New Testament Declares Jesus' Deity
Beginning with John the Baptist in the early chapters of Matthew we find a picture of Jesus developing which does not take long to come into focus. As it begins with Jesus' birth declaring Him to be " God with us ", chapter 3 opens the introduction of the prophet John the Baptist as the one preparing the way for the Messiah. " For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." - Mt.3:3. As we look at the passage in Isaiah that this verse is referring to we find out a little more about who that Lord is for whom John was preparing the way. Of course we know that the Lord was Jesus but it doesn't stop there. " The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." - Is.40:3. We see through comparing the two scriptures that the one, Jesus, for whom John was preparing the way, is called Jehovah. You will notice the word, LORD, is all capital letters indicating it is from the Hebrew, Jehovah. The verse ends by saying make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Matthew's account is confirming that Jesus is Jehovah God.
I often wondered what the big deal for Nathaniel was when Jesus told him in response to the question, " Whence knowest thou me?" that " Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." - Jn.1:48. Nathaniel responded in a most unusual way. " Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel."- Jn.1:49. Here Nathaniel is questioning the value of some one from Nazareth and suddenly, just because Jesus said He saw him under the fig tree he immediately proclaims, You're the Son of God; You're the King of Israel. This seemingly insignificant event that any prophet in Israel could have done, immediately convinced Nathaniel that Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel, and thus the long awaited Messiah.
Nathaniel's response makes sense to me only in light of a verse in Zech.3:10 which talks about the coming Messiah, or BRANCH. It says, " In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree." Could it be that Nathaniel understood his confrontation with Jesus to be in fulfillment of this verse? His reaction to Jesus seeing him under the fig tree would give credence to this possibility. And when we look at that verse, and the title the BRANCH we think of who the BRANCH is. He is identified by Jeremiah to be Jehovah Our Righteousness. Also, the title Nathaniel ascribed to Jesus, is very interesting: "the King of Israel" and that connected with "the Son of God". This is a direct reference to Deity. No other king of Israel was called "the Son of God". Is.44:6 says, " Thus saith the LORD (YHWH) the King of Israel and His redeemer the LORD of hosts (YHWH of armies); I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Jesus is also the "first and the last" in the book of Revelation as we have seen.
Furthermore, the word "saw"... "when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee", is from the greek word, eidw - eido which is also translated "know" 218 times in the N.T. This word suggests that Jesus knew Nathaniel's thoughts. For example, Matt.12:25 uses the word in that context, " And Jesus knew their thoughts..." If in fact Jesus was telling Nathaniel, who by the way had been looking for the coming of the Messiah (John 1:45), what he had been thinking, and not just where he had been sitting, I can see how he could have been so profoundly affected by such a seemingly simple statement. We must understand that only a very small portion of what Jesus said and did has been recorded for us. His ministry took three to three and one half years yet we only have a couple hours worth of reading concerning it. Read the last verse of John's gospel. But of all the things Jesus said we can see what the people were understanding as He preached by the responses that have been recorded. For instance, Jn.5:18, " Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." Jn.10:33 says " ...For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Notice here also they understood Him to make claim to deity and connected that to the charge of blasphemy. It is this definition of blasphemy that we will concern ourselves with relative to the charge against Jesus " that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."
In Lk.5:20-21 we read, " And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Do you see the connection they made again? Jesus made a statement in John 8:58 that so enraged the religious leaders of His day that they immediately attempted to stone Him. He said simply, " Before Abraham was, I am." The Watchtower Society has reinterpreted this verse. The text tamperers themselves understand what it is saying that's why they react to the verse the same way the Pharisees reacted to the statement. If it was not a declaration of deity they would not have bothered to devote so much time to changing its meaning. To the deeply religious Jewish mind of Jesus' day it meant only one thing. They interpreted this saying in light of Exodus 3:14; " And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." The reaction to Jesus claiming to be I AM was, stone Him. To the critic who says, that's not what the verse means, that is what those who wanted to stone Him thought He meant. And they heard Him say it with their own ears. They were there! And this was not the first time. We have recorded for us the words of Jesus in Jn.5:23, " That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father..." Did anyone else ever say such a thing? " Even as " denotes His claim to equality with God.
Obviously the New Testament covers allot of information and would consequently have allot to say about this point. To keep the book as short and to the point as I can, I will only concern myself with a few examples of Christ's Deity being set forth in the New Testament which is specifically the point of this chapter. Jesus said, in John 5:39, " Search the scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." Jesus is making a simple and direct statement here saying, the scriptures testify of Him. The word "testify" is translated "bear witness" 25 times. It is also translated "bear record" 13 times. This was a significant statement seeing as how the scriptures He was referring to was the Old Testament scriptures, for the New Testament scriptures had not even been started yet. It was also in this same chapter that Jesus said," ...All men should honour [twice translated as "value"] the Son, even as they honour the Father." Jesus is again claiming equality with the Father. For how can any one less than God deserve the same honour.
As we continue to examine what the New Testament has to say about Messiah's Deity, and Jesus own claims, as well as how His listeners understood His claims, we can not miss the fact that Jesus claimed to be allot for Himself without ever saying, " Thus saith the LORD " as the Old Testament prophets had done. For example, " I am the bread of life..."- Jn.6:36. " I am the light of the world..." - Jn.9:5. " I am the door..." - Jn.10:7. " I am the good shepherd..." - Jn.10:11,14. " I am the way, the truth, and the life..." - Jn.14:6. "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." - Mt.24:35; Mk.13:31; Lk.21:33. " Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: " - Jn.11:25. " Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep
my saying, he shall never see death." - Jn.8:51
Who in the entire scriptures has ever made such claims for themselves. Not prophets nor angels. These are unique claims which are descriptive of Jehovah only; as it is also in forgiving sins. You nor I nor any other man or angel can forgive someone of their sins against God. If we could, we could save them: for sin is that which condemns us. Jesus furthermore made Himself the object of our faith," He that believeth on me...shall never die. - Jn.11:25-26. 24 " I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" - Jn.8:24. " Without me ye can do nothing" - Jn.15:5. " If ye love me, keep MY commandments" - Jn.14:15. Believe in Me; keep my commandments; Love me more than father, mother, children, brothers and sisters and even own life
( Lk.14:26-27). " If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw ALL men unto ME " - Jn.12:32.What kind of a man would say such things about himself. That's what the unbelieving Jewish leaders were asking, "Whom makest thou thyself? - Jn.8:53.
Even the Pharisees understood Him to be bearing record of Himself, "...Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered...them, Though I bear record of myself [He admitted it] my record IS true;" Jn.8:13-14. Today such an one would be called a cult leader. Therefore, Jesus must be God. For if He was just a man, or even an angel, all these claims would be blasphemy. Think about it. Would you make such claims for yourself? Would you follow a preacher that did? Furthermore, the verse in Jn.8:24 also confirms Jesus as the "I Am". You will notice that the word "he" is in italics indicating that it is not part of the original text. What He actually is saying is, " If you believe not that I AM, you will die in your sins." It is pointless to argue that Jesus was saying , if you believe not that I exist; they obviously believed that. The New World translation takes the same words "ego eimi" ( I am ) and translates them "I am" in verse 24 and " I have been " in verse 58. "I am" and "I have been" are two different things i.e. past, and present.
Then the scriptures show us that Jesus received worship from others. First of all from angels,
" Let all the angels of God worship him;" - Heb.1:6. Even the Watch Tower Society's version of the Bible, the New World Translation, in their long war against the Deity of Jesus, was not bold enough to mistranslate this scripture. They use the word worship. Note Peter's reaction to worship. " And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man." - Acts 10:25-26. Peter would not accept worship. Neither would the angel in Rev.22:8-9, " And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy bretheren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. Also in Rev.19:10, " And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy bretheren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Twice we see this angel refusing worship and twice the angel says " Worship God ".
Nevertheless, we find Jesus receiving and accepting worship 12 times in the scriptures: Mt.2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 18:26; 28:9-17. Mk. 5:6; 15:19. Lk.24:52. Jn.9:38. Also Mt.2:2. The Watch Tower Society, commonly known as Jehovah's Witnesses, has used the words " Did obeisance " instead of using the word worship in an attempt to prove that Jesus did not accept worship. The meaning of Jesus accepting worship is obvious to them. The word "worship", is from the greek word proskuneo which means worship. The New World Translation translates this word as " worship " in Jn.4:20-24. Acts 7:43; 8:27; 24:11. 1 Co.14:25. Heb.1:6; 11:21. Rev.4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 9:20; 11:1,16; 13:4,8,12,15; 14:7,9,11; 15:4; 16:2; 19:4,10,20; 20:4; 22:8-9.
This is allot of places where they use the word worship. But when it comes to Jesus in the gospels they translate the exact same word as obeisance. This demonstrates an inconsistency in their use of words which reflects their bias against the Deity of Jesus. Even Jesus said, " Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve;" - Mt.4:10. And I would say, for Jesus to accept worship in light of this passage, is making a statement in no uncertain terms. An interesting thing about the passage in Mt.4; when Jesus said to Satan in vs. 7, " Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;" is that Jesus was quoting from Deut.6:16 which says, " Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God..." Here, the verse begins with the plural " Ye ". However, in Mt.4: the verse begins with the singular " Thou ". This difference is not found in Mt.4:10. It seems that Jesus is making a direct personal statement to Satan, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Yet we see that it was Jesus who was being tempted. " Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." - Mt.4:1.
Continuing on, Jesus said concerning Himself, " What is this then that is written, The Stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner. Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."- Lk.20:17-18. The apostle Peter continues with this theme; " ...Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded...The stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense..."- 1 Ptr. 2:6-8. Paul also calls attention to this same theme in Ro.9:33, " As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence..." There are three O.T. scriptures that these N.T. verses are referring to; Ps.118:22-23; Is.28:16; and Is.8:13-15. Up to this point from the N.T. we understand that these scriptures refer to Jesus. Particularly interesting however, is that Is.8:13 identifies this stone of stumbling and rock of offense as Jehovah. " Sanctify the LORD of hosts ( YHWH ts'va'ot) Himself ; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence...and many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken." The Rock spoken of by the New Testament and the prophets clearly refers to Jesus. When He is named in the O.T. He is called
Jehovah of Hosts .
Another verse that is often overlooked is when Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often
would I have gathered thy children together...and ye would not!" When did Jesus send prophets to Israel to gather them together unto Himself? Notice in verse 34 that Jesus said that He Himself was the One who does the sending of prophets etc and then holds them accountable for the blood shed from Abel to Zechariah. In no uncertain terms Jesus said, I would have gathered you together but you killed my messengers. Yet the Old Covenant gives us instances of YHWH doing this. "And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear. And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD." - 2 Chron.24:18-21.
" Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, O, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day. " - Jer.44:4-6. It's interesting that God promised to make Israel desolate in response to the way they treated the prophets and their message. Jesus repeated the exact same thing because of Israel's rejection of Him and His prophets; " Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." - Mt.23:38. It's no wonder that a comparison of Rev.22:6 and 16 reveal Jesus as "the Lord God of the holy prophets."
I might also make one last point concerning Messiah's deity in the N.T. And even this would not exhaust the subject. Is.43:11 says, " I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no Saviour." And again, " ...Who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." - Is.45:21-22. Jehovah is confirming in these passages that He alone is the only Saviour of mankind and there is no other.
Having said this we turn to the book of Titus in the New Testament. Note the following verses: 1:3-4, " But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour." 2:10,13, " Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things...Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." 3:4,6. " But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared...Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." The Name "God"
and "Jesus Christ" are used interchangeably in these verses of scripture. Remember also the words of Matthew and Luke concerning the incarnation, " His name shall be called...God with us;" and " Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord". Never do we read of angels or prophets as being the Saviour of the world. Only of God alone. Therefore Jesus must also be that God. Suffice it to say that the New Testament does in fact teach that Jesus is God the Son in various ways.
The Tri-Unity Of God
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