Re: Calling Jesus God in...

Date: Mon Sep 25 1995 - 04:18:48 EDT

Sorry, the previous E-mail got away before I finished it. This is the
finished version.

I would beg to differ with you on the statement,

<<No NT writer clearly equates Jesus with God, and this on account of a
monotheistic belief...>>

There are many New Testament passages where the Greek clearly points out
Jesus as God. When many are taken individually, and especially as they are
taken together, they make a profound statement. The writers of Scripture
knew what they were doing. They did not make a mistake in writing so many
passages which makes it appear that Jesus is God.

What about passages like Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 where the Granville-Sharp
rule says the single article with two nouns names the two as the same person.
 Also, what about the popular "ego eimi" in John 8:24, 58 and other
passages. Nowhere else does anyone use ego eimi without a predicate on the
other side except Jesus Christ. This is equivalent to Exodus 3:14, "I am who
I am."

There is no confusion in the minds of these writers. They weren't being
ambiguious. They weren't heretical for not clearing up their language and
coming so close to calling Jesus God. No, rather they knew exactly what they
were doing. They knew who Jesus was. Regarding John 1:1, there is a 3 point
outline below.


John MacArthur has a very good tape on this topic. You can call 800/55-GRACE
and ask for tape #1295. If you wish a more in-depth look, ask for tapes 1502
and 1503.

The term for the "word" is Logos. It is used by John in a very dramatic way
to begin His gospel.
It was also a point of identification with his readers, both Jews and
Gentiles. To the Jew, the Word of God was a very important concept. The Jew
constantly heard in the Old Testament, "The Lord says...," "And God
spoke...," "The Word of the Lord came...," etc.

The Jew in John's day would be very familiar with the Word of God. He was
familiar with how God was speaking. God revealed Himself through speaking.
 The power of God, the will of God, the mind of God, the purpose of God, the
design of God, the plan of God were all revealed in the Old Testament through
the Word of God.

What John was saying to the Jew was, "That will, mind, purpose, design, plan,
power or God has come to you. If you want to know the plan of God, the will
of God, etc. look, He's here." John goes on to reveal that He was the one
who brought the universe in existence (John 1:3) and revealed God to men
(John 1:18 where he uses eksegeomai from which we get exegesis--Jesus is the
exegesis of the Father, He is the very explanation or expression of God).

"Logos" was also uniquely common to the Greeks. To them, the Logos was a
non-personalized force proceeding from a god, whatever god that may be. They
say that the Word of God is that impersonal force that brings all things into
existence. Heraclytis wrote about the impersonal Logos. The Stoics write
about this as some kind of power or force, a totally impersonal force without
a person. Paul Tillich calls it that "basic cause." That force brought
things into existence. It created whatever exists. It sustains whatever is.
 Filo calls it "the power of creation, the tiller by which God stirs all
things, the intermediary between the world and God, the priest between man
and God." So the Greek knew about the Logos.

And John is saying, "You Greeks have thought, talked, philosophized about
this Logos. I submit to you, He is here." And to the Jew, he is saying,
"This one is God, the eternal One. The One who created all things. He is the
power, will, mind, purpose, design, and plan of God."


There are those who do not see the Word being declared to be God, but rather
they say He is "a god." They say this because there is no article before the
final "theos" (God) in John 1:1. But as you will see, this is all quite
normal in Greek.

I go through John 1:1 in Greek class every year. There, I present seven
exegetical observations from the Greek text that show the Word to be God, not
merely "a god." This is bolstered by the context which declares the Word to
be the creator of all things, etc.

1. The proximity of the previous "theos" (God). The word order in the Greek
is reversed from the normal word order in the final clause, bringing God in
close proximity to the previous God with the article. The latter "theos" is
explained in context to be the same as the previous "theos" (God). If John
had intended to write that the Word was "a god," he would not have put them
right next to each other. In the original manuscripts, there wasn't any
punctuation or spaces between the words (lit., "THEONTHEOS...").

2. The impossibility of putting an article before nouns on both sides of a
copulative phrase. When you put an article before nouns on both sides of a
linking verb in Greek, you are saying that the totality of the one is the
other, and vise-versa. This would make God out to be nothing else besides
the Second Person of the Trinity. But God is more than this, He is also the
Father and the Holy Spirit. For an in-depth discussion of this, see
Robertson's Grammar, pages 767ff. See John 4:24 and 1 John 4:8 where the
article on one side is missing also (cf. Robertson's Word Pictures, Volume
IV, p. 223 on 2 Corinthians 3:17; cf. also his Grammar, p. 767f.)

3. The Word was "pros ton theon" (face to face with God). This is a very
strong phrase showing how the Word was on a level with God, face to face.

4. The "kai" (and) in John 1:1 is an epexegetical kai. Kai can be translated
a number of different ways ("and, also, indeed, even" just to name a few).
 John especially uses kai to continue and further explain the previous
clauses or sentences. This is an epexegetical use. In John 1:1, John is
building on each of the previous thoughts to a climax. "In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." A.T. Robertson
has an excellent section on kai in his Grammar, p. 1179-1183.

5. It is common for Koine Greek writers to reference the first use of a given
person with the article, then often without the article on subsequent uses in
the same passage. So where God has the article in the second clause of John
1:1, it doesn't in the third, but refers to the same God, not "a god" that is

6. John 1:12 references God without the article in Greek. "To as many as
believed in Him, He gave the right to become children of God..." It is
interesting to note how many cults and the like try to interpret the latter
reference in John 1:1 of God to be "a god" because it doesn't have the
article, but then proceed to interpret John 1:12 as "God" unquestionably!
 The point is that both in the passage refer to God the Father Himself.

Finally, in conclusion here, John meant to write that Jesus, the Word (cf.
John 1:14) was God. He wouldn't have written John 1:1ff. so confusing if he
didn't mean this. There are so many things that make it clear that John was
saying Jesus was God here. If he didn't mean this, then he really made a lot
of mistakes to confuse his readers.

Was Jesus God? To answer the question, we need to look carefully at the
evidence of Scripture.

III. The Deity of Jesus Christ

There is one God according to Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11;
44:8; 45:5-6, 14, 21-22; 46:9). Isaiah quotes God as saying that He knows of
no other God, so there must not be any. God also says, "He. Before Me there
was no God formed, And there will be none after Me" (Isaiah 43:10).

Jesus is indeed God (John 1:1,14; Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9; Titus 2:13;
Hebrews 2:8; Isaiah 9:6; etc.). Not only are there many more verse to show
this, but the incommunicable attributes of God can be clearly seen in Jesus
Christ. Incommunicable attributes are those qualities of God that no other
creature can possess. If any one can be shown to have these qualities, the
would be God.

Jesus possesses the incommunicable attributes of God. Dr. Marc Mueller has
established five categories that show Jesus as God. Much of the following is
his material from the Master's Seminary Syllabus, Theology 605.

1) Explicit claims (John 1:1; 8:58; John 20:28; Philippians 2:6; Revelation
23:13; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20; Hebrews 1:8-9; 1 Timothy 3:16;
John 1:18; Acts 20:28); Colossians 2:9).

2) Divine Names (Isaiah 42:8; Psalm 83:18; Joel 2:32; Romans 10:11-14; Romans
9:33; 1 Peter 2:6-8; Philippians 2:9; see Isaiah 6:1ff. compared to John

3) Incommunicable Attributes
   a) eternality (Revelation 22:13; 1:8; Isaiah 48:12; Hebrews 7:3,23-24;
Isaiah 9;6)
   b) omnipresent (Matthew 18:20; 28:20)
   c) omniscience (John 21:17; 16:30; Revelation 2:23, 24; Matthew 11:23,27;
17:27; 26:33-34; Luke 19:30-34)
   d) omnipotence (Revelation 1:8; Philippians 3:21; Matthew 28:18)
   e) Immutability (Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8)
   f) Aseity--necessary self existence (John 5:26; 10:17-18)

4) Incommunicable works
   a) creation (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)
   b) providence (Luke 10:22; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3)
   c) life (John 5:19-29; Philippians 3:21)
   d) reception of worship (John 5:23; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8-14;
Philippians 2:9-11)

  1. Jesus Christ Himself taught His own deity
  2. The Jews clearly perceived that He taught His deity.
  3. The N.T. Apostles all believed in and affirmed the deity of Jesus.
  4. All of the evidence of N.T. theology confirms the deity of Jesus Christ
according to the categories listed above.
  5. Without understanding the deity of Christ, it is impossible to have true
salvation (John 8:24).
Again, this represents my understanding of Scripture as it presents John 1:1
and the deity of Christ. There are other teachers answering pagers that will
disagree with these conclusions. You must examine carefully the Scriptural
evidence to decide what you believe the Bible says about these things.

If I can assist you further, please feel free to ask.

Grace to you,


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