THE DEITY OF CHRIST

All three persons in the Godhead share equally and completely the one divine nature, and are therefore the same God, coequal in attributes, nature, and glory. Christ’s deity is well defined and articulated throughout the Old and New Testaments.  For instance, David unveils a remarkable prophecy, which speaks of the coming Messianic reign of Christ in Zion (Psalm 2), and describes Him as a victorious King and warrior who will one day rule over the whole earth (Psalm 110; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6, 7).

In the New Testament, John records Jesus stating to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9).” This referential claim of Christ is not to mean that Jesus is the Father, but rather, it is a claim of full deity. Jesus was revealing to Phillip that He is the perfect revelation of God. Furthermore, in the epistle to the Colossians, Paul writes, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).” The word translated “deity” (theotēs) is translated to mean, “divine being; full divinity; the state of being God, Godhead.”[1] Essentially, John and Paul reveal that the nature of Jesus Christ was unique in the fact that though He was human, His physical appearance on earth revealed the presence of God on earth.

The Affirmations of Christ

Undoubtedly Jesus believed and taught He was God (John 5:23; 14:6-9; 20:28, 29)In John 10:30-33, John records an incident where Jesus’ opponents sought to stone Him based on His profession to be “one” (ἑν [hen]) with the Father. Jesus uses the word “one” in the neuter implying that He and the Father are of the same essence or nature. This is significant because in the discussion with the teacher of the law in Mark 12:28-36, Jesus quotes the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4).”  In essence, Jesus affirmed to His audience on multiple occasions that He has plural unity with God because He is God.

Likewise, Jesus’ affirmations of being one with the Father were unmistakably understood by His enemies, hence the outrage and attempted stoning on His life. Thus, based on the overwhelming affirmations made by Jesus during His Galilean ministry, it is reasonable to conclude Jesus taught that the “oneness” of God is actually a plurality of personages within a unity of but one nature.

Furthermore, during His Galilean ministry, Jesus made many frequent “I AM” statements that affirm His claim to being God (John 17:3-5; 18:4-6). In John 8:58, Jesus says, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.”  The “I AM” denotes the active self-existence and eternality of Jesus which is equivalent to “YHWH” (“I AM”) in Exodus 3:14, when God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is extremely significant on two accounts.  First, Yahweh is a special name given only to God in the Old Testament. Second, the Bible teaches there is no other God apart from Him (Isaiah 44:6), and finally, that God does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). Thus, Jesus’ claim to being Yahweh was no laughing matter.  He knew exactly what He was saying when He said it, and knew precisely who He was when He lived on the earth.

Several other unique ways Christ affirmed He was God was in the way He taught. For example, Jesus would often preface the opening of His teachings with the word “Amen” to notify the audience that what He was about to say is true and infallible (Matthew 19:23, 28). Furthermore, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus displays complete self-authority when He would say “ego de Lego,” which means, “but I say,” pointing to the fact that what Jesus had to say was the final authority and complete revelation of the will of God (Matthew 5:22, 28, 34).

The Actions of Christ

The Old Testament has approximately 200 predictive prophecies by many of its prophets who foretold of the coming Messiah. Specifically, Psalm 2:7 says, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” According to this Messianic passage, God declares Christ to be the begotten Son of God from all eternity. Over 700 years prior to Christ’s arrival, Isaiah prophesied these words, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and we will call Him Immanuel (7:14).” Therefore, when Jesus came on scene, He was the long awaited Messiah who would be the One to fulfill all messianic prophecies that existed prior to His coming.

For example, Christ not only fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth, but He also singlehandedly fulfilled every significant predictive prophecy of the anticipated Messiah foretold by the prophets. For instance, Christ was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), He came from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and is a direct descendant of King David (2 Samuel 7:16), and happened to be born exactly 483 years after the destruction of the temple in 444 B.C. as was prophesied by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:24).

Although fulfilling almost two hundred messianic prophecies is extraordinary, another convincing piece of evidence that proves Christ’s deity is His impeccability. There are over eleven separate accounts during the trial and crucifixion of Jesus whereupon individuals professed His innocence (Matthew 27:4, 19, 24; Luke 23:41; John 18:38; 23:15). One of the most notorious proponents of Christ’s innocence came from Pilate himself when he announced before the Jews that he found no fault in Jesus (Matthew 27:24). Even after Jesus died on the cross, the pagan Roman guard cried out, “Truly this was the Son of God (Luke 23:47).”  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The writer of Hebrews affirmed, “We have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).”

The Acclaims of Christ

The writer of Hebrews refers Christ as the, “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (1:3).” In their excellent book, Putting Jesus in His Place, Bowman and Komoszewski offer this critique of Hebrews 1:3, “The language of sonship combined with the metaphors of being the reflection and imprint of the father (God) again express in very strong terms the essential likeness of the Son to God.”[2]

After witnessing the miracles of Jesus and contemplating His heavenly teachings, Peter publically confessed Jesus to be the, “Messiah, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16).” The phrase, “Son of the Living God” is a referential claim that unites Jesus to the very attributes of God. Thomas Oden describes attributes as, “qualities that belong to God’s essential nature and that are found wherever God becomes self-revealed. They are those reliable character patterns that belong to God as God.”[3]  Thus, it is clear in the confession of Peter that he believed Jesus to be God.

Elsewhere, after disbelieving in the risen Jesus, weeks later Thomas encounters Christ and cries out to Him, “My Lord and my God (John 20:28).” Not to mention, there are at least nine individual cases whereby Jesus accepted worship without ever rebuking His followers (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:17; Mark 5:6; John 9:38; 20:28)Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the term Son of God (Matthew 26:63, 64; John 10:36) and receiving worship attests to the fact that Christ’s followers believed He possessed the same qualities of God, and therefore, is God.

Furthermore, Jesus commonly referred to Himself as the Son of Man (ho huiostouanthrōpou), a direct reference to the prophetic title mentioned by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13). This Messianic title of Jesus not only points to His heavenly origin, but it also conveys certain aspects of His earthly ministry and future kingdom. In the New Testament the title Son of Man is used forty-three times as a distinctive title used mostly as a signature designation of Christ as God in the flesh.

The ministry of the Son of Man contained specific duties and responsibilities that had to come from God alone. Christ ministry consisted of forgiving people of their sins (John 3; Mark 2:1-12); offering them eternal life (John 5:21); raising people from the dead (Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:17-44); judging the world (Matthew 25:31-33; John 5:22, 27); healing varies diseases and sicknesses (Matthew 9:20-22, 27-31; 12:9-13); and casting out demons (Mark 1:23-28; Matthew 9:32, 33).

In summary, after examining the affirmations, actions and acclaims of Christ, it is overwhelming apparent that Jesus, His disciples, and the presentation by various different authors of the Bible believed Him to be God.

[1]. James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario, FL: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), 2320.

[2]. Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007), 79.

[3]. Thomas Oden, The Living God: Systematic Theology (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998), 1:35.