Welcome to Lesson 1 of A Zero Fluff Bible Study on the deity of Christ! If you missed the Introduction to this study, please visit: HERE

The Bible is clear. Jesus is God. We find references to His deity in the Old and New Testament in many places. It is a glorious truth that we can stand firmly in and take great comfort in. Our Lord and Savior is God!

You may already be familiar with some of the Bible verses that speak about the deity of Christ. If you’re like me, you have found those verses to be catalysts for joyful worship. I cherish each one! They have helped me to see my Lord more clearly and contribute to the solid assurance of my salvation.

There may be some biblical evidence for the deity of Christ that you are unfamiliar with. Well, this study should help fill in some gaps! I haven’t counted them, but there are a lot of verses in these lessons! And even with that, the biblical evidence for the deity of Christ that they contain is not exhaustive. There are even more ways to see it, but we’ve got plenty to look at for now. What we are about to look at will prove to be an excellent collection for studying this topic.

And while you are studying the deity of Christ, never lose site of the miracle of the incarnation. Jesus: fully God and fully man! To Him be the glory. Amen!

A few study suggestions and encouragements

As mentioned above there are a lot of verses in this Zero Fluff study. Please read them prayerfully, carefully, and in context especially if you are not familiar with them. Please use a real Bible like the NASB, ESV, or KJV. As I mentioned in the Introduction to this study, please don’t use The Message Bible or The Passion Translation. They do far too much damage to the text.

Be prepared to spend some time working through the lessons. There is depth here, not fluff. You will have a week between each lesson (posted on Tuesdays), so you can take it all in. And there is no reason why you can’t stay in a lesson longer than a week or come back to it later. It will still be here. In fact, you might find it helpful to work through the study more than once. This would help to set the Bible verses and the truth they contain deeply in you. Repetition is a great way to get things rooted in us, and the verses in this study certainly deserve to be down deep.

Take your time with the Bible verses and enjoy them! This study is not merely an intellectual exercise. It presents Scriptures that bring into focus the awesomeness of our Lord Jesus! There is much to learn and love here. Approaching and dwelling on these Scriptures with a teachable and humble spirit can greatly bless your mind and lift your heart!

There is much to learn in this study, but there is also an additional important lesson. This is what real Bible study looks like. Seek to imitate this level of biblical exploration in the pursuit of studying other great doctrines of Christianity. Apply the same effort when studying through books of the Bible. Dig in! God’s word is our much needed nourishment. Studying it can lead to many blessings like stronger convictions about your faith, protection from false teachings, a closer relationship with God, and thus deeper joy. How wonderful it is to grow in the knowledge of God as we should! (Colossians 1:10)

First, an important note about using these verses in apologetics work, if that is your intent

There are many who deny the Trinity and by extension, the deity of Christ. When we encounter them, there are different approaches we could take. Much depends on the particular circumstance. Simply sharing verses that support the deity of Christ (or other Christian tenets) does not always bring the desired results.

For example, our experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses and input from former Witnesses who are now Christians has shown that verses that clearly support the deity of Christ are often flatly rejected as evidence when Witnesses go door to door. This is partly because they are taught a different view of Jesus through deception and are given “answers” from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (the source for Witnesses’ teaching material) to explain the verses away. There is also a form of mind control at work that makes it difficult for Witnesses to see things beyond what they’ve been taught is the “truth”. Things are compounded by the fact that they use the Watch Tower’s own bible, the New World Translation (NWT), which has been customized to hide the deity of Christ.

If a Bible verse did penetrate and raise doubts in a Witness’s mind about who Jesus really is and cause them to want to hear more, they would likely not show it at the door of your home. They hide things like that from their canvasing partner for fear of being reported.

So please remember, simply sharing verses about the deity of Christ with a Jehovah’s Witness and others can fall on deaf ears programmed to reject them. I am not saying that you should never do it. Just be aware and tailor your approach to the need at hand. I hope to write more about this later. There are answers to their objections and other approaches we can take. Since the deception within groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses is deep, it is a great testimony to God’s sovereign grace and work when despite all the false teachings, mind control, and dire spiritual condition, a Witness’s (or any unbeliever’s) spiritual blindness is removed; and they come to faith in Jesus as God and Savior!

For Christians, knowing the verses about the deity of Christ is important for our own solid footing and can in the right circumstances be a big help in the work of apologetics. For now, while I will touch on some of the theological differences between biblical Christianity and modern day Arians like Jehovah’s Witnesses, I am sharing these verses primarily for your personal equipping and edification. May your joy grow as you come to see our Lord more clearly.

Lesson 1: Singular verses that demonstrate the deity of Christ 

We will begin our study by examining singular verses that demonstrate the deity of Christ. Reading these verses alone (in context of course) shows that Jesus is in fact God. These are primary texts on this topic, for they address the matter clearly and directly. They don’t leave you wondering about the identity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am a black and white sort of person. My husband might say very black and white. Depending on the situation, it can seem like a blessing or a curse! For the topic at hand, it’s part of why the following verses resonate with me. They come right out and call Jesus God! I love that we have such black and white language in the Bible about who Jesus is. Please take a moment to pray and get your Bible; and then let’s take a look at these special verses!

Isaiah 9:6

We will start with a verse from the Old Testament. A favorite at Christmas time, but revealing truth about Jesus every day:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6)

John 1:1

The next verse is from the New Testament. Years ago, a Jehovah’s Witness agreed to talk with me about Jesus and our differing beliefs as long as we left this next verse out of the conversation. Here it is:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

In John 1:1 the Word is said to be God. We know who the Word is. It’s Jesus. Jesus is the Word who “became flesh, and dwelt among us” who has “glory as of the only begotten from the Father”. (John 1:14, John 3:16) Jesus is the Word. The Word was God. Jesus is God! It’s clear why my Jehovah’s Witness friend wanted to leave this verse out of the conversation.

But though one could choose to avoid John 1:1 (and other verses), that does not change the truth about Jesus. He is who He is. And even rendering the end of John 1:1 as “and the Word was a god” like it reads in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation (NWT) to reflect the teachings of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, does not change who Jesus is. Sadly, their variant rendering of John 1:1 is a distortion with eternal implications for those who believe it to be correct.

John 20:28
Staying in the gospel of John for now, we find another verse in which Jesus is called God:

 “Then He *said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:27-28)

In these verses, we have a record of a profound change in the apostle Thomas. Previously, he had doubted the resurrection of Christ (John 20:24-25), but now that doubt had evaporated. Thomas now not only saw the resurrected Jesus in the flesh with his own eyes, he saw Him spiritually for whom He really was: God. Thomas said: “My Lord and my God!” And contrary to what my husband and I have been told by Jehovah’s Witnesses in an attempt to explain this verse away, the “my God” is not just an expression of shock or excitement (like a modern day “Oh my God!”). This idea inaccurately reads today’s vernacular back into biblical times. Furthermore, such an expression would hardly honor God. It is easy to imagine that Jesus would have corrected or chided Thomas if he had actually spoken that way, but Jesus did not. No, Thomas’ words were a declaration of his belief that Jesus was God!

John 20:28 is an important verse for another reason which is not readily apparent. It has to do with the Greek behind the English word God in the phrase “My Lord and my God!”.  In order to more fully appreciate the significance of the Greek here for God, we will take another look at John 1:1; and we will revisit the Watch Tower’s take on that verse.

Try not to be intimidated by the following Greek. Focus most on what’s emphasized. It may look complicated, but it really isn’t. Go slowly. You’ll get it. It’s pretty cool and so good to know!

The Greek word for god is Θεός (theos). It appears in both places where Jesus is called God at the end of John 1:1 (and the Word was God) and the end of John 20:28 (My Lord and my God!). But it does appear in slightly different ways in each place. At the end of John 1:1, there is no definite article ὁ (ho) before Θεός. In other words, it does not look like this: ὁ Θεός. There is only Θεός:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
(John 1:1 NASB)

“᾿Εν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος.”
(John 1:1 Greek New Testament, Majority Text)

As mentioned above, The Watch Tower Society’s bible, the New World Translation, renders John 1:1 as “and the Word was a god”. The customary translation is “and the Word was God.” That is a major difference! This is one of the many examples of where their bible was customized to support their teaching that Jesus is not God. As part of their explanation for “a god”, they state the lack of the definite article ὁ before Θεός. [1]

The Society also teaches that when Θεός has ὁ before it (ho theos), that designates God Almighty (Jehovah). They have also put forth the teaching that ὁ Θεός is not used for Jesus. They did so by quoting (and misrepresenting) a Catholic source in their Watchtower magazine:

“The title ho theos [the God, or God], which now designates the Father as a personal reality, is not applied in the N[ew] T[estament] to Jesus Himself; Jesus is the Son of God (of ho theos)…. Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated ‘the word was with the God [=the Father], and the word was a divine being.’”​—Dictionary of the Bible (1965), by John L. McKenzie, S.J.” [2]  (It should be noted that other parts of this Catholic dictionary entry refer to Jesus as God.)

Since Θεός appears in John 1:1 for Jesus without the article ὁ before it, the Society insists that this god is not the Almighty God Jehovah being spoken of here. The lack of ὁ indicates that it must be rendered “a god”. Jesus is only “a god”, Son of the Almighty ὁ Θεός (ho theos).

This is interesting and raises some questions. If we are to believe that Jesus is “a god”, does that mean we now have two deities: Jehovah and Jesus? If Jesus is a god, surely He is a true god, not a false god. If He was a false god, He would not be honored as He is in the Scriptures. Since the Father is God (Jehovah according to the Watch Tower Society), that gives us two true deities! But this absolutely cannot be according to God’s own witness about Himself! He repeatedly says that He is the only God and there is none besides Him. Here are just a few places where He states this: Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 44:8, and Isaiah 45:21.

Next question: Is ὁ Θεός (ho theos) really never applied to Jesus in the New Testament? If we can find one occurrence of it, then wow! Well, we do not have to go far to find out. You may have already guessed that there is one such occurrence in John 20:28! And we will see another shorty after.

In the Greek for John 20:28, we see ὁ Θεός applied to Jesus!

“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
(John 20:28 NASB)

“ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου.”
(John 20:28 Greek New Testament, Majority Text)

Dr. Robert Morey on pages 328 and 329 of his well-researched and informative book The Trinity, Evidence and Issues says this about John 20:28:

“This passage is without a doubt where Arianism meets its greatest defeat. The Greek text is free from variant readings. The word ὁ Θεός has the definite article in front of it. The phrase is introduced by the words ‘he said unto Him’ (εἶπεν αὐτω) which means that the statement ‘My Lord and my God!’ is addressed to Jesus. The grammar of the Greek is clear. 90  The form of the address is in the vocative case. Robertson even uses John 20:28 as an example of the vocative in his Greek grammar and concludes: When Thomas said ‘O Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου (John 20:28), he gave Christ full acceptance of his deity and of the fact of his resurrection.91” (bold emphasis mine)

Jesus is ὁ Θεός! To Him be the glory!

If you are inclined, you may wish to look into this matter further. It is an interesting study. Look into where else Θεός appears with and without ὁ in the NT, and if the absence of ὁ really indicates “a god”. Also, if you are unfamiliar with the term “Arianism” that Dr. Morey used, please see What is Arianism? The Watch Tower Society teaches a form of this ancient heresy.

Hebrews 1:8

Hebrews 1:8 is another verse that speaks so vividly of Jesus as God. And the Greek here also happens to be another case of ὁ Θεός applied to Jesus!

“But of the Son He says, ‘YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.’” (Hebrews 1:8)

πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν· ὁ θρόνος σου, ὁ Θεός, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος· ῥάβδος εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου. (Hebrews 1:8 GNT)

I’m not yelling with the capital letters above. Small caps is how the NASB renders Old Testament references. We will see Hebrews 1:8 again in Lesson 5, as there is another reason it is important for our study about the deity of Christ. Here’s a challenge: See if you can find out what that is before we get there!

Romans 9:5

In Romans 9:5, we have something quite special. In this verse there is a reference to both natures of Jesus, His humanity and His divinity. Paul writes:

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:3-5)

Paul writes that Christ is from the Israelites according to the flesh. Jesus shares their lineage and nature and is therefore human. Paul quickly adds that Jesus is also God over all. Can I just say awesome!?

Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1
The following two verses refer to Jesus as God and Savior.

“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” (Titus 2:13)

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1)

Some anti-Trinitarians may offer resistance and say, “Oh nay, nay! These verses are speaking of two different individuals. God is a reference to one individual and Savior refers to another!” Sometimes, you can see their stance in the way they render the Greek into English. For instance, here are the verses in the Watch Tower Society’s bible:

“while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13 (NWT)

“Simon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have acquired a faith as precious as ours* through the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ:” 2 Peter 1:1 (NWT)

These verses could be read as if two individuals are being spoken about: a God and a Savior who is not the God mentioned right before Him. Unfortunately, even the King James Version has language that could be taken as two individuals being referred to. (The NASB, ESV, and NIV read well.)

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13, KJV)

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1, KJV)

But, according to an important rule of grammar, it is an error to translate or to take these verses as referring to two separate individuals. The rule is called the Granville Sharp Rule. It explains why God and Savior both refer to Jesus. I will let Dr. James White from Alpha and Omega Ministries explain below. First, here are the English and Greek of Titus 2:13, so you can follow along and better understand what he means. I also color coded the principle parts to help make things clearer.

 “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” (Titus 2:13, NASB)

“προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ,” (Titus 2:13 GNT)

Dr. White: “Basically, Granville Sharp’s rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word “and,” and the first noun has the article (“the”) while the second does not, *both nouns are referring to the same person*. In our texts, this is demonstrated by the words “God” and “Savior” at Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. “God” has the article, it is followed by the word for “and,” and the word “Savior” does not have the article. Hence, both nouns are being applied to the same person, Jesus Christ. This rule is exceptionless. One must argue solely on theological grounds against these passages. There is truly no real grammatical objection that can be raised. Not that many have not attempted to do so, and are still trying. However, the evidence is overwhelming in favor of the above interpretation.” [3]

Besides this grammar rule, there are also reasons in the context of the verses that lead to understanding God and Savior as both referring to Jesus. I will leave you to read the verses in context.

Next Up

This concludes Lesson 1 of our study. In this post, we saw that there are several verses that come right out and call Jesus God. And this is only the beginning! Lesson 2 will look at a few more singular verses that demonstrate the deity of Christ. After that, Lesson 3 will begin a review of special verse sets that show that Jesus is God. There is still so much to come! Please be on the lookout for Lesson 2 next Tuesday.

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Update: Lesson 2 is up!  Zero Fluff Bible Study on the Deity of Christ: Lesson 2

 

Footnotes
[1] Watchtower, April 1, 2009, p. 18.
[2] Watchtower, July 1, 1986, p. 31.
[3] Granville Sharp’s Rule by Dr. James White; aomin.org. Please see Dr. White’s article for more details about this important rule.