Friday, April 25, 2014

Commentary On the Gospel of John According to the Aramaic Peshitta: Chapter 10

"Truly, truly, I say to you: that he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold of the flock, but climbs up by another place, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the gate is the Shepherd of the flock. And to this man to gatekeeper opens the gate and the flock hears his voice, and his sheep he calls by their names and he leads them out. And when he leads his flock out, he goes before it and his sheep go after him because they know his voice. After a stranger, however, the flock does not go, rather it flees from him because it does not know the voice of the stranger." Yeshua told them this parable, but they did not comprehend what he spoke with them. Yeshua now said to them again, "Truly, truly I say to you: that I am the Gate of the flock and all those who have come are thieves and robbers if the flock have not heard them. I am the Gate, and by me if a man should enter he will live, and will enter and go out, and he will find pasture. A thief does not come but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and they may have something which is abundant. I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his flock, but a hireling who is not the shepherd, nor are the sheep his, when he sees a wolf coming, leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf comes [and] plunders and scatters the flock. Now, the hireling flees because he is hired, and he does not care about the flock.  I am the Good Shepherd and I know those who are mine, and I am known by those who are mine. Just as my Father knows me, and I know my Father. And I lay my life down for the sake of the flock. And I also have other sheep, those who were not from this sheepfold, and also them it is necessary for me to bring them, and they will hear my voice, and all the flocks will become one and [there will be] one Shepherd." - John 10:1-16

This apparently takes place right after the end of chapter 9. Jesus is contrasting himself with the Pharisees in the previous chapter. He is the Good Shepherd (calling for mind Psalm 23, which identifies Yahweh as the Shepherd) and the Gate. These dual roles are indispensable to each other, as the Shepherd leads the sheep into the Gate, while the Gate keeps the sheep safe from predators and also keeps them from going astray. Before Jesus, there were many who claimed to be the Messiah but all of these were false, thieves and robbers. Simon of Peraea and Athronges were men who claimed to be the long-awaited King of Israel before Jesus of Nazareth. These false Messiahs came to take advantage of the people, while Jesus came to give them eternal life and many other blessings. Another point Jesus is making here is that He is the only way to God, and that you are doing evil if you try to find salvation in any other but Him.

The hirelings are most likely the Pharisees and religious leaders of the people. Unlike Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they do not care about the sheep and are unwilling to lay their lives down for them. The Good Shepherd proves His love for His sheep by His willingness to lay down His life for them.

The other sheep who will join the fold are the Gentiles who heard and responded to the Gospel in faith. Jesus is telling the Jews that soon the Gentiles will join the flock and there will no longer be division from them while they are under the one Shepherd and God: Jesus Christ. Zechariah 14:9 (RBE) says, "So will Yahweh become king over all the earth,--In that day, there shall be one Yahweh, and his Name, be one."

"Because of this my Father loves me: that I lay down my life that to again I might take it up. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down by my own will. For I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to again take it up, for this commandment I have received from my Father."- John 10:17-18

This is another prophecy of the Messiah's death and resurrection. Jesus's life was not forcefully taken from Him, He gave His life for us out of his own free will because of His love for us. He also tells us that not only will He die by His own will, He will also rise from death because of His own free will. He has authority to come back from the dead, given to Him by His heavenly Father. This is more evidence of Christ's deity and the Oneness of God, as the Father (Galatians 1:1) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11) are stated to have risen Christ also. If these three are not the same Person, who really rose Jesus from the grave? Trinitarians will most likely come back with the principal of perichoresis, which is the idea that each Person of the Trinity must cooperate with one another in their activities. This theory was only made in order to further distinguish Trinitarianism from tritheism (another attempt being that the three "Persons" are in one "essence"). To me, this seems to be more of a stretch than the Scripture allows us to make. The principal of Occam's Razor will go well here: the simplest explanation is the best, and the simplest explanation is that these are merely multiple manifestations of one divine Person.

And division occurred again among the Yehudeans because of these words. And many of them were saying that, "He has a devil and is insane. Why do you listen to him?" But others were saying, "These words are not of a possessed one. Why? Is a devil able to open the eyes of the blind?"- John 10:19-21

Another one of several divisions occurring among the people while trying to decide whether or not He is the Messiah He claims to be. Jesus was frequently accused of being in league with the devil or being possessed by a demonic spirit throughout His ministry (this is especially seen in the Synoptic Gospels, like in Mark 3:20-30). Jesus's wonderful deeds, graceful words, and miracles were clearly not the works of the devil. The devil would not to destroy his own work to break down God's people. On the contrary, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8) and to free those oppressed by him (Acts 10:38).

And the Feast of Dedication occurred in Urishlim, and it was winter. And Yeshua was walking in the temple, in the porch of Shleemon, and the Yehudeans surrounded him and said to him, "How long will you hold our souls? If you are the Messiah, tell us openly!"- John 10:22-24

The Feast of Dedication is what we know as Hanukkah, which is the eight-day celebration of a miracle which is believed to have occurred during the Maccabean revolt in which a candle was lighted with only a one-day supply of oil after the defeat of Antiochus IV and it lasted for eight days. The phrase "How long will you hold our souls" is a literal translation, and Paul Younan states that it means "How long will you keep us waiting?"

Yeshua answered and said to them, "I have told you and you do not believe, and the works that I do in the name of my Father, they testify concerning me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep, just as I have told you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they come after me, and I give to them life that is eternal, and they will not perish ever. And no man will snatch them from my hands. For my Father, who gave [them] to me is greater than all, and no man is able to snatch them from the hands of my Father."- John 10:25-29

The Scriptures testify of the fact that the Messiah would come and perform miracles like those of Jesus (Isaiah 35). These skeptics were called by the voice of God's Son but were not part of the chosen few. Due to their hardened and unbelieving hearts, they were unable to receive the truth that Jesus of Nazareth is truly the Messiah.

This teaching on the sheep is not Calvanism. Jesus knows who those are that will accept and reject His Message, but that does not mean that they are "predestined" to accept or reject the Gospel. God has foreknowledge of their response to the Gospel, but this does not mean that each individual is unable to choose to accept or reject the Word of God.

No one can force the sheep out of the hands of the Father (or Christ), but this does not mean that they cannot choose to forsake the truth. The Apostles frequently admonition the believers to continue in the faith (Colossians 1:23) and speak of people walk away from it (II Peter 2:20-22). The devil or man cannot force you to leave God's care, but you can wonder off and God will draw you back to Him if you will heed His voice. We are safe within God's hands if we will submit to His leadership and stay submitted to Him.

Jesus is also claiming divinity here by saying that He can give the sheep eternal life and also claiming equality in power to His Father by stating that He and the Father are able to protect the sheep in the same way. This is one of the more subtle divinity claims of Christ, at least in my opinion. At first sight it might not look like Jesus is claiming to be God until you read the next few verses.

"I and my Father are one." And again the Yehudeans took up rocks to stone him, and Yeshua said to them, "Many pleasing works I have shown you from the presence of my Father. For which work of them do you stone me?" The Yehudeans said to him, "It is not because of the pleasing works [that] we do stone you, rather because you do blaspheme, and [that] while you are a son of man, you make yourself God."- John 10:30-33

Here the Messiah is continuing to claim of divinity. If Jesus were not claiming to be God in the flesh, the Judeans would not have accused Him of blasphemy. The Father and Son are not merely in perfect harmony, but are the same divine being.

Yeshua said to them, "Is it not written in your law that, 'I have told you that you [are] gods'? If he called those [people] gods because the Miltha of God was with them, and scripture is not able to be broken, to him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world you say that, 'You blaspheme!' concerning that I had told you that  I [am] the Son of God? Unless I do the works of my Father, do not believe me. However, if I do [them], even if you do not believe me, you believe the works that you may know and believe that my Father [is] in me, and I [am] in my Father." And they were seeking again to seize him but he escaped from their hands.- John 10:34-39

Notice that Jesus does not deny that He is claiming deity, but instead continues to support His claim and defend himself by quoting Psalms 82:6. Psalms 82:6 is not saying that human beings are literally gods, but is speaking about divinely appointed judges who are abusing their power and acting corruptly. The Hebrew word elohim is not merely used of God or idols, but also judges, rulers, and angels.

Jason Dulle makes and interesting observation that Jesus seems to be mocking the unbelievers' assertions by using this verse, which calls even mere men gods because they're in a position of authority. The Jewish people all agreed the Messiah to be in a position of authority above all magistrates and judges, so Jesus's point here is, "Why does my humanity stop me from being God?" Jesus's later statement that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him is further proof of His deity.

Jesus is not necessarily using His miracles as proof of His divinity, but proof that He is who He claims to be. Would God choose to use a blasphemer to cast out demons and heal the sick or raise the dead? The obvious answer is no. If Jesus were a blasphemer and a fraud, then God would not be doing these things. If Jesus is not blaspheming when He claims to be God, then He must be God, and therefore must be the Messiah.

And he went to the crossing of the Yordanan, to the place where Yukhanan had previously been when he was baptizing, and he remained there. And many men came to him and were saying that, "Yukhanan did not even one miracle, but everything that Yukhanan said concerning this man is true." And many believed in him.- John 10:40-42

When things got heated among the people, Jesus frequently when to spend time away from the city. John's witness to Christ was clearly very important, as the people viewed him as a true prophet sent from God. The Jewish people who came to faith in Christ here because of John's testimony also saw Jesus's superiority to John in that John the Baptist did not work any known miracles, but Jesus had done many.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Commentary On the Gospel of John According to the Aramaic Peshitta: Chapter 9

And when he crossed over, he saw a man [who was] blind since his mother's womb. And his disciples asked him and said, "Our Master, who sinned: this [man] or his parents, that blind he should be born?" Yeshua said to them, "He did not sin, nor his parents, but that might be seen in him the work of God."- John 9:1-3

"Crossed over" is abar (rb9). The word "Hebrew" comes from this word, which is referring to the people of Israel "crossing over" the Jordan River. In some cases sickness is the result of sin, but not in every case. Sometimes bad things just happen so that God can fix them and reveal His glory and love to humanity. We should always use our infirmities and trials to bring glory to God.

"For me it is necessary to do the works of Him who sent me while it is daytime. The night [is] coming, that man is not able to work. As long as I [am] in the world, I [am] the Light of the world."- John 9:4-5

The "night" refers to the time in which Christ would be taken from this world back to His Father in Heaven. Without Christ, we can do nothing. He came here to do the will of the Father while He had time. We should do likewise, and always do the will of the Father before it is too late. See the notes on John 1:9-13 for a discussion on the significance of "light" in Semitic thought.

And when he said these things, he spat upon the ground and mixed clay with his saliva and he rubbed it upon the eyes of that blind [man]. And he said to him, "Go. Wash in the baptismal of Shilokha," and he went [and] washed, and he came seeing.- John 9:6-7

This miracle signifies the "light" that Christ brings to mankind. This is the 5th of the 7 signs in this Gospel. The word Shilokha (0xwly4) is Aramaic for "sent", which is the word from which the Aramaic word for "apostle" (Shlikha 0xyl4) is derived. The existence of this pool was confirmed in 2004 when the sight was excavated by archaeologists. This was another example of faith being put to the test. I'm sure the blind man was insulted at first when Jesus started rubbing mud in his eyes, but he knew it was Jesus after He spoke (as you can see in the next little section) and obeyed. If he did not have faith, he would not have been healed. 

Now his neighbors, and those who had seen from the beginning that he would beg, were saying, "Is it not this [man]? He who would sit and beg?" [There were] some who were saying that it was [he] and [there were] some who were saying, "No, but he closely resembles him." But he was saying that, "I am [he]." They said to him, "How were your eyes opened?" He answered and said to them, "A man whose name is Yeshua made clay and rubbed it on me, upon my eyes, and he said to me, 'Go [and] wash in the water of Shilokha,' and I went and I washed, and I began to see."- John 9:8-11

The obedience of the blind man brings to mind Naaman the Syrian from II Kings 5, who was told by Elisha to dip himself seven times into the Jordan River in order to be cured of his leprosy. After some rebellion against the Word of the Lord, a servant convinced him to do so and he was healed. Like this, the blind man was told to go and wash his eyes and he was healed. Faith requires action in order to have an effect in your life. Do not be just a hearer of the Word, but a doer of the Word.

They said to him, "Where is he?" He said to them, "I do not know." And they brought he who from the beginning was blind to the Pharisees. It was now the sabbath when Yeshua made the clay and opened his eyes.- John 9:12-14

The people that brought the blind man to the Pharisees were probably not believers and wanted to get Jesus into trouble, so they brought the blind man to witness against him. This confrontation about healing on the Sabbath is similar to many confrontations recorded between Jesus and the Pharisees in the Synoptic Gospels.

And again asked him the Pharisees, "How [is it that] you see?" And he said to them, "He placed clay upon my eyes, and I washed and I see." And some of the Pharisees were saying, "This man is not from God, he who does keep the sabbath." But others were saying, "How is a sinful man able to do these miracles?" And there was division among them.- John 9:15-16

This is another example of the Pharisaical adherence to the Oral Law as equal to the Torah. The Torah never says that you cannot help someone on the Sabbath, in fact, you are obligated to help your brethren. Jesus and the Pharisees had a lot of similar beliefs, but the Pharisees were hypocritical and added their traditions to the Word of God, which at times caused them to break the Torah for the sake of observing tradition (Mark 7:13). Jesus's disputes with the Pharisees were not about the Torah itself, but about the Oral Law the Pharisees added onto it. 

They said again to that blind man, "What do you say concerning him who opened your eyes?" He said to them, "I say that he [is] the Prophet." But the Yehudeans were not believing concerning him that he was blind yet he saw until they called the parents of him who saw. And they ask them, "If this is your son, he [that] you say that he was born blind, how [is it that] now he sees?" And his parents answered, "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind, but how he sees now or who opened his eyes we do not know. Indeed, he is of age, ask him. He on behalf of himself may speak." These things his parents said because they were afraid of the Yehudeans, for the Yehudeans had decided that if anyone should confess in him that he [is] the Messiah, they would cast him out of the assembly. Because of this his parents said that, "He is of age. Ask him." - John 9:17-23

They probably called his parents in as the second and third witnesses according to the procedure of the law (Deuteronomy 19:15), because after this they did seem to believe that the man was indeed born blind. The blind man clearly was not afraid to confess that Jesus was a man of God, contrary to the teachings of the Pharisees. It's sad that they had the people so afraid to confess what so many of them knew to be true. 

And they called the man a second time, he who was blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God. For we know that this man is a sinner." He answered and said to them, "If he [is] a sinner, I do not know, but one [thing] I know: that I was blind, and now behold, I see!"- John 9:24-25

The Pharisees clearly did not want to accept the possibility that Jesus healed the man because he was "working" on the Sabbath, therefore they concluded that He was a sinner and could not be used by God. The blind man responds in faith that God used this man from Nazareth whether He was a sinner or not. To the blind man, his healing by the hands of the Nazarene prophet was enough evidence that He was a man of God.

They said to him again, "What [did he] do to you? How [did he] open your eyes?" He said to them, "I have told you, yet you have not listened. What? Do you want to hear [it] again? Why? Do you also desire to be disciples to him?" And they reviled him and said to him, "You are a disciple of his, for we are disciples of Moshe. And we know that with Moshe God spoke, but this man, we do not know from where he [is]. That man answered and said to them, "In this therefore is [something] to marvel [at]: that you do not know from where he [is], yet he opened my eyes. We know now that God does not hear the voice of sinners, rather he who fears him and does his will, him he hears. From eternity is has not been heard that someone opened the eyes of a man who was born blind. If this [man] is not from God, he would not be able to do this."- John 9:26-33

The blind man offers some very simple logic here. This healing had to be from God, as the devil would not want to do anything to help someone. Since the man was healed from blindness, then clearly Jesus of Nazareth was being used by God to accomplish of God, and if God is hearing His prayers then He must be a servant of God. 

They answered and said to him, "You entirely were born in sins, and you teach us?" And they cast him outside. And Yeshua heard that they had cast him outside and he found him and said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" And he who was healed answered and said, "Who is he, my Lord, that I may believe in him?" Yeshua said to him, "You have seen him, and he who speaks with you is he." And he said, "I believe, my Lord." And he fell and worshiped him."- John 9:34-38

The self-righteousness and hypocrisy of the Pharisees here is sickening. Even today, a Jewish person who comes to believe that Jesus is the Messiah is in danger of being shunned and exiled by the non-Messianic Jews around him. Many Jewish religious groups state that any Jew who comes to believe Jesus is the Messiah is no longer Jewish. Messianic Jews respond by saying that they are "completed Jews",  who are living in the fulfillment of the promises of our father Abraham and His Seed the Messiah. 

The blind man was clearly convinced by the signs, unlike the Pharisees. Paul Younan states in a footnote on this verse, "The Aramaic root SGD means 'To prostrate oneself before', and is the most submissive form of worship." I believe this is the child-like faith that Jesus wants us to have in Him, as the blind man did not succumb to any of the religious questions and doubts that would have come through traditional teaching and the status quo established by the religious elite, but responded immediately with Jesus's claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God.

And Yeshua said to him, "For the judgment of this world I have come, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind." And some of the Pharisees, those who were with him, heard and said to him, "Why? Are even we blind?" Yeshua said to them, "If only you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you say that, 'We see,' because of this, your sin is standing."- John 9:39-41

This man who was blind has been enlightened by Christ (the Light of the world), but those who are supposed to be spiritually knowledgeable are more blind than he ever was. The Pharisees were willingly ignorant, therefore blind of their own will, therefore they are eternally guilty before the Father. Paul Younan's footnote here on the phrase "your sin is standing" says, "'Firmly established', 'unmovable' idiomatically 'eternal.'" This brings to my mind Jesus's teaching on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which many believe is possible by willingly rejecting the message of the Messiah's Gospel (see Matthew 12:31-32). The Pharisees are left in sin because of the hardness of their hearts and their unwillingness to humble themselves before God.

Jesus's statement about judgment here does not contradict Jesus's many statements that He did not come to judge the world. When Jesus is stating that He did not come to judge the world, He is saying that He did not come to condemn the world or judge it in a the superficial manner of the Pharisees. Jesus came to make judicial decisions, and the result of this is that those who are spiritually blind will be given sight into the spiritual things, while those who think that they (like the Pharisees in this passage) see will be blinded. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Is Love?

Love is the central component of a healthy relationship with God and with His children. We are commanded to love God and to love each other in the Bible more times than can be numbered. What is love, though? Is this merely a warm and fuzzy emotion of some sort? This is not true love spoken of in the Holy Scriptures. Let's examine the Bible's teachings on love.

Matthew 22:34-40 (Murdock's translation) says, "And when the Pharisees heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they assembled together; and one of them, who was expert in the law, to tempt him, inquired: Teacher, which is the great command in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first command. And the second, which is like it, is, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commands hang the law and the prophets."

Jesus is quoting Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:4. In the Gospel of Luke 10:29-37, Jesus explains to us who our neighbor is by using the Parable of the Good Samaritan. "And he, being disposed to justify himself, said: And who is my neighbor? Jesus said to him: A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and robbers fell upon him, and plundered him, and smote him, and left him with little life in him, and went their way. And a certain priest went down by that way; and he saw him, and passed on. So also a Levite came, approached the spot, and saw him, and passed on. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was, and saw him, and took pity on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, and poured wine and oil on them, and placed him upon his ass, and brought him to the inn, and took care of him. And on the morning of the [next] day, he took out two denarii and gave to the host, and said: Take good care of him; and if thou expendest any more, when I return, I will repay thee. Which therefore of these three, appears to thee, to have been neighbor to him that fell into the hands of marauders? And he said: He that had pity on him. Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou also the like."

Jesus's point in this parable was clearly that every other person on this earth is our neighbor and that we should treat each other with respect and compassion at all times. In Matthew 7:12 tells us, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you;  so also do ye to them: for this is the law and the prophets."  Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded us to love not only our neighbors, but our enemies, and to do good to them (Matthew 5:43-48). Paul reiterates Jesus's point that love sums up the Law and the Prophets in Romans 13:8-10, "And owe nothing to any one; but to love one another. For he that loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law. For this likewise, which it saith: Thou shalt not kill; nor commit adultery; nor steal; nor covet; and if there is any other commandment, it is completed in this sentence: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love doeth no evil to one's neighbor; because love is the fulfillment of the law."

Now on to the question that looms over this entire article: what is love? How do we know if we truly love God and love each other? In John 14:15, 21, 23, and 15:10 all tell us that if we love Jesus Christ, then we will keep His commandments. I John 5:2-3 says, "And by this we know, that we love the children of God, when we love God, and follow his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome."

So the love that we are to have for God and for each other is not an emotion, it is a lifestyle and action. If you truly love God, are you going to blaspheme Him or sin against Him in any way? If you love your brother and sister, are you going to murder them or sleep with their spouse? Are you going to wrong them or do anything to hurt them in any way? I Corinthians 13 gives us more signs of love that we can see in relationships.

"If I could speak in every tongue of men, and in that of angels, and there should be no love in me, I should be like brass that resoundeth, or the cymbal that maketh a noise. And if there should be in me [the gift of] prophecy, and I should understand all the mysteries, and every science; and if there should be in me all faith, so that I could move mountains, and love should not be in me, I should be nothing. And if I should feed out to the destitute all I possess; and if I should give my body to be burned; and there should be no love in me, I gain nothing. Love is long-suffering, and is kind; love is not envious; love is not boisterous; and is not inflated; and doth nothing that causeth shame; and seeketh not her own; is not passionate; and thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all, and endureth all. Love will never cease. But prophesyings will end; and tongues will be silent; and knowledge will vanish. For we know but partially; and we prophesy but partially. But when completeness shall come, then that which is partial will vanish away. When I was a child, I talked as a child, and I reasoned as a child, and I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I laid aside the things of childhood. And now we see, as by a mirror, in similitude; but then face to face: now I know partially; but then shall I know, just as I am known. For these three things are abiding, faith, and hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love."

Love is not only the greatest commandment, but it is the greatest gift that can possibly be given. Jesus Christ loves in the strongest way possible: He gave His life for us (John 15:13). He also never sinned against God or against His neighbors. If we follow Christ's example and His commandments with our whole heart by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will truly walk in complete and honest love.

So many people in this day and age claim to love God and to love people but they show nothing to prove it. In a little twist of James's teaching on the relationship between faith and works, I will say this: show me your love without obedience and I will show you my love by obedience. Obedience is not true obedience if it does not come from a heart that desires to please God and glorify Him. Let's not be a people that profess to love each other and to love our heavenly Father, but let us be a people that shows our love by obeying God and doing good to one another. God bless!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Post-Resurrection State of Christ

In my writings much has been said about the nature of Jesus's humanity and deity from His birth to His death, but I've written very little about what the New Testament tells us of His nature after His triumph over death. Studying Jesus's nature and how it has changed after the Resurrection is just as important as studying His nature before the Resurrection. First let's begin by discussing the humanity and deity of Christ before He rose from the grave.

Prior to the incarnation, Jesus existed from eternity as YHWH, the God of Israel. John describes him specifically in the Aramaic versions as the Miltha, which means "manifestation", "word", "substance", "instance", and other things. The Greek versions use the word Logos, which describes both wisdom and expression. Logos is used by Hellenistic philosopher Philo to describe a manifestation of God that interacts with the world. The Aramaic Targums, which were the commonly used oral versions of the Scriptures in Aramaic used among 1st century Judeans and Galileans, replace "YHWH" with Memra ("Word").

Jesus Christ, the Son, is the revealed Person of God. The Messiah is the revelator, the manifestation, and the substance of God. The Word is truly God, but the Word also became flesh. The Word becoming flesh does not mean that the Word ceased to be God, but that the Word also became a man. Jesus is confirmed to be a human being in many places in the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew opens with a genealogy from Abraham to Jesus the Messiah (1:1-16) and the Gospel of Luke traces Christ's genealogy from Himself back to Adam, the original man (Luke 3:23-38). Paul, opening the Epistle to the Romans, describes Jesus as being of the seed of David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3), making Him a descendant of King David (fulfilling many prophecies concerning the Messiah being a descendant of David, like Isaiah 11:1). In Galatians 4:4 (New Living Translation), says "But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law." All of these Scriptures testify of the clear humanity of Christ during the incarnation.

In order to prove that God remained God even after the incarnation, we need to remember that God is immutable (Numbers 23:19). While in the flesh, Jesus made many claims of deity. During a discussion with Jewish believers, Jesus stated that He was in existence before Abraham (John 8:58), and later in John 10:30, He claims to be one with the Father, leading the people to accuse Him of blasphemy in claiming to be God (10:33), and Jesus does not deny that He is claiming deity, but does deny that He is blaspheming (10:34-38). The Apostle Thomas, upon seeing the risen Messiah, declared Him to be his Lord and His God (John 20:28), and Thomas was not rebuked for this.

Now upon being risen from the dead, Jesus was clearly changed. Paul states that when we are resurrected, our bodies will be changed (I Corinthians 15:35-54). I John 3:2 affirms that our resurrected bodies will be just like Christ's. "Dear friends, we are already God's children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is."

Lest anyone believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead in a physical body, the Gospel writers put in details in order to show that Jesus did truly rise from the dead in the same body that He died in (albeit in a glorified form). In order to prove that He wasn't a ghost, Jesus ate in front of the disciples (Luke 24:36-43). Matthew describes women laying hold of Jesus's feet when seeing Him alive (28:9). Let's not forget that every one of the Gospels emphasizes that Jesus's tomb was empty.

Now, many people believe that Jesus ceased to be a physical being upon taking His position of prestige as God's right hand. This is clearly not the case upon examination of the Scriptural evidence. In Colossians 2:9, Paul states that Jesus is (present tense) the embodiment of God's nature. The resurrection would have been pointless if the incarnation was not permanent. If Jesus is not still a physical being, then He is not qualified anymore to function as our high priest (a position that Psalms 110:4 states is a permanent position for Christ).

Hebrews 5:14-18 tells us why Jesus is able to be our High Priest. "Because God's children are human beings- made of flesh and blood- the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested."

Hebrews 7:25-28, delving deeper into the subject Jesus Christ's Priesthood, says, "Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people's sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever."

As seen in Hebrews 5:14-18, it is necessary for Jesus to still be human, because if He was not still human, He would no longer be able to intercede for sinners. Jesus only prays because of His humanity (both a physical and psychological humanity), as God does not need to pray. How has the humanity of Christ changed since the resurrection? I don't know, but we will know when we are transformed at His return. His knowledge and power was clearly enhanced, but this does not mean that He ceased to be human.

The most troubling Scripture I've seen on the subject of Jesus still being limited after the resurrection is John 21:17, where Peter says that Jesus knows everything. This does not necessarily mean that Jesus literally knows everything, as the disciples also state this in John 16:29-30 (prior to the resurrection). Jesus, due to the incarnation, is clearly limited in knowledge, because He does not know the time of His return (Matthew 24:36). Prior to the incarnation, Jesus tells us that He receives revelatory knowledge and instruction from the Father (John 5:19-20), and this continues to be true after the resurrection, as Jesus is stated to have received the Revelation of the events of the end times from God and in turn he gave this Revelation to John (Revelation 1:1). Jesus is stated to know all things because the Father shows Him everything (John 5:20).

Does this limited knowledge negate the fact that Jesus is God? We know that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Jesus is clearly only able to be in one place at a time, He states that He cannot do anything without the Father (John 5:19), and He (as established earlier) does not know everything. All of Jesus's limits are self-imposed (Philippians 2:6-8) so that He could become a genuine human being. God's unlimited mind is being channeled through a human brain. These basic properties of God are present in Christ, but are latent within Him.

I sincerely hope that this article has answered any questions you have had about the state of the incarnation after the resurrection and ascension. This has definitely been a fun one to write, as I have been wanting to write it for a while now. God bless!

All Scriptural quotations are from the New Living Translation (NLT).