Manifestations of God (Baha'i) - 05/15/2005

In your essay on Baha'i beliefs you state that Jesus Christ was not a manifestation of God. Yet John states that he was:

See 1 John 3: 5: And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

In your discussion of different translations of the new Testament you seem to imply that it is incorrect that "and" be used to separate the words "God" and "Jesus Christ". However, in the Complete Word Study New Testament, which shows the Greek above the KJV, the word "and" is clearly shown in 2 Peter as a Greek word included in the text in that way, and in several places.

There are several places where Jesus discusses His relationship with the Father in which a clear difference is indicated.

John 14:28: "I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."

John 15:1: " I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman"

This clearly indicates a difference in station between Jesus and God.

Also: as to the question of to whom we are to petition - Jesus states: john 15:16: whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.


Hi Candace.  When we reject the term "manifestation" with regards to Jesus, it is to counter a heresy known as modalism, that says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not only the same God, but the same Person, who manifests at different times through Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  While the biblical truth is that these three are one God, it is also biblically true that they are three distinct persons.  In other words, Jesus is not the Father, the Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not Jesus, but they are all three persons in one God.  This is the doctrine of the Trinity.  In 1 John 3:5, the operative Greek word here is phaneroo, which means to make visible, manifest, or known.  The KJV is alone in translating this as "manifested".  The NIV, NASB, and every other major translation uses "appeared" or "revealed", which are more sound ways of translating this verse.


As far as using "and" to separate God and Jesus Christ in 2 Peter 1:1, I don't remember arguing that.  I did argue that the KJV translation was poor by translating this "...righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."  The NIV and NASB have a better translation of the text (shared by every other major translation): "...righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ."  The KJV translators put the possessive pronoun in the wrong place, and renders an unintended division between God and Jesus Christ.  The possessive pronoun goes to modify the entire title (God and Savior), not simply part of it.


You list some verses that show distinctions between the Father and the Son.  That's good, because that gets us away from the modalism heresy of "manifestations".  The Father and the Son have different roles.  For instance, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus (the Son) was the creator of all things.  When the Son took on flesh (here, you could accurately say he became "manifest" or "visible" in the flesh), He willingly submitted Himself to the pains and limitations of the flesh, oncly occassionally exercising His fully divine attributes.  Since the Father had not been submitted to these limitations, it was accurate for Him to refer to the Father as greater.  However, when Jesus returned to Heaven, His previous glory was restored, and He was again fully co-equal with the Father.  I will soon be posting an article on the Trinity that outlines this. 


You mentioned John 15:16 as proof that we should pray to the Father in the name of the Son.  Actually, both are acceptable Persons to whom we may direct our prayer.  John 14:13-14 says:

  • "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (NIV - emphasis added)
  • "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."  (NASB - emphasis added)

The KJV in verse 14 shows its occasional inadequacy.  The KJV was translated from the Textus Receptus (TR), which was compiled from a handful of manuscripts, the bulk of which didn't date back much further than the 8th century.  That was not the fault of the KJV translators -- they worked with what they had available.  However, since the publication of the various editions of the TR and the KJV, a plethora of older manuscripts have been discovered.  These older manuscripts have something in this verse that the TR didn'tμε (me).  This word means in English the way it looks in Greek.  Therefore, the NIV, NASB, and every other major translation rightly translate this verse to include "...ask me..."  Therefore, it is apparent that it is appropriate to address either the Father or Son in our prayers, and do so in the name of the Son.


If you'd like, we can let you know when the article on the Trinity is posted.  I think you'll find it explains the relationship between Father and Son clearly. 


In Christ,


Ben Rast
Contender Ministries