Category: Trinity

Other witnesses to Christ’s deity

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In previous columns, we saw how John and Paul affirm the deity of Jesus. Here, we briefly survey the witness of the author of Hebrews, as well as Peter.

Hebrews 1:2-3 – Note several truths about Christ’s deity in these verses. First, God made the universe through Jesus. That is, Jesus is the Creator. When the writer of Hebrews says “through him,” he does not mean that Jesus is a secondary cause of creation; rather, Jesus is the agent through whom the triune God made everything. This verse corresponds with the testimony of John, who writes, “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created” (John 1:3).

Next, the writer tells us the universe (aionas) was made through Jesus. This word means more than kosmos, or the material world. It may be rendered “ages,” and it means that Jesus is responsible for the existence of time, space, energy, matter – and even the unseen spiritual realm.

Next, we are told that Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory.” That is, Jesus is the visible manifestation of the invisible God. The author uses the Greek word apaugasma, a sending forth of the light. Jesus is divine radiance clothed in human skin. He is “the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

The author of Hebrews goes on to describe Jesus as “the exact expression” of God’s nature. The Greek word rendered “expression” is charakter, used to describe the impression made by a stamp or a die on steel. Put another way, Jesus is the precise imprint of deity in human form, the perfect, personal emblem of divinity. This reminds us of Paul’s words in Colossians 1:15: “He is the image (eikon) of the invisible God.”

Finally, the writer assures us that Jesus is “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” This is in the present tense. The same Creator who called everything into existence now holds everything together in divine sovereignty.
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The witness of Paul to Christ’s deity

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the previous column, we explored the eyewitness testimony of John with respect to Jesus’ deity. Here, we briefly survey what Paul has to say about the matter.

Although Paul likely had no personal encounters with Jesus prior to the crucifixion, he meets Jesus in dramatic fashion on the road to Damascus after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 9:1-9). Paul’s conversion, testimony, and epistles bear evidence of his conviction that Jesus was, and is, divine. Here are just three examples:

Romans 9:5 – “The ancestors are theirs [the Israelites], and from them, by physical descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.”

This text is significant for at least two reasons. First, it is the earliest New Testament writing that calls Jesus “God” (dating to about AD 57), less than thirty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Second, the word “praised” (eulogetos) follows the word for God (theos) in the Greek text. This is unusual, for without exception in Scripture, a doxology places the word “praised” (or “blessed”) before the name of God. Here, Paul uses the reverse form, indicating that he intentionally equates Christ with God.
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The witness of John to Christ’s deity

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Previously, we saw that Jesus claims to be God. Further, He proves His deity through divine acts that only Yahweh can perform. But is there corroborating testimony? What do those who know Jesus best – the disciples who walk with Him – have to say about the issue?

The pages of the New Testament ooze with the deity of Christ – and most of the writers are strict monotheistic Jews! So, let’s consider a sampling of testimony from the apostles and other first-century eyewitnesses, beginning with John.

No other eyewitness goes to the lengths of the apostle John to bear testimony to the deity of Jesus.
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The deity of Christ in the New Testament

This is the 20th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

While the Old Testament offers glimpses of a second Yahweh figure – a visible manifestation of the one true God – the New Testament presents a more complete picture of the second person of the Godhead. Let’s begin with Jesus Himself.

Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and atheists often argue, “Jesus never claimed to be God.” They assert that Christians have corrupted or misinterpreted the New Testament, or they reject the Bible outright.

But for those willing to consider the eyewitness testimony of the New Testament writers, and the convincing evidence that their words are accurately preserved, we may point our unbelieving friends to seven ways that Jesus does, in fact, claim deity. 

1. Jesus uses the divine expression “I AM.” In John 8:58, Jesus tells the religious leaders, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” These words echo Exodus 3, where God reveals Himself to Moses in the burning bush as “I AM WHO I AM,” or “YHWH” (Yahweh or Jehovah). The Jewish leaders clearly understand Jesus’ declaration of deity, for they pick up stones to throw at Him. Jesus uses the phrase “I am” (Greek: ego eimi) in several other places, either explicitly or metaphorically (John 6:20, 35, 48, 51; 8:12, 24, 28; 9:5; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1; 18:5). 

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Who is the angel of the LORD?

This is the 19th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Identified as Yahweh and yet distinct from Him, “the angel of the LORD” appears numerous times throughout the Old Testament. This messenger is above all others. He is called “commander of the LORD’s army,” “the God of Abraham,” “Judge,” and “I AM WHO I AM” – a name only the one true God ever claims.

Who is this awe-inspiring messenger? Ancient Jews believed him to be a special angel, the highest revelation of the unseen God. Similarly, Roman Catholics generally regard the angel of the LORD as an angelic representative of God, as do some Protestants. Many evangelicals, however, consider him either as a manifestation of Yahweh – a theophany, derived from the Greek words theos (God) and pheino (to appear) – or as the preincarnate Son of God, a Christophany, the Lord Jesus.

We should note that the Hebrew word malak and the Greek term angelos, translated “angel,” mean “messenger.” While angels in Scripture normally are spirit beings of higher intelligence and power than humans, there are times when the term refers to human messengers, or to the Son of God. The context helps us determine the correct application.

Norman Geisler writes, “Jesus Christ appears in the Old Testament in His preincarnate state as ‘the Angel [Messenger] of the Lord’ … Once the Son (Christ) came in permanent incarnate form (John 1:14), never again does the Angel of the Lord appear. Angels appear, but no angel that is worshiped or claims to be God ever appears again. The Father and Holy Spirit never appear as a man. Hence, Jesus Christ, as a person, eternally existed and appeared as a man before His virginal conception on earth.”

Just as the Holy Spirit is active on the earth prior to the Day of Pentecost, so Jesus works collaboratively with the Father and the Spirit to bring a divine word, direction, and deliverance prior to His conception in a virgin’s womb.
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