The Trinity Delusion An exposť of the doctrine of the Trinity

John 17:5

Now, Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.


The Trinitarian Claim

Trinitarians interpret the text to mean Jesus had this glory with the Father before the creation of the world, he did not currently have this glory because he had relinquished this glory, and he is asking to have this glory returned to him. Based on this interpretation, they claim that Jesus existed as a self-conscious person prior to the creation.


The Claim vs. The Facts

The Scriptural facts show us that Jesus is not asking for his glory back nor is he indicating that he existed as a self-conscious person before creation.


The Problems with the Claim

1. Trinitarian Eisegesis

It must be recognized what Trinitarians are imagining into the text. They imagine Jesus is talking about a "time" before time began "when" he was with the Father and it was then when he shared this glory with the Father.


2. "Before the world was" or "Before I came down from heaven"?

Trinitarians take statements like "I have come down from heaven" at John 6:38 to mean Jesus was a self-conscious pre-existent person who came down out of heaven into Mary's womb about 2000 years ago. A similar idea is supposed at Philippians 2:5-11 where Trinitarians typically claim that the incarnation of the pre-existent God the Son is when Jesus gave up this particular glory.

If a pre-existent Jesus had given up his glory when he came down from heaven to be incarnated, and he is asking to have it returned to him, one would expect him to have said, "Now, Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before I came down from heaven. In Trinitarian doctrine, Jesus did not give up his glory at "the foundation of the world"; he gave up his glory when he became a human being. However, this problem is simply ignored by Trinitarian interpreters.


3. Jesus has given future disciples this same glory

At John 17:22, Jesus is praying for his future disciples. Many of these disciples do not yet exist. But Jesus said he has given (past tense) these future disciples this same glory. He does a similar thing when he says he had already sent his disciples into the world, "Just as You sent me into the world, I have also sent them into the world" in verse 18, when in fact this occurs after his resurrection, "Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you" and he sends them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit.(20:21).

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word....The glory which You have given me I have given to them. John 17:22.

The Trinitarian interpretation is inconsistent with these statements. If one wants to interpret John 17:5 to mean Jesus existed with the Father before creation then one will also necessarily need to consistently interpret Jesus' words in verse 22 as meaning his future disciples existed along with him when he was saying this prayer. However, Trinitarians simply ignore these inconsistencies.


4. A Glory-less Divine Nature?

In Trinitarian doctrine, Jesus does not give up his divine nature when he becomes a human being in the incarnation. But this means that Trinitarians are suggesting Jesus had a divine nature which was devoid of divine glory. But this is absurd. In Trinitarian doctrine, the divine nature is defined as the possession of various attributes. To be void of any of these attributes means you don't have the divine nature since that nature has been defined as the possession of those attributes. This inconsistency is also ignored by Trinitarians.


5. We have seen his Glory

In John chapter 1, John explains how the Word became flesh which Trinitarians interpret as the incarnation of God the Son. Then he says, "we have seen his glory." How could they see his divine glory if he relinquished this glory and needs to ask for it back at John 17:5. This problem is also disregarded by Trinitarians.

The Word became flesh and dwelled among us and we have seen his glory. 1:14

We were eyewitnesses of his majesty for when he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice said to him from the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased."
2 Peter 1:17

6. "Had It" does not amount to Self Conscious Pre-existence

Carefully regard the following passages:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:3-4.

God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages, but now has been manifested by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:9-10

Paul speaks about having been chosen before the foundation of the world. He also speaks about grace having been given to us before the creation of the world. He had chosen us. It had been given to us. We had it. We had it but this does not mean we pre-existed as self-conscious persons at the foundation of the world. Somehow, Trinitarians can comprehend how this can be true but the same thought doesn't occur to them concerning John 17:5. And this fact is also disregarded by Trinitarians.


7. The Lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world

John is the author of John 17:5. Trinitarians interpret this glory as something Jesus "had" - past tense. He is also the person who said that Jesus is "the Lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world. How could John say such a thing? How could he speak about the crucifixion in past tense saying the Lamb had been slain from the foundation of the world? Trinitarians intuitively know what John means when he speaks these words. God has been finished all His works from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3; cf. Isaiah 55:11) and He fixed the times and seasons by His own authority (Acts 1:7). John could speak of the crucifixion as a past even from the foundation of the world because God spoke it to be, He was finished His work and the cross event had been predestined by God to be manifested in the time and season He established. But for some reason, Trinitarians are not able to apply the same line of reasoning to John 17:5. And again, they disregard this fact as well.


Analysis of the Facts

1. Jesus speaks about his glorification as if he currently has it

Jesus was glorified when God raised him from the dead. So we know that Jesus is not yet glorified when he is praying at John 17. He is praying to be glorified. John says the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus was not yet glorified (7:39).

Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? Luke 24:26.

But in verse 17:22, Jesus indicates God had already given him this glory. Jesus speaks of his glorification as if it had already been given to him.


2. Jesus gives his future disciples the same glory

At John 17:22, Jesus is praying for his future disciples, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." And then he gives these future disciples this same glory.

"Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world.... The glory which You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one....I desire that they also, whom You have given me, be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory which You have given me.

This glory is given to disciples who have not even existed yet. They had it because Jesus had already given it to them. But they don't exist yet. Obviously then, the same thing can be true of Jesus.


3. John 17:24

John 17:24 clarifies John 17:5. Notice how Jesus refers to having been loved "before the foundation of the world" but in this same breath he also says, "my glory which you have given me."

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see my glory which You have given me, for You loved me before the foundation of the world.

He (the Lamb) was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for your sake. 1 Peter 1:0.

The Lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8.

At this point, it should be abundantly clear that the language of John 17:5 doesn't necessarily mean that Jesus existed as a self-conscious person. Otherwise, we would need to consistently conclude that Christians also pre-existed before they were born since they had been chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) and they had grace before the times of the ages (2 Tim 1:9) and they had this same glory given to them by Jesus (Jn 17:22). But we know we did not exist before creation to have received anything before creation. This language refers to God's predestination, what God purposed to do because what God purposes is certain to be fulfilled. Since God gets all His works accomplished by the word He spoke (Isaiah 55:1), and He has been finished all His works from the foundation of the world (Heb 4:3), and He fixed times and season when things will occur, we know these things can be said of Christians because God has already spoken it to be done for us. From God's perspective it was done.


4. Interpretation of John 17:5

Using a typical English translation of John 17:5, Jesus is referring to something he already had because God had given it to him from the foundation of the world (cf. Rev 13:8). God had given it to him but He also fixed the times and seasons when things will occur in our time and space (Acts 1:7). God had already given this glory to him, resurrection glory, and he was now about to receive it. Just as the Lamb had been slain from the foundation of the world, and he was about to be crucified, he had been given this glory from the foundation of the world, and he was about to receive that glory.


5. Questionable Translation

As we have seen, there is no need to interpret a typical translation of John 17:5 as Trinitarians do. And so we could stop right there and have no need to say anymore. However, there is a further problem. Have Trinitarians even translated this verse properly? This writer does not think so.

The Greek text is as follows:

και νυν δοξασον με συ πατερ παρα σεαυτω τη δοξη η ειχον προ του τον κοσμον ειναι παρα σοι

Jesus refers to being "beside" or "alongside" (para) the Father twice in this verse.

και νυν δοξασον με συ πατερ παρα σεαυτω τη δοξη η ειχον προ του τον κοσμον ειναι παρα σοι

and now glorify me You Father alongside you to that glory I had before the the world to be alongside you

Einai

The problem with the Trinitarian translation is that they simply translate the infinitive verb einai as "was" and then move the words "alongside you" to another spot on the sentence. Firstly, einai does not mean "was." English translators sometimes use the word "was" to translate this verb but not because that is what the word means. They can only do this because English speakers can sometimes express a similar idea with other words. For example, an expression such as, "They believed Jesus to be (einai) the Christ" might be translated as "They believed Jesus was the Christ." But the reader must clearly understand something here. They can't do this because einai means "was." They can only do this because the entire expression, "They believed Jesus to be (einai) the Christ" can also be expressed in English as "They knew he was the Christ." The point here is that we can say the same thing another way in English. In other words, an exact translation is "They believed Jesus to be (einai) the Christ." However, it just so happens that we express the same idea in English as, "They believed Jesus was the Christ." In other words, the latter is not really a true translation the Greek text; it just so happens that the whole expression is another English way of expressing the same idea. The Greek word einai simply does not mean "was." It means "to be."

Also, the infinitive verb einai expects a complement. This verb means "to be" and expects you to indicate just what it is that is to be. "They believed Jesus to be __?__." "They knew him to be the Christ." Whenever this infinitive is used, it expects us to understand that something or someone is TO BE something or TO BE someone. The expected complement of einai implicitly answers the question "What?" or "Who?" However, the Trinitarian translation of John 17:5 ignores this fact.

Now regard the actual words John used at the end of the verse, "to be alongside you." We should expect that the words "alongside you" are the complement which the infinitive einai expects.

Additionally, grammarians will refer to einai as an articular infinitive because there is an article modifying. Notice the double (definite) article in the text:

και νυν δοξασον με συ πατερ παρα σεαυτω τη δοξη η ειχον προ του τον κοσμον ειναι παρα σοι

The second article modifies the Greek word kosmos - the world. The first article is what makes einai an articular infinitive. The effect of such a sentence structure is that the entire expression is modified by this article, "before THE [the world to be alongside you]." The article modifies everything in brackets. The article doesn't just modify the verb itself. It modifies the verbal expression and makes this entire set of words function like a noun, a "something." Because the entire verbal expression is a definite "something," it is preceded by the article του. As an example, Philippians 2:6 literally reads "the to be equal to God." This article here is not intended to only modify the verb einai (to be) but to modify the entire verbal expression and make it function like a noun. In this case, the "something" in question is equality with God (lit. "to be equal to God") and so the entire verbal expression is preceded by the article. So when we interpret the Greek text of John 17:5, we must appreciate how the Greek grammar is intended to function.

What It Means

The effect of this structure is that Jesus saying is saying he had something "before." Before what? Before the [the world to be alongside you]. A further examination of the terms used in this verse will clarify further what is intended by the words in John 17:5.


Kosmos ("World")

The Trinitarian interpretation essentially interprets John 17:5 to say Jesus is referring to the glory he had with the Father before the creation of the heavens and the earth ("before the world was"). They are interpreting the word "world" (kosmos) to be essentially a synonym for "creation" in some sense. But let us examine how Jesus is using the word "world" in John 17.

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave me out of the world.... I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world.... I am no longer in the world and they themselves are in the world.... these things I speak in the world .... the world has hated them, because they are not of the world , just as I am not of the world .... I do not ask You to take them out of the world... They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world... just as You sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world... The glory which You have given me I have given to them... so that the world may know that You sent me.

Carefully understand how Jesus is using the word "world." Jesus prays for the disciples but not the world. The world hates the disciples because they are not of this world. Jesus sends his disciples into the world just as the Father sent him into the world. The "world" here is obviously not planet earth or the physical universe. Jesus is not talking about planet earth or the physical universe hating his disciples nor is he informing us that he is not praying for the physical universe or that he is sending his disciples into the universe. The word "world" here is referring to the fallen created order, the fallen state of affairs. For this reason, Jesus prays for his disciples who are not of this world but does not pray for "the world," that is, those who are of the fallen world which the disciples are not.

This being the case, we must then honestly ask ourselves what Jesus means by "before the world" at John 17:5. The repeated use of the word "world" in the immediately following context shows us that the word "world" is not referring planet earth or the physical universe. Otherwise, several statements in John 17 turn into complete nonsense.

So what does this all mean?


The Immediate Context

The Trinitarian interpretation of John 17:4 ignores the immediately preceding context. Carefully regard what Jesus is talking about in the preceding verses:

Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.... I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do. Now, Father, glorify me together alongside Yourself, to that the glory I had...

Jesus tells us that he had glorified the Father on earth. How did he do this? The Gospel of John makes it quite clear to us. The Father abiding in Jesus did the works (14:10). Jesus glorified the Father in terms of the works he did in the name of the Father (5:43). Having glorified the Father (17:4), he then asks the Father to glorify him (17:5). The works Jesus did manifested his glory (2:11). Jesus said he did not glorify himself in terms of who he was but it was his Father who glorified him (8:54). This is because the Father abiding in him did the works (14:10) and in this way "the glory that comes from the only God" are those works Jesus was saying and going (5:43-44). In this way, the Father was glorified in him (12:28; 17:4), glorified in terms of the works Jesus did since he came in his Father's name to do the Father's works (10:32) and the Father abiding in him did those works.

Note also how Jesus is asking to be glorified so that he will glorify the Father in that glorification. Additionally, notice how Jesus said that he glorified the Father on the earth in verse 17:4. Now compare this fact with the following:

"to that glory I had before the world."

The glory which Jesus had alongside (para) the Father before the world isn't referring to a glory which Jesus had before the creation of the heavens and the earth. He is referring to the glory he had alongside (para) the Father in terms of the works he was doing before the people of the world (17:4), those who hated Jesus and the disciples who are not of the world.

I speak the things which I have seen para my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard para your father. 8:38

How can you believe, when you receive glory para one another and you do not seek the glory that is para the one and only God? 5:44

Now they have come to know that everything You have given me is para You. 17:7.

7. Summary: Translation

The facts show us that John's words are being entirely misconstrued by Trinitarian interpreters. Jesus' words, (lit.) "and now glorify me You Father alongside you to that glory I had before the the world to be alongside you" mean that Jesus is asking to be glorified to that glory he had alongside the Father in terms of the works he did before the world who hates Jesus and his disciples. These works manifested his glory and glorified the Father who was abiding in him doing the works and who glorified Jesus in this manner concerning these works. At John 17:5, Jesus wants to be glorified to that glory which he had alongside Father before the world who hated him when he did those works and which glory is "to be (einai) alongside You"

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself, unless it is something he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son likewise does. 5:19.

Conclusion

Jesus was the Lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world. Trinitarians and everyone else knows this does not mean a crucifixion event pre-existed. It is referring to God's predestination and His predestined things are realities from the foundation of the world since He has been finished all His works from the foundation of the world. And He also set the times and seasons these realities will be manifested in our time and space of creation.

If we accept a typical Trinitarian translation of this verse, the Scriptural facts show us that the Trinitarian claim here is unwarranted. The Scripture speaks of Christians who were chosen before the foundation of the world and who had grace given to them before the times of the ages. This language does not mean the self consciously pre-existed yet at John 17:5 this is what Trinitarians are claiming such language necessarily means when the Scriptures show us plainly that this is incorrect.

But the Trinitarian claim has even more problems. A simple review of the context, and the word "world" in this context, shows that Trinitarians are entirely off base. At John 17:4, Jesus is referring to how he glorified the Father in terms of the works he was doing. And since the Father abiding in Jesus did the works (14:10), the Father glorified Jesus in terms of the works he was doing (5:44; 8:54). The facts force us to interpret the Greek text of John 17:5 to mean that Jesus is asking to be glorified to that glory, that is, the glory he had with the Father in terms of the works the Father did through him.

The Lamb who had been slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8.


Created: June 12, 2012
Last Update/Revision: December 12, 2016


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