Lesson 8: The Attributes of God in Jesus
Welcome to Lesson 8 of A Zero Fluff Bible Study on the deity of Christ. In case you missed them, links to the Introduction and earlier lessons are above.
This lesson continues with the third category of verses in our study. Category three contains verses that show the works and attributes of God in Jesus. In the previous lesson we focused on the works of God. In this lesson we will consider His attributes.
God has many attributes. Some are unique to Him and some are reflected in us. The ones that are unique to Him help to identify Him as God. They are commonly referred to as His incommunicable attributes. Some examples are omnipresence, eternality, and immutability (God is unchanging).
The attributes that are reflected in mankind are known as communicable attributes. These are attributes that both God and man possess. Some examples are knowledge, wisdom, and goodness. Though man can possess these attributes, it is not in the same way that God does. He is our Creator and is holy and infinite. We are finite creatures who are marred by sin.
For our purposes in this study of the deity of Christ, we are going to consider some of the incommunicable attributes of God. We will apply them as a sort of litmus test. For if Jesus is God, we would not be surprised to see and would even expect to see incommunicable attributes of God attributed to Him. Does the Bible show that Jesus has attributes like omnipresence, eternality, immutability, and others? We shall soon see.
First, let’s take a moment to reflect on the possible side-effects of studying the attributes of God, be it for our purposes today or simply because we want to learn more about Him. Learning more about God through the study of His attributes can stir up a heart to worship, so pause your study if you become so inclined! Also, if you spend time truly reflecting on His attributes during your study, expect to find your mind challenged. Our minds are finite and cannot grasp the fullness of God and that includes His attributes. God’s attributes are not just concepts. They are perfections and reflect on each other in ways we cannot imagine. But that is fitting, for how could God be God if He was fully comprehensible? It is to be expected that there is more to Him than we can know, and that is marvelous! (Psalms 145:3, Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 11:33-34, 1 Corinthians 2:11)
God is not fully knowable, but we are blessed to be able to know what we do know about Him through His reveled word and through the work of the Holy Spirit. (Colossians 1:10, 2 Peter 1:2-3) During our remaining time on earth, may we always seek to know Him more. Surely our love for Him will only grow! That would be a fully welcomed and wonderful side-effect of study!
Ok, let’s take a look at what the Bible reveals about the attributes of God in Jesus. First, please take a moment to pray and get your Bible so you can look the verses up in context. There are quite a few verses in this lesson. Looking them all up could take a while. Since many reinforce a similar idea, you might not find it necessary to look up every single one.
Attributes of God in Jesus
Immutability of God: Read Psalms 102:24-27, Malachi 3:6
Immutability of Jesus: Read Hebrews 1:8-12, Hebrews 13:8
As mentioned above, God is unchanging. This is a remarkable attribute that I cannot fully comprehend. Everything I see and know changes, and not always for the better. But God is different. “He is forever the same, and therefore devoid of all change in His being, His perfections, His purposes, and His promises.” I find great peace in this as I can trust Him explicitly knowing there will be no surprises down the road. He is who He says He is, and that will not change. Consider the following verses for evidence of this attribute of God:
“I say, ‘O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” (Psalms 102:24-27)
“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus is also said to be unchanging. We find this attribute applied to Him in a special way in the book of Hebrews. We have seen these verses in a previous lesson, so you may know where we are heading. In Hebrews 1:10-12, the above verses (Psalms 102:25-27) that speak about God’s immutability are applied to Jesus!
(See Hebrews 1:8 for context indication that Jesus is being addressed… “But of the Son He says…”)
And, ‘YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; (11) THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, (12) AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.'” (Hebrews 1:10-12) (SMALL CAPS is how the NASB indicates OT references)
See also: Hebrews 13:8
Omniscience of God: Read 1 John 3:20, Psalm 139:4, Isaiah 46:9-10, Jeremiah 17:10, 1 Kings 8:39
Omniscience of Jesus: Read John 2:24-25, John 16:30, John 21:17, Revelation 2:23
Additional verses: Jesus knew His own future: Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 21:2-3, John 6:64, John 14:29, John 18:4.
Jesus knew/knows the hearts and minds of men: Matthew 9:4, Matthew 12:25, Luke 6:8, Luke 11:17.
Jesus knew things He hadn’t seen: Matthew 21:2-3, John 1:48, John 4:16-18, 29
Omniscience is another incommunicable attribute of God. He knows all things. (1 John 3:20) He knows what we are going to say before we say it. (Psalm 139:4) He knows the future (Isaiah 46:9-10) and the hearts and minds of men. (Jeremiah 17:10) In fact, the Bible tells us that He alone knows the hearts of men. (1 Kings 8:39)
Jesus was also said to know all things (John 16:30, John 21:17). He knew the future too. He knew what was going to happen regarding His last days, arrest, suffering, death, and resurrection. (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 21:2-3, John 6:64, John 14:29, John 18:4)
And although we are told in the Old Testament that only God knows the hearts of men, Jesus did too! This is one of “the ONLY’s” that we saw in Lesson 6.
“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?'” (Matthew 9:4)
“And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Revelation 2:23)
See also: Matthew 12:25, Luke 6:8, Luke 11:17, John 2:24-25
Jesus also knew things that He did not see with His eyes or that were not told to Him directly. (Matthew 21:2-3, John 1:48, John 4:16-18, 29)
Now some, like the Watch Tower Society, claim that Jesus is not God because He did not know everything. They refer to Jesus’ comment that the Son did not know the day and hour of the second coming. (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32) But this is not persuasive, however, because there is so much evidence in the Bible for the deity of Christ including passages about His omniscience. Based on these things, we can reasonably conclude that Jesus’ lack of knowledge about the day and hour of the second coming was voluntary and possible because He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” and was “made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-8) We see other signs of His humanity as well. (Luke 2:52, Luke 8:23, Matthew 4:2) These things are just as important to uphold as His divinity.
Omnipresence of God: Read 1 Kings 8:27, Psalms 139:7-10, Jeremiah 23:24
Omnipresence of Jesus: Read Matthew 18:20, Matthew 28:19-20
God has the incredible attribute of omnipresence. (1 Kings 8:27, Psalms 139:7-10, Jeremiah 23:24)
In His divinity, Jesus also has the attribute of omnipresence. If He did not, He could not do what He says about Himself in following verses:
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Omnipotence of God: Read Genesis 18:14, Job 42:2, Isaiah 46:10, Psalms 33:9, Psalms 115:3, Exodus 20:11
Omnipotence of Jesus: Read Colossians 1:16, John 1:3, Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:17, Matthew 8:26-27
Additional verses: Luke 8:24-25, Luke 4:40, Mark 1:32-34, Luke 7:12-15, John 11:1-45, Revelation 1:18, John 2:19-21, John 10:17
God is all powerful. (Genesis 18:14, Job 42:2, Isaiah 46:10) He speaks; it happens. (Psalms 33:9) He can do whatever He pleases. (Psalms 115:3) That God is this powerful and free would be terrifying except “all His ways are just”, and He is “a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) Our God is good!
A true display of God’s omnipotence was creation. (Exodus 20:11). As we have seen previously in this study, Jesus displayed that same power.
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)
See also: John 1:3
Jesus created and “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). “All things hold together” in Him. (Colossians 1:17) That’s “all” things! That’s power!
During His earthly life, Jesus demonstrated power over nature.
“He *said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'” (Matthew 8:26-27)
See also: Luke 8:24-25
Jesus held power over diseases, demons, and death. (Luke 4:40, Mark 1:32-34, Luke 7:12-15, John 11:1-45) He holds “the keys of death and of Hades”. (Revelation 1:18) Jesus even had power over His own death! He said He would raise Himself from the dead. No other person in the Bible was ever shown to have the power to raise themselves from the dead!
“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (John 2:19-21)
See also John 10:17
Eternality of God: Read Deuteronomy 33:27, Psalms 90:2
Eternality of Jesus: Read Micah 5:2, Colossians 1:17, John 1:1, John 8:58
God is eternal. (Deuteronomy 33:27, Psalms 90:2)
Jesus is also eternal and existed before His earthly life when He was “made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-8).
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)
See also: John 1:1, John 8:58
Self-existence, Independent of anything outside of Himself (The Aseity of God)
The self-existence and independence of God: Read Exodus 3:14, Acts 17:24-25
The self-existence and independence of Jesus: Read Colossians 1:16-17, John 1:3-4, John 8:58, John 18:5-6
We are created, finite, needy beings. Conversely, as we have seen above, God created all things and is eternal. He needs nothing from anyone. (Acts 17:24-25) He is self-existent and independent of anything outside of Himself. He is “I am”. (Exodus 3:14)
Jesus is also self-existent. He is the eternal, uncreated Creator who is before all things and upholds all things.
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)
See also: John 1:3-4
More evidence for Jesus’ self-existence exists in John 8:58 and John 18:5-6. In these verses, Jesus revealed Himself as “I am.” When He did, Jews wanted to stone Him for blasphemy and men fell to the ground as we saw earlier in Lesson 3. Why? Because this self-identifier is filled with the claim of being God and by extension, self-existence. By using it, Jesus connected His identity with God’s identity when God said this to Moses at the burning bush:
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”” (Exodus 3:14)
John MacArthur sheds some light of the meaning of “I AM WHO I AM” in The MacArthur Bible Commentary on pages 86-87.
“3:14 I AM WHO I AM. This name for God points to His self-existence and eternality; it denotes “I am the One who is/will be,” which is decidedly the best and most contextually suitable option from a number of theories about its meaning and etymological source.”
If this name points to God’s “self-existence”, it points to Jesus’; for He used it for Himself.
The holiness of God: Read Proverbs 9:10, Isaiah 6:3, Hosea 11:9, 1 Peter 1:16
The holiness of Jesus: Read Mark 1:24, John 6:69, Acts 3:14-15, Hebrews 7:26, Revelation 3:7
Additional verses, Jesus’s sinlessness: 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 1:19
God is holy. (Proverbs 9:10, Isaiah 6:3, Hosea 11:9, 1 Peter 1:16) His holiness is beyond our full comprehension and completely foreign to our own natures. Meditating on what we can understand about it is plenty to stir up appropriate feelings of awe and fear; for the more we ponder His perfect, moral light, the more we see our own sin and darkness. How blessed we are that God is holy and merciful!
God’s holiness is incommunicable, and that is why I included it here. But I have also seen holiness listed as a communicable attribute of God. This means it can be reflected in His children to some degree. We are told to pursue holiness, and Christians are called holy in the New Testament. (1 Peter 1:15-16, 2 Peter 3:11, Hebrews 3:1, Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22) This would take us too far off track to explore properly now, but I wanted to mention it. Know for sure that whatever holiness we have, can have, or will have is not the same as God’s. Ours comes only by the work of God in us, for we are all sinners and fall short of His glory. (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10)
What of Jesus? The Bible tells us that He is holy and walked this earth without sin. A man with an unclean spirit identified Jesus as “the Holy One of God”. (Mark 1:24) Peter also called Jesus “the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69) Later, Peter called Him “the Holy and Righteous One”. (Acts 3:14-15) The author of Hebrews refers to Jesus as holy, innocent, undefiled, and separated from sinners. (Hebrews 7:26) Jesus speaks of Himself as holy and true in this next verse:
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:” (Revelation 3:7)
To Jesus’ sinlessness see: 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 1:19
Jesus’ holiness and sinlessness testify to His deity.
Ascribe Glory to Jesus who is God
As seen above, the Bible reveals that Jesus does possess incommunicable attributes of God. No mere human could be described as He has been. This shows that He is God. These attributes are awesome and bring glory to Jesus. As God, He is worthy of honor, praise, and worship! “… To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18b)
The verse that I just partly quoted, 2 Peter 3:18, serves as a segue into the last lesson in this study on the deity of Christ. Yes, there is only one more lesson! The topic is doxologies to Jesus. I invite you to look for the final lesson next week.
Update: Lesson 9 is up! A Zero Fluff Bible Study on the Deity of Christ: Lesson 9
 Berkhof, Louis. Manual Of Christian Doctrine. Christian Liberty Press, 2003, p. 21.