Even More Proof That Jesus is Jehovah God Most High! Pt. 2

I proceed from where I left off (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/even-more-proof-that-jesus-is-jehovah-god-most-high-pt-1/). 

The I AM sayings of Christ

Another way in which the NT equates Christ with Yahweh God is through our Lord’s use of the phrase “I AM [He],” in Greek ego eimi.

All throughout the Hebrew Bible, particularly in the book of Isaiah, Yahweh employs the phrase “I [AM] He” (Heb. ani hu/anoki hu) to describe himself, which the Greek version of the OT (typically referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]) renders as ego eimi.

The most famous of these sayings is the account of the burning bush where the Angel of the Lord (who happens to be Christ in his prehuman existence) identifies himself as the I AM who comes to deliver his people:

“Then Moses said to God, ‘I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am (ehyeh asher ehyeh [Gr. ego eimi ho on]). This,’ he added, ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am (ehyeh [Gr. ho on]) has sent me to you.”’ And God also said to Moses, ‘You are to say to the sons of Israel: “Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.’” Exodus 3:13-15 JB

Although the Hebrew and Greek words employed are not the same, their meanings are virtually synonymous since they speak to the nature of Yahweh, e.g., he is the God who simply is and will do all that he has decreed since there is none that can thwart his purposes:

“Yahweh thwarts the plans of nations, frustrates the intentions of peoples; but Yahweh’s plans hold good for ever, the intentions of his heart from age to age.” Psalm 33:10-11 JB

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Psalm 115:3 NIV

The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Psalm 135:6 NIV

“Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, he who formed you in the womb: I, myself, Yahweh, made all things, I alone spread out the heavens. When I gave the earth shape, did anyone help me? I am he who foils the omens of wizards and makes fools of diviners, who makes sages recant and shows the nonsense of their knowledge, who confirms the word of my servant and makes the plans of my envoys succeed.” Isaiah 44:24-26 JB

“Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 JB

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Daniel 4:34-37 NIV

With that said, I will highlight how similar Yahweh’s use of this phrase is with the way the Lord Jesus employed this expression.

As the I AM, Yahweh is the eternal One who gives life and foretells the future, and from whose hand or sovereign power none can deliver:

“See now that I, I am He ( [Gr. ego eimi]), and beside me there is no other god. It is I who deal death and life; when I have struck it is I who heal (and none can deliver from my hand).” Deuteronomy 32:39 JB

“You yourselves are my witnesses–it is Yahweh who speaks–my servants whom I have chosen, that men may know and believe me and understand that it is I. No god was formed before me, nor will be after me. I, I am Yahweh, there is no other savior but me. It is I who have spoken, have saved, have made the proclamation, not any strangers among you. You are my witnesses-it is Yahweh who speaks and I, I am your God, I am he from eternity. No one can deliver from my hand, I act and no one can reverse it.” Isaiah 43:10-13 JB

Now compare the Greek rendering of the following text,

“Be my witnesses, and I [too am] a witness, says the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen (exelexamen): that you may know, and believe, and understand that I am [he] (hina… pisteusete… hoti ego eimi): before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none.” Isaiah 43:10 LXX

With the words of our Lord:

“I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen (exelexamen); but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me. I tell you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe that I am He (hina pisteusete hoti ego eimi).” John 13:18-19 JB

Like Yahweh, Jesus foretells the future so that when it comes to pass the disciples whom he has chosen will believe that he is the “I AM”.

And like Yahweh who has always existed, Jesus has been there even before Abraham came into being since, unlike Abraham, he is eternal, which explains how Abraham was able to meet with Christ and rejoice at the fact of seeing him:

“They repeated, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them: ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me when I tell you the truth as I have learned it from God; that is not what Abraham did. What you are doing is what your father does… I tell you most solemnly, whoever keeps my word will never see death.’ The Jews said, ‘Now we know for certain that you are possessed. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, and yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The prophets are dead too. Who are you claiming to be?’ Jesus answered: ‘If I were to seek my own glory that would be no glory at all; my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, “He is our God,” although you do not know him. But I know him, and if I were to say: I do not know him, I should be a liar, as you are liars yourselves. But I do know him, and I faithfully keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to think that he would see my Day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews then said, ‘You are not fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham!’ Jesus replied: ‘I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham ever was, I Am (prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi).’ At this they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.” John 8:39-40, 51-59 JB

Note the following renderings of the key text:

“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’” John 8:58

y. 8:58 Came to be, I AM: the Greek word used for “came to be” is the one used of all creation in the prologue, while the word used for “am” is the one reserved for the Logos. New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)

“Jesus said to them, ‘For sure, I tell you, before Abraham was born, I was and am and always will be!’” New Life Version (NLV)

“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!’”

k. 8:58 Or before Abraham was even born, I have always been alive; Greek reads before Abraham was, I am. See Exod 3:14. New Living Translation (NLT)

Our Lord’s contrast between Abraham’s creation and his timeless existence echoes the following Psalm, where a similar contrast is made between Yahweh’s existence and that of the created order:

“Lord, You hast been our refuge in all generations. Before (pro) the mountains existed (genethenai), and [before] the earth and the world were formed, even from age to age, you are (su ei).” Psalm 89:1-2 LXX

Hence, Jesus is like God in that he simply is, i.e. he is eternal and therefore pure existence:

“Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is (estin) and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/hebrews/11/#v58011006)

This explains why Jesus does what only Yahweh can do, namely, give immortal, incorruptible life, and why none can deliver out of his sovereign hand:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’” John 10:27-33

I.e. Jesus is Yahweh God in the flesh, being one with the Father in essence and glory.

Yahweh is also described as the I AM who forgives the sins of those who believe in him:

“I am he (ego eimi), the One blotting out your transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember [them].” Isaiah 43:25 LXX

Similarly, a person must believe that Jesus is the I AM since to deny that he is, is to die in one’s sins:

“He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.’… So Jesus said [to them], ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.’” John 8:23-24, 28-29

m.8:24, 28 I AM: an expression that late Jewish tradition understood as Yahweh’s own self-designation (Is 43:10); see note on Jn 4:26. Jesus is here placed on a par with Yahweh. NABRE

As the I AM, Yahweh is with his people all the days of their lives in order to give them comfort and protection:

“I am [he] (ego eimi); and until you shall have grown old, I am [he] (ego eimi): I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you.” Isaiah 46:4 LXX

“I am [the] I am (ego eimi ego eimi) that comforts you: consider who you are, that you were afraid of mortal man, and of the son of man, who are withered as grass.” Isaiah 51:12 LXX

Which is precisely what Jesus does, since he is the One who remains with all his people till the end of the age, giving rest to all who turn to him:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 JB

“and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Matthew 28:20 JB

Yahweh as the I AM is the Lord who is the First and the Last:

“I have not spoken in secret, nor in a dark place of the earth: I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek vanity: I am (ego eimi)! I am the Lord (ego eimi ho Kyrios), speaking righteousness, and proclaiming truth.” Isaiah 45:19 LXX

“Who has wrought and done these things? He has called it who called it from the generations of old; I God, the first and to [all] futurity, I AM (ego eimi).” Isaiah 41:4 LXX

“Listen to Me, O Jacob and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the First, and I am the Last.” Isaiah 48:12 Modern English Version (MEV)

Once again, Jesus claims to be that very Lord who exists as the First and the Last:

“You call me Master and Lord (ho kyrios), and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord (ho kyrios) and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.” John 13:13-14

“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though I were dead. Then He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, though I was dead. Look! I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” Revelation 1:17-18 MEV

Yahweh is also the I AM who speaks:

“Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I am he that speaks (ego eimi autos ho lalon): I am present,” Isaiah 52:6 LXX

As is the Lord Jesus!

“The isha says to him, I have da’as that Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach is coming, the one being called the Messiah. When Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach comes, he will proclaim to us everything. Yehoshua says to her, Ani Hu (I am He), the one speaking (ego eimi ho lalon) to you.” John 4:25-26 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

Now if this still doesn’t convince the readers that Christ equated himself with the I AM of the Hebrew Bible, then the following example should assuage such doubts:

“Then Jesus, knowing all the things that were going to happen to him, stepped forward and said to them: ‘Whom are you looking for?’ They answered him: ‘Jesus the Naz·a·reneʹ.’ He said to them: ‘I am he.’ Now Judas, his betrayer, was also standing with them. However, when Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:4-6 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/john/18/)

It is obvious that the reason the soldiers fell backward to the ground is because of the solemn power, which issued forth from our Lord’s declaration of the I AM phrase.

Christ’s use of the expression went beyond a mere affirmation that he was Jesus of Nazareth whom they were seeking. Rather, the utterance of these words and the soldiers’ reaction highlight the fact that the One standing before them was more than a mere human being. He is none other than the sovereign Lord of creation, the One who has complete power over life and death, and who voluntarily forfeits his life; otherwise, no creature would be able to lay a finger on him:

“The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.” John 10:17-18 JB

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.'” John 11:23-27 NIV

“Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth AND THE LIFE. No one can come to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

Now in case someone wants to argue that in most, if not all, of Jesus’ I AM sayings he was merely claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, much like in the passage with the Samaritan women (cf. John 4:25-26), this still does nothing to undermine the clear implications of Deity associated with our Lord’s use of this phrase.

After all, the Messiah according to John is the unique divine Son of God, who is equal to the Father in essence, glory and honor, being the Son who can only do whatever the Father does in the exact same manner as the Father does it, such as give life and raise the dead both spiritually and physically:

“For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things during the Sabbath. But he answered them: ‘My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.’ This is why the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God. Therefore, in response Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, the Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son does also in like manner. For the Father has affection for the Son and shows him all the things he himself does, and he will show him works greater than these, so that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes alive whomever he wants to. For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Most truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes the One who sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life. Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because he is the Son of man. Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment. I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.’” John 5:16-30 NWT

This is why the unbelieving Jews sought to kill him,

“‘We have a Law,’ the Jews answered, ‘and according to that Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’” John 19:7 JB

Since they realized that Jesus was claiming to be the Son in such a way as to make himself essentially coequal to the Father, which they took to be blasphemy.

This also helps us appreciate Thomas’ confession to the risen Christ where he worships him as his Lord and his God,

“Next he said to Thomas: ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.’ In answer Thomas said TO HIM: ‘My Lord and my God (ho Kyrios mou kai ho Theos mou)!’ Jesus said to him: ‘Because you have seen me, have you believed? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ To be sure, Jesus also performed many other signs before the disciples, which are not written down in this scroll. But these have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and because of believing, you may have life by means of his name.” John 20:30-31 NWT

In a similar way to how David praised Jehovah,

“Awake, O Lord, and attend to my judgment, [even] to my cause, my God and my Lord (ho Theos mou kai ho Kyrios mou).” Psalm 34[Heb. 35]:23 LXX

And even how the heavenly host worships God:

“Every time the animals glorified and honored and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, ‘You are our Lord and our God (Kyrios kai ho Theos hemon), you are worthy of glory and honor and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.”” Revelation 4:9-11 JB

Thomas realized that Jesus wasn’t God’s Son in the same sense that others were/are. Rather, Christ is the unique Son who is one with the Father in power, glory, and honor, and therefore worthy of the same worship that God alone is supposed to receive.

Simply put, Thomas recognized that the Man that now stood before him, the One who had conquered death by his glorious resurrection, was none other than God Almighty in the flesh, being the very great I AM who had come to save his people!

With that said I move on to the final part of the discussion.

Even More Proof That Jesus is Jehovah God Most High! Pt. 1

In this series of posts (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/jesus-is-the-most-high-god/), I am going to provide further evidence that Jesus is identified as Jehovah Most High. I begin by further explicating the following passage from Hebrews:

“At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light (apaugasma) of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name… Again, when he brings the First-born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.cbut to his Son he says: God (ho Theos), your throne shall last for ever and ever… And again: It is you, Lord, who laid earth’s foundations in the beginning, the heavens are the work of YOUR HANDS; all will vanish, though you remain, all wear out like a garment; you will roll them up like a cloak, and like a garment they will be changed. But yourself, you never change and your years are unendingf” Hebrews 1:1-4, 6

c. Dt. 32:43… f. Ps. 102:25-27 The Jerusalem Bible: Reader’s Edition (JB http://mullumbimbycatholic.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Jerusalem_Bible_Readers_Edition.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2Eu6tuvn-LRF6Wk5ULLbqg_XW7i5CN4qttEu2hZVu9AyeIiRyzLpE0d28)

Remarkably, the inspired author ascribes to the Lord Jesus the following OT passages, where angels are commanded to worship Yahweh,

“Rejoice, you heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice you Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” Deuteronomy 32:43 Septuagint Version (LXX)

And where David glorifies Yahweh as the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of all creation!

“A prayer of the oppressed one when he is in despair and pours out his concern before Jehovah. O Jehovah, hear my prayer… But you remain forever, O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations… Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; Just like a garment they will all wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away. But you are the same, and your years will never end.” Psalm 102:1, 12, 25-27 New World Translation (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/psalms/102/)

Here’s the Greek rendering of the foregoing Psalm:

“In the beginning You, O Lord, did lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands. They shall perish, but you remain: and [they all] shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture you shall fold them, and they shall be changed. But you are the same, and thy years shall not fail.” Psalm 101:26-28 LXX

The writer also identifies the Lord as the reflection or radiant light of God’s glory, employing the very Greek term used elsewhere to speak of God’s own Wisdom as the reflection of God’s eternal light:

“For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, active, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, sharp, irresistible, beneficent, loving to man, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits; for Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion; she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things. She is a breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; hence nothing impure can find a way into her. She is a reflection (apaugasma) of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God’s active power, image of his goodness. Although alone, she can do all; herself unchanging, she makes all things new. In each generation she passes into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and prophets; for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom. She is indeed more splendid than the sun, she outshines all the constellations; compared with light, she takes first place, for light must yield to night, but over Wisdom evil can never triumph.” Wisdom 7:22-30 JB

Now since God’s light is eternal, the radiance of that light must be eternal as well. And seeing that Jesus is identified as that very radiance this proves that Christ is both eternal and of the same substance of the Father, which brings me to my next point.

Hebrews describes the Son as being the perfect copy, the very exact representation of God’s infinite, eternal nature/substance. Note how the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible renders the verse in question:

“He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power. And after he had made a purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/hebrews/1/#v58001003)

This simply confirms what the attribution of the foregoing OT texts to Christ already established, namely, Jesus is Yahweh God Almighty in the flesh, since the God-breathed Scriptures are clear that there is no finite, temporal being that is like Yahweh, none among the heavenly host who perfectly resembles God:

there is no god to compare with you, no achievement to compare with yours. All the pagans will come and adore you, Lord, all will glorify your name, since you alone are great, you perform marvels, you God, you alone.” Psalm 86:8-10 JB

“The heavens praise your marvels, O Jehovah, Yes, your faithfulness in the congregation of the holy ones. For who in the skies can compare to Jehovah? Who among the sons of God is like Jehovah? God is held in awe in the council of holy ones; He is grand and awe-inspiring to all who are around him. O Jehovah God of armies, Who is mighty like you, O Jah? Your faithfulness surrounds you.” Psalm 89:5-8 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/psalms/89/)

For Christ to, therefore, be the perfect, exact representation/copy of God’s infinite being, he cannot be a mere creature.

After all, God’s being is uncreated and eternal and consists of specific attributes such as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. And since Jesus is said to be THE exact, perfect imprint of God’s eternal substance, this means that Christ must be uncreated, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. There’s simply no way around this.

Moreover, the following OT passages where Yahweh is identified as the object of saving faith,

All who call on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for on Mount Zion there will be some who have escaped, as Yahweh has said, and in Jerusalem some survivors whom Yahweh will call.” Joel 3:5 [2:32] JB

The One whom men are to taste to see how good he is,

How good Yahweh is-only taste and see! Happy the man who takes shelter in him.” Psalm 34:8 JB

And the precious stone that causes men to stumble due to their rebellion and disbelief,

“when his hand seized hold of me to turn me from walking in the path that this people follows. Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, do not be afraid of them. It is Yahweh Sabaoth, whom you must hold in veneration, him you must fear, him you must dread. He is the sanctuary and the stumbling stone and the rock that brings down the two Houses of Israel; a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. By it many will be brought down, many fall and be broken, be trapped and made captive.” Isaiah 8:12-14 JB

“That is why the Lord Yahweh says this: See how I lay in Zion a stone of witness, a precious cornerstone, a foundation stone: The believer shall not stumble.” Isaiah 28:16 JB

Are attributed to Christ, i.e., Jesus is the Yahweh whom all must call upon in order to be saved, and he is the stone of stumbling that has become the foundation stone, whom believers are to revere and taste to see how good he truly is:

If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised HIM from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are II saved. When scripture says: those who believe in HIM will have no cause for shame,c it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask HIS help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.d” Romans 10:9-13

c. Is. 28:16 d. Jl. 3:5 JB

“to the congregation of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones, together with all those everywhere who are calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:.” 1 Corinthians 1:2 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/1-corinthians/1/#v46001002)

“grow up to salvation-·now that you have tasted the goodness of the Lord.a The new priesthood He is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. As scripture says: See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed.b That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone,C a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down.d They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them. 1 Peter 2:3-8

2 a. Ps. 34:8 b. Is. 28:16 c. Ps. 18:22 d. Is. 8:14 JB

“if you do have to suffer for being good, you will count it a blessing. There is no need to be afraid or to worry about them.b Simply reverence the Lordc Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have.” 1 Peter 3:14-15

c. Is. 8: 12-13 (LXX) JB

The God Whom Isaiah Saw

The ease with which the NT writers ascribe OT citations about Yahweh to the Lord Jesus explains why the Apostle John could quote Isaiah 6:10, a verse taken from the vision of Isaiah where the prophet saw Yahweh seated on his throne, 

“In the year that King Uz·ziʹah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two. And one called to the other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The whole earth is filled with his glory.’ And the pivots of the thresholds quivered at the sound of the shouting, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said: ‘Woe to me! I am as good as dead, For I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies himself!’… Then I heard the voice of Jehovah saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?’ And I said: ‘Here I am! Send me!’ And he replied, ‘Go, and say to this people: ‘You will hear again and again, But you will not understand; You will see again and again, But you will not get any knowledge.” Make the heart of this people unreceptive, Make their ears unresponsive, And paste their eyes together, So that they may not see with their eyes And hear with their ears, So that their heart may not understand And they may not turn back and be healed.’” Isaiah 6:1-5, 8-10 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/isaiah/6/)

And claim that the Divine Being that Isaiah actually beheld was the Lord Jesus in his prehuman existence!

“Although Jesus77 had performed78 so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, so that the word79 of the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled. He said,80 ‘Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord81 been revealed?’82 For this reason they could not believe,83 because again Isaiah said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart,84 so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart,85 and turn to me,86 and I would heal them.’87 Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s88 glory, and spoke about him.” John 12:37-41 New English Translation (NET)

Here’s another rendering of the relevant text:

“For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” John 12:40-41 New International Version (NIV)

In other words, according to the inspired Evangelist, Isaiah was actually looking at the preincarnate Christ when he saw Yahweh enthroned in heaven with his very own eyes!

Both liberal and conservative NT scholars readily acknowledge that this is what John is claiming:

88 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9).

sn Because he saw Christs glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus. (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/John+12; underline emphasis ours)

And:

Ver. 41. “This did Isaiah say, when he saw his glory and spoke of him.” John justifies in this verse the application which he has just made to Jesus Christ of the vision of Is. vi. The Adonai whom Isaiah beheld at that moment was the divine being who is incarnated in Jesus. Herein also John and Paul meet together; comp. 1 Cor. x. 4, where Paul calls the one who guided Israel from the midst of the cloud Christ. Some interpreters have tried to refer the pronoun autou, of him, not to Christ, but to God. But the last words: and spoke of him, would be useless in this sense and this remark would be aimless in the context. The Alexandrian reading, “because he saw,” instead of “when he saw him,” is adopted by Tischendorf, Weiss, Keil, etc. But it does not appear to me acceptable. Its only reasonable sense would be: “because he really saw his glory and spoke of Him so long beforehand (a thing which seems impossible).” But this reflection would be very coldly apologetic and quite useless for readers who were accustomed to hear the prophecies quoted. It is much more easy to understand how the conjunction hote, which is quite rarely used, may have been replaced by hoti, which appears in every line, than how the reverse could have taken place. The ancient Latin and Syriac versions are agreed in supporting the received text. The sense of the latter is simple and perfectly suitable. “It was of Christ, who manifested Himself to him as Adonai, that Isaiah spoke when he uttered such words.” John proves that he has the right to apply this passage here. (Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John with an Historical and Critical Introduction, translated from the third French edition with a preface introductory suggestions, and additional notes by Timothy Dwight President of Yale [Funk and Wagnals Publishers, New York 1886], Volume 2, pp. 235-236 https://books.google.com/books?id=zx8WAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; bold emphasis ours)

This, in turn, helps us better appreciate the following text:

“So now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” John 17:5 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/john/17/#v43017005)

According to John 12:40-41, the glory that Christ shared with the Father from before the creation of the world is the very glory that belongs uniquely to Yahweh himself. I.e., Yahweh’s glory is his visible manifestation, which signifies to those beholding him that the One appearing before them is none other than the one true God of all creation.

And this is the very glory that the prehuman Christ possessed along with the Father, which in turn confirms that both the Father and the Son coexist as the one true God Yahweh!

After all, this glory belongs only to the true God, one that he will never share with a created being since a creature by definition is not the same as or equal to his eternal Creator:

For my own sake, for my own sake I will act, For how could I let myself be profaned? I give my glory to no one else.” Isaiah 48:11 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/isaiah/48/#v23048011)

With the foregoing in view, we are ready to proceed to the next part of the discussion (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/even-more-proof-that-jesus-is-jehovah-god-most-high-pt-1-pt-2/).

The Only True God and the Deity of Christ – Why Translations Matter Pt. 2b

I continue from where I previously left off (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/21/the-only-true-god-and-the-deity-of-christ-why-translations-matter-pt-2a/).

John isn’t the only inspired writer to identify Christ as the Creator and Sustainer of all creation:

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:6

Pay close attention to the fact of Jesus being the one Lord through whom God brought all things into being. This means that Christ already existed with the Father before the entire creation was made, and must, therefore, be eternal. Paul brings out this point much more clearly in his letter to the Colossians,

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For BY HIM him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created THROUGH HIM and FOR HIM. And HE IS before all things, and IN HIM all things hold together.” Colossians 1:13-17

As well as in the epistle to the Hebrews:

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, THROUGH WHOM also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and HE UPHOLDS the universe by the word OF HIS POWER… And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.’… But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom… ‘YOU, Lord [the Son], laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of YOUR HANDS; they will perish, but YOU remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe YOU will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3, 6, 8-12

Astonishingly, the inspired author has taken the following Psalm, where David glorifies Jehovah as the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of the entire creation,

“Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!… But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations… ‘O my God,’ I say, ‘take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!’ Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” Psalm 102:1, 12, 24-27

And attributed to Christ, thereby identifying Jesus as the very Jehovah God worshiped by David!

This brings me to my next point. The NT authors, especially John, describe Jesus in the same manner as the OT depicts Jehovah, specifically in his role as the Creator and Sustainer of the whole creation.

For instance, Jehovah is the Source of life and light who illuminates mankind:

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Psalm 36:9

Jehovah is the Creator who alone sustains and preserves the heavens and the earth, and everything that is within them:

“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” Nehemiah 9:6

“who ALONE stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;” Job 9:8

“Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:” Isaiah 42:5

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who ALONE stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth BY MYSELF,’” Isaiah 44:24

“I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” Isaiah 45:12

Note the logical implications of the biblical witness to the Deity of Christ and to the nature of Jehovah:

  1. Jehovah God alone created and sustains all creation, being the Source of all life and spiritual illumination.
  2. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who was appointed by the Father to create and sustain all creation, being the Source of all life and spiritual illumination.
  3. Therefore, Jesus is Jehovah God in the flesh.
  4. At the same time, Jesus is not the Father but is personally distinct from.
  5. This means that Jehovah is a multi-Personal Being who eternally exists as the Father and the Son (along with the Holy Spirit).

That Jesus and the Father are essentially one, being coequal in glory and power can be further seen in the next text:

“And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” John 17:5

Jesus claims to have shared in the same glory of the Father even before the creation of the world, which is a glory that Jehovah will not grant to anyone,

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.” Isaiah 48:11-12 – cf. 41:4; 44:6

A glory that angels ascribe to Jehovah, but can never possess themselves:

“Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” Psalm 29:1-2

Interestingly, the risen Lord even ascribes to himself the very titles, that Isaiah above attributed to Jehovah, namely, “the first and the last”!

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18

The foregoing explains why Jesus is praised and worshiped as God in an absolute sense:

“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:28-29

Thomas’s confession echoes how David glorified Jehovah:

“Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord!” Psalm 35:23

Since the only Lord and God that an Israelite can ever acknowledge is Jehovah,

“And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD YOUR God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’” Exodus 20:1-3

“(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),” Exodus 34:14

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD OUR God, the LORD is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4

“For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” Micah 4:5

And since Thomas worshiped the risen Christ as his Lord God, this again confirms that Jesus is Jehovah God Almighty in the flesh.

There’s more:

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God (ho alethinos theos) and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

John has already identified who the eternal life is, namely, Jesus Christ the Son of God who was with the Father and manifested himself to his disciples:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3

Hence, Christ must be the true God seeing that he is the eternal life. Note the logic behind this:

  1. The true God is the eternal life.
  2. Jesus is eternal life itself.
  3. Jesus is, therefore, the true God.

Christ is further described as the God who shed his blood to purchase his church,

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

The God who is eternally praised,

“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 9:5

And as the Great God and Savior of all believers:

“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” 2 Peter 1:1

Therefore, could the inspired writings be any more explicit in identifying Jesus as Jehovah God Incarnate?

I conclude the discussion with the following chart, which highlights the differences that exist between the English Standard Version and the Authorized King James Version, in respect to specific verses related to the Person and work of Christ. Some of the differences have nothing to do with variant readings, but with a difference in the translation of particular words within the texts themselves. These examples should serve as a caution to the readers that they need to be aware that not all versions read the same, and one must, therefore, make a case for why they prefer one particular variant or translation over the others, and/or stick with passages that are not in dispute.

 

ESV

 

AV

 

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

 

“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John 1:18

 

“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” John 3:13

 

“and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:69

 

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’” John 9:35

 

“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

 

“Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,” Acts 2:30

 

“The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him… God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:13, 26

 

“for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel… while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:27, 30

 

“And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts 8:36-38

 

“And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Acts 16:7

 

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;” Romans 14:10

“and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,” Ephesians 3:9

 

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,” Ephesians 3:14

 

“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

 

“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” Philippians 2:6

 

“in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:14

 

“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive… Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:13, 16

 

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16

 

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

 

“and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” 1 John 4:3

 

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” 1 John 5:7-8

 

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Jude 1:4-5

 

“to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:25

 

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’… saying, ‘Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.’” Revelation 1:8, 11

 

“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth… and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.” Revelation 11:4, 8

 

 

 

“But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

 

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

 

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

 

“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”

 

“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

 

“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;”

 

“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go… Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

 

“For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together… by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.”

 

“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

 

“after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”

 

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

 

“and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”

 

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

 

“submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

 

“who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

 

“in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

 

“forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye… Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

 

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

 

“but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

 

“and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

 

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”

 

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”

 

“to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

 

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty… saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”

 

“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth… And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

 

 

 

 

The Only True God and the Deity of Christ – Why Translations Matter Pt. 2a

In my previous discussion (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/the-only-true-god-and-the-deity-of-christ-why-translations-matter/), I employed the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible to show that the Lord Jesus, in union with the Father, is identified as the only Master, Lord, and God of all creation, especially of believers. I am now going to demonstrate how some of the verses that I used to make my case are not as clear cut as the ESV makes it appear since they are either based on variant readings and/or disputable translations. 

For example, contrast how the following two passages that I quoted are rendered in the ESV versus the Authorized King James Version (AV):

“No one has ever seen God; the only God (monogenes theos), who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John 1:18 ESV

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (ho monogenes hyios), which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” AV

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (ton monon Despoten kai Kyrion hemon Iesoun Christon). Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Jude 1:4-5 ESV

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (ton monon despoten Theon kai kyrion Iesoun Christon). I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” AV

Note that the two citations where Jesus is described as the only God and the only Master and Lord of all believers are based on textually disputed verses and/or a different way of translating a key Greek term, namely, monogenes, which the ESV has rendered as “only” whereas the AV has translated as “only-begotten”. As such, these texts do not conclusively establish the Deity of Christ or his essential coequality with the Father.

However, this doesn’t mean that the inspired Christian Scriptures do not explicitly affirm the absolute, essential Deity of Christ, since they most certainly do. In fact, apart from these disputed passages, the verses I employed in the first part are unquestionable as per their textual veracity and are found in all the major English translations.

Here, in this post, I am going to provide additional proofs for Christ’s essential unity with the Father by citing texts that are not in question as far as their authenticity are concerned. I begin with the prologue of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of menThe true light (to phos to alethinon), which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son (monogenous) from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 9-10, 14

Christ is not only described as the eternal Word, i.e. the Word who was already existing with God and as God even before creation came into being, he is further identified as the Creator and Source of life, being the true Light who grants spiritual illumination to all mankind. As one prominent NT scholar explained it:

Here at the beginning John says three things about the word; which is to say that he says three things about Jesus.

(i) The word was already there at the very beginning things. John’s thought is going back to the first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). What John is saying is this–the word is not one of the created things; the word was there before creation. The word is not part of the world which came into being in time; the word is part of eternity and was there with God before time and the world began. John was thinking of what is known as the preexistence of Christ.

In many ways this idea of preexistence is very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to grasp. But it does mean one very simple, very practical, and very tremendous thing. If the word was with God before time began, if God’s word is part of the eternal scheme of things, it means that God was always like Jesus. Sometimes we tend to think of God as stern and avenging; and we tend to think that something Jesus did changed God’s anger into love and altered his attitude to men. The New Testament knows nothing of that idea. The whole New Testament tells us, this passage of John especially, that God has always been like Jesus. What Jesus did was to open a window in time that we might see the eternal and unchanging love of God…

(ii) John goes on to say that the word was with God. What does he mean by that? He means that always there has been the closest connection between the word and God. Let us put that in another and a simpler way–there has always been the most intimate connection between Jesus and God. That means no one can tell us what God is like, what God’s will is for us, what God’s love and heart and mind are like, as Jesus can… He is saying that Jesus has always been with God. Let us use every human language because it is the only language we can use. John is saying that Jesus is so intimate with God that God has no secrets from him; and that, therefore, Jesus is the one person in all the universe who can reveal to us what God is like and how God feels towards us.

(iii) Finally John says that the word was God This is a difficult saying for us to understand, and it is difficult because Greek, in which John wrote, had a different way of saying things from the way in which English speaks. When Greek uses a noun it almost always uses the definite article with it. The Greek for God is theos (Greek #2316) and the definite article is ho (Greek #3588). When Greek speaks about God it does not simply say theos (Greek #2316); it says ho theos (Greek #2316). Now when Greek does not use the definite article with a noun that noun becomes much more like an adjective. John did not say that the word was ho (Greek #3588) theos (Greek #2316); that would have been to say that the word was identical with God. He said that the word was theos (Greek #2316)–without the definite article–which means that the word was, we might say, of the very same character and quality and essence and being as God. When John said the word was God he was not saying that Jesus was identical with God; he was saying that Jesus was so perfectly the same as God in mind, in heart, in being that in him we perfectly see what God is like.

So right at the beginning of his gospel John lays it down that in Jesus, and in him alone, there is perfectly revealed to men all that God always was and always will be, and all that he feels towards and desires for men. (William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/john-1.html; bold and underline emphasis mine)

That Christ is being depicted as the Word who has eternally existed as God in nature is brought out by the following exposition:

tn The preposition πρός (pros) implies not just proximity, but intimate personal relationship. M. Dods stated, “Πρός…means more than μετά or παρά, and is regularly employed in expressing the presence of one person with another” (“The Gospel of St. John,” The Expositors Greek Testament, 1:684). See also Mark 6:3, Matt 13:56, Mark 9:19, Gal 1:18, 2 John 12.

sn And the Word was fully God. John’s theology consistently drives toward the conclusion that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is just as much God as God the Father. This can be seen, for example, in texts like John 10:30 (“The Father and I are one”), 17:11 (“so that they may be one just as we are one”), and 8:58 (“before Abraham came into existence, I am”). The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, “the Word was with God”); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence.

tn Or “and what God was the Word was.” Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of θεός (theos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here. However, Colwell’s Rule merely permits, but does not demand, that a predicate nominative ahead of an equative verb be translated as definite rather than indefinite. Furthermore, Colwell’s Rule did not deal with a third possibility, that the anarthrous predicate noun may have more of a qualitative nuance when placed ahead of the verb. A definite meaning for the term is reflected in the traditional rendering “the word was God.” From a technical standpoint, though, it is preferable to see a qualitative aspect to anarthrous θεός in John 1:1c (ExSyn 266-69). Translations like the NEB, REB, and Moffatt are helpful in capturing the sense in John 1:1c, that the Word was fully deity in essence (just as much God as God the Father). However, in contemporary English “the Word was divine” (Moffatt) does not quite catch the meaning since “divine” as a descriptive term is not used in contemporary English exclusively of God. The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons. However, in surveying a number of native speakers of English, some of whom had formal theological training and some of whom did not, the editors concluded that the fine distinctions indicated by “what God was the Word was” would not be understood by many contemporary readers. Thus the translation “the Word was fully God” was chosen because it is more likely to convey the meaning to the average English reader that the Logos (which “became flesh and took up residence among us” in John 1:14 and is thereafter identified in the Fourth Gospel as Jesus) is one in essence with God the Father. The previous phrase, “the Word was with God,” shows that the Logos is distinct in person from God the Father. (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/John+1; underline emphasis mine)

John’s Gospel also describes Christ as the Son of God who is inseparable from the Father, and therefore only does whatever he beholds the Father doing. Jesus is also the Son who is equal to the Father in power, glory and honor, and who will be the One to raise the dead from their tombs at the last hour, on the day of resurrection, and who also preserves all believers from perishing since he is the Resurrection and Life:

“And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, likewise the Son does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself does. And He will show Him greater works than these so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honor the Son, JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him… Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.’” John 5:16-23, 25, 28-29

“Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day… This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’… Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day… As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live BECAUSE OF ME. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.’” John 6:32-44, 50-51, 54, 57-58

“‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’” John 10:27-33

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’” John 11:23-27

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.’” John 17:1-2

Suffice it to say, these ascriptions, functions, and titles can never be attributed to a mere creature since a finite, temporal being cannot grant spiritual life, physical immortality, and moral incorruption to anyone, let alone to all true believers. Nor can a creature demand to receive the same glory and honor that are supposed to be rendered to the Creator alone.

With that in mind, it’s time to proceed to the next section of my post (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/21/the-only-true-god-and-the-deity-of-christ-why-translations-matter-pt-2b/).

Revisiting Jesus’ Subordination to the Father Pt. 4

We come to the final part of my series (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/revisiting-jesus-subordination-to-the-father-pt-3/).

Christ – The eternal King!

Anti-Trinitarians will also quote 1 Corinthians 15:28 to prove that Jesus is not God. Here is the passage, this time adding verses 24-27 for context:

“After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, ‘God has put all things under his authority.’ (Of course, when it says ‘all things are under his authority,’ that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.”

it is argued the Son cannot be coequal to God when he will be eternally subject to him.

The problem with this argument is that Christ subjecting himself to God no more proves that he isn’t God than Jesus’ willful subjection to his mother and adoptive father proves that he isn’t a man either:

“Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:51 NKJV

As we saw earlier, Paul affirms both of these truths, e.g. Jesus is fully God in essence and subordinate to the Father. Paul expressly taught that Jesus is subject to God in terms of authority while being equal with him in essence since he is the Divine Son of God. The following writer states it best:

“At times Paul writes as if Christ is ‘subordinate’ to the Father. For he tells us that ‘God sent forth his Son to redeem’ (Gal 4.4) and ‘did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all’ (Rom 8:32). And in a notable passage he declares that ‘when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one’ (1 Cor 15.28). Taken by themselves these passages might warrant the conclusion that Paul held a merely subordinationist view of Christ and did not place Him on the same divine level with the Father. But if they are taken together with the passages cited above in which Paul does put Christ on the same divine level as the Father by presenting Him as the creator of all things and the ‘image of the invisible God’ who was ‘in the form of God’ and equal to God, it becomes clear that Paul views Christ both as subordinate and equal to God the Father. Possibly he thus means merely to subordinate Christ in His humanity to the Father. But more probably he wishes to indicate that while Christ is truly divine and on the same divine level with the Father, yet there must be assigned to the Father a certain priority and superiority over the Son because He is the Father of the Son and sends the Son to redeem men, and there must be ascribed to the Son a certain subordination because He is the Son of the Father and is sent by the Father. Nowhere, however, does Paul say or imply that the Son is a creature, as the Arians subordinationists will say later on. On the contrary, he makes it clear that the Son is not on the side of the creature but of the Creator and that through the Son all things are created… (Edmund J. Fortman, The Triune God — A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity [Wipf and Stock Publishers: Eugene, Oregon, February 1999], p. 18; underline emphasis ours)

Secondly, the Son’s voluntary subjection at the end of the age doesn’t mean that Christ will cease to reign with his Father since both Paul and the rest of the inspired Biblical authors affirm that Christ rules forever:

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Isaiah 9:6-7

“‘Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!’” Luke 1:30-33

“But to the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.’” Hebrews 1:8-9

“Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:11

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: ‘The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

The readers may be wondering if Paul’s statement doesn’t mean that Christ’s kingdom will come to an end then what does it mean? The following Evangelical authors help us understand Paul’s point and also explain why the Apostle’s comments cannot be distorted to mean that Jesus is not God:

“What Paul means is that the Son will deliver to God the Father a fully reconciled kingdom in which all his enemies have been defeated (1 Cor. 15:24-26). Paul is speaking of a ‘stage’ in the kingdom of God in which God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is in this age focusing on bringing people redemption from sin and salvation from evil powers and death (see also Eph. 1:19–23; Col. 1:13–20). In other words Paul is referring specifically to a spiritual or mediatorial phase of the kingdom of God in which Christ’s position as ruler is most prominent…

“The third objection is widely thought to be the most difficult, but we think it poses no insuperable objection to the deity of Christ. The objection suffers from a problem similar to the first: if Paul is understood to mean that at the end the Son will change his status by subjecting himself to God, that implies that the Son is not currently subject to God. If Jesus is a creature, inferior to God, is it possible for him not to be subject to God for even a minute?

“Recall the point we made earlier about the Son humbling himself to become a human being for the glory of the Father and the salvation of the lost. In his resurrection, as the ‘last Adam’, Jesus Christ continues to be a man, retaining his human nature (Acts 17:31; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:45-47; 1 Tim. 2:5), albeit in a glorified, immortal state (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Phil. 3:21). As a human being, the Son still honors and subjects himself to the Father as his God (e.g., John 20:17; 2 Cor. 1:3; Rev. 3:12). In that context, the Son, who is both fully God and fully human (Col. 2:9), rightly and properly subjects himself to God the Father. But this fact about the relationship between God the Father and the incarnate Son does not diminish the Son’s exalted status over all creation. He is still ‘Lord of all’ (Rom 10:12).” (Bowman Jr. & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place, Part 5: The Best Seat in the House – Jesus Shares the Seat of God’s Throne, Chapter 21. Jesus Takes His Seat, 262-263)

Anti-Trinitarians further reason that everything would already be under Jesus’ authority if he were God. This again completely ignores and distorts the teaching of the Holy Bible, and is further evidence that these groups and/or cultists are incapable of refuting what the inspired Scriptures actually teach.

According to Paul himself, Jesus set aside his heavenly riches and status in order to assume the role of a servant and die an accursed death so that believers might be saved and share in Christ’s glory and inheritance:

“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God (lit., in the form of God existing [en morphe theou hyperchon]), he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

Therefore, Christ received from the Father the authority which he had voluntarily aside for a season to accomplish the work of redemption.

We now come to our final section.

Christ – The Sovereign Head of All Creation!

Recall that in 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul said that the head of every man is Christ. The God-breathed Scriptures also teach that Christ is head over all creation and is exalted far above every creation in existence:

and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, FAR ABOVE every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” Ephesians 1:19-23 New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)

 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:10

The holy Scriptures further proclaim that Jesus is the Lord of all,

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:9-13 NIV

“Christ died and rose again for this very purpose — to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.” Romans 14:9

And that everyone will eventually worship Christ as Lord:

“Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

What the foregoing shows is that, though subject to the Father, Jesus reigns as the Most High God over all creation in union with both the Father and the Holy Spirit. There’s simply no way around this clear, explicit biblical witness.

Unless noted otherwise all scriptural quotations taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) of the Holy Bible.

Revisiting Jesus’ Subordination to the Father Pt. 3

I continue from where I left off (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/revisiting-jesus-subordination-to-the-father-pt-2/).

Christ – The God-man who reigns supreme over all creation

In case the readers are still uncertain whether the inspired Apostle believed and taught that Christ is the eternal God (yet not the Father or the Holy Spirit) the following passages should erase such doubts:

“Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concernedAnd he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” Romans 9:5

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10 NIV

These verses testify that Paul proclaimed that Christ is the God-man and therefore has two distinct natures, i.e. Jesus possesses the whole fullness of Deity and continues to have a physical body by virtue of the human nature which he still possesses.

The Apostle even calls Jesus the Lord of glory, another Divine title!

“None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:8 NIV

Worshiping the risen and exalted Christ

Since Paul taught that Christ is God it is not surprising to find him referring to the early Christians worshiping Jesus. For example, Paul depicts Christians as those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” 1 Corinthians 1:2; cf. Acts 9:14, 21; Romans 10:9-13

What makes this practice rather amazing is that the saints in the OT were known for calling on the name of Yahweh (cf. Genesis 21:33; Psalm 99:6; Joel 2:32), and therefore shows that the first Christians were worshiping Jesus as Yahweh!

Noted NT scholar Richard Bauckham writes that,

“In both Acts and Paul (whose usage here certainly reflects pre-Pauline Christian usage), Christians are those who ‘call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 1:2; cf. Rom. 10:12-14; Acts 9:14, 21; 22:16; 2 Tim. 2:22; Hermas, Sim. 9:14:3). The phrase, no doubt drawn into Christian usage especially from Joel 2:32 (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13), regularly in the Old Testament refers to the worship of God (e.g. Gen. 4:26; 12:18; 13:4; Ps. 105:1). Its early Christian usage indicates a cultic practice of confessing Jesus as Lord that was regarded as the defining characteristic of Christians (cf. Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11). As Hurtado points out, this ‘ritual use of Jesus’ name reflects an explicit identification of Jesus as an appropriate recipient of such cultic devotion … It represents the inclusion of Jesus with God as the recipient of public, cultic public reverence.’ Hurtado also connect it with the wider use of the name of Jesus in early Christian religious practice: baptism, healings, exorcisms. In all these cases, there seems to be an association of the Lord (kurios) Jesus with the divine name in the Hebrew Scriptures, often represented in the Greek by kurios (while Maranatha may well attest an equivalent association already in Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christianity). As Philippians 2:11 attests, where the divine name appears, worship cannot be far behind. We must reckon with a very clear inclusion of Jesus in the identity of the Lord YHWH that integrated Jesus also into the worship of YHWH. This integration was so central as to make ‘those who call upon the name of the Lord’ a defining characteristic of Christians from a very early date.” (Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity[William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 4. The Worship of Jesus in Early Christianity, 2. Origins, 129-130; underline emphasis ours)

Paul himself would often pray to Christ asking him to pour out his favor upon all the Christians he was writing to:

“If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come (Marana tha)! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” 1 Corinthians 16:22-23

On one occasion Paul mentions how he begged the Lord Jesus to deliver him from the torment inflicted upon him by an angel of Satan:

“even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Another indication of early Christian worship is the observance of the Lord’s Supper, which commemorated the death of the Lord Jesus. According to Paul this was a means of communion or fellowship with the risen Christ:

“When you meet together, you are not really interested in the Lord’s Supper. For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. What? Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? Or do you really want to disgrace God’s church and shame the poor? What am I supposed to say? Do you want me to praise you? Well, I certainly will not praise you for this! For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.’ For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:29-32

The blessed Apostle also contrasts the observance of the Lord’s Supper with the pagan practice of offering sacrifices to idols, which is highly significant:

“When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Tablearen’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar? What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?” 1 Corinthians 10:16-22

The pagans erroneously thought that they were sacrificing to gods that were real when in reality they were sacrificing to demons.

With that said, the fact that Paul contrasts the Lord’s Table with the sacrifices of pagans to idols indicates that the Apostle believed that Jesus is the presiding Deity who is being worshiped through this religious rite. Notice the series of contrasts:

Sharing in the Lord’s blood and body (10:16; 11:27) Sharing in demons (10:20)
The cup of the Lord (10:21a; 11:27) The cup of demons (10:21a)
The table of the Lord (10:21b) The table of demons (10:21b)
Likened to eating sacrifices to God (10:18) Eating sacrifices to demons (10:20)

It is apparent that Paul is contrasting the gods worshiped in the pagan rites with the God worshiped by Christians in the observance of the Lord’s Supper, with that God being the risen Lord Jesus! As the following Evangelical scholars explain,

“The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20) is also a religious rite focused on Jesus Christ. Jesus himself instituted the Lord’s Supper on the Passover (Matt. 26:2, 18, 26-29; Mark 14:12-16, 22-25; Luke 22:8-20), the Jewish rite memorializing the Lord God’s deliverance of Israel from their bondage in Egypt (Exod. 12:21-27, 42-49; Deut. 16:1-8). The apostle Paul spoke of Jesus as ‘the Lord’ honored in the rite that the Lord himself instituted…

“While the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus and has its own religious background in the traditions of Judaism concerning the Passover, the Corinthians were for the most part converts from paganism who had yet to break free entirely from the temptations of idolatry in their polytheistic culture. Paul therefore sharply contrasts the rite of the Lord’s Supper with pagan rites that were superficially similar enough that immature believers apparently were participating in both. In drawing these contrasts… Paul contrasts the Lord Jesus with the deities worshiped in the pagan rites (which Paul calls ‘demons’). Paul thus makes it clear that the Lord’s Supper is a religious rite in which the Lord Jesus is the presiding deity, the object of religious devotion or ‘service’ for Christians.” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 1: The Devotion Revolution – Jesus Shares the Honors Due to God, Chapter 5. The Ultimate Reverence Package, pp. 66-67)

Moreover, the fellowship that believers have with the risen Lord is something that Paul refers to on more than one occasion:

“God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9

And:

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among (or in [en]) you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” 2 Corinthians 13:5

For Paul to write these verses he must have believed that the risen Lord Jesus is both omniscient and omnipresent. Christ not only has to know who is truly faithful to him he must also have the ability to be present with all of his followers when and wherever they gather!

Summation of Paul’s Christology

  • Christ is the spiritual Rock who saved Israel out of Egypt and provided for them in the desert.
  • Christ is the Agent of creation who gives life and sustains all things. This assumes that Paul truly believed that Christ is Almighty or omnipotent since only an all-powerful Being is capable of keeping the entire creation in place.
  • Christ is the eternally blessed God that rules over all.
  • Christ possesses all the fullness of the Deity and continues to exist as a glorified man with a glorified, immortal physical body as a result of his resurrection from the dead.
  • Christ is even called the Lord of glory whom the rulers of this age crucified.
  • Christ is the Lord who comes to judge the motives of every individual in order to repay everyone for all their deeds. For Paul to say this he must have assumed that Christ is omniscient since only one who knows everything can know the secret intentions of a person.
  • Christ has intimate communion with all the members of his spiritual Body, the Church, which again affirms that the blessed Apostle believed that Christ has all of God’s Omni-attributes, in this case, omniscience and omnipresence.
  • The Church worships and prays to Christ as their risen Lord.

In light of the foregoing, it is abundantly clear that Paul did not believe that Jesus is a creature. The evidence from his writings proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the blessed Apostle truly believed that Jesus is fully God in essence and that Christ is the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the entire creation.

Therefore, Paul was not claiming that God is the head of Christ in the sense that he is superior to the latter in nature and essence. Rather, Paul’s point is that God is the head of the Son in terms of authority since he is his Father.

I now turn to the final section (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/revisiting-jesus-subordination-to-the-father-pt-4/).

Revisiting Jesus’ Subordination to the Father Pt. 2

In this part (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/revisiting-jesus-subordination-to-the-father-pt-1/), I am going to address the passages often used to show that Jesus is not equal to the Father.

The meaning of headship in Paul’s thought

1 Corinthians 11:3 is often cited to disprove Christ’s essential equality  to God (the Father):

“The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

This no more proves that Jesus is not equal to God in essence than Paul’s statement that man is the head of the woman proves that women are inferior in nature to men.

The absurdity of this assertion is clearly seen from the comments which Paul makes right afterward:

“A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is made in God’s image and reflects God’s glory. And woman reflects man’s glory. For the first man didn’t come from woman, but the first woman came from man. And man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man. For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority. But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man,every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.” 1 Corinthians 11:7-12

These statements conclusively prove that Paul didn’t think that men are superior to women in nature. Paul realizes that man’s existence is just as much dependent upon woman as the latter’s existence is dependent upon him since this is how God has designed things. Paul also writes elsewhere that in Christ there is no distinction between male and female when it comes to the issue of salvation and glory:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” Galatians 3:26-29

Paul is simply echoing the teachings of Genesis which says that both male and female bear God’s image and have been given dominion over the entire physical creation:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let THEM have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, In the image of God he created him; male and female he created THEM. And God blessed THEM. And God said to THEM, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given YOU [plural in Hebrew addressing both the male and the female] every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. YOU shall have them for food.’” Genesis 1:26-29 ESV

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed THEM and named THEM Man when they were created.” Genesis 5:1-2 ESV

Paul’s point regarding a woman being from man is also a direct allusion to the following Genesis story:

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’ So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. ‘At last!’ the man exclaimed. ‘This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called “woman,” because she was taken from “man.”’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one (lit., the two become one flesh).” Genesis 2:18-24

This account explains why the female is called woman, i.e. since a woman came out of the man she fully shares in the same nature and therefore has equal value and dignity.

In fact, the inspired Apostle even quotes Genesis 2:24 to make the case that husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies:

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33

In light of the foregoing, it is obvious that Paul didn’t mean that man was the head in the sense of being superior to a woman in essence and dignity. Paul’s point was that man had authority over a woman without this making him better in nature.

However, Paul does say that Christ is the head of man, which may be taken as supporting Zaatari’s argument that Jesus is not equal to God in nature. After all, we know that Christ is not just greater than man in authority and status, but he is also superior in nature by virtue of being more than a man. The inspired Apostle taught that Christ is fully God in essence just as we are about to see.

Putting Paul’s Christology in Perspective

In order to determine what Paul meant when he wrote that God (namely, the Father) is the head of Christ we must first examine his teaching concerning the Lord Jesus. If Paul taught that Christ is a created being then this would affirm that the inspired Apostle believed that the Father was Christ’s head by virtue of being vastly superior both in terms of position and nature. However, if Paul actually believed that Christ is fully God in nature then this means that the Son is equal to the Father in essence and therefore the Father’s headship over Christ can only be in terms of authority, e.g. God has greater authority by virtue of being the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ – the Eschatological Judge and Omniscient Lord

Paul taught that Christ is coming to judge every person and expose everyone’s hidden motives:

“Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” 1 Corinthians 1:7-8

“My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-5

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others.” 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

According to the Hebrew Scriptures, it is Yahweh who alone knows the secret intentions of man and who will judge a person for what s/he has done:

“then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart.” 1 Kings 8:39

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9

“But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10

The only way that Paul could ascribe these exclusive Divine functions and qualities to the Lord Jesus is if he believed that Christ is Yahweh God (yet not the Father or the Holy Spirit).

Christ – The Preexistent Divine Lord of the OT

The Apostle also believed that Jesus saved Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt and provided for them in the wilderness:

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, ‘The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.’ And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death (Destroyer).” 1 Corinthians 10:1-10

According to the OT, the Rock that delivered Israel and the Lord whom the people put to the test in the desert was Yahweh (cf. Numbers 21:4-9; Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 12-15, 18, 29-31). This again confirms that the blessed Apostle taught that Jesus is God and not a mere creature!

Christ – The Agent and Sustainer of Creation

According to Paul Jesus is the one Lord through whom all things were created and through whom we live:

“But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whomGod made everything and through whom we have been given life.” 1 Corinthians 8:6

Paul writes something similar in another letter:

“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear (beloved) Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.” Colossians 1:13-18

Paul’s statements imply that Christ is omnipotent since he must have the power to create and keep the entire creation under his total control. This is the very same power that also enables the risen Lord to transform our mortal, corruptible bodies to be like his glorious body when he returns from heaven:

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:20-21

The inspired Apostle’s comments also bring out the fact that Christ is uncreated or eternal since he plainly says that the Son existed before all creation!

Can there be any doubt that Paul believed that Jesus is fully God in nature seeing that only God is eternal and omnipotent? This leads us to the next section (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/revisiting-jesus-subordination-to-the-father-pt-3/).