Who is Jesus according to Christian denominational tradition?

Warning:  Before reading this post, please read the post: Who is Jesus is according to the Bible?

For the past 1,800 years, the following Biblical evidence has been used to support the tradition that Jesus is God.

  1. Jesus’ claim to forgive sins.
  2. Jesus referred to as: the eternally blessed God.
  3. Jesus referred to as being: the image of God.
  4. Jesus is referred to as the Creator.
  5. Jesus called Lord.
  6. Jesus referred to as: Your throne O God is forever.
  7. Jesus referred to as: the Word, and the Word was God.
  8. Jesus’ statement: I and My Father Are One.
  9. Jesus admitting to being the Christ.
  10. Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.
  11. Jesus referred to as being sinless.
  12. Jesus’ claim of pre-existing the world.
  13. Jesus’ ability to cast out demons.
  14. The demons’ knowledge of Jesus.
  15. Paul’s reference to: “our God and Savior Jesus Christ”.
  16. Paul’s reference to: “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”
  17. John referring to Jesus as: “the true God”
  18. Jesus’ ability to heal the sick.
  19. Jesus’ ability to raise the dead.
  20. Jesus virgin birth and being called Immanuel.
  21. John’s claim that “these Three are One”.
  22. Jesus’ instruction to “baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.
  23. Thomas’ declaration: “my Lord and my God”.
  24. Jesus as God who sits on the throne.
  25. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.
  26. Jesus was worshipped as God.
  27. Jesus referred to as: having the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
  28. Jesus referred to as: God who purchased the Church with His own blood.

This evidence has rarely been critically examined to see whether it actually supports the claim that Jesus is God. We shall examine it here by attempting to verify the assumptions upon which the interpretations of the verses were based.

1. Jesus’ claim to forgive sins

The Pharisees stated that only God can forgive sins, and then concluded that Jesus was equating Himself with God. Let us examine the evidence.

When He (Jesus) saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”(Luke 5:20–21)

Analyzing this evidence, we note the following:

  1. Jesus stated: “your sins are forgiven”.
  2. The Pharisees stated: “who can forgive sins but God alone”.
  3. Denominational tradition concluded: since Jesus forgave sins, and if God alone can forgive sins, then Jesus must be God.
  4. The unverified assumption upon which this conclusion was based was: only God can forgive sins?

In seeking to verify the Pharisees’ assumption that only God can forgive sins, we can try to identify credible evidence that suggests that someone, who is not God, can also forgive sins. We note Jesus’ instructions to His disciples.

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21–23)

Jesus is a credible witness who said that His disciples could also forgive sins. However, His disciples were not God. Therefore, the Pharisees’ assumption that only God can forgive sins is incorrect, and does not qualify as evidence that Jesus is God.

2. Jesus referred to as: the eternally blessed God

The reference that Jesus is the eternally blessed God has been used to support the claim that Jesus is God. Let us examine this evidence.

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 9:1–5)

The footnote to Romans 9:5 in the New International Version of the Bible identifies the following two alternative translations to the last section of Romans 9:5:

“Christ, who is over all. God be forever praised!”

and,

“Christ. God who is over all be forever praised!”

Since there is some uncertainty with the translation of this particular verse of scripture, then this verse by itself should not be used to conclude that the Bible teaches that Jesus is God.

3. Jesus referred to as being: the image of God

The following evidence is taken to mean that Jesus is described as God.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

The assumption made was that being the image of God is the same as being God. In trying to verify this assumption, we note that God made man in His image.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Since man is created in the image of God, and he was not God, then being in the image of God is not evidence of being God.

4. Jesus is referred to as the Creator

The following evidence is taken to mean that Jesus is described as God.

For by Him [Jesus] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)

The assumption made was that since God is the Creator, and all things were created by Jesus, then Jesus is God.  In trying to verify this assumption, we note Paul’s clarification of Jesus’ role.

yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Therefore, God creating all things through Jesus is not evidence that Jesus is God.

5. Jesus is called Lord

The evidence is that throughout the Gospels, Jesus calls himself Lord and others call Him Lord. For example.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” (John 21:15)

The Greek word used for Lord is Kuriŏs, and it can be translated to mean: God, Lord, master, or Sir. The word is used when referring to Jesus and to earthly leaders. However, when people are unmistakably referring to God alone, they use a different word called Děspŏtēs, which is only used twice in the New Testament, and is translated absolute ruler, Lord, and master in the Greek dictionary. The first usage was when Simon saw and blessed the baby Jesus.

“Lord (Děspŏtēs), now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; (Luke 2:29)

The second usage was after the disciples had been apprehended and subsequently released.

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord (Děspŏtēs), You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them … For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together (Acts 4:24, 27)

In both instances, the use of Děspŏtēs refers to God and not to Jesus. Therefore, Jesus being referred to as Lord (Kuriŏs) is not evidence of Jesus being God.

6. Jesus referred to as: Your throne O God is forever

The following evidence is taken to mean that Jesus is referred to as God.

But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8 )

This is a quotation from the Psalms, which reads:

Verse 6: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

Verse 7: You love righteousness and hate wickedness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. (Psalms 45:6–7)

Denominational traditions identify Jesus as the subject of “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever”. However, this interpretation leads to confusion later where it states: “Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You”. Who is the God of God?

The integrity of the verses is maintained by assuming that verse 6 is a preamble to verse 7, and that the first part of verse 6 is addressed to God, while verse 7 is addressed to the Son. In seeking to verify this assumption, we note that in the Psalms, the writers normally switch between the first, second and third person without warning. In the following Psalm, we would not interpret the person who states: “The LORD of hosts is with us” to be God who states:Be still, and know that I am God”.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (Psalms 46:8–11)

7. Jesus referred to as: the Word, and the Word was God

The following evidence is taken to mean that Jesus is referred to as the Word, who was God.

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

And the Word became 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 1:14)

The first chapter of the Gospel of John contains many titles but two entities, God and: the Word, Life, Light, Flesh, Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, Rabbi, King of Israel, Messiah, Son of Joseph, and Lamb of God. Of these titles, only one of them was referred to as God: “the Word was God”.

It does not say that Jesus was God or that the Word is God, but that the Word was with God, and was God in the beginning. Let us try to discuss this issue without damaging the integrity of the evidence.

It is possible that a person’s words, before they are spoken, can be considered to be part of the person. My words not yet spoken are with me and can be said to be me. However, once spoken, they represent me, but are separate from me. Let us see whether this explanation maintains the integrity of the evidence.

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)

The unspoken Word was with God in the beginning. This unspoken Word was God.

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3)

The unspoken Word was spoken and creation was the result. The “Word of God” is the Word that belongs to God and came from God.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4–5)

Once spoken, the Word became a separate entity with a life of His own.

And the Word became 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 1:14)

The Word, separated from God, eventually became flesh. The idea of the Word having life in Himself, and the Word becoming flesh, is consistent with Jesus’ description of Himself.

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (John 5:26–27)

Is this the actual interpretation? We cannot say conclusively; but it is a plausible explanation that does not damage the integrity of any of the verses. We must remember that Paul indicated that there exists an element of uncertainty for the time being.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:9–12)

Therefore, dogmatic (doctrinal) statements should not be made about inconclusive issues. Rather, all of the relevant evidence should be examined, and conflicting evidence must be reconciled. No evidence or plausible explanations should be ignored in order to establish a favored position.

8. Jesus’ statement: I and My Father Are One

This statement is reasonably explicit; however, let us examine the context before drawing a conclusion.

“I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:30–36)

The Jews interpreted Jesus’ statement “I and my Father are one” to mean that Jesus was making Himself God. However, Jesus appeared to correct them by stating “I said, I am the Son of God”.

The assumption made is that Jesus being one with the Father means that Jesus is God. In seeking to verify this assumption, we note Jesus’ prayer for future believers.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:20–23)

So Jesus prays that all believers may be one with the Father, just as He and the Father are one. The original Greek word used for one (hĕis) in Jesus’ statement “I and the Father are one [hĕis]”, is the same word used when Jesus prayed that His disciples may be one [hĕis] in us”. Since believers are not meant to become gods through becoming one with the Father, then Jesus being one with the Father is not sufficient evidence that Jesus is God.

9. Jesus admitting to being the Christ

The evidence is that Jesus admitted to being the Messiah or Christ.

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am” (Mark 14:61–62a)

The assumption made was that the Messiah is God; however, in the next verse, Jesus forecasts that He will not return alone.

And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.” (Mark 14:62b–64)

Paul described the Messiah (Christ) as sitting at God’s right hand.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

Therefore, since the Messiah is sitting at God’s right hand, then Jesus admitting to be the Messiah is not evidence that Jesus is God.

10. Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God

The evidence is that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son [huiŏs] of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15–17)

God also identified Jesus as His Son.

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son [huiŏs]; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22)

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son [huiŏs], in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)

The assumption made was that Jesus being called the Son of God meant that Jesus was God. In seeking to verify this assumption, we note that some verses state that believers can also be called sons and children of God. The Greek word, huiŏs, used for “Son” in the following passages where God refers to Jesus as His Son, is the same Greek word used to describe believers as sons of God.

For you are all sons [huiŏs] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son [huiŏs], born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons [huiŏs], God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son [huiŏs] into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son [huiŏs], and if a son [huiŏs], then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4–7)

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16–17)

Therefore, being called a son of God is not evidence of being God.

11. Jesus referred to as being sinless

The evidence is that Jesus did not sin.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

The assumption made was that not having sinned is evidence of being God. However, does that make Jesus God? In seeking to verify this assumption, we note that babies who have not yet sinned are not God. Therefore, being without sin is not sufficient evidence of being God.

12. Jesus’ claim of pre-existing the world

The evidence is that Jesus pre-existed the world.

And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5)

The assumption made was that Jesus pre-existing the world is evidence that Jesus is God. However, the Bible indicates that angels and other heavenly beings also pre-existed the world, and they are not God. Therefore, pre-existing the world is not sufficient evidence of Jesus being God.

13. Jesus’ ability to cast out demons

The evidence is that Jesus had power to cast out demons.

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, (Matthew 8:16)

The assumption made was that the ability to cast out demons is evidence that Jesus is God. However, Jesus gave His disciples power to cast out demons, [i] and His disciples were not God.

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7–8)

Therefore, the ability to cast out demons is not sufficient evidence that Jesus is God.

14. The demons’ knowledge of Jesus

The evidence is that the demons knew Jesus.

Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him. (Mark 1:34)

And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. (Luke 4:41)

The assumption made was that the demon’s knowledge of Jesus is evidence of Jesus being God. However, demons knew others, such as Paul, and Paul was not God.

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:13–16)

Therefore, a demon’s knowledge of Jesus is not sufficient evidence of Jesus being God.

15. Peter’s reference to: “our God and Savior Jesus Christ”

The evidence is that Peter referred to Jesus as God.

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (1 Peter 1:1)

This has been offered as evidence that Jesus is called both God and Savior. However, there are two likely interpretations: Peter is referencing one, or two persons. If we assume that Peter was referring to one person, then it would be reasonable to interpret the verse to mean that Jesus is God. However, in attempting to verify this assumption, we note in the following verse:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, (1 Peter 1:2)

Peter clarifies that he is referring to two persons, God, and Jesus. Therefore, this verse is not evidence that Jesus is God.

16. Paul’s reference to: “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”

The evidence is that Paul referred to Jesus as: our great God and Savior.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14)

The assumption is that Paul was calling Jesus “our great God”. However, Paul could have been referring to one or two persons. In attempting to verify this assumption, we note that Paul identified Jesus and God as two separate entities in his introduction.

To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 1:4)

Therefore, it is likely that Paul is repeating this pattern of referring to God first and Jesus second. Further, Jesus stated that He will return with God.

Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61b, 62)

17. John referring to Jesus as: “the true God”

The evidence is that John appears to refer to Jesus as “the true God”.

This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20b)

The assumption is that John is referring to Jesus as “the true God”. To assist in interpreting this verse, the contextual verses are provided.

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:18–20)

Since the subject of the context is both God and the Son, it is possible that the “true God” is the Father of the Son, rather than the Son. Further, Jesus clarified that the Father is the only true God.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You [Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

18. Jesus’ ability to heal the sick

The Bible records Jesus as healing the sick, blind, dumb, and lepers. The assumption made was that Jesus’ ability to heal is evidence that Jesus is God. However, Elijah healed the leprous Syrian commander, Naaman,[ii] and the disciples were given power to heal,[iii] yet they were not God. Therefore, the ability to heal is not evidence that Jesus is God.

19. Jesus’ ability to raise the dead

The evidence is that Jesus had the ability to raise the dead.

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. (Luke 7:11–15)

The assumption made was that the ability to raise the dead is evidence that Jesus is God. However, Elijah raised the son of the widow at Zarephath,[iv] and Peter raised Tabitha in Joppa.[v] Jesus also instructed His disciples to heal the sick and raise the dead.[vi] Further, Jesus stated that His disciples would do greater works than what He did after He returned to His Heavenly Father.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)

Therefore, the ability to work miracles, including raising the dead, is not evidence that Jesus is God.

20. Jesus’ virgin birth and being called Immanuel

The evidence is that Jesus was born of a virgin.[vii] The assumption made was that being born of a virgin is evidence that Jesus is God. This assumption is based on Isaiah’s prophecy recorded approximately 700 years earlier. Matthew repeats this prophecy.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

The assumption made was that Jesus is the God who is “with us”. However, this can be interpreted to mean that God was physically present, or that God was present through His representative. When Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son, the people’s response was:

Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. (Luke 7:16–17)

The people identified Jesus as a great prophet, and God is described as visiting His people through His representative.

21. John’s Claim that “these three are one”

John appears to identify the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost as one.

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. (1 John 5:7–8)

The following footnote to this passage in the New King James Version of the Bible states that, the portion of text underlined above is not contained in earlier Biblical manuscripts: “NU-Text and M-Text omit the words from in heaven (verse 7) through on earth (verse 8). Only four or five very late manuscripts contain these words in Greek.”

Doctrines should be based on explicit and authentic verses that are not vulnerable to misinterpretation. Therefore, since there is some uncertainty with these verses, the underlined section of this passage should not be used for supporting or establishing doctrines.

22. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Jesus instructed His disciples to baptize.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20)

The assumption made was that baptizing in the name of the Son equates Jesus with God. Before we can comment on this evidence, we need to understand the reason for baptism. The evidence from the Bible starts in the New Testament with John’s baptism.

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:4–5)

While there is no mention of baptism in the Old Testament, the Jewish religious leaders appeared to understand the significance of the practice.

Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” (John 1:24–25)

After Jesus selected His disciples, He baptized His followers.

After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. (John 3:22)

Paul appeared to describe baptism as the spiritual death of the past behavior of the person who wished to submit to God.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:1–6)

This evidence suggests that baptism is to signify a person’s intent to change their behavior. The new behavior appears to be taught by the person in whose name one is baptized. John taught new behavior and his baptism was commonly called “the Baptism of John”.[viii]

So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:10–14)

Jesus also taught new behavior.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. (Matthew 5:38–42)

Jesus also instructed His disciples to teach others what they had learnt from Him, rather than any new teaching of their own, and to baptize future believers from all nations.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20)

Jesus claimed that His teachings were not His own, but came from His Father.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23–24)

Jesus also explained the teaching role of the Holy Spirit.

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:25–26)

The explanation that is consistent with all of the available evidence is that baptism demonstrates the intention to follow the teachings of the one in whose name one is baptized. This interpretation appears to explain Paul’s defense of not baptizing many people, against an accusation that he was seeking followers.

For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. (1 Corinthians 1:11–15)

Therefore, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, can be seen thus. In the name of: the Father from whom the teaching on right behavior came, Jesus who taught the teachings while He was on the earth, and the Holy Spirit who will teach them to all who are reconciled to God.

23. Thomas’ declaration “my Lord and my God”

The evidence is that Thomas declared: “my Lord and my God”.

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26–28)

The assumption made was that Thomas was referring to Jesus when he said “My Lord and my God”. However, he could have been speaking to Jesus but referring to the Father, or it could be simply an exclamation of shock. Whatever the meaning of Thomas’ exclamation, John, the writer of the Gospel does not dwell on it. Rather, John concludes by stating what people should believe about Jesus.

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30–31)

24. Jesus is God who sits on the throne

The evidence is that Jesus is God who is seated on the throne and lives forever and ever.

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:8-11)

However, in the following chapter, the Lamb approaches the throne and takes the scroll from Him who sat on the throne.

Then He [the Lamb] came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:7-10)

Therefore, it appears that the Lamb who has redeemed us to God by His blood is Jesus, and the One who sits on the throne is God.

25. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega

The evidence is that Jesus is described as the Alpha and Omega.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:8-11)

The assumption is that Jesus is the one “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” However, this can easily be interpreted to mean that God is the Alpha and Omega. Also, the following footnote to this passage in the New King James Version of the Bible states that, the portion of text underlined above is not contained in earlier Biblical manuscripts: NU-Text and M-Text omit ”I am” through third “and”.

The Bible records God using this title in the book of Revelation.

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Revelation 21:5-7)

When Jesus is clearly identified in Revelation, He is described this way.

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:6-16)

26. Jesus was worshipped as God

The Bible records instances where Jesus appears to be worshipped. The evidence follows.

And as they went to tell His disciples,  behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matthew 28:8-9)

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” (Mark 5:6-7)

The Greek  word used for worship is proskunĕo, which means to submit or prostrate in reverence.  It is the same word used when Jesus described a debtor who was speaking with his creditor.

The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped [proskunĕo] him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. (Matthew 18:26)

The scriptures are clear that we should worship God.

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 5:10)

Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9)

It is noteworthy to observe how those in Heaven respond to Jesus.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation 5:11-14)

The Lamb is considered worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, glory, and honor, and both God and the Lamb are ascribed blessing, honor, glory and power, but worship is reserved for Him who lives forever and ever. This is consistent with Jesus’ statement that we should honor Him as we honor the Father.

For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 5:22, 23)

Note that Jesus did not say that we should worship Him as we worship the Father.

27. Jesus referred to as: having the fullness of the Godhead bodily

The following evidence is taken to mean that Jesus is God.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; (Colossians 2:9)

This statement was described in the previous chapter of Colossians.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19–20)

It is also clarified in 2 Corinthians.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18–20)

Jesus also clarified that the Father was working in Him and through Him.

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:10–11)

So God was in Christ in order that a specific task should be accomplished, that of reconciling the world to Himself. The assumption made was that if God dwells in or fills someone to accomplish a task, then that person becomes or is God. In seeking to verify this assumption, we note that Jesus prayed that believers would be One with the Father, as Jesus was also One with the Father, in order that specific tasks could be accomplished.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20–21)

The Bible records that God filled other persons to accomplish specific tasks; however, they were not God.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. (Exodus 31:1–5)

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” (Luke 1:13–16)

Therefore, God filling and working through someone is not evidence of that person being God.

28. Jesus referred to as: God who purchased the Church with His own blood.

The Acts of the Apostles appears to suggest that God purchased the Church with His own blood.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)

The assumption made was that God purchased the Church with His blood. However, the footnote to this passage in the New King James Version of the Bible states that, in earlier Biblical manuscripts, the portion of text underlined above reads: “of the Lord and God”. Therefore, the blood can be interpreted to belong to the Lord Jesus, which would be consistent with the rest of the Bible.

If a verse easily lends itself to two conflicting interpretations, one which is in harmony with the rest of the scriptures, and one which is not, then it would seem logical to interpret it in a way that is harmony with the rest of the scriptures.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is, among other things, the Word of God through whom God created the world, the Son of God whom God said that we should hear, the Messiah who reconciled us to God through His sacrificial death on the cross, and our Lord whom God gave authority to judge us at the end of the age.

(This information in this post has been extracted from “Brothers Kept Apart”)


[i] Mark 3:15

[ii] 2 Kings 5

[iii] Matthew 10:7–8

[iv] 1 Kings 17:17–24

[v] Acts 9:36–43

[vi] Matthew 10:7–8

[vii] Luke 1:30–35

[viii] Matthew 21:25; Mark 11:30; Luke 7:29; Acts 1:22; 18:25.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Who is Jesus according to Christian denominational tradition?

  1. Pingback: Who is Jesus according to the Bible? | Brothers Kept Apart

  2. 1 Corinthians 15 24-25

  3. Dear Dave:

    Amen.

    Best regards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s