Jesus Christ preexist His human existence? If so, was He a created
being, perhaps an archangel, as many claim? Or was he truly
As we have seen, from the early centuries of Christian history to
the present, the question of who is Jesus has produced many differing
views as to the Person and nature of the Son of God. Some claim
that He was, in His preexistent state, as an archangel, a created
being, while others claim that He "preexisted" only as
a thought in the mind of God. Others accept His divinity, but claim
that His human existence was not truly humanthat He had the
appearance of a man, but was not only truly man. And still
others claim that the Father and the Son are two manifestations,
modes, or roles of the one Person known as God.
if Jesus Christ preexisted His human conception, if He was indeed
God, though distinct from the Father, and if He came to this earth
as truly flesh-and-blood human being, then all the Christological
concepts that deny Him divinity and prehuman existence are heretical
and must be declared as such! Clearly, then, we should approach
this subject prayerfully and with a spirit of deep respect for the
revealed Word of God.
Before we examine the question of Christ's preexistence, it is necessary
that we first determine whether scriptural descriptions of God allow
more than one Person in the Godhead. Scripture clearly teaches that
"The LORD our God is one LORD" (Deuteronomy 6:4;
cf. Mark 12:29). But does this mean that the one God is only
begin with the Hebrew word translated "God" in the Old
the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis
1:1). The word translated "God" in this verse is the Hebrew
Elohim. It is a plural noun, and is used both of the
true God and of false "gods." In Exodus 20, the word is
used in both senses: "And God [Elohim] spake all these
words, saying, I am the LORD the God [Elohim]... Thou shalt
have no other gods [elohim] before me" (verse 1-3).
the word is often used of multiple "gods," it is sometimes
used in reference to a single "god." For instances, "Chemosh"
was a "god [elohim] of the Moabites," and "Milcom"
was the "god [elohim] of the children of Ammon"
(I Kings 11:33). Thus, the word, though plural, does not necessary
denote a plurality of persons.
to Smith, "The fanciful idea that it [the word Elohim]
referred to the trinity [or plurality] of persons
in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is
either what grammarians call the plurality of majesty, or
it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of
the powers displayed by God" (William Smith, L.L.D., A
Dictionary of the Bible, p.220).
is true that the word itself does not prove a plurality of Persons
in the Godhead, but the fact that the word is plural at least allows
for the possibility that the one God is more than one Person.
Therefore, to find evidence for a plurality of Persons in the Godhead,
we must look for other clues.
such clue is found in the use of plural verbs. Unitarians argue
that since Elohim (when used in reference to the one true
God) is followed by a singular verb, the word cannot refer to plurality
of Persons. However, this argument overlooks the that Elohim
is sometimes followed by a plural verb, thus indicating that the
noun (Elohim) is to be understood in the plural sense. While
such cases do not necessarily demand that "God" be understood
as a plurality of Persons, the Hebrew construction does allow for
more powerful, clue is found in the use of plural pronouns. In Genesis
1:26, God (Elohim) says, "Let us make man in
our image, after our likeness..." In Genesis
3:22, God (Elohim) says, "Behold, the man become as
one of us..." And in Genesis 11:7, God (Elohim)
says, "Go to, let us go down..."
fact that both singular and plural verbs and pronouns are used with
the plural Elohim is not a contradiction, as some suppose;
rather, it suggest (or allows for) plurality in unitythat
is, one God but more than one Person. This "plurality in unity"
is suggested in Isaiah 6:8, where God says, "Whom shall I
[note the singular pronoun] send, and who will go for us [plural]?"
This verse allows for the possibility that one Person is speaking
for Himself and on behalf of at least one other Person.
Unitarians attempt to "explain" their way around the above
verses, anyone should be able to see that the use of plurals certainly
presents a strong case for the plurality of Persons in the Godhead.
clue lies in understanding the meaning of the word translated "one"
in Deuteronomy 6:4. Interestingly, this verse (known as the Shema)
is used more than any other verse to "prove" that God
is one Person. The verse states, "Hear O Israel: The LORD our
God is one LORD." In Hebrew, the word for "one" is
echad, which is often used as a compound "one"
rather than an absolute "one." The two persons, Adam and
Eve, were to come as "one [echad] flesh" (Genesis
2:24). In this case, one plus one equals one. The Shema,
then, does not prove that God is one Person. The Hebrew terms (Elohim
and echad) allow more that one Person while confirming that
God is onejust Adam and Eve, though distinct, were "one
those who reject the belief that God is more than one Person do
so because, to them, the concept smacks of Polytheism, or belief
in many "gods." But if we understand "one" in
the sense of composite unity, then we can easily see how
the one God can be more than one Person.
that understanding that the Hebrew term "God" is plural,
that the term is sometimes used with plural verbs and plural pronouns,
and that the word for "one" in the Shema is often
used as a compound "one," Personjust as we have
no difficulty in understanding that Adam (translated "man"
in Genesis 1:26,27) is more than one person.
again the first part of Genesis 1:26: "And God said, Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness..." In view of all
that we have seen, the most logical explanation of this verse is
that one divine Person was speaking to at least one other Person
of like nature.
this foundation, let's now go to the New Testament for further revelation.
apostle John wrote: "In the beginning was the Word [Greek:
Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made
by Him; and without Him was not any thing that was made... And the
Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His
glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of
grace and truth" (John 1:1-3,14).
the Logos, or "Word," was made flesh. Clearly,
the Logos is Jesus Christ. Note also that in the beginning
the Logos was with God and was Godthat
is, Jesus Christ was not only with God the Father in the beginning,
He was God! Further, all things were made by (or through)
Him, meaning that both the Father and the Son, were involved in
creation. This agrees perfectly with Genesis 1:26: "And God
[Elohim, plural] said, Let us make man in our
image, after our likeness..."
we see "plurality in unity" in very simple, easy to understand
language. However, the modern counterparts of Arius and Socinus
have found ways to strip this simple passage of its obvious meaning.
Some, for instance, claim that John 1:1 should read this way: "In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was a god." Thus, the Word was not God in the absolute
sense, but was "a god," or "mighty one," just
as an angel is a "mighty one."
claim the second "God" should be rendered "divine,"
thus taking away any suggestion of Personhood. They read the latter
part of John 1:1 this way: "...and the Word was with God, and
the Word was divine." The "Word," they claim,
refers to the expression of God's divine will. It is the spoken
Word, not the speaking Word.
these interpretations are an unfortunate attempt to make John 1:1
say something other than what it clearly says.
the Greek Term for the second "God" is Theos. This
word means "God," not "divine." Had John intended
to say that the "Word was divine," he would have used
a Greek term that means "divine"and there is such
verse 3 clearly identifies the Word as the One through whom all
things are made. This verse makes no sense if the Word is viewed
as an impersonal "divine principle," or as the "divine
will of God" expressed through His creative acts.
who hold the "a god" theory agree that the Word is a Person
but claim that since the definite article (in the Greek) appears
before the first "God" but not before the second "God,"
the latter should be understood not as the God, but as a
"god" (the lower-case g suggests an inferior god).
Unfortunately, those who hold this view disregard the best of Greek
scholarship, which insists that such a translation is a linguistic
the latter clause of John 1:1, the subject is "the Word,"
the verb is "was," and the definite predicate nominative
is "God." Had John inserted the definite article before
"God," he would have created a confusing and grammatically
incorrect construction. No Greek scholar worth his salt accepts
the "a god" theory.
"a god" proponents also disregard the fact that the word
"God" (Greek: Theos) appears without the definite
article throughout the New Testament. One example of this appears
within a few verses of John 1:1. Verse 6 reads: "There was
a man sent from God [Theos, without the definite article],
whose name was John." Here, the word "god" refers
to the God, though the definite article does not appear.
It makes no sense to say that John was "a man sent from a
god." And neither does it make sense to say that the Word
was anything less than God! "The Word was with God,
and the Word was God"truly God!though clearly
distinct from the One He was with in the beginning.
the idea that Jesus Christ was an archangel (a modern form of Arianism)
in His preexistent state clearly contradicts the teaching of the
New Testament. The writer of the book of Hebrews asks: "For
unto which angels said He [God the Father] at any time, Thou art
my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him
a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" (Hebrews 1:5). The
point is that God never said this things to any angels, including
archangels. Therefore, Christ is not, and never was, an angel.
word angel means "messenger." In the sense that
Christ was sent as the Father's Messenger, He was an Angel. But
the writer of Hebrews, when distinguishing Christ from the angels,
is clearly speaking of created angels.
writer of Hebrews further states: "But to which of the angels
said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I mike thine enemies
thy footstool? Are they [the angels, including archangels] not all
ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be
heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:13,14). Again, had Christ been
an angelarchangel or otherwisein His preexistent state,
the writer of Hebrews could have never made these statements.
spite of clear evidence to the contrary, Unitarians claim that the
Greek word logos suggest "divine principle," and
should not be understood as "spokesman." They point out
that in various ancient Greek writings this word is used in reference
to "wisdom" or "logic," and claim that John's
use of Logos should be understood similarly. When John spoke
of the Logos being "made flesh," then, he was merely
speaking of the manifestation of the wisdom of God. In other words,
until His birth, Christ was nothing more than a "divine thought"
in the mind of God.
doubt, John fully intended to convey to his Greek readers the thought
of divine wisdom, but Unitarians tend to overlook John's Jewish
background and the fact that many of his readers were Jewish. Are
we to conclude that his use of the word Logos had little
meaning for his Jewish readers?
truth is, any Jew of John's time would have immediately understood
the Logos of God to be the "Spokesman" of God.
According to the Encyclopedia Judiaca, certain rabbinic writings
that date later than John's Gospel "understand logos as a second
god... Among the rabbis a belief in a 'second God,' or divine intermediary,
is represented in the heretical views of Elisha B. Avuyah... His
views seems related to the speculations about the Creation, in which
the voice, or Word, of the Lord on the waters (Ps. 29:3 and Gen.
1) and at the revelation of Sinai (Ex. 20) are hypostatized"
(Volume 11, p. 462).
the rabbinic concept of "logos" as "a second god,"
or "divine intermediary [Spokesman]" post-date John's
Gospel, its appearance in rabbinic writings, without Christian influence,
suggest that the concept originated much earlier. At least, it shows
that, in Jewish thought, the term Logos can and does
John was familiar with the ancient custom of a king's use of a spokesman
(an "interpreter," or logos) who exercised the
judicial authority of the king when petitioners sought audience
with the monarch. The king's throne was inaccessible to the public,
so the spokesman served as the king's visible representative. In
the same way, when the Logos "was made flesh,"
He served as the Father's visible representative. "He that
hath seen me," Jesus said, "hath seen the Father"
addition, had John written in Aramaic, a language commonly used
by the Jews of his time, he would have used the word Memra,
the Aramaic equivalent of Logos, which was often viewed as
a messenger, or spokesman, sent form God. Those who claim that Logos
cannot mean "Spokesman" are wrong! It can, and does. Thus,
in the beginning the Spokesman was with God, and the Spokesman was
God, not an angelic intermediary or "divine principle."
Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Like) emphasize the humanity
of Christ and provide important clues as to His preexistent state,
but John's Gospel goes beyond the Synoptics in emphasizing both
the divinity and preexistence of Christ, as well as His humanity.
see what John said about the preexistence and deity of Jesus Christ.
The Preexistence and Deity of Christ in John's Gospel
purpose for writing his Gospel is found in John 20:31: "But
these were written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His
that John wanted his readers to know that Jesus Christ is the Son
of God. Just as "son of man" refers to a human being,
or one whose essential nature is like that of his father, "Son
of God" (when used of Christ) refers to the One whose essential
nature is like that of His Father. The son of a human being is human,
and the Son of God is God. That is what John meant when he spoke
of the Son of God, and that is precisely what he wanted his readers
should be pointed out, however, that to the first-century Jew, the
phrase "son of God" did not denote divinity. It was generally
used of an angel or of a righteous man. It was used by the Messiah,
whose appearance the Jews of that period expected. However, John's
concept of "Messiah" was not identical to the traditional
Jewish concept. He had been taught by the Messiah Himself, and understood
that "Son of God" means more than "angelic messenger"
or "righteous man."
much of the New Testament was written in response to heresies or
problems within the church, it is probable that John wrote in order
to combat certain heresies that were gaining a foothold within Christianity.
Scholars generally agree that John wrote toward the end of the first
century, A.D., about the time, or shortly before, "Christian
Gnosticism" and related heresies first appeared as a force
to be reckoned with (though there is evidence that certain docetic
views appeared much earlier).
scholars believe that John's primary purpose was to combat Gnosticism,
while others believe his Gospel was a response to other heretical
teachings. His assertion that the preexistent Logos was "made
flesh" seems to suggest that John was opposing Gnosticism,
or some form of Docetism, while his emphasis on the Jew's rejection
of Jesus (1:11), their unbelief, and their lack of understanding
regarding the nature of the Messiah and His Kingdom (John 3) leaves
open the possibility that he was combating the teachings of some
branch of Jewish "Christianity" which, like the Ebonites,
rejected belief in the preexistence and deity of Christ as well
as the Virgin Birth.
is very complex. The term has been used to identify a large number
of sects that flourished in the second and third centuries. Some
scholars believe that John's Gospel was written too early to have
been polemic against Gnosticism. However, the existence of "Christian
Gnosticism" in the second century suggests that Gnostic ideas
had begun circulating among Christians much earlier.
Gnostics were not uniform in their theology, but all held erroneous
beliefs about the nature of Christ. Generally, they held the ancient
philosophy of cosmic "duality"the belief that there
are two fundamental realities, good and evil, and that these two
realities oppose each other. To the Gnostics, only God and His spiritual
hierarchy are good; everything else, including the physical universe,
is evil. This philosophy disallowed the belief that the Saviour
of the world could exist as a physical human beingfor physical
things are evil. Further, Christ's advent was for revelatory rather
than redemptive purposes, for Gnostics held that salvation comes
through enlightenment and special knowledge (Greek gnosis,
from which "Gnosticism" is derived, means "knowledge").
least two concepts about the nature of Christ emerged from this
philosophy. One (Docetism) held that Jesus, the divine Logos,
had the appearance of flesh, but was not truly a flesh-and-blood
human being. The other differentiated between "Jesus"
and "the Christ," claiming that Jesus was an ordinary
man born to ordinary parents, while the Christ was the "divine
essence" that descended upon Jesus at His baptism and departed
from Him during the Crucifixion.
what extent John was dealing with Gnosticism is uncertain, but one
thing is sure: John's teaching disallowed any form of Gnosticism
(or Docetism). The apostle insisted that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God, and that the Logos, who was with God and
was God, was made flesh. John allowed no room for the argument
that Jesus was other than the Christ or that His human existence
was not truly human.
further condemned Gnosticism (and/or similar heresies) in his first
and second epistles. He wrote: "Who is a liar but he that denieth
that Jesus us the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father
and the Son" (I John 2:22). In his second epistle, he stated:
"For many deceivers are entered in to world, who confess not
that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This a deceiver and an antichrist"
(II John 7). In dealing with this heresy, he confirmed the deity
of Christ. He wrote: "...we are in Him that is true, even in
His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life"
(I John 5:20).
an understanding of the types of heresies John was dealing with,
we can easily see why he repeatedly referred to Jesus' preexistence
and divinity. John insisted that Jesus Christ the Person,
not some "divine essence," descended from heaven and became
a flesh-and-blood human being. Any other interpretation does violence
to John's Gospel and his epistles.
how John emphasized the preexistence and divinity of Jesus Christ:
3:13: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came
down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."
3:31: "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of
the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh
from heaven is above all."
6:38: "[Jesus said] For I came down heaven, not to do mine
own will, but the will of Him who sent me."
6:51: "[Jesus said] I am the living bread which came down from
heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and
the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the
life of the world."
6:62: "[Jesus asked] What and if ye shall see the Son of man
ascend up where he was before?"
8:58: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you,
Before Abraham was, I am."
17:5: "[Jesus prayed] And now, O Father, glorify thou me with
the thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the
order to conclude that Jesus Christ preexisted only as a thought
in the mind of God, or that the Christ was somehow separated from
Jesus, or that He was not God, one must construct an elaborate,
logic-defying system of theological interpretation whereby the above
easy-to-understand scriptures can be "spiritualized" away
and emptied of their clear meaning. Or one must simply reject John's
Gospel all together.
heretics may have understood that "the Christ" had come
down from heaven and was divine. But John wanted his readers to
understand what the heretics didn't: that the Person known as Jesus
was the divine Christthe Logoswho had
come down from heaven.
one occasion, when Jesus spoke of God as His Father, the unbelieving
Jews who heard Him accused Him of "making Himself equal with
God" (John 5:18). The Jews understood that Jesus' claim of
being the Son of the Father was a claim of divinity.
"doubting Thomas" felt the wounds of the risen Christ,
his doubts were replaced with conviction. "And Thomas answered
and said unto Him, My Lord and My God" (John 20:28). Jesus
didn't respond with rebuke, but said, "Thomas, because thou
hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not
seen, and yet have believed" (verse 29).
when Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw
it, and was glad," the unbelieving Jews chided, "Thou
art not fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" Jesus'
reply drew an angry response. He stated, "Verily, verily, I
say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:56-58).
Upon hearing this starling statement, the Jews gathered stones to
cast as Jesus, for they clearly understood that not only had He
claimed preexistence; He had applied to Himself the name of God
("I AM"see Exodus 3:14).
Jesus did not say, "Before Abraham was, I was."
He said, "I AM!" This curious construction makes no sense
had Jesus been speaking only of His preexistence. But it makes perfect
sense if we understand that He was speaking of His preexistence
and His identity. He was applying to Himself the name of
Deity, and His opponents knew this was what He meant. (Note: While
Yahwehthe Hebrew name for Jehovah, translated "the LORD"
in most English versionsis the name of the Father, or "Prime
Mover" of the Godhead, the name may also be applied to the
Son, for the Son is of the same nature as the Father and is the
of the Bible are well aware of the numerous "I AM" verses
in John's Gospel. No doubt, John included these to emphasize the
identity of Jesus. One of the most outstanding of the "I AM"
passages is found in John's account of the betrayal and arrest of
the mob came for Him and announced that they sought Jesus of Nazareth,
"Jesus saith unto them, I am... As soon as He had said
unto them, I am, they went backward, and fell to the ground"
(John 18:5,6; note: the "hr" following "I am"
in the KJV was added by the translators). Obviously, "I AM"
meant much more than "I'm the one you seek." Jesus was
affirming His divinity.
argue that the "I AM" sayings of Jesus could not be linked
with the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14 because the Hebrew for
"I AM" means "I shall be." However, they overlook
the fact that in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old
Testament, well known to New Testament writers) the words for "I
AM" are ego emi, which are the same words translated
"I am" in John's Gospel. Further, it is true that the
Hebrew expression means "I shall be," but this expression
also carries the meaning of "I am."
this evidence, can any honest truth-seeker deny that John's Gospel
clearly teaches both the preexistence and the deity of Jesus Christ?
John's Gospel is not alone in affirming the divinity and prehuman
existence of Jesus. Upon close examination, we find this same truth
revealed in the Synoptic Gospels.
Evidence From the Synoptic Gospels
believe that of the first four books of the New Testament, only
John's Gospel presents Jesus as the Second Person of the Godhead.
But, as we shall see, this is not true. A careful survey of several
passages leads to the indisputable conclusion that the deity of
Christ was not a foreign concept to the Synoptic writers.
the following facts from the Synoptic Gospels:
Jesus is the Savior of His people. "And she [Mary] shall bring
forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS [Savior, or
Yahweh Saves]; for He shall save His people from their sins"
The Savior's name "shall be called Emmanuel, which being interpreted
is God with us" (verse 23).
He is greater than the Temple (Matthew 12:6).
He is Lord of the Sabbath (verse 8).
He has power to forgive sins (Mark 2:5,10).
He has power to baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).
He is the ultimate Judge of the wicked (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke
He accepts worship (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 28:9,17).
the Savior and Judge who is Lord of the Sabbath day; who is greater
than the Temple; who has power to forgive sins, baptize with the
Holy Spirit, and judge the ungodly; who receives worship; and whose
name means "God with us" be other than God? Can
these descriptions be used of a person who "preexisted"
only as a thought in the mind of God, or of a created angelic being?
the prophet Isaiah, God says, "For I am the LORD thy God, the
Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour... I, even I am the LORD;
and beside me there is no saviour" (Isaiah 43:3,11).
In the day of her salvation, Israel will say, "Verily thou
art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour
(45:15). In that day, "all flesh shall know that I the LORD
am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer" (49:26; 60:16;
cf. 63:8). He reveals Himself as "a just God and a Saviour"
an ordinary human messenger can be described as a "savior,"
but when we compare the above descriptions of God as Savior with
the preceding descriptions of Jesus, we can only conclude that Jesus
Christ is more than ordinary man. As the Second Member of the Godhead,
and as His Father's representative, He has a right to the titles
divine identity was demonstrated in the healings He performed. On
one occasion, He said to a man "sick with palsy," "Son,
thy sins be forgiven thee." Certain scribes who were present
accused Him of blasphemy and asked, "Who can forgive sins but
God only?" Jesus replied, "Whether is it easier to say
to the sick of the palsy. Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say,
Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that
the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to
the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy
bed, and go thy way into thine house" (Mark 2:5-11). The man
was healed immediately.
The message to the scribes was clear: Since only God can forgive
sins, and since Jesus proved His own power to forgive sins by healing
the sick man, then Jesus is "God with us" (Immanuel).
Surely these scribes were familiar with such scriptures as Psalm
103:3, which says that God "forgiveth all thine iniquities"
and "healeth all thy diseases"; and Daniel 9:9, which
states, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness..."
Thus, when Jesus healed the sick man, He declared His divine identity.
was God, not Moses, who sanctified the Sabbath Day and commanded
His people to observe it.. "Remember the Sabbath day,"
He said, "to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and
do all thy works: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD
thy God..." (Exodus 20:8-10). How could Jesus be "Lord
of the Sabbath day" if He were only an ordinary man who had
no preexistence? Though He was prophesied to be a Son of David and
prophet like Moses (Deutronomy 18:15), neither Moses nor David could
claim to be "Lord of the Sabbath day."
preexistence is also seen in His lamenting of Jerusalem's sins.
When He prophesied the desolation of Jerusalem, He reflected upon
His involvement with the city's stiff-necked forebears: "O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem," He lamented, "thou that killest
the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how
often would I have gathered they children together, even as
a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
could Jesus have said this had He not been there to witness the
hard-headedness of His people? Obviously, He had witness Israel's
disobedience in the wilderness, had seen the slaying of the prophets,
and had seen Jerusalem's stubborn refusal to allow her children
to be gathered under His divine care.
confirmed His preexistence and divinity when He asked the Pharisees,
"What think ye of Christ? whose son is He?" The Pharisees
answered, "The son of David." They were correct: Christ
was the descendant of David. But Jesus' reply to the Pharisees shows
that He was much more than the son of David. He asked:"How
then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto
my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy
footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?"
(Matthew 22:42-45; cf. Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44).
message is clear: The Messiah is not only a descendant of David;
He is the Son of God, the One David called "Lord. And since
David lived centuries before the New Testament period, the One David
called "Lord" must have preexisted His human birth.
We see, then, that John was not alone in declaring the divinity
and preexistence of Jesus Christ. When all four Gospel accounts
are considered, the evidence overwhelmingly draws us to one indisputable
conclusion: Jesus Christ is God!
there's more, much more, clear scriptural proof of Christ's divinity
and preexistence. Let's now turn our attention to Paul's epistles.
Evidence From Paul's Epistles
claim that the apostle Paul's strict monotheistic backgroundhe
described himself as a "Hebrews of the Hebrews" (Philippians
3:5)would not have allowed him to believe in the deity of
Jesus Christ. This argument, however, assumes that Paul's encounter
with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) was either fictitious
or had little influence upon Paul's theology. It assumes that Paul
was incapable of recognizing plurality in the Godhead form the Old
testament terms and descriptions.
truth is, Paul clearly recognized the divine identity of Christ,
and did not hesitate to identify Him with the God of his Hebrew
of Jesus Christ, Paul wrote, "For whosoever shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). The casual
reader may not notice that Paul, in speaking of Christ, was actually
quoting from Joel 2:32: "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever
shall call on the name of the LORD [Hebrew: Yahweh] shall
be delivered..." Surely Paul would have never applied this
verse to Jesus Christ had he not believed on the divinity of Christ.
said that a Christian's attitude should be like that of Christ,
"Who, being in the form of God, though it not robbery to be
equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon
Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man"
(Philippians 2:6,7). This verse does not mean that Christ was in
the "form of God" in the same way man was made in the
"image of God," as some claim. This is seen by comparing
"form of God" with "form of a servant. " Christ
took on the "form of a servant" by being made "in
likeness of man." The phrase "though it not robbery to
be equal with God" is best rendered "did not regard equality
with God a thing to be grasped" (NASB), which shows that He
had "equality with God" (i.e., He and the Father
were of the same nature) before willingly taking on "the form
of a servant." He "made Himself of no reputation,"
or "emptied Himself" (NASB), which means that, in being
"made in the likeness of a man." He laid aside the privileges
He had in His preexistent state.
whom empty this passage of its obvious meaning but reading their
own beliefs into it should pay closer attention to what Paul himself
believed. In verse 10, Paul leaves no doubt as to what he believed.
He wrote: That at the name of Jesus, very knee should bow, of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth."
Standing alone, this verse strongly suggest that Jesus could be
no less than fully divine. But once we consider the fact that Paul
was quoting from Isaiah 45:23, the verse becomes much more than
a mere "suggestion" of Christ's divinity. In Isaiah, 45:23,
God Himself says, "That unto me every knee shall bow..."
Paul's use of this passage in reference to Jesus confirms his belief
in the deity of Christ.
the Ephesians, Paul declared that God "created all things by
Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9), thus affirming what John's Gospel
states: that the preexistent Christ acted as God's divine agent
in the creation of the universe.
doubts persists, then consider what Paul wrote to the Christians
at Colossae. Speaking of Christ, he wrote: "Who is the image
of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature [or "all
creation"NASB]: For by Him were all things created, that
are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether
they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all
things were created by Him, and for Him. And He is before all things,
and by Him, all things consist" (Colossians 1:15-17).
anything any be clearer? When this passage is considered alongside
everything else Paul said about the deity of Christ, we can only
conclude that any attempt to strip Christ of His divinity requires
that the Scriptures be twisted beyond recognitionor rejected
in spite of the evidence, some claim the above passage provides
no proof that Jesus Christ is God. They say that the phrase "firstborn
of all creation" shows that Christ was the first of all things
(both heavenly and earthly) to be created. Not so! The title "firstborn"
denotes preeminence, not "first to be created."
He has preeminence over all creation because He is Creator!
That's what Paul clearly said.
further stated, "For in Him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness
of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). The Greek word for
"Godhead" is Theotes, rendered "the Deity"
in the NASB, and refers to the divine nature, not "divine
attributes." Christ could not embody the fullness of the divine
nature if His nature were different from His Father's nature. Yet,
some try to strip Him of His deity by stripping theotes of
its full meaning. The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures,
for example, erroneously translates this word "divine quality."
(This is not surprising, for the same "translation" substitutes
"a god" for Theos in John 1:1.)
proof that Jesus Christ is God is found in Titus 2:13. The NASB
is correct in its translation of this verse: "looking for the
blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and
Savior, Christ Jesus." Not only is Christ identified as "our
great God and Savior" by the literal translation of the Greek;
He is identified as both God and Savior by the assertion that He
is the One whose "appearing" (that is, the Second Coming!)
is expected. Paul never encouraged anyone to look for the "appearing"
of God the Father.
Paul said that the proclamation of God's Word was committed to him
"according to the commandment of God our Savior" (Titus
1:3). We read of Paul's commission, and of the One who commissioned
him, in Acts 9:15: "But the Lord [Jesus Christ] said unto him
[Ananias], Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me,
to bear my name before Gentiles, and kings, and the children of
Israel." To Paul, "God our Savior" and Jesus Christ
were one and the same.
his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul said that the ancient
Israelites "drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:
and that Rock was Christ" (I Corinthians 10:4). Paul was referring
metaphorically to two occasions when water for the children of Israel
miraculously came forth from a rock (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11).
According to rabbinic legend, both occasions involved the same rock,
which (according to the legend) miraculously "followed"
the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. Paul said that the
true supernatural Rock that went with Israel was Christ.
Paul's description of Christ as the "Rock" that went with
Israel was linked with his awareness of the many Old Testament passages
that describe God as a "Rock" (Deuteronomy 32:4,15,18,30,31;
Psalm 18:2,31,46; 28:1; 31:3; etc.)
if Paul were here today he would fervently and without hesitation
condemn all teachings that deny the preexistence and divinity of
Jesus Christ, and would boldly proclaim that Christ is both God
and Savior, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, and
by whom all things were created.
find this same truth throughout the New Testament. Let's now turn
our attention to the book of Hebrews.
Evidence From the Book of Hebrews
first chapter of the book of Hebrews proclaims the deity of Christ
in no uncertain terms. We are told right away that Christ has been
"appointed heir of all things, by whom also He [God the Father]
made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:2). Here Christ is presented as
Creator (or "Co-creator"). This agrees perfectly with
John's description of Christ as the Logos through whom all
things were made.
3 declares: "[Christ is] the brightness [or "reflection"]
of His [the Father's] glory, and the express image of His Person
[or "exact imprint of God's very being"NRSV], and
upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself
purged our sins, sat down on the right of the Majesty on high".
In the preceding verse, Christ is presented as Creator. Here, He
is Sustainer. It is hardly believable that the Creator and Sustainer
who reflects the Father's glory and shares His nature (as the "exact
imprint") could be other than God.
if He were anything less than a God, He would not be worthy of worship.
He must be God, then, for verse 6 tells us He is worthy of
worship: "And let all the angels of God worship Him."
This is a paraphrased quotation taken either from the end of Psalm
97:7 or from the end of Deuteronomy 32:43, which is missing from
the Massoteric text (from which the KJV Old Testament was translated)
but present in other ancient manuscripts, including the Septuagint.
In either case, the "Him" the angels of God are to worship
verses 8 through 10, Jesus is identified as both God and Messiah:
"But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for
ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy
kingdom. Thou has loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore
God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with oil of gladness above
thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation
of the earth; and the heavens are thy works of thine hands."
In this passage, the writer quoted from Psalm 45:6,7 and Psalm 102:25.
The "Lord" who "laid the foundation of the earth"
(Psalm 102:25) is the Messiah figure (Psalm 45) whom God "hath
anointed... with the oil of gladness."
we see the Messiah presented as both God and the "righteous
servant" of God (Isaiah 53:11). Many stumble on this point,
wondering how the Messiah can be God if He is the servant of God.
The seeming contradiction is resolved once we understand that the
Second Person of the Godhead took upon Himself the form of a servant.
great truth is echoed throughout the Bible, right to the closing
chapters. Let's now w\examine several important passages from the
final pages of God's Word.
Evidence Form the Book of Revelation
the book of Revelation, the Person, nature, and redemptive work
of Jesus Christ are beautifully portrayed in descriptive language
and through a kaleidoscope of marvelous imagery. He is both the
fierce "Lion of the tribe of Judah" and lowly "Lamb"
whose body bears the wound of a sacrificial offering. He is the
royal "root and Offspring of David," the brightly glowing
"Morning Star", the magnificent "King of kings and
Lord of lords." He is the "Faithful Martyr," the
"Firstborn of the dead," the "Ruler of the kings
of the earth."
He is God! This truth is seen in Christ's own use of the
titles of divinity.
through a visionary experience, was glimpsing the climactic Day
of the Lord when he heard "a great voice as of a trumpet, Saying,
I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last..." (Revelation
1:10,11). When he turned to see the source of the voice, he beheld
"one like unto the Son of man... His head and His hairs were
white as wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of
fire; And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a
furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters" (verse
the One who identified Himself as "Alpha and Omega, the first
and the last" was non other than Jesus Christ! The "alpha"
is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, the "omega"
the last. Jesus Christ is the "Alpha and Omega," which
suggest that in Him is the beginning and the end of God's revelation
to man. This alone suggests preexistence and divinity, but when
we realize that Yahweh identified Himself as the "first and
the last," the truth of Christ divinity is inescapable.
Isaiah 41:4, God says, "I am the LORD [Yahweh], the
first, and with the last; I am He." In Isaiah 48:12,
Yahweh says, "I am the first, I am also am the last."
In the book of Revelation, "Alpha and Omega" is a title
belonging to "the Almighty." Notice: "I am the Alpha
and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is,
and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation
1:8; cf. 21:6,7).
Revelation 22, Jesus identified Himself as both "Alpha and
Omega" and "Root and Offspring of David" (verses
13,16), thus confirming His identity as both God and Messiah, the
servant of God. This is in perfect harmony with the Gospels accounts,
Paul's epistles, and the book of Hebrews. With so much evidence,
who can deny that Jesus Christ is both God and Messiah?
honest study of the New Testament leads to the indisputable conclusion
that the early disciples believed in the deity of Christ. But what
about the Old Testament? Is there any evidence of Christ's deity
in the inspired prophecies of the B\Hebrew Scriptures?
Evidence From the Old Testament
Isaiah 53, the Messiah is described as the "righteous servant"
of God (verse 11). If He is the servant of God, many have asked,
how can He be God? As we have seen, the Hebrew Elohim and
the plural verbs and pronouns sometimes associated with it allow
for the possibility of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. But
is there anything in Isaiah's prophecies that identifies the Messiah
as a divine Personage?
there is. Concerning the future Messiah, Isaiah wrote: "For
unto us a child is born, unto as a child is given: and the government
shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful,
Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince
of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Jewish commentators insert the word "is" between "Counselor"
and "The mighty God," causing the verse to suggest that
the Messiah's name will be called "Wonderful Chancellor is
the mighty God." However, nothing in the Hebrew suggests that
"is" should be inserted. Therefore, as in the New Testament,
the book of Isaiah indicates that the Messiah is both God and the
servant of God.
45 is another prophecy about the Messiah, and was so recognized
by the Jewish rabbis of the time of Jesus. Speaking of the Messiah's
victory in establishing His Kingdom, the Psalmist wrote: "Thine
arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the
people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God is for ever and
ever: the sceptre of thy Kingdom is a right sceptre" (verses
5,6). Again the Messiah is called "God' (cf. Hebrews
Psalm 110:1, the Messiah is called "Lord" (Adonai):
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until
I make thine enemies thy footstool." The One who would later
reveal Himself as the Messiah was David's "Lord," showing
that He was much more than a "son of David," and suggesting
that He existed long before His human birth (cf. Matthew
was He a created being who came into existence at some point in
time, as some claim? Through the prophet Micah, God answers: "But
thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands
of Judah, yet out of thee He come forth unto me that is to be ruler
of Israel [clearly a prophecy concerning the Messiah]: whose goings
forth have been from old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).
The "ruler of Israel" who came forth from "Bethlehem
Ephratah" existed before the foundations of that small town
were laidin fact, before the foundations of the world were
laid! He is Creator, not creature.
Apparently it was Christ who appeared to Moses and the ancient Israelites
as the "Angel of Yahweh." As we have seen, He was not
one of the created spirits known as angels (Hebrews 1), but He was
an "angel" in that He was the Personage of the Godhead
who served as the Spokesman, or Messenger, and who went with Israel
to lead them to the place God had prepared for them. The word "angel"
means "messenger," and can refer to spirit beings as well
as human beings. Jacob equated "the God who fed me all my life"
with "the Angel which redeemed me from all evil" (Genesis
48:15,16). The fact that the Spokesman of the Godhead, who himself
is God, is called an "Angel" does not in any way suggest
that He was one of the created "ministering spirits, sent forth
to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews
Exodus 3, the "angel of the LORD" who appeared to Moses
in the burning bush (verse 2) identified Himself as "the God
of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (verse
6) whose name is "I AM" (verse 14). He is presented as
both God and the Messenger ("Angel") of God. When we compare
this with the prophecies describing the Messiah as "God,"
"the Mighty God," "Lord," and the "Ruler
of Israel, whose goings forth have been... from everlasting,"
it seems most likely that the Angel of Yahweh was the One who would
later declare, "Before Abraham was, I AM!"
the Angel sent to lead Israel was the same Personage. God said:
"Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he
will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him"
(Exodus 23:21). The terms used here indicate that the Angel, as
God's Spokesman ("my name is in him"), had power to judge
people ("he will not pardon"), and was to be feared and
obeyed ("Beware of him, and obey his voice"). Could this
be any other than the Logos who "was with God, and was
God," or the spiritual Rock" who "was Christ,"
and who was with Israel in the wilderness?
is also indication in the Old Testament that the the Messiah is
worthy of our worship. Speaking of the Son of God, Psalm 2:12 states:
"Kiss [or Do homage to] the son, lest He be angry, and
ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." While this
verse alone is not conclusive roof of the deity of the Son, the
fact that His subjects are called upon to do homage and to
put their trust in Him leaves the impression that He is much more
than a "son of David."
prophecy leaves us with no doubt that the Messiah is much more than
a son of David. God said: "And I will pour upon the
house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit
of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me
whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth
for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that
is in bitterness for his firstborn." Notice that it was Yahweh
who said "they shall look upon me whom they pierced."
The One who was actually "pierced" was Jesus Christ, the
"suffering servant" of Isaiah 53. Again, the Messiah is
presented as both Yahweh and the servant of Yahweh.
as Jesus Christ was the Person who was pierced, He is also the Person
who will come to establish His Kingdom on this earth. Yet, Zechariah's
prophecy tells us that the King who will come to this earth and
gather His saints is none other than Yahweh. God declares:
"Then shall the LORD [Yahweh] go forth, and fight against those
nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall
stand in that day upon the mount of Olives... and the LORD my God
shall come, and all the saints with thee... And the LORD shall be
King over all the earth..." (Zechariah 14:3-9). This could
be none other than the Personage who promised: "And, behold,
I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according
as his work shall be (Revelation 22:13).
summary, the Messiah is called "God," "Lord,"
"the Mighty God," and "the Ruler of Israel"
who existed "from everlasting." At the same time, He is
presented as a human being capable of suffering and subject to death
(Isaiah 53). Thus, the Old and New Testaments are in perfect harmony
in proclaiming both the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ.
have asked, "But how could so many Jews who were strict Monotheists
have accepted the deity of Christ?" the answer is simple: The
prophets declared it, Christ Himself taught it, and His resurrection
confirmed it. No wonder "doubting Thomas," upon touching
the risen Messiah, said, "My Lord and my God!"
deity of Christ is central to true Christianity. Those who teach
that Jesus is not God have perverted the Gospel and corrupted the
one true Faith, "the Faith which was once delivered unto the
saints" (Jude 3). As the Son of God Himself said, "if
ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins" (John