The Deity of Jesus (Part 1)
May 29, 2018
by Peter Amsterdam
The Deity of Jesus (Part 1)
Christians believe that God is a Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—and that He is also One.1 We believe that God the Son became incarnate, that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of His mother, Mary. After preaching and teaching for some years, He was crucified and died on the cross. He was laid in a tomb, and on the third day He rose from the dead. Forty days later, He ascended into heaven, where He sits at the right hand of God.2 Jesus being God (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit) is fundamental to Christianity and is something we all know and believe.
I recently read a very uplifting book called Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Divinity of Christ.3 The authors showed from Scripture that Jesus is God, just as the Father is God, by comparing Old Testament verses which tell us about God alongside New Testament verses which show the same things about Jesus. I found it inspiring and informative to see how verses which speak of God the Father are echoed in verses speaking of Jesus. I thought it might be helpful to share some of them for your inspiration and edification.
Glory and honor
One of the ways glory is spoken of in Scripture is in the sense of the proper response to have toward God. We are to give Him glory, to glorify Him.
Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.4
In both the Old and New Testaments, we read of God being praised. An Old Testament example is:
Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.5
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.6
A New Testament example is:
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.7
According to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.8
Both the Old and New Testaments teach us to give glory to God.
In the book of Revelation we read of God being praised:
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.9
And then, in similar language, we hear of the Lamb—Jesus—being praised:
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!10
Within the New Testament we read of Jesus receiving glory paralleling that given to His Father:
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.11
We give glory and honor to God and to Jesus.
The importance of our worship of God is woven throughout the Old Testament.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!12
Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!13
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!14
As seen in the last verse above, part of worship in the Old Testament consisted of bowing down and kneeling. This has carried over even today, as people often kneel when they pray. When used in a religious or spiritual context, the Hebrew word translated as “worship” in the Old Testament as well as the Greek word used for “worship” in the New Testament both mean “to bow down.” The act of bowing down in such a context meant bowing before—and thus worshiping—a deity. An example in Scripture is when God said:
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.15
God made it very clear to His people that they were not to worship other gods.
If you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.16
Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you.17
Jesus made reference to this when He said:
Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”18
While the Old Testament is clear that the only proper object of worship is God, we read throughout the New Testament that Jesus was also a proper object of worship. When Jesus was walking on the water, Peter stepped out and walked toward Jesus, but then started sinking.
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”19
After Jesus had risen from the dead, He met [two women] and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.20 In the book of Hebrews we read:
To which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”21
As God the Father is worshiped, so Jesus, God the Son, is also worshiped.
The Bible teaches that God is the only One to whom we are to appeal in prayer. He is the One who hears our prayers, and He answers them according to His will. God is the only being worthy of prayer.
Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God’s people calling out to Him in prayer:
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.22
Give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name.23
I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”24
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.25
Just before Jesus died on the cross, He called out to His Father:
Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.26
In a similar fashion, in the book of Acts we read of Stephen calling out in prayer to Jesus as he was being stoned to death.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.27
As Jesus prayed to His Father, so Stephen prayed to Jesus.
Throughout the New Testament, we read of believers calling on the name of Jesus in similar fashion as those in the Old Testament called on the name of God.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.28
After stating that 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,29 Paul quoted from the Old Testament:
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.30
In so doing, he was making the statement that calling on the name of Jesus was the same as calling on the name of God.
Jesus told His disciples to pray to Him:
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.31
After His resurrection, when His disciples were trying to decide who should replace Judas as an apostle, they prayed to Jesus, saying:
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”32
Scripture teaches us to pray to God, and in like manner to pray to Jesus.
Love and obedience
In the Old Testament, God spoke to His people and conveyed that He expected them to love Him as well as to obey Him through following His words.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.33
His people were expected to keep His commandments.
You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.34
If they did, God would bless them and their land.
If you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.35
The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.36
Jesus spoke to His disciples about keeping the commandments, and of the blessing they would receive for doing so.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.37
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.38
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.39
God also warned, in no uncertain terms, of the dangers His people would face if they turned away from Him.
If you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.40
He also included a serious warning about relatives trying to turn their family members away from the Lord.
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which neither you nor your fathers have known … you shall not yield to him or listen to him.41
This command expressed the importance of giving devotion to God primary importance above every other relationship.
Jesus called His disciples to similar love, devotion, and commitment to Himself.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.42
Jesus used “hate” as hyperbole, in order to dramatically make the point that the love and commitment His disciples had for Him was to be greater than for their loved ones. Elsewhere He made the same point using other words:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.43
Just as the Old Testament associated obedience to God’s commands with love for God, so Jesus associated obedience to His commandments with love for Him.
(To be continued in Part Two.)
2 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3). See also Hebrews 8:1–2, 12:1–2; 1 Peter 3:21–22.
3 Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Divinity of Christ (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007).
4 Psalm 29:1–2.
5 1 Chronicles 29:10–11.
6 Psalm 71:8.
7 Philippians 4:20.
8 Galatians 1:4–5.
9 Revelation 4:11.
10 Revelation 5:12.
11 2 Peter 3:18.
12 Psalm 96:9.
13 Psalm 99:9.
14 Psalm 95:6.
15 Exodus 20:4–5.
16 Deuteronomy 8:19.
17 Deuteronomy 11:16–17.
18 Matthew 4:10.
19 Matthew 14:31–33.
20 Matthew 28:9.
21 Hebrews 1:5–6.
22 Genesis 21:33.
23 Psalm 105:1.
24 Psalm 116:4.
25 Psalm 116:17.
26 Luke 23:46.
27 Acts 7:59–60.
28 1 Corinthians 1:2.
29 Romans 10:9.
30 Romans 10:13, quoting from Joel 2:32.
31 John 14:13–14.
32 Acts 1:24–25.
33 Deuteronomy 6:5–7.
34 Deuteronomy 11:1.
35 Deuteronomy 11:13–15.
36 Deuteronomy 30:9–10.
37 John 14:15.
38 John 14:21.
39 John 15:10.
40 Deuteronomy 28:15.
41 Deuteronomy 13:6, 8.
42 Luke 14:26.
43 Matthew 10:37–38.