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The Christianization of the Shema

An analysis of how the NT expands upon an OT monotheistic text
In order to include Jesus within God’s unique identity

Sam Shamoun


If one were to ask for a passage which encapsulates the very essence of the OT Scriptures, as well as the heart of the Jewish faith, it would have to be the following reference which exhorts the Israelites to acknowledge and worship Yahweh alone as their God:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Shema Yisrael Yahweh Eloheinu Yahweh Echad). Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

The confession that Yahweh is the only God that Israel must confess and fully love is commonly referred to as the Shema, which is the actual Hebrew word that starts off the verse.

Moreover, the Hebrews words, Yahweh Eloheinu Yahweh Echad, can be translated in various ways, such as the following:

The LORD our God is one LORD
The LORD is our God, the LORD is one
The LORD is our God, the LORD alone

However one chooses to render the Hebrew the point of the passage is clear: Israel is called to believe in and worship Yahweh as their only God. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Shema is the central pillar and foundation upon which the entire the OT is built. Everything hinges on Israel’s relationship to Yahweh as their only God and Savior.

In this article we are going to see how Jesus and his followers took the Shema and “Christianized” it in order to give us what some scholars have called “Christological monotheism.” We will see how Christ and his inspired Apostles redefined and expanded the Shema so as to include Jesus within the identity of the one true God.

Jesus and the Shema

When asked what the greatest or most important command was, the Lord Jesus mentioned the Shema as part of his reply:

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (kyrios ho theos hemon kyrios heis). Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’ ‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.” Mark 12:28-34

However, Jesus didn’t stop there but went on to quote Psalm 110:1 immediately afterwards:

“While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “The Lord said to my Lord (kyrios to kyrio mou): ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” David himself calls him ‘Lord’ (kyrion). How then can he be his son?’ The large crowd listened to him with delight.” Mark 12:35-37

Here, Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1 to show how David was inspired by the Holy Spirit to call the Messiah his Lord. What makes this Psalm rather interesting is that it records the invitation of the Lord (Yahweh) to David’s Lord (the Messiah) to sit at Yahweh’s right hand as both King and Priest until the time when the Messiah subdues and vanquishes all his enemies:

“The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of your enemies!’ Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’ The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.” Psalm 110:1-7

Thus, since the Shema required all the faithful Israelites to adore and worship only one Lord, namely Yahweh, this meant that David, who was an Israelite himself, had to acknowledge that there is only one Lord worthy of divine honors and worship. Yet Psalm 110 shows that David also knew by inspiration from the Holy Spirit that the Messiah was his Lord as well.

Moreover, to be seated at God’s right hand basically means that the Messiah (and therefore Jesus) sits on God’s very own throne and therefore shares in God’s sovereign rule over all creation:

“She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.’ And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne… Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.’” Revelation 12:5, 10

As such, the entire creation is subject to Christ’s supreme authority:

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority… Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1

“… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Peter 3:21b-22

This is why Christ is called King of all kings and Lord over every other lord and ruler since he has absolute power over every created thing:

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time -- He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:13-16 NASB

“and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over 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 – cf. 19:16

Amazingly, it is Yahweh who is actually said to be the Lord of lords according to the prophetic writings:

“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

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1-3

Since there cannot be two Lord of lords or King of kings this means that the only way for Yahweh and Jesus to both be called the Lord of lords is if Jesus is actually Yahweh God (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit). Notice how this works out logically:

  1. Yahweh is the Lord of lords according to the OT writings.
  2. The NT Scriptures affirm that Jesus is actually the Lord of lords.
  3. Therefore, since there can only be one Lord of lords this means that Jesus is Yahweh God.

That Jesus is Yahweh (yet not the Father or the Holy Spirit) can be further seen from the fact that one of the essential, defining characteristics which differentiated Yahweh from all created reality was/is his role as sovereign Ruler over the entire creation. Noted NT scholar Richard Bauckham explains:

3.4. Conclusion

In Second Temple Judaism, then, the throne of God in the highest heaven became a key symbol of monotheism, representative of one of the essential characteristics definitive of the divine identity. While a few traces of other enthroned figures associated with God’s rule can be found, the subordination of such figure to God’s rule is almost always stressed, while the overwhelming trend of the literature is towards emptying heaven of all thrones except God’s. There is no indication that this was controverted issue, as it was later in rabbinic discussions of Daniel 7:9 and of Metatron. The uniqueness of the heavenly throne of God belongs to the logic of the monotheism that dominated common Judaism in the Second Temple period. (Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 5. The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus, 3. The Heavenly Throne of God, p. 164; underline emphasis ours)


The symbolic function of the unique divine throne is such that, if we find a figure distinguishable from God seated on God’s throne itself, we should see that as one of Judaism’s most potent theological means of including such a figure in the unique divine identity

35. So, rightly, Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology, 93-4: ‘Texts in which a figure shares the divine throne with God, or is its sole occupant, make a profound theological statement in a Jewish context: divinity could be ascribed to the enthroned figure.’ I would say: ‘divinity must be ascribed to the enthroned figure.’ (Ibid., p. 165; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, for Jesus to share in Yahweh’s unique rule over all created reality meant that Christ (as well as his followers) viewed himself as an integral part of Yahweh’s divine identity. Jesus was clearly placing himself on the Creator side of the Creator-creature divide:

5.3. Divine sovereignty over all things

That it is on God’s own heavenly throne itself, the throne of glory, that Jesus sits beside God is explicit in some of the texts (Heb. 8:1; 12:2; Rev. 3:21; 5:6; 7:17; 22:3) and should probably be assumed for all. Partly with the exegetical help of Psalm 8:6, this participation in God’s cosmic rule is frequently expressed by the formulae ‘all things’ or ‘heaven and earth’ (or fuller cosmic formulae) or, for emphasis, both. This language, constantly used of God’s relationship with his creation in Second Temple Jewish texts, is significant BECAUSE IT IS THE WAY THAT JEWISH MONOTHEISM DISTINGUISHES GOD FROM ALL OTHER REALITY (‘all things’), AS CREATOR AND RULER OF ALL. By including Jesus in the full cosmic scope of God’s sovereignty, New Testament terminology places Jesus CLEARLY ON THE DIVINE SIDE OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND ‘ALL THINGS.’ While Daniel 7:14 and Psalm 2:8 provided the basis for thinking of a universal rule on earth of the Messiah (Sib. Or. 5:416; 1 En. 62:6), it is the cosmic scope of Christ’s sovereignty which places it in that unique category which his enthronement on the divine throne in the highest heaven symbolizes. OF NO PRINCIPAL ANGEL OR EXALTED HUMAN IN SECOND TEMPLE JEWISH TEXTS IS IT SAID THAT HE HAS AUTHORITY OVER ALL THINGS OR OVER HEAVEN AND EARTH.

Another way in which the fully cosmic rule of the exalted Christ is stressed is by reference to the subjection of all the heavenly powers to him. The texts portray the submission both of the rebellious angelic powers (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Ascen. Isa. 11:23) and of the obedient ones (Eph. 1:20-21; 1 Pet. 3:22; Ascen. Isa. 11:24-32; cf. Rev. 5:11-14; Ep. Apos. 3). It is noteworthy that specific ranks of angels are those in high authority in the heavens: ‘principalities’ (archai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21), ‘authorities’ (exousiai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22), ‘powers’ (dunameis: Eph. 1:21; 1 Peter 3:22) and ‘dominions’ (kuriotetes: Eph. 1:21). (Ibid., pp. 176-177; capital emphasis ours)

It is therefore no coincidence that the Lord quoted Psalm 110:1 right after having just finished reciting the Shema. It is apparent that Christ wanted to show that even the OT prophets and saints knew that the one Lord whom they served and worshiped is not a singular divine Person. Jesus used Psalm 110 to prove that the Messiah is included within the divine identity of Israel’s one Lord, thereby establishing that the Lord God whom Israel confessed is actually multi-personal in nature.

Nor is this the only time or place where Jesus made reference or alluded to the Shema. He does so again in this next passage:

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

In this particular reference Jesus claims to be one with the Father in the context of claiming certain divine roles and prerogatives which the OT says only Yahweh assumes and is capable of doing.

For instance, Jesus clearly states that true believers are his sheep whom he preserves by his hand, i.e. his sovereign power, and who hear his voice. However, according to the prophetic writings the sheep are actually the flock of Yahweh’s hand and are therefore expected to obey his voice:

“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,” Psalm 95:6-8 NASB

Jesus further claims to be able to give all true believers eternal life and insures that no one will ever be able to snatch them from his sovereign hand of protection. Jesus says the same thing about the Father, e.g. no one is able to snatch the sheep out of the Father’s hand either since both the Father and the Son are one. It is obvious that the unity that the Father and Son share is in their ability to perfectly preserve believers for all eternity.

In other words, Jesus is affirming that he is all-powerful just like the Father is. Otherwise, Christ wouldn’t be able to give eternal life to all his followers or guarantee that no one would ever be able to snatch them out of his care and preservation. And since this is a power which only God possesses it is therefore clear that Jesus is claiming to be one with the Father in essence.

It is also clear that Jesus is again ascribing to himself the ability and functions which the OT says belong to Yahweh alone. In fact, Jesus is actually employing the language of specific OT texts which go out of their way to affirm that Yahweh is the one and only God who can save and preserve believers!

For instance, compare Jesus’ words with the following passages:

“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

“There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God… The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.” 1 Samuel 2:2, 6

Interestingly, Jesus taught that he would be the One who would actually raise people from the dead, from out of their graves, at the last day!

“Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD and those who hear will live… Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS VOICE and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” John 5:25, 28-29

“‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’ At this the Jews there 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”?’ Stop grumbling among yourselves,’ Jesus answered. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’” John 6:38-43, 54

We now turn to our final OT text:

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed — I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?’” Isaiah 43:10-13

All of these verses affirm that Yahweh is the only God who can save and preserve his people. They also confirm that Yahweh is the only God there is who can heal and give life or cause sickness and death. These specific functions require Yahweh to be omnipotent, otherwise he would not be able to give life or cause death etc. This also explains why none can deliver out of his mighty hand of power since there is no one in all creation who is anywhere near as powerful as Yahweh is.

In light of the foregoing it is apparent that Jesus has once again taken the Shema (along with some other OT monotheistic texts) and expanded it to include himself (along with the Father) within the identity of the one true God of Israel.

It is now time to examine what the blessed and holy Apostle Paul had to say about this same issue.

Paul and the Shema

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians around 55 AD, reminded them that all knowledgeable believers readily confessed and acknowledged that there is only one God and Lord:

“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; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came (di’ hou ta panta) and through whom (di’ autou) we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

NT scholars basically agree that 1 Corinthians 8:6 is an early creedal statement which all true Christians were expected to affirm.

8:5-6 While there is disagreement over whether all of this verse is from Paul or whether most of it is from the Corinthians, it seems best to take it as Paul’s own confession in which he expands on the points made by the Corinthians. Verse 6 also has a creedal sound to it (and it is set off in poetic form in NA27), leading many to believe that Paul is citing (or slightly modifying) creedal material from the early church. Wright is not exaggerating when he asserts that the writing of this text ranks as “one of the greatest pioneering moments in the entire history of Christology.” We do not know whether Paul wrote this beautifully crisp and profound text or if it existed in some form before the writing of this letter. The text is so theologically profound and so perfectly fits Paul’s argument here and his theology and expression as found elsewhere in his writings that we are inclined to think that he wrote it himself. Paul does not actually qualify the Corinthians’ statements but rather is “engaging in the twofold task of building rapport and anticipating objections.” (Roy E. Ciampa & Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (The Pillar New Testament Commentary), D. A. Carson (general editor) [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI 2010], pp. 380-381; italic emphasis ours)

The consensus of NT scholarship further accepts that this confession is actually an adaptation or a Christianization of the Shema:

“Since Paul has already referred to the things worshiped by others as so-called gods in v. 5a, it seems appropriate to place gods and lords in quotation marks in v. 5b, as do the NIV, TNIV, ESV, and other interpreters. Paul affirms that there are many entities in the world referred to as gods or lords, without suggesting that they are what people suppose them to be (as made clear by v. 6). The language of Deuteronomy 6:4 (‘the LORD our God, the LORD is one’) has governed Paul’s wording and argument in these verses…” (Ibid., p. 381; bold emphasis ours)

Paul has basically taken over and adapted the language of the Shema so as to include Jesus within the identity of the one true God of Israel!

“While the rest of the world may be enamored with a multitude of gods and lords, for us, that is, for all those who have the knowledge common to all Christians (vv. 1, 4), things are different. The key words of v. 6, ‘Lord,’ ‘God,’ and ‘one,’ are taken from Deuteronomy 6:4 (‘the LORD our God, the LORD is one’), in which Lord and God both refer to the same (one) God. Here Paul ‘has glossed “God” with “the Father,” and “Lord” with “Jesus Christ,” adding in each case an explanatory phrase: “God” is the Father, “from whom are all things and we to him,” and the “Lord” is Jesus the Messiah, “through whom are all things and we through him.”’ Paul thus simultaneously reaffirms Jewish monotheism and THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE CHRISTOLOGY IMAGINABLE. Christ finds his identity within the very definition of that one God/Lord of Israel

“The statement of the unique lordship of Jesus Christ is central to Paul’s theology in general and to this letter in particular. The ‘christological monotheism’ affirmed here distinguishes the Christian community from both non-Christian Judaism and Gentile paganism. Jewish monotheism is affirmed against all forms of pagan polytheism or (atheism), while, against non-Christian Judaism, Christ is understood to participate in God’s identity.” (Ibid., pp. 383-384; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The blessed Apostle was essentially calling the faithful to give the same allegiance and undivided devotion to the Father and the Son that the Shema required the Jews to show to Yahweh their God:

“It is notable that Paul’s christological modification of the Shema comes in a passage where he hopes his statement might fulfill the very same roles that the Shema did in Judaism. The Shema was important both for its theological affirmation and its sociological function. Early Judaism rallied around the one God who had redeemed them, and their allegiance to that one God is reflected in their worship of him and rejection of all other claims to deity. If the Corinthians would rally together in loyalty to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, giving Christ the priority that they had been giving their own agendas, it would go a long way toward promoting unity within the Corinthian congregation and toward maintaining a distinct identity in contrast to the pagan environment. The deity of Christ may not be his main point, but his incorporation of Christ the Lord into the very definition of the God of Israel is consistent with the central role that Christ held in the worship and theology of the early church.” (Ibid., p. 382; bold emphasis ours)

What’s more, Paul doesn’t simply include Jesus within Yahweh’s unique divine identity. He even goes so far as to ascribe to Christ the very roles of creation and salvation which both the inspired OT writings and the Apocrypha attribute to Yahweh and his divine Wisdom:

“The roles attributed to the Father and to Christ in creation (from whom and through whom) reflect traditional biblical and Jewish affirmations of the role of God and of Wisdom (for the latter see Prov. 8:22-31; Wis. 9:4, 9; Philo, On Flight and Finding, 109). According to the prophets, Yahweh’s absolute power as creator of heaven and earth is what sets him apart from the idols (which are human creations; see, e.g., Jer. 10:3-16; Isa. 44:9-24). The description of Christ in terms normally attributed to Wisdom (Wis. 8:1-6; 9:1-2, 9; Sir. 24) suggests that just as Jesus takes the place of ‘the Lord’ in the Shema he also takes the place of ‘Wisdom’ within Hellenistic Judaism. As Wright asserts, ‘Paul has indicated that everything one might hope to gain through possessing [Wisdom] can be gained rather by possessing Christ.’” (Ibid., p. 384; bold emphasis ours)


“The relationship between the last clause of v. 6 and the first half of the verse (about God the Father) challenges interpreters. The earliest part of the verse affirmed that all things came into existence through Christ. It would be redundant to say we also came into existence through Christ since we were already included in ‘everything.’ Paul is probably highlighting Christ’s role in both creation and our participation in new creation (i.e., ‘all creation has come into being through him and our experience of the new creation was through him as well’). In this way both statements about Christ may be understood as coming logically between the two affirmations made about the Father. Thiselton, quoting Langkammer, puts it this way: ‘“Paul is the first to outline a sketch of a formal link between Protology [cosmology] and soteriology” which proclaims before the community “God the Father, the originating Ground of all and the end-goal,” alongside “the one Lord, the Mediator of the first creation and the Mediator of the reality of salvation.”’ This suggests a pervasive ‘sense of movement “from … through … to.”’ Christ is understood to be the means of accomplishing all of the Father’s intentions for his creation.

“Paul’s statement puts emphasis on the first-person plural personal pronoun throughout this verse (but for us … and we … and we). He thus stresses the unique covenantal relationship between all Christians and the God who created the universe (in contrast with the delusions of the pagan world). We know the truth of one God and one Lord. We know that all creation comes from the Father and that he is the reason and goal of our existence. We know the Lord Jesus, the agent of all creation and the one to whom our new existence is due as well. The structure of the text implies both a relationship and a contrast between us and the rest of creation. All of creation originated with the Father through the Son. We are a part of that creation, and our existence comes from the Father through the Son as well. But both this text and its context highlight a contrast between Christians and the non-Christian world. For them there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ but for us there is only one God and one Lord. They are part of God’s creation, but we represent the restoration, renewal, and destiny of God’s creation, his new creation (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17), which is accomplished through Christ.” (Ibid., pp. 384-385; bold emphasis ours)

67. N. T. Wright, “Monotheism,” 130. Contra James D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 182-183, the preexistence of Christ is presupposed in both his identification with the “Lord” in the Shema and his identification with the role of Wisdom which was present at the time of creation. (Ibid., p. 384)

This isn’t the only place in Paul’s writings where Christ is said to be the Agent and Sustainer of creation, the One through and for whom all things were created and exist.

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him (en auto) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him (di’ autou) and FOR him (eis auton). He IS before all things, and in him (en auto) all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

Amazingly, Paul uses the very same prepositions to describe the role of God (the Father) in creating and sustaining the entire cosmos, and his relationship to all of created reality (especially believers):

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him (en auto) we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:24-28

“For from him and through him and to (FOR) him are all things (hoti ex autou kai di’ autou kai eis auton ta panta). To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36

“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (epi panton kai dia panton kai en panton).” Ephesians 4:4-6

As if this wasn't astonishing enough, according to the prophetic scriptures Yahweh created everything all alone, by himself:

“This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who has made all things, who ALONE stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth BY MYSELF,” Isaiah 44:24

“He ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” Job 9:8

“Thou art He, O Jehovah, Thyself—Thou hast made the heavens, the heavens of the heavens, and all their host, the earth and all that are on it, the seas and all that are in them, and Thou art keeping all of them alive, and the host of the heavens to Thee are bowing themselves.” Nehemiah 9:6 Young’s Literal Translation

Nehemiah’s statement that Yahweh keeps all creation alive refers to Yahweh’s role in sustaining or preserving all creation. This is brought out clearly in the following translation:

“And Ezra said: ‘Thou art the Lord, thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and thou preservest all of them; and the host of heaven worships thee.’” Nehemiah 9:6

The prophetic writings further attest that Yahweh created all things, especially his people Israel, for himself, for his own glory. Yahweh did not create for the glory of another:

“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

“The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed FOR myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Isaiah 43:20-21

When we combine all of the data together the conclusion is that Israel’s one God exists as a plurality of Divine Persons which includes the Persons of the Father and the Son:

  1. Yahweh is Israel’s only Lord God.
  2. Yahweh also made and sustains all creation by himself.
  3. Jesus is the one Lord of all creation, especially of believers.
  4. The Lord Jesus also made and sustains all creation.
  5. Jesus is, therefore, Yahweh God.
  6. However, the Father is also said to be Yahweh God.
  7. Moreover, Jesus is not the Father.
  8. This means that both the Father and the Son are Yahweh, the one true God of all creation.
  9. This, therefore, establishes that Yahweh is not a singular divine Person. According to the God-breathed Scriptures, Yahweh is actually an eternal Being who is multi-Personal in nature.

Concluding Remarks

In this article we examined how the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures utilized the Shema, the confession of faith that Yahweh alone is Israel’s God and their Lord whom they were expected to love unconditionally. Our analysis showed that both the Lord Jesus Christ and his emissaries did not interpret this OT creed along unitarian lines, i.e., neither the Lord Jesus nor the Apostles understood that this statement of faith meant that one had to believe and confess that Yahweh is a singular divine Person.

Both Christ and his followers took the Shema and Christianized it, thereby giving us Christological monotheism. According to Jesus and his inspired spokespersons, Christ is included within the divine identity of the God of Israel so that the Father and the Son together (along with their eternal Spirit) are the Lord God which the Shema professes.

Therefore, the faithful are supposed to interpret and understand the Shema in the following manner:

“Hear O Israel: the LORD (Jesus) our God (the Father), the LORD (Jesus) is one.”

In other words, “the LORD” = Jesus whereas “our God” = Father.

In light of the foregoing can there be any doubt left concerning what the Lord Jesus and the very first Christians actually taught and believed about God and Christ? Can anyone deny that Christ and the Apostles proclaimed that Jesus is included within the divine identity of Yahweh as the unique Son of God?

To those who, by the grace of our sovereign Triune God, have eyes to see and ears to hear there is absolutely no doubt concerning the true identity of the risen and exalted Christ:

Jesus Christ is Yahweh to the glory of God the Father!

Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations were taken from the 2011 edition of the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible.