The doorbell rang one day when I was not home. My wife, Marilyn, opened it to find a couple who asked if she was interested in studying the Bible. In talking to them, she discovered that they believed that Jesus was the "Son of God" but not "God the Son." They taught that Jesus was "a" god but not the God who created everything out of nothing. He was instead Jehovah's first creation through whom Jehovah made everything else.
They were Jehovah's Witnesses.
Marilyn asked them to open their Bibles to John 1:1: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." How could anyone deny that Jesus, the Word, was God?
They replied that in the Greek this verse meant that Jesus was "a" god, but not Jehovah God. They even had an Interlinear Greek New Testament with woodenly literal English underneath the Greek text to prove their point. At this point a dialogue ensued:
Marilyn: "That's not how I was taught Greek."
"You know Greek?"
Marilyn: "Yes, I studied it in seminary."
"Do you think you have to know Greek to understand the Bible?"
Marilyn: "No, but if you're going to go door to door telling people what the Greek says, then you ought to know Greek."
This story shows that we must be prepared for false prophets. Yet few Christian parents can demonstrate Jesus' deity from Scripture. I sometimes ask, "If you were on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' and the final question was, 'What three verses express the deity of Jesus?' would you need a lifeline?"
Sadly, most would.
Fortunately you don't need to know Greek to show that the Bible teaches that Jesus was God.
Other verses than John 1:1 that explicitly teach this include:
- 2 Peter 1:1:
"Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ."
- Titus 2:13:
"looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, ..." Other passages state the matter clearly but are not readily understood because modern English speakers misunderstand the meaning that an ancient author (and audience) assigned to certain phrases. Consider:
- Phil. 2:5-7:
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men."
To many of us, "the form of God" sounds like it means to be "like" God, but not necessarily to be God. But in the original language, "form" tells us not that one thing is like another thing, but rather what that thing is. In other words, a noun is a noun, not something pretty close to a noun; a verb is a verb; a direct object is a direct object; and so forth. By saying that Jesus was "in the form of God," this passage shouts to us that Jesus was truly God. (Moreover, verse 7 tells us that he was also in human form, thus truly human.)
In John 8:58 Jesus himself makes a claim to deity when he says to some skeptical Jews: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Jesus is not merely claiming to have existed prior to Abraham; he takes upon himself the name of God, "I am." The next verse states: "Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him (John 8:59a). They were going to stone him because he claimed to be God, which in their view was blasphemy.
In Acts 20:28 Jesus is indirectly identified as God when Paul states: "Be on guard for yourselves and for 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." Obviously it was Jesus who died on the cross. It was through the sacrifice of Jesus that the church was purchased, and thus Jesus is shown to be divine.
Other Passages Implicitly State Jesus' Deity.
Jesus acted as though he were divine. For instance, he forgave sins. In Luke 5 when Jesus tells a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven, his critics react: "The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, ‘Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?'" (Luke 5:21). This is a good question. Who indeed — other than God — can forgive sins? Jesus' response is to show by healing the lame man that he can forgive sins. The implication is that he is divine.
Jesus applied Old Testament sayings about God to himself. For instance, compare Mark 13:31 with Isaiah 40:8:
- Mark 13:31: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."
- Isaiah 40:8: "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."
Jesus accepted worship of himself. He did not rebuke the man born blind for worshipping him (John 9:38), nor Thomas when Thomas declared: "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). In fact, he tells Thomas that others who believe the same thing — without seeing — will be blessed.
Who Jesus is matters because if Jesus was not God the Son, but only a human being, even a perfect human, then his death on the cross cannot guarantee forgiveness for our sins.
There is no way that the death of a single human being could be sufficient to pay the price for the sins of all those who would believe. Our salvation depends upon Jesus truly being God. Fortunately the biblical testimony is that Jesus is indeed divine.
This article is courtesy of Parenting Teens Magazine.