The late A. E. Knoch, the compiler of the Concordant Literal New Testament, has been found to have been teaching much doctrinal error. Some in fellowship with us had asked for a response to Knoch's writings. The following is the response given by one of our brothers.
I’ve finally read some of A.E. Knoch’s writings: two small booklets, The Pre-existence of Christ and Christ and Deity, along with a short biographical memorial pamphlet and a few other tracts. While demonstrative of the powers of Knoch’s mind, I, for the most part, have found the material to contain serious error. Intelligence, as has been proven over and over, as impressive as it is, is no guard against deception but with it comes its own pit falls – knowledge puffs up. It may be that this man fell into that trap, only the Lord knows for sure. But we all, the small and the great are in danger of such a fall, being all made of the same stuff. Its just the less accomplished are not as likely to develop views of self-grandiosity but rather are more likely to follow someone else into their delusion, ending up in the proverbial pit with them. How we should guard ourselves from overly elevating men so as to follow them; and not just in regards to men but even angels, or any other created being, for that matter. We have one Lord; we follow Him. What evil has been spawned from the minds of the "intelligent" in the name of Christ! May God give us grace and humility so that we keep in the way of truth…let us fear! However, in spite of one’s self-assured state, God is gracious and faithful to provides a way of escape, even as the apostle has informed us. His correction He usually delivers through the brethren, humbling in itself and part of the remedy…Yet how few are open to correction. It may help to have a little background on Knoch himself to understand better whom we are dealing with. For I hope to show in this response to Mr. Knoch’s teaching how:
- He is bias in his translation.
- He is in error to teach that which would make God dependent on a creature.
- He is in error in supposing a creature could be the vehicle for creation.
- He is in error teaching that our salvation is on the merits of a creature.
- He is in error to teach there is no plurality of persons in the Godhead.
- He is in error to divide the substantial nature of God from His image and form.
- He leads an attack on the continuity of the Father and the Son.
- He proposes a doctrine that is anti-christ in nature.
Mr. Knoch as a "Plymouth Brethren" - Excommunicated
Mr. Knoch was once among the "Plymouth Brethren" and considered himself a loyal "Brethren" until, as he puts it, "… trouble began. I soon saw that they were concerned to defend what they called "the truth", while I wanted God’s Word." They apparently tried to correct what they saw as his erroneous views but instead of being receptive he persisted, so that, in his own words, "I was silenced, and was not even allowed to quote the Scriptures in a Bible reading." He states it was the church that eventually put him out "because I had fellowship with others outside their circle." Yet, his son mentions nothing of his fellowship with others as their reason for excommunicating his father but has stated it as follows: "While he was highly esteemed by his associates, it became apparent to him that something was wrong. He began pointing out passages in the Scriptures which seemed to him to contradict their teaching on certain subjects. This would not do! He was asked to "sit back" and do no more teaching. So he just read Scriptures, and this led to his eventual excommunication from the group." His son, who was wholly in agreement with his father’s teachings, seems to indicate that his father may have tested their limits by insisting to "just read Scriptures"; that is, he held the floor after having been asked to yield. If this is so, it could hardly be said that he was submissive unto the brethren in the gathering and thus failed in keeping the apostle’s command to, "submit yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ." In a similar circumstance, where an assembly "silenced" a brother, I counseled him to remain in quietness as they had asked, without rebellion being displayed in any way, in order that, the Lord may have opportunity to deal with the situation, seeing as He is Lord over His house and sees things rightly. In Knoch’s case, however, not knowing all that was involved, we can not make specific judgements but only generalities in regards to the principles that pertain to the order in God’s House.
His wife, whom he had meet at the "Brethren" meeting, at first agreed with the assembly and saw her husband’s teachings as "heretical" but after his excommunication and the passing of time she came under his influence and "became his staunchest supporter." After her death he married again, this time to a German women who translated from English into German the Overcomer magazine. The magazine being as it was of a spiritual nature and doctrinally correct, one would think that it would have prepared her against this sort of deception but surprisingly it failed to do so. I believe this is telling. Two sisters with backgrounds that should have prepared them to stand against this teaching but both failed to do so. This may, of course, indicate a charismatic personality on the part of Mr. Knoch but there is the another element that could have played a part as well. The fact is that things are not that clear when it comes to Knoch’s teachings. One is at first not alarmed but is under the impression that what Knoch teaches is in accord with what is correct. It reminds me of my first conversation I had with a Mormon, where for the longest time I thought we were in agreement, only eventually to find out that what she meant by justification, blood atonement, etc., were different in definition than what I meant. Knoch is like this. What he calls God may not be God at all, according to his own definition, what is Deity is not actually Deity in all occurrences, etc. This is very disconcerting and I might add diabolical for it lures one into a relationship with the author under false assumptions and only after one’s guard is let down are his true meanings discovered. As long as the first wife had the help of the brother’s in the assembly to elaborate on the false teaching she could see clearly but as she was away from the assembly she was over whelmed. How difficult it must have been for her.
Opponents of Knoch’s Views – "Apostates"
So, anyway, Mr. Knoch did not receive the brethren’s attempts to correct his teaching and ends up on his own, and to some extent is found criticizing those that opposed him as defending their idea of "the truth" while he, in distinction, wanted "God’s Word". It seems that if one disagreed with him they were wrong and he was right and he would likely assign them, in his mind, to the "apostasy". For he saw "the apostasy" as having gripped hold on the church at large (including the "Brethren") and that most of the saints were "steeped in error". That he was gentle in his words, which only helps toward one’s guard dropping, is apparent but that he was also unbending in his views is just as apparent: "It has become the fashion to make a virtue out of timidity, of dubiousness and uncertainty. Indeed, a firm stand for the truth is decried as "petrified dogmatism" and other slanderous epithets. God gives us, not a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of sanity (2 Tim. 1:7). The era has come when they will not tolerate sound teaching, and turn away from the truth (2 Tim. 4:3,4). Some are always learning, yet not at any time able to come into a realization of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7). Many of the saints do not glorify God as God, they will not have it that all is out of and through and for Him. This is the principal seed-plot of the apostasy." From this statement of his it is obvious that he had been through many a tangle and had been criticized for what his critics saw as his adamant dogmatism; yet he turns it around and categorizes them as apostates.
Now, how he saw God and how the "Plymouth Brethren", and the early church for that matter, saw God was indeed fundamentally different; and this is the issue he singles out as pivotal in regards to whether or not one is part of "the apostasy". To this I would agree, only I would say that it is his view that is in error: Knoch taught Unitarianism, that is, Christ is solely a created being, not Deity, and that there is no trinity of persons in the Godhead. This doctrine, according to the apostle John, is indicative of the spirit of anti-christ and will play a prominent part in the foretold apostasy, which is coming, and will fill the whole earth at the end of this age. In Fact, most all the well known, so called, Christian "cults", now and in the past, have held this Unitarian view to some degree; so much so that, it has become a standard of judgement as to whether or not a group is in Christ. There are a few more of his teachings I take issue with, and the "Brethren" may have as well. One is his strong insistence on Universalism, which states that all will be saved in the end. Another (Though what I have read was written by someone else associated with him, I assume he was in agreement.) is his form of Fatalism, wherein is stated man has no free will. These are well recognized errors but then there are other teachings unique to him, as far as I know, such as, the birth from above, which Jesus refereed to in His discourse with Nicodemus, as applying only to Israel as a nation and not to the Gentiles or individuals. I would suspect, in fact, that there would be but few areas where he has not twisted or turned something in regards to the doctrines found in God’s Word. Yet, he does it in such a way that sounds so very close to the truth, when really it could not be further from it. This may be the reason the brethren in the assembly he attended found it necessary to have him remain quite. When one must be corrected on everything that comes out of their mouth it becomes evident that it is out of order to allow him to continue to dominate the assembly. For he had developed a scheme that incorporated the whole Word of God and was intent on teaching it, so much so, that after he left the assembly he eventually started a magazine, UNSEARCHABLE RICHES, to propagate his doctrine and it appears he gained a following by doing so.
Questions Concerning His Concordant Version
All along Knoch worked on his Concordant Version of the scriptures, for which he is best known and I believe he would consider his life’s accomplishment. The question that arises is whether or not he allowed his doctrinal prejudice to influence his translation. Up until now I had thought it an unbiased translation and for the most part it may very well be. However, holding such strong views we can not but expect that they have had some influence. After looking deeper into his doctrines I have found some matters I am concerned about. They are the translations of some verses on which hangs his doctrine which states Christ to be a creature and not of the Godhead:
John’s Gospel Chapter One Verses One Though Four
In John 1:1,2 he renders "PROS" (Gk.) as "towards" and not as "with" as all other English translators. Where as, Bauer, Arndt and Gingich in their work, A GREEK ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AND OTHER EARLY CHRISTION LITERTURE, gives the English "with" as the equivalent word for "Pros" when its usage is in reference to being "in company" (Mt.13:56 ; Mk.6:3 ; 9:19 ; 14:49 ; Lk. 9:41 ; Jn. 1:1 ; 1Th. 3:4 ; 2Th. 2:5 ; 3:10 ; 1Jn. 1:2.) Knoch agrees with the lexicon for the most part. He translates the word as "with" 42 times while as "toward" only 10 times. In regards to the usage we are referring to, his use of "toward" is primarily involving verses where the company indicated happens to involve God. Why change the word to "toward" when God is involved? Well, Knoch may give us his reason when dealing with John 1:1,2: "No single object can be with itself. One statement implies a difference, the other identity." In other words, he is saying that the verse makes no sense to him because it would mean that the ONE "single object", God, was made up of TWO persons, God and the Word. This he will not have. He will not accept it. Not because of the Greek but because of his prejudice. He sees what it says but will not accept it and goes about to find a way to have it say differently. Knoch, I believe, is just playing with the language here.
Knoch knows he is in opposition to the academics but as true to form he is adamant: "We do not apologize for using this connective here. The Greek pros always has this meaning, and is changed in translation only to conform with English idiom. Very little of vital significance can be extracted from with. Not so with toward. It explains the relation of the Logos to God." Knock’s actions, however, seem to contradict his dogmatism. For if it "always" has the meaning of "toward" why then did he translate it 42 times as "with"? The truth is "PROS has a much wider scope of meanings in the Greek than any of the English equivalents. Therefore, there must be interpretation to make the translation. To convey in English the meaning in any occurrence of the word it must communicate the thought that it would impart to the Greek mind in the contexts it is used. In this context "PROS", in the Greek mind of John’s day, would convey relationship. It would not be stressing the significance of the etymological origin but the historical significance the word had developed to denote when its usage was in the context of "company". To translate "PROS" into English as "toward" would not convey the Greek thought in this instance. It also must be true to the intent of the author. What was John’s intent? He states the Son is in the bosom of the Father. In English we would not describe this relationship as "toward" one another but as "with" one another. John, also, states that our Fellowship is with the Father and the Son. In English we would describe this relationship as "with" them and not "toward" them, as Knoch does. Like I’ve already said, he chooses "with" over "toward", except when it has to do with the Lord’s relationship and ours with the Father. This then likely indicates a lack of objectivity in the translation of these verses.
However, he believes his choice is clear and makes sense, whereas the other scholars’ choice is "incomprehensible". Really! : In the beginning was the word, and the word was toward God, and God was the word. This was in the beginning toward God.< Is this translation clear? Not to me! In fact, it seems much more confusing then the usual way it has been translated; the way, which he says, is "incomprehensible". It is obvious that "PROS" conveys the thought of being in company with others and that in company one beholds the others or is toward the others if you like. But Knoch would build on this to make the Word "toward" God as a creature looks toward its God and that is why he is so determined to translate it so. How then is it that God’s Word, which according to Knoch in the context is His expression, is toward Him? Isn’t it so that, an expression proceeds from an individual and not towards him? How does this make sense? It makes sense to Knoch however, because it is part of his scheme, which will not allow for the "Word" being Deity, as God, and with God. For this would make CLEAR that there is Godhead made up of different persons: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Indeed, even with myself, my words are in me, part of me and with me; on which I reflect and through which I commune with myself. I send them forth from me that others might know me; yet they always remain with me, and remain as me. They contain my thoughts and they are my thoughts. In them I become aware of my self-awareness. If this is so with man, while man is at best only a hint of what God is like, how much more so with God. In what other way could the apostle express this profound union and communion of Godhead so distinctly? In this verse it is emphasized that the eternal Son of God is of such oneness with the eternal Father, in essence, that neither has existed apart form one another and that together they are the one God and as such, they have a relationship which each other, distinct as persons. Even as a flame is different than it’s light yet the two cannot exist apart from one another, and together they are fire, so it is with God: The Son proceeds from the Father without beginning and without end – the Two are eternally One. The Father has never existed without the Son and the Son has never existed without the Father, and, indeed, they cannot exist apart: together they are God. "PROS" should be translated as "with". "In the beginning the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
The Relationship is Love
The Father and Son’s eternal relationship is one of love, it is what’s behind all creation, its commencement and its goal. This disposition of love, innate to God, is diametrically opposed to the spirit of this age, which will not have the Son acknowledged, would lower His esteem in all creation, and, if possible, do away with Him completely in the minds of His creatures. For Satan hates both the Father and the Son, despises their union, and is out to destroy all that it conveys. For it is for the Son of God’s love, all things were created and it is the Father’s design that all things be summed up in Him. He shall have the preeminence and the glory in all creation; and in the end, God, through Him, will fill all things. To conceive of Him as the highest and noblest of all creatures, as Knoch does, is to unimaginably lower Him in honor, glory and power and is to create a gulf between the Father and the Son greater then the distance between the east and the west. This is because the Creator and His creation are on two entirely different planes.
Let me make a philosophical point here. Before God has created anything. When nothing exists but He alone. Being God He is complete and perfect: There can be no higher reality; there can be no greater good. There can never be anything more excellent or desirable than the state of being He is in, for He is God. Now, if that state is of one person then aloneness is the grand ideal of existence. There could, therefore, not even be the concept of oneness, which implies plurality, for such a concept disturbs the aloneness of God’s ideal state. There could be no concept of love for love requires an object, another, to love. Out from such a God there could never have been any motivation or reason for creation. In contrast to this view of God, which is Knoch’s view of aloneness, is the revelation given us in the New Testament: God is love. This revelation, then, implies that an object for His love has always existed – the Son of His love. And also, that the creation was made out from this love so that the Father, His Son and His creatures might rejoice in love, even the same love that is between the Father and the Son, which in the end shall fill the universe. Therefore, God has been a plurality for all eternity, and thus, we are to baptize all believers in Christ "into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:19). It is because God is a plurality we intuitively know of our need and discover our desire to love and be loved. It is because of man’s fall that we are a contradiction within our own selves, carrying out the dictates of selfishness while knowing we ought to love others. This turning to self is a turning away from love and away from God Who is love. This is the spirit in the Evil One who will have no other beside him be honored or worshiped.
Knoch’s High Esteem of His Created Christ
Now, to take back up where I left off before I became philosophical. It is true Knoch places Christ so much higher in greatness than any of the other creatures, to the extent, that, though He is not truly God, He is seen as God to the rest of creation and, according to Knoch, to all practical purposes He is God. Well, if Knoch esteems Him that highly then why not just over look the doctrine and understand it as a mere difference in semantics for in practicality they amounts to the same? No, it is not the same! What men may think is of no account, though it is the slightest hairline crack, both God and Satan know what is at stake. It will cause, in the end, devastation. Praise the Son’s greatness as a creature while denying His Deity and the superstructure of our Faith will eventually brake in ruin: Get a wedge in between the Father and the Son and it is only a matter of time. It is already at work in the mind of Knoch: "It is true that He (God’s Son) was almost always in complete harmony with God’s will, so that there was no clash on." And again: "He (God’s Son) did not want the awful agonies that lay within the path which God had prepared for His feet. He recoiled in terror at the dark shadow which should separate Him from fellowship with God. He was outside the will of His Father. One of them must yield." Listen to what Knoch is saying! He was "almost" always in complete harmony? He was "outside the will of His Father"? What! The Father and the Son at odds with each other! What other things might the Father and the Son be in disagreement over, now or in the future? No one can know! For Knoch’s Christ is no more than a created being, just as you are and I, he too has a will and he too can do wrong. What stops Christ in the long ages of eternity from making that one selfish act and falling into sin? Nothing! He could change his mind at any time. Then our salvation and acceptance with the Father through Him can never be sure! We can never have confidence in our standing if Christ is just another creature! I can have no hope of becoming free from the possibility of sinning. In fact, I can guarantee that if I am joined to a Christ that is only a creature I will sin! But wait! I know this spirit behind Knoch’s teachings – it is anti-christ! It is Satan’s jealousy and self-love. It is his hatred of the Father and the Son. He will not acknowledge their relationship – "this is the spirit of anti-christ" (1 Jn. 4:3); "This is the anti-christ, even he that denieth the Father and the Son." (1 Jn. 2:22). He fallaciously esteems Christ! Exalting Him as the greatest of God’s creatures? The truth is he deplores Christ! Demoting Him to an unimaginable degree and separating the Father and the Son by the same distance.
"And God was the word" vs "And the Word was God"
There are other problems with this portion of scripture involving the way in which he has translated it. The order of the words in the last phrase of verse 1 he has chosen to translate as "and God was the word", in place of, "the Word was God". Translated in this manner the phrase could be understood as to remove any intrinsic relation between the Word and God. For Knoch’s doctrine, inaccurately, states that John’s purpose in writing this letter was so that the Jews would understand that it was the created "word", throughout all their history, who had all along been acting as God to them: "Therefore, he says, "God was the Word." That God with Whom they were acquainted through their holy writings, Who appeared to the patriarchs and dwelt in the tabernacle and the temple – He was the Logos in the past. He was not the Deity, but His Expression." According to Knoch he assumed the roll as God even though he was not God essentially and now John is to divulge this secret to all. However, Knoch has no ground to translate Jn. 1:1 in this manor. Though it is true that the order of the words in the Greek is as he has it, nevertheless, it is not correct to translate it into English as such. A note in the INTERLINEAR GREEK-ENGLISH NEW TESTAMENT, concerning that phrase, should suffice as grounds for questioning Knoch’s translation and perhaps, as well, to question whether or not his bias may have influenced him: "But note that the subject has the article and the predicate has it not; hence translate-"the Word was God." I would assume that this rule of translation into English is based upon true scholarship seeing that all translators, I am aware of, who though may not agree on others matters, have agreed on this. It is Knoch who is outside the consensus of the academic community.
John’s Gospel was not written to make clear that the appearances of God recorded in the Old Testament was in fact "the word", as Knoch states but John’s motive is clear from the document itself as well as historical context. The Gospel was not addressed primarily to the Jews but to the Gentiles and was in defense of the truth against the Gnostic teachers who were emerging from within the church. They were attacking the person and work of our Lord. They were denying his Deity and/or His humanity, His bodily resurrection, and His future bodily return. For the most part they were separating the man Jesus from the Christ/Son of God, insisting that the Christ, who was a pre-existing spirit being, came upon Jesus who was just a man. This doctrine bears similarities to Knoch’s doctrine, which states that the created pre-existing Son entered the body of Jesus, animating the body, and using it "in the nature of an equipment". Therefore, I would classify his doctrine as Gnostic in character. More on that later.
Nevertheless, another of the issues Knoch should address but doesn’t is that the Scriptures seem to contradict his assertion that only his Son of God creature can represent God. He attributes the appearances of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament times to the ministry of his creature. Yet the Scriptures state those appearances, or at least some, were angels in contrast to the Son of God: "God" … "hath at the end of these days spoken to us in His Son"…"having become so much better than the angels"…"therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard"…"for if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord,…"(Heb.1:1,4 ; 2:1-3). The Son and the angels are presented in contrast. Angels administered the Law; the Son of God the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven. Though it is unique to the Son that "He is the very image of His (God’s) substance" it does appears, however, that in the past angels, to some degree, represented, in some manner, God to man. The Jews understood this: It was no secret. The apostles state it: It was no mystery. It may be note worthy, so as to lodge in our minds that, though angels represented God at times they were not worshiped when they did so. Knoch’s teaching is at odds with these facts.
"This" and "It" vs. "This One" and "Him"
Again, in John 1: 2-4 he translates "outos" (Gk) as "this" and "outou" (Gk) as "it". In this he once more differs from other scholars who translates "outos" as "this one" or "the same" and "outou" as "him". I believe, it is because, the scholars hadn’t reversed the order of the last phrase in verse 1, depersonalizing "the Word", as Knoch has, that they translate the words as they do. In the rest of the chapter Knoch also translates "outou" as "him", not being able to depersonalize it there. Now, are all these other scholars inept who translate it as "The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him; and without Him was not anything made that hath been made." ? Knoch it seems would insist they are and translate it as "This was in the beginning toward God. All came into being through it, and apart from it not even one thing came into being which has come into being." I see a recurring theme with Knoch: only Mr. Knoch is correct. I, however, concur with the other translators in not translating "outou" when referring to "the Word" as an "it" but as "Him" and, therefore, find Knoch’s translation as unacceptable and likely biased.
Chapter one of John’s Gospel is the citadel, which guards the truth of Christ’s Deity so very clearly and profoundly against all the anti-christ Gnostic doctrines, which deny the Father and the Son. It has been under siege since it was erected and Knoch’s endeavor is just another one of the enemy’s endless assaults.
The Translation of "Pleroma"
The second area of concern is in regards to Knoch’s choice in translating the Greek word "PLEROMA" as "complement" in verses where it is inappropriate to do so. Bauer, Arndt and Gingich, in their lexicon gives five different uses of the word:
- that which fills
- that which fills (up), content(s)
- that which makes something full or complete, supplement, complement
- that which is full of something
- that which is brought to fulness or completion
- full number
- sum total, fulness, even (super)abundance of something
- fulfilling, fulfillment
- the state of being full, fulness
It will become apparent that the usage under 1,b above is not suitable in many of the places Knoch has used it in his translation. For the English word "complement" means "Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection." But this usage is inappropriate when in reference to God for God is complete, whole and perfect: He cannot be changed, added to, or taken from. If that were possible than He would not be God. Therefore, God needs no complement and, indeed, can have no complement. Knoch, however, has his CREATED being who is to become the Christ, that which "completes" or "perfects" God! - He is the Complement. He will not allow that his Christ be Deity but he will insist that his Christ complete Deity – this is blasphemy - This gives unrestrained glory to the CREATURE for it is then the creation which "perfects" God!
Some of the verses in which Knoch translates "PLEROMA" in this way, differing again from the other scholars, are those in Ephesians and Colossians, verses pertaining to the nature of Christ and God:
"– that you may be completed for the entire complement of God." Eph. 3:19 (CV)
"That ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God." Eph. 3:19 (ASV)
"…to the measure of the stature of the complement of Christ,..." Eph. 4:13 (CV)
"…unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:…" Eph. 4:13 (ASV)
"…that in all He may be becoming first, for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all to Him…" Col. 1:18-20 (CV)
"…that in all things he might have the preeminence, For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself…" Col. 1:18-20 (ASV)
"…for in Him the entire complement of the Deity is dwelling bodily." Col. 2:9 (CV)
"…for in him dwellth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," Col. 2:9 (ASV)
It is apparent how awkward are Knoch’s attempts at trying to overlay his doctrine onto God’s Word. The other translators are correct to render "PLEROMA" as "FULNESS" in the above verses; and it seems Knoch agrees also, as he translates "PLEROMA" as "fills" in Mk. 2:21; Rom. 11:12; Rom. 15:29; 1 Cor. 10:26, and then as, "full" in Gal. 4:4. Why is it Knoch did not translate these verses as "complement"? Possibly, because they are not in reference to Christ or God’s nature; that is, they do not bear significantly on his doctrine.
Let’s paraphrase, according to Knoch’s meaning, just of one of his verses:
Col.2: 9: for in Him is all that perfects or completes Deity dwelling bodily.
It startles one to see what Knoch’s translation implies and we would expect it to wake up Knoch from his foolishness. Not so, for he intentionally works the translation to make sure it agrees with his predisposed mind. He is altering the text so as to have a pretext to collaborate his doctrine. He is determined to make Christ out to be a creature in all the verses that could be understood as affirming his identity as Deity. He works to confirm his view that the first of all God’s creations, the "word", created even before time and space (in itself an impossibility, which I may deal with later), who became Christ, completes God in relation to His creation. For God is invisible and inaudible to all creation, according to Knoch, and thus He is unable to communicate with his creatures. He, therefore, needs something in addition to Himself, a "Complement", so as to be able to communicate with His creation. This teaching then indicates that God is dependent on this CREATED being for ALL His relationships with His creation.
Contradictions to Knoch’s "Complement" Doctrine
The first contradiction that this teaching presents is that it attributes to a creature that which Knoch teaches even God Himself cannot do, thus making the creature greater than God. For this created being can both interact with God and man without a mediator. The next obvious fault, which amounts to a question, is, how and why is it this created being is an exception, knowing God and being known by God, while all others find it impossible? :" …Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he that is from God, he hath seen the Father" (Jn. 6: 46). Knoch does not deal with this. Indeed, how could he deal with it? The apostle Paul, speaking of God, further adds:" …who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power eternal." (1 Tim. 6: 16). To all God is "Unapproachable" but Jesus states: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (Jn. 1: 18). So our Lord not only can approach God the Father but also embraces Him and lies in His bosom. This would be amazing for a creature seeing God is "unapproachable", but not extraordinary, however, for one that is even as the Father, being also Deity.
The question which, of course, follows is, why wouldn’t God create all his creatures to be able to know Him? Did God somehow become diminished after creating His first creation? What other reason could suffice? For if he could make His first creature, the "word", able to know Him why is it different with the rest? And finally, how do we ever have assurance? If Knoch is correct we have no way of knowing if this being is even truthful, seeing that no one but he can have access to God? Are we to trust him, as we would trust God? But are we not told to have faith in God, in contrast to His creatures? This being’s goodness resides in himself, for he is a created being, how then can we have confidence in him, knowing God’s hands are tied? God cannot reach us or we Him, outside of this being’s mediation. Now I’m feeling vulnerable. But wait! God has made Himself vulnerable! How can this be? To think, if Knoch is right, God can never really know His own creation for Himself and we could never really know God for ourselves – what a horrible thought. Where is the Good News in that? Don’t worry, for even Knoch cannot pull this doctrine together without contradicting himself. He has taught elsewhere that for God to be God He must always be on top, the one with absolute authority. In this he is right but then his idea of "the Word" being a creature is wrong. We can have absolute assurance in Christ because He is the Son of God sharing in the essential nature of the Godhead.
The Gospel Truth
The Gospel is Good News indeed it tells us a different story than Knoch’s gospel. We now have fellowship with the Father and the Son, and for those who share in the first resurrection, who are pure in heart, they shall see God! It is wrong to think that God the Creator is unable to make himself known to man without the assistance of a creature. For first, Christ acknowledged that in a spiritual sense it is those that have heard from the Father which come to Christ: "It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me." (Jn. 6: 45). Also, it is stated that he that sins "has not seen God", implying that, he who is righteous has, spiritually, seen Him (1 Jn. 3: 6). "For God is spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." But, admittedly, spiritual sight has a sense of inadequacy while we are in the flesh with eyes and ears that see and hear only the terrestrial. Therefore, God has also made Himself known in the earthly realm: When Christ was baptized the Father spoke; When Jesus prayed He spoke; When Peter desired to make booths for Jesus, Moses and Elijah He spoke - The Father then is audible. In Daniel, John and Stephen’s visions they beheld the Father and the Son together before the angels, thus the Father makes himself visible in His own right. The Lord also promises regarding he that overcomes: "…I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (Rev. 3: 5). When this takes place the Lord indicates elsewhere: "…when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels." (Mat. 9: 26) So at the return of the Lord there will be, in some way, a manifestation of the Father in glory along with the Lord. Now concerning others in the celestial creation we are told by the Lord, while on earth: "See that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Mat.18: 10). And again, an angel proclaims "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God…" (Lu.1: 19). Now, no created being can be omnipresent, so if Christ is but a creature and is a man during the time of His earthly ministry He could not be presenting Himself in the form of God at that time. Yet, the Father is allowing Himself to be heard, seen, and approached during that time. This should reveal the fallacy in Knoch’s teaching, which insists that God is dependent on a creature for the expression of Himself.
However, it is intrinsic to the Godhead that the "Word" be the expression of God. As it is also intrinsically derived that the Father wills to honor His Son, Who is also Deity. It is so and best for us. For the "Word" becoming flesh has gained for us a union with Him in His humanity; so that in Him we have our access to God, through He Who is both God and Man. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ as man is our mediator with the Father and in Him, being joined to Him, we know God, fellowship with Him and are embraced by Him. We have confidence for our Lord is not a created person that might change His mind or rebel against God but He is the eternal Son of God, sharing the very nature of God, intrinsically one with God, so our salvation is sure. The fact that the Scriptures state clearly that God is invisible I’m not questioning or denying. This is stated even after the disciples had seen and touched Christ, Christ Who said to Philip that if he had seen Him he had seen the Father. I don’t pretend to know all that is behind these statements, but it may be along lines similar to finite things we know. We can’t see energy in its theoretical essence but we do see it as matter. We can’t see a human spirit but we do see it as life, etc. Whatever is meant, this I know, that those who live as seeing the invisible God now, in this life, will actually see Him in the coming kingdom in a way beyond our knowledge now. I will address this more further on.
God then has no "complement" and is not dependent on a creature to make Himself known to His creation. "PLEROMA" then should be translated in the above verses as "fullness", even as the others translators have done.
The Letter to the Hebrews Chapter One Verse Three
Again, Knoch translates the Greek word "HUPOSTASEOS" in Hebrews 1:3 differently than other translators. He confesses that he is deviating from the usual renderings: "The usual renderings of this word, confidence, person, substance, must yield to the one idea which suits each text..."
That is, he will give an interpretation according to what he thinks the "idea" of the text is. He chooses the word "assumption" which is, most assuredly, in line with his doctrine. The phrase in question is "the very image of his substance" according to the ASV with an alternative in the margin "the impress of his substance", with which the Young’s Literal agrees. The KJV "the express image of his person", with which the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament agrees. Darby’s Translation renders it "the expression of his substance." Arthur S. Way’s translation "He is the Image that bodies out for us the essential being of God." In contrast, Knoch translates it as "Emblem of His assumption". Now, the definition of "assumption" is the act of taking to or upon oneself, and I can find no allusion in the reference materials to support "HUPOSTASEOS" being interpretable in such a manner. A GREEK ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AND OTHER EARLY CHRISTION LITERTURE gives its primary meaning as substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality (often, in contrast to what merely seems to be) and then for an example refers to the verse we are considering: "the Son of God is a(n exact) representation of his (=God’s) real being." Vincent, in His WORD STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT has this to say regarding this verse: "Rend the very image (or impress) of his substance. The primary sense of hupostasis substance is something which stands underneath ; foundation, ground of hope or confidence, and so, assurance itself. In a philosophical sense, substantial nature ; the real nature of anything which underlies and supports its outward form and properties."
It is hard to imagine Knoch’s obstinacy seeing the abundance of scholarly contradiction to his admittedly subjective translation but he is determined to keep this gulf between the Father and the Son and in doing so, acclaims the creature’s glory. He would have us understand the verse to say that the finite CREATED Son, as the "Emblem" ("An object or a representation that functions as a symbol"), took to himself the nature of the infinite ETERNAL UNCREATED God, so as to be a representation of Him; and that the CREATED Son was so great that he was able to put upon himself the characteristics and attributes of God so as to display a perfect portrayal of Him; while in his essential nature he remained a creature and not God. He would remove the "substantial nature" of God from His "outward form" replacing it with the "substantial nature" of an actor, who is a created being…The form is a façade, and the whole a charade. Again, all others in Christ are wrong, only Knoch is right.
The Testimony of Creation Opposed to Knoch’s Teaching
This teaching of Knoch’s is not only in contradiction to the meaning of "HUPOSTASEOS" but is also in contradiction to the nature of living organisms in God’s creation. The integrity of an entity, whether angel, man or beast, is true throughout its whole being; be it spirit, soul and body or some other composition. All parts are essential to their existence and identity as to what they are. It is against nature to have an image, body, that is not one with the "substantial nature" of the creature. A bird’s image, for instance, is an essential part of the bird. It could not have a cow’s image and still be a bird. If it could it would be, first, deceitful towards those beholding it and then a contradiction in ones own psyche and likely to cause one to be deranged. This is what happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he was given a spirit of a beast (his spirit altered to be beastly, likely). Even his body began to take on beastly characteristics; he was outwardly becoming a beast, which should prove the constitutive relation of the parts of an entity. The word "HUPOSTASEOS" refers to the "reality", the essence of the entity; not something acquired and put on, that is, something assumed, and not something different than its expression but both the inward and outward components being one in nature. Our bodies are a part of the whole "me", the representative part, and through them and as them we interact with things other than ourselves while in this world. Therefore, "HUPOSTASEOS" should be rendered "substance" not "assumption".
Undermining the Incarnation
Knoch, also, violates this principle in what he teaches regarding Christ’s incarnation. He would have us understand that the spirit of Jesus, the man, was not a human spirit but a "divine spirit", "superhuman". Not "divine" as in Deity but as one and the same as the CREATED Son of God, who had emptied "Himself of the form of God" to become "in the likeness of humanity". He emphasizes "in the likeness of humanity" and not in humanity itself for "the human element in His constitution was in His body, His flesh, that which has the shape and tangible likeness of humankind." Knoch would have it that "He was the Son of God as to His spirit" and not His body. So, again, the "substantial nature" of Christ is different than His form, His humanity, and therefore, "He is not the same as other men." Indeed, He is not human at all if this were true. If it is as Knoch teaches and the humanity of Christ pertains to His body alone then Jesus, the man, is denied as being the Son of God and this, beyond question, reveals that it is the spirit of anti-christ behind this doctrine: " …that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." (Jn.29: 31) ; "And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"(1 Jn. 5: 5); " Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the anti-christ, even he that denieth the Father and the Son." (1 Jn. 2: 22). According to Knoch, this spirit being, Knoch’s Son of God, though not a human spirit fuses with the human body of Mary’s child while in the womb, even Jesus, forming a soul, which is not human "in an absolute sense" but only "in a relative one". If he is correct, our salvation then is grounded on a creature, that is neither the Son of God nor the Son of man, but a composite of these two creatures – a hybrid. If "the human element in His constitution was in His body" and not in His spirit and His soul, His soul being a mixture of the two - a new species, how is it that His death would merit any consolation for man? Why then would God need Jesus to die? The whole point was that He would die in our place, as a man. Knoch seem to think things are his way on no other ground than that he thought it so. He has Jesus not really God, not really a man and not really the Son of God; but as God, as a man and as the Son of God. Confused? I would think so. This is not theology but absurdity.
Jesus was a complete man: His spirit was a human spirit, His soul human and His body human - There is no other kind of man. Except for the fact that he was without sin, Jesus was as you and I, in regards to His humanity. Therefore, He can die for our sins: As a man He did die for our sins, as our kinsman redeemer. Knoch is stumbling all over the place because he will not accept the fact that God is made up of three persons. He will not accept the fact that "the Word was God and became flesh" that He was "…Emanuel, God with us". The incarnation has caused many men to stumble because they will not accept that God has not ordained the acquisition of this knowledge as the result of an intellectual pursuit but has given it as a revelation fact. How it is ontologically that God and man is one in Christ is no more given us to understand than the essential nature of spirit or soul is given us to understand. We experience spirit, soul and body and so we think, because of familiarity, that we understand them but we don’t really, in a metaphysical sense. What is spirit? No one can say, though we all have spirits. This domain is God’s not ours. What we are given is revelation facts, which we are to believe.
We are told the Eternal Word, Who was with God and Who was God, became flesh and dwelt among us. It is He Who has in Him life essential and Who has created all things. We are told that He was the "Son of Man" as well as the "Son of God". When men recognized only His humanity he would direct their worship and praise to God: "And as He was going forth into the way, there ran one to Him, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good save one, even God." (Mk. 10:17,18). For men are not to worship man: "And when it came to pass that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man." (Acts 10: 25,26). As a man, Jesus worshiped the Father and referred to Him as God: "Jesus saith to her…go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and My God and your God." (Jn. 20: 17). But as the Divine Son of God he spoke as on equality with God and received worship when recognized as God: "…the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only brake the Sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." (Jn. 5: 18). "…that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." (Jn. 5: 23). "…I and the Father are one." (Jn. 10: 30). "…If ye shall ask anything in My name, that will I do." (Jn. 14: 14). "…And he said, Lord, I believe (that Jesus is the Son of God) And he worshipped Him." (Jn. 9: 38). "…Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and My God." (Jn. 20: 28). These facts are too wonderful for us; they are beyond us. Christ is one person with two natures. He is the God/Man. As man He died and experienced the awfulness of death. As God He holds all things together, even the nails and spear that pierced Him and even the Hades that his Soul entered. To his humanity we are joined –never to His Deity; that would be impossible – and as it was His Divine personage that gave His humanity its divine character, so we in Him share in the very life of God, not as Deity but as man. That is, the Divine disposition in Christ, in His human spirit, as a result of the incarnation, which was proven true in His temptations, and borne witness to as the very life of God’s Son (Divine life) in resurrection, has through resurrection altered humanity to be one that shares, throughout its complete constitution, in this divine life and its disposition for righteousness. In this glorified state humanity is one with the divine nature, which cannot sin, even as God cannot sin: we are begotten of God. With all other creatures, having moral volition, there is the possibility of sinning; for their nature is depended on goodness, which they must derive from the one true source, by choice, goodness being outside of them. This is true for us at present as well but in the glorified state we will be in the spirit constitutionally and no longer in the soul.
In conclusion, from the above, I believe, at the least, we should be cautious when referring to Knoch’s Concordant Version. We may find it helpful, especially with the verb forms, etc. but the difficulty is that we cannot be sure whether or not a bias has occurred in his translation. Without further investigation for each and every item that significantly differs from the other translations we are left in doubt and, therefore, restrained in its use as a source of reference. It is apparent, since Knoch’s main arguments stem from his own translation, which differs from all the others in the above instances, that he has most likely altered the text for the sake of his doctrine. So, again, when we find a discrepancy, caution is in order.
Knoch’s Argument for Christ as an Image – The Perfect Idol
Knoch’s insistence on pulling the ‘foundation" or "substantial nature" of God out from under His own image, which is Christ, the Image of the invisible God, is to establish Christ as something other than God, making Him a façade. Yet, this Christ of Knoch’s teachings is to be worshiped as God. "...while the Son, as the Image of the Father, is entitled to be called God and to receive the same honor as the Father..." In other words, he presents Christ as an idol. Knoch is fully aware of this and condones it in so many words: "The Son of God is the visible, tangible embodiment of Deity. Only in Him can we see God. All other images are condemned because they are false and dishonor God" and "There are innumerable idols in the world. Each one successfully conceals Him. The Son alone reveals Him." As unimaginable as this is, that Knoch would actually establish Christ as an idol, this is, perhaps, not the worst when viewed from our perspective. For he would have us, as believers, look forward to the day we become images also: "God seeks to fill His creation with images of Himself in the process of universal reconciliation...We shall have the precious privilege of being minted likenesses of the visible God (the visible God being Christ as the Image)". So it only goes to reason that we as images, idols, shall also be worthy of worship: "… we shall shine as the image of God’s Beloved...we shall partake of this dignity with Him..." Our being changed into the likeness of Christ does not constitute us as idols. These views of Knoch’s seem to always end up with the creature being worshiped.
Has Knoch forgotten the warning: "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of form on the day that Jehovah spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image in the form of any figure…and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heaven, thou be drawn away and worship them, and serve them…" (Deut. 4: 15, 19). Then, again we are warned by Paul: "Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worship of the angels, dwelling in the things which he hath see, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind…" (Col. 2:18). Angels in this context could be extended to include any created being, whether angels, saints, are imaginary gods. And finally, John: "My little children guard yourselves from idols." (1Jn. 5:21). The Scriptures are clear – God forbids idolatry both in the New and Old Testaments. Therefore, Christ as the image of God must be so in such a way that constitutes the substance and form of God as one in its integrity of essence throughout. This should not have to be said: CHRIST IS NOT AN IDOL! How far off man’s intellect can lead him. This fact, that Christ is not an idol, should in itself be proof enough that Christ is Deity as He is the image of the invisible God.
The Origin of Knoch’s Doctrine
We should not have to give any thought as to the origin of Knoch’s doctrine. It certainly could not have come from an inspired man of God for the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, when they became aware that they were being worshiped as gods they quickly cried out "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you…". It could not have come from holy angels for when John was overcome and found himself falling down to worship an angel the angel said "see thou do it not: I am a fellow–servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus…". It could only come from that source which has inspired men to worship idols throughout the ages. Whose influence shall culminate in the image which is placed in the Temple of God, which Satan will give the power to speak, even The Abomination of Desolation. Of which our Lord has informed us of in order that we might flee from it with all speed and be willing to give our lives instead of offering it worship. We should flee as well Knoch’s teaching for in it he exalts the creature encouraging us to exchange "the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator." (Rom.1: 25).
The Great Lie
Knoch would make an exception for his Image, whom, as he would have it, although is just a creature reveals God perfectly: "An idol misrepresents God. It would be deceptive to give it divine attributes. The true Image reveals God and should have all that may be perceived of Deity." He would insist that because of the Image’s uniqueness, as "holy and flawless" and perfectly capable to bring into view for all the universe the unfathomable God, it is right that he be "honored as God": "...the Son as the Image of the Father, is entitled to be called God and to receive the same honor as the Father..." while yet the Father is actually "the only true God". Note that Knoch here says that the Father, in contrast to his Christ, is "the only true God"; which in consequence makes the Image, his Christ, the not true God! This is then, even as he has said above concerning idols, "deceptive". Knoch stumbles all over himself in trying to justify man worshiping a fellow creature as God, be he ever so great as he would portray him: "Metaphorically, since "God no one has ever seen," and since Christ "unfolds Him", the One "Who is in the bosom of the Father" may be termed "the true God"...". So what Knoch is saying, trying to convince us is that, even though it is not true we should act as if it is true because, he blasphemously implies, God and Christ are acting as if it is true. That is, therefore, we should partake of a lie! Knoch should take to heart the word’s of Scripture: "...no lie is of the truth" (1Jn. 2: 21), for it is "impossible for God to lie" (Heb. 6: 18). This façade God, even this Christ Knoch has invented, is a lie through and through!
The Eternal Son of God in the Form of God; The Son of Man in the Form of a Servant.
For Knoch’s doctrine to stand he must deal with those verses which after reading would cause one to logically conclude that Christ is Deity. Philippians 2:5-8 is one: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of man; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." To deal with this Knoch tries to convince us that what is meant by "form" is an assumed appearance, an assumed identity, portrayed by one essentially different in his inward nature from His outward form. Again, it amounts to acting, or as the Greeks call acting, hypocrisy: "To put the matter bluntly, the form of God was not an outward indication of what He (Christ) was Himself, but a representation of His God. The word "form" is out of place if we simply mean that His external appearance was consistent with His internal essence. That would not even need to be stated. The mere use of the term form should be enough to prove that outwardly He appeared to be Another. His exaltation consisted, not in actually being that Other, but in having the visible appearance proper to the Deity." All this reasoning to convince us that the Scriptures do not really mean what they seem to state clearly, to convince us that, Christ is a creature and not God proper, that God’s form is divorced from His person. It would be better if Knoch would take the Scriptures at face value and believe them.
The apostle Paul is not dealing with the mystery of how the incarnation took place or even the identity of Christ in these Philippian verses but is referring to the disposition which was in Christ when He humbled Himself and how that same spirit should animate us in regards to our brethren. We are to humble ourselves, counting others better than ourselves and caring for others over ourselves. Even as Christ took on the form of a servant so we are also to take on the form of servants towards our brothers. We are not to do so just in show but in realty, in whole heartedness. Now, in acting as a servant do we separate our essence from our form? Of course not. Neither does Christ. But in reply it might be said that we are not invisible, as is God, therefore, our form need not be separate from our essence. That reasoning, however, is not what Knoch is arguing here. We’ve dealt to some measure with that already. Even so, there is nothing that prohibits the term "form" from being used in regards to invisibility: ‘Glass is formed so as to be invisible for the light to come through’; ‘The molecules form an invisible gas’; ‘My expectation formed wishful thoughts’, etc. It is a legitimate concept to understand a form as invisible and we should expect this as pertaining to God Who is invisible. Anyway, what Knoch is proposing is that the very concept of the term, "form", is used when the identity is different than the essence and not when there is integrity: "The word "form" is out of place if we simply mean that His external appearance was consistent with His internal essence. That would not even need to be stated. The mere use of the term form should be enough to prove that outwardly He appeared to be Another." He is equating "form" to costume. However, as the "Word", as the Ultimate Being, before creation, Christ existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They knew each other as the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The Term "God" came in use in relation to His creation. It is then the Being we know as "God" assumed the role and form, of "God" toward His creatures as Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Judge, etc. God didn’t change His essential essence because He assumed "the form of God" but it is precisely because He is the Creator that He assumed "the form of God" toward His creation. The form and the essence are one. The recognition by the creation which "the form of God" demands is let go by Christ, that glory is laid aside, even though He has all the right to it, seeing that He is the Creator and the Sustainer of all things, even as the Father and the Holy Spirit has the right because of their role in regards to creation. He Who was in "the Form of God" willingly became a man, out of love He humbled Himself. His essence did not change. He was still intrinsically the same individual, as a man, truly a man, spirit, soul and body; so that His "form" as man was and is a true representation of His essential nature, as to His personality, in humanity. In doing so He striped Himself of "the form of God", its prerogatives, glories, power, recognition in relation to His creation – because Man is not God. Man, being a creature, is one that serves God. Therefore, being "found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself" and served God, " becoming obedient even unto death". Christ’s personal essence was one and the same when He was in "the form of God", being truly God, as when He was in "the form of a servant", being truly man. There is no pretending involved. Christ Who is God humbled Himself and became man. This humility out stretches the boasted humility of Knock’s imagined created Christ by an infinite measure.
Knoch the Riddle Solver
Knoch thinks he has solved the biblical riddle: How is it that God is seen being invisible and when seen is not seen? His solution is to alter Scripture so as to be able to introduce the great pretender, his Christ; He who is not God and not man but plays the part of both. So that, what one think he sees is not really what he sees - This is no solution. The difference between Knoch’s view of things and the biblical view is that there is no pretending with God. Let’s reason according to the biblical view:
- God is invisible. The Word is God. Then the Word is invisible.
- The Son is the Word. The Word is invisible. Then the Son is invisible.
- The Son is the image of God. The Son is invisible. Then the image of God is invisible.
- The Son is the outshining of God’s glory. The Son is invisible. Then the outshining of God’s glory is invisible.
In conclusion, the Word is invisible and the Son is invisible, the image of God is invisible and the outshining of God's glory is invisible.
Therefore, God, the Word, the Son, the image of God and the outshining of God’s glory are all God and all invisible. Note that nowhere above does it say that any became one or the other but they are essentially what they are by their very nature from all eternity. Now, God is revealed from eternity past, prier to creation, as constituted of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For the Father created all things through the Son by the agency of the Spirit. Then there must be something that corresponds to what we would see as an equivalent to form in that state in order for God to have this self-knowledge. Thus, God’s form and image is as eternal as He is. Therefore, Jesus states "…Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he that is from God, he hath seen the Father." (Jn. 6:46). The form of the Father Jesus here refers to is the invisible, unapproachable, primary, essential form that is and has been from eternity past and will be in eternity future. To think we could even remotely conceive of that form is foolish. Nothing exists, at that time before the ages, for the form to exist in and nothing exist to give it perspective, not even space; but the Father, Son and Holy Spirit alone exist. It is in a realm we cannot inter or understand. Again, these things are beyond us. The biblical writers acknowledge this when they state that God is invisible and unapproachable dwelling in light. Paul quotes in agreement an Athenian poet stating "for in Him we live, and move, and have our being". This being true, then all that exits does so in God. How then do we think we could visually encompass Him? Now, the verses which states Christ to be the image of the invisible God and the outshining of His glory does so in regards to our perspective, the perspective of a creature in God’s creation and in relation to making known the invisible Creator to His creation. So the question still remains…How does God manifest Himself to His creation? It is through His Son as His Son has always been and is and always will be the impress image of God and the outshining of His glory.
The form of God, which Christ emptied Himself of, must be different than the form that is eternal or He could not divest Himself of it. So as it was with Him becoming the form of a servant so He likewise had prier to that had become the form of God. This form was in relation to creation, centered in the heavens He had created and for the benefit of His creatures. The Son of God was the avenue and the means by which the invisible God was made known to His celestial creatures. He accomplishes this by becoming a form that portrays the awesomeness, the power and the majesty that belongs to God in a way the heavenly creatures can comprehend. Not by "assuming" but by becoming. The Son is Deity, yet, He becomes the form, in space and time, that expresses the magnificence worthy of the Creator. As such the form’s substantial substance is one with its appearance. There is no play-acting involved. The created beings attending (angels, etc.) understand that God has condescended in taking a form for their sakes. Even as the Holy Spirit took the form of a dove on earth when coming upon Christ at His baptism. He did so without a buffer, mediator or go between. He materialized as the material and in the material. So it is with the Son becoming the form of God.
The form of God essential is invisible. The form visible (spiritually, that is, perceived by spirit beings, not terrestrial) which the Son became is a genuine manifestation and representation of God inside the realm of creation. For the person of the Son, who is the impress, exact, image of God, even the real expression of his inward substantial nature as God, is one with the form. Now, the form is not God in itself, even as the humanity of Christ is not God; but God is the form even as God is Jesus, the Word become flesh. The form visible does not portray the essential image or glory of the invisible God any more than the body of Jesus portrayed it. Jesus’ body portrayed an image of humanity not Godhead. It is, in whatever form the Son becomes, not the visible image but the invisible image expressed through the medium of that vessel, the vessel that the Son becomes.
Jesus, for instance, was visibly in the form of a man, not the form of God which He let go of to become man, but while as the form of man, He being the impress image of God by nature of His Deity, expressed God’s invisible image and glory through the vessel He became. To state it simply, Jesus Christ expressed the invisible God in and through and as His humanity. For man was made in the image of God and is, therefore, a vessel fitted for that purpose. God was expressed through His character: His love and hate, His patience and tenderness, His selflessness and self-sacrificing, etc. The solution to the riddle is not to interject another being into the equation but it is that we see the invisible God lived out in the vessel the Son becomes.
The Form of God in the Appearance as a Man
The Son as the Form of God in creation we are not told much about. Whenever we have a view of Him it is in the appearance of a man but often with much addition such as the color of metal making up His parts, etc. This suggests that, indeed, the Son as the Form of God is a shadow of the archetype, which God intended His Son to become in relation to man’s perfecting. The true archetype being that which would be realized in Christ in resurrection as the New Man, the Heavenly Man. Because of which many shall be made in His likeness and brought to glory. This plays into the incarnation as the foreordained course for the realization of God’s eternal purpose. That being that His Son would fill all things and that he would rule as the Heavenly Man along with His brethren over all things.
The adamic man, however, in a lesser sense and in regards to the earth, is also the image and glory of God (1 Cor. 11:7). He was to rule over the earth while under God’s authority, in service to God, loving and praising Him before all. Man was not to be worshiped as God as the image of God but was to be seen as His representative, welding God’s authority and as such, he was to be obeyed. The use of the term image of God in relation to man means one whom exercises God’s authority according to God’s will and in line with His character. It does not make him God nor does it make Him a portrayal of the person of God, as Knoch would have it. The adamic man is a foreshadowing of what God’s intention for man was. It is Christ, Who is both Deity and humanity, Who alone can be and should be worshiped as God. We in union with His humanity will be honored to rule with Him as men.
The Eternalness of the Created Son (?)
Knoch would make out this creature to be so majestically remarkable and extraordinarily transcendental that he existed before time and space: "...time as well as matter and force are brought into the world through Him" and "...the Son is acknowledged as the One through Whom God made the eons...There can be no question of His existence at their commencement...". Outside of time? Well it would have to be so, for time is part of creation and "All things were made through Him; and without Him was not anything made that has been made". This should pose a real enigma for Knoch but he ignores it and precedes as if there is no problem. In eternity, that is, outside of time, there is no beginning and no end. This is the rightful state of God who alone is eternal. All creatures have a beginning, therefore, they were all created in the realm of time and all remain in the realm of time. If Christ is a created being how then is it that he created time?
Another item pertaining to time, that Knoch avoids completely, is the question of his Christ’s origin. How does his Christ, being a created being, come into existence; since it is so purposefully stated in Scripture that "All things were made through Him; and without Him was not anything made that has been made"? Since He was made, He would have to have made Himself but this is impossible. The only answer to this question is that, it is wrong to think of the Son of God, as a created being. All creation can be made through Him because he is eternal and if eternal then He is God. Knoch, despite the obvious, will not have it. Then the only way for him to deal with this issue is to assume an exception where Scripture gives none. He knows this, I believe, for he is very astute and, therefore, chooses to avoid the topic altogether. But the above scripture was written for this very purpose, refuting the lie we’re dealing with, to show the eternalness of God’s Son and, thereby, acknowledging Him as Deity and His role in creation.
The Only Begotten Son of God / He Became a Life-giving Spirit
Knoch must somehow maneuver away form the fact that the scriptures teach that the Son was the only begotten before He came to earth. This is because Knoch will not accept what being begotten implies. He knows it clearly indicates an identification and participation in the same essence of the entity that beget, which in Christ’s case is God the Father and thus makes Him equal to God. Because of this, since Knoch will not allow it, he devises a teaching which has the begetting taking place in Christ’s "generation as a man" in Mary’s womb: "There were many sons of God before His generation as a Man. He is the first in reference to creation and the only begotten in regard to generation." Knoch reasoning is muddled here. He would make a distinction between his created Christ from the rest of God’s sons, who are, as well, all sons via creation but none, other than his Christ, were "generated as a man" after they was created, thereby gaining the title The Only Begotten Son of God. It matters not that Adam was generated as a man and referred to as a son of God and that Christ becomes one with Adam’s flesh, which would make any begetting of a long line of begotten humanity. No, it matters not, for Knoch is alluding to the generation of the spirit entity that entered the body of Mary’s child and not the adamic flesh. This spirit, according to Knoch, is the "Son of God", in contrast to the flesh of Jesus. This spirit is that which he is distinguishing as "generated" in order that it might "assume" the fleshly identity.
Again, this confusion is generated only in the world of Knoch’s mind, not in Scripture. For The term "the only begotten Son of God" is coined by John because at that time the truth concerning our Lord’s Deity was under attack from the Gnostics and now, again, is under attack by the Gnostic Knoch. True to John’s purpose, he always uses the term in context with Jesus being sent from the Father: "Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him." (1Jn. 4:9). The distinction this designation makes in regards to the other son’s of God is that they all are sons by way of creation whereas the only begotten solely shares in the very nature of God…not in "assumption", as Knoch would teach, but in essence of life, which begotten implies. Adam, on the other hand, being of the dust of the ground, which God had molded and then animated by the breath of life, which He breathed into him directly and thereby caused him to become a living soul, he derived his life via the blood. The blood, being a compound of the earth and animated by his spirit, contained and delivered life to his soul. In other words, his life was earthly; his personality came into existence in relation to and out from the earth. Indeed, this is accomplished in a way that we don’t understand as to how, even as we don’t understand the essential nature of any life, but we know, through biblical revelation, that, in fact, God has done it. Adam then was a son of God by virtue of God being his Creator not by virtue of sharing in the essence of God’s life as does the only begotten Son of God. For Knoch’s Christ to have become the only begotten Son of God through Mary’s conception is not only impossible but is in contradiction to the biblical revelation of the intent behind the incarnation.
The Intent Behind The Incarnation
The reason for the birth through Mary was precisely for the purpose of the only begotten Son becoming a son of man, not the Son of God. But Knoch would agree! Yes, he would, because he plays with words. He would say that the already existent Son of God was "generated" so as to be able to appear in the likeness of a man; and thus He experienced a begetting; a begetting in relation to his "assumption" of humanity. In other words, what the term seems to simply state, even that the Son of God was begotten so as to be the Son of God, Knoch would twist to mean something totally different, what no other but himself would conclude. Who is he kidding? But wait, he continues to be even more absurd, referring to his Christ as "the only begotten God". He states this, not because he believes he is Deity but because he believes he "assumes" deity in his depiction of God and is entitled to the recognition, as a result, as if he were God; even though He is not God in actuality and even though, as Knoch states, Christ had divested Himself of the form of God when becoming man. So it is, Knoch would have us understand that the term "the only begotten Son of God" applies in reference to an existing entity who, having never been born but only created, was "generated", or brought into being a second time, to "assume" the appearance of another created being, a man, and as the result of which He became "the only begotten God". (Help!…and he thinks the concept of the Trinity is confusing?) How this constitutes a begetting, in Knoch’s mind, is still cloudy to me. For first, he separates the Son of God from the humanity he took on through Jesus’ body, with the Son being the pre-existent entity who is acting as Jesus’ spirit. Next, he states that the "generation" took place in order for him to "assume" humanity by being born a child through Mary. So, it appears that he is placing the begetting before the actual birth of Jesus. So, why then would he consider the "generation" as a birth at all? Why would it be any different than any other act of creation? This is where Knoch is cloudy? He muddles things so it is not clear what he is saying. The way I see it is that, because the incarnation is dealing with Mary’s birthing a child, Knoch would have that birth to count as, in some way, the begetting the term refers to, even though it contradicts the doctrine he has already formulated. The real reason for all the confusion is in order to divert the reader from the obvious meaning of the term: the Son was begotten of God, so that He is equal to God, sharing His essential nature and thus the begetting is before all eternity, outside of time and space, where only God can exist, without beginning or end.
Thou Art My Son, This Day Have I Begotten Thee
Knoch would have us understand that the verse quoted in the New Testament, Psalms 2:7, "Thou are My Son, This day have I begotten Thee." is in reference to Christ’s "generation as a Man". He makes very little argument for it but just insists that the pre-existent created son is the same as the son the verse refers to and chocks it up as if it is more evidence for the truth of his doctrine. This, of course, is in contradiction to the context of the quotes, which all point to the begetting taking place in resurrection (Acts 13:33 ; Heb. 1:5 ; 5:5). For the eternal Son of God Who was sent from the Father in heaven, to become a son of man and as a man die for the sins of the world, overcomes so as to not only redeem man through His death but to bring him into sonship; thus opening the way to that which is beyond the veil, that is, to heaven, by a resurrection of glory. The terrestrial creature that Adam was and Christ became, is swallowed up in newness of life, where the life is no longer terrestrial but one with the divine, not as Deity but a divine humanity, even that which is in the Son of God become Son of Man. The character of the divine is one with the new humanity so that "that which is born of God cannot sin". The Son of God brought humanity to a rebirth in resurrection…the old are passed away, behold, they are become new"…"Thou are My Son, This day have I begotten Thee". In this rebirth we become heavenly creatures. We will have spiritual bodies; physical still but energized by the life of the spirit so as to be suited for the heavens. The blood will no longer be our life but our life will be directly generated by the new life in Christ…eternal life. This is what the verse is in reference to, a new humanity in Christ which is not on the basis of a created life but on a life of begetting from the Father through His Only Begotten Son to bring about a New Man who shares in Sonship.
The Last Adam Became a Life-giving Spirit
Much as indicated in the paragraph above Knoch would take 1 Corinthians 15:14 to mean that Christ became a life-giving spirit when he entered Mary’s womb as a "generated" spirit and that he was so by virtue of him being already a life-giving spirit in heaven: "All of this...has to do with His incarnation, His humanity before He was roused. Then He was the Lord out of heaven and a life-giving Spirit. He was far superior to Adam. They were not on the same plane". As we have already established, if Christ is not as other men, except for sin, He could not then redeem man. Knoch makes his Christ "superhuman" and insists that "...He is not the same as other men." If this is so, we remain in our sins and we shall all perish. It is, however, not so. The verse, in clear context, is referring to the resurrection of Christ as the time He became a life-giving spirit. Prier to that He was a living soul. This Knoch denies. He would have it that, Jesus was the Son of God only in relation to His spirit, not His soul nor His body. As before noted, the Scriptures sets forth that "Jesus is the Son of God" as pertaining to His flesh inclusive of His soul and spirit; and to deny this, as Knoch does, reveals that behind this doctrine is the spirit of anti-christ: "… Jesus is the Son of God…Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the anti-christ…".
The "Word became flesh", the same flesh as Adam, He became a living soul. The identity of Christ as the Son of God was the same identity He had as Son of Man; He is one personality, His self-awareness was as even as other men’s self-awareness…headed up in the soul. When He said "I" He meant His whole being. He became a life-giving spirit as a man, not as Knoch would have it, as a pre-existent spirit entity. It was He as the head of a new humanity, Who after having been made perfect (complete) through His sufferings as a psychical man, became the fountain of life, as a life-giving spirit, for all those that through faith in Him are joined to Him. In resurrection life Jesus is the life-giving spirit: "It is sown a psychical body; it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor.15: 44). The inheritance of the kingdom of God, which Christ received, cannot be received, as a psychical being for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." For Christ to enter the heavens and take His station as the High Priest He had to have a change: "…we shall all be changed…this mortal shall have put on immortality…" in resurrection He "became a life-giving spirit." "…Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades" "…Death is swallowed up in victory." As a result of his victory over death by going through death as a psychical being He became a life-giving spirit and so can promise his disciples: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life".
Therefore, without question, it was not in Mary’s womb Jesus became a life-giving spirit but it was in resurrection; then He was changed, overcoming death and it was then He became the source of life to all that believe. Knoch is wrong to think that it is evidence that Christ was the life-giving spirit during His ministry because of His mighty works. The miraculous works He performed was by way of the anointing. The Holy Spirit being the agent through whom the Father bore witness to His Son: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of by God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know…"(Acts 2:22). These works were not in line with what Christ as a life-giving spirit refers to. It is in our union with the resurrected Christ that we receive His life, even life eternal.
The fact that the Scriptures indicate that Jesus is God, Knoch does not refute. So we need not prove this. Indeed, it is what he builds his doctrine on. He, however, adds an interpretation, which states that these Scriptures are intended to mean not what they in fact say but just the opposite. This is the essence of his doctrine. One has to admit he is brazen. But one cannot help in feeling the dubious nature of this teaching. For if received it would make one feel, if they were to be honest, they would always need to bring attention to the inherent contradiction, that is, the Scriptures appearing to say one thing while really meaning another. Knoch seems to not be bothered by this for in his writings on other subjects he, without commit, refers to Christ as God or Deity, in different manners, surely aware of the fact that others must mistake his meaning. It appears to me to be rather deceitful to refer to Christ as God, knowing that one does not mean it; not to speak of how it feels to attribute to God the Father and his Son, the apostles and prophets this discrepancy as well. For concerning the context of the Scripture verses that imply Christ’s Deity there is not this disclosure. Anyway, the persistency of all Knoch’s arguments is to establish that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a created being and not Deity proper and this is what I have primarily dealt with. For his contention once refuted removes the intellectual foundation out from under his grand tower of babble, so that it topples. The wind of the Spirit will blow away all the dust to reveal the rubble as evidence of yet another vain attempted of man trying to magnify the creatures glory.
With Knoch we have seen how intelligence is no substitute for revelation and that we cannot divorce our fellowship with God’s people from our fellowship with God. We cannot close ourselves off to our own little studies and then draw to us just those that will agree with what we think we’ve seen. There is no advancing in the understanding of God’s ways under such pretensions. We are one body in Christ and we need to be thankful, esteeming each other as above ourselves. Holding fast the Head is, also, being joined to the brethren that make up the body. It is pride that is not open to correction. It is blindness that thinks light is exclusively one’s own. Concerning our Lord it is safe to say that any teaching that would lower the esteem of Christ from that which is understood or imagined as the highest possible honor is missing the mark. For He is the highest and is to have the preeminence in all things. There is nothing higher than being Deity, Godhead, and this is where we find the Scriptures place our Lord. This is where He should be in our hearts so that we can join in with Thomas without reservation or feelings of contradiction and address Jesus Christ as "My Lord and My God".
I hope this helps. Feel free to converse if you have other questions or thoughts.
In Him Who Loves Us