Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Jesus Christ and the Divine Identity:

How the Language of the NT Identifies Jesus as God

In the sacred literature produced before, during and after the time of Christ, one of the ways Jews would distinguish God from all creation is by describing him as the sole Creator and Sustainer of all things who sits enthroned as the sovereign Lord and Ruler of all creation.

In this post we will show that this is precisely how the inspired NT authors depict Jesus, i.e., Christ is said to be the Creator and Sustainer of all things who sits enthroned alongside his Father as the sovereign Lord and Ruler of all creation. As such, this should leave no doubt that Christ is no mere creature according to the Christian Scriptures, but the sovereign God of all creation who chose to become a flesh and blood human being.

With that said we are ready to proceed to the evidence.

Creator and Sustainer of all things

The prayer was to this effect: “O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, you are awe-inspiring and strong and just and merciful, you alone are king and are kind,” 2 Maccabees 1:24

“For neither is there any god besides you, whose care is for all things,” Wisdom 12:13

He who lives forever created all things; the Lord alone is just and there is no other beside him; he steers the world with the span of his hand, and all things obey his will; for he is king of all things by his power, separating among them the holy things from the profaneSirach 18:1-3

Because of him each of his messengers succeeds, and by his word all things hold together… For the Lord has made all things, and to the godly he has given wisdom. Sirach 43:26, 33

Pay close attention to the fact that God is said to live forever and sustains all things by his word.

“But he, eternal Lord, proclaims himself As one who is and was erst and shall be Again hereafter. For who being mortal Can see God with his eyes? Or who shall bear To hear the only name of heaven’s great God, The ruler of the world? He by his word Created all things, even heaven and sea, And tireless sun, and full moon and bright stars, And mighty mother Tethys, springs and rivers, Imperishable fire, and days and nights. This is the God who formed four-lettered Adam, The first one formed, and filling with his name East, west, and south, and north. The same is he Who fixed the pattern of the human form, And made wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls. Sibylline Oracles 3:20-34

And she stretched her hands out towards the east, and her eyes looked up to heaven, and she said, “O Lord, God of the ages, that didst give to all the breath of life, That didst bring into the light the things unseen, That hast made all things and made visible what was invisible,” Joseph and Asenath 12:1-2

Worship the God of heaven, Who causeth the rain and the dew to descend on the earth, And doeth everything upon the earth, And hath created everything by His word, And all life is from before His face.” Jubilees 12:4

“For with Your counsel you do govern all the creatures which Your right hand has created And you have established every fountain of light beside you, And the treasures of wisdom beneath Your throne have you prepared.” 2 Baruch 54:13

For Thou hast made and Thou rulest all things, And nothing is too hard for Thee, Wisdom departs not from the place of Thy throne, Nor turns away from Thy presence. And Thou knowest and seest and hearest everything, And there is nothing hidden from Thee [for Thou seest everything].” 1 Enoch 84:3

For the Lord sees all things; when man takes thought in his heart, then he counsels the intellects, and every thought is always before the Lord, who made firm the earth and put all creatures on it. 2 Enoch 66:4

Note that in these last two verses God is said to be the Lord who knows and sees all things.

Ruler of all things

Then Mordecai prayed to the Lord, calling to remembrance all the works of the Lord. He said, ‘O Lord, Lord, you rule as King over all things, for the universe is in your power and there is no one who can oppose you when it is your will to save Israel, for you have made heaven and earth and every wonderful thing under heaven. You are Lord of all, and there is no one who can resist you, the Lord. You know all things; you know, O Lord, that it was not in insolence or pride or for any love of glory that I did this, and refused to bow down to this proud Haman; for I would have been willing to kiss the soles of his feet to save Israel! But I did this so that I might not set human glory above the glory of God, and I will not bow down to anyone but you, who are my Lord; and I will not do these things in pride.” Additions to Greek Esther 13:8-13

Then the high priest Simon, facing the sanctuary, bending his knees and extending his hands with calm dignity, prayed as follows:  “Lord, Lord, king of the heavens, and sovereign of all creation, holy among the holy ones, the only ruler, almighty, give attention to us who are suffering grievously from an impious and profane man, puffed up in his audacity and power. For you, the creator of all things and the governor of all, are a just Ruler, and you judge those who have done anything in insolence and arrogance.” 3 Maccabees 2:1-3

And the king said to him, “Why do you not worship Bel?” He answered, “Because I do not revere man-made idols, but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all flesh.” Bel and the Dragon 5

“and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee.” 1 Enoch 9:5-6

Him who alone is ruler of the world, Who alone is forever and has been From everlasting, reverence ye him, The self-existent unbegotten one Who rules all things through all time,  Sibylline Oracles First Fragment 20-24

“For I created all forces, and there is none that resists me or that does not subject himself to me. For all subject themselves to my monarchy, and labour for my sole rule.” 2 Enoch 33:7

JESUS CHRIST

With the foregoing in the background, we now turn our attention to how the NT depicts the Lord Jesus.

Creator and Sustainer of all things

ALL THINGS came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people…  He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.” John 1:3-4, 10

“He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for IN HIM ALL THINGS in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—ALL THINGS have been created THROUGH HIM and FOR HIM. He himself IS before ALL THINGS, and IN HIM ALL THINGS hold together.” Colossians 1:13-17

“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things BY HIS POWERFUL WORD… And, ‘In the beginning, Lord [the Son], you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3a, 10-12

Not only does this passage identify Christ is the Agent that created all things and who is actively sustaining everything by his powerful word, it even quotes the following OT passage, which identifies Yahweh God as the unchangeable Creator and Sustainer of all creation,

“Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away; but you are the same, and your years have no end.” Psalm 102:25-27

And attributes it to the Lord Jesus!

That’s not all. In the following reference,

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18 – cf. 2:8

The risen Lord claims to be the One who lives forever, and describes himself as the First and the Last, a divine title which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Yahweh alone!

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” Isaiah 44:6 – cf. 41:4; 48:12

Christ is even described as the Lord who knows all things!

“His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:29-31

“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

Ruler of all things

The NT also teaches that after his resurrection, Jesus ascended far above the heavens themselves in order to begin ruling over all creation as Lord alongside God the Father:

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” Matthew 28:18

“You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.” Acts 10:36

“Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

“For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” Hebrews 4:14-15

“For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26

“who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.” 1 Peter 3:22

“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE ALL rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also IN THE AGE TO COME. And he has put ALL THINGS under his feet and has made him the head over ALL THINGS for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, ‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’ (When it says, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended FAR ABOVE all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)” Ephesians 4:7-10

Amazingly, in the above citation the Apostle Paul quotes and alludes to the following OT texts, which speak of Yahweh ascending on high,

“You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people, even from those who rebel against the Lord God’s abiding there.” Psalm 68:18

And filling all creation with his spiritual presence,

“Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24

And applies them to the ascended Christ!

Paul even says that Christ physically embodies the entire sum of God’s essence as he rules as head over every power and authority in creation:

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority… So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1

The Scriptures further identify Christ as God, in fact the Mighty God, and divine Son of Man who rules forever and ever, and whom all creatures must serve and worship:

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

“As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 – cf. Mark 14:62

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:32-33

“God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above EVERY NAME, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

“… When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs… And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’ But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.’… But to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?” Hebrews 1:3b-4, 6-9, 13

“For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” 2 Peter 1:11

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

What makes the foregoing ascriptions so astonishing is that the OT plainly says that Yahweh alone sits enthroned on high above all the gods, and that his name alone is exalted above all else!

“Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high,” Psalm 113:5

“For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:9

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.” Psalm 148:13

The foregoing makes it abundantly clear that the NT has taken the very language which ancient Judaism used to differentiate and separate God from all created reality and applied it to the Lord Jesus. In describing the risen Lord as the sovereign Creator and Ruler of all things, the inspired Christian Scriptures essentially distinguish Christ from all creation, thereby placing Jesus on the Creator side of the Creator-creation divide.

Yet the only way Christ could ever be described as the Creator and Sustainer of all things, who actively rules over all creation as its sovereign Lord, is if his followers and the inspired authors of the Bible believed that he was (and still is!) God in the flesh, being one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in glory, power and nature!

We end our discussion with the following quote from two renowned Evangelical scholars who do a fine job of putting this all together:

Jesus is said to exercise rule over “all things”–that is, over all of creation, both in heaven and on earth–using language routinely used in Judaism to express God’s unique sovereignty… Richard Bauckham notes that “the phrase belongs to the standard rhetoric of Jewish monotheism, in which it constantly refers, quite naturally, to the whole of the created reality from which God is absolutely distinguished as its Creator and Ruler.” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 5. The Best Seat In the House: Jesus Shares the Seat of God’s Throne, Chapter 21. Jesus Takes His Seat, p. 255)

Jesus Christ is Yahweh to the glory of God the Father! Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come!

Further Reading

For more on this topic of Jesus’ inclusion within the divine identity, being described in the very language that the ancient Jews routinely employed to differentiate God from all creation, we recommend the following two books by noted Evangelical scholar Richard Bauckham:

God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament https://www.amazon.com/God-Crucified-Monotheism-Christology-Testament/dp/0802846424/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535167547&sr=1-1&keywords=bauckham+god+crucified

Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802845592/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

Related articles

Muhammad

Allah