Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament?

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

Purpose

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

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

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

Theophany

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

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

Is the God of the Old Testament severe?

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

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

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

YHVH and Elohim

In this study the words YHVH and Elohim are important.

God’s Name is YHVH.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Title

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

God is invisible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Face to face

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

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

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

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

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

But God was seen.

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

Adam and Eve

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

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

Abraham in Genesis 18

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob

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

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

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

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

Moses

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

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

Daniel the prophet
Daniel the prophet

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Two divine beings

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

Let Us make man.

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

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

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

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

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

Angels

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

Figure of speech

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

Plural of majesty

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

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

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

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

Zechariah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 110

Psalm 110:1 reads:

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

Verse 5 of Psalm 110 continues,

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

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

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

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

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

Malachi 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of the article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If God is One, is Jesus God?

The Bible teaches that God is One and clearly distinguishes between God and and His Son of God, but also says that all the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus. How do we reconcile these facts?

This article has been replaced and expanded into a series of articles.  Please see Jesus existed prior to His birth in the form of God.

Summary

God is OneThe Bible does refer to the Son of God as “God”, but the Bible also refers to created beings as gods.  Could Jesus be “a” god, and not “the” God?  This article analyzes what the Bible says about the Son of God.

We must firstly acknowledge that humans are unable to understand God, for “His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable“.  It is our privilege to study about Him, but we must do it with humility.

Jesus is God’s “beloved Son”.  The name “Son of God”, by itself, does not mean that Jesus is God, because human believers are also called “sons of God”.  However, Jesus is the “one and only Son” of God.  He is God’s Son in a unique sense.

His Son descended from heaven.  He existed before he became a human being.  He is “from … the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2); “before the world was” (John 17:5).

The Father is the Source of all creative power and wisdom, but He created everything through His Son, both things in the heavens and on earth.  The Son also “upholds all things by the word of His power”.  The Son is therefore very different from the created sons of God.

Since His Son created all things, he is before all things (Col. 1:17).  The Bible writers refer to the mysterious “beginning”, saying that His Son was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).  More emphatically, it is said that He isthe Beginning“ (Col. 1:18).

It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19).  This means, in the first place, that the Son is completely dependent on the Father.  The Father has sent Him (John 5:36; 7:16), the Son can do nothing of Himself (John 5:19, 30) and also does nothing on His own initiative.  He only says and does what the Father tells Him to do (John 7:16; 8:28, 30; 14:31).  But secondly it means that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  This means, amongst other things, that the Son is the Judge, with “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2), and that He has “life in Himself” (John 5:26) to give “life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21).

All things have been created … for him” (Col. 1:16).  All must honor the Son even as they honor the Father (John 5:23).  God commanded all the angels to worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6-8).  While we are instructed to worship only God (Rev. 19:10), the Son is worshiped on earth and by heavenly beings (Rev. 5:8-9).

No one has ever seen God at any time, but His Son, who is the visible image of the invisible God—the exact representation of God’s nature, has explained Him (John 1:18; Col. 1:15; Hebr. 1:3):  In His Son, appearing in a form that we can comprehend, God becomes known, visible and audible to the creatures of this universe.

YHVHAdam and Eve heard the sound of the “LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  The name LORD is YHVH, pronounced as Jehovah or Yahweh.  Yahweh also appeared to Abraham in the form of a man (Genesis 18:1).  It is proposed here that YHVH, who walked in the garden, and who appeared to Abraham, is the Son of God, that later became the human named Jesus.  This proposal is based on the following:

God is the Creator, but His Son created everything.

Since the Son created the world, He would logically remain intimately involved in events on earth.

No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).  It therefore was not God who appeared in the form of a man; it must have been His Son.

God gave His name to Moses as “I AM” (Exodus 3:1-16).  This name implies He exists without cause.  By claiming, “before Abraham was born, I am”, Jesus identified Himself as the great “I Am” (John 8:58).

The voice calling, “Clear the way for the LORD (YHVH)” (Isaiah 40:3) is applied to John the Baptist (Mat. 3:1-3; John 1:23), who cleared the way for the Son.

Psalm 102:25-28, which says that the creation will wear out like a garment, but God—the Creator—will endure, is applied by Hebrews 1:8-12 to “the Son”.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 indicates that Christ followed the Israelites through the wilderness and provided for their spiritual sustenance.  He is the One with which Moses spoke on Mount Sinai.

Jesus said that “the Scriptures … testify about Me” (John 5:39).  The Scripture refer to the books of the Old Testament only.

Names used for YHVH in the Old Testament are also used for His Son.  These include Bridegroom, Shepherd, Savior, Rock, True and Faithful Witness, Light, Alpha and the Omega, and the First and the Last.

It is therefore proposed that it was His Son that created the world in six days, that rested on the seventh day and whom Adam and Eve “heard … walking in the garden”.  It was also the Son that gave the Law to Moses, and who led the Chosen Nation to the Promised Land.

In conclusion, the apparent contradiction that we have to explain is that the Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son, but also says that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  There are things that we humans do not know because it has not been explained to us.  There are also things that we humans simply are unable to understand, even if it is explained to us.  With the knowledge that we do not understand God, the following is proposed:

This universe consists of time, space and matter, but God the Father exists outside time, space and matter.  It is impossible for us to imagine what exists outside time, space and matter, but that is where the wisdom and power, that created our universe, came from.

Scriptures identify the Son as “the Beginning”.  This is understood to say that He is the Beginning of time, space and matter.  Consequently, one cannot separate the universe from the Son; God brought the universe into being by bringing His Son into being.  His Son is that immense explosion of Energy that brought this universe into being.  He is the “big bang”; not an uncontrolled explosion, but an incomprehensible planned and guided explosion.  But He is also a Person, by which I mean that He is aware of Himself and aware of other living beings.  He is not only a Person; He is an intensely loving Person.  He was willing to become a human being and even to die at the hands of evil men, because He loves His sinful creatures.

It is hoped that this explanation maintains the distinction between God and His Son, but also explains the Son’s divine attributes: “By him all things were created” (Col. 1:15, 16).  “He is before all things” (1:17).  He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).

(1) The Bible declares that there is only one God; God Is One.

God is OneThere is no other God besides Me …
For I am God, and there is no other
” (Isaiah 45:21-22).

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”. (Deut. 6:4-5)

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

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

The Bible is a monotheistic religion.

(2) The Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus.

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).

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

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

The book of Revelation several times contrasts Christ with God, for instance “the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ)” (Rev. 22:3; see also 14:4; 11:15; 21:23; 21:22; 22:1).

Paul also distinguished between “God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).

There is therefore a definite difference between Jesus and God.  This implies that Jesus is not God.

(3) The Bible refers to Jesus as God.

The prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6, given hundreds of years before He became a human being, refer to Him as “Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”.

He would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

The Word was God” (John 1:1). A little later John refers to the “Word” as “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18)

When Jesus showed his wounds to Thomas, Thomas responded: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

Titus 2:13-14 refers to Him as “our great God and Savior”.

How do we reconcile these facts?

So, on the one hand the Bible indicates that God is one and clearly distinguishes between God and His Son.  But on the other hand Jesus is called “God“.  The Bible does sometimes refer to created beings as gods (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34).  Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Could it be that Jesus is “a” god, and not “the God?  What is the relationship between God and Jesus?  Is Jesus another God, subordinate to the Father, but of the same nature?  Or is He a created being?  We will now analyze the Bible text to provide answers to these questions.

This subject requires humility, for it is impossible to understand God.

The first thing we have to say is that we microscopic human beings are unable to understand God.  The Lord warned:

as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts
”. (Isaiah 55:9)

Humans should therefore not think that they are able to understand God.  His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable (Romans 11:33).  When this document talks about God, let it be with this knowledge. It is our privilege to study about Him, but we must do it with humility, for “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons” (Deut. 29:29).

Colossians 1:15-19

Colossians 1:15-19 is Paul’s most comprehensive explanation of the Son of God.  This article often refers to this passage:

Col. 1:13 … His beloved Son … 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

John 5

John 5 is another important chapter when discussing the Person of the Son.  In that chapter Jesus heals a man who had been ill for 38 years (vv1-9).  He told the man “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (v8).  But it was the Sabbath (v9), and the Jews stopped the man, saying “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet” (v10).  The man told the Jews that Jesus healed him (v15).  When the Jews confronted Jesus, He responded, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (v17)  “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He … was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (v18).  Jesus then responded to the claim that He made Himself equal to God. This article also frequently draws from this explanation.

He is the One and Only Son of God

Paul referred to Jesus as “His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).  Similarly, during His baptism, God called Him “My beloved Son” (Mat. 3:17).  Jesus also called Himself the “Son of God” (Mat. 16:16, 17; 27:43; John 9:35-37; 10:36).  By itself the name “Son of God” does not mean that Jesus is God, because human believers are also called “sons of God” (for instance Luke 20:35-36; 1 John 3:1; Phil. 2:15; John 1:12; Mat 5:9; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19; Galatians 3:26).  The man Adam and certain heavenly beings are also called sons of God (Genesis 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Luke 3:38).  However, Jesus is the one and only Son of God:

John 3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 – NIV).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9 – NIV).

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father” (John 1:14 – NIV)

The NASB translates the phrase “one and only” in these verses as “only-begotten

His Son existed before He became a human being.

God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Before Abraham was, I amHe is “from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2), “before the world was” (John 17:5).  He “descended from heaven” (John 3:13; 6:38, 62).  Jesus also said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) and “I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23).

God created and still upholds everything through His Son.

John refers to Jesus as “the Word” (see John 1:14), and wrote that “all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).

Colossians refers to “His beloved Son” (1:13) and reads, “by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (1:16-17).”

Hebrews 1:2 refers to “His Son … through whom also He made the world” and in Hebrews 1:10 God said of His Son: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands”.  “He (His Son) … upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebr. 1:3).

The presentation of the Creator as consisting of more than one Person is not unique to the New Testament.  On the first page of the Jewish Scriptures, describing the creation of this world (Gen. 1:1), God refers to Himself as “Us”, saying “Let Us make man in Our image”, which therefore included His Son.

The Father created “all thingsthrough His Son.  The word “through” indicates that the Father is the Source of all creative power and wisdom, but His Son created everything.  His Son created this universe, including this world.

Since the Son created all things (not all “other” things, as some suppose), He is very different from the created sons of God.  For this reason, and because He is God’s one and only Son, we may refer to Him as “the Son of God”, with a capital “S”, to differentiate Him from the sons of God.

He is The Beginning

Since His Son created all things, He “is before all things” (Col. 1:17).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2).  Colossians 1:18 is more specific, saying that He isthe Beginning“.  This implies a high level of unity between the Son and this universe.

Fullness Of Deity

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:19).  This may be analyzed into two points.  The first is that the Son is fully dependent on the Father

The Father is greater than the Son; God is the head of Christ.

The names Father and Son imply that the Son is not equal to God. 

The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).

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

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

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

Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28) and “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31).

Paul concluded, “the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (I Cor. 11:3).

All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form.

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

The Son has “life in Himself” (John 5:26) and “gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21). 

“The Father … has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35).  He has “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2).  

The Father has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).  The Son has “authority to execute judgment” (John 5:27).  As stated in Matthew 25:31-33, “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”.

Just like a human son is brought forth by his human father, the heavenly Father—the Source of everything—brought forth His Son.  The Son received His power from the Father.

We must worship only God, but His Son is Worshiped.

In the book of Revelation John twice tried to worship an angel, and in both instances the angel’s response was the same:

Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God” (Revelation 19:10; compare 22:9).

Notice this is an instruction to worship God alone.  Also in Revelation 14:7 we are told to “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters”.  But then we find that the Son is worshiped:

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

God commanded all the angels to worship His Son (Hebrews 1:6-8).

The “four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a … golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8-9).

Jesus was worshiped by His disciples after He walked on water (Mat. 14:28-33), after He was resurrected (Mat. 28:8-9; 16-17), and He did not prevent them from doing so.

God highly exalted Him … so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:5-11).

This is related to the concept that “all things have been created … for him” (Colossians 1:16).  He will always be King of this universe.  The Father “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (1:13).  His “kingdom … will never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44).

Christ Reveals God. 

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; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).  The Son “is the (visible) image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).  His Son in all respects looks exactly like His Father.  Since the Father is invisible, the Son does not physically look like the Father, but “He (His Son) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His (God’s) nature” (Hebr. 1:3):

The Son is the Father’s visible image.  He is God’s visible face and the God’s audible voice; the Word of God (John 1:1, 14).  God is unknowable, invisible and incomprehensible.  Human beings cannot comprehend a Being that is everywhere, that exists without cause, and that is not limited by time and space.  In His Son, appearing in a form that we can comprehend, God becomes known, visible and audible to the creatures of this universe.

When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father“, Jesus said to him:

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)

YHVH

Adam and Eve heard the sound of the “LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  The name LORD is translated from YHVH (Strong 3068)—the proper name of the God of Israel—pronounced as Jehovah or Yahweh.

Yahweh also appeared to Abraham in the form of a man (Genesis 18:1). Abraham was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day (v1).  When he looked up, he saw three men (v2).  One was the LORD and the other two were angels (19:1).  He invited them in (18:2-5).  Sarah made bread cakes (18:6) and Abraham slaughtered a choice calf (18:7).  After they ate, the Lord promised that Sarah would have a son within one year (18:9-15).  The LORD also promised Abraham that he will become a great and mighty nation (18:16-19).  The LORD further said that Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is exceedingly grave (18:20-21).  The two angels (see 19:1) went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD (18:22), negotiating with the LORD about Sodom and Gomorrah (18:23-33).  The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate (19:1).

It is proposed here that YHVH, who appeared to Abraham, was the one and only Son of God, that later became the human named Jesus.  This proposal is based on the following:

When God said, Let Us make man in Our image” (Gen 1:26), He included His Son.

Our Lord and our God … created all things” (Rev. 4:11; Eph. 3:9).  “Fear God, and give Him glory … worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev. 14:7).  But, as we have seen, God created everything through Jesus.

Since the Son created the world, He logically remained intimately involved in events on earth.

No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).  He “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).  It therefore was not God who appeared to Adam or Abraham in the form of a man; it must have been the Son.

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” and gave His name to Moses as “I AM” (Exodus 3:1-16).  This name implies that He exists without cause.  By claiming, “before Abraham was born, I am”, Jesus identified Himself as the great “I Am” (John 8:58; also 8:24, 28).

The voice calling, “Clear the way for the LORD (YHVH) in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3) is applied in the New Testament to John the Baptist (Mat. 3:1-3; John 1:23), who cleared the way for the Son, which implies that the Son of God is YHVH.

Psalm 102:25-28 says that the creation will wear out like a garment, but the God, the Creator will endure.  This is quoted in Hebrews 1:8-12, but the God, the Creator, is replaced with “the Son”:

Psalm 102:24 O my God … Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son He says …
25 Of old You founded the earth 10 You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth
And the heavens are the work of Your hands. and the heavens are the works of Your hands
26 Even they will perish 11 they will perish
but You endure but You remain
And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing and they all will become old like a garment, 12 and like a mantle You will roll them up
You will change them and they will be changed. like a garment they will also be changed.
27 But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end. but You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.”

1 Corinthians 10:1 reads “our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea … 4 and … were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ”.  This refers to the exodus from Egypt, where they passed through the red sea (Exodus 14:29) and the LORD went before them in cloud by day to show them the way (Exodus 13:21).  Once, when the Israelites became very thirsty, the LORD told Moses to “strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (Exodus 17:6).  In 1 Corinthians 10 that rock is used as a symbol of Christ, saying that it was Christ that guided and taught them through Moses in the wilderness.

Jesus said to the Jews, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39).  The Scripture refer to the books of the Old Testament, and Jesus therefore said that the Old Testament testifies about Him.

Names used for YHVH in the Old Testament are also used for His Son:

  • In Hosea 2:19 the LORD (YHVH – v16) said “I will betroth you to Me forever”. In Mark 2:19 Jesus described Himself as the bridegroom.
  • In Psalm 23:1 YHVH “is my shepherd”. In John 10:14 Jesus calls Himself “the good shepherd“.
  • In Isaiah 43:11 YHVH says “there is no savior besides Me”. In John 4:42 the Samaritans declare that Christ is “the Savior of the world”,
  • Psalm 18:31 describes YHVH as a rock. In 1 Corinthians 10:4 the spiritual rock from which Israel has been drinking in the wilderness, was Christ.
  • In Jeremiah 42:5 YHVH is the “true and faithful witness”. Revelation 3:14 describes Christ as such.
  • In Psalm 27:1 “the LORD (YHVH) is my light and my salvation”, but in John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the Light of the world”.
  • The Lord God said “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8), but the one who is coming quickly (Rev. 22:12), namely Jesus (Rev. 3:11), said “I am the Alpha and the Omega ” (Rev.22:13).
  • The LORD, the King of Israel, said, “I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me” (Is. 44:6; see also 48:12, Rev. 1:8). But in Revelation Jesus said “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; 2:8; 22:13, 16).

It therefore was His Son that created the world in six days, that rested on the seventh day and whom Adam and Eve “heard … walking in the garden” (Gen. 1:8).  It was also the Son that gave the Law to Moses, and who led the Chosen Nation to the Promised Land.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the apparent contradiction that we have to explain is that the Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son, but also says that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  There are things that we humans do not know because it has not been explained to us.  There are also things that we humans simply are unable to understand, even if it is explained to us.  With the knowledge that we cannot understand God, the following is proposed:

This universe consists of time, space and matter, but God the Father exists outside time, space and matter.  It is impossible for us to imagine what exists outside time, space and matter, but that is where the wisdom and power, that created our universe, came from.

Since God created everything through Him, the Son of God came into being before the universe.  Scriptures identify the Son as “the Beginning”.  This is understood to say that He is the Beginning of time, space and matter.  Consequently, one cannot separate the universe from the Son; God brought the universe into being by bringing His Son into being.  His Son is that immense explosion of Energy that brought this universe into being.  He is the “big bang”; not an uncontrolled explosion, but an incomprehensible planned and guided explosion.

Since the Son created everything, He also created time.  Scientists estimate the age of the universe at 13.8 billion years.  Time started at the moment the universe came into existence.  There was therefore NO time that the Son did not exist, because there is no such thing as time before He created time.

But He is also a Person, by which I mean that He is aware of Himself and aware of other living beings.  He is not only a Person; He is an intensely loving Person.  He was willing to become a human being and even to die at the hands of evil men, because He loves His sinful creatures.

The Son is the Word of God (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13).  The Son is how God appears in this universe defined by time, space and matter.  He is the revelation of God with whom His creatures may communicate as with a fellow creature; to be “God with us” (Mat. 1:26).

God brought the universe into being by bringing His Son into being, but the invisible God remained intimately involved in the universe.  God was intimately involved in the creation of life on this planet, billions of years after the universe came to be (Gen 1:26).  It is God that sent His only-begotten Son to become a human being, so that everybody that believes in Him would not die, but inherit eternal life (John 3:16).  God is the Savior; the Son is the means by which He saves.

It is hoped that this explanation maintains the distinction between God and His Son, but also explains the Son’s divine attributes: “By him all things were created” (Col. 1:15, 16).  “He is before all things” (1:17).  He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).

TO: General Table of Contents