The Scriptural evidence for the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is overwhelming. Both the OT and NT present the Son as the very object of divine worship (cf. Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14). In addition, the NT presents that the Son was the Agent[1] of creation, thus, the unchangeable Creator of all things. That Jesus was the Creator of all things is additional and irrefutable proof that He preexisted as God. For if the Son were the actual Creator, that would mean that He 1) Existed before time, thus, was not a part of creation, 2) coexisted with the Father, and hence, 3) is a distinct person alongside the Father, as co-Creator.

 We will examine John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; and Hebrews 1:2, 10, which contain a weighty amount of exegetical substance affirming the Son as the actual Creator. 

 

JOHN 1:3

 πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο [all things through Him came into being], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

That the Son was the actual Creator is entirely consistent with the Christ that John preached. As shown, in 1:1, John presents the Word as the eternal God distinct from the Father. In verse 18, the apostle refers to the Son as the μονογενὴς θεὸς (“unique God”) who is always existing (ὁ ὢν) in the bosom of the Father. HE HAS EXĒGĒSATO. As previously discussed, in the prologue, the apostle presents a well-defined contrast between all things created or that had origin (signified by the aorist ἐγένετο; cf. vv. 3, 6, 10, 14) and the eternal divine Word (signified by the imperfect ἦν; vv. 1, 2, 4, 9).

In verse 3, the apostle further declares of the divine Word that πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο (lit., “All things through Him came to be”). We see the creative activity viewed as “one event in contrast to the continuous existence of ἦν in verses Jo [hn] 1, 2. . . . Creation is thus presented as becoming (γίνομαι) in contrast with being (εἰμι).”[2] What fortifies the argument even more is John’s usage of the preposition διά followed by the genitive αὐτοῦ. This is a very significant aspect as it relates to the exegesis of the passage.

In Greek, διά followed by the genitive indicates agency (or means).[3] The preexistent Son was not a mere helper of sorts, or mighty helper, rather He was God the Creator of all things as the apostle so clearly states. In such a comprehensible and undeniable way, the Apostle John presents the Son, the eternal Word, as the Creator of all things.[4]

  

COLOSSIANS 1:16-17

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

To interpret properly these (and any) passages in Colossians, a coherent understanding of Paul’s main purpose for writing the book must be first apprehended. Mainly, this letter was written to serve as meaningful refutation to the proto-Gnostic spirit versus matter ideology. The Gnostic system did not allow Jesus to be the Creator of something as inherently evil as “matter.” In light of this, Paul provides a clear anti-Gnostic polemic by firmly demonstrating that Jesus the Son of God did in fact create all things. Note the clear and forceful (and even redundant) way he literally presents this:

“That in/by Him [ἐν αὐτῷ] the all things [τὰ πάντα] were created … the all things [τὰ πάντα] have been created through Him [δι’ αὐτοῦ] and for Him [εἰς αὐτὸν]. 17 He is before all things [αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων], and the all things in Him [τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ] hold together.”[5]

  

  1. Along with John 1:3, Paul employs the neuter adjective πάντα, which indicate that the Son was the actual Creator of all-encompassing things (cf. Eph. 1:11). To reinforce his refutation, Paul definitizes the adjective, τὰ πάντα—Jesus is the Creator of “the all things.”

 

  1. Paul utilizes four different prepositions to magnify his affirmation that the Son was the Agent of creation: All things were created “by/in Him” (ἐν + dative; vv. 16, 17); “through Him” (διά + genitive; v. 16); “for Him” (εἰς + accusative; v. 16); and, He is “before all things” (πρὸ + genitive; v. 17). Cleary, Paul is speaking here of the Son, not the Father (cf. v. 14).

 

  1. As a final point, as with John 1:3, Paul specifically states that “the all things” were created δι’ αὐτοῦ (“through Him”). As observed above, we find the preposition διά followed by the genitive grammatically revealing that the Son was the actual Creator Himself. There is no stronger way in which Paul could have articulated that the Son was the real and actual agent of creation.[6] If Paul wanted to convey the idea that the Son was merely “in view” of the Father or an absent mere conceptual instrument of creation (as Oneness advocates assert[7]), he would not have used διά with genitive.[8]

 

 HEBREWS 1:2, 10

 In these last days [God the Father] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. . . . And, “You Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. . . .”

The prologue of Hebrews systematically affirms the preexistence and deity of the person of the Son, Jesus Christ whom the Father commands “all the angels” to worship (v. 6). Relative to the preexistence and creatorship of the Son, verses 2 and 10 communicate both truths in an exceptional way. As with John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16-17, the prepositional phrase, δι᾿ οὗ (“through whom”) affirms the apostolic teaching that the Son was the agent of creation. Here we have again, the preposition διά followed by the genitive case: “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom [δι᾿ οὗ] also He made the world” (emphasis added).[9]

Contextually, as we saw in the prologue of John (ἐγένετο vs. ἦν), the core line of evidence that the author presents of the eternality of the Son is a precisely crafted and defined contrast between creation (viz., angels and the heavens and the earth) and the eternal divine Son (cf. vv. 2-3, 8-10). Since verse 5, the author has been exclusively quoting the Father.

In verses 10-12, in reference to the divine Son (πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν, ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς, v. 8), God the Father applies Psalm 102:25-27[10] to the Son. Notice first, the Psalm is a reference to YHWH as the unchangeable Creator of all things. Second, the Father is speaking to the Son and not merely about the Son.[11] Specifically, the referential identity of the pronoun σὺ at the beginning of verse 10 (“And, You”) we find back in verse 8, πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν–“But of the Son He [the Father] says.” Irrefutably, it is God the Father directly addressing the Son. In verse 8, θεὸς appears in the nominative for the vocative of address (ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς).[12]  

However, in verse 10, the actual vocative of κύριος (κύριε) is used, which bolsters the author’s argument even more: “You, Lord [κύριε], in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands.” This so unequivocally and irrefutably verifies that the person of the Son preexisted as “the God” and as the YHWH of Psalm 102, the unchangeable Creator of all things.

Conclusively, the prologue of Hebrews is one of the most theologically devastating prologues in all of the NT for Oneness-unitarians (as well as JWs). Not only does the prologue affirm the deity and eternality of the Son as well as the distinction between the Father and the Son, but also it clearly presents the Son as the actual agent of creation, the Creator Himself. This biblical truth is also presented esp. by John and Paul.   

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NOTES

[1] In the NT, agency is commonly expressed in three ways: ultimate agency (the ultimate source of the action; the one directly responsible for the action— ἀπὸ, παρά, ὑπὸ + the genitive); intermediate agency (that which the ultimate agent uses to carry out the action— διά + the genitive); and impersonal agency (that which the ultimate agent uses to perform the action— ἐκ, ἐν + the dative; cf. Wallace, GGBB, 431-32). Biblically, then, the Father was the source (ultimate agent) of creation, the Son being the intermediate agent in that He carried out the act for the ultimate agent (cf. ibid, 431). That the Son is the intermediate agent of creation does not mean that He was a mere “helper” of sorts, or a secondary agent of God, but rather, He was the actual agent of creation—namely, that which the ultimate agent (the Father) used to carry out the action—namely, the Creator of all things. This grammatically point is specifically revealed in several NT passages (viz. John 1:3, δι’ αὐτοῦ; 1 Cor. 8:6 [δι’ οὗ]; Col. 1:16 [δι’ αὐτοῦ]; Heb. 1:2 [δι’ οὗ]; 2:10 [δι’ οὗ]). 

[2] Cf. Robertson, Word Pictures, 1932: 5:5).

[3] Cf. Greenlee, Exegetical Grammar, 31; Wallace, GGBB, 368; BDAG, 225)

[4] Another interesting note pertaining to our contention that the Targum may have been the source of John’s Logos theology. Both the Targum and John present the “Word” as the Creator of all things. For example, note the targumic rendering of Isaiah 44:24: “I am the LORD, who made all things; I stretched out the heavens by My Memra.” And Isaiah 45:12: “I by My Memra made the earth, and created man upon it; I by My might stretched out the heavens.” In fact, there are many other places where the Targum identifies the “Word” (Memra) as the Creator of all things, as John explicates in 1:3 (cf. also Gen. 14:19 [Neofiti]; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 48:13; Jer. 27:5; etc.).

[5] It is worth mentioning how Oneness Pentecostals erroneously treat these and other passages that speak of the Son as the Creator. They argue that it was unitarian God, the Father alone (Jesus’ divine mode), who created all things. However, it was the mere “plan” of the future “Son” (i.e., Jesus’ human mode) that the Father had in mind. UPCI authority and Oneness author David Bernard explains: “Although the Son did not exist at the time of creation except as the word in the mind of God, God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world” (David K Bernard, Oneness of God, 116, cf. 117). Thus, their exegesis of the Scripture always starts with their assumption of unitarianism. 

[6] In 1 Corinthians 8:6 and, as discussed below, in Hebrews 1:2, διά is followed by the genitive signifying the Son as the agent of creation (cf. Heb. 2:10). 

[7] Oneness teachers along with other unitarian groups (esp. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims) argue that the Son could not have been the Creator because passages such as Isaiah 44:24 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 teach that God (viz. the Father) alone created all things. But as consistently pointed out, Oneness teachers assume unitarianism/unipersonalism in that they envisage God as one person—the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity, in contrast to a unitarian assumption, teaches that God is one undivided and unquantifiable Being who has revealed Himself as three distinct coequal, coeternal, and coexistent persons. The three persons share the nature of the one Being. As fully God it can be said that the Father is the Creator (cf. Acts 17:24), the Son was the Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10), and the Holy Spirit is the Creator (cf. Job 33:4). For the one God is indivisible and inseparable (cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5). Therefore, passages like Isaiah 44:24, which speak of God creating by Himself and alone are perfectly consistent with Trinitarian theology. Again, the three persons are not three separate Beings; they are distinct self-conscious persons or selves sharing the nature of the one Being. Unless one clearly realizes what the biblical doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches, the doctrine will be confounded and misrepresented ether as tritheism or Modalism. 

[8] Although Paul does use the accusative case in verse 16 (αὐτὸν), but he uses it after the preposition εἰς meaning “for” or “because of” and not after διά.

[9] As seen above (esp. n. 65), διά with the genitive denoting the Son as the agent of creation appears in John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2; and 2:10.  

[10] From the LXX of Psalm 101:25-27.

[11] Here the Father clearly differentiates Himself from the Son (esp. in light of vv. 8-9).

[12] The fact that the nominative θεὸς with the vocative force is used does not remove in any way the meaning of direct address. The usual way of addressing God in both the LXX and the NT was the nominative for the vocative (cf. Reymond, Systematic Theology, 272; Wallace, GGBB, 1996: 56-57; also cf. John 20:28; Rev. 4:11). So common was the nominative for the vocative that every time θεὸς was directly addressed in the NT, only in one verse (Matt. 27:46) does θεὸς actually appear in the vocative case: θεέ μου θεέ μου“My God, My God.”

 


“For a Child [yeled] will be born [yalad] 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, NASB).

 

Oneness advocates see phrase, “Eternal Father” as a proof text to the notion that the Messiah is the Father – However, Consider this:

1) Fallacy of equivocation by asserting that the term “father” (Heb. Ab) has only one meaning. The NT identification of God the Father. Contra the fact that the term “father” (ab) has various meanings in the OT, depending on the context. Further, asserting that the unitarian supposition (i.e., only the Father) many Oneness advocate appeal also to Mail. 2:10. However, neither this passage nor Mal. 2:10 teaches that only the Father is God, rather speaking of God as Creator (see point 4 below). 

2) Shem. The word translated “NAME” (shem, LXX – onoma) as in “His name will be called” (shem + qara) was Not a formal title for God, but rather it denoted the essence or essential characteristics, or authority of who someone is (cf. E. J. Young)[1]. This was clearly the Semitic concept of “name.” Hence, as to the essence and character of the Messiah, He is Wonderful,[2] Counselor, Mighty God, Father Eternal (Heb.) and Prince of Peace.

3) When the term “father” is applied to God (or Yahweh) in the OT, it typically denoted His parental, providential character to His children—namely, Israel. For example:  

  • Exod. 4:22-23: “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.'” 
  • Ps. 103:13: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” 
  • Isa. 63:16: “You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (cf.  Jer. 31:9).

Note – – the term “father” was never a standard recurring Epithet for God in the OT—only used of God fifteen times.   

 4) Linguistically, – Ab carries the meaning of “possessor, “founder,” or “source.”  For example, 2 Sam. 23:31 speaks of Abialbon– “father (or possessor) of strength,” strong one. In Exodus 6:24, “Abiasaph”–father [possessor] of gathering,” As with Malachi 2:10, – corresponding with that meaning, the term “father” carries the idea of “possessor,” “founder,” “source”- as with His role as Creator (cf. Duet. 32:6; Isa. 64:8; Mal. 2:10). So, the Messiah “possesses,” that is, the source of eternity—He is the Creator of all things .     

 

5) Syntactically, the Hebrew term ab (“father”) precedes the word translated “eternal.” Thus, abiad (אֲבִיעַ֖ד), from the Hebrew ab (“father”) and ad (“forever, ever perpetuity”). Thus, literally, “father eternal” (not “eternal father”)—indicating the eternal nature of the Messiah.

Targums of Isa 9:6[3]: “For us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . and his name will be called the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, existing forever [or “HE who lives forever”]. The Messiah in whose days peace shall increase upon us” (Targum Johnathan).  

 

Conclusion 

So according to lexical-semantic of abiad (ab, “father” and ad, “eternal, forever”), the Messiah is the “father,” that is, the possessor, source of eternity—the Creator of all things, as the NT indicates (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2, 10-12; 2:10). He is the YHWH of Ps. 102:25-27; cf. Heb. 1:10-12), the unchangeable Creator (He lives forever). But not the person of the Father or Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God (Dan. 7:9-14; Mark 14:61-14; John 5:17-18; 17:5; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14)   

There has never been a Jewish commentator, Rabbi, church Father, nor Christian scholar that has interpreted Isa. 9:6 as Oneness teachers do. Oneness teachers must prove that Jesus is specifically called the Father of the Son of God (i.e., His own Father). 

The Oneness view opposes historical and contemporary scholarship at every turn. The Jesus Christ of biblical revelation is God the Son, unipersonal and preexistent, who is the Son of the Father, the only Jesus that can save.

 


“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).


Notes

[1] E. J. Young, Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, 1972.

[2] The Hebrew term translated “Wonderful” (pele) is from the same root word (both from pala) as in Judges 13:18: “seeing it is wonderful.”

[3] The Targum was an ancient Aramaic translation providing explanations and paraphrases of the Hebrew Old Testament. In the post-exilic period, Aramaic began to be broadly spoken in the Jewish community in conjunction with Hebrew. There is solid evidence indicating that the targumic usage of the Memra (“Word”) was the background for John’s Logos theology.

 

“Tons of sons!”- the angry Muslim shouts out in his flimsy attempt to “refute” Christians who proclaim the deity of Christ. In other words, unitarians groups (such as Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals, etc.) deny that Jesus’ unique claim to be the “Son of God” was in fact a claim of deity. Muslims, for example, are taught that Jesus was only speaking metaphorically when He referred to Himself as the Son of God (cf. Mark 14:62; John 10:36). They argue that Jesus was the Son of God by doing good works, glorifying God, being humble, etc., thus, He was not the “one and only” (monogenēs) Son in a unique sense. Unitarians further point out that both in the OT and NT there were many who were referred to as a “son of God” or God’s son—such as Adam (Luke 3:38); Israel (Exod. 4:22); judges (Ps. 82:6); David (Ps. 89:27); Ephraim (Jer. 31:9); Christians (Gal. 3:26); and even angels (Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6; 38:7). So, as it is argued, if the title “Son of God” indicates deity, then Adam, David, angels, etc. are also God. 

First, in response the meaning of biblical words and phrases are determined by the context (as with the term Elohim). Second, in a Semitic (Jewish) context, to be the “son of” something meant that one possesses or shares the nature of that something. Ephesians 2:2-3, for example, the unsaved are said to be the “sons of disobedience . . . by nature children of wrath,” in that they possess the nature of disobedience and wrath. Unbelievers are said to be “sons of the Devil” (cf. John 8:44), whereas believers are “sons of God” by adoption (cf. Eph. 1:5), through faith (cf. Gal. 3:26).

Son of God” in Nature

Even though the phrase “son(s) of God” was applied to angels and men, when it was applied to Jesus, it was in a context of essence or nature. Christians are sons of God by adoption, Jesus is the Son of God by nature—which was clearly a claim of deity. Consider these examples below:   

John 5:17-18: Son of God = God the Son. One of the best examples of where Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” denoted ontological (viz. in very nature) equality with God is found in the Gospel of John chapter 5. In verse 17, Jesus said: “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” This was Jesus’ response to the charges brought against Him: The Father’s creative activity stopped after six days, but not His governing and upholding the universe. However, the Son’s activity of mediating, rewarding, punishing, etc. is ongoing. Then we read in verse 18: “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He was not only breaking the Sabbath, but He was also calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God.”

The Jews (and the Apostle John) clearly understood that by Jesus claiming God was His Father (i.e., the Son of God), Jesus was claiming to be “equal with God.” This is confirmed by the specific response of the Jews: “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He was . . . calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God.” Note the response of the Jews in John 19:7: “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

Again, this sharply opposes the position of those who assert that Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God was not a claim to be equal with God. There is one more notable feature in this text. The verbs translated, “breaking” (eluen, lit., “relaxing”) and “calling” (elegen) as in “calling God His Father” are both in the imperfect tense. The force of an imperfect tense indicates a continuous or repeated action normally occurring in the past. Thus, apparently, this was not the first time He made this claim—He had been repeating this claim. In addition, the reflexive pronoun (heauton, “Himself”) shows that Jesus was making this claim of Himself.[1]        

John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.” Both historically and currently, Christians have pointed to this passage to show that Jesus indeed claimed equality with God the Father. As with Jesus’ other undeniable claims to be equal with God (cf. Matt. 12:6; John 5:17-18; 8:58-59 et al; Rev. 1:8, 17; 2:8; 22:13; etc.), the response of the Jews in verse 33 is an irrefutable confirmation of Jesus’ claim: “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (emphasis added). This passage also provides a clear refutation to the Oneness view, which erroneously asserts that Jesus is the Father (i.e., the same person).

Ironically, Oneness advocates actually use it as a so-called proof text. However, there are two main points in the passage that eliminates the Oneness notion: 

1) The neuter adjective hen (“one”) is used—indicating a unity of essence, not absolute identity. If Jesus wanted to communicate that He was Himself the Father (same person), He certainly would have used the masculine heis (as in Mark 12:29; 1 Tim. 2:5). Renowned Greek grammarian A. T. Robertson comments on the application of the neuter hen in John 10:30: “One (hen). Neuter, not masculine (heis). Not one person (cf. heis in Gal. 3:28), but one essence or nature.”[2] In John 17:21, for example, Jesus prays that His disciples may “be one [hen] even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us.” The same neuter adjective is used.

2) The plural verb esmen (“are”). In contrast to the Oneness interpretation (Jesus is the Father), the Greek contains the plural verb esmen (“I and the Father are one”), not a singular verb such as estin (“is”) or eimi (“am”) in which case the passage would read: “I and the Father is/am one.”

Furthermore, Jesus’ claim to deity is not merely found in verse 30. Rather, the passages leading up to verse 30 undeniably prove His claim. In verses 27-29, Jesus claims that He is the Shepherd and that gives His sheep eternal life and no one can snatch them from His or His Father’s hand. Now, the Jews were well acquainted with Psalm 95:7: “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” Thus, the Jews knew that only Yahweh could make this claim of having sheep in His hand as well as giving them eternal life (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 43:11). So when Jesus made these exclusively divine claims and then added, “I and the Father are one,” it’s easy to understand the response of the Jews: “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (v. 33).

If Jesus was only claiming to be “one” with the Father in the sense of mere representation as with judges or Moses, Jesus’ claim would not have warranted blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24:16). In point of fact, Jesus claimed the exclusive attributes of Yahweh in verses 27-29, when He claimed He was one in essence with the Father, which naturally prompted the Jews to stone Him for blasphemy— for making Himself out to be God. The unique way in which Jesus claimed to be the Son of God in the Gospels was tantamount to His claiming to be God the Son—clearly understood by the Jews (cf. Mark 14:61-62; John 5:17-18; 19:7), the apostles (cf. Matt. 16:18; Rom. 1:3-4; the prologue of Hebrews; 1 John 5:12; etc.); the devil (cf. Matt. 4:3); and God the Father (Matt. 3:17; Heb. 1:5-12).  

Divine Sonship

The context of the prologue (viz. chap. 1) of Hebrews is a sharp contrast between all things created (heavens, earth, and angels) and the eternal Son. In verse 2, the Son is presented as the agent of creation, the Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17). In verse 3, the Son “is [ōn—“always being”][3] the radiance of His [the Father’s] glory and the exact representation [charaktēr] of His nature [hupostaseōs].” No mere creature can make this claim. In verse 6, we read that “all [pantes] the angels of God” worship the Son. In verse 8, the Father addresses the Son as ho theos (“the God”) whose throne “is forever and ever.”

Verses 10-12 are from the Septuagint (LXX) of Psalm 102:25-27. Here God the Father attributes the creation of the heavens and the earth to the Son (as the author does in v. 2). On the face, these passages are devastating to groups that deny the deity and creative role of the Son (such as Muslims, Oneness Pentecostals, JWs, etc.). In these passages, God the Father directly applies Psalm 102:25-27, which speaks of Yahweh as the Creator, to the Son! As with Hebrews 1:8 and starting in verse 5, the author presents God the Father as the speaker and the Son as the recipient. Clearly, verse 10 does not warrant any such break in context or switch in speakers—it is God the Father speaking to God the Son: “And, You, Lord, in the beginning.” The conjunction “And” naturally looks back to the addressee in verse 8: “But of the Son He says.” Hence, it is the Son to whom the Father addresses as the “Lord” who, from the beginning, “laid the foundation of the earth.” Note below two exceptional points of consideration:

“Lord” appears in the actual vocative case (i.e., case of direct address)—kurie. In verse 8, theos (“God”), although technically in the nominative (subject) case, clearly carries the vocative force of direct address. In fact, in every occurrence in the NT where God is being directly addressed, theos appears in the nominative case, except in one passage, Matthew 27:46, where theos actually appears in the vocative case: “My God [thee], My God [thee], why have You forsaken Me?” However, in Hebrews 1:10, “Lord” (kurios) actually appears in the vocative form (kurie) in the Greek: “You, Lord [kurie], in the beginning.” Thus, here God is not merely speaking about the Son; rather, He is directly addressing the Son—“You, Lord.” That God the Father is directly speaking to the Son also supports the vocative force rendering of verse 8: “But of the Son He says, ‘YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER. . . .’”                   

So of course, Hebrews 1:10 is utterly shattering to the arguments of those who deny the Trinity and deity of the Son. Thus, God the Father is addressing the Son as “the God” whose throne is forever and the Yahweh (“Lord”) of Psalm 102:25-27—the unchangeable Creator of all things.[4]

Conclusion

In all these cases, we find Jesus’ affirmation of being the “Son of God” was in a unique way—“the one and only [monogenēs] Son.” His claims of deity were ascribed to neither men nor angels. Jesus’ affirmation of being the Son of God was in turn a declaration that denoted ontological equality with Godthe monogenēs theos (“unique God,” John 1:18). And the Jews clearly understood the implications of His claim:

“For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him. . . but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18).

“For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33).

“We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God” (John 19:7). 


Notes


[1] The reflexive pronoun in Greek denotes the subject doing the action to/for himself. 

[2] Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:186.

[3] As in John 1:18 and Romans 9:5, the Son’s eternal, timeless existence is signified by the present participle ōn (“always being”). 

[4] Along with passages such as Daniel 7:9-14; John 1:1, 18; Rom. 9:5; and Heb. 1:3 and the passages that present the Son as the Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:10-12), the preexistence and thus eternality of the Son is also found in passages such as John 3:13; 6:38-62; 8:58; 16:28; 17:5; Phil. 2:6-11; Rev. 1:8; 22:13; etc. 

Oneness apologists are constantly developing new arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity, to which Christians should know how to respond (see “Footloose Theology of Roger Perkins” pertaining to the adjective heis and John 10:30.   

One such argument states that in the NT, the Greek masculine adjective heis (“one”) always means “one person.” Thus, passages such as Mark 12:29; 1 Tim. 2:5; etc. teach that God is “one person.” However, the Oneness-unitarian so-called semantic rule is clearly refuted by the fact that heis appears in Galatians 3:28 referring to many:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you [humeis, 2nd per. plural] are [este, plural verb] all one [heis] in Christ Jesus.”

Further, this Oneness notion completely backfires at 1 Corinthians 8:6, which contains a double usage of heis. If heis always means “one person,” as Oneness advocates argue, then, the “one [heis] God, the Father” is one person and the “one [heis] Lord, Jesus Christ” is another (distinct) divine person, which is consistent with Trinitarianism, not Oneness:

“yet for us there is but one [heis] God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one [heis] Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (cf. Deut. 6:4)

Daniel 7:9-14

“I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat. . . . 13 I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one, which will not be destroyed.”

In this section of Daniel, we read of two distinct persons who are the object of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. In verse 14, the Son of Man was “given dominion, glory and a kingdom,” by God the Father in which “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away.”

The term translation “serve” (“worshiped,” NIV) is from Aramaic word, pelach, which corresponds to the Hebrew word, palach. In a religious context, when the term appears in the Old Testament where the object of the term is God, it carries the idea of religious worship, religious services, or performing religious rituals in honor to the true or to a deity (in contexts of false gods).

Note verse 27, the same term (pelach) applied to the Son of Man in verse 14 is applied to Yahweh, the “Highest One”: “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve [pelach] and obey Him.” The LXX translates pelach as hupotagēsontai, which is the 3rd person future indicative of hupotassō (“serve, submission”).

In verse 14, the LXX translates pelach as latreuō,[1] which, in a religious context, denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; Matt. 4:10; Rom. 1:9, Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14). Although in some editions of the LXX, the term douleuō (“to serve”) is used, in a religious context (which verses 9-14 undeniably are), douleuō denotes religious worship,[2] signifying service or worship reserved for God alone.

Furthermore, to avoid the implications of the Messiah receiving true religious worship, some have argued that the title “Son of Man” refers exclusively to humanity collectively In response, however, it is true that many places in the Old Testament does convey that meaning—but only where the context warrants.

However, in Daniel 7:9-14 this designation cannot be true contextually. The Son of Man in Daniel receives “dominion, Glory and a kingdom,” and “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” This description cannot be said of men collectively. More than that, while modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish exegetes (cf. the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96b-97a, 98a; etc.).[3] Further, as noted, the testimony of early church Fathers connected the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with Jesus Christ— and not with men collectively.[4]

Notes-

[1] Cf. The LXX editions of H. B. Swete and Alfred Rahlfs.

[2] For example, in Galatians 4:8, Paul says, “When you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” The phrase “were slaves” (or “you served”) is from the verb douleuō. Paul was clear: to douleuō (religious service), anyone other than God in a religious context is idolatry.

[3] Aside from the Babylonian Talmud, Christian apologist Robert Hommel observes quite a number of early Messianic interpretations of Daniel 7:9-14:

A fragment in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q246) quotes this verse and calls the messianic figure “Son of God,” “Son of the Most High,” and “a great god of gods,” which indicates that the Qumran community looked for a divine messiah of some sort, and believed Dan 7:13ff referred to Him. The Midrash Numbers (13:14) says that Dan 7:14 refers to “King Messiah.” I’m unaware of any earlier testimonies of the rabbis” (Robert Hommel Worship and the Son of Man in Daniel 7 [http://forananswer.blogspot.com/2006/11/worship-and-son-of-man-in-daniel-7.html]; Nov. 8th 2006).

[4] Cf. For example, note in Justin Martyr’s rendering of Daniel 7:14: “And all nations of the earth by their families, and all glory, serve [latreuousa] Him” (Dialogue with Trypho, 31). See also Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.11; Tertullian, Against Marcion, 3.7, 4.10; Hippolytus, Christ and AntiChrist, 2.26; etc.).

Scripture presents powerful claims of Jesus Christ attesting to His deity, that is, His coequality with God the Father. The natural response of the unbelieving Jews only adds to the confirmation of what Jesus affirmed: “Because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33; see also John 5:17-18; 8:58-59). In addition to this is the clear testimonies of the apostles presenting Christ the Son as fully God and fully man, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 12:6; 28:19; John 1:1, 18; 20:28; 1 Cor. 2:8; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1:4). Their Christology is expressed coherently and exegetically.

Along with the testimonies of Jesus and the apostles, (and the OT affirmations[1]), we find clear affirmations of the Son’s deity made by God the Father especially in the prologue of Hebrews. In fact, it was the Father’s testimony that Jesus used to authenticate His own testimony (see John 5:31-32; 8:16-17).

In the NT, God the Father clearly substantiated the deity and unipersonality of His Son, Jesus Christ, by the following:         

1) The Father openly declared Jesus to be the “Son of God” (cf.  Matt. 3:16-17; 17:5)

2) The Father commanded all of His angels to worship the Son (cf. Heb. 1:6)

3) The Father directly addressed the Son as “the God” whose throne is eternal (cf. Heb. 1:8-9) 

4) The Father directly addressed the Son as the “Lord,” that is, the Yahweh of Psalm 102:25-27, the unchangeable Creator (cf. Heb. 1:10-12)

“SON OF GOD”

The theological significance of the title “Son of God cannot be ignored or denied. The biblical evidence is clear: The unique way that Jesus applied this title to Himself and the unique way that the apostles applied it to Him show that it was a title of full deity—tantamount to “God the Son” (cf. John 1:18; 5:17-18; 10:30-33; 19:7; Rom. 1:1-4; Heb. 1).

The Fathers attestation of the full deity of Christ and His coequality with Him, in very nature, starts with His open declaration of Jesus’ Sonship. The Father claimed Jesus was His Son and Jesus claimed the reverse—namely, that He was the Fathers Son. So when the Father openly announced that the person of Christ is His Son, He affirmed in the strongest way the Son’s essential and ontological deity. Jesus’ Sonship was openly declared at several different times throughout His life: At His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17); at His Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5); and in reference to His resurrection (cf. Acts 13:33; cf. also Heb. 1:5). We also read of Jesus’ declaration of Sonship in Romans 1:1-4, where the Son was “declared [‘marked out’] the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness.” The Father’s open declaration of Jesus’ Sonship demonstrates to the world that Jesus Christ is the “one and only/unique Son” (monogenēs huios), God in the flesh. Again, “The Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He . . . was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; cf. 10:30ff).         

ALL THE ANGELS COMMANDED TO WORSHIP THE SON (cf. Heb. 1:6) 

Contextually (similar to the prologue of John), the prologue of Hebrews is a well-defined contrast between all created things (viz., angels and the heavens and the earth) and the eternal divine Son (cf. vv. 3, 6, 8), who was worshiped as God (v. 6), and presented as Yahweh, the unchangeable Creator (cf. vv. 2, 10-12). After the author provides some of the most potent passages proving the Son’s deity (esp. vv. 2-3), from verses 5-13, to intensify his antithesis (i.e., the eternal Son vs. creation), the author moves from his own inspired words to the words of God the Father.

In Hebrews 1:6, an undeniable verification of the Son’s deity is evidenced by the fact that God the Father commands[2] all of His angels to “worship” (proskuneō) the Son: “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him.’” The Father’s command to His angels to give religious worship to His Son clearly proves the Son’s essential deity—for creature worship was strictly forbidden by God (cf. Exod. 20:5). There are many places in both the OT and NT where the Son was worshiped in a religious context, by all the angels (cf. Heb. 1:6); by men (cf. Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; John 9:38); and by every creature (cf. Rev. 5:13-14).[3]

DIRECT ADDRESS AS “THE GOD” WHOSE THRONE IS ETERNAL (cf. Heb. 1:8) 

Thus far, the author of Hebrews has exhibited so precisely the very object of Christian evangelism and historic faith: The two natures of the person of the Son, as fully God (esp. vv. 2-3, 6) and as fully man who made “purification of sins” (v. 3). In verses 8-9, the Father demonstrates further the exalted divine status of His beloved Son:

“But of the Son He says” Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.’”

Here the Father addresses the Son (pros de ton huion, “but regarding the Son”) as ho theos (“the God”) affirming that the Son’s throne is “forever and ever.” This is a citation from the LXX of Psalm 45:6-7. Although some have attributed the Psalm to David, Solomon, or a Persian king, the original sense of the Psalm is purely Messianic. The writer here seems to envisage the ideal king, a “magnificent and beautiful prince—a prince riding prosperously in his conquest” (Barns). In the same way, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as “Mighty God” and “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Note the rendering of the ancient Targum[4] of Psalm 45:7, which is a direct address to Yahweh Himself: “Thy throne of glory, O Lord endures for ever and ever.” Further, the targumist applies verse 3 to the Messiah: “Your beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than the sons of men; the spirit of prophecy has been placed on your lips; because of this the Lord has blessed you forever.” None of Israel’s kings were ascribed as “God” whose throne is forever. The full deity of the Christ is a constant theme in the OT (esp. Dan. 7:9-14; Isa. 9:6-7).

In Hebrews 1:8, the Father positively affirms that His Son, Jesus the Christ, is “the God” whose throne is forever and ever. That the Father addresses the Son as “God” (a distinct person) is precisely what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches. In the Gospels, the Son addresses the Father as “God,” while here, the Father addresses the Son as “God.” Just as the Son addresses the Father as “Lord of heaven and earth” (Luke 10:21), in Hebrews 1:10, the Father addresses the Son as the “Lord” (i.e., as the Yahweh of Ps. 102:25-27) who made the heavens and the earth (cf. also John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2).  

Unitarian groups (esp. JWs) consistently deny the direct address rendering and syntax of the passage by translating theos (“God”) either as a nominative, “God is your throne” (as in the NWT) or as a predicate, “Your throne is God.” However, the vocative of direct address[5] rendering of theos (i.e., the Father addressing the Son as “God”) is confirmed by 1) the LXX of Psalm 45:6-7 where Elohim (“God”) is in direct address, 2) the Targum of Psalm 45:6 where “Lord” is in direct address, 3) all ancient versions of Psalm 45, 4) most English translations, 5) biblical commentators, historically and presently, 6) the context of the prologue, which presents a defined contrast between all created things and the eternality of the Son, and 7) in verse 10, the Greek term for “Lord” is in the actual vocative case of address (kurie), which unmistakably shows that the Father addressed the Son as “God” and as the “Yahweh” (“Lord”) of Psalm 102:25-27, as we will discuss below.      

DIRECT ADDRESS AS “LORD”—NAMELY, THE YAHWEH OF PSALM 102:25-27 (cf. Heb. 1:10-12)

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your Hands. . . .” (v. 10).  God the Father attributes the creation of the heavens and earth to the Son (as did the author in v. 2). This passage (and the entire chapter) is devastating to Oneness advocates who see the “Son” as representing merely the humanity (non-divinity) of Jesus and, of course, most challenging for Muslims and JWs who likewise deny the deity of the person of the Son.

In verses 10-12, the Father applies Psalm 102:25-27, which speaks of Yahweh as the unchangeable Creator, to the Son! As we saw, starting in verse 5, the author moves from his own words, to the Father’s words regarding the Son. Hence, verse 10 does not warrant any break in context or switch of speaker to recipient—it is the Father speaking tothe Son: You, Lord, in the beginning.” The connective conjunction and naturally looks back to the addressee in verse 8: But of the Son He says.” As pointed out, kurios (“Lord”) actually appears in the vocative form, kurie: “You, Lord [kurie], in the beginning.” This irrefutably shows that the Father is speaking to the Son. It also supports the vocative force of theos in verse 8: “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” Hebrews 1:10-12 is a citation of Psalm 102:25-27 (from the LXX),[6] which describes Yahweh as the unchangeable Creator. Hence, the Father identifies His Son with the Yahweh of this Psalm, the unchangeable Creator.  

The Christian religion is established by its Founder, Jesus Christ, God incarnate, Creator of all things. This is confirmed by the OT prophets, NT apostles, Christ Himself, and God the Father. The Father affirmed His Son’s ontological status as God by 1) making open declarations as to Jesus’ Sonship, 2) commanding all of the angels in heaven to worship the Son, and 3) directly addressing the Son as “the God” whose throne is eternal and as the Yahweh of Psalm 102:25-27, the unchangeable Creator.


[1] Cf. Genesis 19:24; Daniel 7:9-14 (cf. Mark 14:62); Isaiah 9:6; “angel of the Lord” references; etc.

[2] The term translated “worship” is an aorist active imperative verb. A verb in the imperative mood indicates a commandment/request. But when the imperative is in the aorist tense, the commandment stressing urgency, a “do it now” kind of verb—namely, worship the Son now!

[3] The word “worship” appeared in the JWs’ New World Translation at Hebrews 1:6 from 1961 (the first complete ed.) to 1970. However, due to the damaging implications of the Son being worshiped, the Watchtower replaced “worship” with “obeisance,” meaning, honor, respect, etc. in all subsequent editions.   

[4] The Targum was an ancient Aramaic translation (in explanations and paraphrases) of the Hebrew OT. In the post-exilic period, Aramaic began to be broadly spoken in the Jewish community in conjunction with Hebrew. The earliest known portions of the Targum were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (e.g., Job, Cave 11).

[5] In verse 8, we noted that although theos technically is in the nominative case, it clearly carries the vocative force of direct address. In fact, in every occurrence in the NT, where God is being addressed, theos appears in the nominative case except in Matthew 27:46, where both occurrences of theos are actually in the vocative case—Thee mou, thee mou (“My God My God”).

[6] The LXX reads: kat’ archas su kurie (lit., “In [the] beginning, You, Lord”). Hebrews 1:10-12 is utterly shattering to all who deny the Trinity and the deity and unipersonality of the Son since God the Father identifies His Son with the Yahweh of Psalm 102:25-27—the unchangeable Creator whose “years will not come to an end.”

The ultimate test that unequivocally decides what is and what is not genuine or orthodox Christianity is simply the biblical doctrine of the Person, nature and finished work of Jesus Christ. He made this clear in a question to His disciple Peter: “What do you think about the Christ” (Matt. 22:42). Similar to Jesus’ statement in John 8:24 (cf. chap. 2, sec. 2.4.5) eternal life is absolutely dependent on believing in the Jesus of biblical revelation (cf. John 17:3). The fact is, virtually all major non-Christian cults assert, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (e.g., Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, etc.). This is, to be sure, a meaningless assertion. For the Jesus of these groups oppose the biblical presentation. The Apostle John indicates in 1 John 2:22-23:

Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (emphasis added).

Thus, proclaiming a belief in God the Father while denying the biblical presentation of the Son (i.e., denying His nature as God-man, His finished work, and His unipersonality [i.e., that He is a distinct Person]) denies God Himself. One cannot remove the Son from the Godhead and yet claim that he or she has salvation – for he or she, as John indicates, does not have God. “He that does not honor the Son,” says Jesus, “does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).

In spite of the clear biblical (exegetical) affirmation of the full deity of the Person of the Son, Jesus Christ, non-Christian groups crassly reject this essential truth of God. The deity of the Son is especially seen in places such as: Daniel 7:9-14; John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Romans 9:5; 10:13; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:3-10; Revelation 5:13-14; and 22:13.

There are several places in the New Testament where the Son is actually called ho theos, “the God,” these would be, as included above, John 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; and 1 John 5:20. What is theologically noteworthy is that Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 (and perhaps 2 Thess. 1:12) are both Granville Sharp grammatical constructions – namely, Sharp’s rule #1. This rule is named after its founder (not inventor) Granville Sharp (A.D. 1735-1813). Sharp was passionate in his unyielding belief in the full deity of Jesus Christ. Sharp’s research of the Greek New Testament led him to discover six grammatical rules in which the Greek article ho, “the” and the conjunction kai, “and” were utilized.

Although there were six grammatical rules that Sharp discovered, rule #1 is the most recognized and cited. Generally (not verbatim), rule #1 states that when the connective kai, “and” connects two nouns of the same case (singular nouns that are not proper [e.g., personal names]), and the article ho, “the” precedes the first noun, but not the second, each descriptive noun refers to the first named person.[1] Hence, Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 contain this construction emphasizing the full deity of the Son. Titus 2:13 reads: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Notice the phrase tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Iēsou Christou, literally, “the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ.” Here, the conjunction kai, “and” connects both singular descriptive nouns, theou, “God” and sōtēros, “Savior” and the article tou, “the” proceeds the first noun, theou, “God,” but not the second noun, sōtēros, “Savior.” Therefore, according to Sharp’s grammatical rule, Jesus Christ is tou megalou theou kai sōtēros, “the great God and Savior.”

The same great truth is found in 2 Peter 1:1. Minus the extraneous words preceding the Sharp construction and the adjective megas, “great” in Titus 2:13, the reading in 2 Peter 1:1 is virtually identical: tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou, literally, “the God of us and Savior, Jesus Christ.” According to recognized Greek grammarians (e.g., Robertson, Greenly, Wallace), lexicographers, (e.g., Cremer), and commentators (e.g., Hendriksen) this rule is invariably valid markedly showing the full deity of the Son.

In contrast, Oneness teachers insist that the “Son” denotes only Jesus’ humanity and not the deity of Jesus blatantly rejecting the Son’s deity (seeing the “Father” and “Son” as modes or roles of the unipersonal deity named “Jesus.” While other non-Christian cults see Jesus as not God, but rather as a mere man. However, aside from the biblical passages where Jesus claims that He is God (e.g., John 5:17-18; 8:24, 58; 10:30; 13:19; 18:5-6, 8) and the passages where He is presented as God by His apostles (as seen below), the Son possesses the very attributes of God:

  • He has power to forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6)
  • He is greater than the temple (cf. Matt. 12:6)
  • He is Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:8)
  • He is the King of a kingdom and the angels are His gathering His elect (cf. Matt. 13:41; Mark 13:27)
  • He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (cf. Matt. 16:13-17)
  • He was to be killed and raised from the dead (cf. Matt. 17:9, 22-23; 19;26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33; John 2:19ff.)
  • He is omnipresent (cf. Matt. 28:20; John 14:23)
  • He is omniscient (cf. John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30; 21:17)
  • His is omnipotent (cf. Matt. 8:27; 9:6; 28:18; Heb. 7:25)
  • He gave His life as a ransom for many (cf. Mark. 10:45)
  • He gives eternal life (cf. Luke 10:21-22; John 5:21; 10:27-28)
  • He is the monogenēs theos, “unique/one and only God” that came from heaven (cf. John 1:18; 3:13)
  • He pre-existed with and shared glory with the Father (cf. Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 17:5; as will be shown in chap. 4)
  • He is Immutable (cf. Heb. 13:8)
  • He was worshiped (cf. John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6)

Virtually every New Testament book teaches the full deity of the Son, Jesus Christ, explicitly or implicitly. This is exegetically seen in passages such as Matthew 1:23; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:1, 18; 5:17-23; Jesus’ seven absolute egō eimi, “I am” statements (viz. John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5-6, 8); John 20:28; Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 16:22; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3, 8-10; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Jude 4; Revelation 1:8; and 5:13-14. The biblical evidence is massive.

The Son is Creator

Further, the New Testament specifically presents the Son as the Creator of all things, thus pre-existing (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10). This is the strongest point of refutation against Oneness theology as well as all non-Christian cults who deny the deity and eternality of the Son, Jesus Christ.

The Son is Worshiped

There is another important piece of evidence affirming the deity of the Son. Scripture presents the Son as receiving the same kind of religious “worship” (proskuneō) as that of God the Father. This important reality can be especially seen, for example, in Daniel 7:9-14, where two distinct divine Persons are being presented (note, v. 9 says “thrones,” thus, not a single throne), the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. In verse 14, the Son of Man was “given dominion, glory and a kingdom,” by God the Father in which “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve [douleuō, i.e., worship, cf. Exod. 20:5; LXX] Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away” (emphasis added).

In the New Testament, Jesus received religious proskuneō, “worship” – for example, by the men in the boat (cf. Matt. 14:33) and the blind man (cf. John 9:35-38). In Hebrews 1:6, the Father commands “all the angels of God” to proskuneō, “worship” the Son. This kind of worship was clearly religious in nature – for the setting is in the heavens before God the Father. In Revelation 5:13-14, the Father and the Lamb receive the same kind of blessing, honor, and glory and the same kind of worship: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped [proskuneō].” Note that these acts of proskuneō, “worship” to the Son were not merely in the context of honor and/or falling prostrate before another in mere “obeisance” (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses bible [NWT] says in Heb. 1:6 and other passages where Jesus received worship). Rather the Son was worshiped in a religious context – namely, worship that was reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5) – creaturely worship is highly forbidden by the Lord. This revealing truth shows that the Son shares the very essence of God the Father. He is God in the same sense as that of the Father (cf. John 1:1b): “Who always being the brightness of His glory, the exact representation [image] of the nature of Him” (tēs hupostaseōs autou, i.e., nature of the Father; Heb. 1:3; translation mine).

Scripture presents a clear Christology

The Son of God, Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity. The Son is fully God co-existing with the Father (cf. John 1:1; 17:5). He became man (cf. John 1:14). He was sent by the Father (cf. John 6:37ff.) to redeem the elect of God by His sacrificial death on the cross (cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:9-11; 8:32). The Son is the only Mediator between the Father and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). Thus, the Christ of biblical revelation is the divine Son, a personal self-aware Subject distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This is the Christ that saves. This is the Christ that Paul and the other New Testament authors preached. The very foundation of justification is through this God-man’s infallible and efficacious cross-work, the very instrument being faith alone, not the sacrament of water baptism (i.e., a work) accompanied by a five word formula (viz. “In the name of Jesus” as Oneness Pentecostals assert) of which the church has never prescribed.

Jesus affirmed that unless one has accurate knowledge, assent and trust in the Son of biblical revelation he would perish in his sins (cf. John 8:24). The rejection of the unipersonality and deity of Son and the rejection of the personal distinctions between Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit rejects the very nature of the triune God Himself (cf. John 17:3; 1 John 2:22-23).

Hebrews 1:2, 8, 10: In these last days [God the Father] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. . . . But of the Son He [the Father] says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER. . . . And, YOU [the Son], LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.”

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. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 Philippians 2:6-11, known as the Carmen Christi (“Hymn to Christ”)[1] was utilized by the early Christian church to teach and magnify the pre-existence, incarnation, and the full deity of Jesus Christ. The context of Philippians 2 is clear: Paul stresses to the Philippians that they ought to act in a harmonious and humble way. In which Paul instructs them to have an attitude in themselves “which was also in Christ Jesus,”—namely, humility (v. 5).

 Paul then exemplifies the ultimate act of humility: Jesus Christ, God the Son, voluntarily emptied Himself by becoming flesh.In six short passages, Paul provides a beautiful and well defined summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ expressing His essential nature as God (including His pre-existence; v. 6); His Incarnation and cross-work (i.e., His humiliation; vv. 7-8); and His exaltation to the glory of God the Father (vv. 10-11). His role as Mediator involves two states: 1) the state of humiliationand 2) the state of exaltation.

Note the following exegetical points that underline the theological significance and force of Paul’s high Christological Hymn:

  1. Jesus is presented as God—distinct from God the Father.

In the first part of verse 6, Paul utilizes very specific terms to express clearly that Jesus Christ was always subsisting as God: “Who although He existed [huparchōn] in the form [morphē; or “nature” NIV] of God [theou]. . . .” (emphasis added). So, when Paul says that Christ “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” and “He emptied Himself” (vv. 6-7, which we will deal with shortly), these two statements must be interpreted in light of his first statement: Jesus was always “being in very nature God” (NIV).

 The word translated “existed” (“being” KJV, NIV) is huparchōn, which is a present active participle.[2] The participle here indicates a continuous existence or state of continually subsisting.[3] Hence, Jesus did not become the very form or nature of God at a certain point in time, rather He was always existing as God, just as Paul expressed (cf. John 1:18; Heb. 1:3). The same truth is found in John 1:1a: “In the beginning was [ēn] the Word—i.e., the Word was “always existing”[4] (also cf. John 1:18; 16:28; 17:5; Heb. 1:3; 10-12).       

 Next, the word translated “form” (NASB) or “nature” (NIV) is morphē. This word denotes the specific qualities or essential attributes of something. Here, it denotes “the expression of divinity in the pre-existent Christ.”[5] It expresses that which is intrinsic and essential to the thing. Thus, in His pre-existent state, Jesus possessed (always subsisting in) essential deity. Warfield clearly expresses its semantic force:  

Paul does not simply say, “He was God.” He says, “He was in the form of God,” employing a turn of speech which throws emphasis upon Our Lord’s possession of the specific quality of God. “Form” is a term, which expresses the sum of those characterizing qualities which make a thing the precise thing that it is … And “the form of God” is the sum of the characteristics which make the being we call “God,” specifically God, rather than some other being—an angel, say, or a man. When Our Lord is said to be in “the form of God,” therefore, He is declared, in the most expressed manner possible, to be all that God is, to possess the whole fullness of attributes which make God God. [6]

 To deny that the Son was truly the morphē of God is to deny that the Son was truly the morphē of man, “taking the form[morphē] of a bond-servant” (v. 7). The last part of the verse (“[He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped”) has been a topic of much discussion among scholars as to the precise meaning of the term harpagmos (“a thing to be grasped” or “robbery”). But as we have stated, the meaning must be in light of the first part of the verse: “always subsisting in the nature of God.” But as we have stated, the meaning must be in light of the first part of the verse: “always subsisting in the nature of God.” In other words, the meaning of harpagmos cannot be separated from the meaning of the participle huparchōn.

Because of the articular infinitive, to einai (“to be” equal to God), some would argue that the phrase “equal to God” refers back to the phrase morphē theou (“nature of God”). However, there are exegetical problems with that view.[7] A more plausible view would be to consider morphē theou (“nature/form of God”) as referring to essential nature and “equality with God” as referring to function within the Godhead. In this way, the two phrases (“nature of God” and “equality with God” [v. 6]) are not synonymous. Rather, if this is the meaning, Paul would be stating in essence that although the Son was fully deity, always existing as God, He did not usurp (seize) the role of God the Father.[8]

  1. The Self-Emptying of God the Son. It was theSon who voluntarily “emptied Himself, taking the nature of a servant” (v. 7). The reflexive pronoun heauton (“Himself”) indicates that the subject (Jesus) is also the object (i.e., the one receiving the action of the verb—the verb being ekenōsen, “emptied”). Therefore, Jesus Christ, in His pre-existent state, emptied Himself; it was a “self-emptying” (lit., “He Himself emptied”).  

 The term “taking” is from the Greek aorist active participle, labōn. Semantically, this is a participle of means.[9]The participle of means describes the means or manner of the emptying. Hence, the Son emptied Himself by means of His incarnation (cf. John 1:14). The emptying did not involve in any way, shape, or form, His deity, for Paul safeguards against such an assertion in verse 6: “Who [Christ] always and continually subsisting in the very nature and substance of God” (lit., trans.). Further, the Hymn indicates plainly that it was not God the Father, as Oneness Pentecostals suppose, but the Son, who voluntarily emptied Himself and thus became obedient to death—“even death on a cross” (v. 8).

  1. God the Father exalted God the Son.Verse 9 reads: “For this reason also, God [the Father] highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” TheFather exalted God the Son, who emptied Himselfby taking the nature of a servant. Scripture teaches that the Son is “functionally” subordinate to the Father (cf. John 14:28); He perfectly obeys Him and always does His will (cf. John 6:38). However, this does not mean that the Son is not ontologically (by nature) subordinate to the Father.[10] Paul says, “the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). But this does not mean that the woman (wife) is less human than the man (husband), nor, in the same way, does it mean that Christ is less God than God the Father. Rather, the passage is speaking about function and purpose, not nature. Since Jesus is not only God, but God-man, the Father exalting the “emptied” Son and glorifying Him with the divine glory they shared “before the world was” (John 17:5) is consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity.  
  2. “At the name of Jesus”: Jesus is the YHWH and thus the fulfillment of Isaiah 45:23.In verses 9-11,[11] Paul then concludes his glorious Christological Hymn with a “purpose of exaltation” (hina) clause:[12] The purpose of the Son’s exaltation was for the result of every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that “Jesus is Lord.” In verse 9, we read that the Father exalted Christ and bestowed on Him the “name” which is above every name. “Name” (onoma) is highly significant in a Semitic (“Jewish”) context. Generally, it carries the meaning of authority, power,or on behalf of (see 1 Sam. 17:45).

 In verses 10-11, without question, Paul is loosely drawing from Isaiah 45:23: “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” This passage is an undeniable reference to YHWH (cf. vv. 22-25). Paul, however, applies it here to Jesus Christ the Lord who glorifies the Father—namely, the YHWH of Isaiah 45:23.[13]

 There are further exegetical details that enhance the force of Paul’s Jesus-Isaiah connection. First, both Isaiah 45:23 (LXX) and Romans 14:11 (also from Isa. 45:23) contain future tenses (“every knee will bow,” every tongue will confess” [or “will swear allegiance”]) and indicative moods, indicating the future certainty of the event. However, in Philippians 2:10-11, Paul changes the original tenses and moods of the verbs from that of Isaiah 45:23 (and Rom. 14:11) to make, as indicated, Philippians 2:10-11 a purpose and result clause.[14] The purpose of God the Father exalting the Son, then, was for the result of every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” thus, the YHWH of Isaiah 45:23—hence Jesus will be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s (future) prophecy.

Lastly, although most translations contain the phrase, “Jesus Christ is Lord” at the end of verse 11, the Greek reads, kurios Iēsous Christos (lit., “Lord Jesus Christ”). Here Paul places kurios (“Lord”) first in the phrase (viz. the emphatic position) to emphasize even more the Son’s exaltation as YHWH, the name that belonged to Him. The LXX translates the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH, as kurios. Thus, when a New Testament author would cite an Old Testament passage where YHWH appears, the author would use kurios (e.g., Mark 12:29-30; Rom. 10:13).[15]

Since the backdrop of Paul’s assertion of Christ centers on the prophetic word of YHWH in Isaiah 45:23, it is only natural then that he would place kurios first in the clause,[16] thus making his point: kurios [YHWH] Iēsous Christos (“LORD Jesus Christ”).  

From start to finish, this Christological Hymn exegetically affirms the gospel of Jesus Christ; it affirms the two states of Christ, His humiliation (incarnation and death) and exaltation (every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord—the YHWH and thus the fulfillment of Isa. 45:23). The Hymn affirms two very fundamental aspects of Jesus Christ: 1) He always subsisting in the nature of God and 2) God the Son became man in order to die on the cross. The entire gospel of the Son is summarized in six short, but very powerful passages—the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ..

NOTES

[1] Also known as the Kenosis Hymn (from kenoō, “to make empty”).

[2] Huparchōn is from the verb huparchō (“to be in existence”).

[3] Cf. Thayer, 1996: 638; Bauer, 2000: 1029).

[4] The term “was” is from the Greek verb ēn, which is the imperfect tense of eimi (“to be”). An imperfect tense indicates continuous action normally occurring in the past, or an on-going past action (Wallace, GGBB, 541). Thus in the beginning the Word was already existing—no beginning. Jesus’ eternal existence is also seen in passages such as John 8:58 where the presence tense verb eimi (“am”) is in contrast with the Abraham’s created state denoted by the aorist form of ginomai (“came to be”): “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born [genesthai], I am [egō eimi].”

[5] Walter Bauer, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., ed. and rev. Frederick W. Danker (BDAG; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 659.

[6] Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988), 177.

[7] Cf. Wallace, GGBB, 220. 

[8] Ibid.

[9] Cf. Wallace, GGBB, 630.

[10] The mutual operation or functionality of the three Persons of the Trinity in that they have different roles/functions, yet they are working together, is defined theologically as the economic Trinity. The soteriological Trinity speaks of the specific roles/functions each of the Persons have in the work of salvation. And the ontological Trinity speaks of the very nature of the three distinct Persons being co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existent Persons sharing the nature of the one God.       

[11] “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

[12] The Greek conjunction hina (“so that” v. 10) frequently denotes purpose and result (i.e., the purpose of X was for the result of Y; e.g., “He gave His only begotten Son in order that everyone believing in Him shall not perish, but have life eternal (John 3:16; lit. trans.). Thus, the purpose of God giving the Son was for the result of eternal life for everyone believing in Him.

[13] This is one of many places where a NT author applies an OT passage referring to YHWH, to Jesus Christ. For example, compare Psalms 102:25-27 with Hebrews 1:10-12; Isaiah 6:1-10 with John 12:39-41; Isaiah 8:12-13 with 1 Peter 3:14-15; Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11; Joel 2:32 with Romans 10:13.

[14] Specifically, the tenses and moods in Isaiah 45:23 and Romans 14:11 are future indicatives (“will bow,” “will confess/swear”). But in Philippians 2:10-11 Paul modified them to aorist subjunctives following the conjunction hina (“so that”) respectively (“shall bow,” “shall confess”).    

[15] A point to which JWs agree. Except, of course, when the OT passages is referring to Jesus Christ, they do not follow their own rule. For example, the phrase “Jesus as Lord” in Romans 10:9 is clearly the antecedent to the occurrences of the pronoun “Him” and “Lord” following up to verse 13:

9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of  all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

13 For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD [YHWH] WILL BE SAVED” (emphasis added).

“Jesus as Lord” is the object of salvation from verse 9-13. Throughout these passages, it is the same “Him” and same “Lord” beginning in verse 9. To say that the “Lord” in verse 9 is a different “Lord” than in verse 13 completely breaks the flow of the passages. The Lord that one confesses (v. 9) is the same Lord that one calls upon for salvation (v. 13). In verse 13, Paul cites Joel 2:32: “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [Heb. YHWH] will be delivered.” Just as he does in Philippians 2:10-11, Paul cites a passage referring to YHWH and applies it to Jesus. Thus, whoever confessing and calls upon Jesus as Lord, that is, Jesus as YHWH will be saved.  

[16] In biblical Greek, the placement of a word in a sentence was not always dependent on the subject-verb word order, but rather on emphasis. Specifically, in verse 11, the anarthrous predicate nominative kurios, occupies the “emphatic position” (i.e., first word of the clause): “Lord Jesus Christ.” As we have shown, the same is true in John 1:1c where the anarthrous predicate nominative theos, is also in the emphatic position: theos ēn ho logos (“lit., “God was the Word”)drawing attention to the Word’s nature as God.

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). . . . ” (Qur’an, Sura 5.116).[1]

Anyone who has interfaced with Muslims (or also JWs) on the Person of Christ or nature of God has probably been asked that question. Although, Muslims are taught that Jesus was a prophet of Allah, sinless, virgin born, preformed miracles, etc. they reject that He was eternal God in the flesh, crucified, and resurrected from the dead. The rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ (and the Trinity) is common to all non-Christian cults and false religions. Because Jesus said in John 8:24 that “unless you believe that I am [egō eimi], you will die in your sins” we cannot be hesitant or be timid in proclaiming that Jesus is God in the flesh—for salvation is predicated on that belief. A few months ago, in a formal debate with a Muslim apologist, I was asked the typical question: “Where did Jesus claim to be God and say worship Me?” The fact of the matter is this: If Jesus is God, Islam is proven a false religion and thus, Mohammad is merely another false prophet who deceived his followers.

Jesus’ claims to deity were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God”

First, we must understand that in the NT, Jesus never literally said, “I am God.” As we will show, the term “God” is subject to different meanings according to the context. In other words, the term “God” (Heb. Elohim; Gk. theos) had many meanings in the OT. And in the NT, the plural form of theos (theoi, “gods”) denoted false gods (cf. John 10:34-35; 1 Cor. 8:5). In the OT, Elohim (“God”/“gods”) referred to judges (cf. Exod. 21:6; 22:8-9), false gods (cf. Ps. 96:5), the true God (cf. Jer. 10:10); etc. In Exodus 7:1, the Lord said to Moses: “See, I make you as God [Elohim] to Pharaoh.” Of course, Moses was not actually made deity, but only as God’s direct representative, he was made as God to Pharaoh. The point is, Moses, judges, angels, etc. were called “God(s),” even though they were not God by nature. So if Jesus would have stated, “I am God,” those that deny the deity of Christ could construe the phrase to mean that Jesus was merely claiming that He was a representative of God, or a perfect judge, or a mighty angel (as the JWs see it, using Isa. 9:6).

However, Jesus’ claims to deity were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God.” In other words, Jesus made specific claims to express His deity (some of which were used only of YHWH in the OT), which were clearly understood by both friends and enemies as claims to be equal with God. These specific claims were not used by nor were they applied to humans or angels, as with the term “God.”

Note the following claims, which explicitly demonstrate that Jesus did indeed claim to be equal with God, in the same sense as God the Father.

Egō Eimi (“I am”)

In John 8:24 Jesus declared: “For if you should not believe that I am [egō eimi] you will perish in your sins” (lit. trans.). Although, many translations add the pronoun “he” (e.g., NKJ, NASB, NIV)[2] after “I am” in spite of the fact that the pronoun is not contained after egō eimi (“I am”) in any Greek manuscripts of John 8:24—nor is the pronoun contained after Jesus’ other egō eimi affirmations in John 8:28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. Jesus claimed He was the “I am” seven times in the Gospel of John. These instances are absolute “I am” claims—i.e., with no supplied predicate. Hence, they are the not same as statements such as, for example, “I am the door” or “I am the shepherd.” These all have predicates following “I am” whereas the seven “I am” statements listed above have no supplied predicate, but rather the “I am” stands alone. Cleary this was an absolute and clear claim to deity.

The Hebrew phrase, ani hu, which was translated egō eimi (“I am”) in the LXX,[3] was an exclusive and recurring title for YHWH (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; etc.). Thus, this title, then, clearly denoted YHWH alone (which the Jews clearly understood, cf. John 8:59). Further, Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was not only seen in John 8:58 (as many assume), but note the marked progression starting in 8:24, then, vv. 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. It is when we take all the “I am” statements do we see the thrust of His claim.

So strong was this affirmation of deity that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had to mistranslate the present active indicative verb, eimi (“am”) in John 8:58 turning it into a past tense, “I have been” (NWT), as if Jesus was merely claiming to be older than Abraham. However, what immediately refutes this false notion is the response of the Jews in verse 59: They wanted to stone Him (legally, under Jewish law), which clearly shows that the Jews understood Jesus’ claim as an unequivocal claim to be God. Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was essentially a claim to be YHWH, not a mere judge, angel, or representative of God, but YHWH. Hence, salvation is predicated on believing that the Son, Jesus Christ, is the eternal God, YHWH, the great “I am.”

The Son of God—in Essence

Muslims deny that Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” was in fact a claim of deity. Muslims are taught that Jesus was only speaking metaphorically when He referred to Himself as the Son of God (cf. John 10:36). In other words, Muslims argue that Jesus was the Son of God by doing good works, glorifying God, being humble, etc., thus, Jesus was not the one and only (monogenēs)[4] Son in a unique sense.[5] They further point out that in both the OT and NT, “son(s) of God” was applied to both angels and men (cf. Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6; Luke 3:38). So, as Muslims argue, when Jesus claimed Himself to be God’s Son, it could not have been a title of deity. In response,

1) The meaning of biblical words and phrases are determined by the context (as with the term Elohim). In a Semitic (Jewish) context, to be the “son of” something meant that one possesses or shares the nature of that something. In Ephesians 2:2-3, for example, the unsaved are said to be the “sons of disobedience . . . by nature children of wrath” in that they possess the nature of disobedience and wrath. Unbelievers are sons of the devil (cf. John 8:44), whereas believers are sons of God by adoption (cf. Eph. 1:5), through faith (cf. Gal. 3:26).

2) Even though the phrase “son(s) of God” was applied to angels and men, when applied to Jesus, it was in a context of essence or nature. Whereas Christians are sons of God by adoption, Jesus is the Son of God by nature—which was a clear claim of deity.[6]

3) Son of God = God the Son (cf. John 1:18). In John 5:17-18, when Jesus said, “My Father is working until now,” note the response of the Jews (similar to John 8:59): [they] “were seeking all the more to kill Him.” But why? The Apostle John tells us: “because He . . . was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” The Jews (and the Apostle John) clearly understood that by claiming God was His Father, Jesus was claiming to be “equal with God.”

“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)

Many Christians rightfully point to this passage to show that Jesus claimed equality with God the Father. As with Jesus’ other undeniable claims to be God (cf. John 5:17-18; 8:58-59), the response of the Jews in verse 33 is an irrefutable confirmation of Jesus’ claim to be God: “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

However, it is not merely in verse 30 where we see a clear claim of equality with God. Note the passages leading up to verse 30. In verses 27-29, Jesus claims that He is the Shepherd and He gives His sheep eternal life and no one can snatch them from His or His Father’s hand. The Jews were familiar with Psalm 95:7: “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” Knowing that only YHWH can make this claim of having sheep in His hand as well as giving them eternal life (cf. Isa. 43:11), when Jesus made this exact claim and then added, “I and the Father are one,” it’s easy to understand the response of the Jews: “You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

Therefore, to answer the question of the objectors, Yes, Jesus claimed He was God in the most unequivocal and explicit way.

He claimed He was the egō eimi (“I am”; John 8:24 et al); Son of God (by nature; John 5:17-18; cf. 17:5), which was only applied to YHWH; and claimed that He has sheep in His hand and He is one in essence[7] with the Father (John 10:27-30). Jesus’ claims to be equal with God were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God.” We also see other unmistakable claims of deity such as when Jesus boldly stated He was “greater than the Temple” (Matt. 12:6); that He has “the authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10); that He gives His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45); etc.

The Worship of Jesus

We worship Jesus because He is truly God. Jesus came to earth as a humble servant (cf. Phil. 2:7-8); He came to serve, not to be served (cf. Mark 10:45). His mission on earth was to die for the redemption of sinners, for this reason, God became flesh. Hence, it was not His role on earth to demand His creatures to worship Him—believers did this naturally.

However, in John 5:22-23, Jesus states that the purpose of the Father giving all judgment to Him was for the result of all honoring the Son in the same way (kathōs) they would honor the Father. The honor that is given to the Father is clearly religious honor—namely, worship. Therefore, Jesus asserts His essential equality with God by expressing that the worship/honor given to the Father is to be given to the Son and if one does not worship/honor the Son, he or she “does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Further, we find many examples in both the OT and NT where Jesus was worshiped in a religious context[8] and He accepted it (e.g., Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14).

NOTES

[1] Yusufali’s translation.

[2] The pre-2011 NIV had a bracketed clause after “I am” that read: “the one I claim to be.”

[3] LXX is the abbreviation for the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”—the traditional number of scholars that translated the OT Hebrew into Greek originating in Alexandria, Egypt around 250 B.C.). The NT authors frequently utilized the LXX in their OT citations (esp. in Hebrews).

[4] Monogenēs means “one and only”/“unique one” (cf. John 1:14, 3:16) with no idea of “to beget,” “give birth,” or origin. Thus, monogenēs huios, means, “one and only Son” (NIV) or “unique Son” (cf. John 1:18: monogenēs theos, “God the One and Only”/“only begotten God”). The lexical meaning of the term is especially seen in Hebrews 11:17 where Isaac is called one and only (monogenēs) son, yet Isaac was not Abraham’s first or only son, but he was the unique son from whom God’s “covenant would be established” (Gen. 17:19-21).

[5] See Answering Islam, which is one of the best and most prolific sites dealing with Islam > http://www.answering-islam.org <

[6] The most substantial way that the “Son of God” is used is in a Trinitarian sense. Jesus Himself employs it that way in several places (cf. Matt. 11:27; 14:28-33; 16:16; 21:33-46; 26:63).

[7] The neuter hen (“one”) here denotes essential unity, not identity, as Oneness Pentecostals assert. In addition, it is one in essence as the context demands (cf. vv. 27-30 along with the response of the Jews in v. 33).

[8] A religious context is any such context where spirituality or holiness exists.