JESUS: IS HE GOD?
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Is the Deity of Jesus Christ Defendable?
"What about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?"
During His days on earth and throughout the centuries following, opinions about Jesus have varied greatly. Jewish dignitaries of His day saw Him as a deceiver. Roman officials saw Him as a threat to civil peace. His half brothers heckled Him. One of His followers betrayed Him. Another denied Him. Many abandoned Him. Although He spoke the truth, most did not have ears to hear.
Nevertheless, during His short time on earth, He spoke clearly as to who He was, where He was from, why He was here . . . and earth has never been the same. Nor is anyone the same, anyone in whom Jesus comes to dwell.
Consequently, in your own lifetime, you will also have to respond to two crucial questions about Jesus:
- First, “Do you believe He is God?”
- Second, “What will you do with Him?” In truth, Jesus stated clearly to His followers…
To this very day, differing beliefs about Jesus abound. Some say He was just a teacher of truths ... or just a prophet of peace ... or just a man of miracles—but certainly not God. A few even allege that Jesus never lived.
Yet throughout the centuries, committed Christians have continued to say, “He is my Savior and Lord—my God and King!” Who do you say that Jesus is? That is the very question Jesus asked His closest disciples...
In Greek, the word for God is theos.
- Theology is the study of God. Our theology constitutes the way we think about God and our relationship to Him. There are only two kinds of theology: that which lines up with the Word of God and that which does not.
- A theocracy is government by God’s direct rule over a nation or people, or His rule through His chosen representatives who were God’s spokesmen, and by judges, who were God’s chosen deliverers.
In Hebrew, the basic word for God is El.
- The word el is found in many words throughout the Old Testament. El raises God high, reflecting His power.
- El emphasizes God’s might and power ... not a violent power, but profound power.
- El, when combined with other words, further identifies the nature or function of God. This is a compound name.
“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
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Names of God Containing El
“God” as Creator (Genesis 1:1)
- El Elyon
“God Most High” (Genesis 14:18–20)
- El Roi
“The God Who Sees” (Genesis 16:13)
- El Shaddai
“God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1)
- El Olam
“God Everlasting” (Genesis 21:33)
In Hebrew, the Word for “Lord” Is Jehovah or Yahweh
means “the Self-existent One”—The name Jehovah emphasizes His covenant-keeping role.
“Lord, the Self-existent One, Yahweh”
“the Lord, my Provider” (Genesis 22:14)
“the Lord who Heals” (Exodus 15:26)
“the Lord my Banner” (Exodus 17:15)
“the Lord who Sanctifies” (Exodus 31:13)
“the Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:23–24)
“the Lord of Hosts” (1 Samuel 1:3)
“the Lord my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)
“the Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)
“the Lord is There” (Ezekiel 48:35)
Different Names of Jesus
The name Jesus means “Savior” or “the Lord saves.” This Greek name is the personal name of Jesus. (Matthew 1:21)
The word Messiah describes the Anointed One of God as Prophet, Priest, and King, the One prophesied in the Bible to lead God’s people. (John 1:41)
The word Christ is the Greek translation for the Hebrew word Messiah, both meaning “the Anointed One.” (Acts 10:37–38)
The word God refers to the Supreme Being, the Creator, and the Ruler of the universe, who is perfect in power, wisdom, and innate goodness. (Romans 9:5)
The word Lord, spelled with small capital letters, is seen only in the Old Testament and refers only to “YHWH” or “Yahweh,” the divine name of God. When Lord is the translation in the New Testament, the spelling is the lower case Lord, but always designates Jesus as God. (Romans 10:9, 12–13)
Old and New Testaments Present Jesus As God
- Jesus is the First and the Last.
“This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God”
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last’”
- Jesus is the Lord, who provides salvation.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls”
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- Jesus is the Creator.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom”
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made”
Jesus is the originator and sustainer of the universe.
“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”
“In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
“I [Jesus] and the Father are one.”
Did Jesus Ever Exist?
Both early Jewish and Roman historians (non-Christians) attest that Jesus Christ did indeed exist in history.
- Josephus— a prominent Jewish historian in the first century recorded the existence of Jesus.
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ.” (Antiquities of the Jews 18:63)
- Tacitus— considered the greatest historian of ancient Rome (AD 55–120), recorded the existence of Jesus.
“Nero [the Roman Emperor] created scapegoats and subjected to the most refined tortures those whom the common people called “Christians” ... the author of this name, Christ, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate.”
- Pliny the Younger— a Roman governor, wrote in AD 96 to Trajan, the Roman emperor, about his first encounter with Christians who worshipped Christ.
“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.... ” (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10:96–97)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Was Jesus Only a Great Teacher Who Never Claimed to Be God?
According to His own claim ... Jesus and the heavenly Father both have:
- Equality in activity, both doing the same work (John 5:19)
- Equality in knowledge, nothing is hidden (John 5:20)
- Equality in giving people life after death (John 5:21)
- Equality in passing judgment on people (John 5:22)
- Equality in receiving honor from people (John 5:23)
- Equality in bestowing eternal life to people (John 5:24)
- Equality in being self-existent, both always in existence (John 5:26)
“For this reason they [the Jews] tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
Key Verses to Learn
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
(John 1:1, 14)
Key Passage to Read
The Gospel of John
A Partial List of the Miracles of Jesus
- He told his disciples where to catch boatloads of fish. (Luke 5:4–6)
- He cast out an evil spirit from a man in Capernaum. (Mark 1:23–27)
- He calmed a raging storm immediately. (Mark 4:39)
- He raised Jairus’ daughter to life from the dead. (Mark 5:41)
- He fed 5,000 and their families with five loaves and two fish. (Mark 6:30–44)
- He walked on the water. (Mark 6:45–51)
- He provided money from the mouth of a fish. (Matthew 17:27)
- He caused an unfruitful fig tree to wither instantly. (Mark 11:14)
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
Jesus Healed People
- He healed Peter’s mother-in-law. (Luke 4:38–39)
- He healed a paralytic. (Luke 5:17–26)
- He healed a withered hand. (Luke 6:8–10)
- He healed a centurion’s servant. (Luke 7:1–10)
- He healed an epileptic. (Luke 9:37–42)
- He healed ten lepers. (Luke 17:12–14)
- He healed a blind man. (Luke 18:42)
“The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
How Does the Bible Describe Jesus?
- Almighty—Revelation 1:8
- Alpha and Omega—Revelation 1:8; 22:13
- Atoning Sacrifice—1 John 2:2; 4:10
- Blessed and Only Ruler—1 Timothy 6:15
- Bread of Life—John 6:35
- Christ/Messiah—Matthew 1:16; John 1:41
- Cornerstone—Ephesians 2:20
- Deliverer—Romans 11:26
- Friend of Sinners—Matthew 11:19
- Gift of God—2 Corinthians 9:15
- God—John 1:1
- High Priest—Hebrews 3:1; 7:17
- King of Kings—Revelation 17:14; 19:16
- Lamb of God—John 1:29, 36
- Life—John 14:6; 1 John 5:11
- Light of the World—John 9:5
- Lord of Lords—Revelation 19:16
- Mediator—1 Timothy 2:5
- Our Hope—1 Timothy 1:1
- Passover Lamb—1 Corinthians 5:7
- Physician—Matthew 8:5–13
- Ransom—1 Timothy 2:6
- Redemption—1 Corinthians 1:30
- Resurrection—John 11:25
- Savior—Luke 2:11
- Seed of Abraham—Galatians 3:16, 19
- Shepherd—John 10:11, 14
- Son of David—Matthew 21:9
- Son of God—Matthew 16:16
- Son of Man—Matthew 8:20
- Truth—John 14:6
- Way—John 14:6
- Word—John 1:1
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