Paul’s Theology Hinges on this: Jesus is God.

The Greek word in the New Testament for god is “theos.” When refereeing to the creator, we translate it “God.” When I speak of God, I am speaking of the only true Creator who is revealed in the Bible alone.

His titles, his role (especially as Creator) and his glory are befitting nobody other than God alone. That means that when we see Jesus adorned with the unique titles and praises of God, we know that we are dealing with Very God of Very God. Building and expanding upon this, I will list ten reasons (even eleven) by which Paul is to be understood as delighting in the reality that Jesus is God. At points, my arguments are simply direct quotes from the International Standard Bible, Vol III, p.724-725, followed by my own expansion of thought. Instead of using quote marks to show I am quoting from that book, I instead place those quotes in bold.

1. God by any other name is still God.That means that if God says, “I am the Savior, and there is no other” than Jesus being Savior is a reflection of his God-ness. In Isaiah 43:11-12, Yahweh explains his unique identity of being Savior, and ties it to being the only God:

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses, says the Lord.

When Paul says that Jesus is “our Great God and Savior” in Titus 2:13, he is seeing Jesus for who he really is, God.

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men,  training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world,  awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

There is no Savior but God. And Jesus is our Savior.

2. There are three persons in the trinity, and the distinctiveness of each is not deity (that they are divine). The Father is divine deity, the Son is divine deity, the Holy Spirit is divine deity. Yet, the three are distinct. Paul will often expound upon their distinctions, even when he does not explain that they are One in Divinity. This is important, because then when Paul says one thing about “Our God Father,” in distinction from Jesus Christ, he is not thereby claiming that the Father is God and the Son is not God.

3. The name theos is characteristically the designation, virtually a proper name, for the first person, who at the same time is distinguished as “Father.” That means that most of the time, God is the way Paul will refer to God the Father. It is not his proper name, but theos functions something like a unique indicator of God the Father. However, there are certainly times when Paul will apply “theos” to Jesus (as in Titus 2:13 which we have already seen).

4. “Lord” is the characteristic name, “trinitarian name,” which affirms deity in common with the other persons of the Godhead and is also the Son’s personal distinction. God the Father is called “Lord” in the Greek Old Testament. That same title is transferred to Jesus. This shows up especially in quotes from the Psalms where Yahweh is the subject, and yet Jesus becomes the subject. Peter does this as well, as in his Acts 2 sermon.

5. This entire fifth point is from International Standard Bible, Vol III, p.724-725: Paul applies “theos” to Christ sufficiently to leave no doubt of his doctrine (if one judged from that term alone). Rom. 9:5, whatever its syntactical ambiguity, by its context indicate the reference of theos to chirstos so clearly that modern scholarship is return to the orthodox view of the early fathers. Romans 9:5 says this:

Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!

Likewise, the ambiguous text of Tit 2:13, which the AV translates, “…the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ…” has been translated, since 1798 when Granville Sharp detected and formulated a certain rule of Greek syntax, “…the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (RSV, Metzger, 79). This the same person, Jesus Christ, is called God and Savior. Again, if God was in Christ reconciling the world (2 Cor 5:19) Christ must be identified with God, for who else could reconcile the world? … Moreover, “morphe tou theou” in Phil 2:6 is tantamount to “Very God of Very God” and as such virtually an appropriation of theos as a name of Christ. Likewise, “the church which he got at the cost of his own life” (Actus 20:28) referring as it indisputable does to Jesus Christ, inferentially calls him theos.

6. Paul prayed to Christ in 2 Thes 3:5 and 2 Cor 12:8

7. Paul ascribed the glorious manifestation of God to Jesus (2 Cor 5:19)

8. Paul recognized in Jesus the role of Creator (Col 1:16f.)

9. Paul wrote: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9)

10. Paul wrote of Jesus that he will, “judge the living and the dead,” which is a function of God alone (II Timothy 4:1).

11. I said I would give ten, even eleven reasons why Paul’s theology hinges on the deity of Christ. And my eleventh point is that Paul submitted his doctrine to the disciples of Jesus — he did this when he went to Jerusalem as explained in Galatians 1-2, and which we read of such an instance in Acts 15. Paul writes in unity with the other apostles, not against them. And the testimony of the scriptures is unanimous: Jesus is Very God of Very God.

I grant that Jesus being God is difficult to wrap one’s mind around. But in this, we are put in the humble position of being the student and not the master. God will tell us about himself, and in that we submit to his self-revelation which is in Jesus the Christ and in his Holy Word.

When Jesus dies and goes to the grave, we are forced to re-orient ourselves to what Deity can and cannot survive. And there, in Jesus, we find that death is no impediment for Deity. In the Death of Christ, God does not lose control of the universe, he gains control over death. He defeats death, and shows it to be a petty ruler that has no mastery over Very God of Very God.

Read more on the Trinity here, or click on the “Trinity” category listed below.

This article was published under Jesus, Trinity.

One Response to Paul’s Theology Hinges on this: Jesus is God.

  1. admin says:

    This argument about the deity of Jesus is particularly important in the face of Islam and the Koran. It is a point that divides the two religions, and so we Christians must communicate this clearly. Jesus being God is not a doctrine the church invented. We learn about Jesus from the writings of Paul and the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.
    Jesus is also the name of a prophet honored in Islam. But that Jesus is not the Jesus of the New Testament. Jesus in the Bible is God.

    It is also important to emphasis that Paul was a Jew. It was the Jewish people who wrote our New Testament. We who are not Jews by birth are heirs of Christ who was a Jew. The New Testament is, in one sense, a collection of Jewish documents.
    We cannot smooth-out these Jewish writings so that we can make the Koran jive with our theology. We cannot make the Koran and the Bible come to an agreement.

    Those who hold to the Koran should not try to show Christians that we are reading our Bible incorrectly regrading the Deity of Jesus. I speak now to my friends who hold to Islam. We simply have two different religions.

    The best we can do is to be clear in our use of language to delineate that the Jesus of Christianity is not the Jesus of Islam. We need not fight over that, nor must we seek reconciliation by making our definitions match. We simply state the differences according to the Bible and Koran.

    Any tactic that tries to show that the Bible is being misread or that Paul is being misunderstoood is not going to help. The Bible teaches the Trinity. Islam can’t show us that we have misread the Bible. Islam can only say that the Bible and the Koran are not in sync.

    Steve