3

A typical translation of Hebrews 1:8 is

"But about the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever, and justice is the scepter of Your kingdom." (Berean Study Bible)

The 'He' here is typically understood in Trinitarian translations as God the Father, so if we were to replace some pronouns to make the sentence clearer it is

"God the Father says about Jesus "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever"

How do Biblical Unitarians respond to Hebrews 1:8, which on a standard translation seems to be saying Jesus is God?

5
  • 1
    They interpret the (presumed) vocative as an apposition for throne.
    – Lucian
    Aug 6 at 16:58
  • @Lucian +1 Want to bang that out into an full answer? Aug 6 at 17:00
  • @Lucian The "He says" isn't in the Greek, Is that why it's a presumed vocative? Doesn't it demand presumption from v. 5, 6, & 7 which all contain "He says"? Aug 6 at 19:37
  • @MikeBorden: Your brother, John, is a good man. - Is this sentence addressing, John, and stating that his brother is a good man, or is is saying that John, apparently the addressee's brother, is a good person ?
    – Lucian
    Aug 7 at 7:07
  • @Lucian As you have it punctuated, the sentence addresses John. Without punctuation, more context would be needed. Aug 8 at 15:30
2

Although it can be interesting to focus on a single phrase or words, one must be careful in extrapolating meaning of a small isolated part of scripture, and it is good to examine the context and comparable or related bible scriptures. Otherwise isolated excerpts from the bible such as:

  • “…Whose God is their belly…” Philippians 3:19
  • “…God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”…” Psalm 82:1
  • “… You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High.” Psalm 82:6
  • “… It is written in your own Law that God said, ‘you are gods.’” John 10:34 (GNT)
  • “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1)

can easily cause misunderstandings. One interpretation may be that all those case god or gods refer to God Almighty, or some part of an N-inity, an alternative perspective is that often the words for "god" (‘elohiym and theos) can also just refer to those in a position of relative power. Or those to who other/people worship or give a power or honor. For example in the sense that God gave Moses power over Pharaoh, and that people worship their appetite as "a god".

In the case of Hebrews 1:8 the context shows also that:

10:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:2,3, KJV)

And

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? (Hebrews 1:5, NIV)

The whole point of Hebrews 1 is to point out The importance of the Jesus, that he is way more than just an angel. At the Same time, Jesus relation to God is described as “Son”, and the “image” or “representation” of Gods character, at the right hand of God Almighty. Angels worship Jesus (Hebrews 10:6) so in that sense Jesus is a god. But at the same time. Hebrews 10:9 shows that Jesus as a god is put in to that position by God Almighty.

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 10:9

Some to force this "Unitarian" view in to a polytheistic view, by reasoning that if other gods are not part of a trinitarian or N-iterian God, those who hold that there can be other gods must thus believe in many gods and thus are polytheists. But the essence of this view is not the existence or belief in other gods, but the interpretation in the meaning of the word god referring to a position of relative power. God Almighty Yahweh, himself also uses the word "god" for others in the bible (e.g. in Psalm 82).

1
  • Yup; there's a difference between "god" (that which is supreme) and "God" (Yahweh). The use in Philippians 3:19 is clearly the former, and I don't know why it's capitalized.
    – Matthew
    Aug 7 at 12:57
1

How do Biblical Unitarians respond to translations of Hebrews 1:8 which have God calling the Son 'God'?

There are two ways to solve this apparent dilemma.

Hjan has provided one - look for the overwhelming theme, the overwhelming context and support from other scripture that shows 'Jesus is not the God' so many different ways.

The other way is in the next verse.

You have loved righteousness and have hated wickedness; because of this, God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of exultation above Your companions." Heb 1:9

To see the connection with this verse, let's unpack it a little.

  • "because of this, God" (the Father, Yahweh, etc)
  • "your God" (your = Jesus. We know this from v8 'But about the Son He says...')
  • so Jesus has a God.
  • Jesus is being exalted above his brothers by his God.

This has another overwhelming biblical support base for Jesus having a God - the God. It doesn't matter when we specify this fact - being fleshly on earth or ascended in 'heaven'. This truth never changes. As Jesus has a God, the God, he is not also the God.

It's not like anyone needs a Biblical Unitarian explanation to this passage - the bible interprets itself quite readily.

https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/articles/does-jesus-christ-have-a-god

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.