I've divided his page into three sections: The Son is God, Jesus Christ is God, and Jesus is Jehovah. Readers may wonder, isn't the Son Jesus, and isn't God Jehovah? Yes, and Yes. But there's a method to my madness. 'Oneness' Pentecostals, who define 'the Son' as the 'humanity' of Jesus, can read here that He is eternal God. Meanwhile, Jehovah's Witnesses freely concede that Jesus Christ is a god. But that He is Jehovah God, they will not allow. They say He's one of the others (no kidding!). So the second section is for them. The final section: that He is God, is for those who already know the God-census of the Bible stands at one, and one alone.
The Son is God
God the Father addresses His beloved Son as "God" in Hebrews 1:8:
"But to the Son He says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." (Hebrews 1:8).
This is a quote from Psalm 45: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." (Psalm 45:6). Some interpreters speculate that this and similar psalms were used in royal coronations. Jehovah's Witnesses, 'Oneness' Pentecostals, and others who find the thought of "the Son" addressed as "God" troubling try to water down Hebrews 1:8 by noting that the original "King" addressed in Psalm 45 wasn't really God at all. In spite of the fact that Israel, unlike Egypt and Babylon, was monotheistic by design, and did not did not acknowledge great kings like David and Solomon as divine, they assert that these verses really do apply, fully and completely, to their all-too-human successors.
But the New Testament reading of the Psalms is premised on the realization that the grand promises they lavish on God's Messiah aren't really about David, Solomon et al. How do we know this? Because these promises didn't come true for David or Solomon. Psalm 16 promises that "Your Holy One" will not see corruption: "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (Psalm 16:10). But that never came true for David: "'Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.'" (Acts 2:29-31). So did a solemn promise of God fall to the ground? That cannot be! The apostles knew that the Psalms spoke of another, a far greater King than David or Solomon, Who is truthfully addressed as "O God".
"Psalm 45, therefore, acknowledged by even Jewish interpreters as messianic, could hardly be overlooked by the author to the Hebrews in advancing his purpose. He saw, as all can see, that the historic Davidic line failed to establish a throne 'forever and ever.' The disaster of 586 BC, when Jerusalem fell to Babylon, made that painfully obvious." (The Deity of Christ (Theology in Community), Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, pp. 46-47).
Thus two possibilities remain: either the Bible is a collection of failed human dreams and myths, or Jesus is,— really is, is not so addressed only in flattery,— 'God.'
In a list of scriptures addressed "to the Son" (Hebrews 1:8), the letter to Hebrews quotes Psalm 102, a hymn of praise to the Creator God, Jehovah:
"To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem...Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will have no end." (Psalm 102:21-27).
The author of Hebrews adds this majestic hymn of praise to his list of scriptures addressed "to the Son":
So we learn from Hebrews 1:8-12 that "the Son" is eternal God, the Creator!
The angels of God are commanded to worship the Son: "But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.'" (Hebrews 1:6).
Can many lawfully be worshipped? Only one: "Then Jesus said to him, 'Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" (Matthew 4:10); "And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!'" (Revelation 19:10).
Where is this scripture found, in which the angels are commanded to worship the Son? It is in Deuteronomy 32:43 of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament:
"Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people." (Deuteronomy 32:43 Brenton Septuagint).
This is not a phrase the translators inserted; the Hebrew basis for it is found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. Who are the angels commanded to worship? The letter to Hebrews says, the Son; as the original context makes clear, Almighty God, Jehovah.
The author of the letter to Hebrews takes it for granted that his readers will acknowledge that the text of Deuteronomy 32:43 refers to the Son, i.e. the Logos. Why? Possibly from a interpretive tradition that the judgments of God's vengeance are executed by the Logos. The apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon here ascribes the slaying of the firstborn of Egypt to the Word: "All things were lying in peace and silence, and night in her swift course was half spent, when thy almighty Word leapt from thy royal throne in heaven into the midst of that doomed land like a relentless warrior, bearing the sharp sword of thy inflexible decree, and stood and filled it all with death, his head touching the heavens, his feet on earth." (Wisdom of Solomon, 18:14-17). This is the Son.
John said: "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20).
The Jehovah's Witnesses refer "This is the true God" to "Him who is true", i.e. the Father of the Son. But that runs somewhat contrary to normal grammar, where 'houtos', 'this', tends to tie in with the closer possible referent, not the further: "A demonstrative pronoun is a pointer, singling out an object in a special way. The three demonstrative pronouns used in the NT are 'houtos,' 'ekeinos,' and 'hode'....'houtos' regularly refers to the near object ('this'), while 'ekeinos' regularly refers to the far object ('that')." (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel B. Wallace, p. 325). John could have expressed himself ungrammatically; but if he did not, this is a clear statement of the eternal Deity of the Son, Jesus Christ.
Gazing into Jesus' face reveals the Father to us:
"'If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.' Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, "Show us the Father"?'" (John 14:7-9).
We see God's glory in His face:
"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Jesus is the "brightness of His glory", the "express image": "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..." (Hebrews 1:2-3). An image so perfect that Philip, gazing in His face, saw as it were the original!
God created all things: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). And He created alone; there are no angelic co-creators nor 'subordinate gods' known to the Bible: "Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: 'I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself...'" (Isaiah 44:24).
"...giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,...He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:12-18).
For Whom did He create these things? For Himself. All things were created for Jehovah God's glory:
"The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom." (Proverbs 16:4);
"Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him." (Isaiah 43:7).
"...[F]or himself": for God the Son:
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16).
"Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:16).
The Jehovah's Witnesses understand this to mean to Jesus is a lesser, subordinate being, but the Jews were far more perceptive. They understood that, in claiming to be the Son of God, Jesus was claiming Deity: "Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.'" (John 5:18-19).
The idiom, 'son of', means 'of the order of', as in, "Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, 'Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?'" (2 Kings 2:3); "And the sons of the singers gathered together from the countryside around Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites..." (Nehemiah 12:28). This is an understandable idiom given that a son, unlike a creation, is of the same nature as his father; pigs beget pigs not rodents, sheep beget sheep not lice, etc. The royal psalms speak of the King to come as the firstborn Son of God the Father: "He shall cry to Me, 'You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.' Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." (Psalm 89:26-27). Is this language oriental flattery, meaning no more than when pagan peoples hymned their kings? Or is it literally true, as is fitting to the dignity of Holy Writ?
It's downright perilous not to put your your trust in the Son:
"Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him." (Psalm 2:12).
But the Bible counsels against trusting in man:
"Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help...Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them..." (Psalm 146:3-6).
"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7).
Can the Son be a mere man, if blessing comes with trusting in Him? Obey the command: "Sever yourselves from such a man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for of what account is he?" (Isaiah 2:22). . .and trust Jesus.
"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6).
"Wonderful counsellor — And so Christ is, because he hath been the counsellor of his church in all ages, and the author and giver of all those excellent counsels delivered not only by the apostles, but also by the prophets, and hath gathered and enlarged, and preserved his church, by admirable counsels and methods of his providence, and, in a word, hath in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (Colossians 2:3). Mighty God — This title can agree to no man but Christ, who was God as well as man, to whom the title of God or Jehovah is given, both in the Old and New Testament. And it is a true observation, that this Hebrew word El is never used in the singular number, of any creature, but only of the almighty God. The father — The father of eternity. Who, though as man he was then unborn, yet was and is from everlasting to everlasting." (Wesley Notes).
(According to Bible idiom, the possessor of any quality may be called the father of it, as in proper names: "Abihail = the father of strength" (Hitchcock Bible Names). As the eternal Logos, Jesus is thus father of eternity.)
We are commanded to worship the Son just as we worship the Father:
"...that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." (John 5:23).
Our God is a jealous God: "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 6:13-14). If the Son were a creature as some claim, this demand for equal honor would be strange indeed.
Many newer translations of the Bible prefer a stripped-down text, based on the very small sample of ancient manuscripts which chance has preserved. The Jehovah's Witnesses, no doubt with a sigh of relief, turned to these newer texts for their New World Translation. But was this wise?:
They explaln that He is a god, not the god. . .but wait a minute, just how many gods are there anyway?
"'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'" (Revelation 1:8).
The word translated "Almighty" is 'pantocrator,' meaning ruler of all. It's used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, of the LORD God:
"Wilt thou find out the traces of the Lord? or hast thou come to the end of that which the Almighty ['pantocrator' παντοκρατωρ; Hebrew Shaddai] has made?" (Job 11:7 Brenton Septuagint).
"And now, O my Lord, the Almighty ['pantocrator' παντοκρατωρ] Lord God of Israel, confirm the word for ever which thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and his house..." (2 Samuel 7:25 Brenton Septuagint).
"And let thy name be established and magnified for ever, men saying, Lord, Lord, Almighty ['pantocrator' παντοκρατωρ] God of Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee." (1 Chronicles 17:24 Brenton Septuagint).
Those who trust in man are under a curse:
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man
But those who trust in the Son have everlasting life:
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36).
Are there many Saviors?:
"I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:11).
The Son is our Savior:
"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14)
The Jehovah's Witnesses point out that national champions like Othniel are also called 'Saviors': "When the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer ['yasha'] for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother." (Judges 3:9). But Othniel and his rank saved only as from the paw of the bear and into the maw of the lion; those whom they saved, died. This is not so with our Savior! He has ever saved His people:
"They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea." (Psalm 106:21-22).
"And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away...And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened...And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds." (Revelation 20:11-12, NWT).
The New World Translation helpfully provides as a cross reference for verse 11, Hebrews 12:23:
"...in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect." (Hebrews 12:23 NWT).
He who is seated upon the great white throne is God. God the Father...or God the Son? Who is the Judge of mankind?:
"For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son...And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is." (John 5:22-27, NWT).
Created things are transient and pass away. Only God abides from everlasting to everlasting:
"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
God the Father is eternal, as is "His Son Jesus Christ," to whom belongs "that eternal life which was with the Father:"
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life -- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us - that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:1-3).
Jesus is Jehovah God
Isaiah prophesied that God Himself would visit His people:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken...O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God!'" (Isaiah 40:3-9).
This great prophecy of God's coming to His people was fulfilled in Christ's first advent. So says the New Testament: "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight."'" (Matthew 3:1-3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4).
Although this author's 'Isaiah-count' is off, he notes trenchantly that the very word 'gospel,' or 'good news,' comes from Isaiah 40:9, ευαγγελιζομενος (LXX): "The fact that the very word 'Gospel' was taken by the earliest Christians from Deutero-Isaiah (Isa. 40:9) is an indication of the key importance of these chapters for them, as is the fact that all four evangelists highlight the way the beginning of the Gospel story, the ministry of John the Baptist, fulfilled the beginning of Deutero-Isaiah's prophecy of the new Exodus (Isa. 40:3-4)." (Richard Bauckham, God Crucified, Kindle location 488).
John explained his mission in terms of Isaiah 40: "Then they said to him, 'Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?' He said: 'I am "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD," as the prophet Isaiah said.'" (John 1:22-23).
The herald announces, 'Behold your God!' This is the good news. There's no room in Isaiah's prophecy for any two thousand year gap between the 'voice crying' and the One whose advent he's announcing. So either this is the blown prophecy of all time: either John the Baptist and Jesus goofed big-time in identifying John with Isaiah's 'voice crying in the wilderness'. . .or else Jesus Christ is Jehovah God, come to save His people!
Malachi prophesied that the Lord Himself would visit His temple:
"'Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,' Says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:1).
This prophecy has to be filed in the 'fulfilled prophecy' slot, because it's already happened. So Mark tells us: "As it is written in the Prophets: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'" (Mark 1:2). Jesus identified John the Baptist as the fore-runner of Malachi 3:1: "For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'" (Matthew 11:10). So did John the Baptist prepare the way in vain, for One who wasn't coming? No, Jesus is "the Lord, whom you seek", who suddenly came to His temple!
The Temple at Jerusalem was sacred to none but the living God, Jehovah. And Jesus 'came suddenly' to "His temple", carried as a baby, as a twelve-year old boy, and ultimately to cleanse and purify: "Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, 'It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer," but you have made it a "den of thieves."' Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them." (Matthew 21:12-14).
Isaiah prophesied a "stone of stumbling":
"The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; They shall fall and be broken, Be snared and taken." (Isaiah 8:13-15).
Isaiah's "stone of stumbling" is "the LORD of hosts". It's interesting to see the use the New Testament authors make of this "stone of stumbling":
"Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,' and 'A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.' They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." (1 Peter 2:7-8);
"...For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'" (Romans 9:32-33).
To the New Testament authors, Isaiah's "stone of stumbling" is Jesus Christ. The Bible testifies: Jesus Christ is the LORD of Hosts!
Jesus is the Rock of Israel:
Who is the Rock of Israel? Jehovah God!:
Are there lots of rocks? To listen to the Jehovah's Witnesses, you'd think this Rock part of a huge rock collection. But the Bible counts One:
Jesus identified Himself to John as "the first and the last":
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,'...Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:10-18).
Who is the First and the Last? Jehovah God!:
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The historian Josephus offers a similar identification: "What are the things then that we are commanded or forbidden? They are simple, and easily known. The first command is concerning God, and affirms that God contains all things, and is a being every way perfect and happy, self-sufficient, and supplying all other beings; the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things." (Josephus, Against Apion, Book II, Chapter 23).
John the Baptist said that Jesus Christ is "above all": "He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all." (John 3:31). This is the Lord who came down from heaven: "The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven." (1 Corinthians 15:47).
The Bible tells us that the LORD is "most high above all the earth": "For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods." (Psalm 97:9); "The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?" (Psalm 113:4-6).
Peter calls Him "Lord of all": "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all..." (Acts 10:36).
And who is the Lord of all? Jehovah God!: "Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan." (Joshua 3:11).
We call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. According to Paul, calling on the name of the Lord Jesus is calling on the "Lord over all": "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.'" (Romans 10:11-13). Jesus Christ is the Lord of all the earth!
The Jehovah's Witnesses restrict the name 'Jehovah' to 'the Father-only', though there's no Biblical warrant for so doing. To the contrary, the Bible explicitly assigns the name 'Jehovah' to the Son as well:
"'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS'" (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
The Jehovah's Witnesses nonchalantly note that Jerusalem is called by the same name (33:16), and of what significance can a name be that's so common? But when has it been unusual for a bride to take her husband's name?: "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (Revelation 21:2). Israel are the people of the Messiah, and their titles can be shared without embarrassment: "The Messiah and HIs history are not presented in the Old Testament as something separate from, or superadded to, Israel. The history, the institutions, and the predictions of Israel run up into Him. He is the typical Israelite, nay, typical Israel itself — alike the crown, the completion, and the representative of Israel. He is the Son of God and the Servant of the Lord; but in that highest and only true sense, which had given its meaning to all the preparatory development." (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Kindle location 3487).
Jesus lives up to His name, "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS"...because He is the Lord, and He is our righteousness!:
"For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:3-4);
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith..." (Philippians 3:8-9);
"But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.'" (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
Isaiah saw "the LORD of hosts" in the temple:
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.'" (Isaiah 6:1-5).
Whom did he see? John relates that it was Christ's glory he saw: God the Son. After quoting Isaiah 6:10, delivered to Isaiah at that same occasion, he says,
"These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue..." (John 12:41-42).
Here are several commentators' thoughts on Isaiah's vision: "In this figurative vision, the temple is thrown open to view, even to the most holy place. The prophet, standing outside the temple, sees the Divine Presence seated on the mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. See God upon his throne. This vision is explained, John 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory, and spake of Him, which is a full proof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. See God's temple, his church on earth, filled with his glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God's temple. And yet he dwells in every contrite heart. See the blessed attendants by whom his government is served. Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means 'burners;' they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God's commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory." (Matthew Henry).
"The apostle writes: 'These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.' Therefore, He whom the prophet saw in his vision was our Lord Jesus Christ, throned in His rightful glory ere He came to effect redemption. From that majesty He stooped to humiliation and suffering and to the sorrows of the Cross.
"Who shall fathom that descending
The Aramaic Targum of Isaiah 6 places the 'Memra' or Word of God on the scene, bridging John's interpretation: "Finally, in ver. 8, the prophet hears the voice of the Memra of Jehovah speaking the words of vv. 9, 10. It is intensely interesting to notice that in St. John xii. 40, these words are prophetically applied in connection with Christ. Thus St. John applies to the Logos what the Targum understands of the Memra of Jehovah." (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix, Kindle location 26078).
Psalm 68 sings a song of triumph:
"Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him...The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands; the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place. You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious, that the LORD God might dwell there." (Psalm 68:1-18).
So to the Psalmist, the One who ascended on High is the LORD God. It's obvious to Paul who this refers to: Jesus Christ!:
"Therefore He says: 'When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.' (Now this, 'He ascended' -- what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)" (Ephesians 4:8-9).
Jesus is a captor who liberates:
To do battle with our enemies, the Lord descended and left his throne; but now the fight is finished, he returns to his glory; high above all things is he now exalted. “Thou hast led captivity captive.” A multitude of the sons of men are the willing captives of Messiah’s power. As great conquerors of old led whole nations into captivity, so Jesus leads forth from the territory of his foe a vast company as the trophies of his mighty grace. From the gracious character of his reign it comes to pass that to be led into captivity by him is for our captivity to cease, or to be itself led captive; a glorious result indeed. The Lord Jesus destroys his foes with their own weapons; he puts death to death, entombs the grave, and leads captivity captive."
Some interpreters offer a more 'cosmic' setting for the events of the Psalm, but if we may be allowed to jump to a foreign language, the lower places need not be infernal, but simply our familiar earth: "The places of the sky are called loca supera ‘upper places,’ and these belong to the gods; the places of the earth are loca infera ‘lower places,’ and these belong to mankind." (Terentius Varro, Marcus. On the Latin Language, Book V, Chapter 16, Delphi Complete Works of Varro (Illustrated) (Delphi Ancient Classics Book 80) (Kindle Locations 6120-6121).) None of these interpretive difficulties touch the main point. If we keep our eyes on the prize and look to see who is leading the procession, then this correspondence is an evident proof of the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul understood what he was saying.
"In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them." (Zechariah 12:8).
Jesus Christ "humbled himself" and made himself of no reputation:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8).
He took on our nature in all its humility, and "learned obedience": a new experience, according to the author of Hebrews: "...who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." (Hebrews 5:7-8). This is why, although it's not His native estate to come before the Father as a humble petitioner, in His humility, having taken on our estate, He did so.
Now in His glory He hears our prayers. Paul called upon the Lord...and Jesus picked up on the line!: "Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). When the Lord to whom he prayed answered him, "My strength is made perfect in weakness", Paul understood "my strength" to be "the power of Christ"!
Stephen also prayed to the Lord: "And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not charge them with this sin.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:59-60). Truly it's as the Bible teaches, "O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come." (Psalm 65:2).
The LORD will come with all the saints:
"Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You." (Zechariah 14:5).
Sounds very similar.
There is One Savior of Israel: "Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no savior besides Me." (Hosea 13:4). This Savior is the LORD: "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2).
The LORD, the only savior, forgives the sins of His people:
"I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.'" (Isaiah 44:22).
"For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great...Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins." (Psalm 25:11-18).
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." (Psalm 32:1-2).
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases...as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:2-12).
It is God Himself who insists upon His unique competence in this area:
"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43:25).
"The authority to forgive sins is uniquely the prerogative of Deity. When Jehovah graciously descended and stood with Moses declaring His own name, one of the significant self-descriptions was that He forgives iniquity and transgression and sin (Exodus 34:5-7)." (Beginning at Moses, Michael P. V. Barrett, Kindle location 2644). Believers look to one alone as Savior:
"He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." (Psalm 62:6-7).
"To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty Dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1:25).
This is why the Pharisees realized the magnitude of the claim Jesus was making about Himself when He forgave the paralyzed man: "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.' And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'" (Mark 2:5-7). They saw a link between sin and sickness, which the Lord did not necessarily endorse: "R. Alexandri said in the name of R. Hiyya b. Abba: A sick man does not recover from his sickness until all his sins are forgiven him, as it is written, Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases. [Psalm 103:3]" (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Nedarim, 41a). Who can forgive sins? Who indeed?: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." (Colossians 3:13).
He is the Savior of the world: "Then they said to the woman, 'Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.'" (John 4:42).
Jehovah God is the fountain of life:
"For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9).
To get down to detail, the source of life is Jehovah the Son:
"All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:3-5);
Life is the gift of God:
"'Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.'" (Deuteronomy 32:39);
And life is in Jesus' hand:
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'...Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go.'" (John 11:25-44).
The LORD promised that every knee would bow:
Paul fleshed this prophecy out with further detail:
It's before the judgment seat of Christ that every knee shall bow: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Most of the quotes on this page are from the New King James Version, and are reliably documented in the works of the early church authors. Some are absent from those modern translations which rely upon a very small sample of manuscripts. In a few cases, though, the modern translations offer proofs of the deity of Jesus Christ absent from the traditional text:
"There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. [...] Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near...See, the Judge is standing at the doors!" (James 4:12-5:9).
James did not say there are many judges,—Judge Wapner, Judge Judy, Judge Rehnquist, God,—one of whom is coming to judge the world, although he could have said this had it been on his mind. Rather he said that there is one judge...and He is at the door!
The New World Translation helpfully supplies this cross reference for James 4:12: "For Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Statute-giver, Jehovah is our King; he himself will save us." (Isaiah 33:22 NWT). Truly, God is Judge over all the earth:
"Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?'" (Genesis 18:25);
Jesus' self-conception as the judge of all the world sits uncomfortably with the more modest ideas of some of His self-professed followers:
"The strange fact is that this pure teacher of righteousness appealed to by modern liberalism, this classical exponent of the non-doctrinal religion which is supposed to underlie all the historical religions as the irreducible truth remaining after the doctrinal accretions have been removed — the strange fact is that this supreme revealer of eternal truth supposed that He was to be the chief actor in a world catastrophe and was to sit in judgment upon the whole earth." (J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p. 26).
Who gives pastors to the Church? The LORD, says Jeremiah: "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jeremiah 3:15).
Jesus Christ, who ascended on high, says Paul: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers..." (Ephesians 4:11).
Some of the ministers you read about in the papers are volunteers, it would seem. But the Bible teaches that the calling to the ministry is a work of God. God separated Paul for service from the womb: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood..." (Galatians 1:15-16). And Christ Jesus our Lord called Paul to service:
"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry..." (1 Timothy 1:12).
Jesus said that He sends prophets:
Who is it who sends the prophets? The LORD!:
"Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them." (Jeremiah 7:25);
Jesus said, "I told you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am ['ego eimi'], you will die in your sins...When you raise the son of man aloft, then you will know that I am..." (John 8:24-28, Lattimore). For John to write in his Greek gospel that Jesus responds to questions about His identity with the phrase 'ego eimi,' I am,' would strike a chord with Septuagint-literate readers, who would recognize that very phrase as God's way of identifying Himself:
Of especial interest are the Septuagint's reduplicated 'ego eimi's in Isaiah 43:25 and 45:19, which are difficult to understand unless the Seventy explicitly understood 'I am he' as a divine name: "I am 'I AM' ['ego eimi ego eimi'], who erases your iniquities" (43:25), "I am 'I AM' the Lord ['ego eimi ego eimi kurios'], who speaks righteousness." (45:19, Septuagint translations from C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, p. 94).
"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11). It cannot be thought coincidental that the title the early church gave to Jesus: 'the Lord' - is the same way they addressed the living God: "Jesus answered him, 'The first of all the commandments is: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD ['kyrios'] is one."'" (Mark 12:29, Deuteronomy 6:4).
The Jehovah's Witnesses point out that many are addressed as 'Lord' in the New Testament who are unarguably not God, such as Pilate: "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, 'Sir ['kyrios'], we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, "After three days I will rise."'" (Matthew 27:62-63), and a person Mary Magdalene supposed to be a gardener: "...She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, 'Sir ['kyrios'], if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.'" (John 20:15). Unlike 'theos', non-gods like gardeners and governors are addressed as 'kyrios' in scripture. The same is true of the English word 'Lord': there's a whole chamber-full of them over in England, called 'the House of Lords'.
It should be noted, though, that this common habit of promiscuously addressing all and sundry as 'Lord' had already met resistance from the Zealots, and would soon meet fierce resistance from the Christian martyrs, who chose death rather than to say 'Caesar is Lord'. There is an undeniable gravity and momentum to addressing the living God as 'Lord' which tends toward jealousy: "...but as to all those that fled into Egypt, and to the Egyptian Thebes, it was not long ere they were caught also, and brought back, -- whose courage, or whether we ought to call it madness, or hardiness in their opinions, everybody was amazed at; for when all sorts of torments and vexations of their bodies that could be devised were made use of to them, they could not get any one of them to comply so far as to confess, or seem to confess, that Caesar was their lord; but they preserved their own opinion, in spite of all the distress they were brought to, as if they received these torments and the fire itself with bodies insensible of pain, and with a soul that in a manner rejoiced under them. But what was most of all astonishing to the beholders, was the courage of the children; for not one of these children was so far overcome by these torments, as to name Caesar for their lord." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, Chapter X.1).
Neither would the Christians: "Herod, the police captain, and his father, Nicetes, came out to meet him [Polycarp]. After transferring him to their carriage and sitting down at his side, they tried to persuade him, saying, 'Why, what harm is there in saying, "Caesar is Lord," and offering incense' (and other words to this effect) 'and thereby saving yourself?' Now at first he gave them no answer. But when they persisted, he said, 'I am not about to do what you are suggesting to me.'" (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 8.2) Yet Christians confess that Jesus is Lord: "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:3) -- because He truly is!
The prophet Joel said that, in the days to come, whoever would call upon the name of the LORD would be saved:
"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls." (Joel 2:32).
Peter quotes Joel, with a new spin: "'And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'" (Acts 2:21). A new name has been revealed: "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:2-3). The apostles found there's power in that name: "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.'" (Acts 3:6).
Not only power, there's salvation in that name: "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:11-14, Isaiah 28:16). It is the gospel of Jesus Christ which gives us the saving name. As the word of God says, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10).
The living God in the Old Testament is hymned this way:
"Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!" (1 Chronicles 16:36).
This same phraseology is sung to Jesus Christ by the New Testament saints:
"And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!" (2 Timothy 4:18)
Since this stereotyped formula of praise is not applied to earthly rulers but to God alone, seeing Jesus praised in that manner is a weighty testimony to His eternal Deity.
The Old Testament prophets foretold that God would dwell amongst His people:
"And it will be said in that day: 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.'" (Isaiah 25:9).
"Thus says the LORD: 'The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours; they shall walk behind you, they shall come over in chains; and they shall bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying, "Surely God is in you, and there is no other; there is no other God.'"" (Isaiah 45:14).
"'Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,' says the LORD. 'Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.'" (Zechariah 2:10-11).
The Bible teaches two advents, that Christ will come again; the One who is to return is the "same Jesus" as He who ascended: "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'" (Acts 1:10-11). Isaiah prophesied a Savior named 'God-With-Us:' " Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. . ." (KJV, Isaiah 7:14); "And the stretching out of its wings hath been the fulness of the breadth of thy land, O Emmanu-El! . .Take counsel, and it is broken, speak a word, and it doth not stand, Because of Emmanu-El!’" (YLT, Isaiah 8:8-10). This Savior came to redeem His people:
"'And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:21-23).
The inspired New Testament author reveals the true Immanuel!
"For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us..." (Isaiah 33:22).
Jehovah God gave laws to Israel: "And he said: 'The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints; from His right hand came a fiery law for them.'" (Deuteronomy 33:2);
"There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?" (James 4:12).
Not many lawgivers, one lawgiver, who is, "Amongst all the highest powers that attach to God, there is one excelled by none, the legislative. For He Himself is the lawgiver and the fountain of laws, and on Him depend all particular lawgivers." (Philo Judaeus, The Sacrifices of Abel and Cain, Chapter XXXVIII, Loeb edition p. 189)
Jesus is the Lawgiver: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34).
Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd of the Sheep:
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." (John 10:11).
"For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:25);
"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Isaiah had promised that Jehovah God would come and shepherd His people: "Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young." (Isaiah 40:10-11).
Christians can say with David, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters." (Psalm 23:1-2). He is our Shepherd: "Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3).
"But He made His own people go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock, and He led them on safely, so that they did not fear..." (Psalm 78:52-53).
"Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
"For thus says the Lord GOD: 'Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.'" (Ezekiel 34:11-16).
Sin is transgression against God: "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge." (Psalm 51:4)
In this case, against God the Son: "But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." (1 Corinthians 8:12).
Ultimately every creature, even the Jehovah's Witnesses, willing or unwilling, will worship the Lamb:
But if Jesus is not God, such worship is unlawful. Only One may lawfully be worshipped:
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:2-3);
A Catch-22...or is Jesus God?
His disciples worshipped Him, without rebuke: "When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted." (Matthew 28:17). Wise men worshipped then...and still do!: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethelehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.'" (Matthew 2:1-2).
"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus...For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God." (Hebrews 3:1-4).
Jeremiah tells us that the true God is the Creator: "Thus you shall say to them: 'The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.' He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion." (Jeremiah 10:11-12).
"[T]his One" who built all things, the Word of God, came to visit His people:
"Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3);
"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1:10).
God revealed His name to Moses: "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."'" (Exodus 3:14).
Jesus told His hearers, "Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.'" (John 8:58). And His hearers got the message, too; they picked up stones to throw at Him for claiming to be God. This is one of several uses of the Old Testament divine name 'I am' by Jesus, but it seems to bug the Jehovah's Witnesses more than the others, perhaps because the tenses belong to God: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8). God is before Abraham was.
"The declaration 'I AM THAT I AM' was an unfolding of the meaning of the name Jehovah. The form of the word Jehovah appears deliberately to intermingle future and past tenses, i.e. He will be, He was, and so He is, and possibly even the sense that He causes to be, or brings to pass.
"The name speaks of the unchangeable One, with whom essentially there is no past nor future, but rather an eternal present. That which He is, He ever has been. . .To the Jews who heard Him the claim was unmistakable. For them there could be no middle course. Either they must own His rightful use of the title, 'I AM,' and worship Him, or they must account Him a blasphemer worthy of death. In their follly they rejected Him, but it was He who had spoken to Moses from the bush who now spoke to them in lowly manhood."
"But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." (2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
When Moses turned toward the LORD (YHWH), the veil is taken away. Paul says when one turns to the Lord (Jesus), the veil is taken away.
"Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? -'I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.' Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? 'I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes." (Isaiah 63:1-3).
Who is this? Jesus: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:10-16).
"But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power." (1 Corinthians 4:19).
Here and in 1 Corinthians 4:19, the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation inserts the Divine Name 'Jehovah', thinking that when people say, 'Lord willing and if the creek don't rise,' they mean the living God: "But I will come to YOU shortly, if Jehovah wills..." (1 Corinthians 4:19 NWT). But upon what 'Lord's' will was Paul waiting? The Lord Jesus Christ:
"Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.'" (Acts 18:9-10).
Another instance where the New World translators seem willing to give away the store is 1 Peter 3:15 as compared with Isaiah 8:12:
"However, the object of their fear do not you fear, neither become agitated. But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you. . . " (1 Peter 3:14-15, New World Translation).
Incredibly, the editors themselves draw attention to the similarity of this passage with Isaiah 8:12, giving this as a cross-reference for verse 14b:
". . .and the object of their fear you men must not fear, nor must you tremble at it. Jehovah of armies — he is the One whom you should treat as holy, and he should be the object of your fear, and he should be the One causing you to tremble.'" (Isaiah 8:12-13 New World Translation).
There certainly is a very notable resemblance here, especially in comparing Peter's Greek with the Greek of the Septuagint. So much so that it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the party 'sanctified' is the same: κυριον αυτον αγιασατε (LXX Isaiah 8:13), versus κυριον δε τον χριστον αγιασατε (1 Peter 3:15). Although the modern versions generally suit the Jehovah's Witnesses purposes better than does the majority text, here is a case where it's difficult to avoid the impression that Peter, who has already quoted Isaiah 8:12, is explicitly and intentionally identifying Jesus as the Lord, Jehovah.
"For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing,whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
The New World Translation delivers a split verdict here: rendering the first 'Lord' as 'Jehovah,' but leaving the second one alone. But surely Paul is thinking of the same 'Lord' in both places!
The New Testament authors often quote Old Testament passages speaking of "the LORD", i.e., Jehovah God, and apply the passage to "the Lord", i.e., Christ. It was precisely in hopes of sweeping away these insistent proofs of Christ's Deity that the New World Translation 'restored' the word 'Jehovah' into the New Testament, where it is found in none of the Greek manuscripts of any age. Here's an example of how it works:
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'" (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).
When Paul says, "it is written", he's quoting the Old Testament. And where is it written in the Old Testament, to glory in the Lord, not in other things?: "Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the LORD." (Jeremiah 9:24).
Praising the Lord is the constant preoccupation of psalmists and prophets:
"Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!" (1 Chronicles 16:10, Psalm 105:3).
The New World Translators had better do something, quick, or else people are going to start thinking Jesus Christ is the LORD! Not to worry; here's how they rewrite 1 Corinthians 1:31: "...that it may be just as it is written: 'He that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah'". (NWT).
They do the same thing elsewhere when Paul quotes the same scripture:
"But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'" (2 Corinthians 10:17).
"But he that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah." (2 Corinthians 10:17 NWT).
But is it so easy to erase the fact that Paul, whose stated understanding of the Old Testament is that one should boast only in Jehovah God, is actually talking about the Lord Jesus Christ after all?
He had only one boast, as even the perjured NWT is obliged finally to admit:
"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. " (Galatians 6:14).
So Paul, who quotes scripture to the effect that 'But he that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah' (NWT), turns out after all to have only one boast: the cross of Jesus Christ (a.k.a. Jehovah God)!
Jehovah God is the King of Israel: "For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth." (Psalms 74:12).
"You are my King, O God; Command victories for Jacob." (Psalm 44:4).
Jesus is the King of Israel: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9, Luke 19:35).
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.'" (Matthew 2:1-3).
His is not moving in reverse, so that God's governance of His people becomes ever more indirect. To the contrary, prophets testify to the coming of the king Himself: "Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off." (Isaiah 33:17).
Jehovah God is the fount of living waters:
"For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13);
Jesus is the fount of living waters: "Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink," you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.'...Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'" (John 4:10-14).
"I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works." (Revelation 2:23).
And who is this, that searches the minds and hearts?:
"I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." (Jeremiah 17:10).
In the Old Testament, the Israel of God is a married woman:
"For your Maker is your husband,
“'Return, O backsliding children,' says the LORD; 'for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.'” (Jeremiah 3:14).
“I will betroth you to Me forever;
"And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
In the New Testament, those who are in Christ are the "Israel of God": "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." (Galatians 6:15-16). Her marital status has not changed:
"And Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?" (Mark 2:19).
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
"For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. " (2 Corinthians 11:2).
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7).
What can we conclude?:
"It has already been suggested that something of this implication is embedded in the employment of the designation ‘Bridegroom’ (Mk 2:19,20) of our Lord. For there is certainly involved in it not merely the representation, afterwards copiously developed in the New Testament, of our Lord as the Bridegroom of the people of God, by virtue of which His Church is His bride (Mt 22:2, 25:1, Jn 3:29, Rom 7:4, 2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:29, Rev 19:7, 21:2,9), but also a reminiscence of those Old Testament passages, of which Hos 2:19 may be taken as the type (cf. Ex 20:5, Jer 2:20, Ezek 16:38,60,63), in which Jehovah’s relation to His people is set forth under the figure of that of a loving husband to his wife. In other words, the use of ‘the Bridegroom’ as a designation of our Lord assimilates His relation to the people of God to that which in the Old Testament is exclusively, even jealously, occupied by Jehovah Himself, and raises the question whether Jesus is not thereby, in some sense, at any rate, identified with Jehovah."
The Old Testament portrays a series of theophanies that feature the Angel of the LORD...who also turns out to be the LORD. For an example, consider Exodus 3:14:
"And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God." (Exodus 3:2-6).
Lest anyone think one appeared, another spoke, the Bible says, "With the precious things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush." (Deuteronomy 33:16).
Who is the angel of the LORD who is Himself the LORD? 'Angel' means 'messenger,' and Jesus Christ is called a messenger: "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus..." (Hebrews 3:1). While Jesus says the Jews have never seen the Father: "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form." (John 5:37), He Himself is called the image of the invisible God: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Colossians 1:15). Hellenic Jews like Philo Judaeus already identified the theophanic angel with the Word.
In light of these facts, some early church writers as well as later theologians like John Calvin believe the 'angel of the LORD' theophanies were pre-incarnate appearances of Christ: "Looking back on the Old Testament in the light of the New, we find that the theophanies of the ancient Scriptures were all Christophanies, i.e., it was always in the Son that God revealed Himself to men...The One who appeared in Old Testament days spoke and acted as being personally God, even to the acceptance of worship; nevertheless He appeared in relation to another who was called God. This is illustrated in the use of the title 'Angel of the Lord.' These things find their harmony in Christ, the only begotten Son, Himself the Word of God, the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person." (H. C. Hewlett, The Companion of the Way, p. 11).
Given that the Bible does not make this identification explicit, it is not surprising some discredit it. What is surprising, though, is when those who share this identification,--namely, the Jehovah's Witnesses,--nevertheless deny the Deity of Jesus Christ. After all, they are admitting it was Jesus Christ who said, “And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14). They agree it was Jesus who said, 'I AM WHO I AM'--they just don't agree that He Is Who He says He Is!
In the Messianic age, the meek will take refuge in the name of the LORD:
"I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD." (Zephaniah 3:12).
Which name of the Lord?
"And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know." (Acts 3:16).
There is none other name than one to which God's holy remnant will flee for refuge:
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
Jesus means 'Jehovah Savior.' Is this a change in plans, or do believers flee to the same refuge Zephaniah projected: Jehovah the Son?
There are all manner of systems of governance: democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, aristocracy. Some systems employ a mechanism of representation. But in one very simple governing system, monarchy, there is a sole ruler. God could have chosen any governing system to describe His reign; had He meant it for an oligarchy, that is to say, government by several rulers, He could have so described it. But He did not. He called it a 'kingdom:' "For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations." (Psalm 22:28), that is to say, a monarchy.
Who is the sole ruler who has "begun ruling as king" when God's kingdom comes?:
"And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: 'The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.' And the twenty-four elders who were seated bewfore God upon their thrones fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying 'We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.'" (Revelation 11:15-17 NWT).
The reign of this sole ruler is "the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ." As the Jehovah's Witnesses will protest, monarchs employ subordinate ministers and viceroys and underlings. But God's prophetic word does not advertise a splintering of the monarchy in the latter days, rather its consolidation:
"And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one." (Zechariah 14:9).
"And I saw, and look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads." (Revelation 14:1 NWT).
Here is another case where the Jehovah's Witness' New World Translation is more helpful than the majority text. The name of the Lamb and the name of His Father might be one name, YHWH, or two names. John and his readers would have been familiar with the idea of a name inscribed on one's forehead, because the tetragrammaton, YHWH, was upon the high priest's forehead:
"You shall make a rosette of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, “Holy to the LORD.” You shall fasten it on the turban with a blue cord; it shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take on himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering that the Israelites consecrate as their sacred donations; it shall always be on his forehead, in order that they may find favor before the LORD." (Exodus 28:36-38).
The 144,000 are Jews, sealed from every tribe of Israel (Revelation 7:4). They are 'virgins.' Worship of other gods is likened in the Bible to fornication and adultery. These 'virgins,' unlike those from every nation next mentioned, had never loved any god other than the one to whom they were betrothed at birth. They are consecrated to Jehovah God. It would be strange if the information posted on Aaron's forehead stated otherwise.
Blood flowed from our Savior's side when He was pierced: "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out...For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled...And again another Scripture says, 'They shall look on Him whom they pierced.'" (John 19:34-37).
And who is the One whom they pierced? The LORD!: "The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:...'And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.'" (Zechariah 12:1-10).
Jehovah is pierced, but only a man can suffer an injury of this sort; thus, God incarnate, as even hostile witnesses must acknowledge:
"In the stroke of the spear he [John] sees the fulfilment of Zech. xii. 10 (better translated by John than by the LXX.), where Jehovah says to the Israelites והביטו אלי את אשר דקרו they shall look on him whom they have pierced, in the sense, that they will one day return to him whom they had so grievously offended. The word דקר, to pierce, understood literally, expresses an act which appears more capable of being directed against a man than against Jehovah. . ." (David Friedrich Strauss, the Life of Jesus Critically Examined, Part III, Chapter IV, Section 134, p. 700).
That Zechariah 12:10 refers to the Messiah is known not only to Christians: "What was the mourning for? R. Dosa and the rabbis differ: One holds that it was for the Messiah the son of Joseph, who was killed. . .It would be right according to one who holds that it was for the Messiah the son of Joseph, because he explains as supporting him the passage [Zech. xii. 10]: 'And they will look up toward me (for every one) whom they have thrust through, and they will lament for him, as one lamenteth for an only son, and weep bitterly for him, as one weepeth bitterly for the firstborn'. . ." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume VII, Section Moed, Tract Succah, Chapter V, Kindle location 29937). (Why "Messiah the son of Joseph" rather than son of David? Presumably as an expedient to promote the claims of an aspirant not of the lineage of David, plus as a way to reconcile the divergent destinies of the Messiah, which Christians understand to speak of two advents).
The LORD says, they will look upon Me whom they have pierced, and John teaches that scripture was fulfilled in the crucifixion.
The LORD complained of having stretched out His hands all day to a disobedient people: "I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts..." (Isaiah 65:2).
There are many such Bible references which are not to be taken literally, but this passage admits of a strictly literal interpretation. When did the LORD stretch out His hands to a rebellious people? On the cross!
Jehovah is "head" of the congregation:
"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
Jesus Christ also is "head" of the congregation:
"...and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:10).
"...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ..." (Ephesians 4:15).
For any one instance where a title, attribute, or name of Jehovah God is applied to Jesus Christ, a skeptic might retort that it is no more than coincidence, and that the title is not used in the same sense in both cases. Does the language of the Bible intend to convey meaning, or is it only thrown together at random like alphabet soup? Any one instance might be coincidence, but the systematic and consistent application of these titles cannot be.
In Psalm 121, we learn that Jehovah, the living God, is the One who keeps Israel:
"Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand." (Psalm 121:4-5).
In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this reads, "Behold, he that keeps [φυλασσων] Israel shall not slumber nor sleep. The Lord shall keep [φυλαξει] thee: the Lord is thy shelter upon thy right hand." (Brenton Septuagint, Psalm 121:4-5). The verb 'φυλάσσω' means to watch over, to protect. The Septuagint is a translation, not the original; however, Old Testament citations in the New Testament are often conformed to the Septuagint, if only because the Greek-speakers who were reading the Greek New Testament would have verified the scripture quotes by consulting the Septuagint.
In the New Testament, Jesus says that He has kept the believers, the Israel of God:
"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept [εφυλαξα]; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:13).
It is striking the way the titles, attributes and functions of Jehovah in the Old Testament, are systematically assigned to Jesus in the New. One or two of these correspondences might be dismissed as no more than coincidence, but it is hard to dismiss the entire mass.
Jesus names Himself 'The Amen:'
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.’” (Revelation 3:14-15).
Usually we expect to hear 'Amen' as the exclamation point at the end of a prayer, but here it is presented as if it were a name or a title. Where could such a designation have come from? From here:
"So that he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth [אמן amen]; and he who swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth [אמן amen]; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hidden from My eyes." (Isaiah 65:15).
That is what the Hebrew text literally says, 'the God Amen,' or 'the
God of Amen;' translators generally render is, the God of truth or the God of
faithfulness. One of the few who transliterates (as is often done with
the word 'Amen') is Jerome: "in quo qui benedictus est super terram
benedicetur in deo amen et qui iurat in terra iurabit in deo amen quia
oblivioni traditae sunt angustiae priores et quia absconditae sunt ab
oculis nostris. . ."
Jesus Christ is God
Isaiah gives signs of the times, showing how people will recognize the advent of their God:
"Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.' Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35:4-6).
Which is why, when the disciples of John the Baptist inquired who Jesus was, He drew their attention to these very signs, then being shown right before their eyes: "When the men had come to Him, they said, 'John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"' And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.'" (Luke 7:20-22, Matthew 11:4-6).
The Qumran covenanters had noticed these same signs of the Messianic era, ". . .For the heavens and the earth shall listen to His Messiah and all which is in them shall not turn away from the commandments of the holy ones. . .For he will honor the pious upon the throne of His eternal kingdom, setting prisoners free, opening the eyes of the blind, raising up those who are bowed down." (Dead Sea Scrolls, Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, Fragment 4Q521, p. 421). To people familiar with the methods of the higher critics, never fearful of arguing in a circle, the fact that this was prophesied of the Messiah is more than ample proof it never happened:
"If we have been unable to receive as historical the simple narrative given by all the synoptical writers of the cure of the blind man at Jericho, we are still less prepared to award this character to the mysterious description, given by Mark alone, of the cure of a blind man at Bethsaida, and we must regard it as a product of the legend, with more or less addition from the evangelical narrator. The same judgment must be pronounced on his narrative of the cure of the deaf man who had an impediment in his speech κωφος μογιλαλος; for, together with the negative reasons already adduced against its historical credibility, there are not wanting positive causes for its mythical origin, since the prophecy relating to the messianic times, τοτε ωτα κωφων ακουσονται — τρανη δε εσται γλωσσα μογιλαλων the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, the tongue of the dumb shall sing (Isa. xxxv. 5, 6), was in existence, and according to Matt. xi. 5, was interpreted literally." (David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, p. 449).
Not only was it interpreted literally, it happened literally! What are the implications? Who but God gives sight to the blind?:
"The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous." (Psalm 146:8);
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11).
It is an interpretive challenge indeed to imagine how a mere man might exist "in the form of God." This was Jesus' status prior to the incarnation, when He humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant. Unless the reader joins the polytheists in counting "the form of God" as a very common thing shared by many, this passage on its face ascribes deity to Jesus Christ.
"Certainly it is no mere human being or seraph whom Paul describes as being 'over all, God blessed for ever.' You remind me that these words are referred by some modern scholars to the Eternal Father. Certainly they are; but on what grounds? Of scholarship? What then is Paul's general purpose when he uses these words? He has just been enumerating those eight privileges of the race of Israel...It was from the blood of Israel that the true Christ had sprung, so far as His human nature was concerned; but Christ's Israelitic descent is, in the apostle's eyes, so consummate a glory for Israel, because Christ is much more than one of the sons of men; because by reason of His higher pre-existent nature He is 'over all, God blessed for ever.' This is the natural sense of the passage." (H. P. Liddon, The Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Lecture VI, Divinity as Taught by the Apostles, The Testimony of the Apostle Paul).
"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:8-10).
"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 2:13-14).
But should we understand the "and" to indicate the "great God" to be another from "our Savior Jesus Christ"? Not according to grammarian Granville Sharp:
There's a definite article before the "great God", yet none before "our Savior Jesus Christ", making Granville Sharp's rule as stated above to apply: "our Savior Jesus Christ" is the "great God"! As foretold: "Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen." (Hosea 1:7).
A similar Granville Sharp construction is found in 2 Peter 1:1: "Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ..."
Also in Ephesians 5:5: "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God ['tou Christou kai theou']." Of course, inasmuch as Granville Sharp's rule neither finds nor seeks any other foundation than empiricism, this 'proof' fails to convince skeptics.
In whom are we to put our faith? In a mere man? No, says the Bible, you're cursed if you do:
"Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD...Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD." (Jeremiah 17:5-7).
In angels? God forbid:
"Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God..." (Colossians 2:18-19).
But we are to believe in Jesus:
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." (John 14:1);
To summarize the Bible's teaching: a.) We are to believe, not in a mere man, not in an angel, but in Jehovah God, and b.) We are to believe in Jesus Christ.
Are these injunctions mutually contradictory? They would be...if it were not that Jesus Christ is Jehovah God.
To whom are we redeemed? Unto God: "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation..." (Revelation 5:9).
Unto whom are we redeemed? Unto Himself, Jesus Christ, a.k.a. God: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:13-14).
God presents the church to Himself: "Now to Him that is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1:24-25).
Wait a minute — who presents the church to Himself? Christ: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27).
"I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." (1 Timothy 6:14-16).
"These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." (Revelation 17:14).
"And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:16)
In response, the Jehovah's Witnesses note that Nebuchadnezzar styled himself the King of Kings as well. God noticed that too and prescribed a change of diet to cure Nebuchadnezzar's prideful boasting: "And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses." (Daniel 4:32).
The Bible speaks of the "Spirit of Christ" as active in believers:
"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." (Romans 8:9);
It was this Spirit of Christ who spoke through the prophets who testified to His coming:
"Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." (1 Peter 1:10-11);
This is the Holy Spirit:
"...for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21).
There can be no doubt that the Spirit who spoke through the prophets of old is the Spirit of the LORD:
"A lion has roared!
The children of Israel repeatedly rebelled against God in the wilderness:
"And the people spoke against God and against Moses: 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.' So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.'" (Numbers 21:5-6).
At a certain place the people tempted "the LORD:"
"Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. . .And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?" (Exodus 17:2-7).
Moses says that they tempted "the LORD". But whom does Paul say that they tempted? Jesus Christ!:
"But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness...Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer." (1 Corinthians 10:5-10).
Those who fell in the wilderness "also tempted" Christ, not another. The living God swore in His anger, at this temptation, that unbelievers would not enter His rest:
"For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest." (Psalm 95:7-11).
The speaker is the LORD. The author of Hebrews identifies the speaker as "the living God:"
"Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. . .Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Hebrews 3:7-12).
Whom did the children of Israel tempt in the wilderness? Paul says, Jesus Christ! That is to say, the living God!
Almighty God is "the King of glory": "Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle." (Psalm 24:7-8), and the "God of glory: "And Stephen replied: 'Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’" (Acts 7:2-3).
The New Testament title "the Lord of glory" reminds the reader of these titles:
Solomon's temple was filled with the Lord's glory, and the Lord's advent was to see the earth filled with His glory: "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD." (Numbers 14:21). Calling the Lord "the Lord of glory" is either extravagant flattery of a mere man...or the exact truth.
When believers are born again, we are recreated, in the same image in which we were originally formed. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are renewed in the same image in which we were originally created: "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." (Colossians 3:9-11).
In what image was man originally created? The image of God: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:26-27).
Day by day our 'inward man' is renewed in the image of our Creator: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16). And this image is Christ, our life: "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:3-4).
Truly we should honor Him in whose image we are made, and remade: "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come..." (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
The glory of the Lord will light the new Jerusalem:
"Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,' says the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'" (Zechariah 2:4-5);
That is to say, the Lamb will be the lamp of the new Jerusalem: "The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. " (Revelation 21:23). The Lamb, the light source of the new Jerusalem, is the LORD, Israel's Light: "So the Light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame..." (Isaiah 10:17).
Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), as is Jehovah: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1). Each of these identifications, by itself, might seem to mean very little; certainly when someone says of a pretty girl that her smile lights up the room, no one thinks the speaker means to say she is God. However, the sheer number of these instances, where titles and attributes belonging to Jehovah God in the Old Testament are systematically transferred to Jesus Christ in the New, leaves the reader with the impression of somebody sitting, bending over a checklist, and carefully putting a check-mark in every box. It seems like somebody was trying to communicate something.
God raised Jesus Christ from the dead: "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you." (2 Corinthians 4:13-14).
But Jesus says He will raise Himself:
There is no contradiction in these passages, if the reader understands that Jesus is God, and that God is triune.
It is God who not only creates, but continues to uphold all things: "You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You." (Nehemiah 9:6).
God the Word upholds all things: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power..." (Hebrews 1:1-2); "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live." (1 Corinthians 8:5-6).
Isaiah prophesied the Gentiles would flock to the glory of the LORD: "Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." (Isaiah 60:1-3).
Who is the light to the Gentiles? Isaiah says, the LORD. The New Testament says, Jesus Christ: "For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." (Luke 2:30-32); "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to ends of the earth.'" (Acts 13:47); "...that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (Acts 26:23).
As Matthew Henry says, in explication of Isaiah 60, "When God appears to us, then the glory of the Lord rises upon us as the morning light; when he appears for us, then his glory is seen upon us. When Christ arose as the sun of righteousness, and in him the day-spring from on high visited us, then the glory of the Lord was seen upon us, the glory as of the first-begotten of the Father. (Matthew Henry Commentaries).
Truly the Bible says, "For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." (Psalm 36:9);
"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'" (John 8:12);
"Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,' Says the LORD of hosts. 'Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.'" (Zechariah 13:7). This verse is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 26:31 (Mark 14:27); by His own testimony, He is the "companion" or "fellow" of Jehovah. The word amiyth is translated elsewhere as 'neighbor,' it means one who is nearby, or nearest one. What does it mean to be called the 'neighbor' or 'companion' of the living God?
Is this an unequal fellowship between Creator and creature? Abraham, a mere man, was called the "friend of God" (James 2:23). Is the promise of proximity open to all men, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." (James 4:8)? But we already know there is no inequality in this perfect fellowship: "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:15). If this verse is taken literally, it ascribes like nature to the Son as to the Father.
The things Jesus did made His followers wonder Who He was: "But He said to them, 'Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?' Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, 'Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'" (Matthew 8:26-27).
It's not an easy thing to heal the sick and raise the dead. Making alive is God's work:
"And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, 'Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.'" (2 Kings 5:7);
Yet Jesus did:
"Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise.' So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother." (Luke 7:14-15).
Scoffers point to similar wonders effected under the ministry of Elisha and Elijah. But which of these mighty prophets himself held authority over life and death?: "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man." (John 5:26-27).
Another sign is the feeding of the multitudes, in answer to an Old Testament promise: "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Isaiah 55:1). The One who is the bread from heaven fed them: "Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes." (Matthew 14:19).
So the testimony of the miracles is in and of itself a valuable witness in determining who Jesus is. Could any mere man ever do such things? Truly He said, "But Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.' And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him." (Luke 8:38-39).
While a prosecutor's charge can be a biased document, sometimes there's a grain of truth to it. Jesus' hearers heard Him teach every day in the temple: "When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." (Luke 22:53).
And they were fully convinced He was claiming to be God:
"The Jews answered Him, saying, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.'" (John 10:33);
"Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God." (John 5:18).
There is independent confirmation the charge involved "apostasy": "Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, 'He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy.'" (Sanhedrin 43a, Talmud, quoted p. 152, Paul Barnett, Jesus and the Rise of Christianity).
Given that the scribes and Pharisees who were fully acquainted with His teaching did indeed believe He was claiming to be God, it seems unlikely such claims only arose later through out-of-context misinterpretations.
After the transfiguration, the puzzled disciples, wondering at what they'd seen, asked, "And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17:11-13).
John himself wasn't aware that he was the prophesied Elijah, but Jesus says that he was: "Elijah has come already." John the Baptist was the fore-runner to Christ: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Matthew 3:11).
If John the Baptist was the Elijah who was prophesied to come, then before Whom was he preparing the way? Jesus was quoting Malachi, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.'" (Malachi 4:5-6). It's before the "great and dreadful" day of Jehovah that Elijah/John the Baptist prepares the way. Since John was the fore-runner to Jesus, this leaves Jesus to fit into the slot of fulfilled prophecy...of the LORD.
Speaking about John the Baptist, the angel told Zacharias, "And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him ['enopion auto'] in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:16-17). Before Whom? Before "the Lord their God"!
Truly He is the Sun of righteousness: "But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves." (Malachi 4:2).
The Jehovah's Witnesses' own New World Translation renders Zechariah 11:12-13 like so: "Then I said to them: 'If it is good in your eyes, give [me] my wages; but if not, refrain.' And they proceeded to pay my wages, thirty pieces of silver. At that, Jehovah said to me: 'Throw it into the treasury - the majestic value with which I have been valued from their standpoint.'" While the original lacks quotation marks, surely the New World translators have taken the most natural view of the passage, that the "thirty pieces of silver" are the price of the LORD's valuation.
And who was it who was appraised at this price? Jesus Christ: "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?' And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver." (Matthew 26:14-15, Matthew 27:9).
The letter to Hebrews tells of a new "covenant" (the Greek word is the same as is used for "testament" in 9:16): "Because finding fault with them, He says: 'Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah...For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'" (Hebrews 8:8-10). This is a quote of Jeremiah 31:31-33: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Can there be any doubt in Chapter 8 that the testator, the party who undertakes to enter into the new testament, is Jehovah God?
But we learn in Chapter 9 that that testator had to die before this new covenant could come into force: "For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives." (Hebrews 9:16-17). This is Jesus Christ: "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life...'" (Revelation 2:8). The NWT concurs: "For where there is a covenant, the death of the [human] covenanter needs to be furnished. For a covenant is valid over dead [victims], since it is not in force at any time while the [human] covenanter is living."
The testator who died is the owner, not an agent for the owner. Unlike Moses who was faithful in the house of another (Numbers 12:7), the Son owns the place: "...but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:6). Jesus Christ is the householder in whose presence men ate and drank: "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ (Luke 13:25-26). What name is on the deed of "His own house"?: "I have forsaken mine house..." (Jeremiah 12:7).
"...and you killed the author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses." (Acts 3:15)
Who is the author of life?: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7).
Some translations render 'archegos' as 'prince' instead of 'author.' But 'author,' or 'first cause' or 'originator,' is a very literal translation.
"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28).
It is not in the nature of things for God to bleed. When did He take on this characteristic? When He took on the nature of Abraham's children: "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren..." (Hebrews 2:17).
"And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:28-29).
"When Thomas beheld the risen Lord, he was as emphatic in his homage as previously in his unbelief. He heard the gracious words that drew his gaze to the pierced hands and the riven side. Then looking into the face that once had been crowned with thorns and into the eyes that once had glistened with human tears, he saw his God. The words of adoration burst forth spontaneously. In his deovtion there could be no reserves. For him the Crucified was henceforth both Lord and God." (H. C. Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, p. 42).
"'I and My Father are one.'" (John 10:30).
"This denotes more than the harmony, and consent, and good understanding, that were between the Father and the Son in the work of man's redemption. Every good man is so far one with God as to concur with him; therefore it must be meant of the oneness of the nature of Father and Son, that they are the same in substance, and equal in power and glory. . . If we should altogether hold our peace concerning this sense of the words, even the stones which the Jews took up to cast at him would speak it out, for the Jews understood him as hereby making himself God and he did not deny it." (Matthew Henry Commentary).
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16).
"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-14).
Infamously, the New World Translation has here, "...the Word was a god." But wait — how many of those are there, anyway? The Bible count is far more conservative than the Watchtower's: "O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, you are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth." (Isaiah 37:16).
Oddly enough, if Jesus were a god, other than Jehovah God...it would not have been lawful for His disciples to address Him by name!: "And in all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth."
"And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was." (John 17:5).
Is it possible Biblically for the living God to share His glory with another who is not God?
"For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; for how should My name be profaned? And I will not give my glory to another." (Isaiah 48:11).
"I am the LORD, that is My name; and my glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images." (Isaiah 42:8).
Jesus knew the thoughts in men's hearts: "But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts?'" (Matthew 9:4).
"Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, 'What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?' But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, 'If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.'" (Mark 9:33-35).
To unbelievers, it seems absurd, even meaningless to ascribe omniscience to a human being: "So also omniscience: what could it mean to say that a human is 'omniscient' and that Jesus in particular was? That he would 'know everything' — including, for example, the theory of relativity and the capital of Oregon?" (Marcus J. Borg, Jesus Uncovering the Life, page 7). But the Bible unblushingly says that He knows "all things:"
"Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God." (John 16:30).
But there is also evidence of nescience on the part of Jesus:
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52).
Jesus Christ is both man and God. He took on our nature: "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17). It seems more consistent to refer nescience to His humanity rather than discounting Bible testimony that He knows "all things."
If Jesus possesses all the divine attributes, like omniscience, omnipotence, eternity, and omnipresence, then what can He be but God?
"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18).
"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father." (Matthew 11:27).
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself." (John 13:3).
God is omnipresent: "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me." (Psalm 139:7-10).
Jesus Christ is omnipresent:
"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20).
"No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." (John 3:13).
"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23).
God fills all things: "'Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?' says the LORD; 'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:24). Jesus Christ fills all things: "He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)" (Ephesians 4:10).
Immutability is another essential attribute of deity. Earthly things change, God remains the same:
"For I am the LORD, I do not change;
On which side of the divine/earthly divide does Jesus fall?:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8).
Eternity is another essential attribute of deity. Transient earthly things come into being and pass away, God alone is eternal:
"Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I raise My hand to heaven, and say, 'As I live forever, if I whet My glittering sword, and My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me.'" (Deuteronomy 38:39-41);
"The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer..." (Revelation 10:5-6).
Jesus Christ the Messiah ever was, is, and ever shall be:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2).
Believers rest safe from all alarms in the Savior's hand:
"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:28).
"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand." (John 10:29).
Jesus does not mean that He holds His flock clutched in His incarnate, nail-scarred hand; this verse does not destroy the distinction of person between Himself and His Father. But it is difficult to see how "My hand" and "My Father's hand" could be so equated if one hand belonged to a creature, the other to its creator, as some claim.
"Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)...But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:1-12).
The distinction upon which Paul is here insisting would be unclear if Jesus Christ were, as some claim, Himself a mere man.
The preacher speaks of the spirit returning to God its creator:
"Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Bible-readers, dying, would not pray for their spirit to return to a created being. Stephen followed the Lord faithfully even unto a martyr's death. At the moment of death he prayed,
“And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on [God] and saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'” (Acts 7:59).
The New World Translation helpfully cross-references to Psalm 31:5: "Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth."
Just as Stephen's words recall the Lord's own words on the cross, his prayer for forgiveness to his enemies is also the same:
“Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not charge them with this sin.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60).
"Stephen's words recall those spoken last by the Lord upon the cross. In unshaken trust, the Lord had commended His spirit to the Father; so did the martyr commit his spirit to the Lord. This again was witness to the deity of Jesus...The Lord had prayed for those that crucified Him: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34). Imbued with the same spirit of forgiveness that revealed how truly he was in the mind of Christ, Stephen likewise prayed for his murderers." (H. C. Hewlett, The Companion of the Way, pp. 149-150.)
“So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'...Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16:31-34).
When the Philippian jailer asked what he must do to be saved, Paul told him, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." This he does. The narrator sums up this transaction as "having believed in God."
All men are called to holiness, but have fallen short of the glory of God. John even ventures to say that only One is Holy:
"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
'Holy One' is a title of God in the Old Testament,: "Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die." (Habakkuk 1:12), and also in the New: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." (1 John 2:20). The Messiah too is called the Holy One: "But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you..." (Acts 3:14), a shared title suggesting the deity of the Messiah.
There is only one owner around here, we all are just His tenants:
"Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all." (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
"For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine." (Psalm 50:10-12).
Who is the owner, again?
"And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them." (John 17:10).
"All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:15).
Is there a law-suit in the making...or is Jesus Christ God?
"Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6).
'Priests' are they who have been consecrated and devoted to God. One can be a 'minister' or 'servant' of a mortal king, but not his 'priest.' But believers are "priests" "of Christ;" therefore, Christ is God.
The mighty deeds that Jesus did were not a collection of random marvels. Rather, they were "signs," as John calls them (John 20:30), revealing who He is. Jesus walked upon the water:
"Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea." (Matthew 14:25).
To be sure this is a demonstration of power, but why walk on the water? Why not walk through fire, or lift a heavy stone? Because of Who walks on water:
"He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea. . ." (Job 9:8). In the Greek Septuagint, "Who alone has stretched out the heavens, and walks on the sea as on firm ground." (Job 9:8 Brenton LXX). Jehovah, the Lord, walks on the sea.
There is no naturalistic explanation for this marvel: "Admitting that Jesus, by means of his etherealized body, could walk on the water, how could he command Peter, who was not gifted with such a body, to do the same? or if by a mere word he could give the body of Peter a dispensation from the law of gravitation, can he have been a man? and if a God, would he thus lightly cause a suspension of natural law at the caprice of a man? or, lastly, are we to suppose that faith has the power instantaneously to lessen the specific gravity of the body of a believer?" (David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, pp. 501-502). He was a man indeed, and not, heaven forbid, "a God," but God.
As with walking on the water, likewise with stilling the storm:
"Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace, be still!' And the wind ceased and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39).
It takes power to stop the wind and waves, but this also is a meaningful sign,— 'symbolic speech' if you will. Who is master of wind and wave?:
"The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
"He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
The Lord is identifying Himself in doing these things:
"The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. . .The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever." (Psalm 29:3-10).
"His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." (Nahum 1:3).
It is the LORD who stills the waters: "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still." (Psalm 107:29); "You who still the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples. (Psalm 65:7); "Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them." (Psalm 89:9).