Throughout the centuries, the person of Christ has been one of the most widely debated issues among scholars and lay people alike. The arguments range from Jesus being no more than a Jewish Rabbi to him being a prophet and finally to being the very Son of God and God-incarnate.
It is the aim of this study to present the biblical picture of Christ. We will allow the Bible to speak for itself on the person of Jesus. We will quote God the Father, Jesus Christ, the prophets, and the companions of Christ and in this way search out the truth. We will examine the trail of evidence to seek where it leads us on the question of the person of Jesus. Was Jesus a great prophet or a Rabbi, or do the statements of the Bible indicate that Christ was God Almighty in human form?
God the Father
The Bible quotes God the Father as confirming the fact that Jesus Christ is not only a prophet, but God Himself, the Son of his love:
"... and a voice came from heaven, 'Thou art my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'" Luke 3:22 RSV
"He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; Listen to him.'" Matthew 17:5 RSV
"For to what angel did God ever say, 'Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee?' Or again, 'I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?' And again, when He brings the first-born into the world, He says, 'Let all God's angels worship him.' Hebrews 1:5-6 RSV
"But of the Son he (God) says, 'Thy throne O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades.'" Hebrews 1:8-9 RSV
God is inspiring the prophet through His Holy Spirit to refer to Jesus Christ as God. If the Father calls Christ God, should we beg to differ?
Throughout the New Testament, we find Christ applying to himself titles and attributes of God that are used in the Holy Bible. This fact strongly indicates that Christ believed he was God. In the following sections we will examine these claims:
Luke 8:1-37 records Jesus casting demons out of a man living in tombs. After healing the man Luke states,
"The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:38-39
The man correctly understood that the God who had done great things for him was the very One who stood before him. Hence, Jesus equates himself with God, a fact understood by the individual to whom Jesus' words were addressed and confirmed by Luke to be correct.
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:7-8
The One coming is the Pierced One, Jesus Christ. Thus, we have Jesus himself testifying to the fact that He is the Almighty One.
The impact of this passage has left anti-Trinitarians desperately searching for a refutation of the notion that the speaker in verse 8 is Christ. One such response is to suggest that the speaker is God the Father since in Revelation 1:4b-5 he is addressed as the one "who was, is, and is to come":
"... Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the Seven Spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth...."
In this passage Jesus is seen as one who is distinct from the one "who was, is, and is to come". Hence, Jesus cannot be the one speaking in 1:8.
We offer three responses to this assertion:
It should be pointed out that scripture often uses titles interchangeably for both Father and Son. An example of such can be found in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 and Revelation 17:14 where both the Father and Son are called "King of kings and Lord of lords". Therefore the title of "who was, is, and is to come," presents no particular difficulty for the Trinitarian since this is one of the many titles used for both. The context of 1:4-5 ends at verse 6:
"... and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen."
This establishes that Revelation 1:7-8 has no connection to the previous verses, and therefore opens up a new context altogether. The context of this particular passage deals specifically with the identity of the One who is to come, namely the One that was pierced. Based on this fact, verse 8 can only be referring to that "One" spoken of in the previous verse.
Finally, scripture itself is clear that the Father manifests himself and reveals his invisible qualities through the visible manifestation of his Son, Jesus Christ:
"Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one that sent me.' " John 12:44, 45
"He is the image of the invisible God..." Colossians 1:15
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word..." Hebrews 1:3
In light of these passages, the notion of "the one who is to come" can only be referring to Jesus Christ, and the Father's revelation of himself through him alone. These preceding factors present an irrefutable case that Revelation 1:8 refers to Jesus Christ as the Almighty.
"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 can 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." John 10:27-30
Christ is claiming to have the same power that God the Father has, indicating that Jesus possesses within Himself infinite power. Just as no man can pluck anything from the awesome hand of God, so it is with the Son, showing that both Father and Son share the same essence and nature equally.
"You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am." John 13:13
Christ affirms his divine Lordship to his disciples in this verse. In an attempt to deny the implications of Jesus' words, anti-Trinitarians argue that "Lord" does not refer to deity but to a respectful form of address such as "Teacher" or "Master." This argument is nullified by the fact that Christ is both "Teacher" and "Lord", indicating that "Lord" is used by Jesus to denote divinity, hence distinguishing it from the title "Teacher." This refutes the assumption that Jesus uses the term Lord simply to show his role as a master of his disciples.
Supporting this exegesis is the fact that Jesus is even identified as the Lord of all, the very Lord of all the earth:
"You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)," Acts 10:36
"For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." Romans 14:9
"These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth... and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was CRUCIFIED." Revelation 11:4, 8
The Lord of the earth is identified later in the very same chapter as the Lord who was crucified, i.e. Jesus is the crucified Lord of all the earth!
First and Last
"Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the First and I am the Last." Isaiah 48:12
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." Revelation 1:17-18
The title First and Last, as well as Alpha and Omega, implies that God is the cause of all existence and will be the cause for all things to come into completion. Jesus Christ, the one who died, states that it is He, as the very First and Last, who brought all things into being and will also be the cause for all things to come to a desired end. Hence, you begin and end with Christ, making Him the Eternal Creator God.
Alpha and Omega
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son." Revelation 21:6-7
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End... I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star... He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'" Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:12-13, 16, 20
"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." Jeremiah 17:10
"Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.' Jesus answered them, 'Do you now believe?'" John 16:30-31
"He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep." John 21:17
"Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:23b
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10
"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him... If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching, my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:21, 23
There are millions of Christians around the world who love Christ and gather in his name. This means that Christ is at every one of these places, something impossible if he were but man, but quite possible if he were indeed God.
Lord of Sabbath
"'There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.'" Leviticus 23:3
"For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:8
Jesus Christ as the Son of Man, is the Lord of the Sabbath, a claim no one but God alone could make. Noting that the Sabbath was instituted by and for Yahweh, indicates that Jesus and Yahweh are One and the same.
The True Light
The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1
The sun will no more be your light by day, nor the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Isaiah 60:19
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
"While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:5
Then he blessed Joseph and said, "May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day..." Genesis 48:15
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. Psalm 23:1
"Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim..." Psalm 80:1
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." John 10:11, 14
The Great I Am
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them. 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM? This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:13-14
"Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last." Isaiah 48:12
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I AM!" John 8:58
"I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I AM (Gr. Ego Eimi), you will indeed die in your sins." John 8:24
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?" "Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. John 18:4-6
The reason that the men surrounding Christ fell becomes obvious when we realize that Christ is declaring the divine name of God. The power that came forth from Jesus' claim to divinity drove the men to their knees, showing quite clearly that Jesus is Yahweh God. This also demonstrates what will eventually transpire at the second-coming of Christ, namely, that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bend." (Cf. Philippians 2:9-11)
In an attempt to circumvent this point, anti-Trinitarians argue that the Greek version of Exodus 3:14, known as the Septuagint (LXX), renders the Hebrew text as Ego Eimi Ho On, "I Am the One." Yet, Jesus is said to only be Ego Eimi ("I Am"), never Ho On.
It is quite irrelevant to argue the fact that the Septuagint rendering HO ON is different from Jesus' use of the term Ego Eimi, since in these cases both usage's point to timeless existence. The point of Exodus 3:14 is in demonstrating God's eternality, his self-existence, having no beginning or ending since he always is. Likewise, Jesus could only "be" before Abraham if he had always existed, being the Eternal One in human form. This fact is clearly demonstrated in John 18:4-6 by the soldiers falling down to the ground after Jesus uttered the phrase I AM.
Furthermore, it is simply not true that Jesus is never called Ho On since we find this phrase used in reference to the Lord in John 19:37, 1 John 5:18 and Rev. 1:8:
"And, as another scripture says, 'They will look on THE ONE (Ho On) they have pierced.' " John 19:37
"I Am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "The One (Ho On) who is and the One (implied) who was and the One (implied) who is coming, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8
Finally, Ego Eimi is used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew Ani Hu, i.e., I (AM) HE passages found in Isaiah:
"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
"Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I AM: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none." Isaiah 43:10 LXX
This passage is particularly interesting in that God is contrasting the inability of the gods of the nations to foretell the future with his ability to do so:
"All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witness to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, 'It is true.'" Isaiah 43:9
This statement is strikingly similar to what Jesus tells his disciples:
"Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I AM." John 13:19
Christ's ability to foretell future events is an indication of the fact that Jesus is Yahweh God. In precisely the same way Yahweh's ability to foretell future events is seen in the Old Testament as a clear sign of his supremacy over the false gods, proving that he alone is God.
To make the link between the passages clearer, note the similar Greek words used in the italicized portions above as we outline them below:
Isaiah 43:10: "that (hina)... and believe (pisteusete)... that I AM (hoti Ego Eimi)"
John 13:19: "that (hina)...you may believe (pisteusete)... that I AM (hoti Ego Eimi)"
"I AM he (Ego Eimi); and until ye 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
Another time Ego Eimi is used in a theological context is Deuteronomy 32:39:
"Behold, behold that I AM, and there is no God beside me: I kill, and I will make to live: I will smite and I will heal; and there is none who shall deliver out of my hands."
These examples clearly demonstrate that the phrase "I AM" when used of Yahweh, is indicative of the fact that God alone is eternal and sovereign; all other gods are false and temporal. It is in this same manner which we find Jesus using the term "I AM," as an indication that Christ is eternal and sovereign. This explains how he could "be" before Abraham (eternality), and why the soldiers fell down (sovereignty).
Another attempt to misinterpret John 8:58 is the suggestion that Christ stating that he existed before Abraham simply meant that Christ, like the rest of humanity, pre-existed in the foreknowledge of God prior to the creation of the physical universe. This is erroneous since if this is what is really meant, Christ would not have said, "Before Abraham, I am," but "I, with Abraham existed before," since Abraham also existed in the foreknowledge of God. Hence, Christ is emphasizing his timeless existence, that he is the Eternal One in human form.
The Living One
"I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever," Deuteronomy 32:40
"This is how you will know that the living God is among you..." Joshua 3:10
"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." Daniel 4:34
"I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." Revelation 1:18
Christ affirms that he is the very same Living One who lives forever. This could only be referring to God, since only Yahweh is viewed as the One who lives forever. No creature is ever addressed as such.
Power to Forgive
"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." Isaiah 43:25
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:1-3 NKJV
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" Mark 2:5-12
Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sin?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:48-50
The Jews correctly understood that God alone forgives the sins of men and for Christ to claim such would render him God. Yet, not only does he reaffirm his power to do so but proceeds to heal the paralytic as proof of his abilities to forgive men their sins. This once more demonstrates clearly that Jesus Christ is Yahweh God in human form, a fact which the Psalmist affirmed when stating that it is Yahweh [the LORD] who both forgives men of their sins and heals them of their diseases.
Christ - Savior from Heaven:
"Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who 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 ... Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty... For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me ... At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I came down from heaven"?'" John 6:32-33, 35, 38, 41-42
"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:50-51
"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." John 6:57-58
"What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!" John 6:62
"He said to them, You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world." John 8:23 RSV
"I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father." John 16:28 RSV
Christ is once again affirming his eternal pre-existence establishing the fact that Christ Jesus is the Divine Savior sent from heaven.
Resurrection - Life
"See now that I myself am He! There is no God besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." Deuteronomy 32:39
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:19-22
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." John 10:17-18
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Not only does Christ claim to have the power to raise both himself and others from the dead, but also states that he is eternal life itself manifested in human form.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. Deuteronomy 10:17
"While we wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13
Lord of Lords and King of Kings
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. Psalm 136:3
"...God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever." 1 Timothy 6:15b-16
They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. Revelation 17:14
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:16
The Incomprehensibility of Christ:
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27
Just as the Father is incomprehensible, so it is with Christ. This clearly shows that He alone is the complete manifestation and revelation of the Godhead in human form, and apart from him nothing of God can be known.
Christ - The Beholder of The Father's Glory:
[Jesus speaking]: No one has seen the Father except the One (Jesus) who is from God; only he has seen the Father. John 6:46
No one can see God the Father in his essential nature and live, yet Christ has. This makes Christ more than man, being of the same nature and essence of God, proceeding from the Father from eternity into time and space that God might be made fully known to men.
Christ - The Image of God:
Philip said, "Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me who is doing his work." John 14:8-10
The meaning of this passage is that Christ is all that the Father is, equally sharing in the Divine essence and attributes. It does not mean that Christ is the Father, but that he reveals the fullness of the Father's essence since he is the exact representation and reflection of his glory, being God manifested in visible form. Hence, what the Father is invisibly, Christ is visibly:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and IN HIM all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." Colossians 1:15-18
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Hebrews 1:3
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
Some Unitarians argue that to see is not meant literally as in actually seeing God, but to see with understanding. This point is rebutted by the passage itself since Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, not to help him understand who the Father is. Another point rebutted!
The Supremacy of Christ:
It has been said, "Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce." But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery... You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:31-32, 38-42
No man can dare quote the law and cancel out its authority, or attempt to reinterpret it by saying, "But I say to you," since God alone is above the law. Christ could only do so if he were God.
Christ is the Son of Man and the Eternal King:
Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:61b-62
Fulfilling Daniel 7:13-14:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."
The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Psalm 110:1
When Christ claims to be the Son of Man who sits at the right hand of the Majesty, He is thus indicating to His enemies that He is the divine, eternal King whom all nations must and shall worship.
Christ Receives Glory:
The Bible states that God alone is to be glorified:
"I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images." Isaiah 42:8
Yet, not only do we find that the Father glorifies Jesus, but that Christ has existed in glory alongside God before the world began:
"Jesus replied, 'If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.'" John 8:54
"When he was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.'" John 13:31, 32
"Father, the time has come. Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you... And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began... Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." John 17:1, 5, 24
It is blasphemous for any creature to demand that God should glorify him or to claim to have coexisted with God in heavenly glory.
Christ is Worshiped:
The Bible makes it clear that only God is to be worshiped:
"Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."'" Matthew 4:10
The very fact that apostles and angels refused worship, reinforces this point more:
"As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself." Acts 10:25-26
In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crows wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and every thing in them. Acts 14:8-15
"At this I fell at his (angel) feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Revelation 19:10
"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God." Revelation 22:8-9
Yet, Christ accepted worship:
"On coming to the house, they (Magi) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him." Matthew 2:11
"Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:33
"Suddenly Jesus met them (the women). Greetings, he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him… When they (the disciples) saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted." Matthew 28:9, 17
"Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' 'Who is he, sir?' the man asked, 'Tell me so that I may believe in him.' Jesus said, 'You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.' Then the man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and he worshiped him." John 9:35-38
God the Father himself commands the very angels of heaven to worship Jesus:
"And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him.'" Hebrews 1:6
To avoid any notions of divinity being attached to the worship of Christ, Unitarians attempt to counter by saying that worship here signifies intense love and respect, not the type of worship given to God which includes offering up prayers and supplications to the Creator. This assumption is erroneous on the basis that not only did believers pray to Christ Jesus himself condoned and commanded his followers to do so:
"That all 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." John 5:23 NKJV
Christ is making it clear that we must honor him, not as a prophet, but in the same manner that we honor the Father. The way the Father is honored is by worshiping him in spirit and truth through prayers etc. (cf. John 4:21-24)
This basically indicates that Christ is also demanding this very type of honor i.e. that believers must worship him also in spirit and truth.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of Me in My name, I will do it." John 14:12-14 NKJV
In Acts 7:59, Stephen the first Christian martyr, during the time he was being stoned, cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." God alone receives the spirits of departed men, indicating the fact that the first Christian community prayed to Jesus as one would pray to God.
This becomes more evident in the book of Revelation where John the Apostle was caught in the spirit and witnessed the inhabitants of heaven worshiping both God and Christ equally, implying the absolute Deity of both the Father and the Son:
"Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
'You are worthy, O Lord.
To receive glory and honor
And power; For you created
All things, and by your will they
Exist and were created.'" Revelation 4:9-11 NKJV
Notice the similar fashion in which the inhabitants of heaven worship Jesus:
"Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
'You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For you were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.'
"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!'" Revelation 5:8-12
"And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein saying, 'To Him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped." Revelation 5:13-14
The evidence compels us to conclude that to worship Jesus is to worship God.
The Praise of Children Proves that Christ is Yahweh God:
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'? " Matthew 21:14-16
Christ quotes Psalms 8:2, a reference to Yahweh, on the praise of infants as finding its fulfillment in him. The significance of this fact is evident in the manifestation of Christ's identification with Yahweh God, since the Psalm states that it is God who receives the praise of babes.
Here again, Christ is not only receiving such praise but is indeed condoning it. In effect, Christ is declaring that to praise him is to actually praise God Himself.
The All-Encompassing Power of Jesus' Name:
Throughout the Bible we find that evil spirits submit themselves in fear and trembling to the name of God:
"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder." James 2:19
In the same fashion we find them also trembling at the name of Jesus:
"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'" Luke 10:17
In fact, the name of Jesus is so powerful that all men, whether followers or not, are capable of performing mighty works and deeds by its authority:
"'Master,' said John, 'We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said, 'For whoever is not against you is for you.'" Luke 9:49-50
"Many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:22-23
"Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.' Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped up to his feet and began to walk...'By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.'" Acts 3:6-8,16
The awesome display of power that comes through the name of Christ is a prerogative belonging to God alone, once again demonstrating the fact that Jesus is God Almighty.
The Restorer of Israel:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Matthew 23:37
This makes him God when one compares Jeremiah 23:3:
"I [God] myself will gather the remnant of my flock (Israel) out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, in number.
Only God calls forth nations and restores Israel. Yet, Christ claims to have the sovereign power to do likewise.
Christ - The Lord of the Harvest:
Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. Matthew 23:34
This function of appointing prophets and wise men is one belonging to God. Again, Christ astonishes the minds by making statements that God alone can make.
The Enemies of Christ Admit that Jesus Claimed to be God:
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me? We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." John 10:31-33
Even the Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. If in a court of law your enemies were to confirm your position, in this case that Jesus did claim Divinity, you win the case hands down.
Demons Acknowledge the Deity of Christ:
And when he (the demon-possessed man) saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, 'What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me. Mark 5:6-7
Not only do unclean demonic spirits know that Jesus Christ is God's Son but they know enough to worship him as well.
Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament Point to Jesus Christ as God:
Throughout the Hebrew writings, the prophets indicated that the Messiah to come would be God. For instance, He is called the Mighty God and Everlasting Father:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
He is Yahweh our Righteousness:
"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD our Righteousness." Jeremiah 23:5-6
Although being born in Bethlehem, His origins are from times everlasting, making him an eternal figure:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2
John the Baptizer Affirms that Jesus is God:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me'... Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God..." John 1:29-30, 32-34
He must become greater; I must become less. The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. "He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit." John 3:30-34
John testifies that Jesus pre-existed in heavenly glory as God's Son.
The Apostles Claimed that Jesus was God:
"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours...and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:1, 11
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-3, 14
We know also 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 - even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20
To reinforce the fact that John is calling Jesus the true God, earlier he writes of Christ:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life - the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that Eternal Life which was with the Father and was manifested to us - that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3
Hence, the same Eternal Life which John saw is the very same Eternal Life who is also the true God of 1 John 5:20, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. Romans 9:5
For he has rescued us from the dominion of the darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (Gr. Prototokos - Preeminent) over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have supremacy. Colossians 1:13-18
James, the brother of the Lord:
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. James 2:1
Jude, the brother of James:
They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 4b
Author of Hebrews:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3
"… Thomas said to him, "My Lord and My God!" John 20:28
Literal Greek: Ho kurious mou kai ho theos mou, "The Lord of me and The God of me." After seeing the resurrected Christ, Thomas calls Jesus his Lord and his God. To avoid the literalness of the passage, those who presume that the Bible does not teach that Jesus is God [i.e., Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses] state that Thomas was not addressing Christ when saying "my God", but was referring to the Father. Yet such interpretation is impossible, since the verse explicitly states that Thomas "said unto Him," meaning that the declaration is addressed to Jesus.
Anti-Trinitarians also attempt to make the passage read as a blasphemous exclamation, the English equivalent of "Oh my God!"; blasphemous due to the fact that no first-century Jew would dare use the name of God in vain. Secondly, if indeed Thomas' statement was nothing more than an exclamation of surprise, why did Christ not correct and rebuke him for it? Quite to the contrary, in the next verse Christ endorses the statement of Thomas that he is indeed the Lord God of all.
The Resurrection Affirms that Jesus is God:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God - the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:1-4
In fact, the resurrection was such a well established historical event that Paul could write in 55 A.D:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Bear in mind that this letter was written approximately 32 years after Jesus' ascension. Paul is appealing to the eyewitness testimony of nearly 500 people, the greater number of whom were still living, who claimed to have seen Jesus alive after his crucifixion. This kind of eyewitness testimony and the fact that the tomb was empty made it nearly impossible for anyone, whether friend or foe, to deny the Apostolic proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised to immortal life. Many have tried to explain it away, but none of the explanations given make sense in light of the evidence.
For instance, one common answer given is that the apostles stole the body. Yet, this reasoning fails for the simple fact that the apostles willingly faced martyrdom for their claims that Jesus was resurrected. History attests that the Apostles faced brutal deaths for their preaching the resurrected Christ, some of whom include:
Many people may in fact die for something they believe to be true, but no sane person would lay his life down for something they knew to be a lie. And yet, these disciples willingly died for their claim that Jesus had been raised from the dead without one of them ever denying it. What could have given these men the supernatural strength and courage to face brutal deaths - men who in the beginning had abandoned their master and fled like a band of cowards? Furthermore, what would have made monotheistic Jews, adherents to the absolute unity of God, to worship one of their own countrymen as God? The only answer that makes sense is the one that the church has always upheld:
Archaeology and the Deity of Christ
In modern times, the job of archaeologists in digging up ancient biblical sites throughout the east has unearthed some of the greatest finds known to man. These excavations have increased our confidence in the reliability and amazing accuracy of the Bible's historicity.
One of the most outstanding findings took place during the Fall of 1945, when Dr. Eleazar Sukenik of Hebrew University uncovered a First Century Jewish Catacomb at the southern end of the Kidron Valley on the road to Bethlehem.
He found several *osssuaries with the sign of the cross, Greek inscriptions, and a coin minted in A.D. 41 for King Herod Agrippa I, proving the tomb was sealed by the year A.D. 42.
Professor Sukenik stated that the ossuaries:
"contain almost the whole dictionary of names in the New Testament."
One of the coffins had an amazing inscription in the Greek to "Jesus" followed by the exclamation "y 'ho," which is addressing Jesus as Jehovah God! The inscription literally reads, "Jehovah Jesus."
If we keep in mind that these tombs and the inscriptions date back to 42 A.D., that would mean that within 10 years of Christ's death, resurrection and ascension, the eye and ear witnesses of His life were proclaiming that Christ was indeed Jehovah God!
Christian theologian, Professor Alexander Hopkins, commented on the significance that this inscription makes on today's New Testament scholarship:
"The inscription which was hidden for almost 2,000 years and inscribed at least two decades before any part of the New Testament was written... bears a personal testimony of faith... a message from the past with a very modern meaning for the present."
Grant Jeffrey, biblical prophecy expert, writes:
"In light of the A.D. 42 date for the sealing of this tomb, the presence of this dedication to 'Jesus, the Lord' attests to the acceptance by Christians of Jesus Christ as God within ten years of the death and resurrection of Jesus."
In fact, the most intriguing part of all this is Jesus' words to the Pharisees in Luke 19:40:
"'I tell you the truth,' he (Jesus) replied, 'if they (the crowd of disciples) keep quiet, the stones will cry out.'"
Indeed, the archaeological stones are crying out and they are affirming that Jesus Christ is God to the glory of the Father in Heaven!
(Note- All the preceding quotations taken from Jeffrey's book Final Warning, September 1996, Harvest House Publishers, Inc., ISBN: 1565074793, p. 321.)
*ossuaries are small boxes that contain the bones of the deceased.
To the strengthen the case for the deity of Christ we present a selection of Old and New Testament passages in relation to attributes and titles applied to Yahweh which are then applied by the NT to Jesus.
YHWH - I AM           EX. 3:14   Jer. 23:5-6
Dt. 32:39   Jn. 8:24,58
Ps. 83:18   Jn. 18:4-6
Mighty God           Is. 10:21   Is. 9:6
First and Last           Is. 41:4   Rev. 1:17,18
Alpha and Omega           Is. 44:6   Rev 2:8
Is. 48:12 Rev. 22:12-16,20
Lord               Ps. 86:8 Lk. 2:11
Light               2 Sam. 22:29 Jn. 1:4,9
Ps. 27:1 Jn. 3:19
Is. 42:6 Jn. 8:12
Rock               Dt. 32:3,4 1 Cor. 10:3,4
Our Righteousness           Is. 45:24 Rev. 1:5-6
Judge           Ezekial 34:17 Mt. 25:31-32
Husband         Is. 54:5 Mt. 25:1
Hos. 2:16 Mk. 2:18,19
2 Cor. 11:2
Shepherd         Gen. 49:24 Lk. 15:1-7
Ps. 23:1 Jn. 10:11,14
1 Pt. 2:25; 5:4
Creator         Gen. 1:1 Jn. 1:2-3,10
Author of life
Gen. 2:7 Jn. 5:21
Dt. 32:39 Jn. 10:28
Immutable         Mal. 3:6 Heb. 1:10,12
OT passages applied directly to Jesus, affirming that Jesus is Yahweh
Ps. 8:1-2   Mt. 21:15-16
Ps. 66:16   Mk. 5:19-20
Is. 40:3   Mt. 3:3; Lk. 1:76
Mal. 3:1   Mt. 11:10; Lk. 1:76
Is. 45:23   Phil. 2:10-11
Is. 6:1-10   Jn. 12:37-41
Ps. 102:25-27   Heb. 1:10-12
Ps. 97:7   Heb. 1:6
Ps. 130:8   Mt. 1:21
Dan. 7:9-10   Rev. 1:12-14
Jer. 17:10   Rev. 2:23
Zech. 12:10   Rev. 1:7
Is. 40:10   Rev. 22:12
This brief list should leave no doubt that not only did Jesus Christ claim to be God, but that the unanimous testimony of the entire New Testament, and even of the Old, is that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ who truly is the Lord of all creation. (See this article for many more references.)
In spite of all this evidence, arguments are still set forth in refutation of the Christian belief in the incarnation of God, i.e. that Jesus was absolutely and fully God while living on earth as a man. Below we will deal with three such arguments that are often brought up by Christianity's critics.
To cite the first argument, critics quote Matthew 28:18 where it states that "all authority" has been given to Christ. This implies that: 1) Jesus could not be God since God is all-powerful and yet Christ was not since someone greater than him had to grant him authority, 2) That the person bestowing this authority must therefore by necessity cease from possessing it himself since all was given to Christ. This would then completely eliminate the First Person, namely the Father.
The answer to these allegations is found in Philippians 2:5b-11:
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being (Greek- huperchon) in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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."
The literal Greek rendering of the verb huperchon - being in verse 6 is significant in establishing the absolute Deity of Christ. It literally states, "who being and remaining to be in essence God..." This is due to the fact that the verb is a present active participle. This implies a continuous, abiding reality, i.e. that Christ remained fully God while becoming man.
Hence, the authority that Christ received from the Father was not something that he did not possess, but rather it was something that he regained after his resurrection. The Lord himself affirms this fact:
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:5
This verse testifies to the fact that before the Incarnation Christ existed in eternal glory alongside the Father, being equal with him in essence and nature. Yet, due to his acquiring a human nature, he willingly subjected the appearance of that glory for a season in order to fulfill the plan of salvation.
Upon accomplishing that task, Christ was re-exalted to the position that was his by virtue of his divine nature since Jesus is God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity.
Furthermore, the Father has not relinquished his authority by handing it over to the Son, but rather exercises all authority through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is done so that "all may honor the Son as they honor the Father." (Cf. John 5:22)
The second argument presented is the fact that Christ was unable to do anything apart from the Father, as recorded in John 5:19:
"Then Jesus answered and said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.'" NKJV
This is often taken as a denial of divinity on the part of Jesus. Far from this being a denial of divinity, it actually affirms the perfect unity of the Godhead and the absolute power of Jesus to accomplish all that the Father wills.
The biblical understanding of the Trinity is that there are three centers of consciousness within the One God, who perfectly share one essence and nature. Hence, to say that Christ can only do what the Father does strongly affirms, rather than denying, the perfect unity of the one true God. Had Christ stated otherwise, this would have nullified the Tri-unity in that it would have indicated Christ's independence from the Father as a separate being.
This type of functional independence that God has permitted humans to have would deny the Lord's unity with the Father and undermine his divinity.
In fact, when the passage is read in context the reader will find that this is what Christ intended his listeners to understand; that the One True God is a plurality of distinct persons who are inseparably united, having no distinction in essence or purpose:
"For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son, that all 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." John 5:21-23 NKJV
"Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgement also, because He is the Son of Man." John 5:25-27
These verses indicate that whatever is true of the Father is also true of the Son. This compels us to conclude that Christ is himself God, having the same nature of the Father. (Cf. Isaiah 42:8; John 17:5)
The final passage often cited is John 14:28:
"...My Father is greater than I." NKJV
This would again seem to indicate that Christ is denying his divinity, since none is greater than God. In response, we must point out that the Holy Bible indicates that Christ is true God and true Man, two natures and two wills perfectly united in one person. As man, Christ subjected himself to the Father by becoming his servant while on earth. Thus, the Father was greater than Christ in position, not better in essence. (Cf. Philippians 2:5b-11)
The context itself suggests this:
"You have heard Me say to you 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you love Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father'; For My Father is greater than I."
Hence, as man Christ was not equal with the Father in position. Furthermore, due to the fact the Christ will forever retain his humanity he will always remain in subjection to the Father. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28)
Yet, as the divine Son he is equal to the Father, being one with him in nature and thus greater than all created things. (Cf. John 10:30; Colossians 1:15-18)
To clarify this even further, we can use the illustration of a president and a vice-president. The president is greater in position. Yet both are human to the fullest and are essentially equal with each other. This is also true of the Father and the Son since they are equal in nature with the Father being greater in position. Hence, no matter from what angle we examine the issue Jesus Christ is the Lord God of all creation.
Due to the fact that the writer is firmly acquainted with Islamic scholarship and Muslim polemics there is a need to address and refute one particular Islamic objection to the Incarnation.
Muslim Apologists such as Dr. Zakir Naik of the Islamic Research Foundation and Dr. Jamal Badawi of the Islamic Information Center, often promote liberal arguments against the Christian view of the Incarnation without reasoning through the implications of such polemics. This is mainly due to the fact that such argumentation reflects negatively on the Islamic position, since most of these writers whom Muslims quote hold to a naturalistic worldview, i.e. that God does not act in time and space and/or that miracles do not occur. This would in essence refute the Quran and the Muslim worldview, which affirm God's involvement in the time/space continuum and wholeheartedly acknowledge the reality of miracles. An example of the appeal to scholars that deny the supernatural would be Badawi's consistent reference to John Hick, editor of Myth of God Incarnate.
Hick denies the virgin birth, the reality of hell and God personally revealing himself to any one specific person or nation. Hick feels that all religions are manmade views of the utterly transcendent and otherwise unknowable God, and should be viewed as such. Hick's position serves to discredit the Islamic view of the Quran as God's own revelation and Muhammad as God's prophet. Thus, this would imply that Muhammad was either deceived or a deceiver, since he claimed to be speaking as God's prophet. This exposes the hypocritical stance by Muslims like Badawi who believe in miracles and revelation, while at the same time using references from men who do not.
Now we do not mean to suggest that atheists, agnostics or liberals have nothing worthwhile to say, nor do we intend to undermine their arguments solely on the grounds of their views and presuppositions. Their arguments should be seriously considered and examined to see whether they are sound or not. Our point is simply intended to inform Muslims that they shouldn't uncritically cite authorities without first analyzing their claims to see if they are based on solid facts, or whether they are merely expressions of their presuppositions; presuppositions which also undermine Muslim beliefs.
With this point made clear, we proceed to the objection often raised by Muslim apologists against the Incarnation of Christ:
The Incarnation is logically fallacious since God cannot change into a man and then back to being God once more, since he is immutable.
Furthermore, it is not possible for the infinite and finite to mix, making an infinite finite. This is logically incompatible.
First of all, no Christian believes that when God became man he ceased to be God since at the Incarnation there was not a substitution of Deity but an addition of humanity. Hence, God in Christ took to himself a human nature while remaining fully divine. This becomes apparent when one reads the literal Greek rendering of Philippians 2:6:
"Christ who being and remaining to be in essence God..."
As was noted earlier, the Greek verb in the passage is a present active participle implying a continuance of being i.e., that Christ eternally exists in the form of God while at the same time taking on human nature.
It must be stated that these two natures did not fuse together but remained distinct, while at the same time uniting alongside each other in the Person of Christ. Just as there are two distinct sides to every coin, so there are two distinct natures united in Christ.
Furthermore, there is no logical contradiction in saying that God can become man since God and man belong to different categories. This means that God can take upon human nature since this would not conflict with his being omnipotent, omnipresent or omniscient.
To illustrate the point further, if one were to say that a circle is a square or a square is a circle then that would be a contradiction since both belong to the same category of shapes. Yet, to have a red circle or a blue square would not be contradictory, since one set belongs to a different category from the other, i.e., shapes and colors. Hence, for God to become man is logically plausible since the one is in a different category from the other.
Finally, there are several responses to the objection of the infinite uniting or meeting with the finite:
God is unlimited within his nature and only limited by it. For example, God is holy and the quintessence of truth, and because this is his nature he cannot be unholy and untruthful. These are the only types of limits God has. Thus, to imply that God is incapable of uniting with the finite is to impose limits upon the limitless, contradicting the testimony of both the Holy Bible and the Quran.
Moreover, infinity in reference to God cannot be understood in terms of size, shape, mass etc., since God by definition is an immaterial, incorporeal, spaceless Being who doesn't occupy place. When we speak of God's infinity we mean this in respect to his attributes and characteristics, e.g. God's power is complete and doesn't increase or decrease. In light of this why couldn't the infinite God take on the nature of man without ceasing to be God? The only way it would be impossible for God to do so is if one assumes that God's infinity is to be understood in terms of size or mass. In that case then it would be impossible for someone who is physically infinite, whose shape and size is infinitely large, to fully dwell in a limited physical body.
The Quran, much like the Holy Bible, agrees that God breathed his Spirit into the first man, making him a living soul. (cf. Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4, S. 15:27-29) Furthermore, both the Holy Bible and the Quran agree that God strengthens believers with his Spirit (cf. Galatians 4:6; S. 2:87, 58:22) Noting that God's Spirit is eternal, this would affirm that the infinite does unite with the finite. Both scriptures agree that the infinite God assists finite man by his eternal Spirit that is at work within time and space.
The orthodox Islamic position in relation to the Quran is identical to the Christian view of Jesus.
Muslims believe that within the Quran, the infinite and finite have indeed met since the Quran is eternal by nature while at the same time it is contained within the pages of a finite book. Professor Yusuf K. Ibish, in an article entitled "The Muslim Lives by the Quran," writes: <>
I have not yet come across a western man who understands what the Quran is. It is not a book in the ordinary sense, nor is it comparable to the Bible, either the Old or New Testaments. It is an expression of Divine Will. If you want to compare it with anything in Christianity, you must compare it with Christ Himself. Christ was an expression of the Divine among men, the revelation of the Divine Will. That is what the Quran is. If you want a comparison for the role of Muhammad, the better one in that particular respect would be Mary. Muhammad was the vehicle of the Divine, as she was the vehicle... There are western orientalists who have devoted their life to the study of the Quran, its text, the analysis of its words, discovering that this word is Abyssinian, that word is Greek by origin... But all this is immaterial. The Quran was divinely inspired, then it was compiled, and what we have now is the expression of God's Will among men. That is the important point. (Charris Waddy, The Muslim Mind [New York: Longman, 1976], p.14)
In his Ideals and Realities of Islam, Seyyed Hossain Nasr writes,
The Word of God in Islam is the Quran; in Christianity it is Christ... To carry this analogy further one can point to the fact that the Quran, being the Word of God therefore corresponds to Christ in Christianity and the form of this book, which like the contents is determined by the dictum in heaven, corresponds in a sense to the body of Christ. The form of the Quran is the Arabic language which religiously speaking is as inseparable from the Quran as the body of Christ is from Christ Himself. Arabic is sacred in the sense that it is an integral part of the Quranic revelation whose very sounds and utterances play a role in the ritual acts of Islam. (Op. cit. [London: George Allen & Urwin, 1975], pp. 43-44; emphasis ours.)
In fact, in early Islamic history it was considered blasphemous to say that the Quran was created, with the Caliph Al-Mutawakkil (d. A.D. 850) going so far as to "decree the death penalty for anyone who taught that the Word of God (i.e., the Quran) is created." (John Alden Williams, ed., Islam [New York: George Braziller, 1962], p.179)
Hence, we see no problem for Muslims in accepting the fact that the eternal united with the temporal since this is what is believed about the Quran.
Finally, within man himself we find the eternal and infinite united with the temporal. Both Christians and Muslims believe that the spirit/soul of man, though created, is eternal and continues to live apart from the death of the body, which is the temporal aspect of man. This should demonstrate clearly that the idea of the eternal taking on the temporal is a fact affirmed by both Christian and Muslim theology.
In summarizing this topic, we submit that Muslims should have no problems in accepting the Christian concept of Incarnation of God, or at least the possibility of it. Their very own scripture and understanding of God's acts affirms the reality of God uniting with man, the infinite uniting with the finite.
To conclude, we must reiterate that there are simply no good reasons
to reject the biblical witness that "God was in Christ reconciling
the world to Himself..."
Further articles by Sam Shamoun
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