Note: I will be using the Revised Standard Version of the Bible in this Learning Activity unless noted otherwise.
If you have not worked through Learning Activity 4 you should complete that Learning Activity prior to working on this document.
There are currently a group of people who claim to be biblically oriented Christians who are adamant that Jesus is not God! For the most part they claim that the Scriptures teach that Jesus was the Son of God, but deny His deity as God. In this Learning Activity I will present the biblical evidence I have discovered that declares this belief to be unsupported by the Scriptures. I will also show that the average Christian lacks the awareness and skills to apply the scientific rules of hermeneutics to their study of the Bible. Hermeneutics is a set of scientific rules that enable a person to gain an accurate understanding of what the Bible is saying (its interpretation). Let’s look at the major beliefs that conclude that Jesus is NOT God!
A. The belief that Jesus was never considered to be God prior to the Council of Nicaea
Some people that communicate with me via my web site subscribe to what can be called revisionist history which promotes as fact that Jesus’ deity is the invention of the Council of Nicaea that took place in AD 325. There were a number of items on their agenda, but primarily they met to deal with a heresy that had presented itself in the church by Arius of Alexandria that was promoting the idea that Jesus was not divine but rather a created being! The Council result was that they condemned Arius and said that there was absolute equality of the Son with the Father.
Those who deny Jesus’ divinity make the false claim that up until the time of this Council there was no such belief or understanding in the church that Jesus was God until the Council ruled it to be. But for one proof I have in my Learning Activity 4 on this web site proved using the biblical text alone that the assertion He was not God to be false!
In addition, my research has produced the following historical proof. The early church father Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35-108) who was a disciple of John the Apostle, taught that “There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord….But our Physician is the only true God, ….the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but also afterwards became also man, of Mary the Virgin.” The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians (Chapter VII “Beware of False Teachers). These statements by Ignatius place the church belief in the deity of Jesus right smack in the center of the early church! This discredits those who falsely believe that it was not until the Council at Nicaea that Jesus’ deity was established!
One of the numerous facts that people who deny the deity of Jesus fail to understand is that Jesus has the same nature and essence of God!
“For in him (Jesus) the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
The people who buy into this heretical idea of Jesus not being deity are confusing monotheism which is the belief in one God, with Unitarianism which believes that the total being of God consists of one person. They fail to see that the one Being of God exists eternally in three co-equal and co-eternal persons, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is a distinct person, yet each is identified as God.
The above establishes, along with the material in Learning Activity 4, that it was NOT the Council of Nicaea that established the deity of Jesus, but rather it had been already established in the Scripture during the early church era when the transition period was in effect.
B. Jesus was the Son of God and that disqualifies Him from being God because He is just an offspring of God and not God Himself.
This notion is the result of basing the conclusion by relating what the person reads in the Scriptures to physical life here in the physical realm rather than on biblical facts! As soon as those who believe the above premise they immediately take the “Son of God” words, which do appear in the Scriptures, to indicate that Jesus was the literal offspring of His Father. If these people would only think through their conclusion they would easily find that their conclusion is bogus for the following reasons.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus existed as God from all of eternity in the past! One merely has to consider a single passage in the gospel of John to realize that Jesus was never intended to be portrayed as having His beginning as an entity when He was born as an infant in the nativity scene of Bethlehem. Let’s look at a classical passage that proves Jesus’ eternal existence.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1, 2).
At first read this does not appear to be as explosive a passage as it really is! But if we read it a few times and take note it should raise in your mind the meaning, or better yet, the identity of who or what was the “Word” that is mentioned in the passage. Fortunately, we do not have to guess or ponder the meaning as it is given to us in the same Chapter.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).
So here we have the testimony of John who lived in the era when Jesus became flesh (as man in addition to already being God) and lived among the people of that time period. Of course Jesus was full of grace and truth as the Scriptures attest. And John and his contemporaries beheld (witnessed) Jesus’ glory and knew Him as the only Son from the Father! Jesus is the Word!!! He did not have a beginning as you and I had and is not a “son” in the same sense that we Christians are “sons of God.” Jesus existed long before (actually, eternally before) His virgin birth as a man in Bethlehem. You cannot understand this unless you realize how the word “son(s)” is used in the Scriptures.
“And you he made alive (spiritually), when you were dead (spiritually), through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked (before you believed), following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air (Satan in that time era), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1, 2). You should be able to see that the “sons of disobedience” are not literally, physically, the offspring of those who are referred to as those who are disobedient! We should be able to see here that the Scriptures sometimes use the word “son” to mean that the person possesses the nature of or lives on the order of and NOT specifically physically born of the implied father!
Jesus has the same nature as God does because He is God! He is the Son in the sense that He possesses the same nature as God and is of the same order as God. He is of the same “stuff” but God, being Spirit is not made of any “stuff” material substance like we are. The title “Son” does not in any way imply that Jesus is inferior or lesser than another other member of the Trinity. By denying the divinity of Jesus, people are attempting to make Him a creature when in biblical fact He is the creator! Some people promote this belief based upon a misunderstanding of the following passage.
“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation” (Colossians 1:15).
But they fail to understand what has been said in that verse, and just as importantly fail to read the following verses.
“for in him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created through him (Jesus) and for him (Jesus). He (Jesus) is before all things, and in him (Jesus) all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16, 17).
In verse 15 the Greek word “prototokos” appears and is translated as “firstborn.” Here is the first major mistake many people make in their understanding of what Paul has written. In the Scriptures “firstborn” does NOT always mean “first created.” Paul is using a term that has its roots in early biblical writing. It is used to designate authority and pre-eminence. If Paul wanted to describe Jesus as being a created being he would have used the Greek word “protoktistos” which has the meaning of “first created,” but instead he used “prototokos” which Paul uses to describe Jesus as the firstborn over all creation! This places Jesus as the absolute ruler over all of creation as he does in Colossians 1:16 above! The reason that Jesus can create all things is because :For in him (Jesus) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
“Reuben, you are my first-born, my might, and the first fruits of my strength, pre-eminent in pride and pre-eminent in power. Unstable as water, you shall not have pre-eminence because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it–you went up to my couch!” (Genesis 49:3, 4). Here it is seen that although Reuben was the first-born Jacob did not bestow upon him pre-eminence because Reuben had violated one of Jacob’s concubines. So the expression is used in a manner that is separate from birth order.
“And you (Moses) shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, Israel is my first-born son” (Exodus 4:22). Here the expression is used to indicate the special place that the nation of Israel had in God’s plan for mankind and was NOT because of any birth sequence.
“I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him; so that my hand shall ever abide with him, my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psalms 89:20-27). The two items to take note of is that David was the youngest son of Jesse but was referred to in the Psalm as the “first-born” because of God’s anointing and calling him out as a special vessel in God’s plan! The first-born use in the passage had nothing to do with the sequence of David’s birth!
Jesus made many statements in the Scriptures that confirm that He was God, who had existed from eternity past, the Messiah who was expected and had come to His people.
“Truly, truly, I say to you (speaking to the Jews), before Abraham was, I am. So they picked up stones to throw at him…” (John 8:58, 59). Jesus declares that He had existed before Abraham! Additionaly, the Jews knew He was declaring Himself to be God and they decided to attempt to kill him by stoning (declaring Himself to be God is the reason for the attempted stoning).
Jesus made a number of statements that declared Himself to be God.
“He (Jesus) said to them (the Pharisees, see verse 13), You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:24).
“When he (Jesus) said to them (the chief priests and Pharisees, see verse 3), I am, they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). The English words “I am” are the Greek “ego eimi” which are the words that Jesus used to identify Himself with Yahweh, the Messiah, of the Old Testament.
“You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses, says the Lord. I am God, and also henceforth I am He…” (Isaiah 43:10-13). Note that “I am” is here the equivalent to “ego eimi” and it appears four times in the passage.
In Mark 2:5 Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic man: “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, My son, your sins are forgiven.” The scribes knew a lot about God and look at their response to what Jesus had just said: “…Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). In addition to Jesus forgiving the man of his sins He has also proclaimed Himself to be God! Is that not a clear indication that Jesus, who never lies, to be God?
The Scriptures tell us and all of mankind to worship God alone:
“…You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8).
But Jesus, not being mere man alone accepted worship while He walked the Earth as Jesus of Nazareth!
“and going into the house they saw the child (Jesus) with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him…” (Matthew 2:11).
“And those in the boat worshiped him (Jesus), saying, Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
“And behold, Jesus met them (the disciples) and said, Hail! And they came up and took hold of his (Jesus’) feet and worshiped him (Jesus)” (Matthew 28:9, 10).
“And when they (the disciples) saw him (Jesus) they worshiped him…” (Matthew 28:17).
“He (the blind man who had been healed) said, Lord, I believe; and he (the man healed) worshiped him” (John 9:38).
In contradistinction to Jesus accepting worship from man, let’s look at a situation where both of the apostles Barnabas and Paul refused to be worshiped by man!
“Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, Stand upright on your feet. And he sprang up and walked. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes. And the priest os Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying, Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways; yet he did not leave himself without witnesses, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them” (Acts 14:8-18).
Jesus accepted worship that no man should ever allow to come upon himself! And why should Jesus not accept worship as He was both fully man and fully God when He walked the Earth as Jesus of Nazareth!
Although we live today in an era where there are a few who want us to believe that Jesus was never, nor ever will be deity, this Learning Activity provides testimony directly from the Scriptures that prove His deity! A false Jesus is never portrayed in any way in the Bible to be the avenue through which we acquire eternal life. If we do not have the correct identity of Jesus we are in serious Christian trouble!