Who is Jesus? Jesus is not God, but He has equality with God.

Jesus is distinct from God.  “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” 
God is greater than Jesus.  Everything which His Son has, He received from His Father.
But, compared to the created universe, Jesus has equality with God.  As “the only begotten from the Father,” Jesus is God’s only family.  We may only worship God.  Yet, we must worship Jesus.   “All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.”   God and Jesus do and own all things together.  Jesus has the same titles and the same attributes as God, such as the name “I Am.”
Who is Jesus? Jesus is both a Person and the Word which God spoke to bring the universe into existence and to sustain it.

This article is a summary of the many articles on this website to explain who Jesus is.

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

Jesus existed in the form of God before He became a human being.

He existed before John the Baptist (John 1:29), “before Abraham” (John 8:58), “before the world was” (John 17:5) and “before all things” (Col. 1:17). He is “from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2); from “the beginning” (John 1:1).

Prior to His birth as a human being, Jesus existed in the “form of God” and had “equality with God” (Phil. 2:5-6).

Incarnation

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

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

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

Ascension

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

Christ Jesus is distinct from God.

This is a summary of the article Jesus is not God.

This is a critical and controversial point.  If one asks, ‘who is Jesus’ most Christians would answer that Jesus is the second Person of the Godhead; co-equal to the Father.  In opposition to this view it is shown below that the Bible presents Jesus as distinct from God:

Jesus made a distinction between Himself and God.

You are seeking to kill Me (Jesus), a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” (John 8:40).

I proceeded forth and have come from God” (v42).

Jesus, knowing … that He had come forth from God and was going back to God …” (John 13:3).

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (14:1).

Jesus referred to God as “My God”.  He said, “I ascend …  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)

Paul made a distinction between God and Jesus Christ.

Romans: “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7 cf. 1:1-3; 8:3).  “We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10).  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25).

Corinthians: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).  At the end of time Christ “hands over the kingdom to the God and Father” (1 Cor. 15:24).  “All these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

Colossians: Paul is “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” (Col. 1:1).  “God” raised Jesus from the dead (Col. 2:12).  “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col. 3:17).

Timothy:For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).   “In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 6:13).

Revelation makes a distinction between God and the Lamb.

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).

God is One

There are many statements in the Bible that “God is One”.  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).  Jesus and James repeated the Shema (Mark 12:28-30; James 2:19).

Through Isaiah “the LORD” (Yahweh) confirmed, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (44:6; cf. 45:21-22; 43:10-11).

Paul confirmed that God is one, and made a distinction between the one God and Jesus: “There is but one God, the Father … and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6).  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

Consider the following strong statement, in which Jesus make a distinction between Himself and “the only true God”:

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

Philippians

Before He became a human being, Jesus existed “in the form of God” (2:5-6) and had “equality with God” (2:6).  If an angel appears in the form of a man, he is still an angel; not a man.  That Jesus existed in the form of God, and that He had “equality with God,” actually means that He is distinct from God.  This is confirmed by the statement three verses later that, after His death, “God highly exalted Him” (2:9).

Peter made 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).

Lord Jesus Christ … received honor and glory from God the Father” (2 Peter 1:16-17).

Jesus is at the right hand of God.

A frequent teaching of the NT is that Christ is at the “right hand of God“.  Jesus “was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).  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).  See also Mt. 26:62; Mark 14:62; 16:19; Acts 2:30, 33; 7:55, Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Hebrews 12:2; or Rev 3:21 & 5:1). The fact that Jesus is at the right hand of God confirms that He is distinct from God.  In other words, Jesus is not God.

Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.

God is invisible.  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; cf. John 4:24; 1:18).  “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).

Jesus is God’s visible image. The Son “is the (visible) image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4).  “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3).  “He has explained Him” (John 1:18).

If Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, then Jesus is distinct from God.

Conclusion

Since a clear distinction is consistently made between God and Jesus, Jesus is not God.  In a number of places, the Bible refers to Jesus as God.  These are discussed in the next section.

Jesus is called God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texts referring to Jesus as God

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

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

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

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

John 1

The statements in John 1 require a bit more attention:

John 1:1 reads:

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

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

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

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

John 1:18 reads,

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

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

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

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

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

The Father is greater than I.

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

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

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

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

Jesus said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is subordinate to God the Father.

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

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

God sent the Son into the world.

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

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

Jesus prayed to God.

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

Jesus can do nothing of Himself.

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

Jesus did not know all things.

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

Greater than I

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

Christ is at God’s “right hand“.

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

Head of Christ

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

At the end Christ will be subjected to God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Begotten Son

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But God created all things through Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must worship Jesus.

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

We may only worship God.

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

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

Yet, we must worship Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

First-born of all creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

Verse 17 concludes that “He is before all things.

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

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

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

See the article Jesus in Colossians for a further discussion.

Is Jesus God?

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

God and Jesus are as one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus has equality with God.

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

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

All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus has Divine Titles and Attributes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of this article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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