TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Jesus Christ and God

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Chapter 3  Part II

Jesus Christ and God

The claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is one of the most central teachings in the NT. In addition to this, the NT says much that associates Jesus Christ with God. This teaching forms the basis of a large portion of what distinguishes Christianity from other religions.

Jesus Christ Is the Son of God (I): General

Jesus Christ is the Son of God . . .

Heb 4:14  Therefore since we [believers] have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  NET

. . . Jesus Christ is God’s only Son

1Jn 4:9b  God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him.  NET

God is Jesus Christ’s Father

Col 1:3  [Paul, to the Colossian believers:] We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our prayers for you.  GW

Note that the NT seems to use the term “God the Father” in a different sense to what we do when we use the term in reference to “God the Son” (which the NT does not use). The NT would appear to use “Father” as a title of God, to show or reflect God’s relationship to Jesus Christ, his Son. This is reflected here by: “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Jesus Christ is the image of God

2Cor 4:4b  … the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.  NET

The assertion that Jesus Christ is the image of God – having the form and fullness of God (as per the following subsection) – reflects and supports the assertion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Jesus Christ has the form and fullness of God – equality in nature

Phil 2:5-6  [Paul, to believers:] You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, 6who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped …  NET

Col 1:19  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son …  NET

The phrase “all his fullness” refers to: the fullness of God’s nature (cf. GNT, NIrV) – “the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes” (AMP); and/or “all of himself” (NCV; cf. CEV, NLT), meaning that God himself in all his fullness dwells in Jesus Christ.

Note: The Father loves his Son

John 3:35  The Father loves the Son and has placed all things under his authority.  NET

 Questions for Section A

Jesus Christ Is the Son of God (II): Testimony

God testified to Jesus Christ being his Son

Matt 3:16-17  After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.”  NET

Jesus Christ himself testified to being the Son of God

Matt 26:63-64a  But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 64Jesus said to him, “It is as you said.  NKJV

Others also testified to Jesus Christ being the Son of God

Mark 3:11  When evil spirits saw Jesus, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!”  NCV™

John 1:32-34  And John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him. 33I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen it,” said John, “and I tell you that he is the Son of God.”  GNT

Jesus Christ’s deeds are evidence that he is the Son of God

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  NET

The phrase “these are recorded” (v. 31) refers to the miraculous signs that John did record as testimony to Jesus Christ being the Son of God, his miraculous deeds giving credence to his miraculous claim.

Other events of Jesus Christ’s incarnation are further evidence

Matt 27:50-52, 54  Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. 51Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split apart. 52And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.54Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!”  NET

Rom 1:3-4  It [the gospel] is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: as to his humanity, he was born a descendant of David; 4as to his divine holiness, he was shown with great power to be the Son of God by being raised from death.  GNT

Jesus Christ’s resurrection is a powerful testimony to him being the Son of God.

 Questions for Section B

Jesus Christ Is Identified with God

See also:

Jesus Christ and the Father are one – each is in the other

John 17:11b, 21  Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. … 21that that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.  NET

This speaks of an inseparable unity, including a unity of purpose.

To know or see Jesus Christ is to know or see the Father

John 14:7-9  [Jesus, to his disciples:] If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” 9Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  NET

Jesus Christ is called “God” . . .

John 20:28  Thomas replied to him [Jesus], “My Lord and my God!”  NET

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

Jesus Christ is understood to be “the Word” – with the man Jesus being the manifestation of “the Word” (cf. v. 14). Note that the phrases in view here (i.e. in italics) may have a qualitive sense (cf. REB; NET text note).

. . . and Jesus’ usage of “I am” quite possibly alludes to God’s name

John 8:57-59  So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.  NET

Jesus uses the phrase “I am” (v. 58) in a manner that may well be a reference to the name God gave for himself to Moses – “I am who I am” and its shortened form “I am” – in Exodus 3:14.

OT references to God are applied to Jesus Christ

Eph 4:7-8  [Paul, to believers:] But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.”  NET

Verse 8 quotes Psalm 68:18 and Philippians 2:9-11 below alludes to Isaiah 45:23b. Both of the OT verses contain references to God which are applied to Jesus Christ in these NT verses.

Phil 2:9-11  As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will 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.  NET

Some actions are attributed to both God and Jesus Christ

Luke 8:38-39  The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare what God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.  NET

Mark 2:5-7  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some of the experts in the law were sitting there, turning these things over in their minds: 7“Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  NET

Although the teachers of the law were mistaken in thinking that Jesus could not forgive sins, they were correct in asserting that the authority and capacity to forgive sins belongs to God.

Note: There is one God, the Father – and one Lord, Jesus Christ

1Cor 8:4-6  Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.  ESV

Verses that refer to the Father alone as being God, may be using “God” to refer to the position of sovereign over all (cf. 1Tim 6:15) – i.e. they may be using “God” to refer to an exclusivity of position rather than exclusivity of divine nature. (This may also be the case with other verses that speak of there being only one “God”.) Such a meaning is: consistent with the words translated as “God”/”god” in the OT originally speaking primarily of strength; consistent with the references to the Father being Jesus Christ’s God (cf. God is both Jesus Christ’s God and his Father); and not contrary to Jesus Christ being fully divine. However, such an interpretation is not standard Christian theology.

 Questions for Section C

Jesus Christ Is Treated like God Is

The fact that Christians relate to (or treat) Jesus Christ in ways in which they relate to God, further reflects Jesus Christ’s identification with God and that he is God’s Son. Thus the teaching in this section supplements the teaching in the previous sections.

Jesus Christ is worshiped

Matt 14:33  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  ESV

The disciples worshiped Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus Christ is honored and glorified

John 5:22-23  Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, 23so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.  NET

2Pet 3:18  [Peter, to believers:] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to him now and forever! Amen.  NCV™

People pray to Jesus Christ

John 14:14  [Jesus, to his disciples:] If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.  NET

Acts 7:59-60  They continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60Then he fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he died.  NET

People obey and serve Jesus Christ

Matt 28:19-20a  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  NET

James 1:1a  From James, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.  CEV

People have faith in Jesus Christ

John 14:1  Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me.  CEV

People put their hope in Jesus Christ

1Thes 1:3b  [Paul, to the Thessalonian believers:] And we thank him that you continue to be strong because of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.  NCV™

 Questions for Section D

Jesus Christ Is Under God’s Authority

See also:

This section looks at the concept of Jesus Christ being subordinate to God in regard to authority – which involves “functional subordination” – as opposed to subordination or inferiority in regard to essence or being.

The concept of Jesus Christ being eternally subordinate to God (rather than only during his incarnation) is a historical doctrine that is still debated by Christian scholars. As such, some would disagree with or wish to qualify propositions put forward in this section.

God is both Jesus Christ’s God and his Father

John 20:17  Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  NET

Eph 1:3, 17  [Paul, to believers:] Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. … 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, …  NET

The expression “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3) also occurs in Romans 15:6, 2 Corinthians 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:3. 2 Corinthians 11:31 uses the similar expression, “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus …”

Jesus Christ is described as being subordinate to God

1Cor 11:3  [Paul:] But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.  NET

1Cor 15:28  But when everything has been put under him, then the Son himself will also become subject to the one who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.  ISV

Jesus Christ was chosen and sent by God

Luke 9:35  A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him!”  NCV™

John 8:42  Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me.  NET

Jesus Christ is God’s servant

Acts 4:30  [The early believers, praying to God:] Stretch out your hand to heal, and grant that wonders and miracles may be performed through the name of your holy Servant Jesus.  GNT

Heb 8:2  He [Christ] serves as High Priest in the Most Holy Place, that is, in the real tent which was put up by the Lord, not by human hands.  GNT

God’s seniority is reflected by the things that he has done for Jesus Christ

John 5:26  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  ESV

Col 1:19  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son …  NET

Heb 1:1-2  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  ESV


 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians