The Bible sometimes calls Jesus God. Does that mean that Jesus is God?

ElohimThe personal name of the one true God is 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 not the God. of the Bible.  Therefore, when the Bible says Jesus is God, it simply means that He is highly exalted; 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 indicates that Jesus is God.  The purpose of this article is to determine what is meant when it says Jesus is God.  To do this, we firstly need to understand the meaning of the words that are translated as “God”.


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 YHWH or JHWH, generally called the Tetragrammaton.  The Tetragrammaton appears in the Old Testament over 6,800 times and is transliterated as Yahweh or Jehovah. Some Bible translations give Yahweh or Jehovah, for instance:

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

But in most translations this name is typically 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.


The word for “God” is used for all gods; 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.

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 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 referred to as 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.”  These instances therefore do 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).

Yahweh Elohim – The Old Testament frequently use Elohim in combination with Yahweh as Yahweh Elohim; translated as “the LORD God.”  God’s name Yahweh 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 told the Jews who He is, 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 rather describes any person or being that is far exalted above others.


Jesus is not the same Person as 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 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.

God is the Head of Christ – Another article (God is the Head of Christ) shows that the Father is greater than Christ (John 14:28) and that God is the Head of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3).  This article therefore continues to show 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 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?


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 Yahweh as “mighty God” (10:20-21).

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

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

It is therefore proposed that Isaiah was using 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 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.


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).


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 saying 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 Greek 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?
6.    Jesus is not God.
7.    God is the Head of Christ.
8.    In the Bible Jesus is called God.
9.    Only Begotten Son of God
10.  God created all things through His Son.
11.  We must worship Jesus.
12.  Is Jesus God? 

In the Trinity theory God is three Persons in one Being, but Jesus is not God.

God is the invisible Source of all things, but Jesus is visible.  God refers to Jesus as “My Son”, but Jesus refers to God as “My God”, and He prayed to God.  Jesus is at the right hand of God.  While Jesus was on earth, God spoke from heaven.  The Bible categorically states that God is One, and consistently distinguishes between God and Jesus.  Jesus is not God.

Not GodThis article is one of a series related to the question whether Jesus is God.  See the list at the end of the article.  This article discusses the evidence that He is distinct from God, and therefore that Jesus is not God.  Another article will explore the evidence that He is God.

Jesus is not God.

Trinity – Many people think of God as a Trinity, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God is thought of as three Persons in one Being.

Distinct – In contrast this article shows, in a variety of ways, that the Bible draws a distinction between God and Jesus.  The following are some introductory examples:

Jesus as babyWhen Jesus was still a baby, His father Joseph was “warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod” (Mt 2:12).  “After being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee” (Mt 2:22).

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

Jesus asked the Young Ruler, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

The book of Revelation several times makes a distinction between Christ and God.  For example, “these have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (14:4).

Revelation 4 describes a throne in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.   In Revelation 5 the Lamb takes the scroll from the right hand of His who sits on the throne.  Revelation 22:3 therefore refers to “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ).”  See also 11:15; 21:22-23; 22:1, 3).

Jesus was fully human.

Jesus was truly and fully human.  He was born as a baby (Luke 2:7; Gal. 4:4) and had to grow in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52).  “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).  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).  He had a human body, even after His resurrection (Luke 24:39).  He grieved deeply, to the point of death, in Gethsemane (Mt. 26:38), and died the next day (Mark 15:37).  Jesus does not just look like a man; He was truly and fully human.

There is but one true God.

The Old Testament teaches that only one true God exists.

BibleThe great Shema of Israel—the foundation of Judaism—is, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4).  (Shema is the Hebrew for the first word; “Hear”.)

Through Isaiah “the LORD” (Yahweh) declared,

44:6I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.
45:21-22There is no other God besides Me … There is none except Me … I am God, and there is no other.
43:10-11 Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

The New Testament confirms that only one God exists.

When the scribes asked Jesus what the most important commandment is, He started His explanation by quoting from Deuteronomy: “The foremost is, ‘hear, o Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:28-30).

James similarly wrote: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19).

Jesus is distinct from the only true God.

The Trinity theory agrees that God is One, but argues that God is one Being, consisting of three Persons.  This section therefore continues to quote verses that confirm that God is one, but these verses make a distinction between Jesus and God:

John 17:3

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).
(Note that God sent Jesus, which means that Jesus was subordinate to God before he was born as a human being, and therefore always will be.)

There is but one God, the Fatherand one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6).  (Note: “The Father” always refers to God.)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

If Jesus prayed to the “only true God” (John 17:3), how can Jesus also be God?

Jesus is at God’s right hand. 

Stephen saw Jesus
Stephen saw Jesus

God the Father sits on His throne in heaven (1 Kings 22:19; Ps 11:4; 47:8). Various scriptures speak of Christ as being at the “right hand of God“:

Ascension – Jesus “was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

Stephen – Just before he was stoned, Stephen said, “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

Revelation – Jesus said that He “sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev 3:21), where He took the sealed book from “the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev. 5:1).  See also Mt. 26:62; Acts 2:33; 7:55 or Rom. 8:34.

The fact that Jesus sits at the right hand of God confirms that He is both distinct from God and subordinate to God.  In other words, Jesus is not God.

God calls Jesus “My Son”,
but Jesus calls God “My God”.

This is My Beloved SonAt Jesus’s baptism “a voice came out of heaven”, saying, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22; Mt. 3:17, cf. Col. 1:13).

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

Hanging on the Cross, Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?“ (Mt. 27:46).

How can the Father be His God if Christ is God? How can God have a God?

Jesus prayed to God.

Consistent with the concept that God is also Jesus’ God, Jesus prayed to God:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death” (Heb. 5:7).

The entire John 17 is a record of Jesus praying to the Father.

A while later 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’” (Matthew 26:39).  This indicates that the Father and the Son have separate and distinct wills.

God is invisible.

The Father is unknowable, invisible and incomprehensible:

God, the Father, “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).

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

God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and as such cannot be seen.

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

God is the Source of all things, and exists outside our physical realm of time, space and matter.  The unseen is the source of everything that is seen.

The Son is the visible image of the invisible God.

There is only one true GodThe Son “is the (visible) image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).

“Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4)

He (His Son) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3).
(Some protest that the word “exact” is not in the text and should be deleted, but “exact representation” is simply the translation for the underlying Greek word.)

When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father“, Jesus responded as follows: “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9)

Human beings cannot comprehend a Being that is everywhere, that exists without cause, and is not limited by time and space.  The Son is the visible image of the invisible God.  In His Son, appearing in a form that we can comprehend, God becomes known, visible and audible to the creatures of the universe:

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He (“The Word”)has explained Him” (John 1:18).  (Here Jesus is called God.  He is called God about five times in the Bible; also in John 1:1.  For a discussion, see The Bible calls Jesus God.)

Jesus is God’s visible face and the God’s audible voice.  For that reason, He is called the Word of God (John 1:1, 14).  However, since the Father is invisible, the Son is not the image of God in physical terms, but an image of God’s character.

If God is invisible, while Jesus was certainly visible, then Jesus is distinct from God and therefore Jesus is not God.

Jesus and the Father are one in purpose and effort.

In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”.  In John 14:9-11 Jesus similarly says, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”.  Some people read into such verses that Jesus is the Father.  The Catholic view is that Jesus and God are synonymous.  To be “one“, however, does not mean to be literally one Person.  Jesus, in His prayer, defined the term to “be one”:

That all of them (His followers) may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me … that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me“ (John 17:21-23).

Christian believers must “be one” as God and Christ are one; united in purpose and unified in effort.  To “be one” therefore does not mean to be literally to be one and the same, but describes a relationship between different autonomous beings.  As Jesus said, He did the works of the Father (10:32) and He only did what pleased the Father (8:28:29).

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

This section continues to quote verses that make a distinction between God and Jesus, but these verses emphasize the different roles of God and Jesus:

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 … God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
(Note: Here we have the phrase “God was in Christ”.  But as discussed above, this does not mean that Jesus is God.  Rather, it indicates a unity of purpose and action.)

In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).

God … in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:1; cf. John 1:3)

In the article Jesus in Colossians it is furthermore shown that God, the Father, is the Source of Power in creation and in salvation.


UnmisinterpretingThe Bible consistently and clearly teaches a distinction between God and Jesus.  This article has shown this in a number of ways, for example:

When Jesus was a baby, God spoke to His father Joseph.

Paul speaks about “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  Revelation similarly refers to “God and … the Lamb”.

The Old Testament teaches that God there is only one God.  The New Testament confirms this, and draws a distinction between this One God and Jesus, for instance, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ”.

Various scriptures speak of Christ as being at the “right hand of God“, which means Jesus is not God.

God calls Jesus “My Son”, but Jesus calls God “My God.”  Jesus Himself referred to “God” as a Person apart from Himself, and prayed to God.

God is invisible, while Jesus was and is visible.

God is the Source of all things, but He works through His Son in creation and salvation.

Since the Bible makes a distinction between God and Jesus, Jesus is not God.  We should not think of God as one Being consisting of three Persons. The next article provides further evidence of the distinction between God and Jesus by showing that God is the Head of Christ.

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?