the apostasy that set in by the end of the first century.  You used Matt 16:18 as your source text to show that the you believe  - “that Jesus clearly says that His Church on earth will continue and will not cease at any time.” - Unfortunately you did not elaborate as to why you understand that to be the case, so I have made an assumption based on what I have read in various commentaries that I have.  It seems that  you have taken the view similar to people like  Dr. Gijs van den Brink  in his commentary on Matthew.  In verse 18, he sees the gates of hell as  - “... a figure of speech (synecdoche) for ‘the underworld’. Jesus prophesies that the powers of the underworld, which will attack His Church, will not succeed in destroying it.”

Your view seems to be that the true congregation of the Christ would always be, with no great apostasy.  To an extent there would always be some that would remain faithful to the truths taught by Jesus and the first century Bible writers.  Jesus, in his parable of the wheat and the weeds, shows that there would be some righteous ones remaining at the end times  (Matt. 13:24-29 ).  That parable shows that the apostasy would look like true Christianity and that they (true and false) would seem to be indistinguishable.  In Israel there was a poisonous weed known as the bearded darnel that, while it was growing, looked just like wheat. It was not until the harvest that the difference between the poisonous weeds could be distinguished from the wheat.

Your view does not take into count the warnings of the coming apostasy that I mentioned in the last reply as well as 2 Thes 2:3 “ let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away (word 646 apostasia) come first,” (KJV)   “...unless the rebellion comes first...” (ESV) “...because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first …” (NWT)

Some words in the Matt. 16:18 passage are rendered quite differently for example gates of hell (KJV), gates of hades (NIV), powers of hell (NLT), gates of sheol (OJB), gates of the grave (2013 NWT).  So straight away we can see that different translators have different views on this.  (the Greek word that the KJV renders as hell is “hades” which, to a Hebrew, simply meant the grave)

The “Peoples New Testament Notes”  says this  “From the gates of the city always marched forth its armies. The powers of hades are represented by its gates. Hades is not hell (Gehenna), but the unseen abode of the dead that holds the departed within its gates. Just after these words the Lord talks of his death, or entering hades . Six months later the Sanhedrin sent him to death for making the same confession Peter had just made. See Mt 26:64-67. They expected to demonstrate that the confession of his divinity which he had made was false by sending him to hades,  which they supposed would hold him and prevail against the confession of the ROCK. He was sent there from the cross, but the gates of hades did not prevail , for they could not hold him , and the living Savior, rising triumphant from the tomb, was the unanswerable argument that his own and Peter’s confession was a rock that could never be moved. His resurrection demonstrated that he is the Rock. Hades did not prevail . “  (bold  and underline mine, ( ) and all capitals original)

John A. Broadus suggests two possibilities as to what this may mean “...‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it’ ….   denotes the invisible world, the abode of the departed.....  passage then seems to mean either, my church shall not be swallowed up in the gates of Hades (or possibly shall not be overcome by its power), shall not cease to exist — there shall always be Christians in the world; or, my people shall rise again. The former is much the more probable meaning, because it follows the general Hebrew usage. Then the question will turn simply on the word church..., whether it means an outward organization of professed Christians (or the aggregate of many such organizations), or means an ideal assembly of all true Christians.”  (Bold mine,  ( ) original)

When we consider the Hebrew usage of the term “gates of the grave” (sheol) we see that they understood it to mean death  (Job 17:16; Isa. 38:10 )  Jesus was using language that the Jews understood.  In Matthew 16:18 we see here that Jesus first announces that he will build a congregation and that even death will not hold its members captive after their faithful course on earth.

So yes, in a certain way the congregation of Jesus will survive, but we MUST consider ALL that is written and not ignore texts just because they seem to not fit into a preconceived idea.  The facts are, that there was a great falling away and that there would be a long period of time when true Christianity could not be discerned from the apostate teachings. The difference would be made clear at the time of the “harvest” - the conclusion of the system of things.  Jesus explains the meaning of the wheat and the weeds in  Matthew 13:36-43 -

“36 Then after dismissing the crowds he went into the house. And his disciples came to him and said: “Explain to us the illustration of the weeds in the field.” 37 In response he said: “The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, 39 and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let him that has ears listen.”  (NWT)


In your argument against apostasy  (or heresy) of the teachings the first century Bible writers you suggest that the second century theologians spoke out against heresies.  Yes you are correct. The sort of things that they spoke out against were such teachings as a disbelief in the virgin birth, the death or resurrection of Jesus, the idea of  Sabellian (or modalism), the claim that Christians were atheists or Gnostics, preaching against marriage and abstinence form some foods.  That did not stop these writers from introducing some of their own ideas or ideas that they had learnt from the philosophical Greek schools that some of them had belonged to.  Some of those things were mentuioned by Paul in his first letter to Timothy    chapter 4 verses 1-10

You point to one of the letters that are attributed to Ignatious where you say that he tells us the holy spirit spoke, and use this as a proof ot personality.  All together there are 15 such letters but most authorities will tell us that only seven, in their opinion, are authentic letters penned by him.  And then there are others such as John Calvin and  Philip Schaff,  who will tell us that all of his letters are forgeries and that none were actually penned by him.

But lets say for arguments sake that the 7 letters considered to be authentic were penned by him.  There are three recension (versions) of those letters.  First we have a long version which was originally accepted by the Catholic Church.  In 1646 a short version of his letters were discovered, and then in  1845  Syriac version which was even shorter than the 1646 version was unearthed. The Syraic version has generally been seen to have only been an abridged copy of Ignatius letters.

It is the short recension  that is generally accepted by both Catholic and Protestant scholars as authentic. The official Catholic web site http://www.newadvent.org  gives only the short version of Ignatius, but many Catholic apologists will refer to the long version.

The online Catholic Encyclopaedia admits that there is such a controversy, but the Catholics originally officially recognise the letters as the basses for much of their procedures.

“At intervals during the last several centuries a warm controversy has been carried on by patrologists concerning the authenticity of the Ignatian letters. Each particular recension has had its apologists and its opponents. Each has been favored to the exclusion of all the others, and all, in turn, have been collectively rejected, especially by the coreligionists of Calvin. The reformer himself, in language as violent as it is uncritical (Institutes, 1-3), repudiates in globo the letters which so completely discredit his own peculiar views on ecclesiastical government.”  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07644a.htm  

Both the long and the short recessions can be found at https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3836  with the short version on top of the long.

There are several quotes that one can find where Ignatius refers to the holy spirit in trintatrtian words.  These can be found in Ignatius to the Trallians Chapter VI, Ignatius to the Philadelphians Chapter IV, & V.  all from the long recession that is generally seen to be spurious.

So we have a quote from a document that is rejected completely by a few Christian scholars, and we have two versions that are argued over with one general being accepted.   Not a very good reason to put confidence in what is said.  The words you quoted can not be found in the short recession, so I will reject them as being of any value to this discussion.

Even modern Catholic writers acknowledge difficulties if what the “church fathers” had to say about the holy spirit.  This next quote appears to be from the NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPAEDIA as put on line by http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3407711248/trinity-holy.html

“The apologists spoke too haltingly of the Spirit; with a measure of anticipation , one might say too impersonally. The emerging-thought figure as employed by them to explain at once the unity and otherness of Father and Son was little more than suggestive . The device, in fact, closed only partially with the problem of otherness”  (Bold and underline mine)

Now we all know that the Catholic church is very much in the mind set of the tree persons of the trinity. Notice please what is reported in “A Catholic Dictionary by by W.E. Addis and T. Arnold”

Quote
2 The Spirit of God—On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power particularity in the heart of man.... the authority of the Spirit is identified with that of God Himself.
End Quote

Here the writer is telling us that in both the OT and the NT the spirit is identified with God himself as his divine energy and power.

Now to be fair here, I will present the rest of that paragraph as it shows that, despite that admission, the writer still believes that the holy spirit is a person based on the same line of thought that you have shown.

Quote

The Spirit rests on Christ and is a power within Him distinct from Himself (matt 3:10, 12:28: Luc. 4:1-14; John 1:32) having first caused his miraculous conception (Luc. i. &c) The Spirit is imparted to Christ disciples, the citizens of the Messianic Kingdom, and is their guide. (1 Pet. 1:12; Acts 2:4 seq., 15:58; cf 5:2)  This divine Spirit is clearly distinguished from the Spirit or conscience of man (Rom. 8:16), and the authority of the Spirit is identified with that of God Himself. (Matt.12:31; Acts 5:3, 9: 1 Cor. 3:16 but cf. Exod. 16:8; 1 Thess. 4:8.) But is a personal existence clearly attributed to the Spirit? No Doubt, all through the N.T. his action is clearly attributed as personal.  He speaks (Marc. 13:11; Acts 9:29)  bears witness (Rom. 8. 16; 1 John. 5. 6), searches (1 Cor. 2: 10), decides (Acts 15: 28), helps and intercedes (Rom. 8 26:), apportions the gifts of grace (1 Cor. 12:. 11). Most of these places furnish no cogent proof of personality . The spirit of God and Christ (Gal 4:6) may be said to do what He operates through man; and again, we must not forget that in the N.T. personifies mere attributes such as love (1 Cor. 13:4), and sin (Rom. 7:11), nay, even abstract and lifeless things such as the law (Rom. 3:19), the water and the blood (1 John 5:8) However, if we look well to the last passage quoted from St Paul (1 Cor. 12:11), we find that the spirit is distinguished from the gifts of the Spirit, and that the personal action is predicted of Him.  “All these things are and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to each separately, as He [the Spirit] wills”

End Quote

That quote can be accessed at https://books.google.com.au/books?id=B6slCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT1667&lpg=PT1667&dq=%22On+the+whole,+the+New+Testament,+like+the+Old,+speaks+of+the+spirit+as+a+divine+energy+or+power%22&source=bl&ots=MRf7saKqPE&sig=wmtYWp_vuzgZeew5VsI0OUB0nc0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CC4Q6AEwBGoVChMIw-uE5syHyAIVg6eUCh19UQWW#v=onepage&q=%22On%20the%20whole%2C%20the%20New%20Testament%2C%20like%20the%20Old%2C%20speaks%20of%20the%20spirit%20as%20a%20divine%20energy%20or%20power%22&f=false


Despite what the Bible says about the word spirit, but, because it has some personification references, it is deemed to be a person.  The writer points to the fact that “....we must not forget that in the N.T. personifies mere attributes such as love... sin …. even abstract and lifeless things such as the law... the water and the blood...”


The quotes that you gave suggest that holy spirit speaks.  I have ruled out the one from Ignatius but what about the one from  Clement to the Corinthians.  In this passage Clement is echoing  or paraphrasing the words of actual inspired Bible writers.  And seeing that Clement is reiterating what the Bible writers had written, he is not saying that that the holy spirit actually spoke, but, that the words he was referring to had been inspired of God (2 Tim. 3:16).  When we look at the Greek text just before your quote from Clement that is exactly what we find.  It reads....

(NOTE:  A very literal direct English meaning is given in Capitals followed by Strongs word number. Words in bold is where your quote starts )

"Ταπεινοφρονήσωμεν (HUMILITY 5012) οὖν (THERFORE 3767), ἀδελφοί (BROTHERS 80), ἀποθέμενοι (PUT-OFF 659) πᾶσαν (EVERY 3956) ἀλαζονείαν (OSTENTATION 212) καὶ  (AND 2352) τῦφος (5187 BEING- CONCETETD) καί  (and 2352) ἀφροσύνην (FOOLISHNESS 877)  καὶ (AND 2352) ὀργάς (ANGER 3709), καὶ (AND 2352) ποιήσωμεν (WE-SHALL-BE-MAKING 4160) τὸ γεγραμμένον ( IT-IS-WRITTEN 1125), λέγει (IS-SAYING 3004) γὰρ (FOR 1063) τὸ (THE 3588) πνεῦμα (SPIRIT) τὸ (THE 3588) ἅγιον·(HOLY) Μὴ (NOT 3361)  καυχάσθω (BOAST 2744) ὁ (THE 3588) σοφὸς (WISE 4680)... "

I will contend that what Clement is saying, is that the inspired Bible writers had already written on this subject in the past.

While some actual Bible texts say that the spirit speaks, the question is, how did the spirit actually speak?  Other texts show that this was actually done through humans, or, angels.

Matthew 10:19,20  “However, when they hand you over, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak, for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour; 20 for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you,”;

Acts 4:24,25 “24 On hearing this, they raised their voices with one accord to God and said: “Sovereign Lord, you are the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them, 25 and who said through holy spirit by the mouth of our forefather David, your servant: ‘Why did nations become agitated and peoples meditate on empty things?”;  

Acts 28:25 “So because they disagreed with one another, they began to leave, and Paul made this one comment: The holy spirit aptly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your forefathers...”;   

Hebrews 2:2 ”For if the word spoken through angels proved to be sure, and every transgression and disobedient act received a punishment in harmony with justice.”

That all makes perfect sense when we realise that the holy spirit belongs to God, it is something that he uses. To use terminology that we seem to understand today, the use of the holy spirit in “speaking” to the Bible writers in such instances, is like the action of radio waves transmitting messages from one person to another far away.

Referring again to the New Catholic Encyclopaedia in regard to the holy spirit and personality and what the apostolic fathers though we find this

QUOTE

In the Christian Era has its roots in the Old Testament, although among the Hebrews the Spirit (ruah, breath, wind) was regarded more as a manifestation of the divine presence and activity than as a divine person. The operations of the Spirit (1 Cor ch. 14) were not uncommon in the apostolic Church, but these provide no clear evidence of the recognition of the personal distinction of the Holy Spirit or of the tribute of a special devotion. By the mid-fourth century Catholic doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit was explained fully and clearly, but for long this resulted in no widespread popular devotion. Among the elite, however, devotion to the Holy Spirit, especially as Sanctifier, existed from early times. ..

End Quote   (The web site does not let me see the rest of the article.  It seems I have to be in the US to access it)  http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3407705352/holy-spirit-devotion.html

You seem to have had an issue with the translation I gave of Jsutin Martyr, in particular my use of the verb “to-be”.  I did say that what I presented was a “very literally “  translation.

Yes I do strongly suggest that translators of the Greek “church fathers” let theological bias influence the way they translated.  That is shown in the quote from Justin that I presented. N regard to the Greek word


You asked QUOTE
“…..which one of the following is correct?
“the first-begotten Word of God, is in existence a god”

Or

“the first-begotten Word of God, is in existence God”
(which means the same as “the first-begotten Word of God, is even God”)End Quote

According to the Grammar of what Justin wrote, the first one you mention is what what Justin was saying. “is in existence a god”  or “is to be a god”

There are two reasons I discern from what you have said as to why you will not accept the “a god” rendering.  One is that you think that by saying “a god” that is teaching polytheism, and to you that is wrong.  I am going to assume that you have limited the definition of  polytheism to the worship of more that one god.  However, polytheism also means a belief in more that one god.  The Bible speaks quite openly about the existence of many gods 1 Corinthians 8:5 tells us that “there are many gods”.  BUT, there is only one ALMIGHTY God, and it is only that one that humans are to worship.

Also you missed the point on the predicate nominative noun that I mentioned.  In reference to me you said “... errors surrounding what you see as anarthrous predicate nominate nouns...”   No I did not make an error.  Please read what I said.  You missed out on a very important point. I said that theos in that sentence  “.... is a singular  anarthrous predicate nominate noun that is followed by a verb...”.  The followed by a verb is the important part of the definition.  Please notice the gramma when I translate the Greek into English.  The word theos comes before the verb uparcei.  Again,  very literal rendering of this using the Greek grammar of the text says  “THE LOGOS AND FIRST-BEGOTTEN OF THE GOD AND GOD TO-BE”   The  Greek word for GOD is there twice.  The first one is “THEON”.  This discution is about the second one “THEOS”.    The verb comes after  the noun “THEOS” (god).   In English we put the verb first. 

Now the reason why I have used the verb “to-be” here is because Thayer's Greek Lexicon gives this detail of the verb uparcei, that when “ to be,  with a predicate nominative”.    When uparcei is with a predicate  nominate, then uparcei is translated as “to be”. .  That is what we have in the Greek text here, a predicate nominative (theos) preceding the verb  uparcei .  I would have hoped that you would have realised that the verb “to-be” can take several forms. My mistake for not making that clear.

Justin was saying that the only-begotten one OF (belonging to ) God was “to be”, or, “to exist” as “a god”.  That is, having the same qualities (“theos” being a predicate) or nature as God, but not THE God.   By nature I mean that of a spirit  (John 4:24) in the same as we we share the same nature as humans.  

The word “man” is a noun. It can be used to modify another noun and describe a character or nature of another noun.

“John is a man.”  Here the word "man" has modified John to tell us what his nature is.  There are many individuals that have the nature of “man”, John is just one of them.  In the quote in question the only-begotton of God has the same nature as God, but is not God.  A theological bias toward the trinity is behind the translation of Justin's words to say “even God”

We also have to take into account what the word theos actually means.  It means “a might one” or “a strong one”.  There are many strong or might ones mentioned in the Bible but there is Only One Almighty,  might one.   In Hebrew we have the word “Shadday” (7706) for almighty  and “pantokrator” (3841) in the Greek.  Both the Hebrew and the Greek words only ever applied to the Father and God of Jesus.

The rendering “even God” paints the picture that the only-begotten IS GOD, and that is grammatically an incorrect translation of what Justin wrote.  The correct rendering is to say “a god” because that is what is grammatically correct.  

Why is “a god” grammatically correct?  Because of what I have just mentioned. Here, now, is some more details on the word theos being an “anarthrous predicate nominate noun”.  This kind of construction is NOT telling us anything about “identity” but a quality.  Philip Harner notes that  “anarthrous predicate nominate nouns preceding the verb may function primarily to express the nature or character of the subject , and this qualitative significance may be more important than the question of whether the predicate noun itself should be regarded as definite or indefinite”    http://digilander.libero.it/domingo7/H1.jpg

In the “Hand Book To The Grammar Of The New Testament” by Samuel Green on page 193 par 206 we read

“Hence arises the general rule, that in the simple sentence the Subject takes the article, the Predicate omits it. The subject is definitely before the mind, the predicate generally denotes the class to which the subject is referred , or from which it is excluded, but the notion of the class is itself indeterminate.”  In the quote from Justin, that is what the word “theos” is doing, denoting “the class to which the subject is referred” and, that is “a god” or “a mighty one”

As you can see we are miles apart on the use of the "church fathers". The whole point of my exercise into this subject is to show that the so called “church fathers” are not to be used to try to teach what he Bible is actually saying, either because their writings can not be trusted or because of theological bias in translating them.  It is true that even with Bibles translated into English there is theological bias. Some have far more theological bias in key texts than others do therefore there is a need to compare and carefully examine key texts. Our common ground is the Bible, so lets just stay with that.

If you really want to establish your understandings about the holy spirit, then the only authority we should be looking at is the Bible.

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Brenton Hepburn

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I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .

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I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

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I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

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