Scripture is Final Authority
One of the positions held by some in the Messianic community has its counterpart in some traditional Christian circles; that Yahshua is not Elohim. The only valid discussion of this topic is that Scripture must be the final authority in all matters.
It is good when we can agree with the fact that Scripture is the final authority. Of course the catholic faith believes the pontiff; the Catholic Church has the authority to change the Scripture. But to those who say the Scripture is the final authority in all matters, let us take the thought a little deeper. The question is; do each of us believe that, contextually throughout, it is the unchanging final authority. The problem I see that we as men have is this; we see portions of text and we can’t see how it all fits so we determine there was a change, or in some people’s minds, a contradiction. My basis for exegesis rejects both those thoughts. I believe it is the fault of our human understanding that gets in the way. This is my preface to the discussion.
The Fault is With Us
Hebrews 8 is very telling in this argument. The discussion in the Book of Hebrews has to do with the understanding of men, apart from the Scripture mixed with faith, that the Spirit might reveal Truth. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to Hebrews that profess faith in Yahshua as Messiah but were still stuck on the Aaronic/Levitical priesthood as the object of their faith. They, in their human reasoning, were not looking past the priesthood given at Sinai as a picture of the reality and seeing the Messiah in it. I believe the eternal Priesthood of Messiah Yahshua has always been the authority but men took authority for themselves. The Levitical/Aaronic priesthood was to offer sacrifices and serve in the tabernacle and so by doing those things according to the pattern they would be teaching Torah that would lead the people, and themselves, to Messiah. Faith in Messiah was available then as it is now.
So how does Hebrews 8 speak to this issue? In this; the writer, in contrasting the priesthood of Levi and Aaron with the Priesthood of Messiah says in Verse 8, “Because finding fault with them…” There was a fault at issue here, but not what is commonly taught – a fault with the Torah. Torah is perfect, holy, good, and just. Scripture tells us that and I’m sure, based on our agreement that Scripture is the final authority that we agree on that point. The fault at issue in Hebrews 8 is the priesthood of men and the people’s devotion to that priesthood as opposed to seeing and devoting one’s self to the Great High Priest of Messiah and becoming priests to HIM.
The problem always has been us! That’s why Yahshua is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world – provision made for the lawlessness of men to be reconciled to the Holy Elohim. The fault was with “them.” The fault is with us! The fault was not “it.” HE – Torah is the light that shone to expose the fault in “them.” Thy Word is a light. John 3 says that the light exposes the darkness. And we know from John that HE is that light. So the light is good – the Word, specifically the Torah – The Living Torah. The fault is with frail and lawless humanity who believes that he knows better that Torah. The Torah is the Law and it exposes the lawless. Those who, by grace through faith, become born again are re-born to no longer be lawless or in opposition to Torah – becoming bondservants to righteousness – the Torah.
Who Is Yahshua to You?
Having prefaced what I believe is contextually the basis for our discussion it important to ask yourself these questions: Who is Yahshua to you? If HE is not part of the Elohim, equally Elohim with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, then who is HE? The writer of Hebrews puts forth the case that HE is greater than the priesthood of man and that HE is greater than the angels. Other than angels (both fallen and those still in the service of Yahweh) and men, the only other entity is Elohim. What other category would Messiah fall into, if not men, angels or Elohim? The Scripture rules out men and angels so what’s left?
I’m making an effort to not write a book here – to make this really long, but a look at Hebrews is important. Chapter One says that HE, Messiah, has been appointed heir of all things. HE is the Son of Yahweh, and being the only begotten Son HE has the attributes of Yahweh. Yahweh is Elohim, therefore HIS Son, having the attributes of HIS Father, is equally Elohim, being heir of ALL things. HE “by inheritance” obtained a more excellent name than they (angels). Verse Five tells us that HE was begotten by the Father. Verse Six commands the “angels of Yahweh to worship HIM (the Son). Since worship is only to be given to Elohim – Yahweh, then Yahshua must be the fullness of Elohim. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in HIM dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in HIM, who is the head of all principality and power.” The “Godhead” is speaking of the “divinity” and the Hebraic counterpart can only be Elohim – Yahweh. And since this says “In HIM,” and we know that it is talking about Yeshua, contextually from Colossians 2:8, then the fullness of the Elohim dwells in HIM bodily, and HE, Yeshua – Elohim is the head of ALL principality and power. That would have to make HIM Elohim, and as the writer of Hebrews says, HE is not an angel nor just a man made perfect. HE, Yahshua – Elohim is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World. HE is not a created being like angels or men. When speaking of Elohim it seems we speak in circles. And in fact we do. Because the Father is Elohim along with the Son and the Holy Spirit, then when we use the Name Yahweh, and Yahshua, and Messiah and Ruach (Set Apart Spirit) in connection with Elohim and that Adonai our Elohim is One, it can make a man’s head spin. That’s because the comprehension of this ONE being present in the three different expressions of Who HE is- is more than our human minds can fathom. It is enough to know that in HIM dwells the fullness of Elohim.
Hebrews 1:8 says “But to the Son HE says, “Your throne O Elohim, is forever and ever.” And in Verse 10, “You, Master (Father still speaking to Son), in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of YOUR hands. They will perish, but YOU remain; and they will grow old like a garment; like a cloak YOU will fold them up, and they will be changed, But YOU are the same, and YOUR years will not fail.”
The language is clear, to me, that Yahshua, being the Son of Elohim is Elohim- The True Living Elohim. The human mind in and of itself cannot understand the Elohim ( Godhead.) So we try to couch HIM in terms that we can understand and it never works. It is like trying to cram a 100 pounds of sand in a 5 pound sack. It won’t fit. This, I admit, is an imperfect illustration. But consider the Scripture that speaks of trying to put new wine into an old wineskin or sewing a new piece on an old piece of fabric – it’s the same thing. You see my human mind cannot understand the Elohim. But the understanding of HIM that we need is through Yahshua who is the pattern. But beyond the pattern HE is the reality. This is contextually, I believe, what Scripture says.
Man’s Faulty Understanding Versus the Truth Written and Revealed by The Holy Spirit
In a recent discussion the beliefs on this subject by two “scholars” were used as evidence that Yahshua is not Elohim. According to William Barclay, (a man I don’t know and don’t know for sure what he believes) “When the world began, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God. The Word was there in the beginning with God. It (HE) was through the agency of the Word that everything else came into being. Without the Word not one single thing came into being.” I part company with calling the Word “it.” But the rest of it speaks a powerful Truth that supports the position that I believe is Scripturally accurate. The Word is Yahshua, the Voice of Yahweh, who is Yahweh, who Created everything that has been created and HE is greater than all of creation, being the Creator. Since all is framed on the Word – the Voice of Yahweh, then it is sustained by the same Word – unchanging and reliable from before the foundation of the world – HIS character and nature. Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which Yahshua Messiah.” The lack of a definite article, posited by proclaimed Greek scholars William Barclay and James Moffat, makes the Greek word “theos” of the third phrase of the passage in John 1 to be an adjective. I can’t agree with their conclusion based on the context of Scripture. Regardless of what man says Yahweh says HE is Elohim. I take HIS Word above the word of men. The whole of Scripture says HE is Elohim. The absence of a “definite article” in a couple of sentences in Scripture cannot abrogate the context of Scripture.
When Messiah walked with the two disciples on the Emmaus Road HE declared who HE was to them by Torah and the Prophetic writings.
Let’s examine Isaiah 8:6-7, a prophecy concerning Messiah.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon HIS shoulder. And HIS name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of HIS government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over HIS kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh will perform this.” Isaiah under inspiration of the Holy Spirit said these things.
Peter, in 1st Peter 1:11 says that the prophets (Isaiah included) had the Spirit of Messiah in them. Isaiah having Messiah in HIM – being born again, as Paul said, “Messiah in us, the hope of glory,” speaks of Messiah’s first coming and saying that HE is Mighty God. Messiah didn’t refute HIS divinity and so then how can man? Remember the fault is with us who look for a loophole. And when we divorce the continuity of Scripture, the eternal nature of the unchanging Word and make it subject to our flawed, faulty human understanding, and take portions out of that context we find ourselves not understanding. It is the flesh versus the Spirit battle that is waging continually. The Spirit gives understanding where the flesh in its arrogance opposes the Spirit who wants to write Torah on our hearts, put it in our minds and cause us to walk in HIS commandments. Romans 8, once again is applicable. The flesh CANNOT be subject to Torah. Torah is not of the flesh, and is not abrogated. It is the nature of Elohim and therefore the nature of those who are born again of the Spirit. Born again ones now have a choice that they didn’t have in the pre-born again state; the ability to submit to Torah in the Spirit. The Spirit, like Yahshua, is equally Elohim.