Is Jesus God? – Part 3 – The Beliefs of the Disciples and the New Testament Witness

Yesterday we talked about Jesus’ claims of being God. Today we are going to look at whether the disciples and the early church believed he is God.

Did the disciples believe Jesus is God? The answer is yes.

There are many instances where the disciples proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God (which in Jewish thought is the same as saying that Jesus is equal in authority and power to God, see yesterday’s article for more). Some examples are Matthew 14:33; 16:16 and John 1:49. Jesus was worshipped by the disciples, as found in places like Matthew 28:9 and Luke 24:52.

Probably the most obvious assertion of a disciple’s belief in Jesus being God can be found in Thomas’ exclamation “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) after he encountered the risen Lord.

There are also many instances in the New Testament where Jesus Christ is asserted as God. The most famous of these is John 1:1, 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Further down this passage, the Word (that is, Jesus Christ), is referred to as “God the One and Only” (v. 18). Romans 9:5 says, “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” The letter of 2 Peter is addressed “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” (1:1). Titus 2:13 also refers to Jesus as our God and Savior.

There are all sorts of allegations that the teaching that Jesus is God came into Christianity later on. But from a textual perspective, these passages illustrate the fact that the Lord Jesus’ disciples believed that he is God, and that the early church taught this as being true. These writings date back to the very generation of the disciples, and show the doctrine that was taught in the earliest days of the church. They would not have been written down as such if they were not believed to be true.

Part 1: “My Lord and My God!”
Part 2: Jesus’ Claims
Part 3: The Beliefs of the Disciples and the New Testament Witness
Part 4: Jesus Christ and the Attributes of God
Part 5: The End

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6 Responses to Is Jesus God? – Part 3 – The Beliefs of the Disciples and the New Testament Witness

  1. Ronald says:

    There are only a few instances in which Jesus is spoken of as God (Greek, THEOS; Hebrew ELOHIM, EL). The general rule of the New Testament is to distinguish Jesus from his God, whom Jesus said was the only true God. (John 17:1,3) John 1:1,2 twice states that the LOGOS was with God, thus distinguishing the LOGOS from God whom he was with. (see John 17:1,3,5) The problem is failure to recognize the Hebraic usage of the words EL, ELOHIM, and THEOS when applied to others than the only Most High, Yahweh. Jesus is never called the Most High.

    In John 1:1,2 the question is: Did John call Jesus “THEOS” with the same
    meaning as the “God” and Father of Jesus (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3,17; 1 Peter 1:3)? I don’t believe he did, and John demonstrated this distinction by twice saying that the Logos was “with” God, thus distinguishing between the use of THEOS as applied to “God”, and the one who is “with” God.

    What we need to know is how the Hebrew word elohim, and its variations of el and eloah, are used in the Bible, and if these words have any application to the usages of theos as applied to Jesus, such as in John 1:1; John 20:28 and, as some claim, Hebrews 1:8. What we find is that the Bible uses these Hebrew words in many different ways, in application to men, angels, and even inanimate objects. When considering the Hebrew word *EL*, that this word is used to mean other than God Almighty or a false god may be readily seen by anyone who will carefully note the following texts from the King James Version, in which English translations of the Hebrew word El are in denoted by *..*: “It is in the *power* of my hand.” (Genesis 31:29) “There shall be no *might* in thine hand.” (Deuteronomy 28:32) “Neither is it in our *power*.” (Nehemiah 5:5) “Like the *great* mountains.” (Psalm 36:6) “In the *power* of thine hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27) “Pray unto *a god* [mighty one] that cannot save.” (Isaiah 45:20) “Who among the sons of the *mighty*.” (Psalm 89:6) “God standeth in the congregation of the *mighty*.” (Psalm 82:1) “Who is like unto thee, O Lord [Yahweh] among the *Gods* [mighty ones or ruling ones]?” (Exodus 15:11) “Give unto the Lord [Yahweh] of ye *mighty*.” (Psalm 29:1) “The *mighty* God even the Lord [Yahweh].” (Psalm 50:1) “The *strong* among the mighty shall speak” (Ezekiel 32:21)

    ELOHIM is the plural of ELOAH and EL. Like EL, its usage is not confined to that of the Almighty. We have already seen that it is applied to the “sons of god” — men — in Psalm 82:6,7. Additionally, we find that Moses is spoken of as *elohim* to Pharoah (Exodus 7:1) and also to Aaron (Exodus 4:16). Furthermore, the angels are also called elohim: Psalm 8:5 {compare Hebrews 2:9; also Psalm 50:1 and 96:4 could be speaking of angels as elohim). Additionally, the judges of Israel are referred to as *ha elohim* (as a body): Exodus 21:6; 22:8,9,28 (See Acts 23:5). The wicked spirit that impersonated Samuel is called elohim. (1 Samuel 28:13) Thus seen, anyone who has been given special power by Yahweh can legitimately be referred to as a god. Even the wicked spirits are legitimately called by this title, since they do receive their power from the only ultimate Supreme Power, Yahweh, although they misuse the power that Yahweh has given to them.

    Below are some scriptures in which Yahweh the [All-Mighty] El/Elohim is contrasted with other elohim [Mighty Ones]

    Psalm 86:6-8–“Hear, Yahweh, my prayer…. There is no one like you among the gods [elohim].”
    Psalm 95:3–“For Yahweh is a great God [el], A great King above all gods. [elohim — mighty ones].”
    Psalm 50:1–“The Mighty One [el], God, [elohim; literally, God of gods — el elohim — the mighty of the mighty], Yahweh, speaks.” Young’s Literal reads on this: “The God [el] of gods [elohim] — Jehovah — hath spoken.”
    Exodus 15:11–“Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods [el–mighty ones]?”
    Psalm 96:4–“For great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised! He is to be feared above all gods. [elohim–mighty ones.]”

    Jesus identified the One whom he was with as “the only true God”. (John 17:1,3,5) Thus THEOS applied to the Logos should be viewed in the sense of “mighty”, or “a mighty one”. This is in line with the Hebraic usage of the Hebrew words for God when applied to any other than Yahweh, the only Most High. Jesus demonstrated this usage in John John 10:34-36, where he applies the plural THEOI to the sons of God to whom the LOGOS came. If the saints as men are called THEOI, without meaning that they are the Most High, certainly the Son of the Most High can also be called THEOS without meaning that he is the Most High. Such application simply designates them as “mighty” or “mighty ones”, not that they are the only true God, the only Most High.

    In service of Jesus and his God,
    Ronald
    http://godandson.reslight.net

    • This is the greek of john 20;28

      apekriqh QwmaV kai eipen autw,`O kurioV mou kai`o qeoV mou

      APEKRITHÊ THÔMAS KAI EIPEN AUTWi, hO KURIOS MOU KAI hO THEOS MOU

      Answered Thomas and said to him, the Lord of me and the God of me

      Some had tried to split Lord with Jesus and God with the father but The text does not start and thomas said but thomas said to HIM in which Jesus is The qualifier of being both Lord and God in this verse.

  2. Where are you getting the idea that the Greek Theos means mighty one? What you’re doing is taking one attribute of God in the Old Testament, which was written in Hebrew, and then taking it into a different language, Greek, and saying that the attribute Mighty is the meaning of Theos. Your logic is faulty. Saying that an attribute in one language is equal to the definition of another word in another language is, quite blatantly, terrible exegesis.

  3. Chris Mohrbacher says:

    the word “Theos” is horribly translated into english as “god.” The better word is “divine.” And there is a large difference between “theos” (divine) with no definite article and “ho theos” (THE divine).

    The word was with “ho theos” and the word was “theos.” HUGE difference there. -only- the father was referred to as “ho theos.” “Kurios Theos” would have a similar meaning… and John 20:28 DOES show Thomas calling Jesus “kurios” AND “theos”…. but again… not “kurios theos.” Here, again, “theos” has no definite article and only implies that he recognized Jesus as a divine being, heavenly, celestial, in a spiritual form (not human).

    Contrast this with the many times Jesus referred to his father as “my God” or specifically said “my father is greater than I.” Also remember subjected himself to his father, saying that he does nothing on his own accord, but only does the will of his father… thus distinguishing that the two have individual wills… although Jesus subjects his will to his father’s. On top of this, note how ONLY the Father knows the day of his kingdom… specifically no other heavenly being, “not even the Son.” … Doesn’t sound equal to me. And lastly a simple, direct quote… no interpretation needed, no inference… just a simple statement at 1 Corinthians 8:6 “There is for us only one God, the Father.” The next sentence shows there also being one lord, the Son… further specifying the individuality between the two.

    • Christians will ask) does theos in John 1:1c not have the article? (kai theos ēn ho logos, lit., “and God was the Word” not “the God was the Word”). Answer: Simply put, if John had written: ho theos ēn ho logos (lit., “the God was the Word” making theos definite), he would have been teaching Oneness doctrine (or Modalism)! In other words, the passage would have indicated that “God” in 1:1b (the Father) and “God” in 1:1c (the Word) were the same Person! But semantically, theos is *qualitative,* not definite (and surely not indefinite—one of
      many).

      Definite nouns point to the specific identification of someone or something (thus, in 1:1b “the God” identifies the Father) while qualitative nouns point to the essence or nature of someone or something.[8] The anarthrous theos indicates exactly as to what John was communicating: As to the Word’s nature (quality), He was fully God, but as to His Person (or specific identity), He was not identified as the Father, but personally distinct from Him: “The Word was with [pros] God.”[9]

      http://www.christiandefense.org/NWT.John%201.1_article.htm

  4. Joshua says:

    “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

    Wait they worshiped him? But it says that you are not supposed to worship any other god but the one and only God. So why didn’t Jesus contest and say “No don’t worship me!” Because Jesus is God, the one and only.

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