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IS JESUS REALLY GOD?

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007

The question:

‘I am a person who wants to have a more intimate relationship with GOD. I have confessed that Jesus is Lord. I know that GOD raised him (Jesus) from the dead. Some say that Jesus is GOD. If this is the case, why does he receive authority from another source? Matthew 28:18 says, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." In Romans 10:9, pay attention to this phrase: "...GOD raised him from the dead..." This verse leads me to believe that GOD and Jesus are two different beings. How do you explain this? ‘

Answer Part 1: about an intimate relationship with God

According to the Bible the one way to know God is to know Jesus Christ. If you desire ‘a more intimate relationship with God’, according to the Bible knowing Jesus Christ is the one and only way to achieve that. See, for example, John 12:44-46; 14:6-9; 1 John 5 – the whole chapter, or, better still the whole of 1 John.

Answer Part 2: about confessing that Jesus is Lord

[1] the meaning of the word ‘Lord’.

If you have really confessed that ‘Jesus is Lord’ you have in fact confessed that Jesus is God.

‘Lord’ is one of the Old Testament titles of God.

There are two Old Testament words translated Lord in English translations.

One is written in English versions of the Old Testament as ‘LORD’, or, sometimes, ‘Jehovah’; this translates the Hebrew Yahweh, which is God’s unique and exclusive self-identifying name which he revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14. It literally means ‘I am’. Jesus Christ repeatedly used the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Yahweh to refer to himself. This is not nearly as obvious in English translations of the New Testament as it is in the Greek text. It occurs in John 6:35, 8:12; 10:7,9,11,14; 11:25; 13:18;14:6; 15:1, 18:6, and, importantly, in 8:58, where even in the English it is clear. When Jesus, in John 8:58, said ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ the listening Jews immediately knew that by those words Jesus was claiming to be God. This is evident from their reaction recorded in John 8:59.

The other word, translated ‘Lord’ in English, is the Hebrew adonay. This title signifies that God is the supreme ruler of all to whom all else that exists is both subject and servant. Out of reverence for the name ‘Yahweh’, ‘adonay’ was sometimes superimposed over ‘yahweh’ by Jewish writers.

When the New Testament refers to Jesus Christ as ‘Lord’ and challenges us to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, it is teaching us, and commanding us to acknowledge, that he is God.

[2] Jesus is called ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ in the Old Testament

In predicting the coming of Christ the Old Testament refers to Jesus as ‘the mighty God’ [Isaiah 9:6], and ‘my Lord’ [Psalm 110:1]. Hebrews 1:8 quotes Psalm 45:6 to refer to Christ as ‘God’.

[3] Jesus is called ‘God’ in the New Testament

There are several places in the New Testament where Jesus Christ is specifically called ‘God:

[4] The testimony of Jesus himself

There are many places in the New Testament where Jesus refers to himself in terms of equality and unity of being, essence, attitude and action with God the Father. You can study these in the series ‘Who is Jesus’ on this website, particularly the studies on John’s Answer.

[5] John’s comment on Isaiah 6

In John 12:41 John wrote ‘Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.’ John had just quoted from Isaiah 6:10, the message God gave to Isaiah immediately after his vision of the awe-inspiring glory of the Lord. John comments that the Lord whom Isaiah saw, that glorious, thrice holy LORD – Jahweh – I AM – was actually Jesus. This is a really amazing comment, and leaves no room for any doubt that Jesus is actually God.

This is certain and clear: the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God.

Answer Part 3: about the Christian belief that Jesus is God [belief in the real and full deity of Jesus Christ]

The other part of the question relates to the interrelationship between God the Father and God the Son. The problem of defining the nature of this relationship has been with the church from its very beginning.

[1] In the New Testament church:

[2] In the early church:

The early church rejected each of these heresies. The ancient creeds of the church were formulated because of the need to clearly define the truth about Christ in the presence of the above, and other, heresies. The relevant creeds are:

The Apostles Creed

The Creed of Nicea [or the Nicene Creed] – one is a variation of the other

The Athanasian Creed

The Definition of Chalcedon

[Less well known] The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople

It is recommend that you read at least the first four of the above creeds. Each of these creeds can be viewed at http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html .

[3] In the church today:

The same basic errors are present today:

Explanations:

Your question is fundamentally: How can Jesus be God if God is one, and if, as you point out, ‘God’ is said to give authority to Jesus, and raise Jesus from the dead?

The question makes it necessary to speak about the concept of the Trinity.

The word ‘Trinity’ is not found in the Bible. However, the Bible clearly teaches that there is someone called ‘God the Father’, there is someone called ‘God the Son’, and there is someone called ‘the Spirit’ [or the Spirit of God, or the Spirit of Christ’ or the ‘Holy Spirit’]. Each of these is clearly referred to as we would normally refer to someone who is an individual person, that is, a being who has a mind, a will and emotions, and who acts and speaks in expression of that mind, will and emotions. At the same time there is an intrinsic unity – none of these three acts independently of the other, or contradictory to the others’ mind, will and emotions. Although they are distinct, they think the same, they feel the same, they say the same, and they all work towards the one purpose.

Yet as we investigate the biblical data, we find that there are different roles and responsibilities, that there are some things that are done primarily by the Father, but not without the Son and the Spirit; there are some things that are done primarily by the Son, but not without the Father and the Spirit; there are some things that are done primarily by the Spirit, but not without the Father and the Son.

There are many, many verses in the New Testament in which the Father and the Son are both mentioned, and in which the equality of the Father and the Son is taught. Jesus himself majored on this in his debates with the Jews. Read John 5:17-27. There we find the following assertions:

In terms of your question:

God, the Father, delegated God, the Son, to have and to exercise authority, not just in a minimal way, but ‘all authority’.

God, the Father, raised Christ, his Son, from the dead; yet this does not contradict the fact that Jesus himself not only laid down his life, but took it up again on his own authority [John 10:17-18]. Jesus was actively involved in his own resurrection. Indeed, Jesus states that he received the command from his Father both to lay down his life and to take it up again.

[There are also sections of the Bible in which all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned at the same time, each with distinct being and function, but also demonstrating an essential unity, without division of purpose and intent. For example: Matthew 3:16,17; John 3:34,35; 14:15-23; Romans 1:1-4; 8:1-3; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:18-22; 3:14-17; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 4:13-15; Jude 17-20].

Obviously this one-page cannot fully answer your questions. For more insights I suggest

Jesus identified the critical significance of believing that he is who he claimed to be. He said ‘If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ [John 8;24]. In the Greek text, this reads literally – If you do not believe that I AM, you will indeed die in your sins. This highlights the fact that in making this statement Jesus used the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Yahweh – God’s exclusive, self-identifying name.

This is not a matter of mere theological dispute: it is a matter of your personal salvation. Forgiveness of sins depends on believing on the real Jesus – the Jesus who claimed for himself equality and identity with God.