Jesus Christ: Who is He? Part 7

Jesus Christ: Who is He?

(Part 7)

Richard Hollerman

 

The Relationship of the Father and the Son

The Scriptures teach that to be related to the Son is to be related to the Father.  This speaks of the Son’s unique status and relationship with God the Father.  This unity of the Father and the Son is the emphasis of many texts of Scripture, with many these statements found in John’s gospel.  Notice the following points:

 

1.    To reject the Son is to reject the Father.  “He who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).

 

2.    To know the Son is to know the Father.  “If you knew Me, you would know My Father also” (John 8:19).  “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:7).

 

3.    To accept the Son’s teaching is to accept the Father’s teaching.  “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).

 

4.    To believe in the Son is to believe in the Father.  “He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me” (John 12:44).

 

5.    To behold the Son is to behold the Father.  “He who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me” (John 12:45).

 

6.    To hate the Son is to hate the Father. “He who hates Me hates My Father also” (John 15:23).

 

7.    To see the Son is the see the Father.  “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

 

8.    To hear the Son’s word is to hear the Father’s word.  “The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24).

 

9.    To receive the Son is to receive the Father.  “He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10:40; cf. John 13:20).

 

10. To honor the Son is to honor the Father.  “. . . all may honor the son, even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).

 

11. To deny the Son is to not have the Father.  “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father” (1 John 2:23).

 

12. To confess the Son is to have the Father.  “The one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23).

Several observations may be made regarding such statements:

a.     One cannot be savingly related to the Father unless he is related to Him through the Son.

b.    To be savingly related to the Son carries with it a right relationship to the Father.

c.     To not accept the Son is to not have the Father.

d.    The Son and the Father are one (cf. John 10:30).

This is of special importance to those who either minimize the Lord Jesus Christ or totally deny Him.  There is no rightful place for Christ in religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.  In addition, there is a very perverted understanding of Christ in Islam and Judaism.  Also, there is a twisted view of Christ in many aberrant religious groups purporting to be Christian.  Further, there is a weak and limited view of Christ in liberal Protestantism that denies key features of His life and work.  The passages we have looked at show the dreadful implications of rejecting Jesus Christ in this way.

Many console themselves by thinking, “The Muslim at least believes in Allah, and that is all that is necessary.”  But since the Muslim has a perverted view of Christ, Jesus would say, “He who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”  What about the devout Jew?  He may say, “But I worship the God of Israel and my hope is placed in Him.”  We must remember that the God of Israel has a Son, Jesus Christ, thus the one who “rejects the Son” doesn’t have God the Father.  And the Hindu?  He may say, “I devoutly serve the Hindu pantheon of gods.”  But, again, we must say that if one rejects Jesus as Christ, the Son of God, can have no relationship with God the Father.  This shows how crucial it is that everyone come to God through Christ Jesus!

Is Jesus of the New Testament Yahweh God

—or is He Distinguished from Yahweh?

Through the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures), we find reference to LORD, the term (using all capitals) for Yahweh God.[1]  Different views have been taken regarding the identity of Yahweh of the Old Testament.  On the one hand, some view Yahweh as totally distinguished from Jesus of the New Testament (the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses would hold to this position).[2]  On the other hand, traditional Armstrongism  identifies Jesus of the New Testament with Yahweh of the Old Testament, and Yahweh is not considered the Father of the Lord Jesus.[3]  The Modalists would claim that Jesus of the New Testament is identical to Yahweh of the Old Testament.  What is the answer to this important question?  Was Jesus Yahweh, or was He the Son of Yahweh God?  Or is there some third alternative?

Let’s notice first that sometimes Jesus is clearly distinguished from Yahweh.  In the following examples, we’ll use the more accurate “Yahweh” instead of the substitute word, “LORD”:

 

1.    Deuteronomy 18:15

“Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to Him.”  In this case, Yahweh is distinguished from the “prophet” who is Christ (cf. Acts 3:22-23).

 

2.    Psalm 2:1-2

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against Yahweh and against His Anointed.”  Here Yahweh is distinguished from the Anointed.  It is recognized that this is a Messianic Psalm and that the “Anointed” is Jesus Christ (Christ is from the Greek word, Christos, for “anointed one”).

 

3.    Psalm 2:7

“I will surely tell of the decree of Yahweh: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’”  We know that the “Son” here is Jesus (Hebrews 1:5; 5:5), thus the Son is distinguished from Yahweh who is the Father.

 

4.    Psalm 8:4-5

“What is man that You [Yahweh] take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  You have made him a little lower than God [or angels], and You crown him with glory and majesty!”  Hebrews 2:6-8 applies “son of man” to Christ, thereby distinguishing between Yahweh and Him.

 

5.    Psalm 16:8

“I have set Yahweh continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  These words of David are applied to Jesus in Acts 2:25-28.  Therefore, the “I” would be Christ and He is distinguished from Yahweh.

 

6.    Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me.”  These words were quoted by Jesus as He hung on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).  Although Yahweh is not used here, “God” definitely is a reference to Him (cf. vv. 8, 19, 28, 30).  Jesus asks Yahweh God why He had forsaken Him (Jesus).

 

7.    Psalm 91:9-12

“For you have made Yahweh, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. . . . For He [Yahweh] will give His angels charge concerning you [Jesus], to guard you in all your ways.”  Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:10-11 point out that there is a distinction between Yahweh and Jesus here.

 

8.    Psalm 110:1

“Yahweh says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’”  Many New Testament passages point out that Yahweh is speaking to Jesus the Lord here (cf. Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13; 10:13).

 

9.    Psalm 118:22-23

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.  This is Yahweh’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”  The stone definitely is a reference to Christ here (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7), and He is distinguished from Yahweh.

 

10. Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore Yahweh Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”  Here Yahweh is distinguished from the “son” who would be given (and whose name is Immanuel), a reference to Jesus (Matthew 1:23).

 

11. Isaiah 42:1

“Behold, My [Yahweh’s] Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights.  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”  This is spoken by Yahweh (v. 5), and it is a reference to Yahweh’s Servant, Jesus (Matthew 12:18-21).

 

12. Isaiah 53:6

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but Yahweh has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”  This definitely is a reference to Jesus, the Suffering Servant, and it shows that Yahweh placed sin on this Servant (Acts 8:32-33).

 

13. Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is upon me [Jesus], because Yahweh has anointed me [Jesus] to bring good news to the afflicted. . . .”  Yahweh is the one who anointed, and Jesus was the one anointed (Luke 4:18-19).

For those who wish to explore these differences or distinctions between Yahweh God and Jesus further, the following passages would be fruitful: Genesis 3:14-15; 22:16, 18 (Galatians 3:16, 18); Deuteronomy 18:19 (Acts 3:23; Hebrews 12:25); 2 Samuel 7:14 (Hebrews 1:5); Psalm 2:8-9 (Revelation 2:26-27); Psalm 8:6 (1 Corinthians 15:27); Psalm 22:8 (Matthew 27:43); Psalm 22:18-19 (Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:34; John 19:24); Psalm 22:22 (Hebrews 2:12); Psalm 40:6-8 (Hebrews 10:5-7); Psalm 69:16, 21 (Matthew 27:34, 48; Mark 15:23; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-30); Psalm 110:4 (Hebrews 7:21); Psalm 118:26 (Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9); Isaiah 8:18 (Hebrews 2:13); Isaiah 9:6-7 (Luke 1:31-33); Isaiah 11:1-2, 10 (Romans 15:12); Isaiah 28:16 (Romans 9:33; 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6); Isaiah 53:4 (Matthew 8:17); Isaiah 53:9-10 (1 Peter 2:21-22); Isaiah 59:20-21 (Romans 11:26-27); Micah 5:2,4,5 (Matthew 2:6); Zechariah 13:7 (Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27); Jeremiah 23:5-6; 30 9 (cf. Luke1:32, 69; Acts 2:30; 13:23, 34; Revelation 22:16); Daniel 7:13-14 (Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 14:62); Hosea 11:1 (Matthew 2:15); Zechariah 9:9 (Matthew 21:5; John 12:15).

Sometimes Old Testament “Yahweh” passages are applied to Jesus in the New Testament

The evidence in the previous section seem to offer a clear cut case that Yahweh God of the Old Testament is not Jesus Christ of the New Testament.  They would be distinguished, as evidenced by the way they are quoted in the New Testament. In fact, Yahweh would be identified as God the Father of the Lord Jesus.  However, there are other passages that may astonish us inasmuch as they apply Old Testament Yahweh passages to Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  Let’s look at a few of these:

 

1.    Isaiah 8:13-14

“It is Yahweh of hosts whom you should regard as holy and He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread.  Then He shall become a sanctuary; but to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”  Peter quotes this verse and applies it to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:8).  Notice also 1 Peter 3:15, where it is Christ who is sanctified or set apart.  Here an Old Testament Yahweh passage seems to be a reference to Jesus.  At least there can be an application to Him.

 

2.    Isaiah 40:3

“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for Yahweh in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.’”  Matthew 3:3 and Mark 1:3 apply this to John’s ministry as He prepares the way for the Lord Jesus.

 

3.    Joel 2:32

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of Yahweh will be delivered.”  Paul quotes this in Romans 10:13: “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  But in the context the “Lord” is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. v. 9).  See also Acts 2:21 with Acts 2:36-39.

 

4.    Psalm 102:22-26

“Of old You [Yahweh] founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.  Even they will perish, but You endure. . .” (vv. 25, 26a). The Hebrew writer applies this Old Testament Yahweh passage to the Lord Jesus (1:10-12).

 

5.    Zechariah 12:10

“I [Yahweh] will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” It surprises us to read that Yahweh says He would be pierced, something that happened to Christ Jesus. Revelation 1:7 says that they will look on Jesus the crucified One.

 

6.    Psalm 68:18

“You [Yahweh] have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men.”  Paul applies this to Christ’s activity in Ephesians 4:7-8.

 

7.    Isaiah 6:1-13

John the apostle quotes Isaiah 6:10 in John 12:40, then he says, “These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of him” (v. 41).  John seems to be saying that Isaiah 6 is a reference to the Lord Jesus, and verse 3 of that chapter refers to “Yahweh of hosts.”  “Isaiah spoke primarily of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3).  John spoke of the glory of Jesus and made no basic distinction between the two, attesting Jesus’ oneness with God.”[4]

 

8.    Jeremiah 17:10

“I, Yahweh, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”  In the New Testament, it is Jesus who says, “I am He who searches the minds and hearts” (Revelation 2:23) and it is Jesus who will “render to every man according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

 

9.    Isaiah 44:6 (cf. 41:4; 48:12)

“Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Yahweh of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’”  In Revelation, Jesus is the One who says, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last” (1:17).  “The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life” (2:8).  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (22:13).

These passages may not be as clear as we would like, but they do seem to suggest that the New Testament writers felt free to employ Old Testament verses pertaining to Yahweh God and apply them to the Lord Jesus.  These references, applications, and allusions do not nullify the passages in the previous section which show that Jesus is not Yahweh of the Old Testament.  It may be that “Yahweh” is a term broad enough that it can be applied to the Lord Jesus, just as we have seen regarding the term for God (theos).[5]

The Theological Enigma

As we consider the Biblical evidence that Jesus is God (theos), we are confronted with some perplexing truths.  Who is God and how can it be that Jesus is God?  Is God singular or plural?  How can two personalities (the Father and the Son) be one God?  (The same could be asked regarding the person of the Holy Spirit.) 

Let’s notice some of the evidence in the Scriptures that often causes perplexity about this important issue.  After we survey the Scriptures, we’ll try to offer a summary.

 

1.    The Bible is clear that there is one God.  This would show that there is one God and only one God:

·      “There is no God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4).

·      “the only God” (1 Timothy 1:17).

·      “You believe that God is one” (James 2:19).

·      “the one and only God” (John 5:44).

 

 

2.    In many cases, this one God is distinguished from Jesus Christ. Interestingly, this God who is differentiated from Jesus Christ is called the “one God” or the “only God.” Notice several of these:

·      “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

·      “they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

·      “for us there is but one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

·      “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Jude 25).

 

3.    Many other passages show a distinction between “God” and Jesus Christ:

·      “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).

·      “beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1).

 

4.    Additional scriptures state that “God” is the Father of Jesus Christ.  In other words, the Father is not only Christ’s Father but also His God:

·      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3).

·      “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6).

·      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

·      “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:31).

·      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

·      “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:17).

·      “He [Jesus Christ] has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6).

 

5.    We have already seen abundant evidence that Jesus Himself is called “God” in Scripture. To merely refer to a few of these passages, note these:

·      “. . . the Word was God” (John 1:1).

·      “. . . the only begotten God” (John 1:18).

·      “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

·      “. . . the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

·      “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

·      “. . . the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).

·      “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. . .” (Isaiah 9:6).

 

6.    There are not two Gods (the Father and the Son), nor are there three Gods (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit).  This would be the trap of bitheism (two Gods) or tritheism (three Gods).  Furthermore:

·      The Father is not the Son.

·      The Father is not the Spirit.

·      Christ is not the Father.

·      Christ is not the Spirit.

·      The Spirit is not the Son.

·      The Spirit is not the Father.

As a summary of this short section, we notice that:

a.     There is one God.

b.    This one God is sometimes distinguished from Christ.

c.     Many passages show a distinction between God and Christ.

d.    God is the Father of Jesus Christ.

e.     God is the God of Jesus Christ.

f.     Jesus Christ is never called the Father’s God.

g.    Yet Jesus is called God.

h.    There are not two Gods or three Gods, but only one God.

How can Jesus be both the Son of God and God at the same time?  How can Jesus be God and yet also have God as His Father?  How can there be one and only one God, with this God distinguished from Christ Jesus the Son, yet Jesus Himself being God?  How can Christ have the attributes of God, the actions of God, and even the titles or offices of God, and not be God, in fact?

How can the Lord Jesus Christ be so intimately related to God the Father, without sharing the same nature or character?  How can Jesus be “the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4), be “in the form of God” and “equal with God” (Philippians 2:6), “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), the “radiance” of God’s glory and the “exact representation” of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3), and have “all the fullness of Deity” dwelling in Him (Colossians 2:11), and not be in the very nature and essence of God Himself?  How can the Father be called God and the Son be called God without there being two Gods?

These are the facts that caused such consternation, perplexity, discussion, and even conflict among professing “Christians” in the second, third, fourth, and following centuries.  (We refer to “Christians” in this way since by this time we believe many or even most of those who professed to belong to Christ’s body were not really regenerated and saved.)  They wrestled with vital facts that were expressed in Scripture: (1) There is only one true God. (2) The Father is called God.  (3) Jesus Christ is called God.  (4) The Holy Spirit is called God. (5) There are not three Gods.  (6) God the Father is not Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. (7) Jesus Christ is not God the Father or the Holy Spirit. (8) The Holy Spirit is not God the Father or Jesus Christ.  (9) There are not two Gods or three Gods, but only one true God.  They struggled to reconcile these facts in a rational and Scriptural way.  (Sadly, politics also entered into the discussions and influenced the conclusions.)

We must acknowledge that there is some degree of mystery here, a level of incomprehensibility, for God Himself is beyond us.  Paul wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).  He goes on to marvel, “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (v. 36).  Just as God’s ways are unfathomable, so is His very nature and person!  This leads Millard J. Erickson to say: “If God is infinite and we are finite, we will never be fully able to understand him.  The fullness of what he is will exceed our powers to grasp.  Thus, we cannot expect ever to resolve fully this great mystery.”[6]  While we cannot fully understand the depths of God or of Christ Jesus at present, we will be able to better understand Him when we see Jesus face to face!

 



[1] Yahweh perhaps means “the self existent one.”  God said, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but my My name Yahweh, I did not make Myself known to them” (Exodus 6:3; cf. 3:13-15).  Yahweh, or actually, YHWH, is rendered “LORD” (all capital letters) in the KJV, RSV, NASB, and NIV, whereas it is rendered “Jehovah” in the ASV.  The Septuagint version (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, rendered Yahweh as Kurios or Lord.

[2] “Jesus” is from Joshua or Yehoshua, and comes to us from the Greek Iesous, meaning “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh saves” (cf. Matthew 1:21).

[3] “It is commonly supposed that Yahweh . . . was God the Father of Jesus Christ.  This is a flagrant error! . . . Christ is the Yahweh of the Old Testament” (Herbert W. Armstrong, “Is Jesus God?” Tomorrow’s World, January 1972, p. 3).

[4] NASB Study Bible.

[5] Robert Bowman asserts: “The amount of material in the Bible supporting the teaching that Jesus Christ is Jehovah God is actually quite staggering. . . . The biblical teaching that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, the Lord of all, God in the flesh, is found throughout the New Testament” (Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, pp. 108, 110).  We would add that there are also many passages that differentiate between Jesus of the New Testament and Yahweh God of the Old Testament.  This enigma remains one for further exploration.

[6] Making Sense of the Trinity, p. 44.


 

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