Is Jesus God? Part 1

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Russian Jewelled Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Russian Jewelled Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Adventists believe some strange things. Some Adventists believe even stranger things. There’s a small but vocal group within Adventism that denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, a core teaching of biblical Christianity. Some other groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christadelphians teach this too.

Some of the early Adventists were Trinitarians, while others were Arians. Ellen White was in the former camp, but she made a few strange statements:

“The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.”
Lift Him Up, p. 235.3
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129.7
Ms 140, 1903 (September 27, 1903) par. 28

A few sentences before, context indicates that this is a mistake on Ellen’s part:

“Equal with the Father, honored and adored by the angels, in our behalf Christ humbled Himself …”
– ibid

She clearly fell in the Trinitarian camp:

“Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead”
The Desire of Ages, p. 671.2

“This Saviour was the brightness of His Father’s glory and the express image of His person. He possessed divine majesty, perfection, and excellence. He was equal with God.”
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 200.1

“Another dangerous error, is the doctrine that denies the divinity of Christ …”
The Great Controversy 1888, p. 524.2

Some Adventists, such as Ellen White and Doug Batchelor, even think that the Trinity could have been destroyed if Jesus had sinned.  See the Armchair Theologian for more on that.

But some Adventists think otherwise, and ignore some of her “inspired” teachings.

So, in this post series, we’re going to look at the biblical evidence that Jesus Christ is indeed fully God, just as God the Father is God.

The evidence falls into three main categories:

1. That Jesus is God
2. That Jesus is the God of the Old Testament
3. That Jesus can be prayed to and worshipped as God

Category 1 will be discussed in this post, category 2 in the second post, and category 3 in the last post.

Before we begin, I should point out that in many places, the Bible appears to speak of Jesus as subordinate to the Father. Those who try to deny Jesus’ divinity use these passages to prove that he cannot be equal to the Father. Don’t confuse verses that address Jesus as a human with those that address his divinity, and pit them against each other. I am not going to try to show that Jesus was human – that he was is obvious. Through this and the subsequent post, I will show that Jesus is God. The only way to make sense of both is to fully accept both Jesus’ humanity and his divinity, and interpret the apparently conflicting passages in this context, in the context of the Incarnation, in the context of what must by necessity happen if an infinite God takes on a limited human form.

All passages from the Bible are quoted from the King James Version, unless otherwise stated.

My Lord and my God

John 20:28 is one of the clearest and most undeniable verses calling Jesus God.

John 20:27-28 – Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Thomas called Jesus “My Lord and my God“.

One of the best arguments against this being a proof of Jesus’ divinity is the claim that Thomas wasn’t addressing Jesus with these words, but was rather just exclaiming something like “Oh my God!” as if to say in amazement, “Wow” or “Holy cow!” or “Well tickle me pink!

This, however, falls apart when one looks at the precise grammar and wording used, which actually provides a double emphasis on the fact that Thomas was saying this to Jesus, and that he was addressing Jesus with these words.

Look closely at this screen capture from BibleHub.com:

John 20:28, Greek Interlinear

John 20:28, via BibleHub.com

John 20:28Two things tell us that Thomas was calling Jesus his Lord and God. First, Thomas replies TO HIM. Thomas is addressing Jesus. He’s not just saying something out loud – he’s talking TO Jesus.

Second, the word “the” (ho) is a vocative article that isn’t translated into English because it can’t be translated into English. We don’t have vocative articles in English, but in Greek they exist. We don’t even have special endings for nouns when we address someone in English, but in Latin and Greek they exist. “The” here is addressing Jesus – Jesus is the “the” being spoken of. The word is omitted in English because we don’t use “the” in that context – we don’t say “the my Lord and my God“, and we certainly don’t have the ability to make the word “the” in “the my Lord and my God” refer to the person being addressed. But the Greek can, and does so here. “Ho” in this phrase therefore bests translates into English as “YOU WHO” or “YOU THE“.

Thomas isn’t just saying “OMG!” in the way modern people do. That’s an anachronism – they didn’t speak like that then. Thomas is addressing Jesus. And Thomas uses a vocative article that proves that he’s calling Jesus God – “YOU THE my Lord and my God“.

And so, just as Thomas said TO JESUS, I say TO JESUS: “YOU, my Lord and my God.

In the beginning?

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus is the Word. The Word was God. Therefore Jesus is God.

Worth noting here is the Jehovah’s Witness rendition of the Bible (New World Translation) and the Joseph Smith Translation (of some interest to Mormons), and how it has been altered to suit the teachings of the groups that issued them:

New World Translation (2013 revision) – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

New World Translation (1984 edition) – In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

Joseph Smith Translation – In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.

Further Scriptures

1 John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life

Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Jesus is the Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father. (Don’t read modalism into this; Jesus is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The literal Hebrew here is “Father of eternity“, which can apply equally to both God the Son and God the Father.)

Phil 2:5-6 – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God

For Jesus to be God, he would have to steal nothing from the Father, as he was already God.

Acts 20:28 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

God purchased the Church with his own blood. That God must be Jesus.

Heb 1:8 – But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

God here addresses the Son as God, saying that his throne is forever.

Titus 2:13 – Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ

The grammar here needs addressing, as it proves that the “great God” and “our Saviour Jesus Christ” are the same grammatical entity, and should properly be translated as “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ“. In short, Granville Sharp’s rule states that if the Greek word kai (and) joins two nouns of the same case, and only one article (ho) is present before the first noun but not the second, the two nouns refer to the same thing.

Titus 2:13 – the (ho) great God and (kai) our Saviour Jesus Christ = God and Saviour are the same being.

Some other translations:

MKJV: looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ

NIV: while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ

NLT: while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.

YLT: waiting for the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ

BBE: Looking for the glad hope, the revelation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ

NASB: looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus

Other versions can be seen in parallel here.

And read this article for a grammatical explanation: Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ!

2 Peter 1:1 – Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ

See the same reference above for the same grammatical explanation of why this joins God and Jesus Christ as one grammatical entity.

Parallel translations can be seen here.

What did early Christians believe?

And so, the teaching of the Apostles continued into the early Church:

Ignatius and Polycarp, the disciples of the Apostle John, taught that Jesus was God.

For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost.
Ignatius to the Ephesians, chapter 18

God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life.
Ignatius to the Ephesians, chapter 19

For our God, Jesus Christ, now that He is with the Father, is all the more revealed
Ignatius to the Romans, chapter 3

… may he give you lot and part with his saints, and to us with you, and to all under heaven who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead.
Polycarp to the Philippians, chapter 12

These were the early Christians, and they, like Christians today, believed that Jesus is God, and worshipped him as God.

So, to close, it’s clear that Jesus is God, that the Bible teaches this, and the earliest Christian records outside the Bible confirm that this was their teaching.

Part 2Part 3

Further reading:

50 Biblical Proofs That Jesus is God … by Dave Armstrong
Dialogue with Jehovah’s Witness on Christology & Trinitarianism … by Dave Armstrong [Part 1 of 4]
Did Jesus claim to be God?
Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ! … by Sam Shamoun
Jesus as Yahweh – Examining Paul’s use of Lord in reference to Christ … by Sam Shamoun
Jesus as God in the Second Century
The Nature of God … by the Armchair Theologian

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