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.
This 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:
When 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.
The 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,
44:6 “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.”
45:21-22 “There 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:
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 Father … and 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.
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”.
At 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.
The 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.
The 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?