Tagged: Deity of Christ

Jesus, the firstborn over all creation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).

In the last column, we explored John 1:1-3 in our quest to understand Jesus’ role as the creator of all things. Now, let’s consider two additional passages.

Colossians 1:15-17 – “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.”

Those who seek to reduce Jesus to a created being argue that Paul refers to Jesus as the image of the invisible God, not God Himself. But this fails to recognize that Jesus and the Father are distinct divine persons. Further, no mere creature can serve as the true image of the invisible God. 

Humans are created to be image bearers of God, reflecting His character and attributes, but we are not divine. Only Jesus, who shares the eternal glory of the Father, can truly reveal Him in human flesh (John 17:5). 

Then, some contend that Jesus, as the “firstborn over all creation,” is the first of God’s created beings. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the primary promoters of this view today. 

But while the Greek prototokos (firstborn) can refer to the first person born into a family, it often signifies a position of supremacy. For example, Jesus is the “firstborn among many brothers and sisters,” the model of all saints bound for glory (Rom. 8:29). 

Continue reading

Ten truths about the Incarnation

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 sought to establish that the Incarnation means the eternal Son of God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As such, Jesus is one person in two distinct but undivided natures: human and divine. In addition, we explored how these two natures work together as the eternal Son of God adds sinless humanity to His deity via the miracle of the virgin birth.

Now, it may prove helpful to summarize essential truths about the Incarnation. These truths help us form a framework for better understanding the person and work of Christ. They also help establish a foundation for exploring the thornier issues related to the Incarnation.

The following 10 truths are drawn from a number of sources, including the systematic theologies of Wayne Grudem, Charles Hodge, and Lewis Berkhof, and are summarized in God Among Sages by Kenneth Samples.

1. Jesus Christ is one person possessing two distinct natures: a completely divine nature and a completely human nature. Thus, Jesus of Nazareth may rightly be called the God-Man.

Continue reading

Jesus as the God-Man

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

Christians often find it necessary to defend the deity of Christ, especially in conversations with those who vigorously deny this biblical truth.

For example, Muslims hold Jesus in high regard as a virgin-born, miracle-working, sinless prophet, but they draw the line at His divinity.

Jehovah’s Witnesses grant Jesus the status of “mighty god,” a created archangel who is transformed into Jesus the man, and then, after dying on a torture stake, is spiritually resurrected as an exalted archangel.

To their credit, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses admire Jesus. Unfortunately, they proclaim “another Jesus” than the one revealed in Scripture (2 Cor. 11:4).
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading