- The Biblical Definition of the Trinity
- The Arguments for the Trinity
- Argument for the Trinity #1: Yahweh is Unique
- Argument for the Trinity #2: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are Distinct Persons
- Argument for the Trinity #3: The Holy Spirit, a True Person
- Argument for the Trinity #4: The Deity of the Persons – Section 1: The Father and the Spirit
- Argument for the Trinity #5: The Deity of the Persons – Section 2: The Son
- Argument for the Trinity #6: The Deity of the Persons – Section 3: More of the Son
- Argument for the Trinity #7: The Deity of the Persons – Section 4: Still more of the Son
- Argument for the Trinity #8: How the Old Testament Prepared God’s People for the Trinity – Section 1: Plurality in One God
- Argument for the Trinity #9: How the Old Testament Prepared God’s People for the Trinity – Section 2: The Word of Yahweh
- Argument for the Trinity #10: How the Old Testament Prepared God’s People for the Trinity – Section 3: The Name of Yahweh
- Argument for the Trinity #11: How the Old Testament Prepared God’s People for the Trinity – Section 4: The Angel of Yahweh
- Argument for the Trinity #12: The Proper Understanding Defense
- Jesus is Creator
- Jesus does the other works of God
- Jesus is worshiped/honored like God
Let’s look at a few more lines of evidence for the deity of Christ.
Jesus is Creator
There is a reason that the first major challenge to the full deity of Christ still saw Him as having preexisted His human life, and saw Him as having been the very first creation of God, and involved Himself in the creation of the heavens and the earth. It simply cannot be escaped that the New Testament refers to Jesus as the Creator. This is another area of this study that challenged me when I was a Unitarian. I felt like I had a way around John 1:3, but as I saw more and more in the New Testament that said Jesus was the Creator, I couldn’t deny it. In my transitional time between being a full Unitarian to a full Trinitarian, I did have a period where I had to admit that Jesus was creator, but I adopted a view similar to Arius, that Jesus was created first, then He was the creator of the rest of creation.
Today, one of the most, frankly, delightful aspects of this truth is the fact that the New Testament never makes reference to Jesus as Creator in the same way twice.
John 1:3 – All things came into being through him
John 1:10 – the world came into being through him
1 Corinthians 8:6 – through whom are all things
Colossians 1:16 – all things in the heavens and on the earth were created by him, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things were created through him and for him
Hebrews 1:2 – through whom also he made the world
Hebrews 1:10 – You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the works of your hands
Revelation 3:14 – the originator of God’s creation
Romans 11:36 – For from him and through him and to him are all things
Hebrews 2:10 – for whom are all things and through whom are all things.
What is so delightful about these varied ways in which the Scripture attests to the truth of Jesus’ status as Creator is that they defy the word study defense so common among Unitarians. There isn’t just one phrase to try to find parallels for. There are many. And when it comes down to it, there simply isn’t any way around the deity of Christ in these passages. Scripture is clear about who the Creator is, and that there is no creator who isn’t God.
Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer,
and he who formed you in the womb:
“I am Yahweh, who made everything,
who stretched out the heavens alone,
who spread out the earth—who was with me?—
Yahweh, and only Yahweh, created everything. There is a permanent distinction between the one Creator God and all created things. This verse rules out any sort of view that tries to simultaneously hold Jesus to be preexistent/involved in creation and at the same time not Yahweh. Some Unitarians try to lean on the language of this verse to attack the Trinity, but all it really affirms is that there was no one other than Yahweh there at the time of creation. This is exactly what Trinitarians believe.
As a Unitarian, I tried many ways around many of the above passages, but I could not deny the language of Colossians, that all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus. I couldn’t deny this because the whole passage is about Jesus beyond all doubt. If all things were made by Jesus, He is the Creator. If He is the Creator, then He is Yahweh. He is God.
Jesus Does the Works of God
Creation is in a class all its own, but there are other things God does in the world that are only ever done by Him. Closely related to creation is the fact that God upholds the universe at all times. Jesus also does this (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3). No passage contains the teaching that God used to sustain the universe, but at some point put that onto the human Messiah. That is extra-biblical teaching that is required to maintain a rejection that Jesus is God.
One passage I’d like to look at briefly concerning doing the works of God is about Judgment. There are many passages that affirm that Jesus is the final judge of mankind. One passage that is very interesting concerning this is the following:
For the Father does not judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son
At first glance there seems to be no problem here for the non-Trinitarian, since this particular work and authority is obviously given to the Son. But notice that the passage specifically says that the Father “does not judge anyone”. This is a delegated authority, to be sure, but the way this delegation is done, the Father does not judge anyone. With that being said, consider the following as well.
1 Samuel 2:10
Yahweh will shatter his adversaries; he will thunder against them in the heavens. Yahweh will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to his king and will exalt the might of his anointed one.
1 Chronicles 16:33
Then the trees of the forest shall sing for joy before Yahweh, for he comes to judge the earth.
Now, on a Trinitarian understanding, any or all of the Persons can be rightly referred to as Yahweh, since that is what happens in Scripture. The Old Testament is clear that the ultimate judge is Yahweh. I just love how these passages are prophetic in nature, saying that Yahweh “comes” or “will come” to judge. This removes the common defense that Jesus is just fulfilling a role Yahweh used to do on His own. Notice these verses are not just saying “God is judge”, but “God will judge”. And who will ultimately judge? Not the Father (John 5:22), but the Son. Yahweh will Judge, but not the Father. This is flatly impossible if only the Father is Yahweh.
This also puts the lie to another argument from those who reject Jesus’ deity. They claim that the Jesus couldn’t be God because the Old Testament never said anything like that (an argument I’ve addressed before), but if that’s a good argument, I have an equivalent argument for you. The Old Testament clearly states that Yahweh will come to judge the earth. It never indicates that the Father will completely step aside from judging the world and give it to His Son. Where is that in the Old Testament? On the other hand, if the New Testament can add information to adjust how we see the Old Testament passages on God’s judging, then it can do so with regard to His nature.
For further study:
Jesus also does all the works of Salvation, including forgiveness of sins not committed against Him (Matt. 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20). He sends the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Luke 24:49; Rom. 8:9). Jesus does all that the Father does (John 5:19)
Jesus is Worshiped and Honored Just Like the Father
I’ve discussed the topic of worship of Jesus before, but this is a much more rich and deep topic than most realize. Worship is a type of honor or disposition we are to have specifically for God, but there are others as well. We are to honor Him in a unique way, love Him, fear Him, pray to Him, give Him religious praise, sing to Him, and have faith in Him. Our disposition toward God is to be absolutely unique, as He is unique. While we may sometimes use the same words in our relationships with others, it is nonetheless the case that there must be no confusion between how we honor and love Yahweh as opposed to all others (Deut. 6:5).
This parity between the way we are to relate to the Son and the Father is simply impossible if we have one who is God, and the other is just an exalted creation. And this is known to those who deny the deity of Christ. It is common for them to speak very highly of Jesus, but to make sure that, when it comes down to it, we do not treat Jesus too highly, as if He really is God. Some attempt to make a distinction between the Greek words proskuneo and latreuo, two words for worship, saying that one is for anyone, but the other is only for God. Some just say that we can worship Jesus, but just not as God, even though “worship, but not as God” is a concept completely absent from the Scriptures. What is the Scriptural instruction on what it looks like to “worship, but not as God”? Let’s look at a few of the many passages in this category that should give us some guidelines that actually completely destroy all of these false distinctions being made by opponents of the Trinity.
For the Father does not judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all people will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
We looked at verse 22 above with regard to judgment, but here, in verse 23, we find out how right we were about the interpretation given here. The reason is given as to why all judgment is given to the Son, and that is so that people will remember to honor the Son just as they honor the Father. We honor the Father as God, and therefore, should honor the Son as God. It could not be clearer. Here we also see another example of why this is an essential ingredient of the Christian faith. Jesus says clearly that we are to honor Him just as we honor the Father, which requires honoring Him as God, since we honor the Father as God. And he then says that when we make false distinctions we are not honoring the Son and therefore we do not honor the Father. If you are misled to think that you can be saved and not honor the Father who sent the Son, you are missing Jesus’ entire point.
This gives us a measuring stick to determine true and false doctrine. Does the doctrine honor the Son just as it honors the Father? If not, it is false and cannot save. Now, I want to look at one of the distinctions that is sometimes made, that latreuo is the “real” worship that is reserved only for God. Well, it turns out that isn’t true, either. This kind of religious service is directed at Jesus, as well, as it turns out. First it is done prophetically in Daniel 7.
And to him was given dominion and glory and kingship that all the peoples, the nations, and languages would serve (latreuo) him; his dominion is a dominion without end that will not cease, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
Then it is used in Revelation, where the Father and the Son are given the same service together, so united that they are spoken of together as “him”
And there will not be any curse any longer, and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his slaves will serve (latreuo) him,
There is no indication of which one is meant, because both are meant, but they are one God, so they are referred to here singularly.
The last honor I want to focus on is prayer. It is obvious that Jesus is prayed to in the New Testament. The only answer that is given by non-Trinitarians for this is, “Well, I guess it’s okay if Scripture says it’s okay.” But prayer is unambiguously an activity that must be directed to God alone. Opponents of the Trinity do not ever bring up counter examples on this one because there aren’t any. The Old Testament reflects the absolute exclusivity for God that prayer has. Not one passage of the New Testament even begins to explain how it is that we now can pray to Jesus. Why no controversy? Simple. The New Testament is not departing from the pattern of the Old. Christians who pray to Jesus are doing the exact same thing that the believers had always done. They are praying to God, because that is who Jesus is.
Prayer: Acts 7:59-60; Rom. 10:12-13; 1 Cor. 1:2; 16:22; 2 Thess. 2:16-17; Rev. 22:20-21
Love: Matt. 10:37; Luke 14:26; John 14:15, 21; 15:10; Eph. 6:24; compare all with Deut. 6:5
Worship: Matt. 2:2, 11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17 (compare with Matt. 4:9-10); Phil. 2:10-11 (compare Isa. 45:23); Heb. 1:6 (compare Ps. 97:7); Rev. 1:17; 5:14 (compare Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9)
Religious Praise: 2 Tim. 4:18; Heb. 13:20-21; 1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Pet. 3:18; Rev. 1:5-6; 5:13 (notice same praise is to God and the Lamb and comes from all of creation, taking the Lamb out of the category of creation).
Faith: John 1:12; 3:15-18