Paul never referred to Jesus as God.

Purpose

Jesus is GodThe Greek word theos (translated as “God” or as “god”) appears about 1300 times in the New Testament. Of those 1300 instances of theos, about seven possibly refer to Jesus. These seven instances are often used as evidence that Jesus is God. The purpose of this article is to analyze Romans 9:5, which is one of the seven instances, to determine whether it describes Jesus as God.

Summary

Categories of Translations

This article lists and analyses the 28 translations of Romans 9:5 that are quoted by BibleHub. It identifies three categories of translations:

(1) Jesus is theos.

Some translations identify the theos in this verse as referring to Christ and, therefore, translate this verse as saying that Jesus is God. For example, the NIV reads:

The Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!

Of the 28 translations of this verse, 13 read like the NIV.

(2) The Father is theos.

Other translations interpret the theos as NOT referring to Christ and, therefore, as referring to the Father. For example, the Contemporary English Version reads:

They …  were also the ancestors of the Christ.
I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever.

The Good News Translation reads similarly.

(3) Literal translations

While the translations above interpret this verse for us, the more literal translations, such as the NASB, retain the sequence and ambiguity of the original Greek text and read as follows:

Christ … who is over all, God blessed

The question is, what does this mean? It seems to describe Christ as blessed by God. Alternatively, it could mean that we praise God because He sent His Son to become a human being. Either case, in this translation, the word theos describes the Father; not Jesus. Consequently, Jesus and God are different Persons. In other words, Jesus is not God.

In the list of translations at the end of this article, 13 translations read like this.

Conclusions

(1) As I read the 28 translations at the end of this article, most (15) make a distinction between Jesus and God.

(2) The huge variation in the translations indicates a high level of uncertainty with respect to how the verse should be translated. Consequently, this verse must not be used in support of the view that Jesus is God.

Which translations are correct?

But the question remains, which translation is the best? Given the uncertainty with respect to whether this verse describes Jesus or the Father as theos, the verse must be interpreted in the context: 

(1) Paul NEVER refers to Jesus as God.

For me, the most important factor is that this verse (Romans 9:5) is the ONLY place in ALL of Paul’s many letters, where He POSSIBLY refers to Jesus as “God.” Given the uncertainty, in this verse, whether theos refers to the Father or to the Son, this should completely disqualify this verse as support for the view that Jesus is God.

(2) Paul maintains a distinction between Jesus and God.

Equally significant is that, in his many letters, Paul maintains a clear distinction between Jesus and God. Note, this is not only a distinction between Jesus and the Father but a distinction between Jesus and God. This distinction means that Jesus is NOT God.

Addendum 1 of this article identifies all references to “God” in the letter to the Romans that provide further identification, as to whether “God” refers to Jesus or not. It shows that all of these instances make a distinction between God and Jesus. In other words, given the way that Paul used the title “God” in Romans, that Jesus is not God. For example:

We have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ

(Rom 5:1; cf. Rom 1:7, 8; 2:16; 3:23-25; 5:9, 10, 22; 6:10; 7:25; 8:3, 34; 15:6; 16:27).

(3) Who is over all

Romans 9:5 contains the phrase “over all.” This phrase was analyzed to determine whether it helps us to interpret this verse. This analysis shows that the “one God and Father” is “over all” (Eph 4:4-6). Christ “is the head over all rule and authority” (Col 2:8, 10), but received that authority from the Father (Eph 1:17, 22). The phrase “over all,” therefore, may apply to both the Father and the Son and does not help us to interpret this verse.

(3) Blessed

Romans 9:5 contains the term “blessed.” Apart from Romans 9:5, this term appears 7 times in the New Testament and ALWAYS describes the Father (Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Rom 1:25; 2 Cor 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3). Since, in Romans 9:5, it is the theos that is “blessed,” that supports the view that theos refers to the Father and not to Christ. 

It is interesting to note that, in three of these seven instances, the Father is described as Jesus’ God (2 Cor 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3). This emphasizes the distinction between Jesus and God (cf. John 20:17; Heb 1:9; Eph 1:17; Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12).

Conclusions

Romans 9:5 is ambiguous.

(1) The huge variation in the translations of this verse indicates that it is not clear whether this verse applies the title theos to the Father or to the Son.

Jesus is not God.

For the following reasons, the theos in Romans 9:5 refers to the Father and not to Christ:

(1) Paul, in all of his writings, nowhere else refers to Jesus as theos.

(2) Paul always distinguishes Jesus from God.

(3) In the New Testament, it is always the Father that is “blessed.”

Therefore, rather than to support the view that Jesus is God, given the wider context of this verse in the letter to the Romans and all of Paul’s writings, Romans 9:5 supports the conclusion that Jesus is distinct from God and, therefore, not God.

– END OF SUMMARY –

Translations vary significantly.

In this chapter, Paul expresses his deep sorrow over his “kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” (Rom 9:3-4). He lists the wonderful things which belong to the Israelites, namely, adoption as sons, glory, covenants, the Law, temple service, promises, and the fathers (Rom 9:4-5). Lastly, he mentions the most wonderful thing which the Israelites have, namely, Christ, who is also an Israelite “according to the flesh” (Rom 9:5). The question in this article is about the last part of verse 5. Literally, according to an interlinear translation, reads as follows:

Christ according to the flesh
being over all
Theos blessed (Romans 9:5 Interlinear)

There are five main concepts in this phrase:

    1. Christ
    2. According to the flesh (Christ was (or is?) a Jew.)
    3. Being over all
    4. Theos, which basically means a deity, but this term is also used for God; the supreme Divinity
    5. Blessed, which means “well spoken of” (Strong’s Greek: 2128)

Jesus is God-translations

In interpreting the phrase, the main question is whether theos describes Christ. If so, then Christ is also “over all” and “blessed.” In that case, this verse could be translated as the NIV does:

The Messiah, who is God over all, forever!

Of translations of this verse listed at the end of this article, 13 read like the NIV.

Jesus is not God-translations

If theos does not describes Christ, then theos refers to the Father.  Then one has to decide how to divide “over all” and “blessed” between Christ and His Father.

The Contemporary English Version and The Good News Translation decided that theos does not refer to Jesus but to the Father (“God”):

They …  were also the ancestors of the Christ.
I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever.

This makes a clear distinction between Christ and God. Furthermore, in this translation, it is the Father who both “rules over all” and is “praised.”

Literal translations

The translations above are less literal. The NASB, being a more literal translation, retains the sequence of the Greek text and reads as follows:

Christ … who is over all, God blessed

This translation retains the ambiguity of the original Greek text. How do you, being a person that is able to read English, understand this phrase? To me, it seems to describe Christ as blessed by God. Alternatively, it could mean that we praise God because He sent His Son to become a human being. Either case, in this translation:

      • The word theos describes the Father; not Jesus. In other words, Jesus and God are different Persons. In other words, Jesus is not God.
      • Christ is “over all.” and
      • It is the Father who is “blessed;” not Christ.

In the list of translations at the end of this article, 13 translations read like this.

?? I typed theos with a small “t” because the Greek, in which the New Testament was written, does not differentiate between upper- and lower-case letters and because a capital “T” changes the meaning of the word somewhat.

Conclusion

(1) As I read the 28 translations at the end of this article, most (15) make a distinction between Jesus and God.

(2) The huge variation in the translations indicates a high level of uncertainty with respect to how the verse should be translated and means that this verse may not be used in support of the view that Jesus is God.

And if we keep in mind that the Trinity doctrine is generally accepted in the church and that translators, like all other people, would naturally read the Greek text through their doctrinal lenses, then the fact that most translations favor a reading that Jesus is not God, is quite significant. If the translators were Unitarians (people who believe that only the Father is God), I guess very few of them would translate this verse as to read that Jesus is God.

Does Paul present Jesus as God?

But the question is, which translation is the best? How do we decide between the possible translations? Given the uncertainty with respect to whether this verse describes Jesus or the Father as theos, the verse must be interpreted in the context: 

(1) Paul NEVER refers to Jesus as God.

For me, the most important factor is that this verse (Romans 9:5) is the ONLY place in ALL of Paul’s many letters, where He POSSIBLY refers to Jesus as “God.” Given the uncertainty, in this verse, whether theos refers to the Father or to the Son, this should completely disqualify this verse as support for the view that Jesus is God.

(2) Paul ALWAYS distinguishes Jesus from God.

Equally significant is that, in his many letters, Paul ALWAYS makes a clear distinction between Jesus and God. Note, this is not only a distinction between Jesus and the Father but a distinction between Jesus and God. This distinction means that Jesus is NOT God. For example:

We have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ
“ (Rom 5:1).

Thanks be to God
through Jesus Christ our Lord“ (Rom 7:25).

In other words, in Romans, Paul did not use the title “God” for Jesus. The letter to the Colossians was analyzed and came to the same conclusion.

(3) Who is over all

Consider again the literal, interlinear translation:

Christ according to the flesh
being over all
theos blessed (Romans 9:5 Interlinear)

This seems to say that Christ is “over all.” A search in the NASB translation of the New Testament of the phrase “over all,” to determine who is “over all,” revealed that the “one God and Father” is over all:

There is … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6).

Christ “is the head over all rule and authority” (Col 2:8, 10), but received that authority from the Father:

The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” “put all things in subjection under His (Jesus’) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:17, 22).

Consequently, Jesus gave the twelve “power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases” (Luke 9:1) “and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).

This is the consistent pattern in the New Testament: Jesus has all power, is over all, has life in Himself, created all things, upholds all things by the word of His power, and is the judge, but all these things he received from the Father. (See Head of Christ.) On the one hand, we must not have a diminished view of Christ and think of Him as a created being. Rather, as the only Being that was ever begotten by God, He is God’s true family. But, on the other hand, we must realize that the Father is the Ultimate Source of all things. Only He exists without cause and who gave life to His Only Begotten Son and, through Him, to everything else.

With respect to the phrase “over all” in Romans 9:5, the meaning is probably that Christ is over all. However, we must always remember that, ultimately, the Father is “over all.”

(3) Blessed

Consider again the Interlinear translation:

Christ according to the flesh
being over all
theos blessed.

This seems to indicate that it is the theos who is “blessed.” If theos here refers to the Father, it is the Father who is blessed.

Strong’s Greek: 2128 states that eulogétos, which is translated here as “blessed,” and which means “well spoken of,” appears 8 times in the New Testament. Considering the seven instances (other than Romans 9:5), it is NEVER Jesus who is “blessed” but ALWAYS His God and Father:

Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:61 NASB);

Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel” (Luke 1:68);

The Creator, who is blessed forever” (Rom 1:25);

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ
” (2 Cor 1:3)

The God and Father of the Lord Jesus,
He who is blessed forever
” (2 Cor 11:31)

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ
” (Eph 1:3)

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ
” (1 Peter 1:3)

Since, in Romans 9:5, it is the theos that is “blessed,” and since, elsewhere in the New Testament, it is always the Father that is “blessed,” theos Romans 9:5 refers to the Father and not to Christ.

It is interesting to note that, in three of these seven instances, the Father is described as Jesus’ God (cf. (John 20:17; Heb 1:9; Eph 1:17; Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12). This must be related to worship. Our praise goes to God “through Jesus:

I thank my God through Jesus Christ
(Rom 1:8; cf. 7:25;
16:27).

For further discussion, see the article on worship.

Conclusions

Romans 9:5 is ambiguous.

How this verse is translated depends partly on punctuation, and punctuation in the Bible is mostly interpretation. The original text of the New Testament was written only in capital letters, without vowels, and with limited punctuation (The Aquila Report). Metzger (Textual Commentary, 167) wrote:

“The presence of punctuation in Greek manuscripts … cannot be regarded as more than the reflection of current exegetical understanding of the meaning of the passage.”

Brian James Wright, in his document, Jesus as Θεός: A Textual Examination, in his analysis dismissed Romans 9:5 upfront because this verse involves a punctuation issue “which our earliest manuscripts do not answer.” (Douglas J. Moo, “The Christology of the Early Pauline Letters,” in Contours of Christology in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 190.)

Jesus is not God.

For the following reasons, the theos in Romans 9:5 refers to the Father and not to Christ:

(1) Paul never refers to Jesus as God.

(2) Paul always distinguishes Jesus from God.

(3) In the New Testament, in the seven other instances of eulogétos (translated here as “blessed”), it is always the Father that is “blessed.”

Therefore, rather than to support the view that Jesus is God, given the wider context of this verse in the letter to the Romans and all of Paul’s writings, Romans 9:5 supports the conclusion that Jesus is distinct from God and, therefore, not God.

God does everything through the Son.

One of the important conclusions, from the analysis of the 13 verses in Romans where God and Jesus are contrasted (see addendum 1 below), is reflected by the word “through.” Eight of these verses contain the word “through.” This explains the relationship between God and Jesus, namely that God does everything, including the creation of all things and redemption, through His Son. We even worship God through Jesus. For example:

I thank my God
through Jesus Christ
“ (Rom 1:8; cf. 7:25; 16:27).

This also helps us to understand to nature of Jesus Christ. 

Transversal Conclusions

Conclusions in this article that also support other articles:

(1) Most translations of Romans 9:5 make a distinction between Jesus and God.

(2) The huge variation in the translations indicates a high level of uncertainty with respect to how the verse should be translated. Consequently, this verse must not be used in support of the view that Jesus is God.

(3) Paul NEVER refers to Jesus as God.

(4) Paul’s letter to the Romans maintains a consistent distinction between Jesus and God.

(5) God is “over all” (Eph 4:4-6) but appointed Christ “over all rule and authority” (Col 2:8, 10).

(6) The term “blessed” (eulogétos) ALWAYS describes the Father (Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Rom 1:25; 2 Cor 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3).

(7) The Father is Jesus’ God (2 Cor 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; John 20:17; Heb 1:9; Eph 1:17; Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12).

(8) The theos in Romans 9:5 refers to the Father and not to Christ. Therefore, rather than to support the view that Jesus is God, Romans 9:5 supports the conclusion that Jesus is distinct from God and, therefore, not God.

(9) God does everything through the Son, including the creation of all things and redemption, through His Son. We even worship God through Jesus (cf. Rom 1:8; cf. 7:25; 16:27).

Addendum 1
God” in the letter to the Romans

For the purpose of this article, all references to “God” in the letter to the Romans were identified. Then those references that provide further identification, as to whether “God” refers to Jesus or not, were identified. Fourteen instances were found. 13 of those 14 instances make a distinction between God and Jesus. This implies, given the way that Paul used the title “God” in Romans, that Jesus is not God. These 13 instances are as follows:

God and the Lord Jesus Christ

The following verses distinguish between God and the Lord Jesus Christ:

God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ
” (Rom 1:7);

The God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ
” (Rom 15:6);

It is important to understand that Paul consistently refers to the Father as “God” but to Jesus as “Lord.” That was also the conclusion from the analysis of the letter to the Colossians (cf. 1 Cor 8:6).

God saves through Christ.

The following verses distinguish between Christ and God with respect to their roles in salvation:

We have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ
“ (Rom 5:1).

We shall be saved from the wrath of God
through Him (Christ)
“ (Rom 5:9).

We were reconciled to God
through the death of His Son
“ (Rom 5:10).

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
being justified as a gift by His grace
through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus
whom God displayed publicly
as a propitiation in His blood through faith
” (Rom 3:23-25).

For what the Law could not do …
God did: sending His own Son
in the likeness of sinful flesh
” (Rom 8:3).

I bolded the word “through” in several verses because that word is important to understand the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is the Father who creates and saved, but always “through” the Son.

We praise God through Christ.

Verses that distinguish between Christ and God with respect to who we praise:

I thank my God
through Jesus Christ
“ (Rom 1:8).

Thanks be to God
through Jesus Christ our Lord!
“ (Rom 7:25)

To the only wise God,
through
Jesus Christ,
be the glory forever
“ (Rom 16:27).

Everything we receive, we receive from God “through” Christ and we return our praise to God “through” His Son.

God judges through Christ.

The following verse distinguishes between Christ and God with respect to judgment:

God will judge the secrets of men
through Christ Jesus
“ (Rom 2:16).

Compare John 5:22:

The Father … has given all judgment to the Son.

After His resurrection and Ascension

Verses that distinguish between Christ and God with respect to what Jesus today does:

The life that He (Christ now) lives,
He lives to God
“ (Rom 6:10).

Christ Jesus …
who is at the right hand of God
“ (Rom 8:34);

Conclusions

These 13 verses make a clear distinction between God and Jesus, which means that Jesus and God are different Persons. Paul, in Romans, did not use the title “God” for Jesus. These verses also contain a number of other important principles.

1. The word “through” is found in 8 of the verses. This explains the relationship between God and Jesus, namely that everything that God did or does, He did or does through His Son, including the creation of all things.  We even worship God through Jesus.

2. One often hears it said that we are saved by Jesus, but these verses show that it is God that saves – through Jesus. This point was also brought out by the analysis of the letter to the Colossians.

3.  Our thanks go to God; not to Jesus. This principle is relevant to Romans 9:5, as discussed.

4. In Romans, Paul uses the title “Father” only twice; namely in the beginning and at the end of the letter (Rom 1:7; 15:6). That means that he preferred to refer to the Father as “God.”

Addendum 2:
Translations of Romans 9:5

Jesus is God.

In the following translations, Jesus is God, using slightly different wording:

“… Who is God over all, forever praised
New International Version

“… Who is God over all, praised forever
Christian Standard Bible,
Holman Christian Standard Bible

“… Who is God over all, blessed forever
NET Bible
English Standard Version

“… He is God, … who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praiseNew Living Translation

“… Who is God over all, forever worthy of praise
Berean Study Bible

“… Being God over all, blessed to the ages
Berean Literal Bible

“… Who is God over all, the one who is forever blessed
International Standard Version

“… Who is over all, God, blessed forever
New Heart English Bible

“… Who is The God Who is over all, to Whom are praises and blessings to the eternity of eternities
Aramaic Bible in Plain English

“… The Messiah is God over everything, forever blessed
GOD’S WORD® Translation

“… Who is God over all things, blessed for all the ages
Jubilee Bible 2000

Literal Translations

The following translations, seemingly the more literal translations, all put the four concepts in the same sequence as in the original Greek and also use the same English words and punctuation, implying that Jesus and God are distinct:

Who is over all, God blessed forever.”
New American Standard Bible,
King James Bible,
American King James Version,
King James 2000 Bible,
American Standard Version,
Darby Bible Translation,
Webster’s Bible Translation,
World English Bible,
English Revised Version,
New American Standard 1977

The following translations are similar, but use slightly different words:

Who is over all things, God blessed for ever
Douay-Rheims Bible

Who is exalted above all, God blessed throughout the Ages
Weymouth New Testament

Who is over all, God blessed to the ages
Young’s Literal Translation

Jesus distinct from God

Less literal translations that explicitly interpret theos as the Father: 

They …  were also the ancestors of the Christ.
I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever
Contemporary English Version

Christ, as a human being, belongs to their race.
May God, who rules over all, be praised forever
Good News Translation

Other Available Articles

If Jesus is not God, why does the Bible call Him God?

Purpose

The New Testament, generally, makes a distinction between Jesus and God and uses the title “God” for the Father alone. That implies that Jesus is not “God.” However, of the 1300 instances in the New Testament of the Greek word theos (translated as “god” or as “God” – Strong’s Greek: 2316. θεός), about seven refers to Jesus as theos. The purpose of this article is to determine what the New Testament writers meant when they described Jesus as theos.

God’s name YHVH

YHVH is often translated as “the LORD.”

To appreciate the meaning of the term “God,” first consider the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the God of Israel has a unique name that is not used for any other being. That name is YHVH, pronounced as Jehovah or as Yahweh. This name is used all over the Old Testament; more than 6800 times. Some Bibles translate YHVH as Yahweh or Jehovah, for instance:

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

But most Bibles ‘translate’ YHVH as “the LORD” (all capitals). For example, in the NASB, the same verse reads:

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

?? This verse refers to YHVH as the “Most High.” Angel Gabriel similarly said to Mary that Jesus “will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32).

This distorts the meaning.

For example, God said to Moses:

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
” (Exo 6:2).

Because “Lord” is a title and not a name, this ‘translation’ distorts the meaning. It would be easier to understand this verse if the name “YHVH” was not replaced with“the LORD” and it read as follows

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
.”

In other words, Moses was the first person to whom God revealed His name. The name YHVH does appear in Genesis, but that is because Moses also wrote Genesis.

El and Elohim

Elohim is a category name.

In Hebrew, the word for “god” (generally El or the plural form Elohim), in contrast to YHVH, is used both for the true God and for false gods. El and Elohim are even used for angels and exalted people. The NASB, therefore, translates Elohim 45 times as “god” and 204 times as “gods,” and occasionally also as divine, divine being, exceedingly, God’s, goddess, godly, great, judges, mighty, rulers and shrine (Strong’s Hebrew: 430. אֱלֹהִים (elohim)). For example:

The True God”
A jealous and avenging God [elohim] is the LORD” (Nahum 1:2).

False gods:
For My people have forgotten Me,
They burn incense to worthless gods
[elohim]
(Jer 18:15; cf. Exo 20:3; 32:31).

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

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

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

Techniques to make the title elohim specific

Since the title Elohim is a name for a category of beings, the Old Testament uses various techniques to be specific when the true God is intended:

(1) Combines Elohim with YHVH:

The LORD God” (YHVH Elohim) is found more than 200 times in the NASB, for instance, “the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” (Gen 2:4).

The LORD, the God” – about 50 times;

The LORD your God” – about 200 times; For instance, “Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying ’Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God’” (Isa 7:10).

The LORD his God,” for instance, “When a leader sins and unintentionally does any one of all the things which the LORD his God …” (Lev 4:22)

The LORD my God,” for instance, “I (Daniel) prayed to the LORD my God” (Dan 9:4).

The LORD our God,” for instance, “We have sinned against the LORD our God” (Jer 3:25). (54 times)

The LORD their God,” for instance, “I am the LORD their God” (Exo 29:46). (12 times)

(2) YHVH in the immediately context

When Elohim is not directly combined with YHVH, YHVH is often used in the immediately context, so that it is still clear that Elohim refers to YHVH, for instance:

So the LORD changed His mind …
Then Moses … went down from the mountain
with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand …
the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.

(Exo 32:14-16)

“6 The LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah …
7 But God appointed a worm … and … the plant … withered.
8 … God appointed a scorching east wind,
and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head …
he became faint and begged with all his soul to die …
9 Then God said to Jonah …” (Jonah 4:6-9)

(3) Other techniques

The Old Testament also uses other techniques to ensure that the reader understands that the true God is intended, include:

The phrase “God of Israel” is found more than 60 times (e.g., Jer 19:15) and makes a distinction between YHVH and the false gods of the surrounding nations. For instance:

Is it because there is no God in Israel
that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub,
the god of Ekron?
” (2 King 1:3-4)

The phrase “God Almighty” is found 5 times (e.g., Gen 48:3).

Many times God is identified as the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (e.g., Gen 32:9).

Jesus is Elohim.

It is difficult to find a place in the Old Testament where the term Elohim is used for YHVH without further identification. The name YHVH seems to be always somewhere in the context. This means that the Old Testament does not use Elohim as a unique identifier or as a name for the God of the Bible. In contrast, in modern English, “God” is used as a unique name for the Most High.

Since Elohim, by itself, does not identify any specific being uniquely and since it has such a wide range of meanings, so that it is even translated as “god,” “divine,” “divine being,” “great,” “judges,” and as “rulers,” given what we know of Jesus, He would also be Elohim. But we want to know more than that. We want to know whether Jesus is YHVH, or the Elohim of Israel.

Jesus is called God.

Of the 1314 times that the title “God” appears in the New Testament, it refers explicitly to Jesus about seven times, depending on the translation. Jesus is possibly called “God” three times in John (1:1, 18; 20:27; 1 John 5:20), twice in Paul’s letters (Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13), once by Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and once in Hebrews (Heb 1:8). This, by itself, does not prove that Jesus is the same as or equal to the Only True and invisible God (John 17:3; Col 1:15), because “god” is also used for false gods and for exalted created beings, and because Jesus is referred to as “God” in only about seven instances. Furthermore:

The NT reserves “God” as a name for the Father exclusively.

A separate article shows that, from the occurrences of “God” in the New Testament that do provide further identification, that the New Testament consistently and clearly draws a distinction between God and Jesus. For example:

Paul refers to “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:7). 

Revelation states. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22). 

John wrote of “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). 

That article, therefore, concludes that the New Testament reserves the title “God” for the Father exclusively. With that use of the term “God,” Jesus is not God.

Another article confirms that Jesus is not God by showing that Jesus is subordinate to God. For instance, God is the Head of Christ (1 Cor 11:3) and Christ sits at God’s right hand (e.g. Acts 2:33). Everything that His Son has, He has received from His Father. This includes:

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

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

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

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

His glory:
My glory which You have given Me” (John 17:24)

We must use the title “God” in the same way that the Bible does. If we define the title “God” as referring to the Father exclusively, then Jesus is not God.

Romans 9:5

Does Romans 9:5 refer to Jesus as God?

This is discussed in a separate article Jesus in Romans. That article analyses all references to “God” in the letter to the Romans and it concludes that Romans everywhere makes a distinction between God and Jesus. The only possible exception is Romans 9:5. Of the 28 translations of this verse, as provided by BibleHub, 14 identify Jesus as God but, in the other 14, Jesus is “God blessed” (NASB), which makes, like the entire rest of that letter, a distinction between God and Jesus. It is all a matter of punctuation, and punctuation in the Bible is interpretation (The Aquila Report).

Furthermore, Romans 9:5 contains the phrase “who is over all” and ascribe blessing. To read Romans 9:5 as describing Jesus as God, He must be the One who is “who is over all” and ascribe blessing. But in all other places in Paul’s writings “who is over all” refer not to Christ, but to God (Eph 4:6). Similarly, everywhere else in Paul’s writings our thanks go to God; not to Jesus.

Given these facts, and since Paul nowhere else applied the title “God” to our Lord, Romans 9:5 should not be used to argue that Jesus is God.

Titus 2:13

Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,
and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession
” (Titus 2:13).

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

There is but one God, the Father …
and one Lord, Jesus Christ
” (I Cor. 8:6)

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

Peter

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

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

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

Letter to the Hebrews

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

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

Thomas

When Jesus showed him His wounds, the doubting Thomas realized that the One standing in front of him is the risen Lord, and he exclaimed:

My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

However, just a minute before Thomas did not even believe that Jesus was resurrected.  He had no idea of the profound concepts that God would later reveal to John, which we read of in His gospel.  It is unthinkable that Thomas, at that moment, thought of Jesus as the same as or equal to the Only True and invisible God (John 17:3; Col. 1:15).

The Word was God (John 1)

John 1:1 is the best known “proof” that Jesus is God. John 1:18 is similar to John 1:1. These two verses are therefore discussed together:

Jesus is distinct from God.

Both verses start by making a distinction between God and Jesus:

John 1:1 refers to Jesus as the Word (see verse 14).  It starts by saying, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.”  Since Jesus was “with God,” He is distinct from God.

John 1:18 starts by saying that “No one has seen God at any time.”  Colossians 1:15 also describes God as invisible.  Since God is invisible, while Jesus was seen, Jesus is distinct from God.

But both God and Jesus existed in the infinite “beginning” (1:1) and both therefore are eternal.  This is confirmed by 1:3 which says “All things came into being through Him (the Word), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”.  There was no time that “the Word” did not exist, for God created all things through Him; even time itself.

Jesus is God.

Both verses then continue to refer to Jesus as God:

John 1:1 continues to say “and the Word was God.

John 1:18 similarly continues, “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

Conclusions from John 1

Firstly, note that 1:18 identifies the unseen God as the Father.  One of the many similar statements is “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17).  This confirms the conclusion that the New Testament, in the vast majority of instances, reserves the title “God” for the Father.

Secondly, although John 1:1 and 1:18  refer to Jesus as God, these same verses also make a distinction between God and Jesus.  These are two different uses of the title “God:”

WHO: In the vast majority of instances the Bible uses “God” as a name for the Father, similar to the name YHVH.  It uniquely identifies the Father.  In this use of the term “God,” Jesus is not God.

WHAT: In the seven instances where Jesus is called “God,” the term “God” is used in a different sense.  It is not used as an identification, but as a description, namely that Jesus is our God.

Note the “our” and “my:”  Both Paul and Peter wrote, “Our great God … Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1).  Thomas said “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).  In other words, although Jesus is not the God, but He is our God.

When the New Testament refers to Jesus as God, then the NT reverts back to the common meaning of the word “god.” Other people have other gods, but Jesus is our God.  This does not mean that He is God, for the title “God” is reserved for the Father, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).

Why is He our God?

To understand why the writers of the New Testament declared Jesus to be our God, we must read the seven verses where He is called God.  Then we find that Jesus is our God because:

He was in the beginning with God and that God created all things through Jesus (1:1-3; Heb. 1:10). Although everything may perish, Jesus will always remain and will always remain the same (1:11-12). He is the only One who is able to explain God, who cannot be seen (John 1:18).  He rose from the dead (John 20:28) and He is “over all” (Rom. 9:5). He is “Savior” who “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession” (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1).

Is Jesus God?

This is a bad question, unless we define what we mean by “God.”  The New Testament reserves the title “God” for the uncaused Cause of all things, who cannot be seen. Jesus referred to Him as “Father.”  Gabriel referred to Him as the “Most High.” If we use this meaning for the title “God,” then Jesus is not God.

But in a small number of instances the New Testament refers to Jesus as “God.” These verses use a different meaning of the term “God.” These verses use the common meaning of theos, in which beings other than the uncaused Cause of all things may be called theos. Other people have other gods, but Jesus is the One that we worship and obey.

This does not mean that Jesus is equal to the uncaused Cause of all things.  Here we depart from mainstream Christianity.

As discussed above, Jesus received everything from the Father.

Jesus is not the Creator of all things, but God created all things through Him.

If we ask whether Jesus always existed, then the answer is yes and no, for we need to understand what the questioner means.  The term “always” assumes time, and time did not always exist.  Time started when this universe was created.  Before time there was no such thing as time.  But we cannot even talk about “before” the creation of the universe.  There is just no such thing.  To talk about what exists outside time is to ask about the One “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16).  These things are simply beyond human understanding.  But Jesus existed in the “Beginning” (John 1:1).  We can therefore safely assume that Jesus existed from the beginning of time.

Jesus is not co-equal to the Father, but He is our God, for He created us, redeemed us, sustains us, is preparing homes for us, and one day He will return to take us where He is.  Then:

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 highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW … to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9:11).

Conclusion

I have written several articles on the use of theos for Jesus in the NT. My conclusions can be summarised into the following categories:

Instances where it is NOT clear whether theos refers to Christ:

In many translations of Romans 9:5, Jesus is not God but blessed by God. See, Jesus in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

In 1 John 5:20, the title “true theos” is sometimes understood as referring to the Son. However, the entire purpose of that verse is to say that the Father is the “true” God, in contrast to the idols mentioned in the next verse. It twice refers to the Father as “Him who is true.” Therefore, when that verse concludes by saying that “This is the true God,” this should be understood as referring to the Father:

20 And we know that the Son of God has come,
and has given us understanding
so that we may know Him who is true;
and we are in Him who is true,
in His Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (NASB)

Instances where it is not clear whether the original manuscripts contain the word theos:

Many of the ancient manuscripts of John 1:18 describe Jesus as “Son” and not as God.” See, Did John John refer to Jesus as theos (god) or huios (son)?

Instances where the meaning of the word theos is in dispute:

The grammatical structure of John 1:1c means that the word was like God; not that he is God. See, The Word was God or like God?

In Hebrews 1:8-9 and John 20:28, 19, Jesus is called theos but the Father is called His God. That means that theos is used in different senses for the Father and Son. See the article on theos.

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