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

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.

Further evidence of Christ’s equality with God is 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

God and Jesus are two different Beings.  Jesus is subordinate to God, but 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.

Articles related to the question: Is Jesus God?

The three views of the Son
Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
Jesus in Colossians
Does Philippians 2 say that Jesus emptied Himself of equality with God?
Who is the Word in John 1:1?
Jesus is not the same Person as God
God is the Head of Christ.
The Bible calls Jesus God.
Only Begotten Son of God
God created all things through His Son.
We must worship Jesus.
Is Jesus God?

In the Bible Jesus is sometimes called God. Does that mean that Jesus is God?

ElohimThe personal name of the one true God is YHVH (pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah).  The title “God” (Elohim in Hebrew and Theos in Greek) is used for all gods.  Even exalted people are called gods; even in the Bible.  Previous articles have shown that Jesus is distinct from God.  When the Bible says Jesus is God, it does not that He is the same Person as God or equal to God.

Purpose – This is an article in the series, “Is Jesus God?”  The Bible occasionally refers to Jesus as God.  The purpose of this article is to determine what that means.  To do this, we firstly need to understand the meaning of the words that are translated as “God”.

YHVH (Yahweh)

One True God – The Bible states that only one true God exists (e.g. John 17:3).  The Old Testament declares, “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4).  For more detail, see Jesus is not God,

YHWHIn the Old Testament God has a proper and personal name that is not applied to any other being.  That name is YHVH, sometimes called the Tetragrammaton.  This name appears over 6,800 times in the Old Testament and is transliterated as YHVH and pronounced as Yahweh or Jehovah. Some Bible translations render this name as Yahweh or Jehovah, for instance:

That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth (Psalm 83:18, KJV).

But in most translations this name is presented in English in capital letters as “the LORD.”  The same verse in the NASB reads as follows:

That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth.

God

The title “God” (el or elohim) is used for all gods; also for false gods.  Since the Bible is a book about the One True God, the word “God” in the Bible mostly refers to YHVH.

Old Testament Hebrew

ElohimThere are many words in the Hebrew Old Testament that are translated as “god” or “God” in English, such as: el, elah, eloah, and elohim.  Elohim is also found numerous times in the Old Testament.  It is mostly used for the true God, but the NASB also translates Elohim 45 times as “god” and 204 times as “gods”.   These are instances where Elohim does not refer to the Living God, but to exalted beings.  For instance, the princes of Egypt are called gods:

Elohim false gods“For I will pass through the land of Egypt … and on all the gods [elohim] of Egypt [the princes] I will execute judgments: I am the Lord” (Exodus 12:12).

The NASB also translates elohim also as divine (1), divine being (1), exceedingly (1), God’s (14), goddess (2), godly (1), great (2), judges (3), mighty (2), rulers (1) and shrine (1).  For example:

Judges – The judges appointed by Moses were called gods: “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges [elohim]” (Exodus 21:6, KJV; also see Exodus 22:8-9, 28).

Abraham – The Hittites called Abraham a “mighty [elohim] prince” (Gen. 23:6).

New Testament Greek

Theos – In the New Testament, the Greek word mostly translated “God” is theos.  Similar to Elohim, this word is a common noun applied to all types of gods.  Since we are dealing with the Bible, it is mostly translated as “God”, but the NASB also translates it 6 times as “god” and 8 times as “gods.”  In these instances theos does not refer to the one true God.  For instance:

Satan – Satan is called: the god [theos] of this world (2 Cor. 4:4).

Herod – The people also called Herod a god.  When the ruler Herod took his seat upon the throne, the crowd shouted, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” (Acts 12:21-22) “And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (v23).

Theos is also translated as divinely (1), godly (2), godly (1), Lord (1).

YHVH Elohim – The Old Testament frequently use Elohim in combination with YHVH as YHVH Elohim; translated as “the LORD God.”  God’s name YHVH does not appear in the New Testament (NT), but we do find the similar phrase “Lord God, the Almighty.

John 10 – Men are gods

After Jesus said to the Jews “I and the Father are one,” the Jews became very angry and were ready to stone Him, “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33).  In defense Jesus said: “In your own Law it says that men are gods (theos)” (v34).  In the next verse He explains that “to whom the word of God came”, are called “gods” (theos – v35).  He is here quoting from Psalms 82:6:

I have said, “You are gods (Elohim); you are all sons of the Most High.

This confirms that the Bible uses the titles elohim and theos also for beings who are not the God of the Bible.  The word God could describe any person or being that is exalted above others.

Conclusion

Jesus is not God – The article Jesus is not God has shown that the Bible consistently and clearly distinguishes between God and Jesus.  For example, Paul refers to “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7).  Revelation similarly refers to “God and … the Lamb” (14:4).  That article also shows that only one true God exists.  The New Testament draws a distinction between this one true God and Jesus, for instance in the phrase, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).  That article therefore concluded that Jesus is not God.

Jesus is subordinate to God – The article God is the Head of Christ furthermore showed that the Father is greater than Christ (John 14:28) and that Jesus is subordinate to God.  To quote 1 Cor. 11:3, God is the Head of Christ.  That article therefore confirmed the distinction between Jesus and God.  As the Son of God, Christ is subordinate to God, and therefore sits at God’s right hand.  Everything that His Son has, He received from His Father.  This includes His ability to raise the dead, His authority to judge, His teachings, His works, His disciples and even the Fullness of Deity.  Jesus Himself said, “the Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19).

Conclusion –  The Bible claims that Jesus is God, but since the title “god” is used for any being that is highly exalted above others, this does not make Him the same Person as God.  It does not make Him equal to God or of the same nature as the One True God.  But it also means that it is most appropriate to refer to Jesus Christ as Elohim or as theos “God.”

With this in mind, let us now consider the instances where Jesus is called God/  Do these mean that Jesus is God?

Immanuel

God with us

Hundreds of years before Jesus became a human being, Isaiah predicted:

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

“Immanuel” means “God with us.”  Matthew concluded that this was fulfilled with the birth of Christ (Mt. 1:23); Jesus is God with us.  But this does not prove that He is equal to the only true God. All that we can say with certainty is that Jesus is highly exalted.

Mighty God, Eternal Father

Mighty GodIsaiah furthermore wrote,

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

This was a radical statement coming from a monotheistic Jewish prophet; to call a human being “Mighty God”.  In the next chapter Isaiah also refers to YHVH as “mighty God” (10:20-21).

But Isaiah also wrote that there is no other God besides YHVH:

The LORD” (YHVH) declared, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Is. 44:6; cf. 45:21-22; 43:10-11).

It is therefore proposed that Isaiah used the title “God” in 9:6 in the general sense—as highly exalted—not to identify the “Son” as the only true God.  This is supported by the phrase “Eternal Father” in 9:6.  Isaiah is not saying that the Son is the Father.  Names in the Bible indicate the character, essence or nature of a person.  Isaiah used these names for the Messiah because they describe His being and character.  “Eternal Father” emphasizes the loving, paternal concern He has for His children: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:13).

Thomas

Thomas could not believe that Jesus had risen.  But when Jesus showed him His wounds, the doubting Thomas realized that the One standing in front of him is the risen Lord, and he exclaimed:

My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

Thomas, however, had no idea of the profound concepts that God later revealed to John, which we read of in His gospel.  Just a minute previously Thomas did not even believe that Jesus was resurrected.  So his statement cannot mean that Jesus is God or equal to the Only True God.  His statement simply acknowledges Jesus as highly exalted.

Paul wrote:

The Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5);

Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

But Paul also maintained a clear and consistent distinction between God and Jesus:

I Cor. 8:6 There is but one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 6:13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus.
Rom. 5:10We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.
Rom. 7:25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Rom. 1:7God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Rom. 1:1-3; 8:3)

It is therefore proposed Paul wrote that Jesus is God because Jesus is “over all” (Rom. 9:5).  Paul is not saying that Jesus is the God of the Bible, or equal to the One True God.

Note that God is called “Father“, and Jesus is called “the Lord.

Peter

The Apostle Peter described Jesus as “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).  But in the very next verse Peter makes a distinction between God and Jesus:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).

We see the same distinction between God and Jesus in Peter’s statement, “Lord Jesus Christ … received honor and glory from God the Father” (2 Peter 1:16-17).

Hebrews

God says of “the Son”: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).  But the very next verse reads, “God, your God, has anointed you”.  In other words, God is the God also of “the Son”.

This entire passage is a quote from Psalm 82, where the king is called “God” (v6), saying “God, Your God, has anointed You” (v7). This shows again that exalted people are sometimes called “god”.  Hebrews, under inspiration, applies Psalm 82 to Jesus.  But the point remains; although Jesus is called God, the God of the Bible is also His God.  This statement does not make Him the same as or equal to God.

The Word was God – Jesus is God

In the BeginningPerhaps the best known verse, stating that Jesus is God, is John 1:1:

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

The gospel of John is very different from the other gospels.  The reader will note how many times the articles in this series refer to John.  It would perhaps not be an exaggeration to say that the main purpose of the gospel of John is to explain who Jesus Christ is.  Jesus made the profound statements in John 5 and John 10 after He healed people who have been disabled for decades.  Those miracles created the right context for Jesus to explain who He really is.  And in John 1:1—the very first verse of the gospel—we have a summary conclusion of it all in the statement “and the Word was God.”  In other words, Jesus is God.

Two eternal beings

Two distinct Beings are mentioned in this verse.  Both existed in the infinite “beginning.”  Both are therefore eternal.  This is confirmed by verse 3, which reads, “All things came into being through Him (the Word), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”.  There was no time that “the Word” did not exist

Two Gods – Both are described as “God”, but there is a difference:

God identified – The phrase “with God” is translated from Pros ton theon.  Ton is the article, so it literally reads “with the God”.  Often in Gree,k when a noun, such as “God” is used with the article “the,” there is emphasis upon the identity of the noun.  The article seems to be used when the One True God is specially designated, unless its insertion is unnecessary by the addition of “Father”.  Ton theon (the God) in this phrase therefore identifies this as the one true God.

The Word described – The other God in this phrase is “the Word” in the phrase “the Word was God”.  The “Word” is identified in verse 14 as the One who became Jesus.  Since John 1:1 distinguishes between God and the Word, the Word is not the same Person as that One True God.  The phrase “was God” does not have an article.  In Greek, when a noun is used without the article, there is emphasis on the character or quality of the noun.  The phrase “the Word was the God” therefore does not identify His Person, but describes His nature.

To summarize, the title “God”, referring to the One True God, identifies Who He is, but the phrase “was God”, referring to “the Word,” identifies what He is; His highly exalted nature.  Jesus is God, but He is not the same Person as the One True God.  Jesus is God because He is highly exalted: He alone existed with God when time began.  And God made all things “through Him” (v3).  But He is distinct from the One True God.

The Only Begotten God

John 1:18A few verses later John refers to the “Word” as “the only begotten God”:

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).

In the bosom of the Father” is translated by the NIV as “in closest relationship with the Father” and as “near to the Father’s heart” by the New Living Translation.

John 1:18, similar to John 1:1, identifies two distinct divine Beings:

God the Father – The first Being is called God.  He is also called “the Father” and He has never been seen.

The only begotten God – Since God is “the Father,” the other Being is His Son.  Since God is unseen, the Son is seen.

This verse is therefore very similar to John 1:1, and we reach the same conclusion.  Jesus is God, but He is not the One True God.  The title “God”, referring to the One True God identifies Who He is, but the phrase “the only begotten God” identifies what He is; His highly exalted nature.

The phrase “only begotten” is perhaps more significant that the title “God.”  John applied the phrase “only begotten” a number of times to Jesus.  This phrase is discussed in the next articleOnly Begotten Son”.

1 Timothy 3:16

In the KJV 1 Timothy 3:16 reads, “God was manifested in the flesh”, but the NASB reads “He who was revealed in the flesh”.  in the most ancient authorities, the word “God” does not occur.  See Bible Hub.  This verse is therefore not discussed.

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.    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.  Current article
9.    He is the Only Begotten Son of God.  Next
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?

Jesus is subordinate to God. God is the Head of Christ. Everything that the Son has, He received from His Father. 

Head of ChristAs the Son of God, Christ is subordinate to God, and therefore sits at God’s right hand.  Everything that the Son has, He received from His Father.  This includes His ability to raise the dead and His authority to judge.  He also received His teachings, His works, His disciples and even the Fullness of Deity from God, who is the Head of Christ.  Jesus said that He can do nothing of Himself.

This is part of a series of articles that asks, “Is Jesus God?”  These articles present the arguments on both sides, and seeks a solution that satisfies both.  Please see the list at the end of this article.

The Trinity theory presents God is three Persons in one Being; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  By pointing out that the Bible maintains a distinction between God and Jesus, the previous article argued that Jesus is not God.  For instance:

Invisible God is the invisible Source of all things, while Jesus is visible.
My God Jesus referred to God as “My God” and prayed to God.
Distinct Jesus is at the right hand of God.
God is One The Bible categorically states that God is One, and consistently distinguishes between that One True God and Jesus.

The current article continues that theme.  While the previous article highlights the distinction between God and Jesus, the current article more specifically shows that Jesus is subordinate to God; God is the Head of Christ.

God is the head of Christ.

Greater than IGreater than Christ – When Jesus told His disciples that He will go to the Father, He said, “the Father is greater than I (John 14:28).  This statement makes a strong distinction between Jesus and God.

Head of Christ – Paul concluded, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3).

Christ is subordinate to the Father.

Jesus said, “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31).

Servant 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).

My God – We never see statements in Scripture of the Father referring to Christ as His God, but Jesus often referred to the Father as His God:  “I ascend to … My God and your God” (John 20:17).

The title “Son” implies that the Father is greater.

Similar to a human father who brings forth a human son, the heavenly Father brought forth His Son.  He is God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9; cf. John 1:18).  He is, for that reason, subordinate to the Father.

He is at the right hand of God.

Various scriptures speak of Christ as “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2; cf. Acts 2:30; Acts 2:33; 7:55; Rom. 8:34; Mark 14:62; 16:19).  This is the place of honor, but still subject to the ultimate Ruler.

God sent the Son into the world. 

This statement is found many times in the New Testament, for instance:

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).

Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4; See also John 3:17; 4:34; 5:24, 36; 6:38; 7:16; 12:44, 45, 49, 17: 23, 25; John 20:21; Rom. 8:3.)

These “sent“-statements firstly imply His pre-existence; that He existed prior to becoming a human being.  Secondly it implies His subordination to God; not only as human being, but also in His pre-existence.

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 often do not believe Him either, but we make the opposite error.  We focus so much on the statements of His equality to God that we no longer believe that God is the Head of Christ.

Everything He has, He received from His Father.

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

Jesus received the ability to raise the dead.

Jesus is able to raise the dead:

He “gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21).

There will come an hour when “all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth” (John 5:28-29).

He said, “My sheep hear My voice … and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish” (John 10:27-28; see also 1:4).

God gave Jesus this authority:

Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26)

Jesus prayer, “Father … You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2).

The Father received His life from no one, for He is the eternally self-existent Source of life.

Jesus received authority to judge.

The Bible teaches that “God” is the judge (1 Sam 2:10; Ps 50:6; Eccl. 12:14; Gen. 18:25; Joel 3:12 and many others).  But in Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:27, 9:39; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; and 2 Timothy 4:1 Jesus Christ is the Judge of the world. Jesus said:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Mt. 25:31-33).

We may want to use this as proof of His deity, but Jesus received this authority from the Father:

The Father… has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).

The Father … gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27).

Jesus received His teachings and works.

God gave Jesus His 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).

My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).

I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28).

The Father gave Jesus His works:

The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do” (John 5:36).

Jesus prayed, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).  See also John 10:32.

Jesus received His disciples.

My Father is the vinedresserJesus even received His followers from the Father:

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me …  This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37-39).

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44; cf. 6:65).

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all” (John 10:29a).

In prayer, He said, “Father … that to all whom You have given Him (the Son), He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2).

Jesus does not draw you to the Father; the Father draws you to Jesus.  Why did you all of a sudden get interested in God and the Bible? Look at all the millions of people out there, billions of people out there. Why did you get interested? How did that happen? That’s a miracle from God!

Jesus received all authority and all things.

Jesus received all authority from the Father:

Jesus claimed that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).  By implication, God gave Him that authority.  Jesus received that authority.

Jesus has all things because He Jesus received it from the Father:

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (Luke 10:22, cf. Mt. 11:27)

The Father … has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35; cf. 13:3).

Jesus received fullness of Deity.

All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

This the Father gave this fullness to Him:

It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19).

Jesus can do nothing of Himself.

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).

I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).

The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).

Jesus did not know all things.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, You know all things” (John 21:17).  Jesus knew many things, for instance about the woman at the well, but He did not know all things.  Jesus 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).  Peter’s statement must therefore not be taken as ultimate truth, but only in a relative sense.

In Hebrews 4:15 we read:

We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are”.

This implies that Jesus learned to sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted Himself.  God does not need to be tempted in order to be able to understand, for He is all-knowing.

Subordinate to God before His birth

Emptied Himself: To become a human being, the Son emptied Himself:

He “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself … being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).

See Jesus emptied Himself for a discussion of this statement. It would be possible to argue that God was greater than and the Head of Christ only after Jesus “emptied Himself”.  There are, however, many indications that He always was subordinate to the Father:

Creation: God created all things “through” His Son (Heb. 1:1; cf. John 1:3).  It therefore was God who Created all things.  See God created all things through His Son.

God so loved the worldSon: God sent His only begotten Son to this world (John 3:16; cf. 18; 1 John 4:9). This means that He was God’s only begotten Son before He was born as a human being: He did not become God’s only begotten Son when He was born as a human being.

Sent: Jesus many times 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). If the Father sent Him, then He was subordinate to the Father also before He came to this world.

What to say and do: God told Jesus what to do and what say when He sent Him, which was prior to becoming a human being:  “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. John 7:16; 5:36; 17:4).

Subordinate to God after His ascension

Greater than IGreater: Jesus said to His disciples, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I”.  This implies that the Father will still be greater than Jesus when Jesus is with the Father, which is after His ascension.

Head of Christ:  Long after Jesus ascended to heaven Paul explicitly stated that “God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3). This is then also the situation today and always.

My God: Jesus said, “I ascend to … My God” (John 20:17).

Right hand: Jesus ascended to heaven and took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2; cf. Acts 2:30; Acts 2:33; 7:55; Rom. 8:34; Mark 14:62; 16:19).  This the place of honor, but it means that He is still today subject to the ultimate Ruler.

The End: Referring to the time when an end will be made of all evil, Paul wrote: “Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father.  … When all things are subjected to Him, 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” (1 Cor. 15:24, 28).  Since Jesus “will be subjected to” God at the end, it implies that Jesus was subjected to God before evil developed.

God, therefore, is not only greater than Jesus because Jesus “emptied Himself” when He became human being (Phil. 2:5), but God was greater than Jesus for all eternity, and always will be.

Summary

Most Christians believe that Jesus is co-equal to the God, the Father.  The previous article (Jesus is not God) concluded that the New Testament uses the title “God” exclusively for the Father, who is also called the Most High.  In this use of the title “God,” Jesus is not God.

The current article 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 is subordinate to God.  God sent His Son into the world.  Jesus prayed to God.  Peter spoke of Jesus as God’s Servant.  Christ is at God’s “right hand.”  “God is the Head of Christ.”   And the end of time Christ will be subjected to God.

Jesus is subordinate to the Father.  Jesus did not know all things, “but the Father alone.”  Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I.”  Everything which His Son has, He received from His Father, including the authority to raise the dead and to judge.  The Father gave Him His disciples and authority and also the fullness of Deity.

The Father is God.  Jesus is therefore subordinate to both God and the Father.  Because the New Testament uses the title God exclusively for the Most High, who is the Father, this is actually saying the same thing.  Jesus said, for instance, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God” (John 20:17).  Paul similarly wrote “there is but one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6).

Conclusion

Jesus was subordinate to God before His birth, during His life on earth and still is.  He always was God’s only begotten Son, whom God sent into the world.  God always was and still is “the Head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3).  Jesus took His seat “at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2), which means that He is subject to the ultimate Ruler; the Most High.

Articles related to the question: 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.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?
5.    Who is the Word in John 1:1?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    Jesus is subordinate to God.  Current article 
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.    Next
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?

Is Jesus God? Or is He a created being? – A study of the letter to the Colossians

ColossiansThis article discusses the view of Jesus in the letter to the Colossians; is Jesus God?  Is He equal to the Father?  Or is He a created being?  

Colossians has been selected for this purpose because it contains perhaps the highest view of Christ of all of the New Testament letters.  Colossians 1:15-19, in particular, is Paul’s fullest explanation of the Person of Christ.  This is the second article on Jesus in Colossians.  The first is the Introduction.

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

He rules over the entire Universe.

The Father's Right HandHe is “seated at the right hand of God” (3:1).  As discussed in the previous article, this statement means that He is distinct from God and subordinate to God.  But it also implies that He has the highest position in all the universe; next to God.  Other statements indicating His extremely high position are:

1:16God created the whole universe … for him.” (Good News Translation).
1:18He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
2:10He is the head over all rule and authority.

He existed before all things.

1:17He is before all things.

The International Standard Version explains this verse as follows

He himself existed before anything else did.

Therefore, there never was a time that He did not exist.  Since all things were created through Him, even time commenced through Him.

He is the image of the invisible God.

He is the image of the invisible God” (1:15).

Other translations clarify the meaning:

Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen” (Contemporary English Version).
Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God” (Good News Translation).

This statement confirms the distinction between God and Christ:  While God is invisible, Jesus can be seen.  Nevertheless, in Him we can see what God is like.  When Philip asked, “Lord, show us the Father,” He responded, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

In Him the Fullness of Deity dwells.

The Essence of Jesus ChristThere are two verses in the letter that refers to “the fullness” that dwells in His Son:

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

While 1:19 refers to “all the fullness,” in 2:9 it is “the fullness of Deity.”  It is therefore assumed that “all the fullness” (1:9) is equivalent to “the fullness of Deity.”  Some translations interpret “the fullness of Deity” as follows:

God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (NIV; 1:19).
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body” (New Living Translation; 2:9).

God Himself

Other translations take it one step further to interpret this fullness as God Himself, for instance:

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ” (New Living Translation; 1:19).
God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son” (Contemporary English Version; 1:19).
God lives fully in Christ” (Contemporary English Version; 2:9).

God being fully in Jesus would be consistent with Jesus’ prayer, in which He said, “You, Father, are in Me and I in You” (John 17:21).  But this does not mean that Jesus is God.

Divine essence

Other translations interpret 2:9 as that Jesus is God:

ColossiansIt was by God’s own decision that the Son has in himself the full nature of God” (Good News Translation; 1:19).
God was pleased to have all of his divine essence inhabit him” (International Standard Version; 1:19).
For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ, in his humanity” (Good News Translation; 2:9).

This seems to go beyond the message of Colossians.  It was God who gave “all the fullness to dwell in Him”.  This maintains a distinction between God and His Son and it implies that His Son is subordinate to the Father.  This distinction and subordination is also seen in the following:

(1) He is “seated at the right hand of God” (3:1).
(2) He is the visible likeness of the invisible God.
(3) As “Son” (1:13), He is subordinate to the Father.
(4) The Father is the Active Force both in creation and salvation, while His Son is the Means through which the Father works.  See Jesus in Colossians; Introduction.

Christianity often teaches that the Son is co-equal to the Father.  Colossians, in contrast, consistently makes a distinction between God and Jesus.  Therefore, to interpret 2:9 as that Jesus is God, would be contrary to the persistent teaching of Colossians.

Conclusion

In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”  We should be careful not to make too much or too little of this statement:

To say that He is co-equal to the Father would be making too much of this statement.  But it will be an even worse error to make too little of this statement.  Perhaps we should conclude with the NIV’s statement “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”  What this means is further discussed in the concluding section of this article: Is Jesus God?

He holds all things together.

In Him all things hold together” (1:17).

Another translation of the same phrase:

In union with him all things have their proper place” (Good News)
He holds all creation together” (New Living).

This is a most profound concept.  Hebrews 1:3 similarly says, “He … upholds all things by the word of His power.”  Just like God created all things through Jesus, it is proposed that God holds all creation together through Him.

He is the firstborn of all creation (1:15).

His beloved Son … is … the firstborn of all creation, for by Him all things were created” (Col. 1:13-16).

The word “for” sets a causal relationship.  In other words, He is the firstborn of all creation because He created everything.  This could be understood in at least two ways:

Most important: He is the most important Being in all of the universe because He created everything.  OR

First to exist:  He was the first to exist because He created everything.

Both statements are true.  The question is what Paul meant.

Preeminent

FirstbornThe word “firstborn” (prōtotokos) initially literally meant the one born first, but over time became a designation of preeminence (Gen. 49:3–4; Ex. 4:22).  For example, David, the youngest of Jesse, was called “firstborn” (Psalm 89:20–27).  Manasseh was born to Joseph first, but Ephraim, his younger brother, was “firstborn” due to his position as given by their father Jacob (Gen. 48:13–20, Jer. 31:9).

The interpretation that “firstborn” (prōtotokos) means preeminence is supported by the following:

Jesus is also the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18; cf. Rev. 1:5), but He was not literally the first to be raised from death.  Lazarus, for example, was raised from death before Him.  “Firstborn from the dead” therefore means to be the most important person ever to be raised from death.

Paul elsewhere stated, “become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:29).  “Firstborn” here implies preeminence.

The word “firstborn” in Colossians therefore does not refer to a literal birth, but means that He is superior over all creation.  Most non-literal translations render the phrase with this meaning:

The firstborn over all creation” (NIV);

He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things” (Good News Translation).

Preeminent over all creation” (New Heart English Bible).

First to exist

Consider again the context in which we find the phrase:

He is … the firstborn of all creation, for by Him all things were created… He is before all things.” (1:15-17 NASB)

The word “for” links “the firstborn of all creation” to the creation event.  Since the creation event implies a time reference, it is possible to understand “the firstborn of all creation” to have a reference to time.  In other words, that it literally means that Jesus was the first to exist, for God created all things through Him.  This would then have a similar meaning to verse 17, which says, “He is before all things.

Created

Some argue that “Firstborn of all creation” means that Jesus is part of creation, and therefore a created being.  In other words, that God created His Son.  This interpretation is not supported here, for the following reasons:

Firstly, Paul’s main message in these verses is that Jesus created all things (1:16).  If all things have been created through Him and for Him, then He was not created Himself.

Secondly, as explained, the word “firstborn” in this context can quite naturally be understood as meaning “superior to all created things.

Thirdly, if He was born, He was not created.  John often refers to Jesus as the Only Begotten Son of God (1:18; 3:16, 18).  “Begotten” must be understood different from created.  He was not born like a human child is born, but God brought forth His Son.  What this means is difficult to imagine, for it is hidden in the infinity of God.  For a further discussion, see Only Begotten Son of God.

Does it really matter?

But perhaps all of these arguments, about whether He was created, are irrelevant.  Contrary to the general understanding in Christianity, Colossians and the Bible in general maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus.  See also Jesus is not the same Person as God.

However, the Bible also says that in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (2:9), that He always existed, for even time was created through Him and He upholds all things by the word of His power (1:17; Heb. 1:3).  Since these things are true, why would it matter whether He was created or born?  We don’t even understand the difference.

Is Jesus God?

Jesus ChristAs shown in the previous article. Colossians maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus.  This is seen in statements such as that Jesus sits at God’s right hand, and that He is the image of the invisible God.  Such statements imply that Jesus is not God, but subordinate to God.

But Colossians also teaches that God created all things through Jesus, that Jesus Christ holds all creation together, that the fullness of deity dwells in Him, that He is the visible likeness of the invisible God, that He existed before all things and that He rules over all the entire Universe, subject only to God.  Therefore most Christians worship Him as God.

Both views are valid.  Actually, the question, whether He is God, is a bad question, for it depends on what one means by the title “God:

Most High: The angel said to Mary that Jesus will be called the Son of the Most High.  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 refers to the Most High as God. Using this definition of the title “God,” Jesus is not God.

Worship: But the word “God” also has a more general meaning, namely a being who is worshiped by other beings.  Many false gods are worshiped in the world.  However, one of the articles in this series concluded that we must worship Jesus.  When we use the title “God” to identify the One we must worship, then Jesus is God.

The question, whether Jesus is God, therefore creates unnecessary disagreement due to a confusion of terms.  The Bible in a few places describes Jesus as God, but that does not make Him the same as or equal to the Most High.  To be technically correct, we should use the Bible’s definition of the title “God,” which excludes Jesus.

Summary

Jesus rules over the entire Universe.  He is seated at the right hand of God.  God created the whole universe for him.  He is the Head over all rule and authority.

He existed before anything else did.  There never was a time that He did not exist.  Since all things were created through Him, even time commenced through Him.

He is the visible likeness of the invisible God.  In Him we can see what God is like.  He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

In Him the Fullness of Deity dwells.  Some translations take this to mean that Jesus is God.  This is contrary to the message of Colossians.  Colossians consistently maintains a distinction between God and Jesus and implies that Jesus is subordinate to God.

In Him all things hold together.  Hebrews 1:3 similarly says, “He … upholds all things by the word of His power”.

He is the firstborn of all creation.  Some argue that this means that He is part of creation, and therefore a created being.  This interpretation is not supported here, because Jesus created all things, and could not have created Himself.  Secondly, He was “born;” not created.   The word “firstborn” in 1:15 probably means pre-eminence, saying that Jesus is superior to all created things.

Is Jesus God?  The New Testament generally reserves the title “God” for the Most High, which excludes Jesus.  But if the use the title “God” to identify the One we must worship, that includes Jesus.

Articles related to the question: Is Jesus God?

1.    The three views of the Son
2.    Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.
3a   Jesus in Colossians – Introduction
3b    Jesus in Colossians – I He God?  Current article
4.    Did Jesus empty Himself of equality with God?   Next
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?