The teaching that Jesus Christ is God is one of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity. This article will defend the Bible’s teaching that Jesus is equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and together the three (as the ‘Holy Trinity’) form God.
Philippians 2:5-7 reads, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought 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 men:”.
Jesus was in the form of God, but thought “it not robbery to be equal with God”. He was made in the likeness of men, and took on the flesh of a man, but he was still fully equally God.
Who do people say Jesus is?
Different groups offer many different explanations for who Jesus was. For example:
- Atheists usually teach something similar to what Wikipedia says, that Jesus “was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious teacher” (1). He is viewed as a fully human moral teacher who taught valuable lessons for example, “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). He was not the Son of God, but just a good man.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity, but believe that Jesus “lived in heaven as a spirit person before he was born on earth” (2) and was the first spirit to be created by God. They “do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God” (3). They also believe that Michael the archangel is another title for Jesus (4).
- Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, but believe the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons. They believe that everyone who will ever be born existed previously as “spirit children” (5) in heaven. God chose Jesus as one of these spirit children to be the Saviour of us all, as we all fall short of God’s glory.
- Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet of God, and he was given a message to foretell the coming of Muhammad, but was not God (6). He is referred to as “ruh min Allah”, meaning “Spirit from God”, and “mushia bi’l baraka”, meaning “the Messiah” but was simply a messenger (7).
- Judaism believes that the prophets spoke of a Messiah that would come. When Jesus came, he claimed to be that Messiah who was the Son of God, but they argue that he did not fulfil all the prophecies they expected him to, and that their Messiah has not come yet.
However, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was fully God, and an equal part of the Holy Trinity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, as we will examine below.
Why is Jesus called the Son of God?
In the Bible, Jesus is often referred to as the “Son of God”. Why is Jesus called this if he is God?
The Bible uses both ‘son of God’ and ‘Son of God’. The first term refers to humans, whereas the capitalised title only refers to Jesus.
‘Son of God’ is used once in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel.
In the passage, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to worship a golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon made, so they are cast bound into a fiery furnace which was heated “seven times more than it was wont to be heated” (Daniel 3:19).
As the people watch the men in the fire, Daniel 3:25 says, “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
They see a fourth person walking in the fire with the three men, who is called the “Son of God”. Then the three men come out of the fire unharmed.
From the New Testament, we know the title ‘Son of God’ refers to Jesus, for example Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;”. Therefore, the fourth person in the fire in the book of Daniel is Jesus.
The phrase ‘Son of God’ does not mean that Jesus Christ is biologically or genetically God’s Son. We know that Jesus was born of a virgin and did not have a physical father. It means that Jesus was God in a human form.
We cannot expect to understand this fully. In 1 Timothy 3:16 it is called the mystery of godliness, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” In whom, other than Jesus, was God manifested in the flesh and believed on?
Luke 3:38 says, “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” This chapter in Luke records Jesus’ line of descendants, all the way back to Adam, and then says Adam was the “son of God”.
The title ‘son’ here is not capitalised. Adam is called the son of God because he was formed without any biological parents or conception. This same principle applies to Christ, because he was literally God in a human form, however the ‘Son’ is capitalised to show Jesus’ deity compared to Adam.
Why is Jesus called the Son of man?
Jesus is also called the ‘Son of man’. This is capitalised in this way once in the Old Testament, in Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
This title is used 85 times in the New Testament. If we read the New Testament with the verse in Daniel in mind, it is not just a reference to Jesus’ humanity, but to his divinity. Daniel describes Jesus being given everlasting “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom”, this is what Jesus is claiming his right to when he calls himself the Son of man, and saying that he will fulfil this prophecy.
The title ‘Son of man’ paired with Jesus’ other title ‘Son of God’, together show that Jesus was both fully man and fully God at the same time. He was God manifested in the flesh of a man.
How can we know Jesus is God?
The one source God has given us to definitively know that Jesus is God is through the testimony given in the Bible.
Jesus said in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
The scriptures testify (give evidence) of Christ, and show that eternal life only comes through him.
In Acts 18:28, we are told about a believer named Apollos. It says, “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”
He was able to mightily convince the Jews showing them “by the scriptures” that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah they were waiting for. Therefore, we should be able to convince people that Jesus is God, purely through the Bible.
Three are one:
1 John 5:5-8 reads, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
John wrote that in verse 7 there are three that bear record in heaven, “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost”.
In Revelation 19:13, John is describing Jesus’ return to the earth and he says, “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” Jesus’ name is “The Word of God”.
Therefore, 1 John 5:7 describes the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. It then goes on to say, “these three are one”. Together, these three combine to make God. They are all equally God, and equal in power, and together they are one.
This verse is one of the clearest verses in the Bible to teach the Trinity, and that clearly shows Jesus is equal with the Father. Because of this, it is one of the most changed and distorted verses.
For example, in the New World Translation (the Bible that Jehovah’s Witnesses use), they change 1 John 5:7-8 to read, “For there are three witness bearers: the spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
This completely removes the three that bear record in heaven, almost completely removing verse 7.
This is also the same in many modern Bibles, for example the NIV reads in verse 7-8, “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
This is why many people are confused on who Jesus Christ is, because cults and modern Bibles completely remove verses that tell them he is God.
Jesus is the Word:
The Gospel of John begins with the verse, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
As we have already seen, “the Word” is a title referring to Jesus Christ. We can also see this in verse 14, which says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”. This is clearly speaking about Jesus.
In verse 2, it says, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” This parallels Colossians 1:16, which says of Jesus, “For by him were all things created…”.
In the first verse, we see that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Therefore, Jesus is God.
What did Jesus claim?
John 10:30-33 says, “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
Jesus said that he and the Father are one. The Jews realise what this means, so they try to stone Christ for blasphemy, for making himself God.
Verse 30 shows that Jesus and the Father are both distinct and yet join to make one.
The Jews are also seen to understand exactly who Jesus claimed to be in Matthew 26. In verse 63, the high priest says, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus replies, “Thou hast said”. As a result of this, in verse 65-66, they accuse him of blasphemy and sentence him to death. They knew that he was claiming to be God, but refusing to believe it, they kill him for it.
John records Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after his resurrection. In John 20:27-28, it says, “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
After Thomas sees Jesus resurrected with the wounds in his hands and side, he calls him “My Lord and my God”. Thomas recognised that Jesus was God.
We can also see the power of each member of the Holy Trinity (including Jesus) in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Galatians 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)”.
John 2:19-21 says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.”
Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
The Bible records both the Father, Jesus and the Spirit being involved in the resurrection. As it says in Acts 13:30, “God raised him from the dead”, this shows all three parts of the Trinity were united as one, and all played a joint role in raising Jesus from the dead.
Who should we worship?
In Exodus 34:14 God commands, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”.
In the Old Testament, we are repeatedly commanded to only worship, bow down to and serve God.
This is also seen in Revelation 22:8-9, “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”
John falls down to worship an angel, but the angel refuses his worship and says, “I am thy fellowservant”, and tells him instead to “worship God”.
However, while Jesus was on earth, he was often worshipped and yet he never refused it.
For example, Matthew 14:33, “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
John 9:38, “And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”
Hebrews 1:6, “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”
There are many other examples of this as well. Jesus accepted their worship, as he was showing that he is God, and worthy to be praised.
This same principle is also seen in the prayers recorded in the New Testament. For example, when Stephen is stoned in Acts 7:59, it says he was “calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” This both unites God with the Lord Jesus, and shows that Stephen prayed to Jesus. This would be idolatry if Jesus was not himself God.
Who is the Saviour?
Isaiah 43:11, “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”
Isaiah 45:15, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.”
Isaiah 45:21, “…and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”
1 Timothy 2:3, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;”.
These verses, among others, show that God is called the Saviour, and also that there can be no other saviour beside God. This title of Saviour is linked with the “God of Israel”, the “LORD” and “God”.
This same name is given to Christ. For example, Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
2 Timothy 1:10, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”.
Therefore, the descriptions of “God of Israel”, “LORD” and “God” all apply to Christ the Saviour. This is because Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are one, and together they are called God.
Who is the Holy One?
In the Old Testament, God is described as the Holy One.
For example, Hosea 11:9, “I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.”
2 Kings 19:22, “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.”
In the New Testament, this same title is given to Jesus.
For example, Mark 1:24, “Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
Acts 3:14, “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;” (speaking of Jesus).
Therefore, Jesus is given the same title as the God of the Old Testament.
Who is the first and the last?
Isaiah 44:6 says, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
The LORD is the first and the last. Many times in Revelation, this same description is given to Jesus. For example, Revelation 22:13, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
If Jesus and the LORD are both the first and the last, therefore Jesus is God.
Who was pierced?
In Zechariah 12:10 it says, “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.”
This is the LORD speaking, as it carries on from verse 8. It says “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced”.
We can instantly connect this with Jesus’ wounds while on the cross. Also, in Revelation 1:7 it is speaking of Jesus and says, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
If we read these two verses together, they both describe people looking at the one they have pierced, and wailing/mourning. In Zechariah this is speaking of the LORD, in Revelation this is speaking of Christ, so they are the same.
Is Jesus actually called God?
There are a number of verses in the Bible that clearly declare that Jesus is God himself.
For example, Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
The Holy Ghost has made us overseers to feed the church of God. The verse then says that he (God) purchased the church “with his own blood”. Jesus was the one who shed his blood for the church.
Hebrews 1:8 reads, “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.”
This is quoting Psalm 45:6, but tells us that God the Father is saying this to God the Son. Notice that the Father directly calls Jesus “God”.
1 John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Jesus came to earth to give us an understanding of God, “in his Son Jesus Christ”. This is the true God!
Matthew 1:23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” It was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 that Jesus would be called Emmanuel. This name means “God with us” – Jesus was God on earth.
In Isaiah 9:6, it reads, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
This is another prophecy of Jesus. It says he will be called “The mighty God”.
Another example is Titus 2:13 which says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”. Jesus is called the “great God”.
Who will every knee bow to?
The Bible says in Philippians 2:10-11, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
However, in Isaiah 45:22-23, he wrote, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
This passage says that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear to God. This is exactly the same description as we have of Jesus in Philippians. It could not be clearer, it says, “for I am God”! This same prophecy is also applied again to Christ in Romans 14:11.
How are Jesus and God shown to be the same?
Jesus is shown to have many of the same attributes in scripture that are also given to God, or the LORD. For example:
- They are both eternal and everlasting (Psalm 90:2, Micah 5:2)
- They both fill all things (Jeremiah 23:24, Ephesians 4:10)
- They are both unchanging (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8)
- They are both sinless (Habakkuk 1:13, Hebrews 4:15)
- They are both responsible for judging (Genesis 18:25, 2 Corinthians 5:10)
- They both forgive sins (Numbers 14:18, Mark 2:5)
- They both have power over nature (Psalm 107:29, Matthew 8:26)
- They both have power over death (1 Samuel 2:6, John 5:25-26)
- They are both the Shepherd (Psalm 23:1, John 10:14-16)
- They are both the Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4, 1 Corinthians 10:4)
There are also many further examples of how Jesus is both equal with and the same as God.
The Bible is clear that Jesus is God. When he came to earth, he was God taking on a human form, but he was present eternally before this, and will be forever.
We see this eternal nature of Jesus in Colossians 1:16-17, speaking of Christ;
“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.”
Jesus is also directly called God in the Bible, shown to have the same characteristics as God, and even himself claimed to be God.
This information is evident to us, if we would only search the scriptures to find it. Jesus was killed because the Jews refused to believe that their promised Saviour had come, but life is found in Jesus alone.
As John wrote in 1 John 2:22-23, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”
If we deny Jesus as God, we are liars, and also deny the Father, and therefore deny ourselves eternal life – “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:12)
If we want to have eternal life, this comes from the purchase Jesus made with his life, to cover our sin. Acts 4:11, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
We must be saved, and this comes only through believing in what God did for us when he dwelt on earth as Jesus Christ.