Jesus and the Jewish scribe show us how the Shema is to be understood. He proves that the oneness indicated in the Shema is a oneness of identity, not nature, and that he himself is not the one God in question.
Jesus and the Scribe Explain How to understand the Shema
The Shema says, "the LORD our God, the LORD is one." In this passage, Jesus quotes the Shema. And then the scribe responds by saying, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he." Jesus responds to him by saying he spoke wisely.
In the doctrine of the Trinity, the oneness of God is a oneness of divine substance. The doctrine indicates that three persons all have this one divine substance and it is this one divine substance they call "God." So the statement, "the Lord our God the Lord is one" can only mean "one divine substance," or "one what." God is one "what."
But here in Mark 12, we can clearly see that the word "one" in the Shema is intended to mean "there is no other but He." Quite clearly, the scribe is referring to personal identity, a who, and not nature, a what, "there is no other but He." Notice also that the scribe is referring to God as "He." We also later find the Jews confessing the Father is their one God (Jn 8:41). The language in Mark is quite similar to Deuteronomy 32:39 where Yahweh God says there is no God besides Him. And when we check to see who is speaking in that verse, we find in in verse 32:6 that it is Yahweh identifying himself as the Father of the Israelites.
Who did Jesus have in mind?
We really know who these two Jews had in mind and to argue it was a Triune being is ridiculous. Indeed we read that the Jews say to Jesus in John 8, "we have one father: God."
Now here is the critical question. Just who did Jesus have in mind when HE said the Shema. When Jesus prayed the words, "the LORD our God, the LORD is one," was he referring to his Father alone? Or did he have a three person God in mind? Was he actually thinking, "the LORD our (Triune God), the LORD is one (substance)" The proposition is really quite absurd when you think about it.
Also very carefully notice he says, "OUR God." As a faithful Jew, Jesus served his God and Father. His God is also our God. As he later said, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
Even further can anyone say this "He" in this verse is Jesus? NO! Because if anyone says the HE in this verse is Jesus it would exclude the Father. The only option then is to claim the HE is the Triune being. However, the problem still remains. Is Jesus the Triune being? NO! By definition in the doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus cannot be the one God being discussed. So if he is not the one God being discussed he is not the one God and if he is not the one God to claim he is God is to claim he is another God than the God being discussed.
The Impossibility of the "HE" being a Triune God
It is plainly obvious, among Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians alike, that Jesus' God was his Father alone. Jesus was referring to HIS God. In fact, Jesus' God is identified as the God of the Lord. Jesus' God was not a Trinity. HIS God was not a Triune being. It is quite impossible for Jesus to be referring to HIS God as a Trinity, a Triune being. Jesus agrees that the words, "there is no other but HE," a quotation from Deuteronomy, interpret what the Shema means. "The LORD is one" means there is one HE and there is no other but this one HE. Jesus was a Jew born under the Law. He was obligated to keep the Law and serve the God of Israel, HIS God. When this twenty year old Jew, Jesus, read the words "there is no other but HE", that HE was necessarily Jesus' Father alone and it is impossbile to claim otherwise since Jesus' God is not a Triune being. Hence, that HE in Mark 12:32 is God the Father. And if Jesus agrees there is no other but God the Father this fact does by necessity exclude everyone else, including himself, from identity as YAHWEH, the God of Israel. The Trinitarian claim that the HE of Mark 12:32 is the Triune God an certain impossiblity since Jesus is referring to HIS God and HIS God was not a Triune God.
The Scriptures Positively Identify the "HE" in question as the Father
It is quite impossible for the "HE" of Mark 12:28-34 to be the Triune God. Additionally, the Scriptures demonstrate that the "HE" in the quotation "there is no other but HE" is most definitely the Father.
In the following passage, it is quite clear that God who raises up His servant Jesus to be a prophet is he Father:
Moses said, "The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers and you shall listen to everything he says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, "And in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." For you first, God raised up His servant-son and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways
It is quite clear that "God" in this context is the Father who sent His servant, His son, Jesus. It is therefore the Father who promised to raise up the prophet Jesus. Peter is here quoting from Deuteronomy 18:15-18:
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die." The LORD said to me, "They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. Deuteronomy 18:15-18.
We have already seen that the Scriptures demonstrate it is God the Father who made this promise to raise up the prophet Jesus and to send Jesus to Israel first as Peter declared in Acts 3. Now notice here that we have further information about who made this promise - it is the One who spoke out of the fire to Israel. This incident can be found at Exodus 20 where God is giving the Law to Israel. It is the Father who spoke out of the fire to Israel, He who promised to raise up the prophet Jesus, His servant-son, and to send this prophet, Jesus, to Israel.
And this is what Moses said about the One who spoke out of the fire, He who we have postively identified as the Father:
Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived? Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire. Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today. Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:33-39.
It is quite clear that Jesus and the Jewish scribe are referring to this passage at Mark 12:28-34 when the scribe says, "there is no other be HE/HIM." If we also keep reading through Deuteronomy chapter 5 up to Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, we also see that the Shema refers to the One who spoke to Israel out of the fire, whom we have seen, is necessarily the Father. It is also quite clear that the specific identity who promised Israel to raise up the prophet Jesus God the Father who sent Jesus to Israel first as Peter declares. It is also quite clear that the Father then is the One who spoke out of the fire to Israel. Therefore, Moses uses the words "there is no other but HE" to refer to the Father, He who spoke to them out of the fire.
The Scriptures show us clearly what Jesus and the Jewish scribe are talking about. Jesus' God, his Father, is the "HE" of Mark 12:28-34, "there is no other but "HE." And these words exclude absolutely everyone but the Father from being identified as the one God of Israel.
The Jewish scribe qualified the Shema spoken by Jesus, "the Lord our God the Lord is one" by responding with the words "He is one, and there is no other but He." The words, "there is no other but He" means that He is the only one, that is, "the Lord our God the Lord is one." The scribe explains that the words "the Lord is one" means "there is no other but HE" and that the Shema means God is one HE. Jesus indicated the Jewish scribe answered wisely.
If the Shema means God is one HE then who is this "HE"? It is not Jesus because that would exclude everyone else. Neither is Jesus the same identity as the Triune being. Jesus is not the Trinity and the Trinity is not Jesus. Moreover, we know for certain these two Jews could not have been talking about a Triune being.
In John 4, Jesus explains that the Jews worship what we know. They knew nothing of a three person God. The answer to this passage is plainly clear. It only requires an honest heart to see, a heart that loves God and truth more than a doctrinal tradition.
The "HE" in the words quoted by the scribe, "there is no other but HE" are positively and clearly identified in the Scriptures as the Father. These words exclude everyone else and leave only the Father as the one true God of Israel and the God of the Shema whom we are to love with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind.
An Appeal to Trinitarians
As a former Trinitarian of many years, I would like to make an appeal to Trinitarians regarding personal integrity. Is your creedal tradition more important to you than the facts and the truth? It is obvious to me, and should be obvious to you, precisely WHO Jesus and this Jewish scribe are talking about: God the Father. The Scriptural evidence is crystal clear and tells us quite plainly that the "HE" in question is the Father, He who spoke out of the fire to Israel and promised to raise up the prophet Jesus, His servant and His Son. And this fact demonstrates that the God of Jesus is the God of Israel, and is the God of Christians, the Father alone, "there is no other but HE." Seek not the approval of men but the approval of God..
Last Updated: August 23, 2012