A WELL ADVISED
As the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
I am reviewing certain biblical texts on which those who preach that Jesus Christ is God depend in order to promote that doctrine. I want to understand the issue, which has created so much conflict over many centuries, in which many have been persecuted by others also claiming to be followers of Christ, but who more closely emulated the devil. But I have never been able to grasp it with complete clarity.
I am not a Jehovah’s Witness and I know that the Holy Spirit is not simply God’s “active force”, as they teach; but I do not believe in the Trinity, which I believe is the invention of men.
A few key texts serve as references for those supporting the doctrine of the Trinity, which are so differently translated in different versions of the Bible that they cannot, in my opinion, serve as a basis for solid doctrine, since their meanings are disputed.
Other texts not in dispute, with regard to the translation, can mean one thing, but are routinely twisted to mean or to teach something else. At the same time, many passages exist that are not in dispute, and which clearly point to a distinctness between the Father and the Son. Moreover, there is not one text I have ever seen that refers to “God the Son.”
By the time I finish writing this, which will look at a few dozen passages, I may have no friends left and no church that will tolerate the things I point out, but I prefer to remain alone with God than to submit to men who distort the scriptures or who prefer to invent doctrine that disagrees with the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Take a look at what I will include and add to my knowledge, if you can. Or if what I include is what the Lord really has said, pay attention to it and, also, pay attention to it.
Let’s start with 1 Timothy 3:16, a key scripture for the Trinity doctrine, which is so variously rendered that it is…unreliable for establishing clear doctrine. The following several references show various translations that do not agree with respect to the meaning and message of 1 Timothy 3:16. And then also consider Philippians 2:6, another key scripture, translated so differently in various versions that a clear meaning of it escapes our understanding, but which is nevertheless used to support doctrine that should not be supported. Compare them:
1 Timothy 3:16
New King James Version (NKJV)
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God [c] was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
c NU-Text reads Who.
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
16 Great beyond all question is the formerly hidden truth underlying our faith: He was manifested physically
and proved righteous spiritually,
seen by angels
and proclaimed among the nations,
trusted throughout the world
and raised up in glory to heaven.
New International Version (NIV)
16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
16 And openly it is a great sacrament of piety, that thing that was showed in flesh, it is justified in Spirit [And openly it is a great sacrament of piety, that that is showed in flesh, is justified in Spirit], it appeared to angels, it is preached to heathen men, it is believed in the world, it is taken up into glory
New Life Version (NLV)
16 It is important to know the secret of God-like living, which is: Christ came to earth as a Man. He was pure in His Spirit. He was seen by angels. The nations heard about Him. Men everywhere put their trust in Him. He was taken up into heaven.
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:
He [e] was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
e. Greek Who; other ancient authorities read God; others, Which
And now consider this verse:
New King James Version (NKJV)
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
6 Though He was in the form of God,
He chose not to cling to equality with God;
New International Version (NIV)
6 Who, being in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
6 Who, though existing in the demut of the mode of being of Elohim [His etzem or essential nature,
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
6 Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God
something to be possessed by force.
6 Él, siendo en forma de Dios,
no estimó el ser igual a Dios como cosa a que aferrarse,
[Translation: He, being in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God as something to take a hold of,]
Consider that these are key texts used to support the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as related doctrine, and consider whether, given the unreliable nature of our comprehension of the passages, they should be relied on to establish doctrine. Let me know what you see, what God shows you.
I will add other passages below, in order to continue to consider the doctrine and the truth. I have a long list of texts to work through. In my opinion, it is not an issue on which salvation depends, and I believe that God is much more interested in our love for Him and for our neighbor than He is in the degree of our clarity on this issue at this time. He allows ambiguity to test us in this and many are failing miserably.
We still have much more to consider, some of which requires careful attention. It is said that Jesus is the Father, even though the scriptures do not say that Jesus is the Father. But it is said that since Jesus is God, he is also the Father. But again, the word of God does not say that Jesus is the Father. Some say he is the Father, but the Bible does not. Jesus himself says in John 14:28, “…My Father is greater than I.”
One scripture, Isaiah 9:6, says that he would be called Everlasting Father. However, that prophecy does not say that he would be the Everlasting Father, but only that he would be known as the Everlasting Father. He is indeed known by many today as the Father. So that prophecy has been fulfilled.
In addition, in John 14:7, Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” But Jesus did not mean that he is the Father. How do I know? I know because Jesus would not contradict the word that was also written down by John in 1 John 4:12, saying, “No one has seen God at any time.”
I also know that Jesus did not mean that he is the Father, since in the same passage, in verse 10, he goes on to clarify, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” You only need to put his words into context to realize what he is saying.
Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” according to the word written down by Paul in Colossians 1:15. So upon looking upon the Son, we perceive the image of the Father. But we, too, are created in God’s image, as is shown in Genesis 1:26, where it says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” But although we are in God’s image and likeness, we are not the Father. So, too, Jesus is God’s image, but he is not the Father.
That Jesus did not consider himself to be the Father is so clear from the many passages in which he differentiates between his Father and himself. The apostles also continually differentiated between them. We will review several of those passages as we continue.
For example, recall that when Jesus was baptized, immediately upon coming up out of the water, his Father spoke to him from heaven in an audible voice that was heard by those who looked on, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16). As Jesus at that moment stood on the earth, while the Father spoke from heaven, we can see clearly that Jesus is not the Father.
And again the Father in heaven spoke to his Son on earth, as recorded in John 12:27.28, where when Jesus was teaching, he said, 27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
And once again the Father spoke from heaven, while Jesus Christ stood on the earth, about which we can read in Matthew 17, where Jesus meets with Moses and Elijah, while Peter looks on. There the Father from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” It should be clear, after these three incidents that we have seen, that there is a clear distinction between the Father and the Son.
Jesus also made this distinction clear in two passages in which he discusses speaking against the Holy Spirit, which are found at Matthew 12:32 and Luke 12:10. At Matthew 12:32, Jesus says, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” Now there we see an irrefutable distinction. Combine the passage with the words of Paul at 2 Corinthians 3:17, where he says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” and we have the revelation that Jesus is not the Father. Jesus and the Father are both known as Lord, of course; but the Lord referred to by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:17 must be the Father, since Matthew 12:32, and also Luke 12:10, clarify that Jesus is one, while the Spirit is another.
To clarify, we refer to both Jesus and to the Father as Lord, which is why we can have such a verse as that found in Psalms 110:1, which reads, “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Perhaps you are already aware that the first LORD in that sentence is translated from the Hebrew word Yahweh, God’s personal name by which He made Himself known to Moses, while the second is from the Hebrew word adonai, which is the Hebrew word for lord.)
We see that the Lord is the Spirit, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17. This introduces the knowledge that God is not only a spirit, but God is the Spirit. God is the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, as Paul clarifies. So we have God the Father, who is the Spirit, and we have the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason we find the greetings, often repeated in the beginning of the epistles of Paul and other apostles, which state as follows:
Romans 1:7…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So as you can see, in all his letters, Paul clearly distinguishes between the Father and the Son. But Christ himself, the Son of God, set the pattern for this, as he also repeatedly stated that he did not come of himself, but he was sent by the Father, spoke what he heard from the Father, came to do the will of the father, came to glorify the Father, and so on, as we see in the following examples:
John 8:26 “I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.” Here Jesus refers to the Father who sent him and who gave him the words to speak.
John 4:34 “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Here we see that Jesus came to do, not his own will, but the will of the Father who sent him.
John 8:50 “And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.” And here we see that Jesus did not seek his own glory, but rather his Father sought glory for him.
And again, in John 3:17 we read, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jesus claimed that he was sent by the Father. And of course, for this reason we are able to three times hear the voice of God the Father speaking from heaven to his Son on earth, to where Jesus Christ was sent.
But not only Paul made the distinction in his letters between God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. The other apostles made the same distinction. In the first chapter of the first letter of Peter, he writes, “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” And in the first chapter of his second letter he writes, “2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,”
Remember that this is the same Peter who, when Christ asked him who he thought Jesus was, he answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Christ did not then say to Peter, “No, I am the Father.” Rather, Jesus then said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Also James, the Lord’s brother, who wrote one letter, referred to them this way in the first chapter: “1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” thereby also making the same distinction between God and the Lord Jesus Christ as made by Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John.
“John?” you ask. Yes, John, too, who as we noted also wrote in John 12:28 that the Father spoke to the Son while the Father was in heaven as the Son stood on earth. John also said in the first chapter of his first epistle, “3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
But is this not the same John who in John 1:1 writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”? The problem with this is that in order to accept this as correctly translated, we must throw in the trash every other thing clearly written about the Father and the Son, even by John himself, which shows that they are two distinct individuals.
Another problem is that in order to be able to accept that as correctly translated, we must reject the alternative translations of no less than 70 others, qualified translators, who have rendered that passage differently than it is rendered in many, but not all translations of the Bible. The preponderance of the evidence does not support this erroneous translation used by the most popular Bibles translated into English. And, No, this has nothing at all to do with the Jehovah’s Witness Bible. Do not take my word for it; do some research, and you will find that this information is factual.
And another problem is that in order to accept that as correctly translated, we must accept that John has lost his mind, for while in verse one he states that the word is God, in verse 18 he shows this: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Either Jesus is the same as the Father, or Jesus is distinct from the Father; Jesus cannot be the same and also distinct from the Father.
And since almost every other verse or passage that discusses this issue clearly demonstrates that they are two distinct individuals, we have to conclude that the popular translation of John 1:1, used in the New King James version, is as unreliable as its version of 1 Timothy 3:16 and Philippians 2:6. These three passages simply do not align with the rest of scripture with respect to this issue.
Many readers will by now be spitting up something or other in disgust. But it is simply a fact that there are numerous errors in the King James Version and many other versions of the Holy Scriptures. God’s word is entirely true, without error. The Bibles published by men, on the other hand, contain many errors, such as mistranslations, and some words in the original languages are not as well understood as we might like. This is simply plain fact.
One notable example of this is the often mistranslated word Yahweh, which appears thousands of times in the Hebrew text, but which is generally mistranslated as LORD, even though Yahweh, or YHWH, has never meant Lord. This error, oddly enough, generally takes place in English, while many Spanish and French Bibles correctly render the Hebrew into English as Jehovah or Yahweh or some similar variation. One English Bible translation that has not made this error so many times is Young’s Literal Translation, which renders the name into English as Jehovah.
Remember 1 Corinthians 6:17, which says, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Jesus is one spirit with the Father, is he not? Yes, he is. But does that mean that Jesus is God? What did Jesus say about it?
In John 17:11, Jesus prayed out loud to the Father, saying, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” Jesus asked that we be one as he and the Father are one.
Are we one with each other? Are we one with God? According to Paul, he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17). We are the body of Christ, as the Spirit of the Father lives in us with Jesus Christ, according to Paul, who taught in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. This is the Spirit that Jesus breathed into his disciples in John 20:22, where it reads, “…He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So since we are one with God and Christ, does that make us God, too? I would say not. Being united or one with Him does not make us God, any more than it makes Jesus Christ God.
Reconsider 1 Timothy 3:16, which as we have seen sometimes says God was manifested in the flesh, but other times that He or Who or That or Christ was manifested in the flesh. Now compare it to 2 Corinthians 4:11, which reads: “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” Now ask whether we are God because Jesus is manifested in our flesh. What do you say? I say that we are not God, even though Jesus is manifested in our flesh, and that Jesus is not God, even though God is manifested in Jesus’ flesh.
One of the most interesting verses you will read about Jesus is a statement he made about himself, in Revelation 3:14, that some people like to interpret, without support, to mean something else. I take it at face value. There he said, “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:” You could spend your life doing mental somersaults to arrive at a different conclusion than the one he offers. I will not.
In Matthew 20, the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from him. And Jesus said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Jesus, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom.” His answer to her, in verse 23, “…to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” Jesus was perfectly aware, and clearly taught, that he is one and the Father is another. Some things are reserved to the Father alone.
In Mark 13, the disciples asked Jesus when exactly he would be returning, when all things would be fulfilled. His answer to them, in verse 32, indicates that he and the Father are distinct individuals, and not equal in all things. He told them there, after explaining the conditions and events of that time, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Some things are known to God that are not known to Christ.
And despite the insistence by many that Jesus is the Father, we know that the disciples knew that Jesus was the Son of God, sent by the Father, as we have already seen in various passages of scripture. John 16 also confirms this in verse 30, which says, “By this we believe that You came forth from God.” And there Christ reconfirms it to them by answering, in verse 32, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”
Paul also clarified that Christ is one and God is another by his statement in 1 Corinthians 11, where in verse 3 he says, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Paul knew what he was saying, as Christ spoke to Paul directly.
And in 2 Corinthians 4:14, Paul again makes the distinction clear, where he writes, “…knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.” One is He who raises up and another is he who is raised up.
Someone will say that, Yes, as a man, Jesus was not equal to the Father, but that once he ascended to heaven, he again took on the fullness of deity and the position he abandoned in order to become a man, returning to his position as God. However, the word of God says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:8,9). If Jesus is unchanging, then the Father is always greater than Jesus, as Jesus said He is.
Jesus was sent by the Father to die for the sins of the world, and thereby to redeem us by his blood to God. As it says in Revelation 5:9, “…For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood…” It does not say that we were redeemed to Christ by his blood, but to God by the blood of Christ.
Christ made clear the distinction between his identity and the identity of the Father. He reaffirmed this after he was crucified and resurrected, showing that the distinction remained. In John 20, after the resurrection, but before he ascended to heaven, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, 17…“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”
And that the distinction between Jesus Christ and God the Father is an eternal one is made clear again by the apostle Paul, who in this more lengthy reference from 1 Corinthians 15, offers clarity on it:
“20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
You may notice that verse 25 is a reference to Psalms 110:1, where we earlier read, “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” In the translation of Reina-Valera 1995, and in many other Spanish translations, that reads, “Jehová dijo a mi Señor:
«Siéntate a mi diestra, hasta que ponga a tus neighs por estrado de tus pies.»
And in Young’s Literal Translation, that reads, “A Psalm of David. The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord: `Sit at My right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’ ”
There is no dispute that we must obey Jesus Christ in order to be saved. In order to obey Jesus Christ, it is necessary that we do not contradict him. If we contradict him, we are not denying ourselves, but instead exalting our own opinion over his doctrine. And in doing so, we cause stumbling.
In Romans 10, Paul wrote what is needed for salvation, which is this: “6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
I recently heard a man teach that this passage says that, in order to be saved, one must confess that Jesus Christ is God. That is false. That is not the word of God.
If you look closely at nothing else, closely examine the 17th chapter of the gospel of John, in which we find so much of the truth revealed that we have seen in the passages already considered. The chapter speaks for itself, revealing the clear distinction between Jesus Christ and his Father, and the actual significance of oneness that Christ conveyed, rather than the invention of those who preach a different gospel. Read it now:
“John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
We will not understand certain things until Christ has returned. That is fine. We do not need to know with certainty all the things about which our mind raises questions in order to be saved. In order to be saved, we must do as Christ taught. Not as men claim.
If we take it upon ourselves to demand from men that which God does not demand from them, we are placing ourselves above God. That is arrogance. That is even idolatry. We know how God feels about arrogance and idolatry.
Continuing to serve God and Christ, despite a lack of complete understanding of all things, is evidence of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. And we know from the teaching of Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, that love is even greater than faith. So if we exclude, persecute, slander, or despise those who do not understand exactly what we understand, we are failing to do as Christ commanded, and we are proving that we are those about whom Christ will say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!