The Deity of Christ

Concerning the Doctrine of Christ, this most recent post introduces the deity of Christ. Scripture reveals the deity of Christ to us through the names of Christ, his attributes, divine works, and personal declarations.

The Names  

In juxtaposition of his humanity, the deity of Christ is also attested in Scripture. The angel Gabriel tells Mary her son will be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32). When Nathanael encounters the omniscience of Jesus, he emphatically declares “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel” (John 1:49). Carson points to this passage as a link between the sonship and Davidic kingship of Jesus.[1] The famous Isaiah 9:6 passage also links the child called “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” to the same son who will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).

The Attributes 

In addition to his names, the attributes of Christ’s divinity speak to his heavenly origin. Jesus is eternal, existing “from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). In Matthew 8:26, his omnipotence was revealed when he calmed the raging seas. When he saw Nathanael under the fig tree before meeting the man, he displayed his omniscience (John 1:48). Even his disciples asserted his omniscience, Peter declaring “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (John 21:17).

The Divine Works

The divine works of Christ also attest to his deity. He is creator of all things (John 1:3), and has the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-11). In addition, the holiness of Christ is evidence of his divinity (Luke 1:35), due to his absence of sin (1 Peter 2:2, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Peter even profoundly affirms God’s own attestation of Christ through his divine works (Acts 2:22).

Perhaps in a most striking assertion of Christ’ deity is his own reception of worship. Jesus essentially declares worship or honor for the Son is due to him and whoever does not honor Him fails also to honor the Father as well (John 5:23). Compare this statement to Paul and Barnabas’ horror at the people of Lystra worshipping them (Acts 14:14), and the warning of the angel’s words to John are all too familiar (Revelation 19:10).

The Personal Declarations

Christ himself proclaimed his divinity when comparing himself to Old Testament and New Testament institutions, declaring himself superior. Jesus himself said, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5) and then declared his mission to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17).

Scripture itself gives several varied assertions concerning the identity of Christ as God. John 1:18 says no one has seen God but yet Christ himself has made God known. Paul recounts Jesus’ Jewish heritage, a human term, but one who is also fully God (Romans 9:5). Lastly, Paul also relates to the church in Phillipi that Christ was in the form of God and equal with God (Philippians 2:6).

Issues

In regards to this doctrine, issues have arisen regarding the understanding of Jesus’ deity limited to a human body. In order to combat competing heretical doctrines concerning the deity of Christ, the Chalcedonian Definition emerged in A.D. 451.[2] This statement essentially articulated the union of Christ’s dual natures, humanity and deity. It upheld the divinity of one nature and the humanity of the other. He was both God and man, maintaining the respective characteristics of each nature though united in one person. This definition established an orthodox teaching concerning the deity and humanity of Jesus, affirming “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

 

[1] D. A. Carson, Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed, 1 edition. (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012), 38.

[2] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 451.

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