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Jesus Christ – The Eternal Yahweh Who Became Flesh

Revisiting the Issue of Jesus Receiving the Divine Name According to Philippians 2:9 Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue with our discussion.

OT texts and language concerning Yahweh applied specifically to Christ

The book of Hebrews is not the only writing which takes OT Yahweh texts or adopts OT language concerning Yahweh and applies that to Christ. The Apostle Paul did this quite often.

In the following passage the inspired Apostle applies two OT Yahweh texts to the Lord Jesus:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame (pas ho pisteuon ep’ auto ou kataischunthesetai).’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (pas gar hos an epikalesetai to onoma kyriou sothesetai).’” Romans 10:9-13

There can be no doubt that Jesus is the Lord spoken of throughout the context. In fact, elsewhere in Romans Paul states that Jesus is the Lord of the living and the dead, and is therefore Lord of all:

“For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” Romans 14:9 – cf. Acts 10:36

Returning to Romans 10, Paul supports his argument that a person must confess Jesus as Lord in order to be saved by quoting the following OT verse:

And everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as Yahweh has said, among the survivors whom Yahweh calls.” Joel 2:32

According to this passage one must call on the name of Yahweh to be saved! Here is how the Greek OT version (known as the Septuagint [LXX]) translates the above citation:

“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (pas hos an epikalesetai to onoma kyriou sothesetai): for in mount Sion and in Jerusalem shall the saved one be as the Lord has said, and they that have glad tidings preached to them, whom the Lord has called.” Joel 3:5

As the readers can see, the Septuagint has substituted the Divine Name with the word Kyrios or Lord. Thus, Yahweh is the Lord whom a person must call on in order to receive salvation. And yet Paul uses this very text to prove that Jesus is the Lord who saves everyone that confesses or calls upon him!

In fact, Paul goes so far as to refer to Christians as those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus!

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (sun pasin tois epikaloumenois to onoma tou kyriou hemon 'Iesou Christou) - their Lord and ours:” 1 Corinthians 1:2

This shows that, as far as Paul was concerned, calling on the name of the Lord Jesus is to call on the name of Yahweh!

Paul also cited the following OT reference:

“Therefore thus saith the Lord, even the Lord, Behold, I lay for the foundations of Sion a costly stone, a choice, a corner-stone, a precious stone, for its foundations; and he that believes on him shall by no means be ashamed (kai ho pisteuon ep’ auto ou me kataischunthe).” Isaiah 28:16 LXX

The book of Isaiah identifies this precious Stone as Yahweh God himself:

“For Yahweh spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But Yahweh of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.’” Isaiah 8:11-15

Hence, Jesus is the Lord Yahweh that will not put to shame anyone who calls on his name for salvation!

There are other places where Paul ascribes OT passages which speak of Yahweh to Christ. For instance, we read in Exodus that when Moses went up to meet with Yahweh on Mt. Sinai his face radiated from being in the presence of Yahweh:

“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.’ So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as Yahweh had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. Then Yahweh came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, Yahweh. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’ Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped… When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with Yahweh. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands Yahweh had given him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered Yahweh's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with Yahweh.” Exodus 34:1-8, 29-35

Here we see that the glory of Yahweh which radiated from Moses’ face was such that he had to veil himself for the sake of the Israelites who could not withstand it. However, Moses would remove the veil whenever he would speak with Yahweh.

Astonishingly, Paul refers to this same event when speaking of a spiritual veil that prevents the Israelites from seeing the glory of Christ:

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the God of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-18, 4:1-6

Paul has done a truly amazing thing here. He identifies both Christ and the Spirit as Yahweh! The blessed Apostle says that the veil which covers the minds of the Israelites is removed only when they turn to Christ the Lord, and yet according to the passage from Exodus this is precisely what happened with Moses’ veil whenever he would speak with Yahweh! Thus, just as Moses’ veil was removed whenever he would enter Yahweh’s presence in the same way the spiritual veil which hinders people from believing in the Gospel is removed when they turn to Christ the Lord. This, therefore, shows that by calling Jesus the Lord Paul meant that Christ is Yahweh!

Paul then speaks of the Spirit of the Lord who gives freedom, which is a reference to the Spirit of Christ since he is the Lord spoken of in the context. This isn’t the only place where Paul refers to the Spirit of Christ:

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you… because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.” Romans 8:9-11, 14-16

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Galatians 4:6

“for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,” Philippians 1:19 – cf. Acts 16:6-7; 1 Peter 1:11-12

Paul also says that the Spirit himself is the Lord, e.g., the Spirit is also Yahweh!

Here is a breakdown of the above which should help bring out these points more clearly.

  1. Christ is the Lord who removes the veil, which in light of the OT means that he is Yahweh.
  2. The Spirit belongs to the Lord, who in the context is Christ.
  3. The Spirit is also the Lord, which means that the Spirit himself is Yahweh.
  4. Paul, therefore, identifies two distinct Persons as Yahweh, specifically Christ and the Spirit!

Paul again identifies Jesus as Yahweh in 1 Corinthians 10!

According to the Hebrew Scriptures Yahweh is the Rock who led and took care of Israel during the Exodus:

“I will proclaim the name of Yahweh. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he… Yahweh ALONE led him; no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape. Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior… You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth… If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be! How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless Yahweh had given them up? For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 12-15, 18, 29-31

The OT further says that the Israelites angered Yahweh to the point that he sent serpents to kill them:

“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’ Then Yahweh sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against Yahweh and against you. Pray that Yahweh will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” Numbers 21:4-9

However, in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul taught that the Rock who led Israel out of Egypt and provided for them, the Lord who destroyed some of the Israelites by serpents for testing him, was actually the Lord Jesus!

“For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-10

Noted Evangelical scholars Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski explain how the context of 1 Corinthians 10 establishes that Jesus is the Lord who delivered and punished Israel at the time of Moses:

Paul: The Israelites and Christ in the Wilderness

Paul’s rather enigmatic statement about the Israelites in the wilderness probably refers to Christ as having been involved in its earliest history, “for they drank from the spiritual rock, that followed them, and the rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). This statement appears to be a reference to Christ’s real preexistence, although some interpreters think Paul meant that the ‘rock’ is a type of Christ. The latter view, however, does not easily fit Paul’s statement that “the rock was Christ.” A few sentences later, Paul warns the Corinthians Christians, ‘we must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents’ (v. 9). Here, Paul states that some of the Israelites in the wilderness ‘put Christ to the test,’ and he warns the Corinthians not to make the same mistake. Although some ancient Greek manuscripts have the reading ‘Lord,’ the NRSV is almost certainly correct here in following the reading ‘Christ.’ Therefore, we should understand Paul to have been affirming that Christ existed during the time of the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness. Moreover, what Paul says here is what the Old Testament said about the Lord God, that the Israelites had put him to the test (Num. 14:22; 21:5-6; Pss. 78:18-20; 95:9). Once again, the New Testament affirms not only Christ’s preexistence but also his divine preexistence. (Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place – The Case for the deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 2: Like Father, Like Son: Jesus Shares the Attributes of God, Chapter 8. Jesus Has Always Been There, p. 95; underline emphasis ours)


5. The reading ‘Christ’ (christon) has the earliest, most diverse, and most numerous manuscript support (starting with P46), dated about A.D. 200) and is also better attested by early translations into other languages (such as Coptic and Latin) and in other Christian writings dating from as early as the second century. It is followed by the KJV, NKJV, NLT, and NRSV, among others. The reading ‘Lord’ (kurion) does have the support of two major codices from the fourth century (the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), but the rest of its external support is comparatively quite weak. It is followed (surprisingly) most notably by the NIV and NASB. See further Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 740; and especially Carroll D. Osburn, ‘The Text of 1 Corinthians 10:9,’ in New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis: Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger, ed. Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 1-12. (Ibid., p. 312; bold emphasis ours)

The NET Bible translators also concur that Christ is the best and widely attested reading, and therefore the original reading.

tc Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”) is attested in the MAJORITY of mss, including MANY IMPORTANT WITNESSES of the Alexandrian (Ì46 1739 1881) and Western (D F G) texttypes, and other mss and versions (Ψ latt sy co). On the other hand, some of the important Alexandrian witnesses have κύριον (kurion, “Lord”; א B C P 33 104 1175 al). A few mss (A 81 pc) have θεόν (qeon, “God”). The nomina sacra for these readings are quite similar (cMn, kMn, and qMn respectively), so one might be able to account for the different readings by way of confusion. On closer examination, the variants appear to be intentional changes. Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.” Moreover, even if not motivated by a tendency to overcorrect, a scribe might be likely to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages. The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather COMPELLING in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen. What is more, the synod of Antioch in a.d. 268 used the reading “Christ” as evidence of the preexistence of Christ when it condemned Paul of Samosata. (See G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 126-27; TCGNT 494; C. D. Osburn, “The Text of 1 Corinthians 10:9,” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 201-11; contra A. Robertson and A. Plummer, First Corinthians [ICC], 205-6.) Since “Christ” is the more difficult reading on all accounts, it is almost certainly original. In addition, “Christ” is consistent with Paul’s style in this passage (cf. 10:4, a text in which {Marcion} also reads “Christ”). This text is also christologically significant, since the reading “Christ” makes AN EXPLICIT CLAIM to the preexistence of Christ. (The textual critic faces a similar dilemma in Jude 5. In a similar exodus context, some of the more important Alexandrian mss [A B 33 81 pc] and the Vulgate read “Jesus” in place of “Lord.” Two of those mss [A 81] are the same mss that have “Christ” instead of “God” in 1 Cor 10:9. See the tc notes on Jude 5 for more information.) In sum, “Christ” has all the earmarks of authenticity here and should be considered the original reading. (NET Bible; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Paul wasn’t the only inspired author who believed that Jesus was the Lord who both delivered and punished the Israelites during the time of Moses:

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

Bowman & Komoszewski write:

“After speaking of Jesus Christ as ‘our only Master and Lord,’ Jude could hardly have proceeded in the very next sentence to refer to someone other than Jesus as ‘the Lord.’ The Lord who delivered his people out of Egypt, then, must be the Lord Jesus.

“In fact, this is probably what the original text of Jude explicitly said. Many of the earliest manuscripts actually say ‘Jesus’ instead of ‘the Lord’ in verse 5, and this is most likely the original reading. There are three principles of the discipline of textual criticism that, when considered together, point to this conclusion.

“The first principle concerns the external evidence of the origins of the manuscripts. All other things being equal, the earlier and more widely attested reading is to be preferred. In this case both ‘Lord’ and ‘Jesus’ are among the earliest readings, but ‘Jesus’ is MORE WIDELY attested. The Vaticanus and Alexandrinus uncials (fourth and fifth centuries, respectively) both have ‘Jesus,’ while the Sinaiticus and C uncials (also of the fourth and fifth centuries) are the major witnesses for ‘Lord.’ The reading ‘Jesus,’ though, has MUCH GREATER SUPPORT from the early translations of the New Testament into other languages (such as Coptic, Ethiopic, and Latin) and BETTER SUPPOR from the early church’s leading biblical scholars, including Jerome (early fifth century) and possibly the third-century Origen. The reading ‘Jesus,’ then, clearly has the edge in terms of external evidence.

“The second principle is that, all other things being equal, the harder or more difficult reading – the one that sounds the strangest, to put it crudely – is more likely to be original (since a scribe is more likely to change a text from something that sounds strange to something that doesn’t, rather than the other way around). Here, the reading ‘Jesus’ obviously has the edge. Three of the five members of the editorial committee for the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament thought, in fact, ‘that the reading was difficult to the point of impossibility.’ The other two committee members, Bruce Metzger and Allen Wikgren, agreed it was difficult but not impossible, and concluded that it was the correct reading.

“The third and most general principle is that whatever reading is more likely to have given rise to the others as alterations is probably the original reading. The answer to this question is much disputed, but we agree with those who argue that ‘Jesus’ is probably original because it is more likely that scribes would change ‘Jesus’ (the admittedly harder reading) to ‘Lord’ (or, in a few other manuscripts, ‘God’) but not vice versa.

“Whichever reading we follow, though, Jude’s immediately preceding reference to Jesus as ‘Lord’ at the end of verse 4 makes it clear that he is the subject of verse 5. According to Jude, the Lord Jesus not only existed during the time of the Exodus but was the one who both delivered Israel from Egypt and then destroyed the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness.” (Ibid., pp. 98-99; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The NET translators agree:

sn The construction our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ in v. 4 follows Granville Sharp’s rule (see note on Lord). The construction strongly implies the deity of Christ. This is followed by a statement that Jesus was involved in the salvation (and later judgment) of the Hebrews. He is thus to be identified with the Lord God, Yahweh. Verse 5, then, simply fleshes out what is implicit in v. 4.

tc ‡ The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Ihsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy THE STRONGEST SUPPORT from a variety of early witnesses (e.g., A B 33 81 1241 1739 1881 2344 pc vg co Or1739mg), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (qeos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though P72 has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [qeos Cristos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). In addition to the evidence supplied in NA27 for this reading, note also {88 322 323 424c 665 915 2298 eth Cyr Hier Bede}. As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦς is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate. (NET Bible; capital and underline emphasis ours)

In light of the foregoing we now move on to our final section.

The Christian Shema

Seeing that Paul adopted OT Yahweh texts and applied them to Christ it should come as no surprise to discover that this blessed and inspired Apostle took Israel’s monotheistic creed, known as the Shema, and Christianized it in order to include Jesus within the Divine identity of the one true God of Israel. According to Deuteronomy 6:4-5 the Israelites were to know and affirm that Yahweh is the only God whom they will serve and love:

“Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

“Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord.” Deuteronomy 6:4 LXX

Now notice what Paul does with this creed:

“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live (heis theos ho pater, ex hou ta panta hemeis eis auton); and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live (kai heis kyrios ‘Iesous Christos, di’ hou ta panta kai hemeis di’ autou). However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Before we comment on Paul’s Christianizing of the Shema it is vitally important to note that Paul is addressing an issue that was plaguing the Gentile believers at Corinth, namely, should Christians eat foods that were initially sacrificed to idols? Paul’s answer is that Christians who are mature know that the idols and the divine beings represented by them have no real existence, despite the fact that the pagans that serve them think that they are actually sacrificing to gods and lords that truly exist. In fact, Paul believes that the pagans are actually worshiping demons who are not divine!

Paul expounds on this theme a little later in his epistle:

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.’ If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

In light of this Paul says that it is not a sin if a Christian eats meat that was offered to an idol provided that the Christian doesn’t do so in the context of worship at a pagan shrine or temple, since the believer iwill then be joining in fellowship with demons.

Paul is basically arguing that the reason why such foods are lawful for a believer is because there is only God and one Lord, and that the entire earth and everything in it belongs to the one true Lord.

It is within this particular context that Paul writes that Christians who have knowledge know that there is only God, namely the Father, and only one Lord, specifically Jesus Christ. Paul further says that all things exist because of the Father, e.g., because it was the Father’s will and desire to bring forth creation (cf. Rev. 4:11), and that this creation came into being through the agency of Christ. Paul also teaches that the redeemed live for God through Christ, i.e., Christ has ransomed a people in order to set them apart for service to God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 2:11-14).

Thus, Paul not only affirms that Jesus is the Agent of creation through whom all things were brought into being, and thereby showing that Christ personally preexisted, but that he is also the one Lord worshiped and professed in the Shema!

Since Gordon D. Fee does an excellent job of bringing out the Christological implications of Paul’s words in this particular context we will quote what he has to say:

“What Paul has done seems plain enough. He has kept the ‘one’ intact, but he has divided the Shema into two parts, with theos (God) now referring to the Father, and kyrios (Lord) referring to Jesus Christ the Son. Because Paul’s interests here are pastoral, he identifies the ‘one Lord’ as none other than the historical ‘Jesus Christ,’ the one who died for all, especially those with a weak conscience… Over against the ‘lords many’ of paganism, there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, whose relation to creation is effective agent. Thus the Father has created all things through the agency of the Son, who as the one Lord is also – and now Paul’s second point is being established – the agent of their redemption (‘and we through him’). The whole passage therefore, typically for Paul, encloses the work of the Son within that of the Father; that is the two dia phrases regarding the one Lord’s role as agent of creation and redemption are (logically) framed by the ek and eis phrases regarding the Father as the ultimate source and goal or purpose of all things – both creation and redemption.

“It need hardly be pointed out – but it will because of what is said in the literature – that this second line is a plain, undeniable expression of Paul’s presuppositional conviction about Christ’s preexistence as the Son of God: preexistence, because of the assertion that ‘through him are ta panta [all things],’ with creation in view; Son of God, because of Paul’s identity of the ‘one God’ as ‘the Father’…

“All of this seems deliberate on Paul’s part. That is, he is reasserting for the Corinthians that their theology has it right: there is indeed only one God, over against all other ‘gods many and lords many.’ But at the same time, he insists that the identity of the one God also includes the one Lord; and ultimately he does so because (1) this is the now shared Christian perspective about the one God and (2) it is the inclusion of Christ as Lord in God’s identity that will give Paul the leverage to forbid attendance at pagan festive meals… although the conceptual frame for this construction (ek-dia-eis) can be found elsewhere in the NT, there is nothing quite like this use of prepositional phrases apart from Paul himself. Indeed, the only other known use of this specific scheme of prepositions in ancient literature is in Rom 11:36, where the full phrase ex autou kai di’ autou kai eis auton ta panta (from him and through him and for him [are] all things) appears in a doxology without this christological modification. It is of significant theological interest to note here that in the Romans doxology God (theos) is the one ‘through whom’ are all things, while in Col 1:16 the Son is the one ‘for whom’ are all things. As [Richard] Bauckham has recently argued in a slightly different way, this interchange of prepositions in itself indicates full identity of Christ with God.”

“Second, this assertion is striking because at one level it seems quite unnecessary to the present argument, since nothing christological is at stake. That is, Paul is not here to trying to demonstrate Christ’s creative agency; he simply assumes it by assertion. Nonetheless, on a deeper level this is precisely the assertion that will make both the theological and ethical dimensions of the argument work. By naming Christ as the ‘one Lord’ through whom both creation and redemption were effected, Paul not only broadens the Corinthians’ perspective on the Shema, but at the same time he anticipates the role that Christ is to play in the argument that follows (esp. 8:11-12; 10:4, 9, 16-22), where everything hinges on their ongoing relationship to Christ. What is important for our present purposes is (1) Paul’s deliberate use of kyrios for Christ, language that in the Septuagint was substituted for the Divine Name of the one God (see pp. 20-23 above), and (2) the presuppositional nature of the historical person, Jesus Christ, as preexistent and the personal agent of creation itself. There is nothing like this to be found in Paul’s Jewish heritage as such. That is, he has no prior frame of reference into which this modification of the Shema can be fitted. As is pointed out on 1 Cor 9:1 below (pp. 125-127) this adjustment most likely had its origin for Paul in his own encounter with the risen Christ.” (Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Commentary [Hendrickson Publishers, March 2007], pp. 90-92; bold emphasis ours)


“In the striking passage (1 Cor 8:6) where Paul reshapes the Jewish Shema to embrace both the Father and the Son while as the same time emphasizing his inherited monotheism, Paul asserts that the ‘one Lord’ (=Yahweh) of the Shema is to be identified as the Lord Jesus Christ … In a still more profoundly theological way, by his inclusion of the preexistent Son as the agent of creation, Paul has thus included him in the divine identity at its most fundamental point, since the one God of the Jews was regularly identified vis-à-vis all other ‘gods’ as the Creator and Ruler of all things. Thus, it is one thing for Christ to be the means of redemption, but for him likewise to be the divine agent of creation is what clearly includes him within Paul’s now adjusted understanding of ‘the one God’

"To be sure, here have been efforts to get around this plain assertion of Christ’s preexistence. But these denials face ENORMOUS EXEGETICAL DIFFICULTIES, and they exist primarily to sidestep the plain sense of the text and thus disregard the contextual reasons for Paul’s making this assertion here. Moreover, they quite miss one of the reasons for naming Christ as ‘the Lord’ = Yahweh of the Shema: to place Christ as already present with the Israel to whom the Shema was originally given…” (Ibid., 502-504; bold and capital emphasis ours)


Our examination furnished additional evidence that Paul believed that Jesus preexisted as Yahweh and therefore has always possessed the name Yahweh. This confirms that Paul in Philippians 2:9 was not claiming that Christ only became or received the name Yahweh at his exaltation, but that Jesus simply regained the status, prestige, glory and honor which belongs to the One who possesses or bears the Divine Name. In other words, at his exaltation Jesus didn’t receive a Name that he did not already have, or become something that he wasn’t already in essence. Rather, Christ was given the position and authority which belongs to Yahweh since he had set these aside in order to take on the status of a slave by becoming a man for our redemption and glorification. In the words of the following early Church Fathers:

Of Christ.

7. Believe also in the Son of God, One and Only, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was begotten God of God, begotten Life of Life, begotten Light of Light, Who is in all things like to Him that begot, Who received not His being in time, but was before all ages eternally and incomprehensibly begotten of the Father: The Wisdom and the Power of God, and His Righteousness personally subsisting: Who sits on the right hand of the Father BEFORE ALL AGES.

For the throne at God's right hand He received NOT, as some have thought, BECAUSE OF HIS PATIENT ENDURANCE, being crowned as it were by God AFTER HIS PASSION; BUT THROUGHOUT HIS BEING — A BEING BY ETERNAL GENERATION — He holds His royal dignity, and shares the Father's seat, being God and Wisdom and Power, as has been said; reigning together with the Father, and creating all things for the Father, yet lacking nothing in the dignity of Godhead, and knowing Him that has begotten Him, even as He is known of Him that has begotten; and to speak briefly, remember thou what is written in the Gospels, that none knows the Son but the Father, neither knows any the Father save the Son.

8. Further, do thou neither separate the Son from the Father, nor by making a confusion believe in a Son-Fatherhood; but believe that of One God there is One Only-begotten Son, WHO IS BEFORE ALL AGES God the Word; not the uttered word diffused into the air, nor to be likened to impersonal words; but the Word the Son, Maker of all who partake of reason, the Word who hears the Father, and Himself speaks. And on these points, should God permit, we will speak more at large in due season; for we do not forget our present purpose to give a summary introduction to the Faith.

Concerning His Birth of the Virgin.

9. Believe then that this Only-begotten Son of God for our sins came down from heaven upon earth, and took upon Him this human nature of like passions with us, and was begotten of the Holy Virgin and of the Holy Spirit, and was made Man, not in seeming and mere show, but in truth; nor yet by passing through the Virgin as through a channel; but was of her made truly flesh, [and truly nourished with milk], and did truly eat as we do, and truly drink as we do. For if the Incarnation was a phantom, salvation is a phantom also. The Christ was OF TWO NATURES, Man in what was seen, BUT GOD IN WHAT WAS NOT SEEN; as Man truly eating like us, for He had the like feeling of the flesh with us; but as God feeding the five thousand from five loaves; as Man truly dying, but as God raising him that had been dead four days; truly sleeping in the ship as Man, and walking upon the waters as God. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 4; capital and underline emphasis ours)


2. If, therefore, any one wishes to show piety towards God, let him worship the Son, since otherwise the Father accepts not his service. The Father spoke with a loud voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. The Father was well pleased; unless thou also be well pleased in Him, you have not life. Be not thou carried away with the Jews when they craftily say, There is one God alone; but with the knowledge that God is One, know that there is also an Only-begotten Son of God. I am not the first to say this, but the Psalmist in the person of the Son says, The Lord said unto Me, You are My Son. Heed not therefore what the Jews say, but what the Prophets say. Do you wonder that they who stoned and slew the Prophets, set at nought the Prophets' words?

3. Believe thou In One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God. For we say One Lord Jesus Christ, that His Sonship may be Only-begotten: we say One, that you may not suppose another: we say One, that you may not profanely diffuse the many names of His action among many sons…

4. He is called Christ, not as having been anointed by men's hands, but eternally anointed by the Father to His High-Priesthood on behalf of men. He is called Dead, not as having abode among the dead, as all in Hades, but as being alone free among the dead. He is called Son of Man, not as having had His generation from earth, as each of us, but as coming upon the clouds To Judge Both Quick and Dead. He is called Lord, not improperly as those who are so called among men, but as having a NATURAL and ETERNAL Lordship. He is called Jesus by a fitting name, as having the appellation from His salutary healing. He is called Son, not as advanced by adoption, but as naturally begotten. And many are the titles of our Saviour…

5. But the Saviour comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who have need of gladness He becomes a Vine; and to those who want to enter in He stands as a Door; and to those who need to offer up their prayers He stands a mediating High Priest. Again, to those who have sins He becomes a Sheep, that He may be sacrificed for them. He is made all things to all men, remaining in His own nature what He is. For so remaining, and holding the dignity of His Sonship in reality unchangeable, He adapts Himself to our infirmities, just as some excellent physician or compassionate teacher; though He is Very Lord, and received not the Lordship by advancement, but has the dignity of His Lordship from nature, and is not called Lord improperly, as we are, but is so in verity, since by the Father's bidding He is Lord of His own works. For our lordship is over men of equal rights and like passions, nay often over our elders, and often a young master rules over aged servants. But in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lordship is not so: but He is first Maker, then Lord: first He made all things by the Father's will, then, HE IS LORD OF THE THINGS WHICH WERE MADE BY HIM.

6. Christ the Lord is He who was born in the city of David. And would you know that Christ is Lord with the Father EVEN BEFORE HIS INCARNATION, that you may not only accept the statement by faith, but may also receive proof from the Old Testament? Go to the first book, Genesis: God says, Let us make man, not 'in My image,' but, in Our image. And after Adam was made, the sacred writer says, And God created man; in the image of God created He him. For he did not limit the dignity of the Godhead to the Father alone, but included the Son also: that it might be shown that man is not only the work of God, but also of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself also Very God. This Lord, who works together with the Father, wrought with Him also in the case of Sodom, according to the Scripture: And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven. This Lord is He who afterwards was seen of Moses, as much as he was able to see. For the Lord is loving unto man, ever condescending to our infirmities.

7. Moreover, that you may be sure THAT THIS IS HE WHO WAS SEEN OF MOSES, HEAR PAUL’S TESTIMONY, when he says, For they all drank of a spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was Christ. And again: By faith Moses forsook Egypt, and shortly after he says, accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. This Moses says to Him, Show me Yourself. You see that the Prophets also in those times saw the Christ, that is, as far as each was able. Show me Yourself, that I may see You with understanding. But He says, There shall no man see My face, and live. For this reason then, because no man could see the face of the Godhead and live, He took on Him the face of human nature, that we might see this and live. And yet when He wished to show even that with a little majesty, when His face did shine as the sun, the disciples fell down affrighted. If then His bodily countenance, shining not in the full power of Him that wrought, but according to the capacity of the disciples, affrighted them, so that even thus they could not bear it, how could any man gaze upon the majesty of the Godhead? 'A great thing,' says the Lord, you desire, O Moses: and I approve your insatiable desire, and I will do this thing for you, but according as you are able. Behold, I will put you in the cleft of the rock: for as being little, you shall lodge in a little space.' (Cyril, Catechetical Lecture 10; bold and capital emphasis ours)


Chapter 7. The manifestation of Christ

For, as I said, this was no mere earthly invention which was delivered to them, nor is it a mere human system of opinion, which they judge it right to preserve so carefully, nor has a dispensation of mere human mysteries been committed to them, but truly God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, [Him who is] the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts. He did not, as one might have imagined, send to men any servant, or angel, or ruler, or any one of those who bear sway over earthly things, or one of those to whom the government of things in the heavens has been entrusted, BUT THE VERY CREATOR AND FASHIONER OF ALL THINGS — by whom He made the heavens — by whom he enclosed the sea within its proper bounds — whose ordinances all the stars faithfully observe — from whom the sun has received the measure of his daily course to be observed — whom the moon obeys, being commanded to shine in the night, and whom the stars also obey, following the moon in her course; by whom all things have been arranged, and placed within their proper limits, and to whom all are subject — the heavens and the things that are therein, the earth and the things that are therein, the sea and the things that are therein — fire, air, and the abyss — the things which are in the heights, the things which are in the depths, and the things which lie between. This [messenger] He sent to them. Was it then, as one might conceive, for the purpose of exercising tyranny, or of inspiring fear and terror? By no means, but under the influence of clemency and meekness. As a king sends his son, WHO IS ALSO A KING, so sent He Him; AS GOD HE SENT HIM as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him, not as vengefully pursuing us; as loving us He sent Him, not as judging us. For He will yet send Him to judge us, and who shall endure His appearing? ... Do you not see them exposed to wild beasts, that they may be persuaded to deny the Lord, and yet not overcome? Do you not see that the more of them are punished, the greater becomes the number of the rest? This does not seem to be the work of man: this is the power of God; these are the evidences of His manifestation. (Mathetes, The Epistle to Diognetus; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Amen! Come Lord Jesus come! We confess and believe that you are the eternal Yahweh who became flesh for our redemption, the risen Lord of Glory, and the eternally beloved of the Father! We pray that by the sovereign grace of God we will continue to love and adore you for ever and ever, O glorious and majestic Son of the Most High! Amen.

Supplement: Jesus’ Post-Resurrection Status and Equality with God the Father

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