Another way in which the New Testament writers identify Jesus Christ as the human enfleshment/embodiment of Jehovah God is by their taking what is basically the creedal statement of the Hebrew Bible and Christianizing it.
The following is considered by many to be the one command that defines the very heart and essence of the Old Testament:
“Listen, O Israel (Shema): Jehovah our God is one Jehovah (YHVH echad).” Deuteronomy 6:4 New World Translation (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/deuteronomy/6/#v5006004)
The foregoing is commonly referred to as the Shema, which is the word translated as “Listen, O Israel.”
Here’s the English translation of the Greek rendering of this text:
“Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord (Kyrios heis).” LXX
This confession or creed is basically repeated in the book of Zechariah:
“And Jehovah will be King over all the earth. In that day Jehovah will be one (YHVH echad), and his name one (echad).” Zechariah 14:9 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/zechariah/14/#v38014009)
Note, once again, the English translation of the Greek rendering for this verse:
“And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord (Kyrios heis), and his name one (to onoma autou hen), ” LXX
Pay close attention to the fact that the Greek translates YHVH echad (“Jehovah is one”) as Kyrios heis (“[the] Lord is one”).
Hence, a Greek-speaking Jew would immediately interpret the phrase Kyrios heis and its equivalents, e.g., heis Kyrios (“one Lord”) or monos Kyrios/Kyrios monos, as a reference to the Shema, and therefore as the Greek way of saying YHVH echad.
This is where it gets rather remarkable. The inspired New Testament writings identify that one Lord as Jesus Christ!
“there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things (ta panta) are and we for him; and there is one Lord (heis Kyrios), Jesus Christ, through whom all things (ta panta) are and we through him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/1-corinthians/8/#v46008006)
Paul not only identifies Christ as the one Lord professed in the Shema, he also describes the risen Lord as the eternal Creator and Sustainer by attributing the work of creation to both the Father and the Son.
Note the logical implications of the blessed Apostle’s inspired statements:
- God the Father caused all things to come into being.
- All things refer to the entire creation.
- This means that the Father existed before the entire creation came into being.
- The Father must, therefore, be eternal by nature.
- Christ is the One whom the Father appointed to bring all things into being.
- Since all things refer to the entire creation, this means that Christ existed before the entire creation came into being.
- Christ must, therefore, be eternal by nature.
- This means that the Father and the Son are two eternal divine Persons that share the same uncreated essence completely and equally.
- This further means that the one true God of Israel is a multi-Personal Being.
The Hebrew Bible is emphatically clear that Jehovah is the one and only Lord that is eternal by nature and who brought all things into existence:
“He spreads out the heavens by himself, And he treads upon the high waves of the sea.” Job 9:8 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/job/9/#v18009008)
“This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: ‘I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. Who was with me?‘” Isaiah 44:24 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/isaiah/44/#v23044024)
“Thus saith the Lord (Kyrios) that redeems thee, and who formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord (Kyrios) that performs all things (panta): I stretched out the heaven alone (monos), and established the earth.” LXX
The following is most interesting:
“You alone are Jehovah; you made the heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens and all their army, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve all of them alive, and the army of the heavens are bowing down to you.” Nehemiah 9:6
“And Esdras said, Thou art the only true Lord (Kyrios monos); thou madest the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, and all their array, the earth, and all things (panta) that are in it, the seas, and all things (panta) in them; and thou quickenest all things (ta panta), and the hosts of heaven worship thee.” LXX
Compare this with this next NT passage:
“My reason is that certain men have slipped in among you who were long ago appointed to this judgment by the Scriptures; they are ungodly men who turn the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for brazen conduct and who prove false to our only owner and Lord, Jesus Christ (ton monon Despoten kai Kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon).” Jude 1:4 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/jude/1/#v65001004)
Once again, we find the NT writers attributing to Jesus the very language which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Jehovah!
The foregoing makes it absolutely certain that the inspired Christian authors have identified Jesus as the YHVH echad of the Shema, just as the following commentators realize:
Given the theological and confessional weight of the Shema, it is remarkable how faint are its echoes in the Old Testament. Indeed we hear the only certain echo at the very end, in Zechariah 14:9, where the enigmatic verbless clause is transformed into a verbal declaration: “The LORD [Yahweh], will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD [Yahweh], and his name the only name.” As in the original Shema, the issue here is not the unification of God in one deity, but expanding the boundaries of those who claim only Yahweh as their God to the ends of earth.
References and allusions to the Shema in the New Testament are both fascinating and exciting. While Jesus cites it as a sort of creedal statement in connection with the Supreme Command (Mark 12:30), it falls to Paul to draw out its christological significance. He does so most pointedly in 1 Corinthians 8:1-6, where he roots his polemic against idolatry in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and beyond. Like Moses, Paul declares the uniqueness and exclusive existence of Yahweh in contrast to the nothingness of idols. Reflecting a thorough understanding of the Shema in its original context, in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, Paul declares hypothetically that even if one concedes the existence of other gods (which, in the light of v. 4, he will not do), “for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live, and there is but one Lord [i.e., Yahweh], Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we live.” The christological effect of inserting the name “Jesus Christ” after “Lord” is extraordinary, in that Paul identifies Jesus unequivocally with Yahweh, the one and only God to whom the Israelites declared allegiance (cf. Rom. 3:29-30; 10:13). What the Old Testament has said about Yahweh may now be said about the Christ. (Daniel L. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy [Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 2012], p. 187; bold emphasis mine)
The wordplay (regularly missed in translations) in “not one god except one [God]” stresses the falsity of polytheism (compare Deuteronomy 6:4, which Paul appears to split by distinguishing between God, whom he calls “the Father,” and “the Lord,” whom he calls “Jesus Christ”). “For” introduces an explanation of what Paul means in view of the pervasiveness of polytheism in the Roman Empire. ”Even if” and two occurrences of “indeed” highlight his recognition of that pervasiveness. “In heaven” as well as “on earth” recognizes that though idols are confined to “the world,” polytheists located some of their gods in heaven, though representing them on earth with idols. But Paul’s “so-called” denies the gods’ true existence both in heaven and on earth, and “many gods” contrasts with “one [God].” Because of Jesus Christ’s identity as the Lord, Paul adds “many [so-called] lords” for a contrast with Jesus Christ as the “one Lord” (“L/lord” being another designation of a deity, though it has other applications too). “For us,” which occurs twice, means “for us Christians in accordance with our knowledge (not merely in accordance with our opinion).” “Nonetheless” underscores the contrast between the falsity of polytheism and the truth of “one God, the Father… and one Lord, Jesus Christ.” “The Father” implies that the Lord, Jesus Christ, is God’s Son and therefore shares deity with his Father. “From whom all things [have their existence]” describes God as the source of all that exists. “And we [exist] for him” means that human beings, especially Christians, not only owe their existence to God but also fealty and homage to him. “Through whom all things [came into existence]” describes Jesus Christ as God the Father’s agent in the creation of all things. “And we [exist] through him” means that Jesus Christ sustains human beings, especially Christians in their existence. (Robert H. Gundry, Commentary on First Corinthians (Commentary on the New Testament Book #7) https://books.google.com/books?id=0_iz6QPBuC0C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; bold emphasis mine)
Similarly ‘There is also only one true Jesus Christ’ (8:6c). Just as the supreme God created all things, the true Lord Jesus created all things, including the Corinthians (8:6d). (‘Although Paul does not here call Christ God, the formula is so constructed that only the most obdurate would deny its Trinitarian implications. In the same breath that he can assert that there is only one God, he equally asserts that the designation “Lord,” which in the OT belongs to the one God, is the proper designation of the divine Son. One should note especially that Paul feels no tension between the affirmation of monotheism and the clear distinction between the two persons of Father and Jesus Christ.’)233 The creative power of the Christians’ God and Lord established them as superior God and Lord over all so-called gods and lords. Even the emperor gods were not creators. Thus, while there were many gods and many lords, there was only one supreme God (Adonai) and one supreme Lord (Kyrios), the Lord Jesus Christ. (Andrew Spurgeon, 1 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Contextual Commentary [Fortress Press, 2017], p. 105; bold emphasis mine)
“Fourth, ‘they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.’ Since ‘Master’ or ‘Sovereign’ is used elsewhere primarily of God, Jesus’ divinity is again being emphasized (as in 2 Pet 1:1; 2:1; so Bauckham, Schreiner)…” (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: James, 1-2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, by Grant R. Osborne, M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. [Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL], p. 370; bold emphasis mine)
This explains why Jesus can be identified as the one Lord in the same context,
“one Lord (heis Kyrios), one faith, one baptism… Now undeserved kindness was given to each one of us according to how the Christ measured out the free gift. For it says: ‘When he ascended on high he carried away captives; he gave gifts in men.’ Now what does the expression ‘he ascended’ mean but that he also descended into the lower regions, that is, the earth? The very one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might give fullness to all things.” Ephesians 4:5, 7-10 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/ephesians/4/)
Where the following Psalm, which speaks of Jehovah’s ascension into heaven,
“You ascended on high; You carried away captives; You took gifts in the form of men, Yes, even stubborn ones, to reside among them, O Jah God.” Psalm 68:18 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/psalms/68/)
Is applied to the Lord Jesus, or why the Father glorifies the Son by describing him,
“But about the Son, he [the Father] says: ‘God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness’… And: ‘At the beginning, O Lord [the Son], you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; and just like a garment, they will all wear out, and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as a garment, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never come to an end.’” Hebrews 1:8, 10-12
As the Jehovah God whom the Psalmist praises as the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of all creation!
“O Jehovah, hear my prayer; Let my cry for help reach you… But you remain forever, O Jehovah… I said: ‘O my God, Do not do away with me in the middle of my life, You whose years span 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, 24-27 (NWT https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/books/psalms/102/)
In light of the foregoing, what more does the Holy Bible need to say before a Jehovah’s Witness finally admits that Jesus is described as Jehovah God Almighty who became flesh?