Plain Statements that Jesus is God
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We begin with an outright statement that Jesus is God (“was God”), and that He is a distinct Person from God the Father (“with God”). This verse also teaches that Jesus was not created, for the timing is before Creation took place. Along those lines, we see Christ’s eternality, for He was with God before the world began.This is also affirmed in John 17:5 and 24 (see also 8:58; Mic. 5:2).
One common objection to this interpretation is from Jehovah’s Witnesses. They say that because there is no definite article before “God” in the last clause, it should rather be translated “and the word was a god”. To this we should immediately ask why John would abruptly change the meaning of “God” in the middle of this sentence. We could also ask how there can be more than one god when the Bible so often states that there is but One (e.g. John 17:3).
Acts 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” The “He” near the end of the sentence must refer to the “God” two words before. Thus God bought the church with God’s own blood. The shed blood and the purchasing of God’s people is clearly a reference to Christ’s work. To avoid a clear contradiction to their teaching, the Jehovah’s Witnesses “translate” the last bit of this verse, “with the blood of his own [son]” (New World Translation). This, however, is not faithful to the Greek, but is reading their interpretation into the text.
The first chapter of Hebrews is laden with the deity of Christ. There the author cites two Old Testament passages as speaking of Christ which clearly speak of Yahweh in their original contexts. In verse 8 he says, “But of the Son He says,” and then quotes Psalm 45:6-7, which is talking to “God.” This passage also attributes to Jesus a throne, a kingdom, and eternality (1:8). This passage also distinguishes between the personhood of God the Father and God the Son. It speaks to God (“Your throne, O God”), but also speaks of that Person’s God (“Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You”).
Then, in verses 10-12 he quotes Psalm 102:25-26, also speaking “of the Son”. That text again clearly refers to Yahweh (“You, LORD”). In the Psalm itself “Yahweh” is missing from that citation, but the sentence before clearly addresses Yahweh, saying, “O my God,” (Ps. 102:24) (In the Septuagint (LXX) the word for “Lord” is there. It appears the author was quoting from the LXX. This may have been added in the LXX for the sake of clarity or it may represent the wording of an even earlier Hebrew manuscript; but in any event, the author’s point remains the same and he is using a translation very familiar to his audience). This passage also teaches that Jesus is Creator (Heb. 1:10), that He is eternal (“but You remain,” “Your years will not come to an end” [1:11, 12]), and that He is immutable (“but You are the same” [1:12]). Not only this, but there is clearly a distinction between the created and the Creator here. All things on earth and heaven “will perish” and will be changed like a garment (1:11), but Jesus on the other hand, will remain the same and His years will never come to an end (1:12).
Isaiah 9:6-7, which is clearly a prophecy of Christ’s birth, calls Jesus “Mighty God”. There are explicit statements where Jesus is called “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13), and “our God and Savior” (2 Pet 1:1). Colossians 2:9 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” Hebrews 9:16-17 says that a covenant is not valid until the one who made it dies. Thus, in order for the New Covenant to be ratified, God had to come to earth as a man and shed His blood. Thomas called Jesus his Lord and his God (John 20:28). Philippians 2:5-6 says that Jesus was “in the form of God” and that He was equal with God. In John 5:18 we are told that by naming Himself God’s Son, Jesus was, “making Himself equal with God”.
Jesus is the Creator
Hebrews 1:2 says that God made the world through Christ. In the next verse, the author says that Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power” (1:3). Later, in verse 10 he quotes from Psalm 102:25, showing that Jesus “laid the foundations of the earth” and made the heavens. Thus, to the author of Hebrews, Jesus is both Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We are told in John 1:3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” There, the “Him” through which the world was made is the “He” who was “with God” in the beginning spoken of in verse 2. Paul also held that Christ was Creator and Sustainer, for he says, “By Him (Jesus) all things were created…all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16). He then says that “in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:17).
First Corinthians 8:6 parallels the Father’s work of creation with Christ’s, saying, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” Here, Paul not only teaches us of Christ’s deity because He is the Creator, but also gives us a monotheistic model. For in the preceding verses he says “there is no such thing as an idol,” and that “there is no God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4), and that to the heathen there are “many gods and many lords” (1 Cor 8:5). And so, the “many” gods and lords of the pagans are contrasted with the One true God of the Bible. There is a distinction of personhood within the Trinity (God created, and Christ created), but also Paul still holds that there is one God.
Titles of God also used of Christ
I AM or Yahweh is the name by which God revealed Himself to the Israelites (Ex. 3:14; Is. 41:4; 43:10-13). Jesus uses this name for Himself in the New Testament. Jesus even goes so far as to say, “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Thus, to deny the deity of Christ is to be lost; your religion is not biblical Christianity. Later on He says to the Jews, “before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). We can tell this is another claim to deity because immediately afterwards they tried to stone Him (John 8:59). Along with deity, this verse also teaches Christ’s eternality, for He was alive before Abraham was born. In fact, another way to translate “was born” is by saying, “came into being” (NASB footnote). Thus, while Abraham (and all men for that matter) have a beginning, Jesus’ being has no start or end point.1
There can be no other “I AM”, for He says, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me” (Is. 43:10). To this Name, God also ascribes eternality (Is. 41:4; 43:13), absolute sovereignty (Is. 43:13), and unique Saviorhood (Is. 43:11). Being that in Hebrew the name derives from “to be”, it denotes God’s self-existence, having no beginning and having no end.
In Isaiah 42:8, God says, “I will not give My glory to another.” However, coming to the New Testament we see that God does give glory to Jesus. Jesus says, “It is My Father who glorifies Me” (John 8:54; see also 13:31-32). Jesus speaks of a glory that He had with the Father from before the world began (John 17:5, 24).
The titles King of Kings and Lord of Lords are ascribed to Yahweh in the Old Testament as well as to Christ in the New. In Deut 10:17, Yahweh is called the “Lord of lords” and the “God of gods” (see also, Ps. 136:1-9; Dan. 2:47). In that passage He is called “the great, the mighty, and the awesome God.” Referring to Jesus, Paul writes that He “is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). In Revelation 17:17 we are told that the Lamb will overcome the ten kings “because He is Lord of lords and King of kings.” This name is written on Jesus’ robe and thigh (Rev. 19:16). Jesus is also called “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).
In Revelation 1:8, the Lord God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (see also 21:6). Jesus uses this title for Himself also in Revelation 22:13. A similar title for Yahweh found in the Old Testament is “the first and the last” (Is. 41:4; 44:6). This name is given to Christ twice in Revelation (1:17; 2:8). In each case it is unquestionably Jesus, for it mentions being dead and coming to life again.
Jesus is worshiped
There were occasions when Jesus’ disciples worshiped Him and He did not rebuke them (Matt 28:9, 17; Luke 5:8; 24:52; Rev. 1:17). However, in the Bible where creatures are worshiped, they told the men to worship God alone. For example, in Revelation, John “fell down to worship” the angel who revealed things to him (Rev. 22:8). The angel’s humble response was, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours… Worship God” (Rev. 22:9, see also 19:10). Peter’s response to Cornelius’ worship was, “Stand up; I too am just a man” (Acts 10:24-26). So also at Lystra, when Paul and Barnabas were considered gods after they healed a lame man, they “tore their robes” (Acts 14:14), told the crowd to turn from idols to the living God (Acts 14:15), and “restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them” (Acts 14:18). And so, if Jesus was merely a prophet, a god-fearing man, or even an angel, He too would have rejected men’s worship.
1 Many also see Jesus calling Himself the I AM in the seven or eight “I am” statements in the Gospel of John (the Door, the Bread of Life, etc.). However, at this time I am unconvinced that Jesus was calling Himself Yahweh in those instances. Should I be stoned for saying, “I am” after being asked if I am a coffee drinker?