|Readers Question / Comment - Does Jesus have a God?|
I notice you answer questions on your website.
I find you have provided a lot of great information and great
articles on your website. I have a question I hope you could perhaps
answer. It seems confusing and I have asked several people that have
not been able to give me a good solid Biblical answer. I have gotten
several "off the top of the head", nervous, boy, that is
interesting, I am not totally sure kind of answers. I have also
gotten "the Look", the look that says, you should feel guilty even
saying what you just said. I think we should be able to ask any
genuine sincere question regarding the Bible, even if it makes some
people uncomfortable. So, here is my question;
thanks for the email and glad you have enjoyed the website. I'm not surprised you've had a few surprised looks and half answers given with your questions. You've obviously looked a few verses up and it's not the easiest question I've had to be fair! : ) Also I'm glad you said you weren't a JW, Mormon etc... I was beginning to wonder if you were a Mormon part of the way down! But it's certainly an interesting question and I'll do my best.
I think a large
part of the confusion has arisen because of the assumption that 'Elohim'
is used exclusively for Almighty God (Yahweh). The majority of the
times it is... but not always. Have a look at the following details
from 'The complete word study' on Elohim (Strongs H430):
So you can see that there are instances were Elohim is used of false gods, angels as well as human rulers who have been placed in the position of judges or magistrates. Have a look at Exo 22:8-9 "If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges (Elohim), to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor's property. (9) "For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, 'This is it,' the case of both parties shall come before the judges (Elohim); he whom the judges (Elohim) condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.
Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph. God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. (2) How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? Selah (3) Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. (4) Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked. (5) They do not know, nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are unstable. (6) I said, "You are gods,  And all of you are children of the Most High. (7) But you shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes." (8) Arise, O God, judge the earth; For You shall inherit all nations.
Even though it uses Elohim in the bold verses above, from the context we see that they 'judge unjustly', 'show partiality to the wicked' and shall 'die like men'. It is clear that it is not speaking about actual 'gods' or persons equal with Yahweh. The Believers Bible Commentary makes a good comment on this Psalm with particular reference to Jesus' use of it:
Our Lord quoted verse six in one of His confrontations with His foes (Joh_10:32-36). They had just accused Him of blaspheming because He claimed equality with God.
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?"
To the western mind, the argument might not seem clear or convincing, but it obviously had compelling power on His hearers. They understood that Jesus was arguing from the lesser to the greater. The force of the argument is as follows:
In Psalm 82, rulers and judges are addressed by God as gods. Actually they are not divine, but because of their position as God's ministers, they are dignified with the name of gods. Their greatest distinction is that the word of God came to them, that is, they were officially ordained by God as higher powers concerned with government and justice (Rom_13:1).
If the name gods could thus be loosely applied to men like them, how much more fully and accurately can the name God be applied to the Lord Jesus. He had been sanctified and sent into the world by God the Father. This implies that He had lived with God the Father in heaven from all eternity. Then the Father had set Him apart to a mission on earth and had sent Him to be born in Bethlehem. The Jews understood perfectly that He was claiming equality with God, and they sought to apprehend Him but He eluded them (Joh_10:39).
Psalm 45 (especially verse 6-7) is a reference to Jesus being the anointed one and called God by the Father. Hebrews 1 tells us this. But the eternal mystery is that God became a man and had to live as a man. He was anointed by God above 'his fellows' which just means his earthly companions and/or associates. It is not trying to say that there are multiple Gods like Jesus. It is talking about the anointing that Jesus received when he came to this earth to live as a man, and amongst his fellow men.
In terms of the verses cited where Jesus calls the Father 'my God' etc, or 1 Cor. 15:24-28 where Jesus submits himself unto the Father, I haven't ever had a problem with that. We saw from Psalm45 and Hebs 1 that the Father calls Jesus God just as Jesus calls the Father God. But concerning this submission spoken of in 1 Cor 15:24-28, there has always been is a willing submission within the trinity. The Son comes to do only the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit comes not to draw attention to Himself but to glorify the Son. None of that means that they are any less 'God' than the other. It is simply different roles that they have. An earthly example is husbands and wives. The Bible says:
Eph 5:22-25 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (24) But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her'
Each has a role to play and each is different but man is not 'greater' than a woman or vice-versa. Neither is one 'more human' than the other. So it is with the trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all said to be three members of the one God. There is a willing submission within the trinity and different roles that they play. But each are equal in terms of their nature as God.
In terms of 1Co 8:6 which states 'yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him'... we should not think that this is saying that the Lord Jesus is not God or is a lessor God. Paul is again simply differentiating their roles (and standing them in contrast to the many so-called 'gods' that the Corinthians had worshiped) and in fact the word 'Lord' that is used here is 'Kuros' is the Greek which is the New Testament Greek equivalent to the Old Testament Hebrew YHWH.
Biblical library Greek-English dictionary says the following about
The Old Testament witness to God as YHWH is remarkably applied to Jesus consistently in the New Testament. Here the New Testament is uniquely underscoring the reality that Jesus is Lord in the divine sense (e.g., Psalm 102:26f./ Hebrews 1:10-12 passim the New Testament; Isaiah 40:3; Joel 2:32/Romans 10:13; Malachi 3:1/Mark 1:2-4;). Almost 20 New Testament allusions and citations to Psalm 110 are applied to Jesus (e.g., Matthew 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:35; Romans 8:34; passim the New Testament writings).'
I have written
elsewhere about how the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming
Messiah showed that He would be God. You may have seen it but if not:
Also many others have written about some of the other reasons we know that Jesus is God, equal is essence and nature with the Father... such as:
So I hope this helps. Sorry it is a bit long but your question was quite detailed as you've obviously been thinking about these things quite deeply : )
All the best
(Note for other readers: I won't include a link to the two videos but they said that Jesus wasn't God. The website was legalistic making Jewish practices under the law binding upon Christians today)
thanks for the email reply and I had a bit of a look at the videos. I did skim them a bit as some points were labored and I didn't really have 3 hours to sit and listen, but I think I have a gist for what he is saying. The main point of the first video seemed to be that calling Jesus Elohim doesn't mean that he is God as Elohim is used in some other places for human beings and/or angels. And also that Jesus Himself even pointed out one of these examples in John 10:34, quoting from Psalm 82:6.
Out of the 2600+ uses of Elohim in the Old Testament there are a couple that I know of where it is used of human judges (Exodus 22:8-9, Psalm 82:6). Because of these exceptions the speaker in the video basically says that when the New Testament speaks of Jesus being God, it doesn't really mean 'God' but just a God appointed human ruler/judge in the sense of the user of 'elohim' in Psalm 82:6.
As I mentioned in the Q&A above, if Elohim primarily means 'God', but in some very few exceptions can be used on man or angels, then we should simply look at the context of how the word is used to determine its meaning. I mean, the few exceptions with it applying to a human or angel are pretty easy to stop don't you think? On top of this we should look at how the writer of the book understood that thought... how is he using 'elohim' or 'theos'. For example, when John writes the following, what is he trying to tell us?
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God (theos), and the Word was God (theos). (2) He was in the beginning with God (theos). (3) All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Is John telling us that in the beginning, even before all things were created, there was God and with Him was a human judge or ruler? Of course not! John is clearly showing by using the same word theos of both Jesus and the Father in the same verse ('theos' is the Greek equivalent of elohim in the Hebrew) that Jesus is God and was with God right from the very beginning.
Can we know from elsewhere in John's book that this was his understanding and belief? Yes. The very reason that John wrote his gospel is to show that Jesus is God. That is what he states at the end:
John 20:31 ...these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
That is why he states in other places exactly what Jesus was saying about His deity, how the crowd knew what He was stating (so there can be no confusion) and also what John's own belief was. For example let's start with John' own understanding concerning Jesus' claims:
Here is John's understanding of what Jesus was saying (in bold) John 5:17-18 But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." (18) For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
There can be no confusion here. The claims Jesus was making, according to the inspired Gospel writer, were making Himself EQUAL WITH GOD.
Here is what Jesus was saying to Jews who understood exactly what calling yourself the I AM meant!
John 8:57-59 So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" (58) Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." (59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
Here from another example if what the Jews were understanding from Jesus' statements:
John 10:33 We are not stoning you for any of these, replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
I'm currently speaking on the I AM's of Jesus which are through the gospel of John only. There is no doubt that Jesus was claiming to be Yahwah of the Old Testament. This of course is exactly in keeping with what the prophets had said about the coming of Yahwah:
Zechariah 2:10-11 "Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares Yahweh. (11) "Many nations will join themselves to Yahweh in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent Me to you.
In other words, we see Yahweh coming to live and dwell with mankind and Yahweh of hosts sent Him! It only makes sense in the context of the trinity with both the Father and the Son being one God and was fulfilled when the Word, who is God, and dwelt with God from the beginning, took of flesh and dwelt among us.
The speaker in the video places a lot on Jesus quoting Psalm 82:6 but as I quoted in the previous link, Jesus was not quoting this to say 'hey, don't be concerned I'm just a human like in Psalm 82:6!' That would be the opposite of what the entire book of John and the rest of the New Testament actually says. Jesus was simply arguing from the lessor to the greater. He was saying that if the name elohim could be applied to human rulers as it was in Psalm 82, how much more should be now be applied when the One who is eternal and from the Father is in their midst!
My general advice to you Joseph about that site is to run away and don't go back. Seriously. Apart from all this confusion about who Jesus is it is completely mixing law and grace. As I mentioned to you previously, when this occurred with the Galatian church Paul was incredibly forceful in how serious it was. No other letter to another church reads like the seriousness of Paul's intro to the Galatians.
Galatians 1:6-10 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (7) which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! (9) As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (10) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
If you want to read a concise but SOUND article on whether Jesus is God, I would recommend this article by Dr Ron Rhodes. It has a lot more points that I won't try cover. I've listened to him quite a few times and read some of his books and he is excellent for sound Biblical teaching.
I would also recommend a recent video from Hal Lindsay called 'The man God became' that I watched last night (not because of our communication, it was recommended to me by a family member so watched it and thought it was interesting timing given our correspondance so am passing it along):
Hope this helps in some way. Jesus once said to the Jews listening, 'Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins'. He is the I AM, Almighty God, Yahwah of the Old Testament. Don't reduce Him to anything less.