Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 6, 1953

The Divinity Of Christ

C. F. George, Brownwood, Texas

From some of the criticisms I have read one would suppose that reading the Revised Standard Version of the Bible would have the opposite effect from what the reading of the Bible should have. Instead of producing faith that it would destroy it. I have examined this text somewhat and the criticisms that have been leveled against it and I have failed to come to this conclusion. I find some things that I regard as defects as I do in the other translations. But to say that the reading of it is not profitable is in my opinion false.

The main charge that has been brought against this text by our brethren is that it destroys the divinity of Christ. The translators may everyone be modernists but they have not destroyed the divinity of Christ. Let me examine the first objection, Isaiah 7:14. In this text it read "Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." In the footnote the alternate reading of "young woman" is a "virgin." The meaning of Immanuel is "God with us." The meaning of this name declares Him to be God, so the divinity of Christ is affirmed in this passage regardless of whether "young woman" should have been in the text or not. In the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew 1:23, it reads "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means God with us). In both the prophecy and in the fulfillment He is called God. The fulfillment clearly states Him to be born of a "virgin" which shows that the "young woman" spoken of in Isaiah was a "virgin." But the divinity of Christ is more deeply embedded in the scripture than this.

Space will not permit giving all the arguments on the divinity of Christ but I shall deal principally with the issues involved in this one passage. The issue is whether Jesus was conceived out of the ordinary course of nature by the Father and therefore both divine and human. To answer this question thoroughly we must go to other scriptures. A related question is, was this Sonship eternal? In what sense is Christ the Son of God? I am going to use this text (RSV) in answering these questions so all quotations will be from the disputed version. The answers to the above questions will be found in Luke 1:35. "And the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you: therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." From this passage we learn that Jesus is called "the Son of God" because of the way he was conceived, that His Sonship was not eternal, (that is, not from the beginning). Incidentally this passage from Luke specifically declares His father to be God. Now for this account of the birth of Jesus to be given credence there had to be a method of convincing the average mind that this was true and not the fabrication of some person's imagination. The apostle Paul gives this proof in Romans 1:3-4, "The gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord." Here Paul declares that the proof of His Sonship, His being begotten by the Father, is His resurrection from the dead. This was the crowning proof of His divinity. It was proof that He was not an imposter and was all that He claimed to be. He who accepts the proofs of the resurrection should not find anything else difficult.

There is one more question that I shall deal with before closing this essay. Does the RSV translation destroy the idea that Christ is God? I shall quote a few passages and see. Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace'." In this passage He is called "Everlasting Father," His divine nature was not created. He is also called "Mighty God." I do not see how language could be plainer concerning the deity of Christ. John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things were made through Him and without Him was not anything made that was made." This passage states that He is God, that He is eternal, that He is a separate personality from God the Father. The translators may be Unitarians but there is no Unitarianism in this passage. One of the worst translations that I have noticed is Romans 9:5, "To them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God be blessed forever." According to most scholars there is no excuse for breaking this up into two sentences, but this trick does not do away with the deity of Christ in the passage. When he said "according to the flesh" he indicated that Christ had another nature besides His human nature that did not come from His Jewish blood. He had a divine nature as well as a human nature.

In summing up let me say that I am not defending the ideas of the translators or their motives, but I fail to see that they have translated the deity of Christ out of the Bible. Because of the fact that it does away with the use of many archaic words that have been the cause of many erroneous ideas arising from the, use of the Authorized Version I believe it will prove useful in the study of God's word. If it is wrong to use unknown tongues in praying and singing and teaching, I believe we should at least have a version around whose terms we are not so obsolete that we can properly understand what is being said. However I do not believe it to be as good as the American Standard Revision.