is Jesus God, a god, or the son of God? And why does it matter?

A macro look at a New Testament biblical passage focusing on the words Jesus and God forming the central message of Christianity. Warm sepia tone.First, let’s take a poll. It’s painless and no one will know what you chose, including me. 

Feel free to check back whenever you’d like. The results will update automatically. 😉

Let’s look at each of the options, and figure out where we stand. First, is Jesus God?

If you believe the Bible, He is. These are the most compelling Scriptures to me:

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” ~John 8:58

Remember, God the Father told Moses His name is I AM back in Exodus 3:14. Here, Jesus is not only claiming to be God, but to have existed before Abraham.

Did the Jews believe He was claiming to be God? Indeed they did, because after He said this, they picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy (John 8:59).

In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~John 1:1-2

I’m not sure how that could be anymore clear. Sure, the construct of calling Jesus “the Word” is a little confusing. John had a way of writing like that. But if you replace the word Word with Jesus (scholars agree that Word here refers to Jesus) it’s incontrovertible.

And one more:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” ~Revelation 22:13

It is clear the person speaking these words in Revelation 22:13 is Jesus because in verse 16, the Bible reads: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”

Why is this significant? First, because it is the same thing God the Father said earlier in Revelation: “I am the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.” ~ Revelation 1:8 He also said it in Isaiah 44:6 “This is what the Lord says–Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: ‘I am the First and the Last; there is no other God.”

So if God the Father will not share is glory with anyone else (Isaiah 42:8) , and no god was formed before Him or will outlive Him (Isaiah 43:10), then what can we conclude except that Jesus is God?

But how is that possible? How can God and Jesus both be God?

When we’re talking about God in this way, the name refers to the nature (the what) of God–the substance/essence of being. God is what they are, much like humans are what you and I are. The Father, the Son, are distinct persons. Just like you are not me even though both of us are human. So, God is what the Father and Son are, not who they are. Except then it gets really confusing because the New Testament calls God the Father, God, and calls Jesus the Son of God, Christ Jesus, Lord Jesus. No wonder the issue of the Trinity is confusing. Perhaps it’s safest to say that God the Father and God the Son are both divine. That is their nature. Together with the Holy Spirit (more in a later post), they form one God.

Clearing up some misconceptions: Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that Jesus is not God, but the Son of God, who is only a god. 

They base this on two Scriptures.

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

Here, the word for “firstborn” in Greek can either mean that He was the eldest (which we know to be true of His birth order on earth), or of preeminent rank. Both of these are true, as you’ll see if you continue reading Colossians 16-20:

for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.
He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

These Scriptures are not talking about Jesus being the first thing created. He already existed and was the both the Creator and purpose for Creation. Also here, we see that Jesus is the “firstborn” from among the dead. Meaning that because He is resurrected, we can come after Him and be resurrected.

The J’sW also misappropriate Revelation 3:14: “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following:“This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation:””

It’s clear from the NET version that Jesus is the originator of God’s creation, not the first created being. Other translations read that He was “the beginning of God’s creation.” The same argument as above in Colossians 15-20 applies. Jesus already existed and was the pivotal in Creation.

photo credit: Suus Wansink via photopin cc
photo credit: Suus Wansink via photopin cc

Let me guess, you’re getting tired of the semantic game. Are your thoughts spinning? Do you want to go curl up in a little ball or go punch something? Understandable reactions.

Why does all this matter?

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~John 8:31-32

It’s important to know what we believe, even when the subject is as difficult as the Trinity. 

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough…For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. ~2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15

Whether you call Jesus God, or the Son of God may be a semantic issue. The real question is whether you’re giving Jesus the glory and honor ascribed to Him by God the Father. All of Creation was made through Jesus and for Him. He is seated in heaven at the right hand of God. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He will return and judge us. Will He find you worthy?

Questions, comments, problem verses? Inspirational verses?

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9 thoughts on “is Jesus God, a god, or the son of God? And why does it matter?

  1. The ladies Bible study I am currently attending is studying the book of Hebrews. It strongly correlates to this discussion! Hebrews 1:1-3a – God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

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  2. The word “I AM” doesn’t claim divinty, anyone can say I am. The word “ego eimi” if it really meant Jehovah, it wouldn’t have been translated but it have been written Jehovah. Besides, others said it: Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” (John 9:9), so the beggar also may become a divine!! But it actually means “I am the Messiah”, and this is very clear with what he said to the Samaritan woman:

    Joh 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ): when he is come, he will declare unto us all things. Joh 4:26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

    Which was said in other translation:

    (MKJV) Jesus said to her, I AM, the One speaking to you.

    This is a very clear proof that he didn’t mean to claim divinity by that word.
    http://jesus-is-muslim.net/did-jesus-really-say-i-am-god/
    When Jesus was accused of blasphemy, he quoted another verse which totally disproves that he is God; Psalm 82:6 :

    “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’

    Jesus quotes it saying:

    Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? Joh 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), Joh 10:36 say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

    Jesus is simply saying, these judges in the OT were called gods, although for sure they are not God, so what’s wrong that I am also called son of God as I am sanctified by God? I am called the son of God as these judges were called gods, are these judges really God? The same thing applies to me being called son of God. It’s just a metaphor.

    If Jesus really believed that he is God, why didn’t he quote Isaiah 9:6 which Christians always quoted to prove that he is God instead of comparing himself with some people who are called gods? Simply because he didn’t believe that he is God and he was denying the Jewish accusation.

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    1. Dear J is Muslim:
      Hey, thanks for commenting. Your view is certainly unique, and I’m happy to hear it, but I can’t say I agree with it.

      The word “I AM” in itself does not claim divinity, but when put in context, “Before Abraham was I AM” at least implies that Jesus is claiming to have existed before Abraham, the father of the Jewish faith. The way Jesus uses the phrase, and the fact that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him for blasphemy (John 8:59), means that at least the Jews at the time believe that Jesus was claiming to be The I AM, God. The words, I AM would not have been translated into Jehovah, because “Jehovah” is really a constructed of YHWH with the vowels from Adonai, plus this passage in the New Testament is written in Greek, not Hebrew.

      Even if you chose to disbelieve John 8:58, there are many other biblical passages either direct or indirect that claim Jesus’ divinity. The first few verses in John being a prime example.

      The passage you mention in John 10 is difficult, it’s true. But Jesus is not saying “I am not God” in the passage. He’s basically saying, it doesn’t matter whether you call me God or not, you can tell who I am based on my miraculous works. If Jesus wasn’t from God, He wouldn’t have been able to do the miracles He did. Jesus said “But if I do his [the Father’s] work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” ~John 10:38

      If Jesus truly didn’t believe He had the authority of God, He would not have allowed people to worship Him.

      Be careful, my friend, so that 2 Corinthians 11:4-15 doesn’t apply to you.

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  3. Isaiah 7:14 ” behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel ” meaning = God with us
    John 1:14 and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.= JESUS
    John 10: 30 I and my Father are one.
    John 10: 38 The Father is in me and I in Him.
    John 14:9 He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
    John 20:28 and Thomas said unto Him, my Lord and my God ( Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for calling him God )
    Col. 1:16 for by Him ” JESUS ” were all things created.
    Col. 2:9 for in Him ” JESUS ” dwell all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
    ! Tim. 3:16 God was made manifest in the flesh.
    Phil.2:6 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
    Only God can be worshipped, Jesus was, only God can forgive sins, Jesus did forgive
    God- who was, who is, who is to come= JESUS.
    Rev.1: 17 fear not I am the first and the last.

    May God be with you.

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