“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”
John 4:21, 22
- 1 The meaning of: We know what we worship
- 2 The confusion of pagan religion and philosophy
- 3 The Work of the Antichrist to Confuse our Understanding of God
The meaning of: We know what we worship
“We know what we worship προσκυνοῦμεν, for salvation is of the Jews.”
In John 4:22, Jesus pointed out the huge difference in the understanding of God held by the Jews and Gentiles.
Jerome, who was one of the greatest Trinitarian theologians of the fourth century, said, “The true profession of the mystery of the Trinity is to own that we do not comprehend it”1
The prime philosopher of the Trinity concept was Gregory of Narzianzus, known as “the Trinitarian Theologian.” He said, “When I think of any of the three I think of him as the whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me.”
The Gentiles created an explanation of God that was so illogical that they themselves could not even make sense of it. Why could they not understand God anymore? Because they lost the understanding of God, which was held by the Jews, the understanding of what they were worshiping.
The Gentiles fell into the belief that Jesus must also be God because the Bible records that the disciples worshipped Jesus.
The Bible uses the Greek word προσκυνέω (proskynoumen) to describe “the worship” of Jesus. The Greek word προσκυνέω simply means to give reverence to, and derives from the words meaning “to bow down and kiss.” The Jewish people used this word to describe the reverence given to a high- ranking person, including the high priest.
In contrast, the Gentiles could consider any one they bowed to, to be a god, including the Emperor. For example, in Acts 14, the crowds called Paul and Barnabas “gods.” In Acts 10, Peter needed to rebuke Cornelius ( Acts 10:26), when Cornelius worshipped him.
The Jews did not share this problem; they could bow down to either God or a person, and they knew the difference in their minds.
Christ is our Lord now, and so we also “bow down” to Him. After Jesus endured the cross, God “highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2: 9, 10). Therefore, after Jesus was made our Lord, the disciples went to the mountain that Jesus had appointed, and “when they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted”(Matthew 28:17). Jesus spoke to their doubts in the next verse, saying, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth.”
The word used for “worship” or “bow down”’ in this passage of Matthew 28 is the same word that Jesus used in John’s gospel. This word appears in several places, where people “bowed down” to, or “worshipped” Jesus, for example, Matthew 2:2, 2:8, 2:11, 8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25,18:26, 20:20, and 28:9.
The Greek word προσκυνέω describes our worship of both Christ and God. But “we know what we worship.” The Father is the one true God.
Justin Martyr, in 150 A.D., understood that the Father was the one true God.
But the Gentiles lost the understanding that Justin Martyr had. The Trinitarian believers reportedly2 accused Arius of polytheism, and said that since he was worshiping Jesus, he was worshipping two Gods. The Trinitarians believed that the only way to solve this problem was to make Christ and the Father two persons in one God. But the real problem, as Jesus explained, was simply that they did understand who He was, and who the Father was, and what they worshiped.
The confusion of pagan religion and philosophy
The Samaritan woman of five husbands, whom Jesus spoke with at the well, may figuratively represent the Great Harlot of Revelation, and the corruption of the understanding of Christ and God that occurred in the fourth century.
How did believers in the fourth century exchange the worship of the Father, for the worship of a three-person God?
The substitution of Roman and Greek religious concepts and a lack of understanding of the Jewish language were largely responsible for the creation of a false god, so vividly described by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson as “the hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads”3.
Jefferson’s great way with words really describes the abhorrent fantasy of the three-in-one god, which was created by philosophers in the fourth century.
We can list at least seven main failures in the understanding of the fourth century Gentile Church, which led them “to make an image to the beast”:
God is Spirit
The fourth-century Church wanted gods that could be visualized, like their Roman gods. The idea of an “invisible God” was too difficult for the pagans in the Roman Empire to understand.
The Spirit of Christ is a Spirit
Even more difficult was the idea that Christ was the Spirit of the Old Testament, who was manifest as the image of the invisible God and finally manifest in the flesh in the man Jesus Christ. They could understand the concept of incarnation, but they could not understand the idea of a Spirit who could be manifest as an Angel, and as the Son of Man, and as the image of the invisible God, all at the same time.
There are only two “persons” in the Bible, not three
The Spirit of truth that is the Spirit of God poured out on the Day of Pentecost was confused to be “another person.” Of course, the Spirit of a person is that person, as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 2:10–13. This confusion may have been caused by the Greek language, which requires a masculine pronoun for the word Comforter, in John 14–16.
The invisible God and His image were not a multi-person God
The Romans and pagan religions in general were very familiar with the concept of a multi-person gods, but the biblical concept of an invisible God and His image was completely foreign to them. There was no equivalent concept in pagan theology. It was much easier for them to picture a multi-headed god, than an invisible God and His image.
The Hebrew language
Of course, most confusing to the Gentiles was the expression YHVH, as the name of God, because they had no understanding of the Hebrew language. Today, a third grade Jewish child can easily see the connection between “I WILL BE” and YHVH as “He WILL BE.” But the Gentiles did not see this.
The Apostles easily understood Jesus when He said, “I and the Father are one” to imitate “YHVH our ELOHIM, YHVH, is one.” The invisible God and His image formed one unit in the Old Testament, and they shared the same name.
The idea that Jesus, or even Jesus Christ, was the name of “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” was very logical to the Apostles, since they knew that the Father and His image always shared the same name: “My name is in Him” (Exodus 23:21). They also knew that the Son and the Spirit of Christ were of one identity, so they must share the same name.
Christ was ELOHIM, not a demigod
The believers of the Trinity attacked Arius and his supporters, saying that they were making Christ into a “demigod.”
In the Roman concept, there were only gods and demigods. This is much different than the idea of the one true God and Christ, who was the ELOHIM of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, which we find in the Old Testament.
God communicated the idea of ELOHIM to Moses when he made Moses an ELOHIM to Pharaoh. However, there was also no such concept within pagan theology. Jesus made a point to clarify the true understanding of the Hebrew word ELOHIM to the Pharisees, when He said, “does it not say in your law, I said you are all ELOHIM, you are all sons of the Most high” (John 10:34; Psalms 82:6).
Though Jesus told the Pharisees, we are all gods, He also called the Father “the one true God.” For all of us, including Christ, are made subject to His will (1 Corinthians 15:28; John 3:21; 1 John 4:8).
Confusion regarding Christ’s role in creation
The Gentiles very quickly became confused about Christ’s role as ELOHIM, as “the Word.”
They knew that Christ was “the Word” who spoke the words of the invisible God. But they began to believe that Christ was a “co-creator” of the universe, and that the Father counselled with Christ on how it should be done. This was related to a greater idea that God was lonely and needed someone to talk things over with.
God is all-knowing, but nowhere in the Bible is Christ ever described as all-knowing. In fact, just the opposite is true. They are not equals. God has no need of counsel.
The Church “fathers” interpreted God’s words “let Us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26), as an agreement between Christ and God, rather than a commandment of God, spoken through Christ. This is evidenced in the Shepherd of Hermas, considered scripture, by the early fathers. The Shepherd of Hermas records, “The Son of God is older than all His creation, so that He became the Father’s adviser in His creation”4.
The Work of the Antichrist to Confuse our Understanding of God
The Trinity doctrine was not only responsible for the physical deaths of 50 million people. It continues to be responsible for the spiritual deaths of its worshippers.
If we believe that Jesus Christ Himself is the invisible God, we will be torn between one of two confusing theologies.
- (Modalism) We will come to the conclusion that God and Christ are the same, and everything in the Bible will become representational. All of the expressions of Christ’s relationship with God would need to be explained as representational. It will be difficult to make sense of occasions when Christ talks to God, and God to Him. All the language of the Apostles, which presents them as two separate beings, even after the Lord’s Day, will be very confusing.
- (Trinitarianism or Binitarianism) If we believe “YHVH” continues today as “The Being of God” composed of two or three persons, we will not be able to make sense of the many verses that tell us Christ is not God, and the many verses that tell us only the Father is God. We will not have a clear idea of who we worship, since we consider both the Father and the Son to be God.
Besides confusing the identity of the one true God, the Beast destroyed the message of the gospel:
- He destroyed the message to the Jews of the coming Redeemer and the true meaning of the many “I AM” scriptures in the Gospel of John that beautifully reveal Christ’s existence in the Old Testament as “He WILL BE ELOHIM.”
- He confused the example of Christ as the first Son of God, who began His work of salvation at baptism and became God’s “only begotten Son” only when He resurrected.
- He destroyed the message that it has been God’s purpose, from the beginning of creation, to make us into Christ’s image.
- He destroyed the example of Christ that a real man can live a holy life through faith in God.
- He destroyed the truth about the name of the Father, the name that remits sins through baptism.
- He created a three-person God, of three personalities: An Angry Father of the Old Testament, a compassionate Son, and an ethereal Spirit. Therefore, God prophesied against harlotrous Ephraim, saying, “I will be to them like a lion . . . a leopard . . . a bear” (Hosea 13:7-8). The understanding of a loving God, who alone created us, and made the plan of redemption to save us, which was beyond what we deserved, was lost.
The greatest impact of the Beast’s deception on the salvation comes from the separation of believers on the issue of who God is. Jesus prayed that we would be one, sanctified by the truth, that the world may believe that God sent Him.
- Jerome, De mysterio Trinitatus recta confessio est ignoratio scientiae — “Proem ad 1. xviii in Isai.” ↩
- Encyclopedia Britannica and many other sources say that Arian was accused of polytheism by the supporters of the Trinity, because he said it was acceptable to worship, or “bow down,” to Christ, which in their minds made Christ into a God, and therefore Arian believed in two Gods. See Encyclopedia Britannica: Arianism. ↩
- Letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822. ↩
- The Shepherd of Hermas Parable 9: 12 (2) ↩