IS JESUS REALLY GOD?
by Ian Boyne
The issue of the deity of Jesus Christ has been hotly
debated for centuries. It was an Alexandrian theologian named
Arius who popularized the view that the preincarnate Christ was a
created being who was, both in Essence and in Person, distinct
from God. His view came to be called "Arianism," and was
condemned by early church councils. It is one of the
Christological positions that fall under the label of
"unitarianism." The orthodox position regarding the deity of
Christ has prevailed through the history of Christendom, but
unitarianism has never gone away. Today, the most successful
unitarian (Arian) group in the world of professing Christianity
is the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). Several smaller
groups, such as the Assemblies of Yahweh and the Concordant
Publishing Concern, also hold this form of unitarianism.
In this study, the terms unitarian and unitarianism refer
primarily to Arianism, though we are aware that there are other
forms of unitarian belief. Let's begin our study with a Scripture
that is often overlooked by both sides of this issue.
Praying to Jesus
In Acts 7:59, Stephen prays, "Lord Jesus, receive my
spirit." If the name Jesus were not there, undoubtedly some inge-
nious unitarian would say that the term Lord refers to the
Father. But the name is there, proving that the "Lord" to whom
Stephen prayed was Jesus.
How could Stephen have prayed to Jesus if Jesus were not
Deity? The Bible nowhere approves of prayers directed to created
beings, no matter how majestic or powerful. Stephen's prayer was
remarkably similar to Jesus's own prayer as He was dying:
"Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46). The
spirit goes back to God who gave it, according to Ecclesiastes
12:7, and clearly Stephen is acknowledging Jesus as God by his
While we pray to the Father through Jesus, the Acts 7:59
text shows it is NOT sin to pray directly to Jesus. Jesus always
directs us to the Father, for it is clear in Scripture that there
is a hierarchy in the Godhead, and that while Jesus and the
Father are equal in nature, Jesus is functionally subordinate;
hence, we as a general rule pray to the Father through Jesus. But
if Jesus were not of the same nature as the Father, Stephen's
prayer would be blasphemous. Romans 10:5-17 encourages believers
to call upon the Lord (Jesus), quoting the Old Testament promise
that "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved" (cf.
Joel 2:32). Jesus is thereby equated with Yahweh (the LORD) and
is shown as worthy of prayer. The honor that is due to Jesus is
no less than the honor that is due to the Father. Listen to John
5:23: "that all should honor the Son just as they honor the
Father." Such a statement would be blasphemous if the Son were a
John, whom even liberal scholars agree made it his task to
reinforce the status of Christ among early Christians, shows that
the Son deserves the same level of honor as the Father. Can any
mere "agent" of God have that status? Does not God reserve all
honor, praise, and glory to Himself? Indeed, He does. Since Jesus
clearly deserves the same honor, we must conclude that the one
Deity (Godhead) of Scripture includes the "Word" (John 1:1).
Another problem for Unitarians is the New Testament's
application of divine titles to Jesus. Yet, the New Testament
repeatedly applies titles denoting divinity to Jesus Christ. The
use of such titles by men reared in a purely monotheistic culture
shows that the earliest disciples perceived that Jesus shared
The Alpha and the Omega
Revelation 1:8 states, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who
is to come, the Almighty." Notice that "the Alpha and the Omega"
is clearly identified as "the Lord ... the Almighty." Some
ancient manuscripts read "Lord God" (rather than "Lord") and omit
"the Beginning and the End." Nevertheless, the addition of the
word God and the omission of the phrase the Beginning and the End
do not change the meaning of the text. Alpha and Omega are the
first and last letters of the alphabet - hence, "the Beginning
and the End." The use of the title the Almighty makes it clear
that the speaker is Deity.
The question is: Does this verse speak of the Father or the
Son? No one denies that the titles used here denote divinity, and
can therefore rightly refer to the Father; but do such titles
also belong to the Son?
Verse 7 states, "Behold. He is coming with clouds, and every
eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him." There is no
question that this verse is speaking of Jesus Christ. It is quite
possible, then, that verse 8, which follows immediately, also
refers to Christ. This view is strengthened by verses 11 through
18, which definitely describe Christ.
The One who introduces Himself as "the Alpha and the Omega"
and "the First and the Last (verses 11,17) is "like the Son of
Man" and has "the keys to Hades and Death" (verse 18). Who is He?
His identity is made crystal clear in verse 18: "I am He who
lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." There
can be no mistake about it; the Alpha and the Omega, the First
and the Last, is Jesus Christ!
In the last chapter of Revelation, these titles are once
again used of Jesus. He says, "And behold, I am coming quickly,
and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his
work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,
the First and the Last.... I, Jesus, have sent My angel to
testify to you these things in the churches" (Revelation
In both texts - Revelation I and 22 - Jesus is identified
with words used exclusively in the Old Testament to refer to God.
(See Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).
The Jehovah's Witnesses sometimes make the point that Jesus
is called the "Mighty God" while Jehovah is called the Almighty
God. They believe Jesus is "God," or "a god" (note the lower-case
g) in the sense that He is a mighty being whom God created, and
therefore cannot be rightly called "Almighty." However, in
Revelation 1:8 Jesus is called "the Almighty," and in Isaiah
10:21 Jehovah is called "the Mighty God." The Witnesses make much
of the fact that the often quoted Isaiah 9:6 text says that the
Messiah will be called "the Mighty God," and claim that this is a
title belonging to Christ, not Jehovah. So we see yet another
unitarian argument crumble.
One of the most impartial and even-handed scholars on the
issue of Christology is the late, distinguished Roman Catholic
theologian Raymond Brown, who before his death in June, 1998,
completed another major scholarly work, "An Introduction to the
New Testament" which has won rave reviews from the scholarly
In this book, Brown argues that many of the New Testament
passages that are normally used to support the deity of Christ
are weak as proof texts. As a liberal Catholic, he was not averse
to disagreeing with his church and orthodox Christianity on
Christology. Yet, in his final analysis, Brown cannot deny that
titles of divinity are applied to Jesus in certain New Testament
In the chapter entitled "Did New Testament Christians Call
Jesus God?" Brown deals with various passages which seem to imply
that the title God was not used for Jesus; passages where the use
of the title God for Jesus is dubious; passages where obscurity
arises; and passages where Jesus is clearly called "God."
Hear how he deals with Titus 2:13, which speaks of the
"glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."
Our Great God and Savior
Brown notes the three main interpretations of the Greek of
this passage. The interpretation that clearly separates "the
great God" and "our Savior, Jesus Christ" is "not really favored
by the Greek which binds together the three words 'God and
Savior.' Once again it may be argued that 'our Savior Jesus
Christ' was so common a creedal formula that it would
automatically be thought as a separate entity from 'God.'
However, the argument is less convincing here than in the
interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 1:12, for in 2 Thessalonians
1:12 the placing of 'of our' broke up the two nouns. Moreover,
the separation proposed in this interpretation of Titus 2:13
means that the author is speaking of the two-fold future
appearance, one of God and the other of the Savior Jesus Christ.
There is no real evidence in the New Testament for a double
Brown continues, "The glory of our great God - and Savior
Jesus Christ, where the compound title 'God and Savior' is
attached to 'Christ,' is the most obvious meaning in the Greek.
It implies that the passage is speaking of one epiphany, namely
of Jesus Christ, in harmony with other references to the epiphany
in the Pastoral Epistles. The likelihood that 'Savior' is applied
to Jesus Christ rather than to God the Father is suggested in the
next verse in Titus 2:14 which speaks of the redemption wrought
Second Peter l:1 refers to "the righteousness of our God and
Savior Jesus Christ," applying the title God to Christ
unmistakably. The Granville Sharp Rule requires that only one
person be called "our God and Savior." Robert Morey, in his book,
"The Trinity - Evidence and Issues," notes, "If Peter wanted to
indicate that two persons were in view in 2 Peter 1:1 all he had
to do was to add the article before the second noun but he did
not do this. Instead he wrote a sentence in the Greek language of
his day which would clearly indicate to his readers that Jesus
Christ was both God and Savior."
The True God and Eternal Life
First John 5:20 is another interesting passage. "And we know
that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding,
that we may know, Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true:
in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."
Is Jesus not being called the "true God and eternal life"?
It is interesting that unitarians always quote John 17:3, which
refers to the Father as the "only true God," and yet cannot see
that Jesus is also referred to as "the true God." This is due to
their inability to see that God is one in terms of composite
Unity (One interesting question, as an aside: If Jesus is "a god"
as the Witnesses assert, and the Father is the only true God,
then isn't Jesus a false god by that logic?).
Raymond Brown asks the logical question: To whom does the
"this" refer when it says, "this is the true God and eternal
life"? Listen to this most erudite scholar: "Grammar favors the
nearest antecedent which here is Jesus Christ who thus would be
called 'true God..... Can we learn something from the other
predicate in this second sentence of 1 John 5:20, i.e., 'eternal
life'? Twice in the Fourth Gospel Jesus speaks of himself as,
'the life' (11:25; 14:6), while the Father is never so called.
Yet John 6:57 speaks of 'the Living Father.' Thus it seems
probable that in Johnannine terminology either the Father or the
Son could be designated as life even as both are designated as
light (1 John 1:5; John 8:12). It may be, however, that the
predicate, 'eternal life' does favor making Jesus Christ the
subject of the sentence we are discussing, for only eight verses
earlier (5:12) the author of the Epistle stated 'the person who
has the San has life.' Moreover since the first sentence of
1 John 5:20 ends with Christians dwelling in God the Father,
tautology is avoided if the second sentence ends by relating
Christians to Jesus. When all the factors are added, probability
seems to favor the thesis that John calls Jesus God - a usage not
unusual in Johannine literature."
When an impartial and even-handed scholar like Raymond Brown
speaks definitively about "the passages where Jesus is clearly
called God," those seriously engaged in studies in Christology
should take careful note.
'Your Throne, O God, Is Forever'
The first passage, says Brown, where "Jesus is clearly
called God" is Hebrews 1:8,9: "Your throne, O God, is forever and
ever...." Rendering "God" (ho theos) as a vocative rather than a
nominative is preferred by the majority of scholars, and this
should be noted. On this point, Brown states, "V.Taylor admits
that in verse 8 the expression 'O God' is a vocative spoken of
Jesus but he says that the author of Hebrews was merely citing
the Psalm and using its terminology without any deliberate
intention of suggesting that Jesus is God. It is true that the
main point of citing the Psalm was to contrast the Son to show
that the Son enjoys eternal dominion while the angels are but
servants. Yet we cannot presume that the author did not notice
that his citation had this effect (of making Jesus God) and
surely at least he saw nothing wrong in this address.
Indeed, calling Jesus God reinforces His greatness over the
angels. The picture is complemented by the similar situation in
Hebrews 1:10 where the application to the Son of Psalm 102:26-28
has the effect of addressing Jesus as Lord."
'My Lord and My God'
John 20:28 is another text that is not easily countered by
unitarians. Thomas's exclamation, "My Lord and my God," is too
emphatic to be read as merely a title of honor. Says Brown of
this text, "Here Jesus is addressed as God (a nominative form
with definite article, which functions as a vocative). The scene
is designated to serve as a climax to the Gospel: As the
resurrected Jesus stands before his disciples, one of their
number at last gives expression to an adequate faith in Jesus. He
does this by applying to Jesus the Greek (Septuagint) equivalent
of two terms applied to the God of the Old Testament (Kyrios,
'Lord,' Tendering Yahweh, and 'Theos,' 'God,' rendering Elohim).
The best example of the Old Testament usage is in Psalm 35:23
where the Psalmist cries out, 'My God and my Lord.'"
In his evaluation of the evidence. Brown says while the
Synoptics do not clearly call Jesus God, Johannine literature as
well as Hebrews and other New Testament texts do.
The truth is, if there is even one text that proclaims Jesus
as God, the unitarian position crumbles. Despite the number of
Unitarian "proof texts" used, one text decisively proving that
Jesus is God is sufficient to destroy their case, for all texts
are inspired of God.
The Eternally Blessed God
Romans 9:5 is said to be the most debated text in
Christology. It is a doxology to "Christ ... who is over all, the
eternally blessed God." Unitarians argue that this text refers to
Christ and the Father, and that the Father, not Christ, is the
"eternally blessed God." But notice that the Father is not
mentioned in this doxology. On this point, Robert Morey's comment
is noteworthy. Morey states, in his book, "The Trinity: Evidence
and Issues," - "Not once in the New Testament did Paul or anyone
else ever insert a doxology into a text without first introducing
the person who was the object of the doxology. When Paul would
break into a doxology to the Father, he would first introduce the
Father into the text before giving the doxology. The Father is
nowhere introduced into the text."
This is a decisive text for the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Lenski, in his "Interpretation of St.Paul's Epistle to the
Romans," says of the text, "Christ is over all, i.e., the Supreme
Lord. This apposition is complete in itself. If no more were
added this apposition makes Christ God, for we have yet to hear
of one who is over all who is not God." A.T.Robertson, in his
"Word Studies," says of the Romans 9:5 text, "a clear statement
of the deity of Christ following the remark about his humanity.
This is the natural and obvious way of punctuating the sentence.
To make a full stop after a sarka (or colon) and start a new
sentence is very abrupt and awkward."
The 'Agency' Concept
The parallels between Yahweh in the Old Testament and Jesus
Christ are too striking to be dismissed. But some of the most
powerful texts equating Yahweh with Jesus are explained away by
unitarians as indicating that Jesus was simply "God's agent" They
appeal to the Jewish concept of "agency" whereby a person acting
as God's agent was represented as God Himself.
Now, none of us comes to Scripture with a 'tabula rasa'
(blank slate). There is no presuppositionless exegesis or
hermeneutic. We all come to Scripture with our biases and
cultural, psychological, and sociological baggage. As one
knowledgeable sociologist once said, "it is the theory that
decides what is observed." Our paradigm often determines what we
If we have the bias that Jesus could not possibly be God,
then we must find a way to explain away texts that do seem to
indicate that He is God. The unitarian applies the agency con-
cept indiscriminately to the passages equating Yahweh to Christ
without justifying that hermencutical approach. Let us ask a
simple question: If Jesus were really God Incarnate just suppose
- and God the Father wanted to communicate that to us, what would
it take to convince you? If God tied the clear references to
Himself in the Old Testament to Jesus's words and actions,
couldn't we gloss over them as just expressions of agency!
Genuine worship to Jesus could be explained as mere obeisance. If
Jesus proclaims His ability to forgive sins, one can argue that
He is merely acting on the Father's behalf so we cannot put
anything more to it. If the disciples use the word God in
reference to Jesus, one could simply say that men are called
"gods" (meaning "the mighty," or "mighty ones"), too. How could
the Father prove this truth to you?
In John 8:58, Jesus states, "Most assuredly, I say to you.
before Abraham was, I AM." Can the agency concept really explain
away this verse? The implications of the Greek are clear.
Unfortunately, unitarians rush to quote scholars to prove
their points when they reach such "difficult Scriptures," yet the
names most quoted are liberals who deny the authenticity of
Scripture, or cultists with no scholarly background. The "I AM"
is a clear reference to the name of Yahweh in the Old Testament
(see Exodus 3:14). Jesus was claiming self-existence.
The reaction of the Jews to Jesus's "I AM" statement is a
major argument against the view that agency explains Jesus's use
of Yahweh's titles. The Pharisees, as the scholars of the day,
would certainly have understood the Jewish agency concept, so why
did they not believe, like today's unitarians, that the "I AM"
statement of Jesus was simply an expression of His belief that He
was the Messiah, without charging Him with blasphemy? They could
have simply disagreed with His belief that He was the Messiah,
rather than resorting to the extreme measure of taking up stones
to throw at Him (verse 59). They obviously understood His "I AM"
statement as a claim of divinity, not merely a claim of agency.
This is a potent argument against the all-encompassing "agency"
rejoinder, which seeks to undercut the statements ascribing
divinity to our Lord and Savior!
In John 5:23, Jesus says the Son should be honored equally
with the Father. The Jews understood exactly what He meant: He
was claiming equality with the Father.
How God Was Originally Revealed
How was God first revealed in Scripture'? In Genesis 1:26,
we read that God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according
to Our likeness..." God could not have been referring to the
angels for they did not participate in His creation. The New
Testament will later tell us that God created the world through
Christ, which harmonizes perfectly with Genesis 1:26.
But there is a well-known response to this "very difficult
passage" which must be dismissed as a hoax. It is the view that
the use of "Us" and "Our" is nothing more than the "plural of
majesty," like the royal "We" used by some rulers in ancient
times. This has been exposed as false, for the "plural of
majesty" expression was not known when Genesis was written.
Rabbi Tzar Nassi, lecturer in Hebrew at Oxford University,
emphasizes the fact that the plural of majesty was unknown to
Moses and the prophets. He writes, "Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar,
David and all other kings throughout the law, the prophets and
the hagiographer speak in the singular and not as modern kings in
the plural. They did not say 'We' but 'I command'; as in Genesis
xli.41; Daniel iii.29: Ezra i.2" (The Great Mystery).
This statement if found early in the first book of the
Bible, and one of the major goals of this book is to reveal to
its readers who God really is.
In Genesis 3:22, God says, "Behold, the man has become like
one of Us...." In Genesis 11:7, He says, "Come, let Us go down
and there confuse their language...." In Isaiah 6:8, He says,
"Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"
A lot is made of the Hebrew "Shema," Deuteronomy 6:4,5:
"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one"
This is commonly thought of in terms of an absolute
singularity, but there are two distinct Hebrew words for "one."
"Yahid" denotes singularity or uniqueness. This would be the word
of choice if God intended to say that the Divinity is restricted
to one and only one Person. The word used in the Shema is
"echad," which means one in the sense of a composite unity.
The belief that God is a composite unity is on solid
linguistic grounds. In Genesis 2:24, Adam and Eve are "one"
(echad) as husband and wife. They were "one" in the same way that
the Father and the Son are "one."
Unitarians famously quote the passages in Isaiah 44-66,
commonly referred to by scholars as a polemic against the pagan
nations, to stress God's singularity, but they miss the point of
this polemic. The prophet is not so much concerned about ontology
as He is about exclusive worship to Yahweh. He is emphasizing
that only Yahweh is worthy of worship, and is engaging in a
polemic against syncretism.
Read Isaiah 44 and 45, and not particularly 43:12, where God
says, "I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there
was no foreign god among you." God, through the prophet Isaiah,
is attacking idolatry. The true God, Yahweh, is being contrasted
with the false gods of the surrounding nations. To use this
passage as though Isaiah was dealing with the nature of God is
Unitarians have no difficulty countering the modalists when
they explain that the Father is distinct from the Son though
Jesus said, "The Father and I are one." They are quick to point
out, and rightly so, that Jesus prayed for all His disciples to
be "one" (John 17). Yet, they argue against the view that God
(consisting of the Father and the Son) is "one" in the same way.
Now we come to a very critical point that some unitarians
have made: How could the Jews themselves, who speak Hebrew as a
first language, not understand the nature of God, and how could
early Christians so radically reinterpret God without an equally,
if not greater, controversy than the one that came about with the
abandonment of circumcision?
The answer is that the early confession of Jesus as Lord and
the clear belief in His divinity unified early Christians, unlike
the issues concerning the Law. Don't forget that it was largely
the early Christians' proclamation of Jesus as God that
contributed to most Jews rejecting Christianity! Also, it is
important to realize that certain Jewish scholars from very
early fought the early revelation of God in their own Scriptures.
The Book of Jubilees (written in the second half of
the second century B.C.) gives an account of the Genesis story
where the problem words in Genesis 1:26 are simply omitted or
altered (see Jubilees 2.14). Philo explained that God used His
subordinates to help Him in creation and claimed that this is
where the evil in man comes from since God could not have created
evil. In the Jerusalem Talmud it is stated, 'a prior' that since
Genesis 1:27 is singular, Genesis 1:26 must be also. So contrary
to what we may have thought, many Jewish interpreters have simply
fought the revelation of God, as they have done for millennia.
Genesis 3:22 also presented problems for the Jewish
interpreters. Professor Millard Erickson in his 1995 book, "God
in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity,"
states the following:
"A second significant passage is Genesis 3:22, which reads, 'And
the LORD God said, The man has now become like one of us.' This
also presented difficulties for the Jews. In the account of the
expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the Book of
Jubilees includes no verse corresponding to Genesis 3:22.
Pappoas, a Palestinian rabbi who lived at the end of the first
century A.D.. held that the verse implied that Adam had become
like an angel. The Targums also are instructive to us on this
passage. Onkelos, the earliest, follows closely the original
Hebrew in 1:26 and 11:17, but in 3:22, it says, 'And the LORD God
said, Behold, man is become singular in the word by himself.'
Here is an actual and considerable alteration of the original
wording of the passage. The Palestinian Targum explains the
plural basis that God was addressing angels: the Jerusalem Targum
makes a similar interpretation of 3:22. Another Genesis passage
pertinent to our purposes is 11:7, which reads, '(The LORD God
said,] Come, let us go down and confuse their language.' Here
again we have the shift in number of the verb from singular to
plural. Philo's explanation was that God is surrounded by
potencies. Philo notes: 'In the first place, then, we must say
this, that there is no existing being equal in honor to God; but
there is only one ruler and king who alone may direct and dispose
of all things. ....God is one, he has about him an unspeakable
number of powers, all of which are defenders and preservers of
everything that is created.' These powers were the ones who went
down and confused the tongues of the persons who were building
the tower of Babel. They had to do this; God himself could not
carry out this punishment, which is an evil."
Jesus's many statements about how many attempts the Father
has made to teach the stubborn Israelites should make us wary of
any puzzlement as to why the Jews did not understand God. Not
everything was revealed in the Old Testament. The Evangelical
dictum that "the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and
the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed" is truly
Biblical. Jewish interpretation and blindness - should be no
guide to the Christian.
Submission of the Son
The Bible speaks frequently about God the Father and Jesus
Christ His Son, and tells us that Yahweh is Jesus's God. Always
the Son is described as in subordination to the Father. This is
intended to at once show Jesus's connection to and respect for
the Father as it is to show His submission to Him. These
statements do not imply that the Son is inferior to the Father in
nature, but that the Father is functionally superior to the Son.
The many texts in which the subordination of Jesus is either
implied or explicitly stated, and the many references to "the God
of our fathers" as separate from Jesus Christ, can be explained
by the simple fact that Yahweh, the Father, has preeminence in
the Bible. He is largely the subject and the center of attention,
the referential or focal point for all others. Jesus's
Messiahship is bound up with proving God's approval of Him. These
texts can also be explained in terms of the limitation of
language; the need to authenticate the ministry of the man Christ
Jesus and the functional authority of the Father over the Son.
Much confusion could be avoided if these facts were always kept
in mind when reading the many Scriptures that speak of God and
Unitarian 'Proof Texts'
There are several texts that unitarians frequently point to
as "proof" that Jesus is not God. As we shall see, however, these
passages are often taken in isolation and interpreted narrowly,
without the significant light provided by texts that speak of the
divinity of Christ. The following are the texts (and arguments)
most commonly used by unitarians:
The Firstborn Over All Creation
Colossians 1:15 says Christ is "the firstborn over all
creation." This does not mean, as it sounds in English, that
Christ was the first to be created. The term translated
"firstborn" has to do with preeminence. In Colossians, Paul is
battling the Gnostics, who felt Christians were incomplete in
Christ. Paul shows that not only is Jesus superior to the cosmos
but He is the "firstborn over all creation" in the sense that He
is preeminent over it and, in fact, the Author of it. Even in the
Old Testament, "firstborn" is not always the first one to be
born, but refers to preeminence.
The Beginning of the Creation of God
Revelation 3:14 is another text that "jumps off the page" in
the English translation. It says that Christ is the "Beginning of
the creation of God." The wording of this verse may seem to
indicate that Christ was the first thing God created, but that's
not what it says at all. The word "arche," translated "Beginning"
in this verse, means "source, origin, or ruler," which accords
with Colossians 1 and John 1, which state that Christ is the
Origin and Source of the creation of the world.
In the Old Testament; God is emphatic that He alone created
the world. If we were to take this to mean that God is singular,
how could we understand Colossians 1 and John 1, which say that
God created the world through Christ? The only solution lies in
understanding that Christ is also a member of the Godhead (or
"God Family"). Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus "reflects the glory of
God and bears the very stamp of His nature, upholding the
universe by his word of power" (Revised Standard Version). This
proves His divinity.
One God, One Lord
First Corinthians 8:6 is a classic text used to deny Jesus's
deity. It says that "there is one God, the Father ... and one
Lord Jesus Christ" Unitarians conclude, therefore, that Christ is
not God. But if we follow this kind of logic we might as well
conclude that since Jesus is the one Lord, the Father is not
Lord. Yet, this is one of the Father's titles in both Testaments.
In this text, the terms God and Lord denote functional
distinctions, but both terms are titles of divinity.
One God, One Mediator
When Paul says, in 1 Timothy 2:5, that "there is one God and
one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus," he does
not mean that Christ is not God, as unitarians claim. Here,
Christ's humanity is emphasized, so it is quite natural for Paul
to refer to the Father as the "one God." The fact that Christ is
contrasted with God proves that the two are functionally
distinct, but proves nothing ontologically. Notice that the same
verse also contrasts Christ with humans, though He was a man.
None Good but One
Mark 10:18 is an interesting text. It is the one where Jesus
says, "Why do you call Me good'? No one is good but One, that is,
God." Here, Jesus clearly makes a distinction between Himself and
God. By "God" Jesus clearly refers to the Father.
Characteristically, Jesus draws attention away from Himself
to the Father whom He came to reveal and on whose mission He
was sent. This, however, does not in any way disprove the
divinity of Christ.
Jesus could well be leading the man to see the implications
of his own statement. If there is none good but God, and you
believe that I am good, then I am God! (Of course, His divine
prerogatives were veiled during His earthly ministry). If this is
not accurate, then are we to assume that Jesus was not really
good, that there was some spot or wrinkle in Him? Was He denying
His goodness? Or was He linking His goodness to His divine
connectedness to the Father? It is undeniable that the dominant
revelation of God is of the Father - in both Testaments. But just
as men and women are absolutely equal in nature, yet man is
functionally over the woman, so the Head of Christ is God, though
Christ and the Father have one nature.
The Only-Bagotten Son
Some are confused by the references to Jesus as the "only
begotten Son" of the Father. Doesn't this clearly show that He
was conceived or created by the Father, that He came into exis-
tence at some point in time? No, it does not! The Greek
"monogenes" ("only begotten") means "unique, or only one of a
kind." Men and angels are referred to in Scripture as "sons of
God," so to emphasize that Christ's Sonship is of a special type,
qualitatively and quantitatively, the term "only begotten" is
used. It simply indicates that Christ's Sonship is unique. He is
the Son of God in a way that no other son of God is.
Another interesting text is 1 Timothy 6:14,15, where God is
described as "King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has
immortality." This text is sometimes used by unitarians to
exclude Jesus from the Godhead, since it says that God alone has
immortality. If Christ is excluded from immortality, then it
naturally follows that He has no right to the title "King of
kings and Lord of lords." But notice the description of Jesus
Christ in Revelation 19:16: "And He has on His robe and on His
thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." If Christ
did not share the Father's divinity - if He were not truly God
then it would be blasphemous to apply such a title to Him!
How Could Jesus Reveal the Father? Consider this question:
If Jesus came to reveal the Father which clearly means that
everything about Him was not known in Old Testament times - then
how could that be done?
The word "God" to the average Jew meant a single Person. If
Jesus were to be accepted at all, He had to be seen as acting
according to the will of Yahweh. This is why Jesus was at pains
to point out that He could not do or say anything of His own,
that He was working in harmony with Yahweh. His point in these
references was to emphasize His connectedness with Yahweh. But
these statements are taken by unitarians to mean that Yahweh is
qualitatively superior to Him.
Of course, during Christ's earthly life as a man, the Father
was both qualitatively and quantitatively superior to Him.
Philippians 2:5-8 is clear in stating that Jesus emptied
(keno sis) Himself of His divine prerogatives when he became a
man. Many of the unitarians' strongest proof texts can be easily
understood in this light. God cannot be tempted, yet Jesus was.
God cannot die, yet Jesus died. God knows everything, but Christ
in the flesh did not know the hour of His return. No man can see
God, yet Jesus was seen. These facts do not prove that Jesus is
not God; rather, they support the texts which show that God
became a man.
God did become man! This is the great message of salvation,
which is undercut by unitarians. This is why the denial of the
deity of Jesus is gross and fundamental error. It denies that God
has come in the flesh.
The Humanity of Christ
As a human being, Jesus was limited. He had to depend upon
the Father to exalt Him, to give Him back the glory He had with
the Father before the creation of the world (John 17:5). He gave
up His glorified state and did not see equality with God a thing
to hold on to, but God exalted Him after His mission was
accomplished. As a man, Jesus went the route and blazed the trail
for all humans; He learned obedience through suffering, and was
glorified with the divine nature, just as man will be deified
when he is saved.
As a human being, Jesus was totally, utterly dependent upon
the Father - even for His resurrection. There is a clear contrast
in the Scriptures between God and Christ. This confuses many
sincere people. How can Christ be God when the Bible over and
over again talks about God and Jesus Christ and says there is
only one God? Those passages seem to suggest that since the one
God is the Father, and since the Son of the one God is Jesus
Christ, then Jesus cannot be God.
But remember, we have to take all the revelation we have on
a particular subject. The passages that speak of God as being
distinct from Christ cannot contradict the equally clear, though
numerically fewer, scriptures that refer to Jesus Christ as God
and that point to the plurality of the Godhead. Always keep this
in mind: "God" usually refers to the Father. There is clear
subordination of Jesus to God. However, we cannot automatically
assume that this subordination necessarily means inferiority in
nature or a definite time when Christ came into being.
Because humans are dominated by egotistical and
self-centered thinking, we cannot possibly imagine Jesus being at
once equal in nature to the Father and in subordination to the
Father's authority. We are accustomed to Satan's thinking, which
is to get more power than one has. This is precisely the lesson
Paul draws out in Philippians 2:5:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Jesus was in the very form of God and did not have to seek
divinity-in fact, He had it fully - but He did not hold on to it.
The context of this passage is that we should esteem others as
better than ourselves. It is not that they are actually better,
but in our minds we must be willing to take second place. This is
exactly what Jesus did.
He was in the form of God but did not seek to hold on to His
divine prerogatives. Instead, He gave up His glory and trusted
God to give it back to Him at His exaltation. Voluntarily giving
up His glory, Jesus received a name above all names and was
declared the Son of God at His resurrection.
Critical to the Salvation Story
Jesus has willingly subordinated Himself and taken second
place to show the way for man and to demonstrate the folly of
Satan's way. What a lesson! Unitarians still fail to grasp it!
When we read the texts which show Jesus's subordination as
meaning actual inferiority (or inferiority of nature), we miss a
critical point of the salvation story and the remarkable
demonstration of the love of the Father and Son. We miss the real
character of Christ.
Modalists take away from the Father's love for the Son and
unitarians rob us of a true picture of Christ's love for the
Father! Though He was rich, He made Himself poor.
It is tragic that the enemy who has for a long time been the
adversary of Christ has managed to deceive millions regarding the
full divinity of our Savior. But let's not be ignorant of the
devil's devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Let's accept and believe
those texts that state plainly that Jesus Christ is truly God!
Only then will we be able to answer the vital question Jesus
Himself asked its first disciples: "But who do you say that I
am?" (Matthew 16:15).
All Scriptural quotations taken from NKJV Author.
Entered on this Website March 2008
A booklet published by the Church of God, International, Tyler,
Texas. They have many church congregations in North America and
around the world. You can find out more about them on the
Internet at cgi.org
If you read all of Jesus' words in the New Testament (they are in
red if you have a red letter NT), if you read every word in the
NT that is speaking of Jesus Christ, if you read the first
chapter of John, if you believe those clear words, if you take
them as a child would take them, you WILL understand that indeed
Jesus WAS eternal, IS eternal, will BE always eternal, that He
WAS and IS a part of the GODHEAD. God the Father is God, Jesus
the Son is God, BOTH are God, both are part of the Godhead. Hence
it was so very true that Isaiah declared that one of the names of
Jesus the Christ would be IMMANUEL - which means "God with us"
I have taken much time to prove this wonderfull truth about the
Godhead and also the wonderfull truth of why YOU, why human kind
were created. It is all on this Website. It is the most breath-
taking, inspiring, awesome truth that you can come to know, next
to how YOU can have SALVATION and also live forever in glory
throughout all eternity.
The ONE who will come back to this earth, to rule it, to
establish the Kingdom of God on earth, has the very name of YHVH,
the same name as the Father. One Scripture is all we need to
prove this truth (there are many but one is enough) and you can
find it in Zechariah 14. The letters of the Godhead are used in
verses 1,3,5,7,9. The one who stands upon the earth, His feet
touching the mount of Olives, is YHVH. The One who comes with the
saints in verse 5, is YHVH. The One who shall be kind over all
the earth in verse 9, is YHVH. And the One who only knows the one
day of His return, verse 7 (see also Mat.24:36) is the Father
BOTH the Father and the Son are YHVH!
The Godhead is a FAMILY, there is at present the Father and the
Son, but your Bible teaches that ALL children of God are the
brothers and sisters of Jesus the Christ (see Hebrews 1 and 2).
Christians are HEIRS of God the Father and JOINT-HEIRS with
Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:14-17).
You CAN KNOW many things about GOD. The Father WANTS you to know
the important truths about Himself, the Son, and why they desire
YOU to be SAVED and in their Kingdom - the Kingdom of God.