Defending the Deity of Christ

By James M. Rochford

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The Bible certainly teaches that Jesus was fully human. Paul refers to Jesus as “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Hebrews tells us that Christ became human “in all things” (Heb. 2:14, 17). John writes that Jesus came “in the flesh” (1 Jn. 4:2; c.f. Jn. 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:6; Col. 2:9). Moreover, as we read through the NT, we see that Jesus was hungry (Mt. 4:2), thirsty (Jn. 19:28), slept (Mt. 8:24), grew physically and mentally (Lk. 2:40, 52), wept (Jn. 11:33, 35), suffered anguish (Lk. 22:44), had blood in his veins (Jn. 19:34), and eventually died in his human body (Lk. 23:46). Jesus was not like Clark Kent, merely appearing as a human but was really an invincible Superman. Instead, he really was a man.

But while cult groups usually affirm the humanity of Christ, they most often deny his deity. Does the Bible teach that Jesus was God? Let’s consider the evidence.

Indirect Claims to Deity

Jesus made a number of indirect claims to deity. Consider a few examples.

1. Jesus’ audience believed that he was God

CLAIM: (Jn. 5:17) But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

RESPONSE: (Jn. 5:18) For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

God, of course, didn’t need to keep the Sabbath. The Jews in Jesus’ day believed that God continued to work on the Sabbath (bringing rain, sunlight, etc.). Thus Jesus’ statement (that the Sabbath didn’t apply to him) was interpreted properly to mean that he was God.[1]

CLAIM: (Jn. 8:58) Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

RESPONSE: (Jn. 8:59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

There is a similar usage of the title “I am” in Matthew 14:27, John 10:31:33, and John 18:5-6. After Jesus calms the sea and walks on water, he claims that he is Lord over creation by calling himself “I am” (Greek ego emi; Mt. 14:27). When the guards come to find Jesus, he tells them, “I am.” How do they react? They cower and fall prostrate on the ground. They understood what Jesus was claiming for himself. This use of the divine name (Yahweh in Hebrew) comes from Exodus 3:14. Bowman writes, “The Septuagint, the main Greek translation of the Old Testament current in the first century, translated Exodus 3:14 “I am the One who is” (ego eimi ho on), and readers of John’s Gospel who were versed in the Septuagint might easily have noticed a parallel to Exodus 3:14.”[2] But we also see this throughout the book of Isaiah.

(Isa. 41:4) I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.

(Isa. 43:10) My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.

(Isa. 45:18) I am the Lord, and there is none else.

(Isa. 46:4) Even to your old age I will be the same.

In the Greek translation of the OT (the Septuagint), all of these passages are translated with ego emi.[3] These passages from Isaiah mirror Jesus’ own statement: “I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (Jn. 13:19).[4]

CLAIM: (Jn. 10:30) “I and the Father are one.”

RESPONSE: (Jn. 10:31) The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.

Jesus made these claims to deity in a strictly monotheistic environment. Of course, the OT law made blasphemy of Yahweh a capital crime (Lev. 24:16). This is why his religious audience tried to stone Jesus: They understood him to be making a claim to deity.

CLAIM: (Mk. 2:5) And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

RESPONSE: (Mk. 2:6-7) But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?

Imagine how presumptuous it would be to claim to forgive someone else’s sins! For instance, if someone stole an old lady’s purse and knocked her on the ground, imagine if a bystander said, “I forgive that thief.” Of course, only the old lady is able to offer forgiveness, because she was the one who was hurt. Since God is also offended and hurt by sin (Prov. 14:31; Ps. 51:4; Gen. 39:9; Acts 9:4; Mt. 25:31-46), he needs to offer forgiveness as well. If Jesus wasn’t God, then he would have no right to offer forgiveness to this man.

(Jn. 8:24, 28) Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins… So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”

The “he” is inferred by the translator, and it is not in the Greek text. Again, John uses the phrase ego emi which is the divine name for God.

(Jn. 20:28-29) Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Notice, Jesus didn’t correct Thomas’ statement. In fact, he affirmed it! This is the Christological climax to the gospel of John. He says that the purpose of his writing was for the purpose of evangelism (see vs. 30-31). Jehovah’s Witnesses explain this passage away by saying that this is similar to winning a new car on The Price is Right and screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” The Watchtower writes, “Some scholars suggest that Thomas may simply have made an emotional exclamation of astonishment, spoken to Jesus but directed to God.”[5] They also argue that the enemies of Jesus shouldn’t be consulted for doctrine. That is, Jesus’ enemies didn’t always interpret him properly. However, Jesus could have corrected them, as a Jewish rabbi. But he chose not to. Elsewhere, when humans were called God or worshipped, they were offended (Acts 10:26; 14:11-15). Bowman writes, “The idea that a devout Jew in the first century would cry something like “O my God!” out of astonishment is an anachronism, reading back into the Bible something that is common in our culture virtually unknown in Thomas’ culture.”[6]

2. Acceptance of worship

Jesus claimed that worship should be reserved for Yahweh alone (Mt. 4:10; c.f. Ex. 20:5). However, Jesus went on to be worshipped by people (Mt. 8:2; 14:33; 15:25; 28:9; 28:17; Lk. 24:52; Jn. 9:38; Heb. 1:6, 8). Revelation 5:11-14 likewise pictures every creature on Earth worshipping Jesus on his throne. James White comments,

If Jesus is a creation, a mere creature, then is He not likewise joining into this song of praise? Yet the song is directed to Him and to the Father. Obviously, those in heaven itself know that Jesus is not one of the created things. Creation knows its Master.[7]

In contrast to this, Peter was horrified at the thought of being worshiped, because he was “just a man” (Acts 10:25-26).[8] When John tried to worship an angel (Rev. 22:18), the angel told him, “Do not do that I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God” (Rev. 22:19).

3. Jesus spoke in God’s place (in the 1st Person)

In the OT, the prophets said, “Thus says the Lord…” They said this roughly 500 times—always with this formula. However, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you…” (Mt. 5:22, 27-28). It is no wonder that at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew recorded, “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Mt. 7:28-29). This doesn’t mean that Jesus spoke with charisma or confidence. It means that he spoke in the place and authority of God himself. Furthermore, Jesus said, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (Jn. 12:48). Jesus believed that every human being’s eternal destiny would rest on their response to his words. Moreover, he claimed that he would be the one dispensing the judgment (c.f. Mt. 25:31-46).

4. Self-designation as “The Son of Man.”[9]

Another indirect reference to the deity of Christ is found in Jesus’ favorite title for himself: the Son of Man. Many assume that this title refers to Jesus’ humanity, while the name “the Son of God” refers to his deity, but this is a misled assumption.

Interestingly, this title is lifted from Daniel 7:13-14. It refers to a Messianic figure, who receives glory and sovereignty over the entire Earth. Here the “Son of Man” has the authority to judge the sins of the people, and he personally inaugurates the Kingdom of God in himself. The most dominant theme throughout the book of Daniel is the sovereignty of God, and yet, this sovereignty is handed over to the “Son of Man” in chapter seven at the end of human history. Jesus refers to himself as “the Son of Man” 84 times. It is by far his most favorite self-designation.[10]

5. The use of “kurios”

The Greek word kurios (pronounced KEER-ee-oss) is used of human “lords” in the Greek language (1 Pet. 3:6). But this Greek word was also the translation of the Hebrew word for Yahweh. The Septuagint translates Yahweh with the Greek word kurios 6,156 times, which is roughly 90% of the time.[11] Therefore, whenever the New Testament authors refer to Jesus as “Lord,” they are using the same word that Jewish translators used for Yahweh in the Old Testament. Though, sometimes, they combined these two terms for a full effect: “My kurios and my theos!” (Jn. 20:28)

6. Comparing titles or actions with Yahweh

These verses below are titles or acts of Yahweh that are shared with Jesus. While modern readers do not associate these mutual titles with divinity, it is important to point out that a first century Jew would immediately notice the comparisons, and this is the audience to whom Jesus made these enormous claims.

Comparing Titles or Acts (Yahweh with Jesus)[12]

Of God

Mutual Title or Act

Of Jesus

Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 40:28

Creator

John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2,10

Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12

First and Last

Revelation 1:17; 2:8; 22:13,16

Isaiah 45:22; 43:3;11; Hosea 13:4

Savior

John 4:42; Titus 2:13

1 Samuel 2:6; Psalm 119 (11 places)

Gives Life

John 5:21; 14:6; 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:45

Genesis 18:25; Joel 3:12

Judge

Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1

Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:19-20

Light

John 8:12

Exodus 3:14

I AM

John 8:58 (cf. 18:5,6)

Psalm 23:1; Ezekiel 34:15

Shepherd

John 10:11; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4

Psalm 139:7-12; 1 Kings 8:27

Omnipresent

Matthew 28:20

Daniel 2:20-23; Job 12:13

Wise

Colossians 2:3

Hosea 13:14; Psalm 130:7

Redeemer

Revelation 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:13

Psalm 18:2; 95:1

Rock

1 Corinthians 10:4

Psalm 148:5

Creator of Angels

Colossians 1:16

Malachi 3:6

Unchanging

Hebrews 13:8

Psalm 148:2

Worshipped by Angels

Hebrews 1:6

Throughout OT

Addressed in Prayer

Acts 7:59-60

Jeremiah 31:34; Psalm 130:4

Forgiver of Sins

Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 2:5-7; Luke 7:48; Acts 5:31

Psalm 135:6,7; Daniel 4:35

Controller

Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3

Hosea 2:16; Isaiah 62:5

Bridegroom

Mark 2:19; Revelation 21:2 (cf. Ephesians 5:22ff)

Psalm 86:6-7

Answers Prayer

John 14:13-41

Genesis 17:1

Almighty

Revelation 1:8

Deuteronomy 32:4

Righteous One

Acts 3:14

Revelation 22:13; Lord God

Alpha and Omega

Revelation 1:8, Jesus

Isaiah 6:3

Holy One

Luke 4:34; Acts 2:27; 3:14

Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel (Emmanuel)

Matthew 1:23

Psalm 31:5

Truth

John 14:6

Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3

Lord of Lords

Revelation 19:16

Isaiah 40:3

Way Prepared

Matthew 3:3; John 1:23

Isaiah 42:8(cf.48:11)

Glory of God

John 17;1,5; 1 Corinthians 2:8

Isaiah 45:23

Confessed as Lord

Philippians 2:9-11

Psalm 2:20; 115:3

All Powerful

Philippians 3:20,21 Matthew 9:26

We concur with James White, when he writes, “There are literally hundreds—no, thousands—of passages that testify to the deity of Christ once we understand that no creature could possibly do or say the things that the Lord Jesus did and said.”[13]

Direct Claims to Deity

In addition to his indirect claims to deity, the NT makes direct claims to deity.

1. The OT predicted the deity of Christ

The OT predicted that the Messiah would be God. Isaiah wrote, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Note Isaiah’s language closely: He believed that there would be a person who would be “born,” and yet he would be called “Mighty God.” This was a title he used of Yahweh (Isa. 10:21).

Likewise, Jeremiah also predicted that the Messiah would be called Yahweh, using the Tetragrammaton[14] for Jesus. He writes, “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness’” (Jer. 23:5-6).

Additionally, Zechariah claims that the LORD himself will return to Earth. He writes, “Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zech. 14:3). Of course, this passage predicts the return of Jesus—not the Father—and it calls him LORD (Yahweh).

2. The NT use of the OT

The NT authors cite the OT frequently. In certain passages, however, they cite OT passages that refer to Yahweh, and they apply them to Jesus.

Old Testament Proof-Texts for Christ’s Divinity

Romans 10:9; 13

Joel 2:32

Usage

9If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… (Romans 10:9)

13for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED (Romans 10:13).”

And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD (Yahweh) will be delivered (Joel 2:32).

The prophet Joel says that we need to call on the name of Yahweh to be saved.

Paul says that this refers to Jesus Christ, who is kurios. Romans 10:9 explains that we specifically need to call on the name of Jesus, while Joel says that we need to call on Yahweh.

Hebrews 1:8; 10

Psalm 45:6; 102:25

Usage

8But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD (Greek theos), IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM… (Hebrews 1:8)

10And, “YOU, LORD (Greek kurios), IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE  HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS (Hebrews 1:10).

6Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom… (Psalm 45:6)

25Of old You [Yahweh –see context] founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands (Psalm 102:25)

These two verses combine the terms “Lord” (kurios) and “God” (theos) demonstrating that Christ is distinct from the Father, and yet, fully God.

Verse 8 describes the Son, who is said to be “God” (theos) and verse 12 refers to the Son as “Lord” (kurios). The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 45:6 and Psalm 102:25. Both of these verses refer to Yahweh God. Psalm 45 uses the word Yahweh and Psalm 102 is addressed to God, even though it doesn’t name him as Yahweh.

Philippians 2:10

Isaiah 45:23

Usage

10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10).

23“I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me (Yahweh) every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance (Isaiah 45:23)

Paul says that “every knee shall bow” to Christ, and yet, its original context says that “every knee shall bow” to Yahweh (Isaiah 45:23).

Isaiah 6:3

John 12:41

Usage

And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”

These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him [Jesus].

While Isaiah saw Yahweh, John explains that he saw Jesus.

Zechariah 12:10

John 19:37

Usage

“They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

Zechariah claims that Yahweh will be pierced, but John interprets this to refer to Jesus.

Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:6

Usage

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

For out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.

Micah claims that this figures will be eternal.

3. The epistles’ use of theos

This leads us to the NT authors’ final method of describing the deity of Christ, and it is the most direct method of all: They refer to Christ as theos or “God.” You might recognize the Greek word theos in our modern word theology, which is the “study of God.” Robert Bowman writes, “The singular theos is used of God about 1,400 times in the New Testament, and of a false god only six times, always clearly so from the context (Acts 7:43; 12:22; 28:6; 2 Cor. 4:4; Phil. 3:9; 2 Thess. 2:7).”[15]

Remember that the NT authors unpacked much of the theological content of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us to see that they make the most explicit declarations of Christ’s deity.[16] Remember, the epistles were not a theological embellishment of the gospel accounts, because they were historically written before the gospels.

Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9

15 [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

19For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him…

9For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on Colossians 1:15.

John 1:1-3; 14; 18

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2He was in the beginning with God.

3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

18No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on John 1:1.

Philippians 2:5-8

5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on Philippians 2:6 and Philippians 2:7.

1 John 5:20

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so 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.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on 1 John 5:20.

Titus 2:13

Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on Titus 2:13.

2 Peter 1:1

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on 2 Peter 1:1.

Romans 9:5

(NLT) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

For a full exegesis of this passage, see comments on Romans 9:5.

Luke 8:39

[Jesus said] “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Jesus’ name is literally replaced with God’s title, equating Jesus with God.

Acts 20:28

Shepherd the church of God [theos] which He purchased with His own blood.

Paul says that God purchased the church with his own blood. God the Father did not bleed his blood; God the Son did. If this passage is referring to God the Father, then when did God bleed? However, this passage does contain many textual variants, so “in light of the possibilities, one cannot be dogmatic on the passage.”[17]

Didn’t Jesus lack some divine attributes while on Earth?

Before we conclude, we should consider a popular objection raised by cultic interpreters: namely, Jesus lacked some divine attributes while on Earth. For instance, while he was on Earth, Jesus lacked the use of omniscience (Lk. 8:45; Mt. 24:36; Lk. 2:52), omnipotence (Mk. 6:5; Jn. 5:19), and omnipresence (Jn. 4:4). Cultists assume that Jesus could not have been God; otherwise, he would not lack these attributes. How do we answer this objection?

Instead of using his own divine attributes while on Earth, Jesus depended fully on the Spirit to perform his miracles (Jn. 5:19; Lk. 4:18; Rom. 8:11; Mt. 26:53). In fact, the Bible repeatedly points out that Jesus’ miracles were due to the empowering of the Holy Spirit—not Jesus’ own power (Lk. 5:17; Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38).

We need to be clear: Jesus did not cease to have his divine attributes on Earth. Instead, he ceased to use these attributes. We might compare this to an Olympic runner, who enters into a three-legged race. While the runner is still the fastest man on Earth, he has chosen to take on another person in addition to himself. This doesn’t subtract from his nature; instead, it adds to it. At any moment, the runner could cut the other person loose, and he would still be the fastest person on Earth. However, he willingly chooses to take on limitations for the sake of the race. In the same way, Jesus’ humanity didn’t subtract from his deity; instead, it added to it. Jesus added a human nature in addition to his divine nature. Philosopher Paul Copan aptly illustrates this concept, when he writes,

Imagine a spy on a dangerous mission, carrying in his mind top-secret information valuable to the enemy. To avoid divulging answers in case he’s caught and tortured, he takes along a limited-amnesia producing pill with an antidote for later use. If the spy uses the amnesia pill, he would still possess the vital information in his mind; given these temporary conditions required to carry out his mission, he chooses to limit his access to the information that’s stored up in his mind. Similarly, during Jesus’ mission to earth, He still possessed the full, undiminished capacities of divine knowledge and power, and He had access to those capacities as necessary for His mission.[18]

We concur. Jesus could have used his divine attributes, but because he was modeling how to perfectly depend on the Father and the Holy Spirit, he didn’t utilize his own attributes.

Conclusion

Based on this cumulative case, it is clear that Jesus was God incarnate. This essential Christian doctrine makes sense of the atonement. How could Jesus really die “once for all” (Heb. 10:10) for the sins of the entire human race (Jn. 1:29; 1 Jn. 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 2:9; Titus 2:11), unless he was an infinite being? Why is my sentence for a life of sin eternity in hell, if Jesus could pay for this in an instant on the Cross? Without the infinitude of Christ, the atonement would not make sense. However, with the God-man on the Cross, the atonement makes sense of the infinite judgment of God.

Further Reading

Philosophical Treatments

Copan, Paul, and William Lane Craig. Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists & Other Objectors. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2009. “Chapter 15: Did God Become a Jew?”

Moreland, J.P. & Craig, William Lane. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic. 2003. “Chapter 30: Christian Doctrines (2): The Incarnation.”

Biblical Treatments

Harris, Murray J. Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2008.

Harris covers the sixteen uses of theos with regards to Christ in the NT. This is a technical book that gives an exegetical defense for why we believe the NT calls Jesus God (theos). This would be for advanced students.

White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1998.

By his own admission, White’s book is more for the believer, than the non-believer. Chapters 4 through 9 offer a strong exegetical case for the deity of Christ.

Bauckham, Richard. God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1998.

In this short book, NT scholar Richard Bauckham argues for the deity of Christ from a Jewish worldview in the first century.

Bowman, Robert M., and J. Ed. Komoszewski. Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2007.

Bowman, Robert M. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989.


[1] White writes, “The reason they were so upset is that they had a belief that Yahweh “broke” the Sabbath. That is, Yahweh kept the world spinning in its orbit, kept the sun shining or the rain falling, even on the Sabbath day. Thus, in one sense, God was above the Sabbath law because He continued to “work” in maintaining the universe. You can see, then, why Jesus’ words offended them. He claimed the same right for himself! They are enraged that by calling God “Father” in a way that was unique and special to himself, He was making himself equal with God. They knew that to be the Son of God was to be deity. The son is always like the father, and if Jesus is the Son of the Father in a special and unique way, He must be deity.” White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 87-88.

[2] Bowman, Robert M. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989. 99.

[3] White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 98.

[4] White writes, “That this reference to knowledge of the future would appear in the same section that uses ani hu as the name for God, and that this would be introduced by the Lord himself in the same context in John 13:19 is significant indeed.” White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 100.

[5] Should you Believe in the Trinity? (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989). 29.

[6] Bowman, Robert M. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989. 96.

[7] White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 116.

[8] The Jews believed that they could encounter God in the Temple. This was a sacred religious tradition for nearly a thousand years by the time that Jesus appeared in Jerusalem. And yet, upon entering the Temple, Jesus made the outrageous claim that his mortal body would replace the Temple (John 2:19-21). In saying this, Jesus was claiming that he would be the place where people encountered and worshipped God. In fact, this was one of the charges that stuck to him during his execution (Matthew 27:40).

[9] New Testament critics claim that Jesus is lifting this title from Ezekiel, which does not refer to a Messianic servant. But, it is clear that Jesus is using the title from Daniel –rather than from Ezekiel. See his use of it in Mt. 26:64-66. He quotes Dan. 7:13, and the Sanhedrin accuses him of blasphemy.

[10] This title meets the historical principle of dissimilarity. It is rarely used before Christ in the Old Testament (that is, it wasn’t a popular Messianic title), and it was rarely used after Christ in the early church. In fact, it was used only three times in the NT outside of the gospels as a title for Christ (c.f. Acts 7:56; Rev. 1:13; 14:14). Thus there is good reason for believing that Jesus used this title for himself.

[11] Charles C. Bing Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response Ph.D. Dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1991, p.94.

[12] McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1999. 148.

[13] White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 84.

[14] Tetragrammaton refers to YHWH or “Yahweh.” Tetra means “four,” and grammaton means “letters.”

[15] Bowman, Robert M., Jr. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995. 23.

[16] Remember, most theological content is unpacked in the epistles –rather than the gospels. We wouldn’t understand the importance of the resurrection from the gospels, if it wasn’t for passages like 1 Cor. 15:12-19. We wouldn’t understand the importance of the atonement from the gospels, if it weren’t for books like Romans or Hebrews, which unpack the theological importance of this event. In the same way, we shouldn’t be surprised to find clearer theological teaching on Jesus’ deity in the epistles—rather than the gospels.

[17] White, James R. The Forgotten Trinity. Minneapolis, MN. Baker Publishing Group. 1998. 83.

[18] Copan, Paul, and William Lane Craig. Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists & Other Objectors. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2009. 225-226.