Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Angel of the LORD vs. Yahya Snow - Part Two

As we've already seen (here), the Old Testament does not comport with Yahya's unitarian assumption that God is a uni-personal being. Because of this, Yahya imposes his assumption on to the text, affirming every way in which the Angel is distinguished from God, and arbitrarily ruling out all the ways he is identified as God.

Another basic mistake made by Yahya is to assume that the word "angel" refers to a being's nature rather than its function, such that he thinks the deity of the Angel is ruled out by definition. Contrary to popular ignorance, the English word "angel" is not a translation of any Biblical word, such that one may claim it always and only refers to a certain order of beings. The word "angel" is actually a transliteration into English of the Greek word angelos, a word used in the Greek New Testament, and also in the Septuagint (LXX), i.e. a Greek translation of the the Hebrew Old Testament. The word in the original Hebrew is Malakh.

According to both Hebrew and Greek, the word simply means "messenger" and can refer to any being, heavenly or earthly, divine or human, God, angel or man, such that the mere use of the word tells us nothing about the nature of the being who bears it. There is absolutely no debate about this among Hebrew lexicologists, as any consultation of standard reference works, such as Gesenius, or Brown-Driver-Briggs, or Koehler, Baumgartner and Stamm, will bear out. The same goes for the New Testament, q.v. Thayer, BDAG, etc.

To provide just one example of the word “angel” being used for a being other than one of the heavenly hosts, the following is written of the human forerunner of the Messiah in the Old Testament book of Malachi:

“Behold, I send my messenger (Heb. Ma’lak; angel) and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple;...” (Malachi 3:1)

This passage is applied to John the Baptist by the Lord Jesus in the New Testament:

"….Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in Kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger (Gr. angelos; angel) ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:7-11)

John the Baptist is obviously not a member of a class of heavenly beings called "angels", but he does function as a messenger. Accordingly, calling someone an angel does not tell us anything about the nature of the being or agent to whom it refers; it is merely a functional term.

Moreover, not only does this passage call John an "angel", i.e. messenger, but it uses the same word, Malakh, for the coming Messiah:

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.
Of course Yahya may think it relevant to reply that the very idea of God being a messenger of someone is not possible as this would imply that there is someone he is sent by and whose message He brings. But this would simply be a repeat of what has already been exposed. Because God is not a uni-personal being, one person of the Godhead can be sent by and bring a message from another person of the Godhead. In addition, the very passage just quoted tells us that the "Messenger [i.e. Angel] of the Covenant" is the Lord: "...then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come." And lest it be objected that the word Lord may refer to others besides Yahweh, we are told that this Messenger or Lord will come to "his temple", i.e. the Temple of Yahweh.

6 comments:

Irenaeus of New York said...

Another beautiful analogy for the Most Holy Trinity that I read recently was this. For those who have difficulty trying understand how something with one nature can have three distinct essence; think of H2O. H2O has one nature, yet it has three different essence by which we experience it. As a liquid (water), as a solid (ice) or as a gas (steam). Each is distinct, yet they are indivisibly H20.

Matthew said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabellianism

Fernando said...

Thanks Irenaeus of New York...

Anthony Rogers said...

Fernando,

I haven't seen you around much lately. I hope all is well with you and yours. God bless.

Irenaeus of New York said...

Thankyou Matt for your link, because it made rethink what I was quoting. I think what I quoted should not have used the word essence. As God is of once essence, but three hypostases, or three persons, etc.

Fernando said...

Anthony Rogers a.k.a. the amaizing Semper Paratus...

thanks for your kind words...
I, and my family, am juste finne... I've been around here also, butt the themes being lattely debated are out off my core knowledge...

may God bless you and your family... spetially the one whithe the legs on your shoulders...