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And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Having said this, He breathed His last. Luke 23:46

How would non-trinitarians explain Jesus returning his spirit to the Father? Is it simply a matter of a man surrendering his spirit at death as Stephen also did?

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    So, are you asking those who do not believe certain things to comment on what is a 'conundrum' to those who do believe . . . certain things ? How can those who do not have a conundrum comment on the reactions of those who do ? (Or have I misunderstood the question ?)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 0:42
  • are you aware that old people talk to themselves with great frequency? 😁 And who is older than God. Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 13:53
  • Clarity, please, on who is expected to comment upon what? It sounds like you are asking non-trinitarians to comment on what they assume to be a trinitarian conundrum? Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 14:10
  • Can you explain what the problem might be for non-Trinitarians with these verses? Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 21:22
  • @OneGod if Jesus IS God, why is the spirit not going to his divine self or the Holy Spirit, (the 3rd team member)? As fully God, he seems a bit dependent here. As a man, he obviously is totally dependent, as Stephen was for his future life.
    – steveowen
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 23:45

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In front of me is a book published by an avowedly non-trinitarian group, which gives its own understanding of what Jesus meant in Luke 23:46. This comes under the heading "Spirit", sub-heading "Life-force, or spirit, is impersonal." That is the first clue as to how the verse will be interpreted. I now quote:

"In view of the impersonal nature of the life-force, or spirit, found in man (as also in the animal creation), it is evident that David's statement at Psalm 13:5, quoted by Jesus at the time of his death (Lu 23:46), "Into your hand I entrust my spirit," meant that God was being called upon to guard, or care for, that one's life-force... God could 'gather in,' or accept as entrusted to him, the spirit or life-force in a figurative sense, that is, without any literal transmission of vital force from earth. (Job 34:14; Lu 23:46) A person's entrusting his spirit evidently means, then, that he places his hope in God for a future restoration of such life-force to himself through a resurrection." Insight on the Scriptures Vol.II, pp125-1026, published by Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York Inc. International Bible Students Association 1988

With regard to Stephen making a similar, prayerful cry, addressed to the risen Christ in heaven, the same book simply says:

"Stephen was the first to bear witness that he had seen, in a special vision, Jesus returned to heaven and at the right hand of God, as prophesied at Psalm 110:1. - Ac 7:55, 56" (Ibid. p1035)

It stops short of mentioning his prayer was addressed to Christ and of explaining what Stephen meant by "my spirit" but it is reasonable to think they would attach exactly the same meaning as they did to Jesus' cry. This meaning seems to make no difference between that spirit in man, and the spirit that is in animals.

Of course, their view is dependent on Jesus being created at a certain point in time. They speak of him being Michael the Archangel (the only angel ever created directly by God, they say) and of ceasing to exist as such in order to be created as a human foetus in Mary's womb. That would be when an impersonal life-force, or spirit, would be put into this fresh creation. While on earth, they maintain he was no more than a sinless human being, the exact equivalent of Adam, all of which makes them avowedly anti-trinitarian in their theology.

I'm not giving a trinitarian's response as this clearly is not wanted, given comments and your own answer.

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What are we to understand from Jesus committing his spirit into the Father's hands?

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Having said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

  • Jesus is about to die.
  • He has accomplished everything God asked of him - being obedient till the last breath. It was not easy, it was very hard - there were moments where he had to suppress his will to obey the Father and abide by His will. We know from Heb 5:7 that it was God who saved him from making a huge mistake of judgement all the days of his flesh. One mistake, one time where he put his will over the Father's would have rendered the whole 'Messiah thing' a failure.
  • Jesus was saved by God well before he died by being able to commit to God's will and not his own at every temptation.
  • When Jesus was baptised, he received the holy spirit. This is not of Jesus, it was given by God.

I have seen the spirit coming down, as a dove, out of heaven, and it remained on him John 1:32

The Spirit of the LORD (Yahweh) will rest on him (Jesus), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. Is 11:2, 61:1

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My spirit upon him... Is 42:1 also 61:1

8But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. Matt 12:28

  • Jesus affirms that this 'holy spirit' is not of him, but of God. We have to wait till after Jesus' ascension for him to be 'at one' with the holy spirit - Now the Lord is the Spirit John 5:26. It no longer 'rests' on him, but he is alive with it - having life as the Father has life John 5:26. And 1Pet 3:18.

  • This is not the spirit that Jesus gives up at the end. He calls it 'my spirit'. Every man has spirit within him as part of being human, made in God's image. James 2:26 the body without the spirit is dead.

  • When Jesus is dead, he is not alive. He has no spirit and remains in the grave until he is raised by God after 3 days and nights as he foretold.

  • We can note from Stephen's prayer at his imminent death. He asked Jesus (who is now at God's side as His instrument and authority in all affairs and the heir to all God's creation) to receive his spirit. He cannot take it with him, neither could Jesus when he died in the flesh. They both ceased to exist in a living state.

Christ... being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit 1Pet 3:18

(Jesus is not doing anything while he is in the grave being dead. He is not preaching to the dead at this time)

  • While Jesus was alive in the flesh (not in the spirit that happened after his resurrection) he was actually subject to 'death' - 'mastered by death'.

Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him Rom 6:9

So what this all confirms, from the Gospel accounts of his beginning through Mary and God's provision of fertile life, until his death on the cross, he is the man scripture says he is - totally dependent on his God and Father for all things.

Nothing was of him, nothing was within him except the presence of God in spirit form that was also provided to many at the first NT Pentecost. The spirit in man returned to the God who gave it to him, just as He does to all other descendants from Adam. (No we cannot say Stephen's request infers Jesus is somehow God who is receiving Stephen's spirit - simply because Jesus is at God's side. On one can be at God's side and also be God, or there are two God's. There is no ambiguity in this passage.

So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19 Acts 2:33

Jesus is committing total trust one last triumphant time by surrendering his spirit to his Father. After the appointed time, God would raise Jesus to new life and not allow him to remain dead or suffer decay.

for You will not abandon my soul into Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see decay. 28You have made known to me the paths of life, You will fill me with joy in Your presence. Acts 2:27-

Certainly now, at God's right side, Jesus is filled with joy in His presence!

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