On The Deity of Christ

Recently, I posted a reformed theology commentary on John 1:1-5 and spoke of the deity of Christ within the context of that passage. But now I’d like to focus on the deity of Christ throughout the entire Bible. This will probably be a more lengthy post but I hope that it will edify you in your understanding of the deity of Christ, as well as give you scriptural passages that you can use to defend the deity of Christ against any who may object to His deity. 

Now firstly I’d like to look at John 1:1, now don’t worry I’m not going to go too indepth to this verse but it is an essential verse to the deity of Christ so we shall look at it.

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

Here Christ is called the Word, the λόγος (logos), but one might say, “Christ is not explicitly declared in this passage, but instead this “Word”.” And this is a objection that we must answer. Now, turn your attention to what John writes later in that chapter, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Here John explicitly teaches that this Word “became flesh and dwelt among us”. And also that It’s physical gender was a He: “and we have seen his glory,”. Now we see that this Word was “full of grace and truth”, but later John also says this, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). Here we see that through Jesus Christ was grace and truth, which is what the Word is full of. Thus, those two verses combined explicitly prove Christ to be “the Word”. Now let us go back to John 1:1 and briefly examine it.

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

Here Christ was in the beginning, or before the beginning as the Greek word for ‘In’ can also be translated ‘Before’ (see On John 1:1-5 – Reformed Theology Commentary for more detailed information regarding the Greek text). Thus if Christ is before the beginning He is, most definitely, eternal. Christ was also with God, but not just with God, He was with God from before the beginning in the most intimate way possible. This idea of being “with” is an intensely intimate thing in the Greek. And lastly here we see that Christ is God. Not meaning that God and Christ are one in the same, on the contrary, Christ being with God shows a distinction, so in light of that we must understand that when it says “and the Word was God” that is speaking to Christ’s equality with God, while yet being a disctinct person from God the Father. 

Now I’d like to deal with another question that arises concerning this verse and that is this: why is Christ Jesus called “the Word”? This was a question that I myself had bouncing around in my head the first time I ever seriously studied the prologue to the Gospel of John, which is now my favorite Gospel. And I shall give you the biblical answer, in fact the answer comes straight from the mouth of our Lord. 

26 “I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” – John 8:26

For the purpose of answering that question, I’d like to focus on Jesus’ words “and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”; now, we all would agree that the “him” is the same as “he who sent me”, whom Jesus often calls “Father”, no even more so, “my Father”. Now we will get into statements like those more indepthly later but for now just know that “him” and “he who sent me” is God the Father. Here we see that Christ tells us that He declares what He has heard from the Father to the world, thus He is called the “Word” because He utters the words of God, as John the Baptist says, “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34). Now Christ is the one whom God has sent, and He doesn’t speak on His own but speaks what He has heard from the Father, and He does not do His own will but the will of His Father, as it is written: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38). Thus Christ is called the Word because He utters the words of God.

Now that we have dispensed with John 1:1 let’s move on to another passage which I believe will hold ample edification:

2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’ 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he then said to the paralytic-“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home.  -Matthew 9:2-7

Now for the purposes of today do not spend time on the mircale (although it is an amazing thing, as are all the miracles of Christ) but rather focus on the following: 1.) Christ claiming to be able to forgive sins, 2.) His knowledge of the Pharisees thoughts, and 3.) the authority exemplified in the miricale.

Let’s take them one at a time, from first to last:

  1. Christ claiming to be able to forgive sins. Here Christ claiming to be able to forgive sins is not a little thing, because forgiveness is the prerogative of the person who has been offended by another. Now when we sin, we do not always sin against others but we always sin against God. Therefore Christ saying, “Take heart my son; your sins are forgiven.” is not claiming anything less than equality with God. 
  2. His knowledge of the Pharisees thoughts. After Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven, the Pharisees present begin to question what Christ said, thinking that Christ is wrongfully claiming equality with God. They do not do this verbally but internally – mentally. And then, Jesus questions their thoughts! He answers the doubts, the accusations, that they are bringing up concerning him in their hearts! As it is written: “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts,” (Matthew 9:4). Now understand this is not some vague or uncertain knowledge, on the contrary, this is certain and clear knowledge. But who else, besides God, knows men’s thoughts in and of their own power? No one, but God, for it is written, “would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21). 
  3. The authority exemplified in the miricale. Jesus said to them,”For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5). Here Christ is asking which is easier to say, not which is easier to do. Now, naturally, to a paralytic, it is much easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ than ‘Rise and walk’. Now since this question’s answer is so easily attained, it would, most likely, lead one to say, “If Jesus merely says, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, then really, it’s all just empty words!” And to this logical realization that Jesus brought about by asking the previous question, Jesus answers thus, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he then said to the paralytic-“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:6). And how does the man, the paralyzed man, respond to this direct command of Christ? “And he rose and went home.” (Matthew 9:7). Here, by doing the harder of the two, Christ’s actions imply this question: “If He can do what is harder to say, then can’t He do what is easier to say?”

Now that we have finished with that verse let us move on to another one. Since I’ve shown two examples from the New Testament, let’s look at some Old Testament passages.

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Here we see the prophet Isaiah speaking of a child to be born, earlier  he is more specific and says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14), but this child who is to be born of a virgin shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace. Does not the scripture say, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)? Here John is calling Jesus, the logos, “the only God”, and is not the only God mighty? Indeed, He is mighty, for the scriptures say concerning His might, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!” (Psalm 24:8). And if one is the Prince of Peace, then is not peace His to give? And who gives true peace? Christ Jesus, for it is written: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27). Who gives us peace? And whom’ peace do we receive? We do not receive the world’s peace, which is fleeting and false, but we receive His peace, the peace of Jesus the Christ. Thus who is to be called Mighty God? Who is to be called Prince of Peace? None save Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God! 

Next let us look at another passage, this one comes from the New Testament:

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him.

17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17

Here these two verses are clearly speaking to deity, but who all this attached to? Who is “he”? We must look at Colossians 1:15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Who is the physical image of the invisible Father? Christ, for it is writtten: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) and again: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3). Thus it is Christ who is the image of the invisible God. Now that we know that in Colossians 1:16-7 the “he” is Christ, we then see that by Chris, through Christ, and for Christ all things were created. And not only that but in Christ all things are held together! This statement of Christ’s deity is similar to John 1:3: “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”. So we see that the deity of Christ being expressed this way is not exclusive to one New Testament writer but two! Both being the most prolific writers in the New Testament. 

Combining all these passages we’ve looked at together, we see that the deity of Christ is not only boldly proclaimed but also repeatedly proclaimed with boldness. 

But I would like to look at one last passage:

17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”  – John 10:17-18

Here we see the Gospel laid out by Christ Himself. But see here: Christ lays down His life “that [he] might take it up again”. And He also says: “I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”. The word for ‘authority’ can also mean ‘power’. Christ has the power to lay down His holy life, and to take it back up again! Essentially, Christ is saying: I will raise myself from the dead. If that is not deity, then I don’t know what is. 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t ever doubt the deity of your Savior. 

Much Blessings,

Michael Hall

    On The Deity of Christ

    On John 1:1-5 – Reformed Theology Commentary

    Previously I’ve dealt with sin, and man’s relation to sin, before and after Christbut what about Christ can make us free? How is freedom even possible? These and many questions ran through my own mind when I was first introduced to the  doctrine of Total Depravity/Radical Depravity/Radical Corruption. I was so focused on man’s fallen state, that for a time I lost sight of the glory, power, deity, and perfectness of Christ. Thankfully, the very next Doctrine of Grace that I was introduced to was Unconditional Election/Sovereign Election, which magnifies the power, glory, justice, and mercy of the Godhead. But we are not going to focus on Total Depravity, nor on Unconditional Election, but rather on the deity of Christ, that and that alone.

    So turn you’re attention to John 1:1-5. I’ll post it up in full below, then after that we shall dissect it phrase by phrase:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness,I and the darkness has not overcome it.   – John 1:1-5

    So now that we see the text let’s dive right into it:

      
    1. In the beginning was the Word,

    Here we see the deity of Christ out forth with pure, untainted boldness, showing the eternal nature of the λόγός (logos;word), which also infers the work of Christ being God’s word manifest in the flesh (v. 14). But but in the Greek text the word Έν which is translated “In” does not merely mean “in” but can also mean “at”, which would read just fine (just as good, in fact, as if it were translated “in”) but this Greek word can also be translated “before”, which, in terms of edifictation, would be very good; for we’re it to read, “At the beginning was the Word,” the reader would think that that λόγος has a beginning, which we all know not to be the case; but were it translated “Before the beginning was the Word,” I would think it would only bolden the expression of the deity of Christ.

    Now noticice if you will the use of of the word “was”, a past tense verb, with “the Word” being the direct object; the use of this past tense verb declares that at the beginning the λόγος already was! The λόγος was before the beginning, for if the λόγος was not before the beginning how could the author then truthfully declare in verse three, “All things were made through him (meaning the λόγος), and without him (meaning the λόγος) was not any thing made that was made.”? So we see that the λόγος must be before the beginning, or else there would be nothing!

    and the Word was with God,

    Here again, we see the strong putting forth of the deity of Christ, who is the λόγος. Here the author speaks, again, to the eternal nature of the λόγος, as it is well understood that God is an eternal being, even secular minds have admitted that is God exists that He must be, among other things, eternal; and here the author is doing nothing less than making the λόγος equal with God. But also this phrase tells us something of the λόγος’s relationships with God. The Greek word for “with” is πρός which can also mean “toward”, “against” (as in being pressed against something), “in company with”, “along side of”, “in the presence of”. So we see that the λόγος was πρός God; He was in the presence of God, in company with God; He was along side God, towards God; the λόγος was πρός God.

    and the Word was God.

    In the Greej the order is actually, “καί θεός ήν ό λόγος” which translates, “God was the Word”, which I personally have come to prefer over “and the Word was God” but yet, which ever word we pick, makes θεός (God) equal with the λόγος; and the λόγος equal with θεός. Hence, the deity of Christ unquestionably claimed in the opening verse of John’s gospel.

    2. He was in the beginning with God.

    The word ουτος, which is translated “he”, can also mean “this”, “this one”; “he”, etc. which is clearly referring to the λόγος from verse one. For it would make no sense for “he” to refer to θεός, for that would mean that te verse would mean “God was in the beginning with God”, thus it must “he” must referrer to the λόγος. Here the same Greek word (πρός) that is used for “with” in verse one (and the Word was with God) is also used here and here it is used in the same way, showing a intensely intimate relationship with God, but at the same time upholding the deity – namely the eternal nature – of the λόγος. For how could any non-deity be πρός (with in the most intimate way) God at/before/in (έν) in the αρχή (beginning, first; origin)? For anything to be in the mere intimate presence (πρός) of God that πρός implies demands that thing to be deity, but being that way with God before (έν) the αρχή (beginning; origin) makes is necessary for the λόγος to be equal with θεός.

    3. All things were made through him,

    Again speaking to the deity of the λόγος for the Greek word translated “through” is the  δί, which means “through” or “by means of”. All things were made by means of the λόγος. It’s is a very string phrase that screams of th earthly creatures dependency on λόγος which is equal with θεός.

    and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    Here the word “without” is χωρίς which means “without”, “apart from”, or “without relation to”. Therefore if without relation to the λόγος nothing was made. Then without the λόγος nothing couldz be made! Thus speaking to earthly creatures dependence on θεός and the λόγος in every way possible.

    4. In him was life,

    Those reading this have encountered the Greek word for “In” before; yet know that Έν can also be translated “at” or “before”, as well as “in”; but this two letter word can also be translated “by”, “with”, and “within”. Think of this for a moment: Within the λόγος was life; by the λόγος was life; with the λόγος was life! Frankly, that is a incredible statement for the deity of Christ, for in Genesis we see that God breathes into man the “breath of life” (Genesis 2:7) thus life is within Godbut here John is saying that within the λόγος is life; thus, saying that “Within the λόγος was life,” is as much of a claim, if not more than, the phrase, “and θεός was the λόγος.”! This not only makes the λόγος equal with God, but this makes the λόγος God!

    and the life was the light of men

    The word here for “the” is actually ή which normally is translated “this” or “that”. So, life is not this general “life”; no, it’s “this life that is έν (within) the λόγος! Now what is meant by the word light (φως) here? The scripture says, “This life was the φως (light, with theological connotation) of ανθρώπων (man, human being; people, humankind). What does that mean? Here John is referring to the spiritual light of th Gospel, which is in Christ, and Christ alone. 

    5. The light shines in the darkness,

    This is a vivid of what the gospel is: a light shining forth into the darkness. But also this is an active thing: “the light φαίνει (shine, give light, appear, be seen, be or become visibke, be revealed) in the darkness. This is an active making known of something, not a passive action.

    and the darkness has not overcome it.

     Here the word “darkness” is speaking to the depravity of man, and thus to the world. But here instead of the Greek word κατέλαβεν meaning “come upon” or “overtake” as it generally does, here it means “realize”, “understand”, “learn”; “see”, “find”.  Here John is saying, “The light shines in the world, but the world does not understand it, the world does not see it; as our Lord said, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13). This the world sees the light but they do not see it; they do not grasp it nor do they understand it, unless it is given them of the Father (John 6:44,65; Matthew 13:11; Matthew 19:11). 

    Reflect on the words of Christ:

    And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  – Matthew 13.11

    Blessings to all my brothers and sisters in Christ,

    Michael Hall

    On John 1:1-5 – Reformed Theology Commentary