Who is Jesus?
Is Jesus God the Father–or is He the Son of God?
(Questions for “Oneness” Advocates)
Who is Jesus? How does this name relate to God the Father? How does it relate to the Son of God? These questions relate to one aspect of the controversy that surrounds the person and name of Jesus in “Oneness” circles. By “oneness” we refer to what is popularly known (in non-oneness circles) as the “Jesus only” view of God. Just how do we understand the name of Jesus?
It is quite clear that the Son of God is called “Jesus.” The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:30-33). Some time after this, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “She [Mary] will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). From these two announcements, we learn that the son of Mary would be called “Jesus,” He would be called the Son of the Most High (God), He would reign over Israel on David’s throne and have an eternal kingdom, and He would save His people from their sins.
But what about God the Father? According to “Oneness” theology, “Son” refers to Jesus’ humanity, while “Father” refers to His deity. He is both God and man. They say that “Jesus” refers either to the humanity, the deity, or both. Thus, “Jesus” is not only the name of the Son of God (as in the above passages), but also the name of God the Father Himself! Is this true? Is the name of God the Father (the Father of the Son and the Father of every Christian) really Jesus? May “Jesus” be applied not only to God the Father, but also to both the Father and Son, together? These questions focus on the “Oneness” view of the person and identity of Jesus.
First, we do not know of a single verse of Scripture that clearly and unambiguously calls God the Father “Jesus.” If this were a major Biblical teaching, surely it would be plainly revealed on the pages of God’s written Word. It is contended that when Jesus commanded His apostles to baptize all nations “in the name [singular] of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19), actually He was commanding them to baptize in the name of Jesus since (it is contended) the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is “Jesus.” Is this true? Does the Scriptures reveal that Jesus is the name of the Son of God alone (as announced by the angel to Mary and Joseph) or is this also the name of God the Father?
Let us explore this question by consulting the Word of God itself. Let us examine a variety of passages and determine who is identified as “Jesus” in them. Consider the following:
(1) “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
Is Jesus Christ the righteous an Advocate with God the Father—or is He identified as the Father Himself? Obviously, Jesus is the Advocate with the Father, and not the Father Himself.
(2) “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).
Do we confess that “Jesus” is the Son of God the Father—or do we confess that He is the Son of Jesus? Obviously, Jesus is the Son of the Father and not the Father Himself.
(3) “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5).
Do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God the Father—or do we believe that He is the Son of Jesus? It is clear that we must believe that Jesus is the Son of the Father and not the Father Himself.
(4) “If we walk in the Light as He Himself [God the Father] is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Do we believe that Jesus is God’s Son whose blood cleanses us from all sin—or do we believe that Jesus is God the Father Himself? The text states that God’s Son is Jesus and it is His blood that cleanses from all sin.
(5) “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
Do we believe that the Christian’s fellowship is with God the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ—or do we believe that fellowship is with Jesus Christ, the Father, who had a Son? Obviously, the Son is identified as “Jesus” in this passage—in contrast to the name of the Father.
(6)“These [signs] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God the Father—or do we believe that he is Son of Jesus Christ? In this passage, the Father is not identified as “Jesus” but Christ, the Son, is identified as Jesus.
(7) “Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 3).
Do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God the Father—or is He the Father Himself? It is clear that in this passage, the Son of the Father is called “Jesus” in contrast to God the Father.
(8) “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
Do we believe that Jesus Christ is the One whom the Father sent—or is He God the Father Himself do did the sending? The sent One is called Jesus in this passage, while the Sender is God.
(9) “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matt. 16:16).
Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God—or do we believe that He is the “living God” Himself? The passage says that Jesus (v. 13) is the Son of God, as distinguished from God the Father.
(10) “Father, I [Jesus] desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
Do we believe that God the Father loved Jesus before the foundation of the world—or do we believe that Jesus was God the Father before the foundation of the world? This passage says that the Father loved Jesus before the foundation of the world (even if this was during His pre-earthly existence, thus before He received the name “Jesus”).
(11) “Now, Father, glorify Me [Jesus] together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).
Do we believe that Jesus had glory with God the Father before the world was—or do we believe that Jesus was God the Father before the world was? The passage says that Jesus had glory with the Father before the world was.
(12) “Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him [Jesus] both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
Do we believe that God the Father made Jesus, the crucified One, both Lord and Christ—or do we believe that Jesus was God the Father? This passage says that God the Father made the crucified Jesus Lord and Christ.
(13) “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the One whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).
Do we believe that God the Father raised up Jesus who was put to death and exalted Him to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior—or do we believe that He was God the Father Himself? The passage says that God exalted Jesus to His right hand.
(14) “. . . through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).
Did God the Father raise Jesus from the dead, or did Jesus raise Himself from the dead? According to this verse, God the Father raised Jesus (although John 2:19 does speak of Christ’s own participation in the resurrection).
(15) “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying” (2 Cor. 11:31).
Did Jesus have a God and Father or was Jesus the God and Father Himself? According to this verse, Jesus had a God and Father instead of being God and Father.
(16) “Jesus Christ . . . has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).
Is Jesus Christ viewed here as having a Father, or is Jesus Christ the Father Himself? Obviously, Jesus has a God and Father and is not the Father.
(17) “He who overcomes, I [Jesus] will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I [Jesus] also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
Do we believe we will sit with Jesus on His throne as He sat on His Father’s throne—or do we believe that He sat on Jesus’ throne? This passage says that Jesus sat on His Father’s throne, thus the Father was not Jesus.
(18) “And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water . . . and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, ‘This [Jesus] is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:16-17).
Do we believe that the Father of Jesus spoke from the heavens—or do we believe that Jesus spoke from them? Obviously, the Father spoke to Jesus instead of the Father being Jesus.
(19) “He [Jesus] not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
Do we believe that Jesus called God His own Father—or do we believe that He was calling Jesus His own Father? It is clear that Jesus called God His Father; the Father was not Jesus.
In light of these passages from God’s Word and in light of the entirety of the Scriptures, can a person find even one single verse that calls God the Father “Jesus,” or “Jesus Christ,” or the “Lord Jesus,” or “Christ Jesus,” or the “Lord Jesus Christ”? Or is Jesus always distinguished from God the Father when both are found in the same statement?
Consider this question: When the name Jesus is found in the same passage with the terms “Father” and/or “Son,” in every single case, who is distinguished as the Father and who is distinguished as the Son? Although Jesus is sometimes identified as “God” (Greek, theos) on some occasions (cf. John 1:1; 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1), there is not a single verse in which He is identified as the Father or God the Father. This is significant in a discussion of the “Oneness” position! Why? Because if Jesus is not God the Father, but is distinguished from God the Father, we cannot say that the Father and the Son are just different designations for the same one. In fact, Jesus is the Son of God and Father. Although Jesus is called “God,” He is never identified as the Father or God the Father.
Although our discussion has focused on the one single aspect of the Oneness controversy, it is an important one. As we discuss the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and is not God the Father, we must not overlook the fact that the Gospels assume that Jesus is fully man (human) and there are many passages that either refer to Jesus as God (theos) or attribute divine characteristics to Him. Therefore, we must see Jesus as both human and divine. The accompanying diagram may help us to visualize this, although we know that it is impossible to fully fathom the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ or “capture” Him in an entirely accurate diagram.
How important is this fact? We have already noticed, in the verses examined above, that one must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (the Father) to receive eternal life (John 20:31). One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God to overcome the world (1 John 5:5). One must confess that Jesus is the Son of God for God to dwell in him and he in God (1 John 4:15). One must not only know God the Father but must also know Jesus Christ whom the Father sent if one is to have eternal life (John 17:3). A belief in the Sonship of Jesus Christ is essential if one is to have eternal life (John 3:16, 36; 6:40; 1 John 5:11,12,13), escape judgment (John 3:18), be resurrected by Christ (John 6:40), never face death (John 11:25-27), be reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10), experience fellowship with God (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3), have present spiritual life (Gal. 2:20; 1 John 4:9), have present cleansing from sin (1 John 1:7), and have God the Father (1 John 2:23). To deny the Sonship of Jesus is to not have the Father (1 John 2:22-24), to die in sin (John 8:18,19,24), and to be judged by God (John 3:16-18).
This shows how vital it is that we believe and know not only God the Father but also the Son of God the Father. We can see that the name Jesus is applied to the Son in whom we believe—and not the Father in whom we believe.