Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Does Mark 13:32 imply that the Holy Spirit is not God?

"But as for that day or hour no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son except the Father." (Mark 13:32 NET)

This verse has often been used to disprove the Deity of Christ, on the basis that God knows all things, and if Jesus were fully God, He would have known the time of His second coming. Trinitarians reply that there were a number of things Jesus did not know during His earthly ministry. Luke 2:52 speaks of Him growing in wisdom. Surely, as a human child, Jesus had to learn everything any other human child must learn - how to crawl, walk, talk, etc. Otherwise, He would not have been fully human (John 1:14). Thus, it is possible to see the limitations of Jesus' knowledge as linked to the Incarnation - the Infinite God making Himself human and entering space and time.

But recently, I have seen non-Trinitarians using this pericope as a way to disprove the Deity of the Holy Spirit. The argument goes something like this: If we grant that the Second Person of the Trinity is limited in His knowledge by becoming Incarnate, what about the Third Person? Jesus says none but the Father knows the day and hour of His return, therefore the Holy Spirit cannot be God because there is something He does not know, and you cannot explain away this limitation by means of the Incarnation because the Spirit never became flesh."

It is important to note that this verse does not explicitly teach that the Holy Spirit lacks knowledge - He is not specifically named in this verse. Indeed, there is nothing in this entire passage having to do with the Holy Spirit. It is only by implication that He is included in the class of persons of whom Christ says "no one knows it." But is this implication Scripturally sound?

It would be if there were other verses that limited the Spirit's knowledge, but there are none. In fact, there is Biblical evidence that the Spirit's knowledge is no more limited than God's knowledge. Consider:

"God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man's spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10-11 NET).

In this verse - which deals directly with the knowledge possessed by the Spirit - Paul says that just as a man's spirit knows "the things of a man," so God's Spirit knows "the things of God." Since God knows all things, so too the Spirit of God knows all things.

Non-Trinitarians may object that the spirit of a man is not a Person, separate from the man himself. This is really an objection to the Spirit being a Person, not to the Spirit being omniscient. But this objection cannot be logically made in the context of the original argument. The original argument presupposes the Personhood of the Spirit. In other words, the non-Trinitarian conceeds the Personhood of the Spirit for the sake of his argument: "If the Spirit is a Person, He cannot be God because God knows all things, but there is something the Spirit doesn't know." Thus, in accepting the presupposition, the non-Trinitarian cannot abandon that presupposition to attack our answer.

Within the context of the original argument, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 provides direct Scriptural evidence that the Spirit's knowledge is no more limited than is God's. It is a clear statement about what the Spirit knows. If we are to follow sound exegetical principles, we must allow this verse to inform our understanding of Mark 13:32. Since Jesus is not addressing the Spirit in this passage, and since Scripture provides clear evidence that the Spirit's knowledge is not limited in any way, we may confidently say that Mark 13:32 in no way undermines the doctrine of the Deity of the Holy Spirit.