In the previous article we defined the doctrine of the Trinity in terms of three principles:

1.  There is one and only one God.  That is, there is exactly one all-powerful, all-knowing being we call “God” or “the Lord” or by the Hebrew name “Yahweh.”

2.  There are three co-equal persons who are God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

3.  The three persons of God are each fully God and are eternally distinct from each other.  In other words, the Father is not the Son or the Spirit, nor is the Son the Spirit, but each is fully God and this has always been that way and will always be that way.

We also examined some of the misrepresentations of the Trinity, and how arguments against the Trinity are often straw-man fallacies.  Then we proceeded to show that the Bible clearly teaches the first principle of the Trinity: that there is one and only one God.  Having established this, we now move on to ask if the second principle of the Trinity is biblical.

Are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit God?

Although there is exactly one being who is God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity, this one God is three in terms of persons.  By persons, we refer to rational individuals with whom there is love and communication between the three, and that each can act as an independent witness in terms of biblical law (e.g. Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15).  Each person has a distinct role in the redemption of God’s people.  So, there is one God, but three persons who are God.  Namely, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.

How can we establish from Scripture that a person of the Trinity really is God?  There are two ways.  First, we could show Scriptures that directly call a person of the Trinity “God.”  Obviously if the Bible directly states that the Son is God, then the Son is God.  The only alternative would be to reject the Bible and make up your own god – one who cannot save you.  Second, we can show Scriptures that attribute to a person of the Trinity an attribute or action that can only apply to God.  For example, God is the Creator of all things (Isaiah 44:24).  So, hypothetically, if we found a verse that says the Father created all things, then this would prove that the Father is God.  If we found a verse that declares that a person of the Trinity is our Savior/Redeemer, then we know this person is Yahweh (the LORD), since Yahweh is the only Savior/Redeemer according to passages like Isaiah 43:11, 45:21, 60:16.  With these principles in mind, let us search the Scriptures to see if each person of the Trinity is truly God.

Is the Father God?

First, the Bible directly calls the Father “God” (John 6:27, 8:41-42, 54, 20:17; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3, 8:6, 15:24; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 4:6, 5:20; Philippians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 3:11, 13, James 1:27; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 1:6).  It specifically refers to Him as “God the Father” or “God our Father” in many places (e.g. Galatians 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 6:23; Philippians 1:2, 2:11; Colossians 1:2, 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2, 2:16; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17; 2 John 3; Jude 1).  So, we have the direct teaching that the Father is God.

Furthermore, the Heavenly Father has attributes that can only apply to God.  He rightly receives worship (John 4:21, 23), but only God can rightly receive worship (Mathew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13; Exodus 20:4-5).  The Father even has the power to raise the dead (John 5:21) which is something only God can do (Romans 4:17; 1 Timothy 6:13; Deuteronomy 32:39).  The Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), He receives prayer (Matthew 6:9), He has the power to forgive sins (Matthew 6:14), He sovereignly provides for life (Matthew 6:26, 11), He causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall (Matthew 5:45), He is Lord of heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21), He is surrounded by angels in heaven (Matthew 18:10), His is the Kingdom (Matthew 26:29, Luke 12:32), He can give the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13, John 14:26), the Temple is His house (John 2:16), apart from His power no one can come to Christ (John 6:44, 65), He is greater than all (John 10:29), He existed before the world was created (John 17:5), He has sovereign authority over history (Acts 1:7), and Jesus calls Him “God” (John 20:17).  These attributes and actions can only apply to God.  So, clearly, the Father is God.

Is the Holy Spirit God?

Likewise, the Holy Spirit is both directly called God and also has attributes and actions that only apply to God and none other.  Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is often called the “Spirit of the LORD” where “the LORD” is the English translation of “Yahweh” – the holy name of God (Judges 3:10, 6:34, 11:29, 13:25, 14:6, 19; 1 Samuel 10:6, 16:13; 2 Samuel 23:2; 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Chronicles 20:14; Isaiah 11:2, 40:13, 61:1, 63:14; Ezekiel 11:5, 37:1; Micah 2:7, 3:8).  Furthermore, in Acts 5:3-4, Peter explained that when Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit this action was lying to God.  This would only be true if the Holy Spirit is God.

Furthermore, the Bible illustrates in many places that when the Holy Spirit speaks, it is God speaking.  Consider Acts 28:25-27, in which the Holy Spirit is quoted as speaking in Isaiah 6:8-10.  But Isaiah 6:8 indicates that this is the Lord God speaking.  The New Testament clarifies that it is the Holy Spirit who is speaking, which is only possible if the Holy Spirit is the Lord God.  Many other passages likewise attribute to the Holy Spirit the words of God (e.g. Hebrews 3:7 quoting Psalm 95:7, Hebrews 10:15-17 quoting Jeremiah 31:32-34)

The Holy Spirit has attributes that can only be applied to God.  For example, He is omni-present (Psalm 139:7-9), all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), all-powerful (Job 33:4; Luke 1:35; Romans 15:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:5), and eternal (Hebrews 9:14).  The Holy Spirit renews the heart, enabling believers to proclaim that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3), He renews believers unto salvation (Titus 3:5), He seals believers for redemption (Ephesians 4:30), He reveals the future (Luke 2:26; Acts 1:16, 11:28), and He can raise the dead (1 Peter 3:18).  The Holy Spirit sanctifies believers (1 Peter 1:2), yet the Bible tells us that it is Yahweh who sanctifies believers (Exodus 31:13).  The only way these passages make any sense is if the Holy Spirit is Yahweh.  Furthermore, The Holy Spirit inspired the words written in Scripture – the words of God (2 Peter 1:21; Acts 4:25).  Hence, the words of the Spirit are the words of God.

Is the Son God?

And what of the Son?  First of all, who is the “Son of God?”  Peter recognized that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16) and Jesus said that Peter was blessed because the Father had revealed this truth to Him (Matthew 16:17).  Jesus Himself professed to be the Son of God (Luke 22:70; Matthew 26:63-64, Revelation 2:18).  Indeed, in many places Jesus is called the “Son of God” (Matthew 27:54; Mark 1:1, 3:11, 15:39; Luke 1:35; John 1:34, 49, 5:25, 10:36, 11:4, 11:27, 19:7, 20:31; Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4).  God the Father Himself called Jesus His beloved Son (Matthew 3:17, 17:5; Mark 9:7). 

Strangely, some people seem to think that “Son of God” somehow implies that Jesus is less than God.  But this makes no sense.  After all, I am the son of a man; does that make me less than a man?  Hardly.  All men except Adam are the son of a man, and this establishes their nature as men rather than something less.  Indeed, a begotten (not adopted) son necessarily has the same nature as his father.  Hence, the term “Son of God” itself implies that Jesus is God, and He is therefore equal to God rather than being something less (see John 5:18).  But there is even stronger evidence.

As with the Father, there are many verses that directly state that the Son is God.  In fact, God the Father calls the Son “God” in Hebrews 1:8.  This passage states, “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.’”  The Lord continues to describe the Son in Hebrews 1:9, “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.”  Was God mistaken in what He says, here?  After all, He refers to the Son as God, and says that God has a God (“Your God”).  Clearly, God the Father cannot be mistaken since He is God.  Thus, the Son is God.  Hence, to deny that the Son is God is to say that God the Father is either mistaken or lying.

In the next verse, God the Father says of the Son, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands.”  This is a quote of Psalm 102:25.  And looking back one verse (Psalm 102:24), we see that this Psalm is describing God.  That is, God the Father says that this Psalm about God is about the Son; hence the Son is God – the Creator of heaven and earth.  Furthermore, the Lord here refers to the Son as “Lord” using the Greek term κύριος.  This is the Greek term used to translate the Hebrew divine name of God (Yahweh).  We will examine this word in greater detail below.

The apostle John clearly affirmed that the Son is God.  In the first chapter of his Gospel, John refers to the Son as the λόγος “Word” (John 1:1, 14, 34).  John specifically tells us that this λόγος was not only with God in the beginning, but in fact was God (John 1:1).  This makes sense in light of the Trinity; in the beginning, the Son was with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, and He was God the Son.  So, John explicitly identifies Jesus (the Word made flesh – John 1:14) as God, the Creator of all things (John 1:3).  Moreover, the fact that Jesus is the Creator of all things (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10) demonstrates that He is God, since God is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Isaiah 45:12, 18; Ephesians 3:9; Revelation 4:11).

The Son has all the distinguishing attributes of God.  The Son is omnipresent (Matthew 18:20, 28:20) as God (Jeremiah 23:24).  The Son is all-knowing (Matthew 9:4; John 16:30, 21:17) as God (Psalm 147:5).  The Son is all-powerful and has all authority (Hebrews 1:3; Matthew 28:18; 24:30; Luke 4:36, 6:19; 1 Corinthians 1:24) as God (Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 46:9-10; Matthew 19:26).  The Son is eternal (Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9:6) as God (Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 1:20, 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17).

Furthermore, the Scriptures apply many attributes to Jesus Christ that the Scriptures also teach only apply to the Lord God (Yahweh).  This could only be the case if Christ is God.  For example, God (Yahweh) is our salvation (Psalm 3:8, 62:1-2, 118:14,21), and our only Savior (Isaiah 43:11, 45:15, 21; Luke 1:47; 1 Timothy 1:1, 2:3; Psalm 106:21; Jude 25).  Yet, the Bible also teaches that Jesus is our Savior (Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31, 13:23; Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 2:20, 3:18) and that salvation is found in no one else (Acts 4:12).  The only way these passages do not contradict each other is if Jesus is God (Yahweh).  In fact, the name “Jesus” means “Yahweh is salvation.”  Hence, the Apostle Paul can write without any contradiction that God is our Savior (Titus 1:3) and in the very next verse that Jesus is our Savior (Titus 1:4) since Jesus is God.

In fact, Paul states that Jesus is both our God and Savior in Titus 2:13, as does Peter in 2 Peter 1:1.  Namely, Jesus is our great “God and Savior.”  Although some English translations of these verses are a bit ambiguous, there is no doubt in the original Greek that both “God” and “Savior” refer to Jesus Christ.  This is established by the Granville-Sharp rule.[1]  Hence, the Bible directly states that Jesus Christ is God. 

Many other attributes of Jesus can only apply to God.  Christ has the power to raise the dead (John 6:40, 54, 10:17-18), but only God has the power of life and death (Deuteronomy 32:39).  Jesus can forgive all sins (Matthew 9:2-6; Mark 2:5; Luke 7:48-49; Acts 5:31), something only God can do (Mark 2:7; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 32:5, 85:2; Jeremiah 36:3).  Jesus is the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Hebrews 10:8-10; Colossians 1:16), yet we know God created all things (Revelation 4:11; Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11).  Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14, 19:16), yet God is King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3).  Jesus is holy (Acts 4:30; Psalm 16:10; Hebrews 7:26; Revelation 3:7), but only God is holy (Revelation 15:4).  Indeed, God is the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 71:22, 78:41, 89:18; Isaiah 1:4, 17:7, 30:15, 43:3), yet Jesus is the Holy One (Acts 3:14). 

In Acts 20:28, the Bible reveals that the blood of Jesus is the blood of God.  Jesus is good (John 10:11, 14).  But no one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18).[2]  Jesus Himself said that there is only One who is good (Matthew 19:17), namely God.  So, if Jesus is truly the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14), then He is God.  Jesus is completely without sin (1 Peter 2:21-22; Hebrews 4:14-15, 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Yet, only God is without sin (Romans 3:23, 3:9-11).  Jesus Christ is righteous (1 John 2:1).  But no one other than God is righteous (Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:1-3; Isaiah 45:21).  The only way the above verses make sense is if Jesus is God. 

As God, Jesus existed before the world was created (John 17:5).  Furthermore, Jesus shares in the glory of God the Father (John 17:5).  Yet, God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 48:11).  Thus, in order for Jesus and God the Father to share glory, they most both be God.  Furthermore, one of the names of Jesus is “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).

Many of the titles of God are applied specifically to Christ, which would only be right if Christ is God.  For example, Jesus is “the Rock” of our salvation (1 Corinthians 10:4; Matthew 7:24; Romans 9:33), but God is “the Rock” of our salvation (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18; Habakkuk 1:12; 2 Samuel 22:47, 23:3).  Being eternal, the Lord God is the “first and the last” (Isaiah 44:6, 48:12; Revelation 1:8, 2:8, 21:5-7), yet Jesus is the “first and the last” (Revelation 1:17-18; 22:13).  Jesus is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).  Christ is the “Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8) yet God is the “King of glory” (Psalm 24:7-10).

Jesus does things that are only morally right if He is God.  For example, Jesus receives religious worship from others (Matthew 28:17; John 9:38, 20:28).  Indeed, the angels are instructed by the Father to worship the Son (Hebrews 1:6).  Thomas bowed in worship and declared Jesus “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).  Jesus rightly accepts such worship.  Yet, religious worship of anyone other than God is strictly forbidden in Scripture (Exodus 20:4-5, 23:24, 34:14; Joshua 23:7; 2 Kings 17:35; Deuteronomy 5:9).  Indeed, Jesus Himself declared that we are to worship only God an no one else (Matthew 4:10).  This is why the angels refuse to be worshipped (Revelation 22:8-9; 19:10), and why God’s people refuse to be worshipped (Acts 14:12-18).  But Jesus accepts worship because He is God.  If He were not God, then Jesus would have been sinning to allow people to worship Him – in which case He could not be our sinless sacrifice. 

Jesus also applies the name of the Lord to Himself.  The Lord calls Himself the “I am”[3] (Exodus 3:14).  God alone owes His existence to no one else.  No one other than God can be called the “I am” and yet Jesus referred to Himself as the “I am.” John 8:58 states, “Jesus said to them ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”  The unusual grammar is not a mistake.  Jesus was claiming to be God.  And the unbelieving Jews knew it; they attempted to stone Him (John 8:59). 

The Holy Name of God 

Yahweh (יהוה) is the holy name of the living God as written in the Hebrew language.  It would be blasphemy to refer to anyone other than God as Yahweh.  In fact, the Israelites developed a custom where they would not speak this holy name aloud to avoid profaning God’s divine name.  Yet, the Bible affirms that Jesus Christ is Yahweh!  Since most of the information we have on Christ comes from the New Testament, and since the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew, we must ask, “what Greek word would be used to represent the Holy name of God?” 

Fortunately, we know the answer because the New Testament writers often quoted sections of the Old Testament, and consequently translated these passages into Greek.  And when Yahweh (יהוה) is translated into Greek, it appears as the word “κύριος” (kurios), just as it is translated “LORD” in English Bibles.  For example, 1 Peter 3:12 quotes Psalm 34:15-16.  The Word translated “Yahweh” in this passage is rendered in Greek as “κύριος.” 

The New Testament has numerous references to Christ as “κύριος” (“the Lord,” or Yahweh).  The same term is used when God the Father is called “Lord” (e.g. Matthew 11:25).  The following are a few (of many) places where Christ is referred to as “κύριος” in the Gospels: Matthew 12:8, 21:3, 22:43-45, 24:42; Mark 1:3, 2:28, 5:19, 12:36-37; Luke 1:76, 2:11, 3:4, 6:5, 6:46, 7:13, 19, 10:1, 10:39, 41, 11:39, 12:42, 13:15, 17:5-6, 18:6, 19:8, 20:42-44, 22:61, 24:3, 34; John 1:23, 6:23, 11:12, 13:13, 20:2, 18, 20, 25, 28, 21:7, 12.  Luke in particular was fond of referring to Christ simply as “the Lord.”  One passage that is often cited around the Christmas season is Luke 2:11 which states, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Christ isn’t just from the Lord; He is the Lord!

Some people might object to the above argument due to the semantic range of the word.  The Greek word “κύριος” is much like our English word “Lord.”  It can refer to the Lord God Almighty, but in some contexts, it merely refers to a lord – someone in authority, such as “the lord of the manner.”  Could the above references simply mean that Jesus had some authority, but is less than God?  No – and context is the key.  As with our English word “lord”, when used in a restricted sense, such as when attached to a prepositional phrase (e.g. “lord of the manner”), such an authority need not be divine.  However, when used without such a restriction, and especially with the definite article as in “the Lord”, it refers to the Lord God.  Hence, the verses above grammatically make sense when understood as the Lord – Yahweh, not just a lord.  Moreover, there are some verses where Christ being called “Lord” must refer to Yahweh.  These are verses that quote (and translate into Greek) an Old Testament passage referring to Yahweh, and apply it to Christ!  For example:

Philippians 2:10-11 states, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Here the Apostle Paul is quoting portions of Isaiah 45:23 and applying them to Jesus Christ.  But if we read the context of Isaiah 45 beginning in verse 21, we find that Yahweh is speaking here and declares “That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”  Thus, in the Isaiah passage, we learn that every knee will bow to, and every tongue will confess allegiance to the Lord God (Yahweh).  But Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us additional information about this Lord.  Yahweh is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  It was the Son who spoke the content of Isaiah 45:23, and thus it is to Jesus that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Yahweh).

In Hebrews 1:10, God the Father quotes from Psalm 102:25 and applies this to the Son (Hebrews 1:8).  But when we look at the context of Psalm 102, we see in verses 21 and 22 that this is a Psalm praising Yahweh.  Hence, God Himself tells us in Hebrews 1:8-10 that the Son is the Lord (Yahweh) who created the heaven and the Earth! 

Consider another example.  Isaiah 40:3 prophesies “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.’”  The Word translated “LORD” here is Yahweh – the Holy name of God.  All four Gospels quote this verse (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).  The voice of the one crying is John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-3).  John was sent to prepare the way for the Lord (Yahweh).  But it is not God the Father for which John was preparing the way.  Rather, John was preparing the way for the Son – for Christ’s earthly ministry (Luke 1:76-77; John 1:23-36; Mark 1:4-8; Luke 3:15-18).  The Gospel writers here show that Christ is Yahweh spoken of in Isaiah 40:3, and that John was sent ahead of Him to prepare the way for the Lord (Yahweh) Jesus

A particularly interesting and powerful reference to Christ as Yahweh is found in Zechariah.  In chapter 12, the LORD God (Yahweh – see verse 1) prophesies about His coming to Jerusalem.  But apparently it is God the Son who is prophesying, for He refers to His own crucifixion in the first person!  In verse 10 the Lord God says, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

Consider the phrase “they will look on Me whom they have pierced.”  We know this is a reference to the crucifixion because the Bible specifically states this in John 19:34-37.  Recall, that a soldier pierced Christ’s side with a spear to see if He was dead.  And who does the Lord God say they will pierce?  He says “Me” – referring to the Lord God Himself. 

Essential to Salvation

Another important passage not only demonstrates that Jesus is Yahweh, but also shows that confessing Jesus as Yahweh is necessary in order to be saved.  This passage begins in Romans 10:9 which states, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Consider the underlined text.  We learn here that confessing that Jesus is Lord is a requirement to be saved.  But what kind of “lord” are we confessing?  Do we merely need to confess that Jesus is a lord?  Or are we required to confess that Jesus is the Lord (Yahweh)?

The Scriptures clarify the situation a few verses later.  In verse 13, to prove that confessing Christ as Lord is necessary to salvation, Paul quotes from Joel 2:32 which states, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”  And the word translated “LORD” in this passage is יהוה (Yahweh).   Hence, Paul, writing under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, argues that we must call upon Jesus as Yahweh in order to be saved. 

If Jesus is not your LORD God, then He is not your Savior.

After all, salvation is found in no one else besides Yahweh (Isaiah 43:3; 45:21).  In Isaiah 43:11, the Lord says, “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.”  So if Jesus is not the LORD God, then He cannot be your Savior.  This is why confessing Christ as LORD (Yahweh) is essential for salvation.

Recall that “I am” is also a name that the Living God calls Himself (Exodus 3:14).  Jesus not only applies that name to Himself (John 8:58), but He also claims that it is necessary for salvation to believe that Jesus is the I am.  Christ says in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”  Some translations insert “He” as in “I am He” so that the passage sounds more natural in English.  But the word ‘He’ is not in the Greek text.[4]

Jesus the Son of Man

The Scriptures clearly teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each God, the Lord (Yahweh).  Each fully shares in the divine nature of the one and only God.  As such, each has the attributes of God, such as omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.  However, the Son did something that the other two persons of the Trinity did not.  At the incarnation, the Son took on human nature, adding it to His divine nature.  As John puts it, “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).  In doing so, the Son did not cease to be God, but He gained the nature of man.  The Son became a human being for the purpose of dying on the cross as our substitute (Matthew 20:28).  And He did this voluntarily (John 10:11-19). 

There are several reasons why the crucifixion of Jesus was the only way to accomplish the salvation of God’s people.  First, since we have sinned against an infinitely Holy God, our penalty is necessarily infinite.  After all, justice demands that the punishment fit the crime (Deuteronomy 19:21; Exodus 21:23-24).  And our crime is high treason against our own Creator – the Almighty.  Hence, only the infinitely valuable life of God Himself is a sufficient substitutionary sacrifice to accomplish justice.  Our substitutionary redeemer must be God Himself (Isaiah 44:24, 54:5, 43:3).  There can be no other savior besides God (Isaiah 43:11).  Yet, biblical law requires that our redeemer must be a blood-relative (Leviticus 25:47-49), and therefore a human being.  So, our substitute must also be man, a descendent of Eve (Genesis 3:15).  Hence, only someone who is both God and man can be our Savior.  This is why the Son took on human nature.  He became our brother (Hebrews 2:11, 14) so that we are of “one blood” (Acts 17:26).  Yet His blood is of infinite value since Christ’s blood is God’s blood (Acts 20:28).  As our blood relative, Christ’s death on the cross can pay for our sins (Hebrews 2:17; 1 Peter 1:19, 2:24).  And as God, His life is of infinite value and can atone for all sins we ever have committed or will commit (1 Peter 2:4,7; Hebrews 10:12). 

During Christ’s earthly ministry, some of the attributes normally associated with God were temporarily suppressed (though not lost).  This was necessary in order for Christ to accomplish His mission.  For example, God is normally invisible (1 Timothy 1:17; Colossians 1:15).  But Jesus wouldn’t have been able to accomplish His goal if no one could see Him!  God is normally immortal (1 Timothy 1:17).  But Jesus would not have been able to die for our sins if He had held on to that attribute with respect to His human nature.

So, the Bible states that, for His earthly ministry, Jesus “emptied Himself” of the outward glory normally associated with God so that He could die on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).  For this reason, there are times in the Gospels where Jesus, with respect to His human nature, seems to lack a characteristic of God, such as omniscience (Matthew 24:36), or immortality (John 19:30), or that He is less than the Father in terms of authority (John 14:28).  These reflect Christ’s humanity, and the limitations He imposed on Himself in order to redeem His people.  God the Son can (and did) voluntarily (and temporarily) set aside those particular characteristics of deity, while nonetheless remaining God. 

Some critics mistakenly argue that examples of Christ’s humanity and the limitations He imposed upon Himself during His earthly ministry are somehow evidence against the deity of Christ.  But all such objections are refuted in Philippians 2:5-8.  During Christ’s earthly ministry, He voluntarily “emptied Himself” thereby suppressing some aspects of His divinity so that He could accomplish His purpose.  By the way, Christ could not suppress any aspects of deity if He were not God, because He would not have any aspects of deity to suppress!  Hence, Philippians 2:5-8 makes no sense unless Jesus is God.  Thus, Colossians 2:9 rightly says that in Christ “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”  All the fullness of deity – not just some.  Jesus was and is fully God.  After the resurrection when Jesus had accomplished His mission, none of the attributes of God in Christ were suppressed and they never will be again (Philippians 2:9-11).  Jesus is now and forever both God and man. 

Resisting the Deity of Christ

There are some other (rather silly) arguments that some critics wage against the deity of the Son.  For example, “If Jesus is God then why doesn’t the Bible say ‘Jesus is God’ using those exact words?”  We have seen above that the Bible does state in many, many places that Jesus is God, but the biblical authors are not required to use a specific wording to do so.  After all, the Bible never says “The Father is God” or “the Spirit is God” in those exact words, but the principle is there.  In fact, the Bible never says verbatim that “God is God,” but of course He is!

Another criticism is that “The Bible only teaches that Jesus is God in a few places.”  The number will vary from critic to critic, but is the argument rational?  How many times does God have to say something before you will believe it?  Five, ten, a hundred?  Imagine someone claiming, “murder is okay because the Bible only says, ‘You shall not murder’ in three places!”[5]  In fact, we have already seen a myriad of places in which the Bible indicates that Jesus is the Lord God.  And many more could have been included.  But the fact is this: if God says something even once, then it is absolutely true.

Given the ocean of verses teaching that Jesus is God, why are some people resistant to accept Christ as the Lord God?  The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 12:3; no one can affirm that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.  Our sin nature prevents us from seeing what is right in front of our eyes (Isaiah 43:8, 59:10; Matthew 15:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4).  Human beings suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).  Many of us would rather worship a god that we can fully understand, than accept the true God and what He says about Himself.[6]  Fortunately, the Lord can overcome our sin and enable us to think rationally.  And He grants us faith to trust in Him.

In the next article we will examine the third principle of the Trinity – the eternal distinctness of the three persons.


[1] The Granville-Sharp rule states that when two nouns of the same case that are not proper nouns are connected by the Greek word translated “and,” if the first noun has the article “the” (or any variant) and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always refers to the same person as the first.  So, in our case, both “God” and “Savior” are referring to Jesus.

[2] Strangely, some people seem to think that Jesus was implying that He was not good in Mark 10:18.  If that were so, then Jesus would not be the spotless Lamb, and would be ineligible to take away the sins of the world (1 Peter 1:19).  Fortunately, that’s not what He says.  Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd.  Therefore, when someone calls Him good, Jesus asks the person a question so that the person may realize who Jesus really is.  Effective teachers often use this Socratic method because it helps the students to discover the truth themselves rather than having to mindlessly accept what they are hearing.    

[3] The Holy name of God, Yahweh (יהוה), is similar and related to the Hebrew word הָיָה֙ (“to be”).  This may refer to the fact that the Lord is the self-existent one.  He doesn’t depend on anyone or anything else for Him to be.

[4] εἶπον οὖν ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀποθανεῖσθε ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν· ἐὰν γὰρ μὴ πιστεύσητε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, ἀποθανεῖσθε ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν.

[5] Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; Romans 13:9

[6] Some people simply will not accept what the Lord states unless they can fully understand it.  This is very hypocritical because people accept many other things that they don’t fully understand.  Most people don’t know the details of how their computer works, but they are content to use it and rely upon it anyway.