The Divinity of Jesus

In a previous blog I addressed the divinity of Jesus from strictly an Old Testament viewpoint at jesusandjews.com/wordpress/2009/07/04/the-divinity-of-the-messiah/ and now by adding the New Testament revelation it serves to enhance the  depth perception concerning the person and work of Christ.

The concept of the incarnation of Jesus as the embodiment of both divinity and humanity is a hard concept to wrap one’s mind around let alone trying to fully understand the very nature and existence of God as a complex figure which is beyond the mere reasoning power of simplified logic. We can formalize doctrines and church creeds but can we isolate God under a microscope and confine Him to our experience by defining Him in our limited vocabulary since His transcendent glory has been set above the heavens as in Psalms 8: 1.

When contemplating God the philosophy of “reason” can sometimes lead us to be unreasonably wrong. After all we have plenty of intellectuals who have rationalized God’s non-existence.

Anyway there are plenty of things in life including the scriptures that elude our ability to be able to fully deduce or comprehend. Actually God said in Isaiah 55: 8-9

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts

You may think that this scripture may apply to sinful humanity and yet this knowledge had even evaded the righteousness of Job as well.

Job 11: 7-9

7“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?

Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?

8They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?

They are deeper than the depths of the gravea—what can you know?

9Their measure is longer than the earth

and wider than the sea.

Even the New Testament concurs with the limitations of the Spirit led saints on this side  of eternity as stated in 1 Corinthian 13:12.

12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

As we probed the old covenant scriptures concerning the person of the Messiah there were elated and glorious words applied to this one who was to be born and bear the title as  “Mighty God” rather than a “god” Isaiah 9: 6-7.

We also see another glimpse of Him in Daniel 7:13-15 as one liken unto the “son of man” coming with the clouds of heaven who was given an everlasting dominion of glory and sovereign power receiving for Himself worship among all the peoples and nations. Jesus refers to this scripture when He  describes himself to the religious leaders of His day in Mark 14:62.

These Old Testament references go beyond describing merely an angelic being or a “god’ let alone a man because this figure was to receive worship and glory and this alone was the one attribute that God himself was only to receive Exodus 34:14.

Jesus does not openly proclaim Himself to be God or even the Messiah during His temporal and physical entrance as a man upon the earth and there are moments where He remains elusive and in a state of obscurity in which the religious leaders had to finally press Him to openly declare His identity as the Messiah which He finally confesses in Matthew 26: 63,64. Even when Peter with his famous confession of faith came to this understanding Jesus told him not to disclose it to anybody Matthew 16:16-20.

God just does not present Himself in a “show and tell” type of way.  Jesus method of revelation would come by the revealer of truth, the Holy Spirit, who would expose His identity. Jesus says continually throughout the course of the gospels that he who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit of God is saying and He also speaks metaphorically of the eyes as well which are able to see or perceive by the Spirit, Matthew 13: 9-17.

His primary  purpose was to save His people from their sins and in finishing the course of doing the will of the Father rather than haphazardly throwing His pearls before the swine by openly declaring Himself according to His identity before His enemies.

So if the concept of the Messiah alone is hard to fully realize even among His contemporaries and disciples then how much more difficult is it to understand His divinity.

The Apostle Paul who was a educated Pharisaic Jew had even referred to the plan of God as a divine mystery which has now been revealed in Christ , Ephesians 3:1-13.

When looking at the mystique of Christ’s character there are certain descriptive words that upon first glance appear to be terms that apply to Jesus as a created being but upon closer observation they describe His unique person in the role of redemption .

For instance the term that John uses to describe Jesus is the word “only begotten” or “monogenes” which is a Greek word that can be applied in describing Jesus in a unique sense or as the only one of His kind. If a person wanted to communicate a procreative view the word “gennao” would have been used instead which would more specifically mean to beget, or to generate, or give birth.

Because we have the Septuagint which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew scriptures we can correlate some of these terms to ancient Hebraic thought and usage. The Hebrew equivalent to this word “monogenes” is “Yachidh” which can mean an only child in the unique sense of the word. Also this word Yachidh was also used in conjunction with the Greek work “agapetos” which communicates the concept of intimacy in a unique relationship as “beloved” which reminds me of the speech where the Father speaks of Jesus in these words of endearment as found in Mathew 3:17, 17:5 as His beloved Son.

Another term that is used is “firstborn’ or “prototokos” which can refer to a literal firstborn  but it was also used to denote a sense of prominence as related to relationships such as the king of Israel in Psalm 89:27. This word is also used in the New Testament as found in Colossians 1:18 where it refers to Jesus being the firstborn from the dead which would have nothing to do with Him being created.

Another term is the word “Son” which speaks of His special relationship with God. I have already written a blog on this concept which gives more clearly an explanation to its usage.

jesusandjews.com/wordpress/2009/04/09/jesus-is-gods-son/

Again this term is not being used of Jesus as just a man or that the Father had sexual relations in consummating a physical union with Mary in order that the Messiah could be born in human flesh. This is the concept held by Muslims in reaction to their viewpoint of “reason” concerning the Sonship of Jesus.

The word son was applied to angels, israel, kings, etc. When associating this word it can also denote a title or a specific mission so therefore since Jesus fulfilled the unique role as the Messiah then He is to be regarded as the ultimate” Son of God”.

The usage of this term in the most supreme manner was understood even by the religious leaders of  Jesus day as a specific reference to God being His Father or “My Father” making Him equal to God John 5:16-27.

Even if we relate all these terms to Jesus’ temporal realm of earthly existence as occupying time and space as a man this does nothing to prove Him as a created being in His preexistent state in eternity past. He specifically had a unique role, title, and mission regarding His humanity as representing the “Last Adam” who would break the adamic curse by introducing a new covenant that would reconcile us to God as our human representative and high priest Hebrews 2:17.

Though Jesus was a man He was likewise divine otherwise He could not have conquered sin and perfectly fulfilled all righteousness, Hebrews 4:15.

After all the scriptures are consistent in this view concerning mans incapacity to obtain moral perfection as stated by David who was a man after Gods own heart as spoken of in Psalms 14:3 which says that there is no one who does good, not even one. Solomon the wisest man to have ever lived is believed to have written  Ecclesiastes which  states in chapter 7 verso 20 that there is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins which coincides with the witness of Romans 3:23 which states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

It is reasonable to conclude from 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteous of God. Jesus in His divinity is the only one who could provide this perfect representation in His manhood.

This is kind of a long introduction but what I want to establish in this next part is that Jesus is not the archangel Michael which the Jehovah’s Witness claim that He is “Insight, volume 2, p.394.” There is not even one biblical reference in defining Him as this angelic being.

When doing my research on this matter I found some correlation between the “Angel of the Lord” and the divine presence but this  no where comes close to identifying Jesus as the archangel Michael.

The first chapter of Hebrews contrasts Jesus with angelic beings stating that He was superior to the angel’s in verse 4. In verse 6 it says that God’s angels even worship Him and until 1970 the New World Translation used this same reading but it has now been changed to obeisance in order to reflect their value system. God even reciprocates and shares the title of God with the Son in verse 8 and verse 3 indicating that Jesus is an exact representation of the Father’s being.

When exploring the nature and character of Christ there are several primary references which refer to Jesus as being divine as in Matthew 12:8 where Jesus refers to Himself as the “Lord of the Sabbath”. In John 20:28 Thomas refers to Jesus as my Lord and my God. John 10:33 Jesus referred to himself as being one with the Father in which the Jews understood this to mean that he was claiming to be God. John 1 declares Jesus the “Word” to be God. Jesus shows such a close identity with the Father that He states if you have seen Me then you have seen the Father John 14:8-11. In Titus 2:13 Jesus is portrayed as our great God and Savior, 2 Peter 1:1 God and Savior Jesus Christ, 1 John 5:20 Jesus Christ  is the true God and eternal life. Colossians 1:15 Jesus is the image of the invisible God and in Acts 10:36 Jesus is the Lord of all.

There are also secondary attributes to Jesus character that clearly define Him as God as well and one of these main features was the element of worship which He received freely without rebuke. In John 9:38 it was the blind man. In Matthew 2:1,2 the magi were coming to worship king Jesus. In Hebrews 1:6 it is the angels who are offering worship to Jesus. In Matthew 8:2 it is the leper and in Matthew 9:18 it was a certain ruler. In Matthew 14:33 the disciples worshipped Him when He calmed the storm and the women at the empty tomb  worshipped the resurrected Jesus in Matthew 28:9 and finally in Matthew 28:17 the disciples worship Him following the resurrection.

Jesus worship is contrasted to those who were to refuse worship such as men and angels.

We see this as Peter who is a mere man refuses worship in Acts 10:25, 26 and even the apostle Paul and Barnabas reject worship in Acts 14:11-15.

Also angels  were forbidden worship as we see when John attempted to worship his angelic guide in Revelation 22:8,9.

In Exodus 34:14 the Lord declares not to worship any other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Also in Isaiah 42:8 God declares that He will not give His glory to another and yet in Daniel 7:14 and in Hebrews 13:21 Jesus is given glory.

Another aspect of divinity is the ability to forgive sins which we see in Exodus 34:6 that God forgives rebellion and sin and in Matthew 9:2-6  Jesus had forgiven the sins of the paralytic in which the Jews understood this as blaspheming because they knew that only God could  forgive.

Now another element to Godhood is  preexistence and since He received worship and glory then how can we classify Him as anything else but God. Jesus on several occasions speaks of his preexistence in John 1:1,2; 3:13, 31,32; 8:58, 16:28, 17:5.

We also see throughout the course of the bible that prayers were offered to God and in Acts 7:59 the first martyr Stephen prays to Jesus to receive his spirit.

Lastly God is the only one who has the power to create and in Genesis 1:1 we see God creating and yet in John 1:10 we see that the world was made through Jesus. In Colossians 1:16 All things were created by Jesus and for Jesus.

Also there are titles that are ascribed to both God and Jesus equally as can be seen throughout the scriptures of which I will provide a short list.

Judge– In Genesis 18:25 God is the judge of all the earth and yet judgment has been entrusted to to Jesus in John 5:22. In  2 Corinthians 5:10 it  speaks of the judgment seat of Christ.

King–  Psalms 95:3 the Lord is a great King above all gods and Jesus is described as the King of kings and Lord of lords in Rev 17:14.

First and the Last– Refers to God in Isaiah 48:12 and in Revelation 1:17 it is Jesus.

Light– The Lord is my light and my salvation in Psalms 27:1  and yet in John 1: 9 Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man and again in John 8:12 Jesus confesses that He is light of the world.

Rock– 2 Samuel 22:32 says who is the rock except our God and in Romans 9:33 Christ is the rock that causes men to fall.

Redeemer– Psalms 130:7 The Lord Himself is the redeemer of Israel from all their sins and in Matthew 1:21 Jesus is portrayed as the one who saves Israel from their sins.

Savior– Isaiah 43:11 declares the Lord to be the only Saviour and in Luke 2:11 Jesus is the Savior.

Husband– Isaiah 54:5 says it is the Lord Almighty who is our husband but in 2 Corinthians 11:2 Jesus is our husband.

Shepherd–  Psalms 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd yet in John 10:11 Jesus says I am the good shepherd.

Giver of life–  In Deuteronomy 32:39 God brings life and yet  in John 1:4 Jesus is the life.

Eternal– God ways are portrayed as eternal as in Habakkuk 3:6 and yet in the  messianic prophecies Jesus is described from eternity as indicated in Isaiah 9:6 as the everlasting father and in Micah 5:2(Matthew 2:6) Jesus comes from ancient times or everlasting.

Immutable or unchangeable– Malachi 3:6 God does not change and in Hebrews 13:8 Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

These scriptures should show continuity and reciprocation rather than a competition between the Father and Jesus. According to the scripture they are “one” in the special sense of the word depicting their unity in John 10:30.

It’s not a matter of either/or but rather both/and when describing the nature of God.

I think of the relationship between the husband and wife in which the two become one (echad) flesh as spoken of in Genesis 2:24. This is comparable with God as spoken of in Deuteronomy 6:4 in which God’s existance is declared  as one (echad) which is a compound unity not an absolute unity (yachid) which holds to the numerical value of one.

The husband and wife are the same substance and share solidarity in their relationship of oneness but they have a different role and authority in their responsiveness towards one another and yet in the frailty of this example there is a faint hint of the Godhood which represents a perfect union that is inseparable.

In a previous blog I deal with the triunity or compound unity of God as being “one” based on an Old Testament viewpoint at:

jesusandjews.com/wordpress/2009/07/30/god-is-one/

This blog doesn’t answer every question to the deity of Christ but neither does the counterpart based on the internal evidence of the scriptures.

Just because something is difficult to comprehend does not make it unbelievable nor does it necessitate its non existence as being a mistruth

By claiming Jesus to be an angel or a merely a man or a created being is discrediting the biblical record of His person therefore leaving us with an unbiblical position.

In John 8:24 Jesus warns that if  you do not believe that He is the one that He  claims to be then you will indeed die in your sins.

To demote Christ and pull Him down from His heavenly throne by making Him out to be just  a man,angel, or a god is to discredit the glory due to His person and name.

You may argue to lift Christ up is to bring God down but the scripture says in John 5:23 that if you don’t honor the Son then you don’t honor the Father.

In my argument for the deity of Christ I haven’t just  given a few vague or remote verses in order to sway your viewpoint  but I have tried to show a balanced unity from the testimony of both covenants among various biblical authors.

In conclusion I think you can see from the evidence that making Jesus less than God only creates more problems in making His person even more mysterious than what we can “reason” Him to otherwise be.

 

How to know God

 



Copyright permission by Bridge-Logos “The School of Biblical Evangelism”


Copyright permission from Word Search Corporation “The Complete Biblical Library” Greek-English dictionary.

4 Responses to “The Divinity of Jesus”

  1. Ventego says:

    Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.

  2. Thank you for this valuable post. It changed my mindThank you for this valuable post. It changed my attitude

  3. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

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