Is Jesus God?

by Ryan Joy

“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1a).

The first few words of John’s gospel introduce us to a being known simply as “the Word” (Greek, logos). From the start, he tells us that this book isn’t about an ordinary person but an eternal being — God himself. The writer begins with the phrase that starts the Bible in Genesis, “In the beginning.” Where Mark starts his gospel describing “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), John seems to say, “Let me take you back further, to the beginning of everything, because He was there too.” A few verses after John’s dramatic opening, “the Word” comes into the world he made to his people, but they do not receive him (John 1:9-11). Then we learn that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). Finally, a few sentences later, John identifies him as Jesus (John 1:17). The ideas in John’s prologue are profound, but these amazing claims lie at the heart of the gospel. Here are some observations that may shed light on the challenging but beautiful truth of Jesus’ divinity.

Two different uses of the word “God”

1. God as a personal name, usually for God the Father.
“and the Word was with God” (John 1:1b).

Jesus is not God the Father. Jesus prayed to the Father (John 17:1) and obeyed the Father (Heb. 5:8). This may be difficult for some to understand. We might ask, “If Jesus is God, how can God (the Son) submit to anyone?” Someone might ask, “Doesn’t that mean Jesus is just like us, a being below God?” We’ll come back to this question later, but the rest of John 1:1 gives a resounding “no” to the idea that Jesus is anything less than God.

2. “God” as a description of the Godhead. 
and the Word was God” (John 1:1c).

Jesus is God. How can the Word be “with God” AND be “God” himself? He is not the whole Godhead, but the divinity that belongs to God the Father also belongs to Him. Notice this same double use of the word “God” in John 1:18 — “No one has ever seen God [the Father]; the only God [the Son], who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” This verse reaffirms John’s monotheism (“the only God“) and dismisses the argument that “Jesus couldn’t be God because no one can see God.” Jesus, who is God and “at the Father’s side,” has shown us what the Father is like. Jesus IS the only God, and we can see the Father in Jesus (John 14:8-9).

God is Distinct From All Else

God is wholly separate from everyone and everything else. No Isrealite would ever describe any other being as God. We’re not God. Notice the gap between any other being and God:

1. God alone is the creator. All others are creatures. Jesus, the maker, creates everything (John 1:1, Heb. 1:2).

2. God alone is worshipped. All others are worshippers (Rev. 22:8-9). Jesus rightly receives worship (Matt. 2:2; 14:33; 28:9, Heb. 1:6, Rev. 5:8-14).

3. God alone is Lord. All others should serve Him (Deut. 6:13, Neh. 9:6, Gal. 1:10). God’s name (YHWH, usually translated as “LORD” in English, kurios in Greek) is holy and separate from all others. Yet we must confess Jesus as Lord (that is, kurios, Rom. 10:9) and set him apart as Lord in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15; cf. Isa. 8:13). Unlike the prophets, Jesus never said, “Thus saith the Lord,” he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you” (John 5:24, 16:20). I can come before him, like Thomas, declaring him “my Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

4. God alone IS Self-existent (I AM) and eternal. All others have a beginning, existing by him and for him. John 1:1-6 uses two similar verbs to emphasize this difference between the Word and all others. The Word “was” (Greek: en) whereas everything else was “made” (Greek: egeneto) in 1:3. John uses the same two verbs to distinguish between Abraham and Jesus when “Jesus said to them, ‘before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58, NASB). So Abraham was born, but Jesus IS. And while the Word made everything else, he just WAS (John 1:1-6).

I can come before him, like Thomas, declaring him “my Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Yet Jesus chose to BECOME like us

To be like us, Jesus emptied himself and took on the form of a servant, not considering equality with God something to grasp (Phil. 2:5-11). Jesus was a man descended from David and Abraham (Matt. 1:1). Through that line, we can trace “the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Rom. 9:5, NIV). Because God became a man, God’s blood could purchase freedom for his church (Acts 20:28)! It’s the great mystery of godliness, Christ manifested in the flesh and taken up in glory (1 Tim. 3:16). 

10 Passages About Christ’s Deity

Beyond John 1:1, here are some of the verses to consider.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

Romans 9:5 “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

Philippians 2:6 “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped”

Colossians 1:15-17; 2:9 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together…For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

Titus 2:13 “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Timothy 1:17 “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”

Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.'”

1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

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