Is Jesus God?

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Representation of Jesus Christ, extracted from the painting "Christ And The Rich Young Ruler" by Heinrich Hofmann (1889).

Last edited on 20/Apr/2021

For a shorter article on Jesus’ deity, please see the below article:

The Bible’s Answer

The Bible’s answer to this question is yes, Jesus Christ is God. He is not a created being, as the heresy of Arianism teaches (Colossians 1:16–17). Jesus’ deity is such an important teaching of the Bible that any individual or group which rejects it is not Christian and won’t be saved. The Bible teaches the deity of Christ in many ways. Some passages give Jesus attributes and roles that are exclusive to God (John 1:1–3); others give Jesus names and titles of God (Revelation 1:17); others put Jesus on an equal level with God (John 5:18), and still, others call Jesus God/Yahweh directly (John 20:28–29; Hebrews 1:8).

An important thing to be noted, however, is that while Jesus is God, he is not the Father (Matthew 3:16–17). God is a Trinity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three different Persons of the one substance (essence/being) (John 10:30Matthew 28:19. Jesus is the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. In other words, when the Bible calls Jesus God, it is saying that he has a divine nature (meaning that he is a divine Person of the Godhead). (For more on this, please see: What Is the Holy Trinity?)

The Bible Teaches That Jesus Is God

The authors of the Bible, the Word of God, believed that Jesus is God. Consider the following Scriptures. In John 1:1, we see that the Word was with God before the world was created and that John also calls the Word God himself. Later on he identifies the Word as Jesus in verse 14 and onward, proving that Jesus is God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Note that John also says the Word was “with God”, proving that while Jesus is God, he is also a distinct Person from the Father. In John 20:28-29, Thomas confessed Jesus as his Lord and his God when Jesus appeared to him after he was resurrected from the dead. In reply, Jesus did not rebuke Thomas, but instead called him blessed:

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:28–29)

In Colossians 2:9, Paul wrote that the fullness of deity dwells in Christ bodily, i.e., the-flesh-blood body of the man Jesus is fully God and divine; he is both God and man:

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, … (Colossians 2:9)

In Hebrews 1:8, we see a remarkable statement by the Father himself, in which he calls Jesus God and says that he will reign as King forever:

But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)

In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul wrote that Jesus was in the form of God and that when he came to the earth he took the form of a servant and human. Because being in human form means that he is truly human, being in God’s form means that he is truly God. Paul also teaches here that Jesus chose not to cling to the benefits of his equality with God while on the earth, thus proving that Jesus is co-equal with the Father:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5–8)

Paul wrote in the Book of Romans that the Christ “is God over all”:

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:5)

Finally, Peter started his second letter by calling Jesus “our God and Saviour”:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: … (2 Peter 1:1)

Jesus Claimed to Be God

In John’s Gospel, Jesus claimed that God was his own Father. John then commented that by doing so he was making himself “equal with God”:

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:17–19)

Note that Jesus then added that whatever God does is what he does and that he can do nothing apart from the Father. In other words, everything that Jesus does is what God does; this is another clear claim to being God. Not long after, Jesus made yet another extraordinary claim:

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, 23 that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. (John 5:22–23)

Here, Jesus affirmed his previous claim to being equal with God by saying that all should honour him just as God himself is honoured. In other words, Jesus should be worshipped, adored, praised, and prayed to just as God is; Jesus is God. In the three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus claimed to be “the Lord of the Sabbath” after the Pharisees falsely accused his disciples of breaking it:

And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. (Luke 6:5)

We know from the Old Testament that God was the one who instituted the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8–10). By claiming to be the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus was claiming to be the one who instituted it (God), and that he therefore has authority over that day. Jesus clearly claimed to be God here. In another instance in John’s Gospel, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. Take special note of the Jews’ reaction to this:

I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God. (John 10:30–33)

The Jews who were with Jesus at the time were in a far better position to understand his words than we are; they clearly knew that he was making himself God. Therefore, Jesus claimed to be one with God in essence (being). In response, Jesus never corrected them, but instead exposed them for their hypocrisy of wanting to kill him for telling the truth (John 10:34–39). In the Book of Revelation, Jesus claimed to be “the First and the Last”:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, … (Revelation 1:17)

Jesus knew full well that according to the Old Testament, God is “the First and the Last” (Isaiah 44:6). This was one of Jesus’ most direct and explicit claims to being God.

Jesus Has the Attributes of God

God’s unique attributes that separate him from the rest of creation are that he is: all-powerful (Job 42:2), all-knowing (Psalm 94:9–11), all-present (Ephesians 4:6), unchanging (Psalm 102:25–27), eternal (Psalm 90:2), perfect (Leviticus 11:45), and sovereign (Psalm 135:5–6). Some other unique attributes of his are that only he can be prayed to and worshipped (Matthew 6:6; 4:10), only he can forgive sins (Mark 2:5–7), and only he is the creator of everything (Isaiah 44:24). Jesus has all of these attributes.

  • Jesus Is Omnipotent: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20–21)
  • Jesus Is Omniscient: “His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” (John 16:29–30)
  • Jesus Is Omnipresent: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
  • Jesus Is Immutable: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
  • Jesus Is the Eternal Creator of Everything: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16–17)
  • Jesus Is Perfect: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
  • Jesus Is Sovereign: “He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31)
  • Jesus Is Prayed to: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59–60)
  • Jesus Is Worshipped: “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32–33)
  • Jesus Forgives Sins: “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:5–7)

Some more things worthy of being mentioned are that Jesus has God’s “exact nature” (Hebrews 1:3) (meaning that he is equal with the Father in his divinity), he grants people eternal life (John 5:25–29), and is the Final Judge of the living and the dead (2 Corinthians 5:10) (note that Yahweh is called “the Judge of all the Earth” in Genesis 18:25). All this could only be true for God alone.

Jesus Is Yahweh

YHWH, which is commonly pronounced by Christians as “Yahweh”, is God’s personal name. It is the name by which God revealed himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14–15), and it is a shortened form of “I Am Who I Am”, which emphasises God’s self-sufficiency. Whenever the word “LORD” appears in capital letters in the Old Testament,¹ it refers to “Yahweh”. The Christians and authors of the New Testament, the Word of God, believed that Jesus is Yahweh because they attributed to him Old Testament passages that spoke of Yahweh. One example is a prophecy in Isaiah:

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

When the Jews sent priests and Levites to question who John the Baptist was, he responded:

I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’, as the prophet Isaiah said. (John 1:23)

We are then told:

The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. (John 1:29–31)

John the Baptist believed that Jesus is Yahweh as prophesied in Isaiah 40, which was why he wanted to reveal him to Israel through baptising people in the wilderness. Therefore, when Isaiah wrote of Yahweh, he was writing of Jesus, who is Yahweh. Another example is a prophecy in Joel:

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Joel 2:32)

Paul quoted from Joel 2:32 in Romans 10:13, to prove that everyone who calls on Jesus’ name will be saved:

… because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9–13)

Paul believed that Jesus is Yahweh as prophesied in Joel 2:32. Therefore, when Joel wrote of Yahweh, he was writing of Jesus. Another example is Isaiah 45:23, in which Yahweh says:

To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance. (Isaiah 45:23)

In Philippians 2:10–11, Paul wrote:

… so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10–11)

Here, Paul once again confirms that Jesus is Yahweh, by declaring that every knee shall bow to Jesus and swear allegiance to him, just as Isaiah said of Yahweh.

Faith in Jesus’ Deity Is Essential for Salvation

The Christian Church of all denominations has always declared that those who reject Jesus’ deity are non-Christian and heretics. This is because Jesus himself said that those who reject him as God will not be saved. Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) He also said that unless you believe he is “I am” (the Greek omits “he”) you will die in your sins (John 8:24). These passages are both a reference to Exodus 3:14–15, in which God claimed to be “I am”. Those who reject Jesus’ deity believe in a false Christ and will die in their sins.

John also wrote: “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:23) The Bible is clear that Jesus is God, so those who deny it are denying the true identity of the Son. By denying the Son, these people are denying the Father also, and are thus without God and without salvation. It is necessary to believe in the true Christ for eternal life.

Conclusion

The Bible teaches that Jesus is God and all true Christians believe this. The Bible calls him God directly, Jesus claimed to be God, it gives him attributes that only God can have, and it connects him to quotes that refer to Yahweh. Anyone who reads the Bible without bias or prejudice and who faithfully seeks to believe exactly what it says will come to this conclusion. It is necessary to believe that Jesus is God in order to have a right relationship with God and eternal life.

Notes

1. The word “Yahweh” does not appear at all in the New Testament. Instead, whenever it quotes Old Testament passages that mention “Yahweh” (LORD), it substitutes it with the Greek word “Kurios”, which is translated as “Lord”. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew, and Yahweh is a Hebrew word.

Secondly, the New Testament authors always quoted from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which always substitutes Yahweh (LORD) with Kurios (Lord). The scribes of the Septuagint did this out of respect for God’s name, because they were afraid of blaspheming it. Because the New Testament authors quoted from the Septuagint under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this is a perfectly biblical practice.

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