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What the Bible says about Jesus Christ as God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 1:1-5

Most readers quickly grasp who the Word is. Since the Word, the pre-incarnate Jesus, was at the beginning with the One identified as God, whom we know as the Father, the passage implies that there was never a time that Jesus and the Father existed apart from each other. Therefore, Jesus, called the Word and later the Son, is unoriginated.

It may be easiest for a human to understand this concept by realizing that Father and Son are each the same age. Neither is “older” than the other. They are both eternal Beings without beginning or origin or any kind of birth.

John adds another sign of their relationship in verse 3. They both existed before anything else was created, granted life, and given purpose for which to live. This also suggests that the Son is unoriginated: There was nothing before Him to be His source. Verse 3 is especially a glorification of the Word's powers, which should alert us that the New Covenant in which we are involved is exceedingly more important to God's purpose than the one He proposed through Moses.

We can summarize John's first paragraph in this way: “In the beginning” (verse 1) links with Genesis 1:1 and refers to the beginning of creation, not the beginning of God-life. The verse confirms that the Son is a distinct personality from the Father. Citing Their companionship, verse 2 unequivocally assigns full and equal Deity to the Son as the other God-Being possessed.

Verse 3 emphasizes the Word as Creator. It is helpful to grasp that “all things were made through Him” means everything: all heavenly bodies, animals, vegetables, minerals, laws, forces, and energies that operate within the creation to support life. Not the slightest thing was made without His involvement. It also confirms that these two Beings work together in perfect harmony, and neither is inferior as God to the other. In this creation and its functions, the Word had the lead. The passage gives no hint of competition between Them.

Verses 4-5 are an expansion on Christ's creative efforts. John is ensuring that we understand it was Christ's responsibility to be the source, fountain, origin, and cause of life. From Him all life flows. When we add Hebrews 1:3—“upholding all things by the word of His power”—to this, we can confidently say that He keeps all alive and in order to this day.

What a powerful Savior the Father has blessed us with!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1

John 1:3

Paul adds in Colossians 1:16, "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." These verses reveal the Word, who became Jesus Christ, as the agent of creation, performing the work necessary to carry it out. He is not only God but with Another who is also God. "Through Him" implies that this other Being authorized the works of creation carried out by the Word. Does this not indicate two distinct Personalities, both called God by inspiration, working in harmony to accomplish a work?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?

John 1:14

Some commentators feel that this is the greatest verse in the Bible because the apostle John is saying that God became a man. The Greeks could have never, not in their wildest imaginations, have thought—with their background of philosophy and with the gods they worshipped—of God becoming a man. Doing so would have been something too far beneath a god to do. They believed that flesh is evil, so they could not associate a perfectly pure and righteous God becoming something they considered inherently evil. Yet, God "became flesh and dwelt among us."

The word "flesh" is the exact same word that the apostle Paul uses in his books to designate human nature. When we remember some of the things the Bible says about the flesh, John is saying that the Word—the Logos, the pre-existent One, the Creator—became subject to humanity in its fullness, in the exact same way that we are subject to humanity.

He was subject to the pulls of the flesh. He could have been influenced by Satan. He had human desires. The possibility was there for Him to have the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. God did not withhold Him from any of these things. It is awfully hard to think of God encumbering Himself with humanity, but there was a reason why it had to be done.

To be the payment—to be man's Savior—He had to be a human (Hebrews 2:14-18). However, He had to be a man who was more than a man. He had to be encumbered with humanity yet be God in the flesh. He had to be both at the same time. So, the pulls of the flesh could not be withheld from Him. He had to endure and overcome those things. He had to rise above the influences of Satan the Devil to become the payment for the sins of the people and also to be prepared to be a merciful and faithful High Priest.

This has a great deal to do with our calling because we have been called to become priests—kings and priests, as Revelation 5:10 says. What we go through during our converted lives is similar to what Christ went through. As He was called to become High Priest, we are called to become priests under Him. So, we have to experience trials similar to what He did. To qualify for what He is, He had to go through what we do. God is preparing us to aid others who will come along later, just as Jesus was prepared to aid us.

Therefore, the Word became flesh and everything that "flesh" might mean.

John W. Ritenbaugh
John (Part Three)

John 1:14-18

In John 1:14, 18, the Greek term translated as “only begotten” is monogenes. Only John uses this adjective to describe Jesus, and he uses it five times. Its most common usage in Greek is as a term of endearment, though that is not all it adds to Jesus' standing before humanity. The way John uses it also specifically indicates a human family relationship.

It also carries the sense of “only,” intensifying the sense of endearment with the idea of singleness or uniqueness. Thus, the sense of “only” becomes an important addition. There are no others like Him, and Scripture adds that there never has been. He is unique even in respect to all other usages of “son of God” in the Bible. He stands alone. Our Savior has no competition.

At this point, we need to grasp a simple, Greek grammatical rule that most English-speakers are not normally exposed to. In Greek, ho is the equivalent of the English definite article “the.” However, the apostle John does not place ho before “only begotten” in verse 14, nor before “Father” in verse 18 (though most English translations supply it anyway). Its absence is legitimate in Greek usage, as it intensifies the descriptive power of the term “only begotten”—and thus what John is attempting to explain. It amplifies its power.

By writing it in this manner, John specifically signifies that Jesus is the single, sole, exclusive, only representative and—this is important—character (image) of the Being, the Father, who sent Him. This lays additional, greater glory upon the characteristics revealed about Jesus in context.

The apostle's object was to demonstrate and emphasize as best he could through mere words the height of the level of glory he and his fellow apostles witnessed in their three-and-a-half-year relationship with Jesus. With words, He severs Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary, from all other set-apart sons of God in the Scriptures, as well as from any kind of earthly, human, generational relationship.

Essentially, he is stating that Jesus' relationship with the Father was unoriginated. All human relationships are originated and continue through the pairing of a father and a mother. Jesus' relationship with the Father was not so. There is nothing we humans could conceive of as a sexual act by the Father that produced Jesus.

This reality should have a major impact on how we understand Their unity. Recall that Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and My Father are one.” Therefore, everything the Father is in character Jesus is also, even though Jesus is a separate personality from the Father. Just as the Father has always existed, so has the Son. The apostle John used this grammatical rule five times, so we would get the point. Jesus was and is every bit as much God as the Father.

Thus, the term “begotten” as used regarding Jesus does not apply in the same way it does for humans. Nevertheless, John used it to establish the concept of a family relationship so we could understand our relationship to God, as Father and child, more clearly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1

John 5:17

This verse clearly identifies two of the persons within the Godhead: the Father and the Son. The Jews understood what He was driving at; they knew He was saying, "I am God." Jesus Christ was identifying Himself as within Elohim. The Jews understood this, and they were ready to jump on Him for blasphemy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim

John 17:5

Whatever this glory is that He asks to be restored, it is something He did not have as a human, but He did have when He truly was fully God. He had it before He was born of Mary, did not have it during His physical life, and had it returned to Him upon His resurrection and ascension.

In the New Testament, glory is used in the sense of anything that brings honor and praise upon a person. It can be one's works, attitude, manner of living, skill, strength, wisdom, power, appearance, or status. Some or all of these could be included within the framework of Christ's request. The Bible does not clarify or expand on what He specifically meant, but whatever it was, it was lacking in Him while He was human. Therefore He could not have been "fully man and fully God."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Man and Fully God?

John 17:5

The first thing Christ does in this prayer is establish that He was with the Father. In this case, the word with means "beside" or "alongside of." This agrees with John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word [Christ], and the Word was with [along side of] God, and the Word was God."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim

Philippians 2:6-7

Phillips renders this, "For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his privileges as God's equal, but stripped Himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man." Moffatt translates, "Though he was divine by nature, he did not set store upon equality with God, but emptied himself by taking the nature of a servant; born in human guise and appearing in human form." As in other scriptures, He was God, divine by nature, with—beside, accompanying—a different personality also called God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?

Colossians 1:15

Colossians 1:15 and 2:9 are two of the strongest statements in the entire Bible about the divine nature of Jesus Christ. He is not only "equal to" God, He is God! Jesus not only reflects God, He reveals God. He was not a mere statue, a close representation of or likeness of God. He was not like the moon, which reflects the glory of something greater, the sun. He was certainly a channel for God's glory, completely and totally. Being completely holy, He has the authority to judge the world. In Him is no clearer view of what God is like!

Now what did He do when He became a man? As the full revelation of God, the complete expression of God in a human body, He is unique. Yet, He imposed on Himself all the time and space limitations that are imposed on all other human beings. He had every opportunity to waste time, to get drunk, to be a glutton, to get angry, embittered, depressed, upset, frustrated, to have headaches, or to strike out at others.

He had to work, just like other men did. He ran a business. He was a builder, a contractor. Did He have to meet a payroll? Very likely. Did He have to make sure that people paid Him? Very likely. Did He ever have to deal with people who did not pay their bills? Very likely. He imposed on Himself these kinds of things.

Maybe He even had the opportunity to be an in-law, as a brother-in-law to the wives of his brothers. He had to learn to live without a father in the family. Tradition says that His father died fairly early in His life—at least, His father was not around when He began preaching. He is not mentioned at all when Jesus was crucified. His human father's absence gave Christ the opportunity to be the head of a family, as well, and to take care of a widowed mother. He had the opportunity to live through the deaths of loved ones and to face His own death as well.

So, in the life of Jesus Christ, we see God coping with life on the same terms as other people. In Him, we are able to see the kind of character that God possesses. If we will just dare to meditate on these kinds of things, we can see how God acts in actual, real, everyday experiences.

In the gospels, we see God teaching. We see God healing. We see God laying down His life. We see God correcting in love. We see God patiently counseling. We see God reacting to others around Him. We can gather firsthand information about how we ought to react to similar situations in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)

Related Topics: Coping Skills | Holiness | Jesus Christ as God


 

Hebrews 1:10-12

In Psalm 102, these words apply simply to the eternality of God, but here they are applied directly to Christ without qualification. By God's Spirit in us, He has also made us understand that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. As far as we know, not many Jews grasped this reality, but the passage presupposes this fact. The writer of Hebrews uses it as another opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ above angels. Unlike them, He lives eternally.

The author's remark about clothing helps as it addresses the subject of created things in contrast to the eternal God who created all physical things. The quotation's mention of clothing that will be rolled up and disposed of illustrates an eternal truth. All of the physical creation is slowly but constantly wearing down. It is absolutely, relentlessly perishing. From this, we extract a fundamental truth of life: Jesus Christ, the Creator God, began the universe, and He will end it. A new heaven and a new earth will be established (Revelation 21:1), but through it all, He remains the same (Hebrews 13:8).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1


 




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