The Deity Of Jesus Christ
Why is this subject so important?
- Nicene Creed Go.
- The Jehovah's Witnesses Go.
The Holy Trinity at first glance, can look like a subject which is quite irrelevant to every day life. However, when we look at societies where they lack the worship of a triune God, it becomes apparent that something is missing. In the Muslim religion, Allah is a solitary figure who dwells alone. This thought plays some part in the acceptance in Muslim countries of dictatorial governments. To the Muslim mind, a man at the head of government dictating without consultation with anyone else, sits well with their view of Allah who is not a triune God. It also sits well with the very dominant position which men have over women in their societies, and particularly, husbands over their wives. In Saudi Arabia, it was not until 2017 that women were allowed to drive a motor vehicle!
Christians have the benefit of knowing that God is a triune God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Mankind is made in the image of a triune God, consequently, it should not surprise us there is a triune relationship in the family unit; father, mother and children. Furthermore, it should not surprise us that there is more of a consultative process in families and governments where Christianity is dominant, as opposed to countries where for instance, atheism or Islam is dominant. The focus in this brief paper is to show that Jesus not only came to this earth as a man, and as a man, he suffered hardships as did other men, for instance, he endured tiredness and thurst (John 4:6-7) but he also came as God. He was not simply 50% man and 50% God, he was 100% man, and 100% God.
The deity of Christ is seen in the following passages:
The actions of Jesus Christ show that He is divine
- Jesus is God. "... prepare ... a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3) fulfilled; John the Baptist proclaimed, "'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" (Matt. 3:3)
- "And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God ..." (Isaiah 9:6)
- “... Christ, who is God over all ...” (Rom. 9:5)
- “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6)
- “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” (Heb. 1:8)
- "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9).
- "... before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58) "I AM" is how God identifies himself. "I AM has sent me to you" (Exodus 3:14).
- Jesus is from everlasting (Micah 5:2)
- The Magi/ wise men came to worship him (Matt. 2:1-2, 11). Only the worship of God is permitted (Matt. 4:8-10.
- A man must not worship an angel (Revelation 19:10).
- God calls Jesus ‘Lord’ (Mark 12:36)
- God calls Jesus God (Heb. 1:6, 8)
- Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28).
- Jesus received worship (Matt. 28:17).
- "He is the image of the invisible God. ... by him, all things were created: ..." (Colossians 1:15-16).
- “... the Word was God ...” (John 1:1)
- “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ...” (John 1:14).
- Jesus, "... did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped." (Philippians 2:6).
- “... the world was made through him ...” (John 1:9), also Colossians 1:16.
- “... To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ ...” (2 Peter 2:1)
- “Great God and saviour” (Titus 2:13), also Hoseah 1:7
- "... was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: ..." (Rom. 1:4).
- Jesus is described as “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:7) which is the unique title of Jehovah (Isaiah 44:6).
- He is the sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16)
- Jesus declared, “... you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power ...” Matt. 26:64). The High Priest responded by saying, “He has blasphemed!” (Matt. 26:65).
- Believers are baptised in the name of the three persons of the Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19)
Old Testament Prophecy
- “Through him all things were made...” (John 1:3). Also Colossians 1:16.
- Jesus forgives sins. (Luke 7:49).
- God miraculously fed Israel with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:31-32). Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 (Matt. 14:21) and the 4,000 (Matt. 15:35-38).
- He has authority over the wind and the sea (Mark 4:39).
The Old Testament foretells seven hundred years before the coming of Christ that God is coming into the world as a babe. "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew reveals the fulfillment. "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' - which means, 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:22). The word Immanuel separates Jesus from every other being who has walked on this earth; he served in human flesh, but was at the same time, "God with us".
God says about Jesus Christ
“... when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him’” (Heb. 1:6).
“But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; ...’” (Heb. 1:8).
Some heretical groups claim that Jesus is simply a chief angel. But please note, the above passage does not say ‘Your throne, O angel, will last for ever and ever’, but rather, ‘Your throne, O God [Gk. Theos], will last for ever and ever; ...’”
Jesus declared himself to be equal with God
“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defence Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:16-18).
Even though Jesus is equal with God. The Bible informs us that Jesus, "... did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped." (Philippians 2:16). That is, he did not make a great show before others regarding his equality. He went about his service before God and man with modesty.
The Glory of God
"I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, ..." (Isaiah 42:8). Clearly, no prophet or angel will claim glory for himself in the present or future. However, Jesus says, "Now, Father, glorify Me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (John 17:5). The fact that Jesus shares glory with the Father shows that He is God. If Jesus was being deceitful, God would not have raised him from the dead (Rom. 1:4). "Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be glory, ..." (Psalm 115:1).
Jesus is the creator of all things
"For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." (Colossians 1:16). Here the point is clearly made that there is nothing, whether visible or invisible that Christ did not create. I emphasise invisible, because the Jehovah's Witnesses cult claim that Jesus is only an angel (the angel Gabriel). However, that can be seen to be false because it is Jesus who created invisible things, i.e. the angels. Jesus has to be God; one who is superior to the angels (Heb. 1:1-14).
A man is not to be worshipped.
As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” (Acts 10:25-26).
The Apostle John is forbidden from worshipping an angel: “‘Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God. At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.’” (Revelation 19:9-10).
Jesus informs the Devil that only God can be worshipped
“‘Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:8-10).
Jesus accepted worship
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” (Matt. 2:1-2).
The Apostle Thomas worshipped Jesus
“‘Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:28-29).
He has the title ‘Son of Man’, and has authority to forgive sins. “‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’” (Matthew 9:6). "Son of man" refers to a powerful divine figure in Daniel 7:13-14). "He was given authority, glory and soverign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. ..." (Daniel 7:14).
The Church had to deal with false teaching from the very beginning. For instance, it had to refute the idea that it is necessary for a male to be circumcised in order to be saved (1 Cor. 7:19, Gal. 5:6, 11).
A heresy concerning the person and work of Christ came out of a pagan Greek idea that all matter is essentially evil. This thinking developed into the idea that Jesus could not have a body of flesh, but that he only seemed to have a body. This thinking is docetism from Greek dokein, to seem. The Apostle John refuted this idea by declaring, “This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, ...” (1 John 4:1-2). This heresy is serious because if Jesus did not come as a man to suffer and die, then rise again on the third day on behalf of all those who place their faith in him; then there is no true saving work of Christ.
Around three hundred years after the above heresy came into the Church, another serious heresy developed under the teaching of Arius from Alexander. His teaching, known as Arianism, continued quite strongly in some sections of the Church from around 318 - 381 AD. His teaching denied the deity of Jesus Christ. Arius taught that Jesus is a created being, of a different substance to the father.
A large number of bishops under the direction of Emperor Constantine gathered at Nicea. (modern Isnik in Turkey, West of Ankara) in the year 325. This council affirmed that Jesus is begotten of the Father; not created, and that he is of the same substance as the Father. From this council, we have the ‘Nicene Creed’.
The Nicene Creed
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost.
[But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’ - they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.].
‘Catholic’ in the above context simply means universal. Not to be confused with ‘Roman Catholic’.
Jesus Christ did not come to earth as one who was 50% God, and 50% man. He came as 100% God and 100% man. God the Son (the second person in the Holy Trinity) set aside his divine power and took on human flesh (his incarnation). He was, "... born in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:7).
The denial of the deity of Jesus Christ has surfaced in modern times under the teaching of Charles Russell.
The deniers usually put forward their case by quoting Scripture out of context, particularly where Jesus answers the Jews with, "... Is it not written in your law, 'I have said you are gods'?" (John 10:34). Context: God appreciates sacrifice, not suicide. If Jesus had directly insisted that He was God at that time and in that situation, the religious authorities would have stoned him to death. They had already picked up stones! (John 10:31). Note that a little further on in the conversation, Jesus stands by his statement, 'I am God's Son' (John 10:36). The Bible also testifys that Christians have the spirit of sonship (Romans 8:16-17) however, the focus is on Christians; it is not a study of the being and character of God. Only Christ can rightly claim to be the 'Son of God' in the way that the whole of Scripture solidly points to Him being 'Son of God'. This doctrine is slightly complex, which is why the council of Nicea was required back in the fourth century.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Jehovah's Witnesses are in denial that Jesus is God. They state: "Jesus is Not God" (The Watchtower, No 1, 2020, p. 10). They believe that Jesus is only the archangel Michael. If it is only an angel that died on the cross, then it can not be claimed that God has saved sinners. The credit goes to a mere angel.
The founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult is Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916). Russell was a man who failed to gain a good grounding in the faith in his early years, consequently, he drifted from one idea to the next. Russell was raised a Presbyterian, but became dissatisfied with their doctrines and joined the Congregationalists, but eventually found this group to be not to his liking also. He then declared himself to be a skeptic. He remained in this frame of mind until he met a group who called themselves ‘Second Adventists’ led by Jonas Wendell.
This group was a remnant of the Millerite movement which had predicted the second coming of Christ in October 1844. While ‘The Great Disappointment of 1844' caused many to abandon the Millerite or Adventist cause, this group pushed on with another prediction. It was decided that Christ would return in the period 1873-74. This prediction also failed.
In 1876, Russell joined forces with N. H. Barbour who believed that Jesus did return in 1874, only he did so invisibly and spiritually. In 1877, they published a book, Three World’s or Plan of Redemption, which proclaimed their view that the millennium had begun in 1874. However, five years later, they parted company over a theological dispute concerning the atonement of Christ. Russell then began (1879) the publication of a new magazine titled, ‘Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence’. This resulted in his ideas spreading. Also in 1879, he married. The marriage lasted eighteen years (separated in 1897, divorced 1908). Things must have been quite bad in the marital relationship because divorce was quite scandelous in those days.
In 1881, Russell formed the unincorporated Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. Much of the financing came from his haberdashery business. On 13 December 1884, the rapidly growing society became charted and incorporated, marking the official beginning of Zion’s Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Twelve years later, ‘Zion’ was dropped from the official title, leaving it with the name which continues today, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
The name Jehovah
Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on using the name ‘Jehovah’ for God. Anyone using the more common name ‘God’ faces the possibility of censure by the elders. This attitude fails to understand that while Jehovah is the primary name used by the Jews, they also used other names, because no single name can adequately describe our awesome God. They used on appropriate occasions, names such as Yahweh, Elohim, El-Shaddai and Adonai. Christians at times call God, Father/Abba (Rom. 8:15, Gal.4:6). The Jehovah's Witnesses also refuse blood transfusions, military service, Christmas, Easter and will not celebrate birthdays, which is tough on their children.
The New Testament
In the New Testament, the Greek word Theos is mostly used. The English translation of Theos is God. The Apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit did not stick to the name, Jehovah. In fact, nowhere in the New Testament do we find a teaching which insists that Christians use the name ‘Jehovah’.
Finally, what effect did the beliefs of Charles Russell have upon his life? Several things we know for sure. It did not prevent the failure of his marriage. His wife, Maria (nee Ackley), gained a legal separation in 1897. The separation of a couple who claim to be Christian was quite scandelous in those days. It did not prevent his falling into serious theological error. Among many of his errors, he believed Jesus returned secretly 1874, in spite of the clear teaching of Scripture that he will return powerfully and visibly (1Thess. 4:16-17).
His beliefs did not prevent him from becoming a false prophet. He prophesied the end of the world in 1914. When that prediction failed, he settled on the following year, 1915. That also failed.
His beliefs did not prevent him from lying. In 1912, Russell sued a Baptist minister, the Rev. J. J. Ross who claimed in a pamphlet that Russell was a self-appointed pastor with no ministerial credentials. In the trial where Russell aimed to prove his credentials, Staunton, the Attorney, asked Russell, “Do you know the Greek alphabet?” Russell answered, “Oh yes.” However, when presented with letters of the Greek alphabet, he could not correctly identify them. Staunton pressed him with further questions and finally asked, “Are you familiar with the Greek language?” Russell answered, “No.” Russell lost the case.
Finally, his beliefs did not prevent his untimely death. He died on 31 October 1916 while aboard a train in Pampa Texas at the relatively young age of sixty-four.
A desperate move
The Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society) appear to have been concerned by the fact that the Bible does not support their doctrines, so they went to the trouble of producing a translation of the Scriptures which agrees with their errors. The Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible is the “New World Translation”. I obtained my copy from a second hand shop for just $2-. According to the copyright page, the first edition came out in 1961, it was revised in 1981 and again in 1984. My quotes from the NWT (New World Translation) are from the 1984 edition.
The first notable thing about this translation is that it is not supported by any other denomination. It is not supported by the Baptists, the Presbyterians, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Uniting Church, Pentecostals or the Salvation Army. This is quite remarkable, because all of the other translations have varying degrees of support across the denominations. Also, those who want to know the names of the translators can usually do so. In Study Bibles, their names are printed in the preface, or at least an address is given so that the names can be obtained. The NWT translators hide behind a wall of secrecy. If you ask a Jehovah’s Witness about this, they will usually reply that the translators are being modest, and don’t want to take glory to themselves.
The NWT in John 1:1 says with regard to the Word, which is Jesus Christ, “... the word was a god.” So we have a denial here that Jesus is part of the holy trinity. He is downgraded in their minds to being simply ‘a god’. However, there is an admission that the Word was with God in the beginning and co-creator (John 1:2-3).
The Bible has several references to men, and even angels worshipping Jesus as explained earlier, e.g. Heb. 1:6, 8. However, to keep their devotees from discovering this wonderful truth, the NWT says for Heb. 1:6, “... let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.” Now people may do an act of obeisance to a king by bowing, but that is not the same as worship. Only God can rightly receive worship. If the writer to the Hebrews had intended that people merely honour Jesus, then he could have used the Greek word, ‘time’, pronounced timae.
They translate Hebrews 1:8, “But with reference to the Son: ‘God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of you kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.” The correct translation is actually, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; ...’” (Heb. 1:8, emphasis added). It is clear that their translation for their devotees is avoiding any reference to Jesus Christ being God. Put simply, they do not believe in the Holy Trinity as taught in Scripture. The Magi at the time of the birth of Christ, knew who he was.
The Magi said, “We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2)
The emphasis of this article is on the divinity of Jesus Christ. It must not be forgotten that the humanity of Christ is also important. He stands before God as the perfect sinless man in our place. Our substitute. For more information on our salvation, see, "God's Method of Saving Sinners" at: Salvation.htm
Study Hebrews 1:1 - 2:18. This passage shows that Christ is superior to the prophets and the angels.
Study Colossians Chapter one. Note particularly verses 15-20.
Those who wish to learn more about the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses should consider "Fast Facts On Jehovah's Witnesses", by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. It is available economically in EPub format. All of the "Fast Facts" booklets are very well written.
Notes on your mobile phone
Those who want the bullet list, or perhaps the whole article in the notes section of their mobile phone (for easy reference) can easily do so by doing a simple copy and paste. In your iPhone, name a notes file 'Deity'. Bring up this file and highlight the relevant section and press copy. Go back to your 'Deity' file and perform a 'Paste' function. The process is similar with android phones. Enjoy the read!
NB: Unless otherwise stated, bold within quotes has been added for emphasis.
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© David Holden
June 2018, January 2020, February 2021
Albany Creek 4035