Water & Fire 2006:


Initially partially e-published as the Sukkot 2006 Seminar Series for the Port Austin Bible Center


Living Metaphors

“J” is to “P” as Stone is to Spirit


 Chapter Three


Meaning is assigned to words by the auditor. Words do not come with firmly attached meanings. However, the assignment of meaning to words, linguistic icons, is not arbitrary as French theoretical linguists contend, but limited by an element of Thirdness that goes beyond being an historical trace. This element of Thirdness incorporates, within disciples, the work of the Holy Spirit, which, again, is a metaphoric expression for the creative power or force through which God works. The Holy Spirit [Πνευμα Άγιον – or Breath Holy] is not a deity, but a property of deity as a man’s breath is the property of the man. And through his or her breath, a person creates and causes others to create that which he or she vocalizes. Thirdness, now, is not the linguistic icon [the sound or inscribed image], nor is it the thing or object assigned to the icon. Rather, it is the link that provides the stereotypical bond between the icon and object. Thirdness, however, exists independent of the Holy Spirit. It is a characteristic of language usage that is not dependent upon the person being born of Spirit and hearing Jesus’ voice. It is what causes reading communities to form, flourish, and eventually fail; for it bestows to an otherwise dead language living properties. It is also what prevented sealed and secret prophecies from being unsealed until the time of the end; for the meanings [linguistic objects] assigned by Jewish and Christian reading communities to the words flowing from Daniel’s visions were sufficient to satisfy these reading communities from the Roman occupation of Judea forward in history. The absence of additional or other assignment of meanings kept the visions sealed until the generic time of the end when expansive typological exegesis emerged within Sabbatarian Christianity.

Every literate person employs a strategy for taking meaning from an inscribed text. Biblical students who contend that they read the Bible literally, as if a word has an absolute meaning [words might have had absolute meanings before God confused the language at Babel], inevitably assign the accepted objects of their reading community to the icons of Scripture. Consider the following: when English speakers encounter the word /cow/, a mental stereotypical image of a large, cud-crewing animal that gives milk appears in their thoughts. An English speaker doesn’t perceive a /cow/ to be a small, yappy animal; nor does the English speaker perceive a /cow/ as something to be served like pasta. For the English speaker who has not previously encountered the letter combination /c-o-w/, the letters forming the word /cow/ are utterly meaningless and no image is formed, but whenever an image is formed, it is of a bovine-like creature, with bovine-like qualities assigned to whatever object that is “cow-like.”

Now, return to the visions of the prophet Daniel: the biblical student who encounters the icon phrase /the king of the North/ doesn’t think of a demon, or a Cross-shaped beast that represents Death, but of the object traditionally assigned by his or her reading community. Most will think of the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the 2nd Century BCE Syrian-Greek king who ordered that a statue of Zeus be place in the Holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple, and that a pig be sacrificed on the temple’s altar. Antiochus Epiphanes IV seems to satisfy the linguistic icons Daniel inscribed—so much so that modern scholarship now attributes a date within Antiochus’s reign for the writing of the book of Daniel.

The Bible student who became a disciple of Herbert Armstrong in the mid-20th Century will inevitably think of a future European Union like that of the United States when encountering the icon phrase the king of the North. He or she will never, on the person’s own, be able to completely erase the stereotypical image of a European Union, led by the Pope and subject to the Roman Church, bringing an endtime crusade into the Middle East whenever the icon phrase is encountered; such is the power of Thirdness.

But the angel told Daniel that the visions were for the time of the end, not for the 2nd and 3rd Centuries BCE. The angel also told Daniel that the prince [sar] of Persia had withstood him from twenty-one days, that when he returned to heaven he would have to fight the kings [again, sars] of Persia, then the prince of Greece. No human king or prince had withstood this angel for three weeks; other spirit beings [i.e., angels] had. So the assignment of human princes as the linguistic objects to icons representing the king of Persia and the king of Greece would seem to be logical, but would also seal and keep secret prophecies about a war in the heavenly realm between rebelling angelic beings. Only when meaning is taken from Scripture through a differing reading strategy than the one employed to keep these endtime prophecies sealed can these prophecies be unsealed--only when the element of Thirdness ceased to produce the face of Alexander the Great whenever the icon phrase, the king of Greece, was encountered could the visions of Daniel be unsealed.

The problem of how to assign meaning to words would seem to have first entered Christianity when salvation was extended to Gentiles, a differing reader community from circumcised natural Israelites, but the problem of assigning meaning began before Israel left Egypt, for Moses took it upon himself to slay an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew. Apparently, Moses knew then that he was to participate in the liberation of Israel—the sparse historical record from ancient Egypt seems to indicate that Moses became an Egyptian general—but Moses apparently did not know that Israel’s liberation would not be achieved through military victory.

The problem of how to assign meaning to Scripture became evident with the start of Jesus’ ministry … within a “reading community,” a philosophical construction that can be taken to absurdity by making every person a “community of one,” the assignment of meaning to words is generally agreed upon, which doesn’t make the assignment right or wrong but only the assignment accepted by the community. Communication flows somewhat freely. Linguistic icons are uttered or inscribed, and the community effortlessly assigns objects to these icons. Problems only become apparent when an icon is used in an unfamiliar manner; such as Jesus telling Nicodemus,

Άμήν άμήν λέγω σοι, έάν μή τις γεννηθη ανωθεν, ού δύναται ίδειν τήν βασιλείαν του Θεου

In English: ‘“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”’ (John 3:3).

Nicodemus understood procreation, but the icon Jesus used, γεννηθη, was unfamiliar in the context of another birth, or a birth from above, or a return to the beginning of life [ανωθεν], or God causing procreation to occur. Thus, through the dynamics of dialogue, Nicodemus attempts to deconstruct what Jesus has just said by asking, ‘“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”’ (John 3:4). Communication between Jesus and Nicodemus had not occurred. Just hearing Jesus’ words was not enough for Nicodemus, who could not assign a logical object to the icons Jesus uttered; he could not grasp how a person could return to the beginning of life when old. Jesus’ word usage made no sense to him; hence, his question.

Again, within the dynamics of dialogue where utterance not understood can be immediately deconstructed through questioning, Jesus patiently explained that unless one is born of the water of the womb [not baptism], thereby acquiring the “breath” given to the first Adam, and born of Spirit, the Breath of God [Πνευμα Άγιον] acquired through the last Adam, a life-giving spirit (1 Cor 15:54)—two births are now linguistically present[1]—a person cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5). As the patient teacher, Jesus then expounded on the concept of a second birth by saying that which is born of flesh is flesh [being born of flesh is what being born of water represents]; whereas, that which is born of the Breath of God is spirit [πνευμα]. Jesus then used the type of doubling commonly seen linguistically in Hebrew but less often seen in Greek: He said, ‘“The wind [πνευμα] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of Spirit [Πνευμα]”’ (John 3:8). Jesus placed the focus of a second birth on the type of doubling with which Nicodemus should have been familiar through the community-accepted assignment of objects for the icon πνευμα.

Obviously, the multiple meanings assigned by 1st-Century Greek speakers to the icon /πνευμα/ permitted this icon to be used as a metaphor for the creative and life-giving power of God, which cannot be named directed by any human linguistic icon.

The English icon /wind/ and the Greek icon /πνευμα/ are directly interchangeable when these icons are assigned as their object outdoor moving air. But the Greek icon also has the 1st-Century assignment of deep breath [as in moving air], which was used by Jesus as a metaphor for the out-of-this-universe creative power of God that gives life in a manner similar to how physical breath gives life to flesh. But since the spiritual power that gives this life is not of this dimension or of this physical realm, the life that this power bestows is also not in this dimension. Thus, this life received by the Breath of God grows and matures, and comes and goes unseen by physical eyes as moving air is, itself, unseen. And Jesus makes this second birth that of a metaphysical or supernatural life form that is born or created within the person when he [or she] is old. The Apostle Paul adds insight to this by identifying the fleshly body of a person as a tent of flesh. This metaphysical life form that is an infant son of God temporarily resides in the tent of flesh in a manner similar to how the self-aware or self-conscious old self dwelt apart from but with the biologically driven stimuli that motivates the responses of the flesh[2].

All of the above was too much for Nicodemus to grasp. He asked, ‘“How can these things be?”’ (John 3:9). And the above was too much for Hellenist converts decades later to grasp. It is, today, too much for most of Christendom to grasp. Thus, nonsensical responses such as the pin-test emerged to demonstrate that disciples are not today born of Spirit. But all the pin-test proved was that the tent of flesh in which the born of Spirit son of God temporarily dwelt bled red blood. The spiritual life form produced by the second birth is not a physical entity, but one that from its birth exists in the timeless heavenly realm. It is, however, confined to the Tzimtzum that opened when lawlessness was discovered in an anointed cherub. Again, this rupture in the fabric of the heaven can be visually perceived in the earth opening to swallow Korah and his fellow rebels (Num chap 16). The closing of this Tzimtzum is referenced by the Apostle John when he wrote, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). This closing is also seen in Revelation chapter 21, with the coming of a new heaven and new earth.

Those teachers of Israel who contend that glorified disciples will, after the new heavens and new earth come, adorn distant constellations in a manner analogous to frosting a cake are without spiritual understanding. This physical realm that has developed from a singularity or from a collision between strings in an 11th dimension—the best physical explanations for the creation—will cease to be when the rupture in the fabric of heaven closes, when death is thrown into the lake of fire (death is the abiding and defining characteristic of time, or better, space-time). Another rupture could occur if lawlessness is again found in the heavenly realm [a 12th dimension], but God is not in the business of creating more Adversaries. If any doubt exists about an angel or a human being born of Spirit, the entity will not be allowed out of the rupture or Tzimtzum, and will perish when the rupture closes.

Even after Jesus patiently explained being born anew when old, Nicodemus could not understand the metaphysical concept. So Jesus asked, ‘“Are you the teacher of Israel and yet do not understand these things? … If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”’ (John 3:10, 12).

Jesus used metaphor, a specific figure of speech, to place what receiving the Holy Spirit means in visible or earthly terms. From the perspective of the heavenly realm, the born again concept would be expressed differently, but in a not-comprehensible manner by human beings confined in this physical realm. Human speech does not well address that which cannot be seen or measured. Thus, no English linguistic icon expresses the reality of a living entity composed only of elemental energy although /angel/ is used to denote such living entities within our four unfurled dimensions. In an earlier, more superstitious era, the icon /ghost/ was employed to approximate the personhood that had been errantly assigned in the 5th-Century CE to the divine creative force for which Jesus used the icon Pneuma [i.e., breath or wind] as a metaphor.

All of the above has bearing to the Hebraic poetics of Genesis chapter one; for the lacunae that exists between verses one and two represents a jump up, out of the physical realm and into the heavenly realm where “what is” can only be expressed in human languages through naming icons that would seem to be mimetic representations of linguistic objects in this world serving as metaphors for objects in the heavenly realm. The Holy Spirit’s presence in Genesis 1:2 should “clue” auditors to the realization the lacunae between verses one and two denotes the conclusion of the physical creation story: what part of the heavens [plural] and earth have not been created in the declaration, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth”? Any part? None that can be named, right?

Thus, the naming icons employed in the Genesis one creation account, the so-called “P” account, establish relationships that can be humanly visualized and comprehended. But when these naming icons are used to represent linguistic objects that are different from the objects most reader communities assign to these icons, Christian disciples become as confused as was Nicodemus. Unfortunately, they seldom have the good sense to keep quiet until they grasp how the language is being used.

If the icon phrase /a seed-bearing tree/ doesn’t have the same assigned object as an arborist would assign to the icon phrase, then those who teach that God created vegetation, plants yielding seeds and trees bearing fruit, before He created the sun and the moon teach without understanding and are as Nicodemus was when he wondered how a man could again enter the womb. They, themselves, are in need of a teacher, but their egos will hinder their ability to learn. They are as so many bobble-head dolls nodding confirmation of those things they learned from other bobble-heads.

The Genesis chapter one creation accounts begins (in English icons), “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (v. 1). Genesis’ second creation account, the so-called “J” account, says, “These are the generations / of the heavens and the earth when they were created, / in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Gen 2:4). What day is the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens? Is this day not the period referenced in Genesis 1:1? Can it be any other day? Or are both creation accounts only myth as modern scholarship contends?

In Hebraic thought, a day has two aspects, (1) the dark portion that is represented by the concept of a twisting away or turning away from the light, and (2) the hot portion of the day. The first day of the “P” account will have two portions, a dark portion and a light portion that comes out of the darkness rather than follows the darkness … without the coming of the light from darkness, the darkness would remain. The darkness doesn’t “end” when its time is up. It ends when light comes. There is no period between darkness and light that is not an attribute of “light.” Therefore, the day on which the first Adam was created doesn’t end until there as a twisting or turning away from the light; hence the Lord walked in the garden in the “cool of the day” (Gen 3:8), for Adam and Eve had only shortly before “turned away” from God. Likewise, in the “P” account, the first day doesn’t end until Jesus said, “‘It is finished’” (John 19:30); for the last Adam had then taken upon Himself the sins of Israel [as the reality of the Azazel goat] as the first Adam had taken on the sin of Eve when he ate forbidden fruit.

As discussed in chapter one, spiritual matters cannot be discussed in anything but figurative language, with metaphors representing other metaphors. Meaning cannot be assigned otherwise.

Returning to reading communities assigning meaning to words: no person can make sense of a linguistic icon if he or she is unable to assign meaning to the sound or visual image comprising the icon. For a Roman Catholic, the liturgy incorporates the saving grace of God; whereas for Sabbatarian Christians, the Roman liturgy is vain repetition that rises to the level of proof necessary to establish the falseness of the faith.

Regardless of whether an auditor’s assignment of meaning agrees or disagrees with assignments made by others, the auditor’s assignment is based in the element of Thirdness within the person’s reading community that doesn’t allow every object to be assigned to the linguistic icon. Without this element of Thirdness, language would have less stability than it presently has, and it doesn’t have much. Over a few centuries, the meaning assigned to a word will move around like a sand bar in Mark Twain’s Mississippi, forming here, then there, creating eddies and dangerous shoals marked only by a little surface disturbance. But the meaning that belongs, figuratively, in the Mississippi will not find itself in the Columbia River. It will stay within the banks of Thirdness, and this is the problem faced in rereading the Genesis chapter one creation account, or in rereading the visions of the prophet Daniel. This is a problem of what prevents all of Christendom from being genuine disciples of Christ Jesus.

A familiar scenario in which the common assignment of meaning for English speakers disagrees with Scripture occurs when encountering the icon /Satan/, or the phrase /the devil/. The stereotypical image is of a demented “being,” usually horned and red, with a tail and holding a trident. But this image exists in direct contradiction to Scripture: the Apostle Paul wrote, concerning false teachers who have disguised themselves as apostles of Christ, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14). Ezekiel records the words of the Lord, ‘“You were the signet of perfection, / full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. / You were in Eden, the garden of God; / every precious stone was your covering”’ (Ezek 28:12-13). According to Scripture, Satan doesn’t appear either ugly or evil, but as an angel of light. He would appear somewhat like mediaeval paintings of Christ Jesus, effeminate, peaceful, an image of beauty; whereas Jesus, Himself, appeared as an ordinary Jew of His day, short haired, muscular, of a darker complexion. Nevertheless, because of the latent dualism inherent in Christianity, reading communities have assigned ugliness to Satan and feminine beauty to Christ Jesus for so long that no biblical student will ever be able to fully rid him or herself of these images such is the physical power of Thirdness.

Scholars recognize that two creation accounts exist in the opening chapters of Genesis, but most of lay Christianity does not. Lay literalists tend to believe that the man and woman created in Genesis 1:27 are Adam and Eve, but scholars, for all of their lack of faith in God, are, simply, better readers of the text than lay literalists. They are not, however, inspired readers. Nor are they particularly astute readers, for they are themselves literalists of a different sort: they read a text [i.e., Scripture] that has been given in figures of speech throughout its entirety with no spiritual awareness. They read seemingly mimetic passages such as the history of the kings [or the return of the Ark of the Covenant] that function as the metaphoric examples of what would and has happened to Christendom in the heavenly realm through traditional academic assignments of objects to icons. Scholars, virtually without exception, read by assigning meaning through grammatico-historical exegesis. They read believing that they are reading the writings of men—and they are—but believing that these men wrote from their own intelligence for their own reasons. Scholars read without knowingly acknowledging or even recognizing the unified construction of Scripture. They do not find a unified text; they find, instead, fables and myths … as sleeping dogs, let them lie. The truth is not in them. They can neither help nor harm those disciples who take meaning from Scripture through typological exegesis. Academic scholars are as decorated trees, the work of craftsmen, fastened with traditions so that they cannot move, draped with ropes representing much learning, topped with accolades that would make an angel in heaven blush. They are the wise ones of the nations, but they are wood vessels that will not endure the kiln of tribulation when the seven endtime years begin.

The problems of biblical scholarship were evident in the 1st-Century. Rabbinical Judaism teaches that the Pharisees were very good readers of Scripture, but Jesus said to Sadducees and Pharisees, “‘Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law’” (John 7:19). What “law” did Jesus mean? The Jews of the temple had constructed a strong hedge around the so-called Law of Moses, thereby ensuring that all Moses wrote would be kept; yet Jesus said they were not keeping the law Moses had given them, the law about which Paul wrote, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith, but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works” (Rom 9:30-32).

When the lawyer asked Jesus, “‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Luke 10:25), Jesus asked the lawyer, “‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’” (v. 26). The lawyer answered correctly: love God and love neighbor (v. 27-28). Jesus told the lawyer to do what he has just said, and he would have eternal life. But the lawyer wanted to know who his neighbor was, thus revealing his lack of love for the stranger within the land.

The Law of Moses contains both faith (Deu 30:1-2) and love (Deu 10:18-19). Any reading of the law that does not foreground faith and love is not of God, but of the prince of this world. And God changes not: any reading of Scripture today that does not emphasize faith and love is to be rejected—and love toward God and neighbor is keeping His commandments by faith.

If Pharisees were as good of readers of Scripture as rabbinical Judaism claims, then they would have realized that in this world, represented by the Hebrew icon olam and which both conceals and reveals the things of God, faith is the activating force that causes journeys to be undertaken, such as Abraham’s from Ur to Haran to Canaan and Ezra’s journey from Babylon to Jerusalem without soldiers and horsemen despite the gold and silver that he carried (Ezra 8:22-23). This faith caused the parents of Moses to hide him for three months, and caused Moses to lead a people out of Egypt without the people wielding swords against their Egyptian overlords. This faith caused Israel to march around the walls of Jericho for seven days, an act of apparent foolishness, when the nation had not yet polluted itself with the leavening of wild yeast. This faith saved Rahab and Ruth and cleansed the hearts of Greek converts, all strangers who by faith kept the precepts of the law and had their uncircumcision counted as circumcision (Rom 2:26). And when physical uncircumcision, whether by gender or by culture, is counted as circumcision, love manifests itself through the inclusion of the stranger within God’s cultivar Israel, a nation chosen because of Abraham’s faith and propagated by faith for two generations before being released to the world. It wasn’t the works of Abraham that were counted to him as righteousness, but him believing God (Gen 15:6). Likewise, it was not the works of Rahab and Ruth that are counted to them as righteousness, but the faith that caused their deeds to appear openly as acts of love for kin by blood and by marriage.

After Jesus had astonished the Sadducees by saying the Theos was the God of the living, not the dead, one of the Pharisees, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question to test him: the lawyer asked, “‘Teacher, which is the great commandment of the Law?’” (Matt 22:36) Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all of the Law and the Prophets’” (vv. 37-40) … the Law and the Prophets [i.e., Moses and the Prophets] depend upon love; they are about love; they describe love. And what was missing from the Pharisees reading of Scripture was, first, love, then faith.

Jesus established the juxtaposition that making a man’s whole body well was spiritually analogous to circumcision making a man’s outward appearance well (John 7:22-24). The Apostle Paul builds on this concept by saying,

Then he who is physically uncircumcised [whose outer body is not “well”] but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is one merely outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. (Rom 2:27-29)

Circumcised hearts are first mentioned in the second covenant, the Moab covenant, mediated by Moses, a law dependent upon faith, this faith manifest by Israel turning to God with their hearts and minds, beginning again to keep the commandments and statutes of God and all that is written in Deuteronomy while the nation is in a far land.

A person is inwardly “healed” or made whole when the person, by faith, turns to God to love Him with heart and mind, keeping His commandments and all that is written in Deuteronomy. Love and faith and keeping the commandments—all are interlocked in Knowing the Lord. The Apostle John writes, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 John 2:3-5).

The love of God being perfected in a disciple is all about keeping the commandments by faith, not because the disciple is under an external written law, but because the laws of God have been written on the heart and placed in the mind. And the person who will not keep the commandments—like the Moabite woman Orpah (Ruth 1:14-15)—will not enter into God’s rest for lack of faith, but will die on the far side of a spiritual river Jordan. This person loves life in the far land more than the person loves God.


After Jesus answered the lawyer’s test question, saying all of the Law and the Prophets hung on loving God and loving neighbor, while the Pharisees were still gathered around Him, Jesus asked them a question that they could not answer, a question that caused no one to dare ask any more questions of Jesus:

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord [Κύριον], saying,

‘The Lord [Κύριος] said to my Lord [Κυριω],

Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies under your feet’?

If then David calls him Lord [Κύριον], how is he his son?” (Matt 22:41-45)

The Pharisees couldn’t answer because of what had been revealed by Jesus, switching from the Greek in which He addressed the Sadducees to Hebrew as initially seen when He answered the question of what is the greatest commandment—Matthew, transcribing the dialogue in Greek, renders the divine expression YHWH your Elohim (from Exod 20:2 and elsewhere) as “Κύριον τόν Θεόν” (Matt 22:37), for Matthew hears Jesus use Adonai as the pronunciation for the sacred Tetragrammaton YHWH. [Adonai would have been translated as Kurion or Kurios.]  Likewise, Matthew hears Jesus render the first line of Psalm 110 as, “Said Adonai to Adoni”; thus, Matthew transcribed the uttered line as, “Κύριος τω Κυριω.”

Language usage simultaneously conceals and reveals information. It will conceal from one reading community what it reveals to another. The similarity in sound between Adonai and Adoni will cause a person transcribing the linguistic icons into another language to use the same or a similar icon. Adonai becomes “the Lord,” in English. Adoni becomes “the Lord,” in English. But Adonai is not used for human lords. Its use is reserved for God, for the Tetragrammaton YHWH was considered too sacred to pronounce until biblical illiterates made its pronunciation an article of faith in Sacred Names assemblies. Thus, if it were not for the irreverence of fundamentalist hill folks, YHWH would still be read as Adonai, not Yahweh—irreverence that causes these hill folks to deny the divinity of Christ, thereby making the visible God of the Old Testament the deity that Jesus came to reveal.

Two days before Jesus’ confrontations with the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees, Jesus entered Jerusalem as High Priest and Passover Lamb on the 10th of Abib. The crowds had been shouting,

Ώσανά τω υίω Δαβίδ· εύλογημένος ό έρχόμενος έν όνόματι Κυρίου· Ώσανά έν τοϊς ύψίστοις

That is,

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! (Matt 21:9)

So in His confrontation with the Pharisees, once the Pharisees answered Jesus’ first question, ‘“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”’ by saying, ‘“The son of David’” (Matt 22:42), the Pharisees had linguistically trapped themselves. They could squirm, but the crowd already thought that Jesus was the blessed son of David. So all Jesus had to do to spring the trap was to quote Psalm 110:1, which in the Septuagint seems somewhat innocuous:

Αλληλουια εζομολογη σομαι σοι κυριε εν ολη καρδια μου εν βουλη ευθειων και συναγωγη

In Hebrew —

לְדָוִד מִזְמֹור נְאֻם יְהוָה ׀ לַֽאדֹנִי שֵׁב לִֽימִינִי עַד־אָשִׁית אֹיְבֶיךָ הֲדֹם לְרַגְלֶֽיךָ׃

In English —

The Lord [YHWH] says to my Lord [Adoni]: / “Sit at my right hand, / until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Again, Jesus would have uttered Adonai when He quoted the Tetragrammaton YHWH; instead of attempting to pronounce YHWH, Jesus would have used a word close in appearance and close in sound to what David wrote when indicating that the Messiah would come as a man. And this is what translation into English, especially, conceals: the Pharisees would have realized that Jesus had pointed to the particular place in Scripture where the Messiah is identified as a man, and as God in the form of a man. The missing vowel that separates Adoni from Adonai is missing “breath.”

What Matthew records in his gospel is not a reading of the Septuagint translation of the Psalm, for Matthew records,

Είπεν ό Κύριος τω Κυρίω μου, Κάθου έκ δεξιων μου, εως αν θω τούς έχθρούς σου ύποπόδιον των ποδων σου; (Matt 22:44)

Thus, with the crowd already calling Jesus the beloved son of David, and now with Jesus pointing to where this Son of David will be a man to whom David paid homage, the Pharisees have nothing they can say. They are not about to pay homage to Jesus. Any accusations by them will only incite the crowd, and they know what Jesus has just done to them; for they were, as rabbinical Judaism contends, excellent readers of Scripture.

Unfortunately, early Trinitarians used this passage in Matthew to “prove” that Jesus was God—they were not good readers … although rabbinical Judaism, Muslim apologists, and Arian disciples pounce upon what Matthew records as if they were a litter of tabby cats with a church mouse, each using the two /Κυριος/s to show a mistranslation of Psalm 110:1, the recorded translation did take place, and did silence the Pharisees. Today, rabbinical Judaism contends that this conversation never took place, could not have taken place, and has to be a fiction. Again, Judaism’s contention is that the Pharisees were excellent readers of text, that they knew the Scripture, that they would have immediately disputed any assignment of the same linguistic icons for both the Tetragrammaton YHWH and for Adoni; for as a reader will note that in the Hebrew text, the first mention of deity in the Psalm is that of YHWH, which, again, the person quoting the Psalm from the Hebrew text would have voiced as Adonai. Thus, Judaism “proof” that the verbal exchange did not occur is actually proof that it did occur.

If Jesus would have quoted the Psalm from the Septuagint as He had quoted from Psalm 8 two days earlier when addressing the chief priests and scribes, He would have used a differing icon for the second /Lord/ than to repeat, varying only the case ending, the Greek icon Kurios. Therefore, the logical and only assumption to be made is that Jesus quoted from Psalm 110 in Hebrew.

The proper question is, then, why did Jesus change from using Greek to the Sadducees to using Hebrew with the Pharisees—and the answer lies in the remainder of Psalm 110, which addresses an endtime situation when YHWH will, from Zion, rule enemies and make clean His people; when YHWH will make Adoni [again, a human Lord] a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, with this elevated human Lord sitting at the right hand of YHWH and with this elevated human being shattering kings on the day of his wrath. And Jesus, having two days earlier accepted the crowd calling Him this son of David, now uses the one certain place where in Hebrew the Messiah is shown to be an Adoni, a human Lord.

What are the Pharisees to say? When they answered Jesus’ question about whose son is the Christ by saying that He is the son of David, the Pharisees, knowing Scripture [and this is the key], had to admit that the Christ would come as a man, as a human Lord, as Adoni.

Jesus was not, when confronting these Pharisees, then God in the flesh, fully man and fully God, as too many ignorant Christians contend: He was a man, twice born (once of water and once of Spirit), who was without sin and who had never been subject to sin, for His father wasn’t the first Adam but Theos. And His physicalness concealed from the Pharisees that He was the same entity into which the nation of Israel had entered a marriage covenant at Sinai. Thus, the Tzimtzum again concealed from spiritually lifeless human beings those things that are without the void.


The relationship between Adonai and Adoni aptly represented the relationship between the world revealing the things of God and this world concealing those same things of God. This relationship is also seen in Pneuma ’Agion. [Πνευμα Άγιον] and deep human breath, pneuma, with the linguistic icon usually ascribed to deep breathing representing life received from the creative power of God. Thus, what is revealed is that this Breath of God functions as human breath does, but since it is not of this world, it is not “breath” as human beings breathe but the activating life force of living entities in the heavenly realm. The linguistic icons representing “breath” are, at best, metaphors for this supra-dimensional force, to which any assignment of personhood is infantile silliness.

The probability of 1st-Century CE Pharisees grasping what Jesus revealed after He silenced the Sadducees was not high. Even His disciples did not grasp what He had revealed prior to when they were born of Spirit through receiving the Holy Spirit [Pneuma ’Agion] (John 20:22).

The man Jesus of Nazareth came as the last Adam, a life-giving spirit (1 Co 15:45). The first Adam was a type of the last Adam (Rom 5:14), just as the glorified Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizidek (cf. Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6; 6:20; 7:1-22). This is what Jesus revealed to the Pharisees in advance of it happening, and this is what the Pharisees understood but were not willing to accept. The Logos as Theos accepted tithes from the patriarch Abraham; for He was this Melchizidek who was “without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb 7:3). And this Melchizidek came as His Son, His only (John 3:16); so it is right that this Melchizidek’s presence in Scripture conceals from those who are blinded by unbelief the perfection attained by the Cross, perfection that the Levitical priesthood could not obtain through the blood of bulls and goats. And in obtaining this perfection, the type vanishes as Scripture will when the void passes away, but the reality resides and will reside at the right hand of the Most High forever.

Lofty language? All that is written on the hides of lambs, on copper scrolls, on paper, in binary codes will pass away. Only epistles written on the hearts of men, not with ink but with the soft Breath of God will endure, will escape this bottomless void; only what is written in the Book of Life will be read when fire closes the Tzimtzum opened by rebellion. These words will not survive except as they cause human beings to repent of their lawlessness, turn to God, and by faith mentally journey to spiritual Judea where the person will keep the precepts of the Law, believing that Jesus is Lord and that the Father raised Him from the dead. This journey, this profession of belief, this faith will be counted as righteousness. This faith will cleanse the heart, permitting the heart to be spiritually circumcised. This spiritual circumcision causes the person to be of Israel, for no one is a Jew outwardly but inwardly (Rom 2:28-29). Circumcision is not a matter of mutilating the flesh, a practice that conceals through the physicalness of the flesh the activating power that comes from being born of Spirit. Rather, circumcision is the paring away of all disobedience.

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©2007 Homer Kizer.  All rights reserved.

"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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[1] Baptism by water is unto death, not life. The old self is put to death through baptism; for following death comes judgment (Heb 9:27). And with judgment now on the household of God (1 Pet 4:17), all who are of this household have died through baptism.

[2] The concept of a second birth by Spirit when old negates the concept of human beings having immortal souls from birth. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. When the man Jesus had the divine Breath of the Father descend and light on Him in the form of a dove, He became the spiritual reality of the first Adam receiving the breath of Elohim [singular in usage] and then becoming a nephesh, a breathing creature. He fulfilled all righteousness by being “born of Spirit,” and He did not then have two spiritual lives dwelling within the tent of flesh born of the womb of Mary. As the reality of the Yom Kipporim sin offering for Israel, He had one physical life that would be lost on the Cross [the reality of the goat sacrificed on the altar] and one spiritual life received from the Father that would, according to Peter, proclaim obedience to the spirits in prison [the reality of the Azazel goat bearing the sins of Israel]. He was not born with an immortal soul, which would have been another spiritual life [there are not two Azazel goats annually led into the wilderness by the hand of a fit man].