Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

Jesus has always existed.  In fact, God created all things through Him.  Therefore, the question arises: Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament? God is invisible, but was seen in the Old Testament.  To solve this apparent contradiction, this article finds evidence in the Old Testament of two distinct divine beings.

Purpose

Before AbrahamJesus was “before Abraham” (John 8:58).  He existed “before all things” (Col. 1:17).  He is “from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).  “He was “in the beginning with God” (John 1:2).  God created all things through Him (John 1:3).  Before He became a human being, Jesus existed in the form of God and had equality with God (Phil. 2:6).  (See Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.)

The question in this series of articles is therefore: Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

Jesus was accurately predicted in the Old Testament.  He was also represented by many symbols and types.  He said that the books of the Old Testament “testify about Me” (John 5:39), and that Moses “wrote about Me” (John 5:46).  After His resurrection, He met two disciples on their way to Emmaus.  ”Beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27; cf. v45; 1 Peter 1:10-12).  But the purpose of this article is not to discuss the predictions or types.  The purpose is to search for His visible appearances in the Old Testament.

Theophany

A visible or audible manifestation of God is called a theophany.  This is a combination of two Greek words; theos (god) and epiphaneia (an appearance).  An appearance of Christ in Old Testament times is similarly called a Christophany.

This article examines some of the appearances God in the Old Testament to discern which ones are actually appearances of Christ.  Dr. John Walvoord, in his book Jesus Christ Our Lord, says, “It is safe to assume that every visible manifestation of God in bodily form in the Old Testament is to be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Walvoord, 54).  God sometimes only speaks.  Other times He appears in visions and dreams, or He appears as a blinding light on in the form of fire.  Walvoord used the words “visible” and “bodily” to exclude visions, dreams and non-bodily appearances.  But that does not mean that Jesus did not appear in visions, dreams, or in other non-bodily forms, such as a pillar of fire.  In Daniel 7 the Son of Man (Jesus), was seen in a vision.

Is the God of the Old Testament severe?

The FloodMany think of the God of the Old Testament is harsh.  He, for example, expelled Adam from the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit, destroyed the earth with a flood, sent plagues on ancient Egypt, instructed Israel to kill all inhabitants in Canaan and punished Israel through captivity by foreign nations.

Jesus, on the other hand, is merciful.  He taught love towards enemies.  He healed multitudes, held children in His arms and voluntary gave His life to save us.

But if it can be shown that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, who destroyed almost the entire human population through the flood, then we must reconsider our views of the God of the Old Testament.

YHVH and Elohim

In this study the words YHVH and Elohim are important.

God’s Name is YHVH.

YHVH (pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah or Yhovah) is the most common transliteration of the Hebrew name of God.  It is the proper name of the God of Israel, similar to the names Peter, John and James.

The name YHVH appears 6,668 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Most English translations render YHVH as “the LORD” — all capital letters.  But “lord,” in normal English, is not a name; it is a title.  To translate God’s name as “LORD” distorts its meaning.  For instance, consider the following statement:

 “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them” (Ex. 6:2-3).

This statement says that the LORD revealed His name to Moses. But it is not clear what His name is.  However, if we replace “the LORD” with “YHVH,” then it reads,

I am the YHVH; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, YHVH, I did not make Myself known to them” (Ex. 6:2-3).

Now it is clear what God’s name is: It is YHVH.  As standard practice, this article uses the NASB, but all instances of “the LORD” have been replaced with “YHVH.”  For instance:

Thus says God YHVH, Who created the heavens … Who spread out the earth … Who gives breath to the people on it … ‘I am YHVH … I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, …  I am YHVH, that is My name‘”(Is. 42:5-8).

God’s name YHVH never appears in the New Testament.

God’s Title

Elohim (gods) is the plural form of el (god).  False gods are also described as el or elohim, but false gods are never called YHVH.  Although Elohim is plural, when referring to the true God, it is commonly translated as “God” (singular).

God is invisible.

John revealed something which must have been a surprise to the first Jewish believers:

No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12).

Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).

 image of the invisible GodNote that the title “God” is used here for the Father only, and excludes Jesus.  Paul confirmed that the only God is invisible:

The King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim. 1:17)

who alone possesses immortality and dwells in inapproachable light whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16).

Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).

God not only has never been seen; He is “invisible” (Col. 1:15).  He cannot be seen (1 Tim. 6:16).  He exists outside space, time and matter.

These statements draw a distinction between God, who is invisible, and Jesus, who is visible.  For a discussion of this challenge to the divinity of Christ, see Jesus is not the same Person as God.

Face to face

But then, how are we to explain the numerous Old Testament Scriptures that God spoke face-to-face with humans?

YHVH used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11).  But still Moses found it necessary to ask God, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” (v18).  To which YHVH responded, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live” (v20).

Moses said to Israel, “YHVH spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire” (Deut. 5:4).  But he also said “YHVH spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice” (Deut. 4:12).  “Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel … they saw God … at a distance” (Ex. 24:9-11).

Face to face” therefore does not mean literally face to face. It must rather be understood in a sense of a direct interaction.

Similarly, in Numbers 14:14, we read, “You, YHVH, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night”.  In this verse the expression “eye to eye” means that Israel saw the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.  There was no literal “eye to eye” interaction with God.

But God was seen.

The claim of the apostles, that God is invisible, would have been a surprise to the first Jewish Christians because they knew that God was seen.

Adam and Eve

They heard the sound of YHVH God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of YHVH God among the trees” (Gen. 3:8).

It does not explicitly say that they saw Him, but that is a fair assumption.

Abraham in Genesis 18

In Genesis 18 YHVH appeared to Abraham.  Verse 1 serves as introduction, and simply says that “Now YHVH appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.

Abraham's three visitorsVerses 2 to 8 elaborates to tell the story of how three men appeared to Abraham.  He welcomed them and served them food, and “they ate” (v8).  These verses do not specifically mention YHVH, but verses 13 to 22 identify one of the three men as YHVH (vv 13, 17, 19, 20, 22).  This means that YHVH looked like and ate like a human being.

YHVH promised Abraham that Sarah will have a son (vv9-15 ).   He also said, referring to Abraham, “I have chosen him” (v19).  This confirms that this is God speaking.

In verse 22 “the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before YHVH.”  Since “two angels came to Sodom in the evening” (19:1), “the men” in 18:22 were “two angels.

In verses 23 to 33 Abraham negotiates with YHVH about “Sodom and Gomorrah” (v20).  In this section the writer of Genesis twice refers to the One speaking with Abraham as YHVH (vv 26, 33).  Once Abraham refers to Him as the “Judge of all the earth” (v25).

Jacob

Jacob wrestled all night with “a man” (Genesis 32:24-25), but the following indicate that this “man” was actually God, appearing in the form of a man:

(A)  Just before daybreak the “Man” finally disabled Jacob.  He told Jacob “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed” (verse 28).  The next morning Jacob understood that it was God Himself whom he had wrestled: “So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved’” (v30).

(B)  While still wrestling, Jacob asked the “Man,” “Please tell me your name.”  The “Man” said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” (v29).  Many years later YHVH said to Moses, “I am YHVH; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, YHVH, I did not make Myself known to them” (Ex. 6:2-3).

(C)  Hosea 12 reflected on to this incident as follows: “In his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed”.  (“The angel” probably refers to the angel of YHVH, discussed below.”

Moses

If there is a prophet among you, I, YHVH, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses … he beholds the form of YHVH.”  (Numbers 12:6)

To explain this statement, it is proposed that the appearances of God be divided into at least three categories:

Daniel the prophet
Daniel the prophet

Visions: Sometimes God is seen in visions and dreams.  Isaiahsaw the Lord sitting on a throne” (Is. 6:1), but only in vision (Is. 1:1).  Ezekiel saw “something resembling a throne … and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man” (1:26), but only in “visions” (1:1).  Daniel saw “the Ancient of Days” (7:9), but only in a dream (7:1).  John saw “One sitting on the throne” (Rev. 4:2), but only “in the Spirit” (1:10).  In these cases God gave images directly to the brains of the individuals; by-passing their physical eyes.

Human form: Sometimes YHVH appears in human form, visible to physical eyes, for instance to Adam, to Abraham and to Isaac.

Form of YHVH: Sometimes God appears in the form of God, but visible to physical eyes.  However, according to Numbers 12:6, Moses was the only one who ever saw YHVH with His physical eyes.  YHVH made it a specific point of not letting other people see any form of Him.  But even Moses, “cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live” (Ex. 33:20).  Moses only saw a form.

Conclusion

Adam and Eve saw YHVH God.  YHVH appeared to Abraham in the form of a man.  Jacob wrestled all night with God, appearing in the form of a man.  Moses saw YHVH, appearing in the form of God.  But the NT tells us that “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).  Even Moses did not see God, because God cannot be seen.  Who then appeared to Adam, Abraham, Isaac and Moses?  Was Jesus the YHVH of the Old Testament?  Jesus existed in the form of God (Phil. 2:6).  Was that the form which Moses saw?

Two divine beings

To solve this apparent contradiction, that God is invisible, but was seen, we note that the Old Testament implies two distinct divine beings.

Let Us make man.

Let Us make ManThe Book of Genesis contains three passages in which “Us” and “Our” are used in reference to God, implying more than one divine being:

And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26).

And YHVH God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to decide good and evil’” (Gen. 3:22).

And YHVH said … ‘Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language…’” (Gen. 11:6-7).

The title “God” in these verses translates Elohim, which literally means “gods” (plural).

Angels

Some explain the plural pronouns (Us and Our) as the Deity conferring with his angels; a single God and His angelic host.  However, angels do not have the power to create, took no part in man’s creation, and were therefore not part of the “Us” of Genesis 1:26.

Figure of speech

Others claim that such plural pronouns for God are only a figure of speech.  But what justification do we have for taking the text as symbolic?  In Genesis 11:4 the men of Babel said, “let us build us a city … let us establish a name.”  If that was literal, why would YHVH’s invitation, just three verses later, “let Us go down,” be symbolic?  As a general rule of interpretation, when a word or term is used more than once by the same writer in the same context, it should be interpreted in a parallel manner.

Plural of majesty

A third theory is that the “Us” passages of Genesis, and the use of the plural Elohim for God, are examples of the plural of majesty; a royal style of speech.  It is argued that the plural is used for the singular to show honor to God.  However, one of the keys to Bible interpretation is that we must allow the New Testament to interpret the Older Testament:

Jesus Created: John and Paul made it clear that God created all things through Jesus Christ (Col. 1:16; John 1:3; Heb. 1:2; 1 Cor. 8:6).  This is strong evidence that the Father and the Son were the “Us” who created Genesis 1:26.

Jesus spoke of God and Himself as “Us”:  In John 17 Jesus seems to explain the “Us” of Genesis.  Here Christ prays the Father to bless His disciples; “that they also may be in Us” (John 17:20-21).  If Jesus was not who He said He was, this would have been a most arrogant statement; to talk about the Father and Himself as “Us”.

Conclusion: When God said, Let Us make man in Our image” (Gen 1:26), He included the One who later became the man Jesus.

Zechariah

ZechariahThis conclusion is supported by Zechariah’s visions.  In these visions we find two distinct Beings, namely:

YHVH of hosts: To simplify the narrative below, He is referred to as YHVH.

The Angel of YHVH: The word “angel” translates the Hebrew word malak, which means “messenger.”  To simplify the narrative below, He is referred to as “the Messenger”.

In Zechariah’s visions the Messenger is called YHVH, and He acts as Judge, but He is subordinate to YHVH:

Zechariah “saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white horses behind him” (Zech. 1:8).

This “man” is identified as the Messenger (the Angel of YHVH) in verse 11.  The patrol reports back to the Messenger, saying, “we have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet” (1:11).  The Messenger is therefore the captain of this supernatural patrol.

The Messenger then asks YHVH, “how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years” (v12)?  This implies that the Messenger is subordinate to YHVH.  YHVH is the One that makes the decisions.

In another vision Zechariah saw “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of YHVH, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (3:1).  Now it becomes clear that this Messenger is no normal angel, for He is called “YHVH” (3:2).  He acts as Judge, rebukes Satan and forgives Joshua his sins (3:2-3).

The Messenger then conveys a message from YHVH (3:6-7).  This confirms the distinction between the Messenger and YHVH.  It also confirms that, although the Messenger is called YHVH, He is subordinate to YHVH.  This is also indicated by His title; Messenger of YHVH.

Conclusion:  These visions confirm that there are two distinct divine beings.  What Zechariah adds are the following:

(1) To identify them as the angel of YHVH (the Messenger) and YHVH of hosts (YHVH);
(2) That the angel of YHVH is subordinate to YHVH of hosts.

It will later be argued, when we address the question, Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament in more detail,  that the Messenger of YHVH is the One who John called “the Word” (John 1:1) or “the Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).

Psalm 110

Psalm 110:1 reads:

YHVH says to my Lord (Adonay): ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’

Verse 5 of Psalm 110 continues,

The Lord (Adonay) is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.

However, verse 5, as originally written, did not read Adonay.  The monotheistic scribes anciently altered the word from YHVH to Adonay.  Appendix 32 of the Companion Bible lists the 134 passages where the scribes altered YHVH to Adonay.  This includes Psalm 110:5.  They probably did this probably for the following reasons:

(1) It does not seem right that there are two called YHVH.
(2) The relevant individual was called Adonay (Lord) in verse 1.

Strangely enough, even although modern translators know that the text was changed, they still keep to the revised text.

Conclusion: Psalm 110:5 originally had YHVH at the right hand of YHVH, implying two that are called YHVH.  The YHVH sitting “at My right hand” is subordinate to the other.

Malachi 3

In Malachi 3:1 YHVH of hosts says, “the Lord (Adon), whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming.

This “Lord” is also YHVH, for the following reasons:

(1) The title “Lord” occurs eight times in the Old Testament with the definite article, but always, except here, with YHVH following it (Ex. 23:17; 34:23; Is. 1:24; 3:1; 10:16; 10:33; 19:4.

(2) He comes “to his temple.”  But the temple is God’s.

(3) In the previous verse the people asked, “Where is the God of justice?” (2:17)  As also indicated by the first word “behold,” 3:1 responds to this question by saying “the Lord whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple.

Conclusions:
(A)
There are two divine beings, namely YHVH of hosts and the Adon who “will suddenly come to His temple.
(C)Messenger” is the same word malak that is translated “angel” in the phrase “angel of YHVH.”  It is therefore proposed that “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1) is the angel of YHVH.
(B) Since He is called a “messenger,” He is not the source of the message, but subordinate to YHVH of hosts.

Summary of the article

Jesus always existed.  In fact, God created all things through Him.  Therefore, the question arises: Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

God is invisible, but was seen in the Old Testament.  To respond to this apparent contradiction, this article finds evidence in the Old Testament of two distinct divine beings.  For instance:

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

In Zechariah’s visionthe angel of YHVH” is called YHVH, which is the personal name of God.  He also does God’s work, for He acts as Judge, rebukes Satan and forgives Joshua his sins.  But He is subordinate to “YHVH of hosts,” for He puts a question to “YHVH of hosts” and brings a message from “YHVH of hosts.

Psalm 110, in the original text, had one YHVH sitting at the right hand of another YHVH.  But the YHVH sitting “at My right hand” is logically subordinate to the other.

Malachi 3:1 promises that “the Lord” “will suddenly come to His temple.”  He is therefore God, but it is “YHVH of hosts” who makes this promise.  This implies two who are called YHVH.  But the promised Lord is called the “messenger of the covenant,” which means He is subordinate to YHVH of hosts.

Zechariah identified the two divine beings as “the angel of YHVH” and “YHVH of hosts.”  The next article discusses “the angel of YHVH,” and provides further evidence that He is God.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is not God, but He is God.

Who is Jesus? Is Jesus God?  The answer depends on what we mean by “God:”

Angel Gabriel said to Mary that Jesus would be called the Son of the Most High.  Since Jesus is the Son of the Most High, Jesus most often referred to the Most High as “Father.”  When the Bible makes statements such as that God is invisible, or that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, or “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” then the Bible uses the title “God” to refer to the Most High.  When the Bible limits the title “God” to the Most High, then Jesus is not God.

But the title “God” also has a more general meaning.  When the Bible uses the title “God” for the Most High, it functions like a name, identifying that specific Person.  The title “god” may also be used as a descriptor, rather than an identifier, namely for a being that is exalted above others.  The articles in this series conclude that Jesus has always existed – in the form of God, that God created all things through Him, that Jesus has equality with God in our esteem and affections and that we must worship Jesus.  For these reasons the Bible sometimes refer to Jesus as God, not to identify Him as the “the only true God” to whom Jesus prayed (John 17:3), but as having equality with God.

The question, whether Jesus is God, therefore creates unnecessary conflict due to a confusion of terms.  Before we ask whether Jesus is God, we need to define what we mean by “God.”  And we should allow the Bible to define this term.

There are many articles on this website to explain who is Jesus.  The current article is a summary of those articles.  

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

The three views of Jesus Christ

This is a summary of the article The three views of the Son.

Created: Some propose that He is a created being; the first created being, who created all other things, yet still a created being.

Derived: The Fathers of the Christian church proposed that He was eternally generated by God the Father; that He came forth from the being of God; begotten not made.

Co-equal: A third view is that He always existed; co-equal with the Father.

This subject requires humility, for humans are not able to understand God.  We need to accept our inability to understand Him with joy, for then we also realize a little of His greatness.

We must not use logic to supply that which the Bible does not reveal.  Human logic will only serve to lead us away from the truth.

Jesus has always existed – in the form of God.

This is a summary of the article Jesus always existed.  He was before John the Baptist, “before Abraham,” “before the world was” and “before all things.”  He is “from the days of eternity;” from “the beginning.

Prior to His birth as a human being, Jesus existed in the “form of God” and had “equality with God” (Phil. 2:5-6).  God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son.  Jesus came forth from the Father, emptied Himself of the form of God and equality with God, descended from heaven, became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  He became a mere human baby, with no knowledge or wisdom.  See also Jesus in Philippians.

Incarnation

He is “from above … not of this world” (John 8:23).  He “descended from heaven” (John 3:13; cf. John 6:33-38; cf. v62), “from God” (John 8:42); “from the Father” (John 16:28).

Jesus in JerusalemHe remained the same Person who previously existed in the form of God, but He became a mere human baby (Luke 2:7; Gal. 4:4), without knowledge or wisdom.  Just like us, He grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52).  He became weary (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28) and hungry (Mt. 4:2).  He marveled at the faith of the centurion (Matthew 8:10) and experienced sorrow when Lazarus died (John 11:35).  “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).  In Gethsemane He grieved deeply, to the point of death (Mt. 26:38).  The next day He died (Mark 15:37).  Jesus does not just look like a man; He was truly and fully human.

Though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9).  We always think of the sacrifice which Jesus made to die in the hands of His enemies, but was His sacrifice, to become a mere human being, not even greater?  He emptied Himself” of the “form of God” and of “equality with God” (Phil. 2:6-7).  He took on “the form of a bond-servant … being made in the likeness of men” (2:6-7).  He voluntarily “became flesh ” (John 1:14; cf. 2 John 1:7).

Ascension

He left the world and returned “to the Father” (John 16:28), where “God highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9).  He again has “equality with God” and is “seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).  This means that He rules over the entire Universe; subject only to God.  He has the“first place in everything” (1:18). “He is the head over all rule and authority” (2:10).

Jesus is not God.

This is a summary of the article, Jesus is not the same Person as God.

God and Jesus are mentioned as distinct.  When Jesus was a baby, His father Joseph was “warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod” (Mt 2:12).  Paul introduced His letters with, “Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:3).  The 144,000 “have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Rev. 14:4).  It is “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ)” (Rev. 22:3)

There is but one God.  Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4).  Jesus quoted this statement.  YHVH declared, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Is 44:6).  James similarly wrote: “You believe that God is one; you do well” (James 2:19).

Jesus is distinct from the one true God.  Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).  Paul wrote, “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

Jesus is at God’s right hand.  Jesus “was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).  This is the position of power over the entire universe, subject only to God, but confirms that Jesus is both distinct from God and subordinate to God.

Jesus calls God “My God.”  He said, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God” (John 20:17).  How can the Father be His God if Christ is God?

Jesus prayed to God.  “He offered up both prayers … to the One able to save Him from death” (Heb. 5:7).  The entire John 17 is a record of Jesus praying to “the only true God” (v3).

God is the Source of all things; not Jesus.There is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things … and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6).  “God … has spoken to us in His Son, … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:1).

God is invisible.  “No one has seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12).  Jesus “is the (visible) image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).  Jesus is seen, and therefore distinct from God.  Jesus is God’s visible face and the God’s audible voice.

Since the Bible makes a distinction between God and Jesus, Jesus is not God.  The next article provides further evidence of the distinction between God and Jesus by showing that Jesus is subordinate to God.

Jesus is subordinate to God.

This is a summary of the article God is the Head of Christ.

Most Christians believe that Jesus is co-equal to the God, the Father.  The previous section (Jesus is not God) concluded that the New Testament generally reserves the title “God” for the Most High.  In this use of the title “God,” Jesus is not God.  The current section supports this conclusion by showing that Jesus is subordinate to God.  This proves both that Jesus is not God and that He is not co-equal to the Father:

Jesus compared to God

He is God’s “only begotten Son (John 3:18).  The title “Son” already implies that He is subordinate to God.

God sent the Son into the world (John 3:16).  Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42). “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

Jesus prayed to God.  Jesus referred to “My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17).  The entire John 17 is a record of Jesus praying to “the only true God” (v3).  In Gethsemane Jesus “fell on His face and prayed, saying, ’My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Mt. 26:39).  This indicates that the Father and the Son have separate and distinct wills.

Peter spoke of Jesus as God’s Servant:The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus” (Acts 3:13).  This was probably an interpretation of the Servant passage in Isaiah (e.g. 42:1).

Christ is at God’sright hand (Heb. 12:2).  God, after Jesus’ death, “highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9).  This means that Jesus is subordinate to the Father.  God exalted Jesus to His right hand.  This is the position of power, but still subject to the One on the throne.

God is the head of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3).  Paul made this statement long after Jesus ascended to heaven.  This is therefore still the situation today and always will be.

At the end of time Christ will be subjected to God.  At Christ’s coming “those who are Christ’s” “will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22-23).  (Wonderful joy!!)  “Then … He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father” (v24).  “Then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (v28).

Jesus compared to the Father

Jesus did not know all things.  He said He did not know the hour or the day of His second coming, “but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36).

Greater than I: When Jesus told His disciples that He will go to the Father, He explained this by saying, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).  This implies that the Father will still be greater than Jesus when Jesus is with the Father.

Everything which His Son has, He received from His Father He received from the Father the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34), the ability to raise the dead and give them eternal life (John 5:26-29; 17:1-2), “all judgment” (John 5:22), “what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49), His works (John 5:36), His disciples (John 6:44), “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and “all things” (Luke 10:22).  “All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9) because the Father gave Him this fullness (Col. 1:19).

Jesus can do nothing of HimselfI can do nothing on My own initiative” (John 5:30).  “The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).

The Father is God.

The reader might object and say that some of these verses refer to the “Father,” rather than to “God.”  But “God” and “Father” are synonyms.  Jesus, for instance, said: “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God” (John 20:17).  Jesus said that He has come “from God” (John 8:42), but He also says that He has come “from the Father” (John 16:28).  Paul similarly wrote “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col 3:17).  Or, “there is but one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6; cf. 1 Cor. 15:24).  In these examples Jesus is called Lord while the Father is called God.  As shown in the article Jesus in Colossians, these are the standard ways in which the New Testament refers to Jesus and to God.

As mentioned above, Gabriel said that Jesus would be called the Son of the Most High.  In other words, the Most High is the Father.  And as argued in the previous article, the New Testament generally reserves the title “God” for the Most High.  Stated differently, the Father is God.

Conclusion

Indications that Jesus was subordinate to God before His birth include:

God created all things “through” His Son (Heb. 1:1).
God sent His only begotten Son into this world (John 3:18).
God gave Him what to say and do (John 12:49).

Indications that Jesus was subordinate to God after His ascension include:

Explaining that He must return to His Father, Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I”.  He said, “I ascend to … My God” (John 20:17).

Long after Jesus ascended to heaven, Paul explicitly stated that “God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3).

He took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2), which means that He is still today subject to the ultimate Ruler.

At the end “the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24, 28).

These examples firstly confirm that Jesus is distinct from God, but also show Jesus is subordinate to God.

Since the New Testament commonly use the title “God” exclusively for the Most High, Jesus, in the NT’s terminology, cannot be God.   Neither can He be equal to the Most High.

Jesus is called God.

This section is a summary of the article The Bible calls Jesus God.

The Bible sometimes refers to Jesus as God.  Perhaps the best known example is John 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

To appreciate the meaning of this statement, one needs to understand the meaning of the words that are translated as “God:”

Yahweh: In the Old Testament God has a proper and personal name that is not applied to any other being.  That name is YHWH or JHWH, generally called the Tetragrammaton.  Some Bible translations give Yahweh or Jehovah, but in most translations this name is typically presented in English in capital letters as “the LORD.

God: The word for “God” (Elohim in Hebrew and Theos in Greek) is, like the English word “god,” used for all gods; for the One True God and for false gods.  Since the Bible is a book about the One True God, the word “God” in the Bible mostly refers to Yahweh.  But the NASB also translates these words as “god” or “gods.”

Jesus confirmed that the Greek word for God is also used for created beings when He said: “In your own Law it says that men are gods (theos)” (John 10:34).

Since it was shown above that Jesus is distinct from God, and since the title “god” is also used for highly exalted created beings, referring to Jesus as God does not make Him the same Person as God.  With this conclusion, consider the statements that refer to Jesus as God.

Texts referring to Jesus as God

When the doubting Thomas realized that the One standing before him is the risen Lord, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).  But just a minute earlier Thomas did not even believe that Jesus was resurrected.  His statement cannot mean that Jesus is the Only True God.

Paul twice referred to Jesus as “God,” (Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13), but, as abundantly shown above, Paul also maintained a clear and consistent distinction between God and Jesus.

Peter described Jesus as “God” (2 Peter 1:1), but in the very next verse Peter distinguishes between God and Jesus.

In Hebrews 1:8 God refers to His Son as “God.”  But in the very next verse God is also Jesus’ God.  This entire passage is a quote from Psalm 82, where the king is called “God” (v6). This shows again that people are sometimes called “god”.

John 1

The statements in John 1 require a bit more attention:

John 1:1 reads:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

Two distinct Beings are mentioned here.  Both existed in the infinite “beginning”.  Both therefore are eternal.  Both are described as “God.”  However:

The word “God” in the phrase “the Word was with God” identifies Who this Person is; the one true God.  This phrase makes a distinction between God and Jesus, which means that He is not God.  (“The Word” is Jesus.  See John 1:14.)

The word “God” in the phrase “the Word was God” does not identify who He is; it describes What Him.  Since He is called God in the immediate context of a reference to the Person God, this is a most profound statement.  It is therefore proposed that this means that Jesus had equality with God, as stated by Philippians 2.  He alone existed with God in the beginning.  In other words, He is distinct from the One True God, but, from the perspective of created beings, He is God.

John 1:18 reads,

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

This verse is almost exactly like John 1:1, and we reach the same conclusion.  It identifies two distinct divine Beings:

The first is identified as God the Father.  He has never been seen.

The second is the only begotten God – Since God is unseen, the Son is seen.

In summary, highly elevated created beings are sometimes also referred to as gods.  God’s children are, for example, called gods (John 10:34).   Jesus was “in the beginning … with God” and “all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1, 3).  Since Jesus is infinitely above created beings, He is most appropriately called God.  But He must be distinguished from the only true God (John 17:3).

The Father is greater than I.

Much of the church views Jesus as co-equal to the Father.  Above it has been shown that Jesus is distinct from the only true God.  The purpose of this section is to provide further support for this conclusion by showing two things:

(1) The Bible reserves the title “God” for the Father, in distinction from Jesus.
(2) The Son (Jesus) is subordinate to the Father. Or, stated inversely, the Father is greater than the Son.

The Father is God, to the exclusion of the Son.

Jesus most often referred to “the Father;” rather than to God.   “The Father” is obviously intended to be contrasted with the Son; Jesus.  The question then is whether both are God.  The following statements limit the title “God” to the Father.

Jesus said:

Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).

I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God” (John 20:17).

Jesus said that He has “come from God” (John 8:42), but He also says that He has come “from the Father” (John 16:28).

Paul described God as the Father, but Jesus as the Lord:

Paul introduced His letters with statements such as, “Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:3; Eph. 1:2).

Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col 3:17).

There is but one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6; cf. 1 Cor. 15:24).

These verses identify the Father as God, in distinction to the Son.

Jesus is subordinate to God the Father.

This is a summary of the article God is the Head of Christ.

Some of the verses quoted below refer to God.  Others refer to the Father.  But, as shown, the Father is God and God is the Father:

God sent the Son into the world.

This statement is found many times in the New Testament.  “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34).  “I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42; cf. John 3:17; 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36; 6:38; 7:16; 12:44, 45, 49, 17:3, 23, 25; John 20:21; Rom. 8:3; Gal).  That God “gave” (John 3:16) and “sent” Him implies His subordination to God; not only as human being, but also in His pre-existence on the form of God.

Jesus many times claimed that He was sent by the Father to give the Jews an elevated understanding of Himself and His mission.  But the Jews did not believe Him.  Today we do not believe Him either, for we focus so much on the statements of His equality with God that we no longer believe that God is the Head of Christ.

Jesus prayed to God.

Jesus referred to God as “My God” (John 20:17; Mt. 27:46).  The entire John 17 is a record of Jesus praying to the Father.  Jesus later “fell on His face and prayed, saying, ’My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39; cf. Heb. 5:7).  This indicates that the Father and the Son have separate and distinct wills.

Jesus can do nothing of Himself.

I can do nothing on My own initiative” (John 5:30).  “The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19; cf. 14:10).  Jesus said, “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31).  Peter spoke of Him as God’s Servant: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus” (Acts 3:13; cf. 26).

Jesus did not know all things.

He said He did not know the hour or the day of His second coming, “but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36; cf. Mark 13:26-27, 32).  Those who believe that Jesus is God sometimes argue that His divine side knows all things, but His human side does not.  Such a schizophrenic view of Christ should be rejected.

Greater than I

When Jesus told His disciples that He will go to the Father, He explained this by saying, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).  This implies that the Father will still be greater than Jesus when Jesus is with the Father.  He is the “Son” (e.g. Col. 1:13), and a son is always subordinate to a father.

Christ is at God’s “right hand“.

That God, after Jesus’ death, “highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), means that Jesus is subordinate to the Father.  God exalted Jesus to His right hand.  See the discussion above for more detail.  This is the position of power, but still subject to the One on the throne.

Head of Christ

God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3).  Paul made this statement long after Jesus ascended to heaven.  This is therefore still the situation today and always will be.

At the end Christ will be subjected to God.

At Christ’s coming “those who are Christ’s” “will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22-23).  “Then … He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father” (v24).  “Then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (v28).

In conclusion, Christ had and today again has equality with God (Phil. 2), but that does not mean He is equal to God.  He has equality with God when compared to the created universe, but when Jesus told His disciples that He will go to the Father, He said, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).  God is not only greater than Jesus because Jesus “emptied Himself” when He became human being (Phil. 2:5); God was greater than Jesus for all eternity, and will always be.

Everything which His Son has, He received from His Father:

Holy Spirit – He received the Holy Spirit at His baptism (John 1:32-34).

Life – ”Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26; cf. 17:1-2).

Judgment – “The Father… has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22; cf. v27).

Teachings – “I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49; cf. 7:16; 8:28).

WorksThe works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do” (John 5:36; cf. 10:32; 17:4.

Disciples – “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44; cf. 37-39; 6:65; 10:29; 17:1-2).

All authority – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18); by implication, by God.

All things – “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (Luke 10:22, cf. Mt. 11:27; John 3:35; cf. 13:3).

Fullness of DeityIt was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19; cf. 2:9).

God is the Source of all things, but always works through His Son.

There is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6).

All these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).  God even reconcile things in heaven to Himself through Christ (Col. 1:19-20)

God created all things “through” His Son (Heb. 1:2; John 1:3; Col 1:16).

God … gives life to all things” (1 Timothy 6:13). 

God, the Father, is also the Source of Power in salvation.  The article Head of Christ discusses these verses in more detail.

Only Begotten Son

This section is a summary of the article Only Begotten Son of God.

In the Bible the phrase “Son of God” refers 50 times to Jesus Christ.  For instance, the angel said to Mary, “the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

This title, by itself, does not mean that Jesus is God, because believers also are sons of God.  For instance, all four Gospels record Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peace-makers; they will be called sons of God.”  “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

But Jesus is not only the Son of God; He:

The only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14);

The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18).

God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9).

Only begotten” translates the Greek word monogenēs.  This word means “only unique” or “one of its kind.”  Jesus is God’s Son in a unique sense.  He, as Son of God, has no brethren.

But monogenēs means more than just unique.  Monogenēs combines two words, namely monos (alone) and génos (family, offspring).  Monogenēs therefore means that Jesus is God’s only family.  Human beings are adopted as sons, but Jesus is God’s only real family.

Some think of Christ as God’s first creation.  But since He was “begotten,” He was not created.

Above it was shown that the Bible consistently makes a distinction between God and Jesus.  For instance, one of the best known verses in the Bible read: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).  Other examples, from a quick scan of John and the first two chapters of Acts, include John 1:1, 18, 29, 36; 6:27, 46; 8:40; 13:3; 17:3 and Acts 2:22, 24).  The point is that Jesus is distinct from the Being which the Bible identifies as the one true God.

On the other hand, “begotten,” in human language, means that God gave birth to Him.  “Only begotten,” in human language, means that He is the only One born of God.  He was not literally born.  These are symbols.  With these symbols God explains to us, in human terms, to our finite minds, that the Son is infinitely higher than created beings.

God created and maintains all things, but He does it through Jesus.

This is a summary of the article God created all things through His Son.

God created all things: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1; cf. Isaiah 44:24; cf. 42:5; 45:18; Mt 19:4-6).

But God created all things through Jesus.

Genesis 1: God spoke to Jesus, in His pre-human existence, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

John 1: “In the beginning was the Word … All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).  “The Word” is Jesus (see John 1:14).

Colossians states of Jesus, “by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible … all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1:16-17).

Hebrews 1:2 refers to “His Son … through whom also He made the world,” but verse 3 continues to say that He upholds not only the world, but “all things.

God is the Source of all creative power and wisdom, but He creates all things through “His Son.”  The following is Paul’s conclusion of the different roles of God and Jesus in creation:

There is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (I Cor. 8:6).

Not only did God create all things through the Son; He also God sustains all things through His Son.  In Him (Jesus) all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).  “He (the Word) … upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3).  This is a profound concept.  It is proposed here that we do not distinguish between creating and upholding the universe, but rather view it as the same thing.

The Word

This is a summary of the article Who is the Word?

Some propose that “the Word” in John 1 does not refer to the Son of God, but simply to what God spoke when He created all things.  Genesis 1 provides support for this view, for in that chapter God creates by speaking.  The phrase “God said” is found 10 times in that chapter.  For instance, “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).

But the Word ís the Son of God, for He is described as “with God” (John 1:1-2).  The Word must therefore be a Person; not merely something which God spoke.  Furthermore, according to John 1:3, God created all things through the Word, while Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews 1:2 indicates that God created through His Son.

But perhaps the clearest evidence is John 1:14, which states that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”.  This can only be the Son of God, who “descended from heaven” (John 3:13; 6:38, 62).  He said, “I am from above … I am not of this world” (John 8:23).

The more important question is why the Son of God is called “the Word.”

Light – Verse 4 read: “in Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”  Verse 9 adds, “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (v9).  So perhaps He is the “Word” because He brought understanding and gave meaning to our lives.

God’s creative power – An additional understanding is that He is the Word because He is God’s creative and sustaining power.  By the word of the LORD the heavens were made. And by the breath of His mouth all their host. … For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6-9).  What is proposed here is the thought that He is both a Person and the Word which God spoke to bring the universe into existence and to sustain it.  Therefore He could make statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

We must worship Jesus.

The Bible commands us to worship only God, but we must also worship Jesus.  This is a summary of the article We must worship Jesus.

We may only worship God.

God commands us to worship only Him (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 8:19). There has always been one sin which God did not and will not tolerate, and that is worshiping any god other than the Creator.

This is confirmed by the New Testament.  When John attempted to worship an angel, the angel protested, “Do not do that … worship God” (Revelation 19:10; compare 22:9).  Earlier in Revelation we are told to “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (14:7).  Jesus similarly said to the devil, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Luke 4:8).

Yet, we must worship Jesus.

Worship JesusJesus was worshiped on earth.    He was worshiped by the magi from the east (Mt. 2:11), by His disciples after He walked on water (Mt. 14:28-33) and after His resurrection (28:8-9; 28:16-17).  Jesus didn’t correct them, but He accepted their worship.

Jesus is worshiped in heaven.  Revelation 5 describes events in heaven when Jesus ascended and was exalted to God’s right hand (see Introduction to the Seven Seals).  In that chapter heavenly beings first worship Jesus.  They “fell down before the Lamb“ with “the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8-9).  (The Lamb is Jesus.  See John 1:29.)  Then the angels, in their uncountable myriads, were heard “saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’” (5:11-12).  Then all creation was heard “saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever’. … And the elders fell down and worshiped” (5:13-14).

In these quotes Jesus is first worshiped on His own, but then God and the lamb are worshiped together.  This is worship, for 5:13 reads very similar to 4:10-11 and to 7:11-12, where the heavenly beings “worship” God.

God requires us to worship Jesus.  God commanded all angels to worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6).  “God highly exalted Him … so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:5-11).  The phrases “every knee will bow” (2:10) and “every tongue” (2:11) are quoted from Isaiah 45:23, where “the LORD” (YHWH or Yahweh) said, “there is no other God besides Me … to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:21-23).  In other words, “every knee will bow” both to Jesus (Phil. 2:10) and to Yahweh (Is. 45:21-23).

Jesus also said, “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).

Conclusion

The Bible makes a distinction between God and Jesus and clearly teaches that only God may be worshiped.  Yet, created beings must honor and worship Jesus equal to God.   In our admiration and worship we must not distinguish between God and His only Begotten Son.

First-born of all creation

Colossians 1:15-16 describes Jesus as “the first-born of all creation.”  Revelation 3:14 similarly describes Him as “the Beginning of the creation of God.

For some this is evidence that Jesus is a created being; God’s first creation.

First in importance – Others point out that “firstborn,” in the Jewish culture, became to designate preeminence.  David, for example, the youngest son of Jesse, was named “firstborn” (Psalm 89:20–27; cf. Gen. 48:13–20; 49:3–4; Ex. 4:22 and Jer. 31:9).

This interpretation is supported by Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5, where Jesus is also the “firstborn from the dead.”  He was not the first person to be raised from death.  Lazarus, for example, was raised from death before He was.  But His resurrection from death was the most important ever.

First in time – But it is proposed here that “firstborn” is a reference to time.  Consider the context:

15 He is … the firstborn of all creation, 16 for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things.” (1:15-17 NASB)

Note:

The word “for” implies that Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation” because by Him God created all things.

Verse 17 concludes that “He is before all things.

It is therefore here proposed that “firstborn of all creation” has the same meaning as “He is before all things.”  But this does not mean that He is a created being:

Since God created even time through the Son, there was no time when the Son did not exist.

He is not the first created, but is the “firstborn.”  He is “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).  If He was born, then He was not created.  This is symbolic language.  What it means for Jesus to have been born of God , and difficult to imagine.

See the article Jesus in Colossians for a further discussion.

Is Jesus God?

This section is a summary of the article Is Jesus God?

God and Jesus are as one.

They were together in the beginning: “In the beginning was the Word And the Word was with God” (John 1:1).

Together they created all things.  God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).  “All things came into being through Him (Jesus)” (John 1:3).

Together they own all things. Jesus said, “All things that the Father has are Mine” (John 16:15; cf. 17:10).  God appointed His Son as heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).  There is nothing which exists which is not the property of Jesus.

Together they direct the angels.  Revelation refers to the angel, who brought the message to John, both as God’s angel (Rev. 22:6) and as Jesus’ angel (v16).  Luke 12:8-9 refers to the “angels of God,” but in Matthew 13:41 Jesus said, “The Son of Man (Jesus Himself) will send forth His angels.

They share glory together.  Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).

They work together.  Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now” (John 5:17).   But then He added, “and I Myself am working” (v17).  If this was not true, this would have been a most arrogant statement.

Together they save people. Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  But we also know that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

Together they protect believers.  My sheep hear My voice … and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

They live together in believers.  Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (John 14:23, NASB).

They judge as One.  My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me” (John.8:16).

God and Jesus are distinct.  However, they were together in the beginning, when they created all things.  They own all things together, and together they direct the angels.  They receive glory together.  Together they work, save people and protect believers, live in believers and judge people.  They are distinct, but this oneness in work and being puts the Son far above any created being.

Jesus has equality with God.

There are a number of indicators that Jesus had and still has equality with God.

According to Philippians 2 Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”  If He had equality with God prior to His birth, He today again has equality with God.

All will 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).

God identified Himself as the One speaking and says, “to Me every knee will bow” (Isaiah 45:23), but Paul says that to “Jesus every knee should bow” (Phil. 2: 10-11).

As Only Begotten Son of God He is God’s only true family.

No one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son” (Mt. 11:27 NASB; cf. Luke 10:22).

The Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing” (John 5:19-20).  There is no other being to whom God shows all.

These are profound statements of equality.  Jesus emptied Himself of “equality with God” when He became a human being (Philippians 2).   This means that He today again has equality with God.

Jesus has Divine Titles and Attributes.

Many titles that belong to God only, are also applied to Jesus.

I Am – God responded, “Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you … …  This is My Name for ever” (Exodus 3:15-18).  In John 8:21-59 Jesus repeatedly claims the divine name “I AM” for Himself.  He said, for instance: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:24, 58).

King of kings and Lord of lords – The One “whom no man has seen or can see” is called “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:14-16).  Jesus is given the same titles (Rev. 17:14, cf. 19:16).

Lord of the Sabbath – “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:10).  But Jesus is “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

Savior – “The Lord” said “there is no savior besides Me” (Isaiah 43:11; cf. Psalms 106:21; Isaiah 43:3; 45:21-23; 44:6).  But the New Testament describes Jesus as the “source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), being “able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25; cf. I Timothy 1:15; Titus 2:13-14; etc.).

The Truth.  Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” In Jesus Christ alone “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Eternal –The LORD” (Yahweh) said, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 44:6; cf. Is. 48:12).  He is also “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End … the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8; cf. 21:6).  Jesus Christ is also “the first and the last ” (Rev. 1:17-18) and “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:13).

Omnipresent –  “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).  “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20; cf. Acts 18:9-10)

Fullness of Deity – It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col. 1:19).  “All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).

Creator –  God created all things, but God created all things through His Son.

All authority – Jesus claimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18); by implication; by God.  This shows His subordination to God, but also His equality with God.

Summary of this article

Jesus existed “before all things”; from “the beginning.”  Prior to His birth as a human being, He existed in the “form of God” and He had “equality with God.”  He “descended from heaven” “from God” and He became a mere human baby.  He was truly and fully human.

In much of the church today Jesus is the second Person of the Godhead.  But this articles shows that Jesus is distinct from God.  Jesus, for instance, said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” Paul, for instance, wrote, “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

The Bible sometimes refers to Jesus as God, but this does not prove that Jesus is God, for the Hebrews and Greek words for God are also used for exalted created beings.

Much of the church views Jesus as co-equal to the Father, but Jesus is subordinate to God.  Jesus prayed to God.  Jesus can do nothing of Himself.  Jesus did not know all things.  He said, “the Father is greater than I” and Paul wrote “God is the head of Christ.”  Christ had and today again has equality with God, but that does not mean He is equal to God.  He has equality with God when compared to the created universe, but God is greater than Jesus, and will always be.

Everything which His Son has, He received from His Father.  The Holy Spirit, Life, authority to judge, His teachings, works and disciples and even the fullness of Deity He received from the Father.

Jesus is “the only begotten from the Father.”  “Only begotten” is symbolic language, but literally interpreted, it means that Jesus is God’s only family.

Jesus is the Word of God.  The context of this phrase implies that He is God’s creative power; He is both a Person and the Word which God spoke to bring the universe into existence and to sustain it.

We may only worship God.  Yet, we must worship Jesus.  Jesus was worshiped on earth.    He is worshiped in heaven.  God requires us to worship Jesus.  “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.

God and Jesus are distinct.  However, they were together in the beginning, when they created all things.  They own all things together, and together they direct the angels.  They receive glory together.  Together they work, save people and protect believers, live in believers and judge people.  They are distinct, but this oneness in work and being puts the Son far above any created being.

Jesus emptied Himself of “equality with God” when He became a human being (Philippians 2).   This means that He today again has equality with God.

God’s gave His name as “I Am.”  He is King of kings and Lord of lords and the Lord of the Sabbath. He is the only Savior, the Truth, Eternal, Omnipresent, the Fullness of Deity, Creator and He has all authority.  Jesus has the same titles and the same attributes.

Is Jesus God? He has equality with God and share God’s divine name and titles.

This article will show that God and Jesus always work together as one.  They have been together from all eternity.  Together they created all things and together they own all things.  They share glory together.  Together they are in believers.  They work together to save, to protect believers and to judge all.

This article provides further evidence of Christ’s equality with Godnamely that Jesus had equality with God prior to His birth.  This means that He today again has equality with God.  They receive equal honor.  As every knee will bow to God, so every knee will bow to Jesus.  He is God’s only Begotten Son, which means that He is God’s only true family.  Only God knows Jesus and only Jesus knows God.  These are profound statements of equality.

God and Jesus share the same name and titles and attributes.  Jesus claimed the divine name “I AM.”  He has many Divine Titles, such as King of kings and Lord of lords, Lord of the Sabbath and Saviour.  Jesus also has many divine attributes.  He is the Truth, eternal and omnipresent.  All the fullness of Deity dwells in Him.  He created all things and has all authority.

God and Jesus work as one.

They have been together from all eternity. 

The beginningIn the beginning was the Word And the Word was with God … He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2).  These verses make a distinction between God and Jesus.  However, Jesus was in the beginning with God, and the beginning was before all things!

God and Jesus together created all things. 

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).  The “Us” and “Our” must refer to God and Jesus, for in John 1:3 we read, “All things came into being through Him (the “Word” – Jesus), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”.  In other words, God created all things through His Son.

God and Jesus own all things together.

Jesus said, “All things that the Father has are Mine” (John 16:15).  And, in His prayer, “all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine” (John 17:10).
Hebrews 1:2 says that God appointed His Son as heir of all things.  This again makes a distinction between God and Jesus, but there is nothing which exists which is not the property of Jesus.

God and Jesus together own and direct the angels. 

The Lord, the God … sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place” (Rev. 22:6).  But just ten verses later Jesus says “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches” (v16).
Luke 12:8-9 refers to the “angels of God,” but in Matthew 13:41 Jesus said, “The Son of Man (Jesus Himself) will send forth His angels.

God and Jesus share glory together. 

Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).

God and Jesus work together. 

Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now” (John 5:17).  The Father upholds the universe and keeps it going; every second and minute and day.  But then Jesus adds, “and I Myself am working” (v17).  If this was not true, this would have been a most arrogant statement of equality.

God and Jesus work together in salvation.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  But we also know that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).  They have always been working together.

God and Jesus together protect believers.

My sheep hear My voice … and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

God and Jesus live together in believers. 

Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (John 14:23, NASB).

They judge as One.  

My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me” (John.8:16).

Conclusion

God and Jesus are distinct.  This has been shown by the article Jesus is not the same Person as God.  The article “God is the Head of Christ” confirms that Jesus is subordinate to God.  We also see this in some of the statements above, such as that God appointed His Son as heir of all things (Heb. 1:2).

But their oneness, as evidenced above, puts the Son far above any created being.  The Bible sometimes refer to Jesus as “God,” but in the article The Bible calls Jesus God it is argued that this does not mean that Jesus is God, for the title “god” is used for any exalted being.  However, the unity of God and Jesus puts Jesus far above the general meaning of the word “god.”  This unity implies that we should regard Jesus as equal to God.

Jesus has equality with God.

The Bible provides us with further evidence that Jesus had equality with God:

Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.

This refers to the time prior to His birth.  See the article Does Philippians 2 say that Jesus emptied Himself of equality with God?  If He had equality with God prior to His birth, He today again has equality with God.

They receive equal honor.

All will 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, NASB).  That is a profound statement of equality.

Every knee will bow to Jesus.  

every kneeGod identified Himself as the One speaking and says, “to Me every knee will bow” (Isaiah 45:23), but Paul says that to “Jesus every knee should bow” (Phil. 2: 10-11).

Only Begotten Son

This is My beloved SonSince He was “begotten,” He was not created.  The article Only Begotten Son of God shows that this phrase means He is God’s only true family.  The Bible consistently distinguishes between God and Jesus, but, God begets God.

Only God knows Jesus and only Jesus knows God. 

No one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son” (Mt. 11:27 NASB; cf. Luke 10:22).  This is an amazing statement of equality.

The Father shows the Son all things.

The Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing” (John 5:19-20).

Conclusion

God is not comparable to anything we know.  We do not understand God, but perhaps an analogy will explain the equality of God and Jesus better.  A human son is subordinate to his father, but equal to his father when compared to the beasts of the field.  Jesus is subordinate to God, but equal to God from the perspective of finite created beings.  In other words, although Jesus is distinct from God, we must honor Him equal to God.

Jesus has Divine Titles and Attributes.

Many titles that belong to God only, are also applied to Jesus.

I AM

Moses asked God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His Name?’ what shall I say to them?

God responded, “I AM WHO I AM …. Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you … The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My Name for ever” (Exodus 3:15-18).  Here, God, in giving His name, gives the essential meaning of Yahweh; the One who exists without cause, but who is the Cause of everything else.

In John 8:21-59 Jesus repeatedly claims the divine name “I AM” for Himself.  He said, for instance:

You will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM” (John 8:24)
Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:24, 58).

Jesus, by referring to Himself with this sacred name, claimed to be the God of the Old Testament; the Jehovah of Exodus 3:14.  This the Jews understood, for they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy (cf. John 5:18, 8:59, 10:30-36).

King of kings and Lord of lords

The One “whom no man has seen or can see” is called “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:14-16).  Jesus is similarly called “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. 17:14, cf. 19:16).

Lord of the Sabbath

The seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:10).  But Jesus is “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

Saviour

The Lord” said “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me” (Isaiah 43:11).  God is also the Savior in Psalms 106:21; Isaiah 43:3; 45:21-23; 44:6 and I Timothy 2:3; cf. 1 Tim 4:10.)

But the New Testament describes Jesus as the “source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), being “able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25) for He “came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).  He is “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us” (Titus 2:13-14; cf. 2 Peter 1:1).  Jesus is also referred to as Savior in Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 4:12; I John 4:14 and many others.

Jesus is the Truth.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” In Jesus Christ alone “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Jesus is eternal. 

The LORD” (Yahweh) said:  “Before Me there was no God formed and there will be none after Me” (In Isaiah 43:10).  “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 44:6; cf. Is. 48:12).  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End … the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8; cf. 21:6).  This means that God is eternal; “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2).  The same applies to Jesus Christ:

Micah 5:2 speaks about the coming Christ, whose “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word”.  Since He was “in the beginning”, there was no time when He was not.

In Revelation, Jesus Christ says of Himself, “I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:17-18). In the last chapter He says, “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:13).

Christ is eternal as the Father is eternal.

Jesus is omnipresent.

Matthew 18:20Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
Matthew 28:20I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Acts 18:9-10 The Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking … for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you.

All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ.

It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col. 1:19).
All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).

Jesus created all things.  

In a separate article it was shown that God created all things, but God created all things through His Son.  The Son even created time.  There was no time that He did not exist.

Jesus has all authority.

Jesus claimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).  This same authority was given to the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13–14 (see also Matthew 26:64).  By implication, God gave Him this authority, just like “it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col. 1:19).  These things show Christ’s subordination to God, but also His equality to God.

Conclusion

Previous articles concluded that Jesus is not God and that Jesus is subordinate to God.  However, their oneness puts the Son far above created beings; on equal footing with God from the perspective of finite created beings.  We must honor Him as we honor God.  To further explain the notion that Jesus is not God, but has equality with God, the reader is advised to read Jesus in Philippians 2.

Articles in the series: Is Jesus God?

1.    The three views of the Son
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
3.    Jesus in Colossians
4.    Jesus in Philippians 2
5.    Who is the Word in John 1:1?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    He is the Only Begotten Son of God.
10.  God created all things through His Son.
11.  We must worship Jesus.
12.  Jesus has equality with God.   Current article
13. 
Who is Jesus? – Summary of the series of articles
14.  Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

Jesus existed prior to His birth and incarnation. He existed in the form of God and had equality with God.

He descended from heaven; sent by God.  To become a human being Jesus emptied Himself of the form of God and of equality with God.

Jesus existed before He became a human being.

The Baptist said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me” (John 1:29).

Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

He shared glory with God “before the world was” (John 17:5).

He existed from eternity. 

He is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). The “beginning” is the beginning of time.  In other words, there was no time when He was not.

He is before all things” (Col. 1:17).

He descended from heaven.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven … I am the bread of life … I have come down from heaven” (John 6:33-38).

What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” (John 6:62).

I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23).

He came from God.

Jews questioning Jesus
Jews questioning Jesus

I proceeded forth and have come from God” (John 8:42)

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28).

God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16)

One hears many times the view that Jesus became God’s begotten Son when He was born as a human.  But John 3:16 indicates that He was God’s only begotten Son even prior to His birth as a human being.

He was sent by God. 

“... God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin” (Romans 8:3).

Later articles will provide many other examples to show that God sent Jesus.  This firstly implies His pre-existence; that He existed prior to becoming a human being.  Secondly this statement implies His subordination to God; not only as human being, but also in His pre-existence.

Incarnation

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, NIV).

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 1:7).

Philippians 2

Philippians 2 contains an instructive passage in which Paul compares the existence of Christ through four phases:

(1)    Prior to His birth;
(2)   As a human being;
(3)   His death;
(4)   After His ascension

Prior to His birth Jesus existed in the “form of God” and had “equality with God”.

Jesus “emptied Himself” of the “form of God” and of “equality with God” to become a human being.  He remained the same Person as before, but He became a mere human baby, without knowledge or wisdom.  He was truly and fully human; not part God and part man.

The Cross

His Death was a test to see whether He would remain “obedient to the point of death” (v8).  His entire life was a test of obedience.

After His deathGod highly exalted Him.”  He is worshiped by all.  He is again equal with God.

For a further discussion of this important passage, see the article Jesus emptied Himself.

Summary

Jesus is before all things.  He existed in the form of God and had equality with God.  God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son.  His Jesus came forth from the Father, emptied Himself, descended from heaven, became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  He became a mere human baby, with no knowledge or wisdom.

Articles in the series: Is Jesus God?

1.     The three views of the Son
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.  (Current article)
3.    Jesus in Colossians (Next)
4.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?
5.    Who is the Word in John 1:1?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    He is the Only Begotten Son of God.
10.  God created all things through His Son.
11.  We must worship Jesus.
12.  Jesus has equality with God.
13. 
Who is Jesus? – Summary of the series of articles
14. Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?