How Do You Handle the Question: “Is Jesus God?”

The following is a letter in response to friend and a new Christian who has been studying with “Jehovah Witnesses” or as he calls them “Watchtower people”.  My friend and brother asks, “Watchtower people told me that Jesus is not a God. They said according to the Bible, Jesus is one of the angels. Jesus prays to God; Jesus was baptized; even finally, Jesus sits by the side of God and there is only one God. So Jesus is not God? Can you help me?” No matter who accuses Christ of not being God, this post will be useful to you.

“First of all, you have a good question and one that most Christians have to ask at some time. In fact, your question is essential to your salvation. Jesus said in John 8:24, ‘Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins.’ Then Jesus said something that bothered the Jewish leaders. He said in John 8:58, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Jesus claimed to have lived before Abraham, knew it, and remembered it. Even in the Watchtower Bibles (which are altered), their Bibles show that Jesus claimed to be ‘I AM’, which is a name for God and God alone. Exodus 3:14 says, ‘And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” This is one of many references to Jesus being God. [Do not use the Watchtower bible until they can give you a list of the names of their editors and translators. As I know the Greek, there are many errors in their bibles. They don’t even ‘translate’ word-for-word.]

Jesus never claimed to be an angel, but there are references to God appearing as an angel. God apparently appeared to people in the Bible as an angel, who many believe that this is Jesus Christ. Even though God may appear as an angel or burning bush, He is neither an angel nor a burning bush. This appearing of God as an angel is called ‘the angel of the Lord’, and if you want we can discuss this further. This does not mean that God is an angel or that Jesus is an angel. See Hebrews 1 and 2 are all about how Jesus is greater than the angels, and that He is not an angel. Hebrews 1:1-3 shows that God spoke to everyone through His Son who is ‘the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person’. Then God says about Jesus is better than the angels and that He is God’s Son (Heb. 1:4-5). God said, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’ (Heb. 1:6, Psa. 97:7), and the Bible says that angels must not be worshipped (Col. 2:18, Rev. 22:8-9). Here the angels worship Jesus, so Jesus is not an angel. Then God calls Jesus ‘God’ and says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’ (Heb. 1:8-9, Psa. 45:6). Then God the Father calls Jesus ‘Lord’ saying, ‘You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands’ (Heb. 1:10, Psa. 102:25-27).

The Watchtower people will admit to you that they believe that Jesus is “a god”. Ask them about that. There are a number of verses in the Bible that say that Jesus is God as we have seen. The Gospel of John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Keep reading the Gospel of John and you’ll see that John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Clearly, there is God the Father and God the Son, and these two are one and they talk to one another. How? I don’t know. There is a separation between God the Father and God the Son. We can certainly not fully under God, but evidently God can speak to God. In Acts 2, Peter quotes from Psalm 110 of God the Father calling Jesus “Lord”. Psalm 110:1 says, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'” God the Father spoke to God the Son. Why? Did God have to? I don’t know, but I do know that God spoke to God for our own learning about God’s plans.

Here are some other verses about Jesus being God:

Jesus says in Revelation 1:8, ‘”I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”‘ [See also Rev. 1:17-18] God is the first and the last (Isa. 41:4, 44:6, 48:12).

Romans 9:5, ‘Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.’

Philippians 2:5-7, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.’

Colossians 2:9, ‘For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;’

Colossians 1:15-17 says about Jesus, ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.’ [Genesis 1:1, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’]

John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

Isaiah 9:6, ‘For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

Acts 20:28, ‘Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.’

Clearly, Jesus is God. Even names ‘Savior’ and ‘Lord’ imply this and the Bible is filled with references to Jesus as Savior and Lord. The souls of these men that you study with are at stake. They will be condemned if they do not believe who Jesus says He is. I will pray for them. If these men are truly honest, they will repent and change their minds.

May God bless your family,

Scott”

churches of Christ

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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15 Responses to How Do You Handle the Question: “Is Jesus God?”

  1. Will we now exclude the other hundreds of Greek scholars and teachers especially those who translated the prominent literal translations?

    This is just not a rational approach to study this subject.

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  2. johnoneone says:

    By the way, with respect to Williams’ translation, Bible Greek scholar, Dr. Julius Mantey, had this to say within the “Introduction” to this work, now presented in its entirety:

    “Dr. C. B. Williams received his Ph.D. degree from Chicago University, having majored in Greek New Testament, after which he taught ministers Greek for many years. By training and experience he is well equipped to translate the New Testament.”

    “The style of each individual writer is reproduced in the various books. For example, John uses vernacular and Luke literary koine Greek, and the rest of the writers come in between.”

    “Dr. Williams has also brought out clearly John’s meaning in 1 John 3:8 and 9 by indicating the progressive action implied in the Greek present tense: ‘Whoever practices sin belongs to the devil . . . No one born of God makes a practice of sinning.'”

    “While teaching a post-graduate Greek class and spending the whole year studying translations of the New Testament, we became convinced that Williams’ translation, considering all the factors, is the most accurate and illuminating translation in the English language. Having this conviction, I have no hesitation in commending it to all who desire to penetrate into the depths of the riches of the glorious revelation in the New Testament.”

    “J. R. Mantey
    Department of New Testament Interpretation
    Northern Baptist Theological Seminary
    Chicago, Illinois.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Agape, Alan.
    http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

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  3. Alan,

    You have made the common approach of secular skeptics and progressive theologians. Muddy the water to produce doubt, and produce doubt to make the discussion seem to be matters of opinion thus tricking many to exclude John 8 from serious consideration. This is an especially useful way to advocate for the New World Translation, a translation without named editors.

    It doesn’t matter if 60+ erring “translations” say or what one theologian’s interpretation labeled a “translation” says. Williams even admits in the title of his translation that it is “in the Language of the People”, which is not to contrast from other bibles written “in the language of people” but that he wrote a simplified translation in his own words rather than transfer God’s words to equivalent English words. The majority of translators agree, the literal translations are true, and the Greek transliteration is clear. Open an interlinear Greek/English bible and read Jesus saying, “Before Abraham was, I am (ego eimi)” as is in the Mesoretic Hebrew and the Greek Old Testament.

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  4. Alan says:

    As you can see, within the LXX, the Greek is “ego emi ho on” not “ego emi ego emi.”

    That is why, even when translating from the Hebrew, I would suspect that you own copies of different Bible translations – that is, if you do utilize a variety, especially those of which do have footnotes, offering other options for the translation of this clause – these will unwittingly demonstrate their acknowledgment that the Hebrew or the LXX is not saying “I am that I am,” and this would be by offering other, more valid alternatives. (In fact, many of these can be found to offer the more correct, updated rendering within their main text of the translation itself.)

    The primary reason why translators in the past had opted for an “I am” rendering is because they deliberately sought to create a link between Jesus’ word’s (John 8:58) and God’s (Exodus 3:14), when there was none.

    And lastly, if you were to do a simple cursory search on the Internet, you would also very easily find that there are some 60+ different translations of John 8:58 which have opted to not render John 8:58 as “I am.”

    As an example of one of these, see: Charles B. Williams’ “The New Testament, A Translation in the Language of the People,” originally published in 1937, the printing by Moody Press (Chicago, 1950).

    This is how John 8:58 is rendered in this work:

    “Then Jesus said to them, ‘I most solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born.'”

    It may interest you to know that, famed Bible scholar, Dr. Julius Mantey, had offered his comments about this Bible, appearing within its “Introduction,” recommending it as, “the most accurate and illuminating translation in the English language.”

    Thank you for the interchange,
    Agape, Alan.
    http://www.goodcompanionbook.com

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  5. I think everyone sees the complete phrase in Exodus just by reading. Yet, there is no difference here. The fact that “ego eimi” is followed by “I am” in the Mesoretic Hebrew and with the LXX of “the [am] being”. Jesus still claims to be “I am”.

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  6. johnoneone says:

    Although, at first, it may seem that within English translations of the Bible there is a direct link between John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14, taking a closer examination of the terms used at both places will show that the terminology being utilized is quite different.

    First, the Greek of the ending of John 8:58 is “ego eimi.”

    Secondly, when the Jews translated their Hebrew Bible into Greek (called, the Septuagint, some 200 years before Jesus’ time), at the end of Exodus 3:14 they used the Greek “ho on” instead.

    And Thirdly, when translating Exodus 3:14 from the Hebrew “ehyeh asher ehyeh” into English, although some continue to render this as, “I am that I am,” others have used quite different wording – and this is sometimes true when examining the footnotes to those which continue to use the other in their main text.

    Agape, Alan.
    http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

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