11-12-19 IS JESUS JUST A
MAN - Part Two
By John Aldworth
Heb. 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh unto God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
1 John 5:20: And we know that the Son of God is come and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
Some say this issue doesn’t matter, that whether Jesus is God or not is just a matter of semantics. However, in Hebrews 11:6 quoted above believing who God actually is made mandatory for anyone seeking to know Him. Personally, I believe the issue of whether Jesus is just a man or God is of the utmost importance. It boils down to this: Did God Himself love us so much he became a man and died for our sins or did he send a purely human fall guy in his place?
Now it is true we cannot know who God is unless He Himself reveals it to us. It is also true that Christ is the very image of God and has declared Him. Only He knows Father and reveals Him. It is also true that what might otherwise be clear statements about the all-embracing deity of Jesus Christ sometimes are not clearly translated in our bibles. Thus we are left with a mystery: Is Jesus, was Jesus God and is He God now? But this a mystery that has a solution and God wants us to know what it is. In fact, He wants us to have:
…all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgement (that is, full knowledge of) of the mystery of God and of the Father and of Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2-3).
In other words, He wants us to fully know who He is. Importantly, mystery means a secret now revealed and understanding it when it is revealed is vital. Fact is the secret of who God and Jesus really are was revealed only to the Apostle Paul along with the rest of the ‘dispensation of the mystery’ (Col. 1:25-27) during his imprisonment in Rome. Speaking of the church which is Christ’s body he says:
… whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God make known what is the riches of this glory of this mystery among the Gentiles (nations), which is Christ in you the hope of glory.
This means the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets did not know this secret, that Jesus did not disclose it in his earthly ministry and that it was not made known in the miraculous Pentecostal dispensation of the Acts period. It was only revealed to Paul as part of his unique ministry after God closed the book on the special and miraculous ministry through his apostles to Israel during the Acts period (Acts 28:28) and only when Paul was in imprisoned in Rome. Consequently, it is God’s last and fullest word on who He really is. Previous declarations while true for their time did not declare the fullness of who God is but the mystery (secret now revealed by God to and through Paul) does.
And the secret now revealed is that God Himself is Christ Jesus the LORD. This is stated clearly in Col. 2: verses 6 to 9. Verse 6 undeniably states:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the LORD so walk ye in Him.
And clearly verse 9 says:
For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Trouble is we have been conditioned to think otherwise. On one hand we have been brain-washed to believe the man-contrived Trinitarian view that God is three separate persons. On the other the resurgent Unitarian claim is that only the Father is God and that Jesus Christ is but a man. The truth is that Father and Son are inseparable, so intertwined and enmeshed that they are God and they are One. And since God is Spirit there is only One Spirit as Eph. 4: 4 plainly teaches. Thus there is no trinity but there is a oneness. And in case you think that such oneness is a doctrine held only by the United Pentecostal Church and perhaps a few others allow me to quote from the highly respected and widely accepted commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown. Addressing 1 John 5:20 they write:
Jesus, by virtue of his oneness with God is also ‘He that is true’ (Rev. 3:7). I.e. this Jesus Christ (the last-named person) is the true God, thus identifying Him with the Father in his attribute, ‘the only true God’ (John 17:3) …The Greek (in 1 John 5:20) is, ‘The true God and eternal life is this’ Jesus Christ.
We will examine 1 John 5:20 in more detail shortly. But for now let me repeat that the ultimate truth about who God is was only revealed to Paul nearly 2,000 years ago. It had been hid in God prior to that. Consequently we cannot determine the full truth of God’s being from previous declarations. This is because God reveals Himself only step by step, ‘here a little there a little’ over time. The whole Bible is the history of God revealing who He is. No wonder then that the Apostle Peter spoke of the need to be ‘established in the present truth’ (2 Peter 1:12) which he described as the ‘knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (vs. 8) and spoke of his ‘divine power’ (vs. 3) and his ‘divine nature’ (vs. 4).
It is true that God ‘spake at sundry times and in different manners … in time past…’ (Heb. 1:1) but it is vital for our salvation for us to hear, as the Apostle Peter said, what He is now saying by his Son. And for Gentiles, indeed for all men now, that means hearing what Christ is saying through Paul (1 Cor. 13:47, 2 Cor. 13:3).
And what Christ through Paul is saying in Col. 1:19 is that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Him, Christ Jesus. In the King James Version the words ‘the Father’ are in italics indicating they are not in the original Greek text but have been arbitrarily inserted by the translators. The KJV rendering is: For it pleased the Father that in Him (i.e. Christ Jesus) should all fullness dwell. However, more accurate translations have the following:
NIV: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him.
Green’s Interlinear: All the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him.
Revised Version: For in Him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
ESV: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
New Heart English Bible: For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English: For in him All Fullness is pleased to dwell.
Ah, the fullness of God. Only in Jesus is the fulness of God found. Indeed it cannot be found in anyone else. So we learn that God Himself dwells in Christ. Going further we can say that God is at home in Jesus Christ and Christ in Him. All that God is Christ is. As Max Lucado in an online article says: ‘Every quality we attribute to God, we can attribute to Jesus’. And, simply put, that is because He is God. God then is not a separate person from Christ, nor is Christ separate from God, as Trinitarians would have it. They are, as Jesus said, ‘One’, in fact the ‘One and only’ or ‘only begotten’. Thus in John 1:14 we read:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth
In four other verses, John 3:18, 3:16, 3:18 and John 1:18 the same title translated from the Greek word monogenes is employed to state that only Jesus is the Son of God. The reason is that as Max Lucado says:
Jesus alone is the monogenetic Son of God because only Christ has God’s genes or genetic makeup. The familiar translation “only begotten Son” (John 3:16) conveys this truth. When parents beget or conceive a child, they transfer their DNA to the new-born. Jesus shares God’s DNA. Jesus isn’t begotten in the sense that He began but in the sense that He and God have the same essence, eternal life span, unending wisdom, and tireless energy. Every quality we attribute to God, we can attribute to Jesus.
John 1:18 is of particular importance. In the King James Version it reads: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (Note that Him is in italics denoting its absence from the Greek, meaning that only the Word (Jesus) declares God). And Jesus is Himself God as John 1:18 in these other translations makes plain:
NIV: No-one has ever seen God but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.
Berean Study Bible: No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.
New Living Translation: No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
Berean Literal Bible: No one has ever yet seen God. The only begotten God, the One being in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known.
So then we now have two apostles, John and Paul, both declaring that Jesus is divine and that to know Jesus and Father are One – that is God – has now become an open secret though, for sure, it was hid prior to apostolic announcement years after the end of the Book of Acts. As Paul says in Eph. 3:4-5:
… the mystery of Christ … in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Consider again 1 John 5:20 quoted above. I submit the verse contains four statements that Jesus is God:
- ‘…the Son of God is come’. Earlier in his gospel (John 1: 1 and 14) the apostle said the Word was God and that the Word was made flesh as the ‘only begotten’ of the Father. In effect he was saying the only begotten Son is God.
- It is not Father but the Son that John says has ‘given us an understanding’ that ‘we may know Him that is true’. By this is meant that Christ gives inner spiritual understanding to discern the things of God. Surely, only God Himself can do so.
- Him ‘that is true’ is identified as ‘his Son Jesus Christ’ of whom John says ‘This is the true God and eternal life’.
- The Apostle says that we (believers) are ‘in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ’.
Underpinning all this is verse 21: ‘Little children keep yourself from idols’. How? Evidently only by knowing that Jesus Christ ‘is the true God’.
An important question that now arises is what do the titles “Lord’ and ‘Son of God’ mean? I would respectfully submit that when applied to Jesus Christ both mean God. Let us see why. To begin with ‘Lord’ is the Old Testament salutation applied to God. It is also the respectful title by which his disciples and others addressed Christ during his ministry upon earth. Did not He say: ‘Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am’ (John 13:13)? And as we have seen the Apostle Thomas knelt to worship Christ saying, ‘My Lord and my God’.
Are there grounds then for asserting that ‘Lord’ when addressed does not mean God? For example, did the Apostle Peter mean that the risen Jesus remained a mere man when he announced to Jewry in Acts 2: 36: ‘… that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ’? Now ‘Christ’ (Greek: Christos) means the Anointed One of God, the Messiah. ‘Lord’, however, (Greek: Kurios) was understood to mean God. Certainly his disciples understood it that way. Witness Peter in Acts 1:21 saying how ‘the Lord Jesus went in and out among us’. Notice too that from the first believers were baptised ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’ (Acts 8:16) not in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. In fact there is no scriptural record of any apostle baptising in that latter formula.
That devout Israelites believed that Kurios (‘Lord’) meant God is undeniable. Proof is found in the Septuagint, the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek by 72 Jewish scholars on the order of the Greek-Egyptian Pharoah Ptolemy Philadelphus over two centuries before Christ. Preferred by Jews in Christ’s time to the Hebrew version, the Septuagint translates the sacred name of God YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah in English) as Kurios Lord more than 800 times. Know also that the Septuagint is quoted by both Jesus and the New Testament writers in our bibles. So when Jesus is addressed as Kurios Lord in New Testament Greek it cannot mean other than God.
Now to the term ‘Son of God’. Fact is only two persons are called ‘Son of God’ in the Bible. The first is Adam who lost all claim to the title when he sinned. The second is Jesus. The devils he cast out addressed him as ‘Thou Son of God’. However, only after the Father in heaven had revealed it to him could the Apostle Peter tell Jesus ‘Thou art the Son of the living God’. The Jews seeking his death, however, had no doubts that this title meant God. When Jesus was on trial they told Pilate (John 19: 7):
We have a law and by our law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God.
If Jesus had been just a man, a human agent sent by God, as those denying his deity claim, if the term ‘Son of God’ only meant he was a representative of God and not God Himself, as Unitarians assert, then this charge would have failed. But the Jews had already determined that Jesus knew He was God. In John 5:18 He told them: ‘My Father worketh hitherto and I work’. We are then told:
Therefore the Jew sought the more to kill Him, because not only had He broken the sabbath but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God.’
If Jesus was just a man and not God then at this point He surely should have said so. The fact is that He didn’t and wouldn’t because as He said elsewhere (John 10:36): “I am the Son of God’.
Now, if you believe, as I do, that as God Himself, the pre-incarnate Christ, appeared as the ‘Angel of the Lord’ in both Old and New Testament times, then perhaps He should have the last word. For, in Matt. 1:20-23 we read that the Angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph and said:
… Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived of her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done that it might fulfil that which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet (Isaiah 7:14 ) saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel which being interpreted is God with us.
And in Jesus indeed He is.