Deity of Christ

tsslogo.jpgIs Jesus God? Four years ago I developed this into a handout for my college ministry students to help them answer this question for themselves (it’s still pretty rough). Essentially I laid out some of the predominant themes of Scripture in defense of the deity of Jesus Christ. I’ve copied the text here for your use. Reading this again has brought me to worship our glorious Savior! Use the following to defend, exhort, encourage, rebuke, or simply raise your hands in worship! Tony


Jesus said: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

A. The implications of Christ’s deity
B. Straightforward statements of Christ’s deity
C. Granville Sharp’s rule of Greek grammar
D. Jesus in Relation to the Father
E. Work of Jesus Described as God’s Work
F. Comparison Texts
G. Further Topical Considerations
H. Christ Speaking of Himself
I. Summary statement


A. The implications of Christ’s deity

  1. Forgiveness of sin and personal hope lay in the balance (John 8:24 “unless you believe I AM”; notice the “I AM” context of this statement especially obvious in verse 58).
  2. Denial of Christ’s deity is a rejection of God in totality (1 John 2:23).
  3. Note: The Bible tells us there is only one God (Isa. 46:9, Psalm 113:5). The deity of Christ is not modalism, Sabellianism or polytheism.

B. Straightforward statements of Christ’s deity

John 1: “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. … 14 And 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. … 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

John 20:28 “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.’”

Acts 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for 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.” [God’s blood purchased salvation.]

Romans 9:5 “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” (NIV)

Hebrews 1:6 “And when He [Father] again brings the firstborn [Christ] into the world, He says, ‘AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.’ 7 And of the angels He says, ‘WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE.’ 8 But of the Son He says, ‘YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.’” [quote of Ps. 45:6-7 makes clear: the Son is God and the angels worship Him]

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.”

Isaiah 9:6 “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.” [See 10:21 uses same phrase (“mighty God”) for the Father.]

C. Granville Sharp’s rule of Greek grammar

Greek grammatical rule stated:

“When the copulative kai [‘and’] connects two nouns of the same case, [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill], if the article ho, or any of its cases, preceded the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther description of the first-named person …”

Rule in action:

Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

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.” [See also 1:11; 2:20; 3:2; 3:18]

2 Thessalonians 1:12 “so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

D. Jesus in Relation to the Father

Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

John 5:16 “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ 18 For this reason 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 works 7 days a week therefore Jesus is free to work on the Sabbath. Notice the details on this relationship in vv. 19-47.]

John 19:7 “The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.’” [Blasphemy, lying about God, was the only verbal crime worthy of death.]

John 10: 30 “’I and the Father are one.’ 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ 33 The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’” [Jesus doesn’t deny the accusation.]

John 14:1 “’Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.’ … 6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’ 8 Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.’”

John 17:9 (Jesus’ prayer) “’I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.’” [Jesus and God share glory though God does not share His glory with another (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).]

Philippians 2: “5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Perfect example of humility is Christ – Christ gave up something that was His – equality with God – for us. Grasping for something that is not yours is not humility! Satan tried to grasp equality with God and he was cast out of heaven.]

Hebrews 1:1 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” [World made by Him. ‘Radiance’ is the outflowing of glory. ‘Exact representation’ = wax figure or signet ring.]

Notice this string in Revelation:

Revelation 1:7 “BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. 8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” [Reference to Son or Father? | Some say v. 7 is Son, v. 8 is Father.]


Revelation 1:17 “When I saw Him (Christ), I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.’”


Revelation 22:13 (Christ speaking) “’I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’” [Jesus is the Alpha Omega, beginning and end. God is the Alpha Omega, too. There cannot be two Alpha and Omegas. Only one can be first or last – no positions for anyone else! Implication: Rev. 1:8 is Jesus.]

E. Work of Jesus Described as God’s Work

Mark 2:5 “And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ 6 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?’”

Colossians 1:13 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For 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. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” [‘Image’ = rules out creation. ‘Firstborn’ = most prominent in authority not denoting beginning. ‘All things … created’ = all inclusive! ‘Before all things’ = eternal.]

Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” [Not some hint of deity but a state of being God. Not attributes but the fullness. This rebuttal of gnosticism proves that God is both spirit and can take on a human body. All the fullness of God was packaged in Christ]

Revelation 5:13 “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’” [Worship of Father and Son together!]

F. Comparison Texts

a. Matthew 1:21 to Psalm 130:8, Isaiah 35:4 [God will save His people]
b. Matthew 3:12, Revelation 6:16, Psalm 2:12/Psalm 76:7 [Fear Son/Fear God]
c. Matthew 5:18 to Mark 13:31 [God’s Word is eternal / Jesus’ Word is eternal]
d. Matthew 25:31-46 to Psalm 50:6, 59:11, 96:13 [Jesus will judge / God will judge]
e. John 1:3 to Isaiah 44:24 [Christ created all things / Yahweh alone created all things]
f. John 1:7-9 to Isaiah 60:9 [Jesus is light / God is light]
g. John 7:37-38 to Jeremiah 2:13 [Christ is fountain of living water / Yahweh the fountain of living water]
h. John 10:11 to Psalm 23:1, Psalm 100:3 [The Good Shepherd]
i. John 12:41 to Isaiah 6:1-10 [The vision of Isaiah – both Yahweh’s glory and Christ’s glory]
j. John 13:19 to Isaiah 43:10 [I AM title]; John 8:58; 18:5-6 (notice response of soldiers); 8:24
k. John 14:6 to Psalm 31:5 [Jesus is truth / God is truth]
l. John 14:14 to 1 Corinthians 1:2 [Pray to Jesus]
m. John 14:26 and 16:27 to Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11, Nehemiah 9:20, 2 Samuel 23:2-3 [Spirit of YHWH/God/Christ]
n. John 17:5 to Isaiah 48:11 [Jesus prays to be glorified / Will not give His glory to another]
o. Acts 1:8 to Isaiah 43:10 [Witnesses of Whom?]
p. Acts 4:24 to 2 Peter 2:1 to Jude 4 [Who is our Master? How can you have more than one master unless they are one?]
q. Romans 10:13 to Joel 2:32 [Call on the name of Lord=call upon the name of Christ]
r. Ephesians 4:8-9 to Psalm 68:18 [God leads the captives…]
s. Philippians 2:10-11 to Isaiah 45:23 [Every knee will bow…]
t. Colossians 1:16, Ephesians 5:25, 27 to Romans 11:36 [All things are to God and for Him/for Christ]
u. Colossians 1:17 to Acts 17:28 [We exist in God/Christ]
v. Colossians 2:3 to 1 Timothy 1:17 [Only wise God]
w. 2 Timothy 1:12 to Jeremiah 17:5 [Trust in Yahweh / Trust in Jesus]
x. Hebrews 1:3 to 1 Timothy 6:15 [Jesus’ power – God is only sovereign]
y. Hebrews 1:10 to Psalm 102:25 [Jesus is Yahweh]
z. Hebrews 13:8 to Malachi 3:6 [God changes not]
aa. James 2:1 to Zechariah 2:5 [Lord of glory]
bb. 1 Peter 2:3 to Psalm 34:8 [Taste that Yahweh is good]
cc. 1 Peter 3:15 to Isaiah 8:13 [Sanctify Yahweh]
dd. Revelation 1:5-6 to Exodus 34:14 [Glorify God/Jesus]
ee. Revelation 1:13-16 to Ezekiel 43:2 [God’s voice is the voice of Jesus]
ff. Revelation 2:23 to 1 Kings 8:39 [God searches the hearts]
gg. Revelation 3:7 to Revelation 15:4 [God alone is holy]

G. Further Topical Considerations

  1. The Name of Jesus (Acts 4:17-18; 5:28, 40-41; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Philippians 2:10-11). Suffering in the name of Christ was an honor, notice they were not suffering in the name of YAHWEH.
  2. The Worship of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:9, 17; John 9:9; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5). Jesus is worshiped just as God.
  3. The Meaning of the Greek ‘monogenes’ (“only begotten”) = ‘one of a kind’ or ‘unique’ not an emphasis on the begetting of a son. Cf. John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.
  4. Jesus The Eternal Creator. A part of the creation cannot be the creator.
  5. The Trinitarian Formulae (1 Thess. 1:3-5, 2 Thess. 2:13, 1 Cor. 2:2-5, 6:11, 12:4-6, 2 Cor. 1:21- 22, 13:14, Rom. 8:26-27, 14:17-18, 15:16, Col. 1:6-8, Eph. 2:18, 3:16-17, 4:46, etc. and etc.) Name of Christ can be used in unison with the names of the Father and Holy Spirit clearly referencing His deity.

H. Christ Speaking of Himself

  1. Matthew 11:28-30 – Come unto me! Prophets wouldn’t say this.
  2. John 14:6 – The way, the truth…
  3. Luke 14:25-26 – Hate father and mother to come to me. Absolute loyalty required. Prophet would require devotion to God not himself.
  4. Luke 7:36ff in parable of debtor. Jesus is the creditor to which the sin debt is owed. Jesus was sinned against and Jesus forgives.
  5. John 6:37 – Security of believer in Christ. Authority to cast out or not is authority only possessed by God.
  6. John 16:14 – The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. Spirit wouldn’t glorify man.

I. Summary statement

Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology, 2:582) perhaps ends with too strong of statement. But overall this is a helpful conclusion:

“All divine names and titles are applied to Him. He is called God, the Mighty God, the great God, God over all; Jehovah; Lord; the Lord of lords and King of kings. All divine attributes are ascribed to Him. He is declared to be omnipresent [all-present], omniscient [allknowing], almighty, and immutable [unchanging], the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is set forth as the creator and upholder and ruler of the universe. All things were created by Him and for Him; and by Him all things consist. He is the object of worship to all intelligent creatures, even the highest; all angels (i.e., all creatures between man and God) are commanded to prostrate themselves before Him. He is the object of all the religious sentiments; of reverence, love, faith, and devotion. To Him men and angels are responsible for their character and conduct. He required that men should honor Him as they honored the Father; that they should exercise the same faith in Him that they do in God. He declares that He and the Father are one; that those who have seen Him had seen the Father also. He calls all men unto Him; promises to forgive their sins; to send them the Holy Spirit; to give them rest and peace; to raise them up at the last day; and to give them eternal life. God is not more, and cannot promise more, or do more than Christ is said to be, to promise, to do. He has therefore, been the Christian’s God from the beginning in all ages and in all places.”

Preaching what we study vs. preaching what we see?

There is a subtle distinction between two types of preaching that are profoundly different in nature. Bear with me in this first attempt to collect these thoughts into words.

I think the words of Christ especially make the distinction I am talking about when He said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). Here, to me, is the distinction – some preachers grow content to preach mere words or a system of theology while others preach people upwards through the Bible towards a Man (Christ) and are never satisfied until their hearers come face-to-face with the Man.

Of course the Bible is central to both, as are hermeneutics, expositional capacities, commentaries, study, etc – and I’ve seen God bless both forms of preaching to His own glory. The difference is that one preaches from what is studied and the other preaches what is seen.

This, I believe, is why Spurgeon stands as the great example of preaching. Last week we looked at how he dwelled on the manifestations of Christ (John 14:22). From a vision of the unseen realities he preached. Far differently than what he merely studied or read, it was an extension of those – he preached what he saw.

Angell recently caught my attention when he said the same thing.

Lukewarmness can excite no ardor, originate no activity, produce no effect: it benumbs whatever it touches. If we enquire what were the sources of the energy, and the springs of the activity, of the most successful ministers of Christ, we shall find that they lay in the ardor of their devotion. They were men of prayer and of faith. They dwelt upon the mount of communion with God, and came down from it like Moses to the people, radiant with the glory on which they had themselves been intently gazing. They stationed themselves where they could look at things unseen and eternal, and came with the stupendous visions fresh in their view, and preached under the impression of what they had just seen and heard.

-John Angell James, An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times (Banner of Truth, 1847/1993) p. 64

It is also interesting to note Spurgeon’s interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:12 (“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known”). To him it was not so much a reference to specific passages of God’s Word giving us dim glimpses of the face of Christ but rather as we study at various times we see distant glimpses of Christ. Like a man standing at a storefront glass and seeing a silhouette in the background – sometimes we see His face in the Bible and others times we don’t. Sometimes even in the same passage one will see a faint glimpse of Christ’s face and another will not (see sermon 61).

This all leads me to another precious quote by Tozer on the subject:

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatsoever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications: 1993) p. 9-10

Almost without exception, the preacher who reads this, nods his head and assumes he is doing this is the very man who can improve much. It is a great reminder for preachers to double-check our messages lest we become preachers of literature, that we not grow content preaching what we read and study but take every opportunity to see through the Bible into the face of Christ.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image … (2 Cor. 3:18. ESV).

Manifestations of Christ

I’m amazed at Spurgeon when it comes to beholding the glory of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Spurgeon (and many of the saints before him) recognized that there were times in the Christian life, times so focused upon obedience and service, that the saint experienced special manifestations of Christ's glory. Now these were not separate from Scripture but built upon Scripture and not some extra-biblical conversation with a ghostly figure. Nor were they mere emotional rides but were the powerful demonstrations of the truth of God's Word in personal experience. Here is how Spurgeon explains this in a sermon on John 14:22:

"I have had for a long while a manifestation of his sufferings in Gethsemane; I have been for months musing on his agonies; I think I have even eaten the bitter herbs that grow there, and drank of that black brook Kedron. I have sometimes gone up stairs alone, to put myself in the very posture Jesus Christ was in and I thought I could sympathize with him in his sufferings. Methought; saw the sweat of blood falling down to the ground; I had so sweet a view of my Savior in his agonies, I hope that one day I may be able to accompany him still further, and see him on Calvary, and hear his death-shriek ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ Some of you, I know, have seen Jesus with the eye of faith quite as plainly as if you had seen him with your natural eyes. You could see your Savior hanging on the cross. You thought you saw the very crown of thorns on his head, and the drops of blood streaming down his face; you heard his cry; you saw his bleeding side; you beheld the nails, and before long you could have gone and pulled them out, and wrapped him up in linen and spices, and carried his body, and washed it with tears and anointed it with precious ointment … If I were to go much farther, I should be accused of fanaticism, and so it may be; but yet I will believe and must believe that there are seasons when the Christian lives next door to heaven. … There have been seasons of ecstatic joy, when I have climbed the highest mountains, and I have caught some sweet whisper from the throne. Have you had such manifestations? I will not condemn you if you have not: but I believe most Christians have them, and if they are much in duty and much in suffering they will have them. It is not given to all to have that portion, but to some it is, and such men know what religion means … Seek, my brethren such spiritual manifestations, if you have never experienced them; and if ye have been privileged to enjoy them, seek more of them … God bless you, and lead you to seek these manifestations constantly! Amen."

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, sermon #29, June 10, 1855, The New Park Street Pulpit, 1:224-225

Spurgeon was clear: These were not the experience of salvation and not all who taste salvation will taste these experiences. But if you read the saints of old you will find one common denominator between them – those who lived fully for God experienced that which verifies the biblical promise that, "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Spurgeon teaches us to long for deeper graces and to never grow content with the Cross. The church is starving because, he writes, "God has sent very few preachers who would preach up these spiritual things and the church has been getting lower and lower" (p. 228).