What is Jesus?

Isaiah prophesied:

“Thus says the LORD (YHVH), the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. -- Isaiah 44:6 (NKJV)

Note that a singular God "I am" is speaking. He did not say "we, the Godhead, are...".

Being the LORD (YHVH) is significant because He is:

  • the Creator of our world (Genesis 2:4-9)
  • the most high God (Psalm 83:18)
  • the God that should be worshipped (Psalm 118:27)
  • the all-knowing wise God (Isaiah 11:2)
  • and so forth...

Being the LORD of hosts is significant because He is:

  • the God that should be worshipped (1 Samuel 1:11, 4:4)
  • the God of the temple (Psalm 48:9, 84:4; Haggai 1:14)
  • the God who rules the sea (Psalm 89:9), nations (Isaiah 1:9,24, 3:1, 5:7; Amos 5:27, 6:8; Micah 4:4; Nahum 2:14, 3:5; Habakkuk 2:13; Zephaniah 2:9; Haggai 1:2, 2:4; Malachi 3:10,17)
  • the God who can read human minds (Amos 4:13)
  • the God who is able to destroy the world (Amos 4:13; Haggai 2:6)
  • the God whose laws should be obeyed (Zechariah 1:6)
  • and so forth...

Jesus cannot be God together with another God, because Polytheism is forbidden for the Israelites who were commanded to worship only one God.

This means:

  • either Jesus is YHVH, the Creator, the all-knowing, most high, eternal God who should be worshipped, or
  • Jesus is not God

Therefore, it is very important that we correctly understand who Jesus was so that we can worship God correctly.

Views on Jesus

Theologians argue for centuries on what the essence of Jesus could be:

Those who belief Jesus is God come up with:

  • Apophatic theology (mystery of God): Avoid trying to explain the mystery of how Jesus could be God, because our human minds are too limited to comprehend and infinite God.
  • Avatarism (avatar of God): Jesus was God's avatar (puppet or human representation). The "avatar" was 100% human, represented 100% of God, while God was still safely governing His creation outside his limited human avatar.
  • Binitarianism (separate god): Jesus was a separate God, but reincarnated and took on a human form while God the Father governed the universe.
  • Incarnationalism (complete incarnation of God): Jesus was God, then he completely incarnated to become 100% true human but somehow also manage to retain 100% of his God-like attributes simultaneously (known as a "god-man").
  • Subordinationism (partial incarnation of God): God, reincarnated only a portion of Himself to become a 100% true human (Jesus). Therefore, it was valid for Jesus to communicate with "God his Father" (the non-human portion) and still claim to be God Himself.
  • Kenotic theology (temporarily limited himself): Jesus only temporary limited ("emptied") himself from his God-hood to have a true 100% human experience like us while still being 100% God.
  • Modalism (mode of God): Jesus is just one of God's modes or forms or interfaces with his creation. For example the same water substance could be found in an ice, liquid water or steam forms.
  • Partialism (part of the God): Jesus is a part of God. For example your hand is part of you, but your hand is not completely you. Likewise, they would argue Jesus is God's body on earth but not fully the entire God. In this case then the other parts could be the Father and the Holy Spirit. Together these parts are viewed as "the God" or "the Godhead".
  • Tritheism (member of "the Godhead"): Because Jesus is considered a member of the "Godhead", he could be referred to as "God". For example, an English man is considered English, although he represents only one of the Englishmen. In this is the case the other members could be the Father and the Holy Spirit. Together they could be viewed as "the Godhead".

Those who belief Jesus is not God come up with:

  • Adoptionism: God is not really Jesus' direct Father but instead God adopted Jesus to be His Son.
  • Angelic Pre-existentialists (angel of the LORD): Jesus was active in creation before his human birth as the "angel of the LORD" and later reincarnated to be born as a human baby.
  • Gnosticism: Jesus was a divine being who came from Heaven (the spiritual) to Earth (material realm)
  • Non-angelic Pre-existentialists (a tree, a rock, a bush, a lion, a lamb, etc.): Jesus reincarnated into different form before finally turning in to a human infant.
  • Non-Christian Monotheists (prophet): Jesus was just another prophet who was born and died like all other humans.
  • Socinianism, Socinian- or Strict Unitarian (human Son of God): Like Adam, Jesus was directly created as a human by God's Spirit without sin. While Adam chooses to defile the world with sin, Jesus choose to took cleanse the world from sin as the Christ. Both had to die because of sin. However, God resurrected Jesus to acts as a mediator and lord (master or king) for all mankind to God.

How Jesus is identified

How God identifies Himself

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. -- Numbers 23:19 (ESV)

and

“You are My witnesses,” says the LORD,
“And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.

-- Isaiah 43:10 (NKJV)

and

For I am the LORD, I do not change. -- Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)

These scriptures:

  • challenge Binitarianism because there was on previous god, nor any god after God
  • challenge Incarnationalism and Subordinationism because "God do not change" and will never turn into "a son of man" nor allow any gods to be "formed".

How Jesus identifies himself

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi,
he asked his disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

-- Matthew 16:13-19 (NKJV)"

In pagan religious, if someone was considered "a son of a god", it usually implied that the person is also a god. However, in paganism what would count as two separate gods which contradicts the Bible. Furthermore, adopted believers are also considered to be "sons of God" (Matthew 5:9, Romans 8:14,16-17, Ephesians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 6:18).

When Simon Peter recognize Jesus as "the Son of the living God", it means Jesus is the only directly begotten (John 3:16) "Son of the living God". All the other "sons of God" are adopted. This makes Jesus the "firstborn" of creation (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15; Revelation 1:4-5).

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you,

  • the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.
  • For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that He Himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show him, so that you may marvel.
    • For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
    • For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
    • that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
  • Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life.
  • He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
  • For as the Father has life in himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
  • And He has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
  • I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.

-- John 5:19-30

These scriptures:

  • challenge Modalism because the Son and the Father are described as different persons that interact with each other
  • challenge Partialism because nature shows that sons are individuals separate from their fathers

How the angel of the Lord identifies Jesus

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God.

-- Luke 1:31-35 (ESV)

This scripture:

  • challenges Adoptionism because Jesus was called "the Son of the Most High" before he was born
  • challenges Angelic Pre-existentialists because the angel of the Lord interacted with Mary while being pregnant with Jesus
  • challenges Gnosticism because Jesus was born as a human child
  • challenges Tritheism because if the Holy Spirit is a different member than the Father, then the Holy Spirit would be Jesus' Father and not "the Father"

How the apostles identified Jesus

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. -- Matthew 1:18 (KJV)

This scripture challenges Pre-existentialists, Incarnationalism and Subordinationism because Matthew explain in detail the "genesis" of Jesus Christ. The Greek word "genesis" from which we have the name of the book Genesis, could mean "birth" but also means "origin". Matthew starts Jesus origin with "Mary was found with child" and does not explain any pre-existence of any kind of reincarnation how Jesus turned into a human.

And immediately he (Paul) proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” -- Acts 9:20 (NKJV)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which dhe promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ -- Romans 1:1-6 (NKJV)

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you... -- 2 Corinthians 1:19 (NKJV)

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. -- Galatians 4:4-5 (NKJV)

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. -- Hebrews 4:14 (NKJV)

Paul summarize 7 important aspects about Christ Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11 (REV):

Have this mindset in you that was also in Christ Jesus,

  • who, though being in the appearance of God,
  • did not consider equality with God something to be grasped at, but
  • instead he emptied himself by taking the appearance of a servant, becoming like the rest of humankind. And being found as an ordinary human,
  • he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death -- even death on a cross!
  • And therefore God raised him to the highest place of honor and
  • gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow --in heaven and on earth and under the earth-- and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
  • to the glory of God the Father.

These scriptures challenge Modalism because requires that Jesus must be the same God, but then he cannot be only an "appearance of God", nor be "obedient" to himself, nor be his own "son", nor can modes interact with each other as separate individuals.

How an unbeliever identified Jesus

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” -- Matthew 27:54 (NKJV)

How Jesus relates to other

How God relates to Jesus

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven,

You are My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

-- Mark 1:9-11 (NKJV)

which was witnessed by Peter himself:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to him from the Excellent Glory:

“This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

-- 2 Peter 1:16-18 (NKJV)

These scriptures:

  • challenge Avatarism and Modalism because a separate God spoke while Jesus were among the witnesses.
  • challenge the Kenotic theology because it would not make sense for Jesus to publicly speak to himself, nor to call himself his own son.

How Jesus relates to his Father and disciples

Unfortunately many religious creeds confuses the Father with the Son.

Jesus clear this confusion up by explaining his and our relationships with God in his prayer to his Father:

"Father, the hour has come;

  • glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You,
    • since You have given him authority over all flesh,
    • to give eternal life to all whom You have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    • I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do.
    • And now, Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.
  • I have manifested Your name to the people whom You gave me out of the world.
  • Yours they were, and You gave them to me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything that You have given me is from You.
  • For I have given them the words that You gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that
  • I came from You; and they have believed that You sent me.
  • I am praying for them.
  • I am not praying for the world but for those whom You have given me, for they are Yours. All mine are Yours, and Yours are mine, and
  • I am glorified in them.
  • And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You.
  • Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given me,
  • that they may be one, even as we are one.
  • While I was with them, I kept them in Your name, which You have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
  • But now I am coming to You, and
  • these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
  • I have given them Your word, and
  • the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world (John 18:36).
  • Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
  • As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
  • And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
  • I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one,
  • just as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me. The glory that You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one,
  • so that the world may know that You sent me and loved them even as You loved me.
  • Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that You have given me
  • because You loved me before the foundation of the world.
  • O righteous Father, even though the world does not know You, I know You, and these know that You have sent me.
  • I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known,
  • that the love with which You have loved me may be in them,
  • and I in them.”

-- John 17:1-26 (ESV)

To summarize this prayer:

The Father The Son Believers
Glorifies the Son Glorifies the Father Glorifies the Son
Gives all authority to the Son Son uses authority to give eternal life to believers May ask things in the authority of the Son
Sent the Son Sent by the Father Sent by Jesus (John 20:21)
The only God Manifested God's name (authority) to the people -
Gave the people to the Son, yet still own everything given to the Son Received the people from the Father Believers are owned by the Father
Gave the word to the Son Gave the word of the Father to the people Keep the word of the Father
- Pray for the believers, not the world Should pray to the Father
Omnipresent Not in the world Still in the world
Keep (guard) believers under the Son's name (authority) in Jesus absence Guard believers under the Son's name (authority) while Jesus was on earth Guarded by the Father
Is One with the Son Is One with the Father Believers are one
Sent the Son Return to the Father Believers may have joy
Protect believers in the world against the evil one Not of this world, therefore hated by the world Not of this world, but protected by the Father against evil one
Sanctify believers in the truth (word) Consecrate himself for current and future believers Should believe, repent and be baptized in the name (authority) of the Son
Is in the Son Is in the Father Is in the Father and the Son; The Son is in believers
Loves the Son and believers Loved by the Father even before the world existed; Desire to be with believers Loved by the Father
- Knows the Father Knows that Jesus knows the Father

These scriptures:

  • challenge Avatarism because he describes his relationship with the disciples as a different relationship than they have with the Father
  • challenge the Kenotic theology because it would not make sense for Jesus to make requests to himself
  • challenge Modalism because Jesus interact with his Father a separate God
  • challenge Partialism and Tritheism because Jesus invite also the human disciples to be "part" of his relationship with his Father
  • challenge Subordinationism and Incarnationalism because Jesus never said that he will reincarnate back and forth, but that he is going away from the presence of the disciples to his Father.

How Jesus relates to his disciples

But he (Jesus) replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,

“Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

-- Matthew 12:48-50

and

You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you. -- John 15:14-15 (NKJV)

These scriptures challenge Avatarism because "the Father" will never relate to us as a "brother or sister".

Titles of Jesus

Some people belief that Jesus is not God, while other do.

Angel of God

Angel could mean "messenger" which could be anything like a human, bush, fire and even spiritual beings. Therefore, Jesus qualifies as a messenger of God and technically be considered an angel of God.

This should not be confused with a very specific "the Angel of God" who appears multiple times through the Old Testament and whom was identified as the angel, Gabriel in the New Testament.

However, some belief Jesus is "the Angel of God" for various reasons.

Son as God

This is not to be confused with the Son of God.

The majority of Christian scholars belief that Jesus is the Son as God, which means that the Son is God Himself.

Son of God

When person A is "of" person B:

  • it could mean person A was sent by or ordered by person B to act as a delegate on behalf of person B
  • it could mean person A witness about something of person B
  • it could mean person A acts like person B
  • it could mean person A is an heir of person B
  • it could mean person A is a descendant or family member of person B (biological or adopted)

But it never means person A is person B.

In the case of the Son of God we do read that:

  • Jesus was sent by God (John 3:16-18, 4:34, 6:57, 8:29, 14:24, 17:1-3; 1 John 4:14)
  • Jesus witness about God (John 7:16; 14:24)
  • Jesus acts like God (John 8:42-47)
  • Jesus was an heir of God (Romans 8:17)
  • Jesus was God's Son (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21; John 1:51)

But never does Jesus directly proclaim to be God.

Son of Man

There are many scriptures in the New Testament where Jesus is called "the Son of God" as well as "the Son of Man".

Some scholars argue that because Jesus is both "the Son of God" and "the Son of Man", that Jesus was a God-man, which means he was both God and human simultaneously.

However, as explained above could mean Jesus was a direct descendant of God Himself, but Jesus never explained how that could be possible. Instead, Jesus and the apostles always focussed on that fact that Jesus was obeying, witnessing, acting on behalf or like God and that God was his Father.

Although "son of man" generally means any human offspring, especially in the Hebrew Old Testament, this would have been a silly thing for Jesus to say as his audience could see that he is human. However, when Jesus says that he is "the Son of Man", he means he is the specific prophesied person promised to Man (Adam) which benefits all mankind.

Therefore, it is possible for Jesus to be both:

  • "the Son of God" which refers to his authority or relationship with God,
  • "the Son of Man" which refers to his purpose by fulfilling the prophecies of "the Son of Man".