Jesus Is God
November 14, 2017
by Peter Amsterdam
Jesus Is God
In a recent article I gave some examples from Scripture of how the Holy Spirit, as Jesus’ successor after His Ascension, worked on the disciples’ behalf in much the same way as Jesus had.1 Jesus, as God, sent the Holy Spirit, who is also God, to be with believers. I thought it might be helpful to look at how, in similar fashion, Jesus does what the Father does—showing that, as the Father is God, so too Jesus is God.
Throughout the Old Testament, we find descriptions of God which can generally be categorized as names and images. There are also descriptions of God’s attributes, but here we’ll focus on His names and images. In Old Testament times, names were given to express hopes, observations, understanding, feelings, etc. For example, Adam named his wife Eve, which meant “living” because she was the mother of all living.2 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, thus changing the meaning of his name from “exalted father” to “father of a multitude.”
The names of God in Scripture likewise convey meaning—they tell us what God is like. When Moses asked God His name, God revealed that His name was Yahweh (LORD), meaning “I Am.” Elsewhere in the Old Testament, He is called Elohim (God) and El Shadday (God Almighty). These are descriptions of God. When He told Moses that His name was Yahweh, He included other information about Himself:
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”3 (Many Bibles translate Yahweh as LORD, in all capital letters, as it expresses God’s proper name.)
In addition to the names He has revealed, we find images of God, which also function as names of God, throughout the Old Testament. One example is Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel.4 This description of God with the image of a shepherd then becomes one of His names. Through His names God reveals Himself to us, and God’s names reflect who God is.
For example, when we “praise His name,” we are praising God.
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.5
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.6
Besides praising God’s name, Scripture tells us to ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;7 to exalt his name together;8 and to fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God.9 Since Scripture says that God alone is to be worshipped, this language equates God’s name and God Himself. This is also seen in various verses where God’s name is described as doing things which are attributed to God Himself.
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!10
O God, save me by your name.11
His name is eternal, awesome, and holy, just as He is:
Your name, O LORD, endures forever.12
Holy and awesome is his name!13
So as we can see, God’s name does and is everything that Scripture says about God Himself, and as such His name is equated with Himself. When we understand this, it’s easy to see why the third commandment tells us not to misuse God’s name:
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.14
As mentioned earlier, Yahweh (God’s name) is translated as LORD in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the word kyrios is translated as “Lord.” In Greek translations of the Old Testament, Yahweh is also translated as kyrios, thus carrying the same meaning when used in reference to Jesus in the New Testament. Within the New Testament, we find the phrase “(the or our) Lord Jesus Christ” 63 times.
When we read the New Testament, we see that Jesus’ name is used in the same way Yahweh is used in the Old Testament, and that actions and attributes of God are present in Jesus as well. Let’s look at some comparisons:
In the book of Isaiah, God said:
To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.15
We read in Philippians:
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.16
In the book of Joel, we read:
It shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.17
Both the apostles Peter and Paul quoted this verse in reference to Jesus, and in so doing were referring to Jesus as God (Yahweh).18
Scripture reveals that God created the universe:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.19
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.20
Within the New Testament we read that Jesus, the Word of God, participated in the creation of the world.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.21
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.22
In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.23
One of the most important, and often repeated, commandments to the people of Israel in the Old Testament was the injunction to only worship the LORD and to not worship any other gods. They were promised severe punishment for worshipping other gods.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”24
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.25
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.26
While only God is to be worshipped, it’s clear within the Gospels that there were times when Jesus was worshipped. When Jesus walked on the water, and rescued Peter from sinking as he tried to do the same, we’re told:
When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”27
His disciples worshipped Him when He appeared to them after His resurrection:
Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.28
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.29
We also read of Jesus being worshipped in heaven:
I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.30
Scripture clearly teaches that only God is to be worshipped, yet it also teaches us that Jesus was and is to be worshipped. The only reason that it is legitimate to worship Jesus is that He is God.
From Old Testament Scripture, we understand that God is the one who judges:
The LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.31
God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.32
In the New Testament we see that Jesus, like His Father, also judges.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom.33
He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.34
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. … he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.35
Many times throughout the Old Testament, God is called “the savior”:
I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.36
I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.37
Jesus is also called the Savior, again showing that He too is God.
Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.38
Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.39
The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.40
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.41
God is depicted as sitting on the throne of heaven.
I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left.42
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.43
We also read of Jesus depicted as being on a throne with His Father.
The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd.44
The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.45
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.46
As we read the Bible, we discover that God has told us something of Himself through revealing His names and images. We also find that many of those same names and images are applied to Jesus. Scripture teaches that Jesus, like His Father, is God. Jesus expressed it this way:
“I and the Father are one.”47
In the Epistles, it’s beautifully expressed like this:
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.48
In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.49
God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.50
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Genesis 3:20.
3 Exodus 34:6–7.
4 Psalm 80:1.
5 Psalm 7:17.
6 Psalm 18:49.
7 Psalm 29:2.
8 Psalm 34:3.
9 Deuteronomy 28:58.
10 Psalm 20:1.
11 Psalm 54:1.
12 Psalm 135:13.
13 Psalm 111:9.
14 Exodus 20:7.
15 Isaiah 45:23.
16 Philippians 2:10–11.
17 Joel 2:32.
18 Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13.
19 Genesis 1:1.
20 Isaiah 40:28.
21 John 1:1–3.
22 Colossians 1:16–17.
23 Hebrews 1:2.
24 Exodus 20:3.
25 Deuteronomy 8:19.
26 Deuteronomy 11:16–17. See also Deuteronomy 30:17–18, 2 Chronicles 7:19–20, 1 Kings 9:6–7.
27 Matthew 14:32–33.
28 Matthew 28:9.
29 Luke 24:50–52.
30 Revelation 5:11–14.
31 Isaiah 33:22.
32 Ecclesiastes 12:14.
33 2 Timothy 4:1.
34 Acts 10:42.
35 John 5:22–23, 27.
36 Isaiah 43:11.
37 Hosea 13:4.
38 Luke 2:11.
39 Acts 13:23.
40 Acts 5:30–31.
41 1 John 4:14.
42 1 Kings 22:19.
43 Psalm 47:8.
44 Revelation 7:17.
45 Revelation 22:1.
46 Revelation 22:3.
47 John 10:30.
48 Hebrews 1:3.
49 Colossians 2:9.
50 Philippians 2:9–11.