Defending the Deity of Christ

Christ “existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6)


        Calvary Chapel Oxnard affirms the deity of Christ as an essential, non–negotiable article of The Faith, as does every other Calvary Chapel in our movement. We will never compromise on this.
        The proper understanding and teaching of the identity of Christ is crucial in salvation.
• If Jesus is not God, how could His death have infinite value to atone for the sins of the entire world?
• In order to reconcile God to man and man to God, Jesus as our High Priest must represent both “sides” of the conflict. Jesus is only able to fulfill this role as Mediator by being fully God and fully man.
• How can people call upon Jesus as Savior having an unbiblical definition of Him? Which Jesus are they calling out to: Jesus an angel, Jesus an enlightened man, Jesus a sort of lesser “god,” even Jesus a good moral myth; or Jesus who is God, The Almighty, The Creator, who took on human flesh?
        We have to be clear and emphatic about the Deity of Christ. Here are many reasons we hold fast to this critical doctrine. This is not every proof in scripture, but these are sufficient to defend His Divine nature—


        These three passages are the clearest, most emphatic in proclaiming Jesus as God. In each case, “deity deniers,” such as cults, have tried to change the interpretation of each, but these arguments fail, for the reasons explained below.

JOHN 1:1–3

John 1:1–3 • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
        Jehovah’s Witnesses render this in their version of the Bible (the New World Translation), “the Word was a god.” They try to confound you with convoluted reasoning: saying because an article, such as “the” or “a” is missing in Greek, this indicates that “god” is inferior, so they add the article “a”—rendering it "a god." But all reputable Greek scholars disagree. They say “a god” is not permitted by the grammar. The missing article stresses that “the Word was God.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses are in error. It is worth noting that they have refused to release the names of the scholars they base their version on.
        The way the sentence is structured in Greek emphasizes the deity of Christ. The original Greek literally reads, “and God was the Word,” which looks backwards in English, but in Greek, putting the predicate “God” first in the sentence (before the subject, “the Word”), emphasizes the meaning—that the Word was God.
        But, even without getting into the details of Greek grammar, just read the passage and notice the first phrase, “In the beginning…” John is clearly connecting this to...
Genesis 1:1 • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
        The key is this: If Jesus is just a lesser god, then John is teaching polytheism! Presenting Jesus as a god, who is a creator, who has authority as lord, and is our savior, but is not GOD, is simply blasphemous paganism. There is no way John would teach polytheism. He clearly believed there is only ONE God, and that God is ONE.


Colossians 1:15–19 • He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him...
        This passage so clearly declares the preexistence of Jesus and His eternal, uncreated nature that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their New World Translation have had to outright “fact check” this passage by adding the word “other,” rendering the text “for by Him all [other] things were created.” This suggests Jesus was created first, and then He created everything else. The addition of the word “other” shows how damaging this passage is to their false doctrines! (We'll discuss the term "Firstborn" in a following section.)
        Paul’s big point in Colossians is to counter Gnostic heretics who redefined the nature of Jesus to fit their errant beliefs. We see this in chapter two…
Colossians 2:8–10 • See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
        Anything taught by the Gnostic heretics that demoted Jesus by any degree in deity or in humanity would be rejected by Paul.
        In Colossians, Paul adds: For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, (1:19)
        And, in Jesus, “all the fullness of Deity [or, “Godhead”- NKJV] dwells in bodily form” (2:9)
        This is also seen in Philippians, where Paul says—“who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself…” (2:6–7)
        There is no way around the fact that Paul means to establish the deity of Jesus. Once again—there are either multiple gods, or just one Triune God, Who has revealed Himself to us as Father, Son, and Spirit.


Hebrews 1:1–3 • God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...
        God created the world through Jesus, and Jesus upholds all things by His power. Jesus is the exact representation of God, and Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory.
        The word “image” here isn’t a mere likeness, but rather, like the image of a coin. When a coin is stamped with an image, it becomes the denomination it is stamped with. It becomes the same thing as the prototype. Equating Jesus with the image of God doesn’t mean a mere reflection but rather, that He is same in nature and value as God. Jesus IS the radiance of God’s glory. Yet the prophet Isaiah says God won’t give His glory to another. (Isaiah 48:11)
        All of Hebrews chapter 1 exalts Jesus as superior to anything and everything. Notice these verses…
Hebrews 1:6 • Let all the angels of God worship Him
        Jesus is to be worshiped as God.
Hebrews 1:8 • Your throne, O God, is forever and ever
        The writer of Hebrews identifies Jesus as God.
Hebrews 1:10 • And “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.”
        The writer of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 102:25–27, which is clearly speaking of Creator God, yet ascribes this passage to Jesus Christ! This is a powerful proof of the deity of Christ.


Isaiah 45:21–22 • …And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.
        According to Isaiah, there is only one God, and He is the Savior. Only by turning to this One God can a person be saved. Yet consider these verses, written by Paul to Titus & Timothy…
God is called “our Savior”—
1 Timothy 2:3 • For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…
Titus 3:4 • But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared…
Jesus is also called “our Savior”—
Titus 1:4 • Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Titus 3:6 • …through Jesus Christ our Savior,
But even more, Jesus is called “our great God and Savior”—
Titus 2:13 • looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
2 Peter 1:1 • …by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
        The Greek grammar is emphatic here: “God and Savior” refers to one person.


John 5:17–18 • But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
       Calling God His Father was a unique claim for Jesus. God wasn't just a "father" in terms of origins, as the Jews thought of God as the Father of their nation. No—Jesus was claiming far more! He claimed God was IN Him, and working THROUGH Him, and ONE with Him (as we'll see below). The Jews understood exactly what Jesus meant: He was claiming equality with God.
        John 1:18 agrees. Jesus, the “only begotten God in the bosom of the Father” came to reveal the invisible Father God to us. No amount of manipulating the text can alter the fact that John refers to Jesus in unmistakable terms here. The phrase “only begotten God” can’t be interpreted in any way other than as a clear affirmation of Jesus’ deity.
John 5:23 • …so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
        The honor due to the Son is equal to the honor due to the Father. This is an incredibly arrogant claim—unless Jesus is truly God.
John 8:58–59 • Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him
        Jesus claims an eternal nature with these words. The verb tense is present and active—“I am.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses translate this as “I have been,” once again violating the rules of Greek grammar.
John 10:28–33 • And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
        The cults say Jesus only claimed to be one with the Father in the sense of purpose; that He was simply saying they were on the same team.
        But Jesus’ claim of being one with God incited the Jews to declare His words blasphemous, and picked up stones to kill Him. Jesus was saying His hand was equal to God's hand! And as a mortal, finite man, how could Jesus put His works on the same plane as the work of infinite, omnipotent God?
        There is no debate about the interpretation. The Pharisees hearing his words knew what He was saying, and were certainly in the best position to understand the gravity of His claim. Notice Jesus, Who is The Truth, didn’t clarify His meaning, which He certainly would have done if He were being misunderstood, in order to protect God’s honor and holiness.
John 14:11 • Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me…
        “Believe Me.” Jesus stresses the urgency of this. This is a critical matter.


Matthew 26:63–66 • But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 
Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”
        When Jesus calls Himself the “Son of God” (for example, John 5:25), this does not mean less than God. The Jews understood this as equating Himself with God. Here at His trial, they considered the term “Son of God” blasphemous, and this sealed Jesus’ death sentence.
        Don’t miss Jesus’ words: “It is as you said.” He does take the title “Son of Man,” which was a term of great honor, used in the Old Testament for the Messiah (primarily in Daniel 7). “Son of Man” stresses His role and mission as the Savior of mankind, but He doesn’t deny being the “Son of God” as well.
        The term "Son of God," used throughout the New Testament, it not meant to imply that God gave birth to the Son of God, and that there was a time when the Son of God didn't exist. The term is not a reference to origin; it is a term of relationship; "Son of God" speaks of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son in the Godhead.
        Similarly, the term “firstborn” doesn’t mean “born first,” as we read previously…
Colossians 1:15 • He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
        “Firstborn” It is a title which emphasizes the preeminent son in the family; that He has priority over all things. Scholars agree, the Apostle Paul is NOT saying God gave birth to Pre–Incarnate Jesus at some point in eternity past. “Firstborn” means there is no being in all of creation who compares to Jesus in position, authority, and honor.


Isaiah 44:6 • “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
Isaiah 48:12–13 • “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens;
        In Isaiah, God claims to be the “first and the last,” and there is no other God besides Him.
Revelation 21:6–7 • Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
        In Revelation 21, God again affirms being the “first and last,” and the “Alpha and the Omega,” the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet. This is God speaking, “I will be his God”; no doubt.
Revelation 1:7–8 • BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
        In vs 7, the Lord God is the “Alpha and the Omega” and the Almighty. In vs 7, He is the Pierced One Who comes in the clouds. This means, the Lord God is the One Who is coming with the clouds, who is pierced. Compare that to our next passage:
Revelation 22:12–13 • “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
        Jesus is speaking in this passage. He is the “one who is coming quickly.” (Rev 3:11, 22:7, 22:22)


        Jehovah’s Witnesses say people didn’t “worship” Jesus. They argue that the word for “worship” can also mean “bow down before” as in honor or fear. The Greek word “proskyneo” can mean either worship or bow down, so context must determine the meaning.
        Consider the following examples. In each case, Jesus has just done a miracle; healing the blind, walking on water, resurrecting the dead, ascending to heaven. The disciples responded by worshiping Him. They weren’t bowing down in anything less than honoring Him as God. They weren’t honoring him as an earthly lord, or falling down in fear. This is clearly worship for God.
John 9:37–39 • Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”
        After the blind man’s eyes were opened, he worshiped Jesus and wasn’t refused.
Matthew 14:32–33 • When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
        The disciples worshiped Jesus and He didn’t refuse them. Once again, to the Jews, the term “God’s Son” doesn’t mean Jesus is less than God, but rather, equal to God; God incarnate.
Matthew 28:9 • And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
        After His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples worshiped Him and He didn’t refuse them.
Luke 24:51–53 • While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.
        After His ascension, Jesus’ disciples worshiped Him and they weren’t rebuked for it.


My Lord and my God
John 20:28 • Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
        Thomas said, “My Lord and my God” when he saw the resurrected Jesus (John 20:28). Greek scholars affirm that both “Lord” and “God” refer to Jesus here.
Call upon the name of the Lord
Romans 10:13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Joel 2:32 • “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered...
        In Romans 10:13, Paul says that we must call upon the name of the Lord to be saved, quoting from Joel 2:32, where Joel is clearly speaking of the God of Israel: YHWH. Yet, the “name of the Lord” we are to call upon for salvation is JESUS CHRIST (Romans 10:9) So, Jesus is YHWH!
        Jesus is called “Immanuel,” meaning: “God with us.”
God blessed forever
Romans 9:5 • … and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
        The cults put a period instead of a comma after “flesh” and make the last statement a doxology to God, not to Jesus. Greek scholars say this is an abrupt and unnatural way to punctuate this.
Only Master and Lord
Jude 4 • For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
        This is a critical verse. Jesus Christ is the ONLY Master and Lord. This is a blasphemous statement, unless Jesus is EQUAL to God. Also, notice that denying Jesus as Master and Lord is the work of ungodly, condemned false teachers.


        The one true God, known by His covenant name YHWH, “I AM THAT I AM,” to Israel, is declared over and over in scripture to be ONE GOD. He is the Creator of All, and the Maker of Humankind. He shares His glory with no other “god.” He is The Almighty, and He is the only everlasting, eternal being. And, critically, He decided in His infinite and unimpeachable wisdom to reveal Himself to us in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
        God can and did become Man, taking on human flesh with a dual nature, fully God and fully human. This is not a contradiction, an absurdity, nor an impossibility. God can do miracles, and the deity of Christ is His greatest and most important. And even more, as we’ve demonstrated, this is Biblically clear and theologically critical.
        Arguments against the deity of Christ typically involve taking a passage that stresses Jesus’ humanity, or His submission to the Father, and offering this as a “proof text,” apart from the full teaching of scripture. Another tactic is taking a verse out of context, or separating the meaning from the original language of scripture. Denying the deity of Christ in this way begs the question: WHY? What is so offensive about the idea of God becoming Man? Why is the God who is able to do all things limited in His ability to take on human flesh?
        The hard truth of Jesus’ identity caused the Jews to stumble and reject Him, and they crucified Him for it. Sadly, modern deity deniers, some who even claim to “Christian,” agree with the Jews of Jesus’ day and reject Jesus in the same way. This is tragic.
        But there is an easy solution. Repent of your false belief, and be transformed in the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). See Jesus for Who He truly is, and worship Him anew today.