The Divinity of Christ, part 7
The deity of Jesus Christ
examined by His biblical names
If we remember anything about high school algebra, it is probably the concept of an axiom. An axiom is a proposition regarded as a self-evident truth. In other words, it is a statement which is so obviously true that it requires no proof and in fact is so basic that it cannot be proven. But everyone accepts it as truth. Example: One plus one equals two.
One of the most basic axioms in algebra goes like this: If a = c and b = c, then a = b. Do you remember that one? That is an algebraic axiom. Or, if we convert the alphabetic symbols into words, we would state it like this: If two things are equal to the same thing, then the two things are equal to each other.
That is a self-evident truth. If an individual cannot see that or accept that, then there is something wrong with his logical thinking capacity. As we proceed through the Scriptures, we will utilize this hermeneutic, this basic principle of logical thinking, this axiom, over and over again as we demonstrate the deity of Jesus the Christ, the divinity of Yahshua the Messiah, or Yahshua ha Maschiach, if you prefer Hebrew. We all know who we are talking about—the central figure of the Christian Bible.
Our first broad category of proofs will be those which demonstrate that Old Testament prophecies and descriptions of Yahweh-God are applied to Jesus the Christ in the New Testament. For example, in Psalm 78:35, we find that God is said to be Israel’s rock.
Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
And consider this:
Deuteronomy 32:3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD [Yahweh]: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
We have just established that God is described and referred to as Israel’s Rock. Now let us compare that with some passages in the New Testament.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
As you know, the Roman Catholic church claims that the rock is Peter. All Protestants agree that this interpretation is in error because it is not consistent with the rest of Scripture.
I have a series of eight lectures on Roman Catholicism, and in the first lecture I go into the details to show that the rock is Christ, and at the same time it is the rock-solid confession which Peter had just uttered.
What had Peter just uttered? In answer to Jesus’ question about His own identity, Peter had responded: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Upon which, Jesus said Peter was blest in that no man had revealed that truth him, because God the Father Himself had revealed it to Peter. Revealed what? …the fact that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ of Israel.
Jesus in verse 18 now declares that His church would be built upon that foundational truth that Jesus is the Messiah. And for 2,000 years, has that not been the case? So both interpretations—that Jesus Himself is the Rock, or the fact that Jesus is the Messiah; that that statement is the rock—are essentially the same thing, and they are totally opposite the false idea that Peter is the rock.
There are, of course, other witnesses in the Bible that Jesus is the Rock. Here are several more. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is talking about our Israelite forefathers as they wandered in the wilderness, and Paul says in…
1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Next, in Acts 4, we find Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, referring to Jesus as the stone, as he castigates the rulers and elders of Israel, and he refers to our Lord when he says…
Acts 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
And that is a very special symbolic stone there, because this stone is described in the KJV as “the head of the corner.” All kinds of buildings have cornerstone-laying ceremonies, and they choose one corner of the building in which to place the cornerstone. But this stone, Jesus, is described as not just a cornerstone, but the head of the corner.
As far as I know, there is only one kind of edifice that can have one stone which can be described as the head of the corner. It is a pyramid with its capstone. In fact, while I do not generally have much confidence in the NIV, it gives this verse as
Acts 4:11 He is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’
For further study on that, we carry two books by Bible archeologist, E. Raymond Capt. One is called The Great Pyramid Decoded, which is a great introduction to the subject, and the second called Study in Pyramidology, which is a much more extensive treatment. Both have numerous charts, diagrams and photographs.
Plus, in Ron Oja’s first visit to our fellowship in Atlanta back in 1999, he taught extensively on the Great Pyramid’s connection with the Bible. We still have that album of his five lectures available as a set called Sign Language for the Spiritually Deaf, available in CD format. You can order this album or any other of our SKM materials here; http://www.stone-kingdom.net/order-forms
Now back to Isaiah 28. Someone might wish to nitpick the difference between a rock and a stone, but we will find that Jesus was prophesied to be identified as the Stone as well as the Rock.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Paul also makes mention of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Ephesians, chapter 2. Speaking of Jesus, Paul says in…
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
One thing that becomes apparent to anyone who begins to make a serious study of the deity of Christ is that the evidence is overwhelming—despite the fact that nowhere does Jesus actually say the words: “I am God.” Does not the Bible tell us in
Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
Are we not called to be kings and priests? On this matter identifying God and Jesus as the Rock or the Stone, here are some additional passages you might want to look up on your own later: Numbers 20:7-11; 1 Peter 2: 6-8; 2 Samuel 22:2 & 32; Psalms 18:2; 31:8 and Psalm 88, verse 26.
Let’s move on to another title which is applied to both the Father and the Son. David penned Psalm 23 and it is very familiar psalm to most Christians. Can you guess what title we are talking about? Yes, shepherd, of course.
Psalm 23:1 <A Psalm of David.> The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Is the word “LORD” printed in all capital letters in your Bible, as it is in mine? In some English Bible versions, it was/is the practice of the translators or publishers to remove the holy name of God and to replace it with the word “LORD” or “GOD” (in all capital letters). The sacred name was represented in Hebrew by what is called in theological circles, the tetragrammaton—a fancy word derived from Greek which simply means “four letters.”
In Hebrew, those four letters are yod-he-vaw-he, which in English are represented by the four letters Y-H-W-H, or alternatively, as Y-H-V-H. In Hebrew the “V” and the “W” are interchangeable. Since there were no vowels written in the original Hebrew, no one knows with absolute certainly exactly how the sacred name of the Father was pronounced, which is why one finds several variations on it today.
But most scholars spell it Y-a-h-w-e-h and pronounce it Yah-way. You may spell it or pronounce it differently, but since no one knows for certain, I will not engage in debate about it. Been there, done that. Several decades ago, I presented a five-hour lecture series on this topic of the holy name, so these few statements here are only the tip of the iceberg regarding this topic, and we will stay on track with the subject here.
The main point of these several paragraphs is to inform the general reader that whenever you read the word “LORD” or “GOD” (in all caps) in your Bible, simply know or read it as Yahweh (or Yahwah, or Yahuweh, or Yahowah, etc. I prefer Yahweh. I generally avoid pronouncing it “Jehovah” since the ancient Hebrew did not have the “dg” sound as in “judge.” When the letter “j” came into the English language, its sound was always spoken as the “y” sound in “yellow.”)
Returning now to Psalm 23:1 above, the Hebrew of “LORD” was YHWH, the holy name of God. Therefore, it is saying that Yahweh, or God the Father, is my shepherd. The New Testament counterpart of that is in a passage which is almost as familiar as Psalm 23. It is found in John 10…Here Jesus declares.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
In the first epistle of Peter, we find Peter speaking in reference to the Savior, the Son, when Peter says…
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Turn back to Isaiah 43. Thus far, the Rock, the Stone and the Shepherd are all titles which apply to both the Father and the Son. Let me spell it out. If a = c and b = c, then a = b. If God the Father (a) = the shepherd (c); and God the Son (b) = the shepherd (c); then God the Father (a) = God the Son (b). Get it? Let us now look at the title of Holy One.
Isaiah 43:14 Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.
Before we get to “Holy One” first note two other titles in verse 15: creator and king. They are also titles of deity, but we will cover those later in another category, which we call the works of God.
Once again, though, the word LORD means Yahweh, the Father; so here God the Father is called the Holy One. Turn to Acts 3. This is the place where Peter and John had just healed the man born lame, and Peter speaks to the crowd and says:
Acts 3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
As long as we are in the book of Acts, go to chapter 13. There we find Paul and Barnabas at Antioch and when Paul is invited to speak, he begins by giving a synopsis of Israel’s history culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and Paul references Psalm 16, verse 10 when he states in…
Acts 13:35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
What does that mean? It means that the Father will not allow the Son’s body—after He has been sacrificed—He will not permit the Son’s body to decay in a grave, but will raise Him up. Again, the Holy One in the New Testament, the Son, being identified with the Father in the Old Testament.
An intriguing factor in the resurrection of the Savior, the Son, is found in the Gospel of John, where Jesus makes reference to His death and resurrection when He says:
John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Oh, wait, I thought the Father would raise the Son from the dead! Yes, that is what we just learned from the comparison of Scripture with Scripture—Isaiah 43:14 & 15 with Acts 3:14. However, here in John 2:19, Jesus declares that He will raise up His lifeless body. Conclusion: He and the Father are one, meaning He, Jesus, is the manifestation of the fulness of the Father (Cf. Colossians 2:9.)
As we turn to Matthew 1, we are still in the names and titles as part of the larger category of the descriptions and prophecies about God.
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
This last verse is a direct quotation from Isaiah 7:14 which reads:
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Have those verses ever confused anyone besides me? What I mean is, why don’t we call Him “Immanuel Christ” then, instead of Jesus Christ or Yahshua the Christ? Well, in point of fact, it does not detract at all from the point being made about His deity, but I see it like this:
The word Immanuel is descriptive of the Savior and it did not have to be His actual name. In the same manner, we find it says in Isaiah 9:6 “and his name shall be called Wonderful…”
Well, we don’t go around calling Him by the name “Wonderful Christ,” do we? You see, the prophecy in Isaiah was that the child would be “God with us.” That is what the Hebrew word Immanuel means: God with us. And Yahweh is God, of course.
And so when the child was legally named with the Hebrew name of Yahshua, that name, Yahshua, literally means “Yahweh saves” or Yahweh is salvation.” In other words, by naming Him “Yahshua,” the child was being identified as “God’s salvation,” and as such, He literally was and is “God with us” i.e., Immanuel. Now, if this name business is a little bit confusing to you at this point, do not fret over it; we will be coming back to it later with more that will make it all clear for you. (To be continued.)
Click here for Divinity of Christ, part 6: Is Jesus God?, part 1.