“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”Romans 9:4-5 ESV
This verse is one of the most common verses that clearly affirms the deity of Christ. Yet, this is also one of the most controversial verses because it is interpreted differently by different translations.
Martin Lloyd Jones, in His commentary on the ninth chapter of the book of Romans expressed his grief in these words, “How tragic it is that this magnificent statement, which ought to be enough in and of itself, has become a matter of controversy… what controversy? It concerns the last part of the verse… The whole question is, To whom does that refer? Does it refer to the LORD Jesus Christ, or is it just a doxology addressed to God Himself?”
Some taught that this verse refers to God (the Father) and not Christ. RSV adds period after the word Christ “…according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever.” Clearly, making the last phrase not referring to Christ. Some translations are unclear (KJV, NASB) ...whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.
Others are clear and plainly reflect the original language (ESV, NKJV, NIV) …according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever (ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀμήν) NA28. With just one reading of the verse, it wouldn’t take you time to conclude that Christ is God over all!
His Deity and the Church
Is Jesus God? In history, this was answered differently and those who reject Christ’s deity are condemned as heretics.
There were Ebionites (2nd century), one of the earliest heresies who fought for monotheism. They taught that Christ is a mere man, just like Iglesia ni Cristo or Manalo here in the Philippines. Their proof text is Mark 1:9-11, arguing that He became Christ at baptism only.
Another major heresy is Arianism (4th century). Arius spread the formula “en pote hote ouk en“ which means that “there was when he was not”, referring to the Son. They affirmed that Christ was the first and greatest creation of the Father. He is great yet He was a mere creature. This was condemned in the Nicene Creed.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
The church stood up and should still stand up today to defend the truth and make a clear statement condemning the damning errors. We cannot be silent!
His deity and The Scripture
Jesus is God! We look at this truth before. Yet, it is worth studying over and over again. Faithfulness to the original language demands a clear affirmation of His deity.
The Scripture is full of statements about the deity of Christ. Aside from the one we have above, other passages also affirm this precious truth (Col 1:16, John 1:1, Heb 1:10, Ps 102:25ff). We can find tons of reasons to affirm His deity.1
In John 20:27-29, Thomas called Him his LORD and God. He had faith in the truth about who Jesus is. In Acts 20:28, God is said to purchase His church with His blood. This refers to Christ alone for neither the Father nor the Spirit has a body capable of shedding blood.
In Titus 2:13, He is called the Great God and Savior (see also 2 Peter 1:1, 11).
In Hebrews 1:8, The Father called the Son God. In John 8:58, He ascribed to Himself the Name of the Self-existent One, the Great I AM (Ex 3:14). In John 12:45, Jesus equates Himself with the Father.
Jesus also received worship, which would be blasphemy if He is not God (Matthew 28:9, Luke 19:37, Acts 10:25-26)
The doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery. Three persons (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) in one God. From all of these passages, we heartily affirm that beyond all doubt, Jesus Christ is God.
His deity and Our Salvation
Since Jesus is God, what now? Our salvation is at stake since we entrust our souls to Him. One of the lines in the Nicene Creed puts it this way,
“For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven..”
If Jesus is not God, then we have no hope of salvation. If He is not God in the flesh, who stooped down and became like us, He cannot save us for “what is not assumed by God is not saved” as staunchly affirmed by Athanasius, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism and other heresies during the fourth century.
Why should we depend on and trust in Christ if He is not God? As God, He alone is sinless. His life has infinite value and worth sufficient to save all who come to Him.
If Jesus is a mere man, He cannot fully satisfy God’s justice. In 2 Cor 5:21, as our Substitute, He became sin, not ontologically (in His nature) but legally (in the sight of the Great Judge), since He stood in the place of sinners bearing their sins and receiving the punishment for their sins that they may be justified once they put their trust in Him.
If you cannot see Him as God, you cannot worship Him properly. In Revelation 1:17, John the Beloved worshipped the LORD after he acknowledged that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega in verse 8.
A proper understanding of His deity is essential for evangelism. We cannot go to the world, preaching the message of salvation if our master is unable to save to the uttermost as God. Today, It is sad to know that Jesus Christ is humanized so much in our society.
In our main text above, we can also see four things about Christ:
a. His humanity – came according to the flesh…
b. His deity – who is God…
c. His supremacy – God overall…
d. His majesty – …forever be praised (see also Rev 5:12)
Is this the Christ that you know? If you are a believer, know Him more, love Him, let your mind be soaked in the thought that your salvation is purchased by the God-man, Jesus Christ. Read more about Him 2, behold more of His beauty and the glory of His person that you may be more conformed to His image as you walk the path of sanctification.
Israel wasted all of her advantages. You might have read the passages above before or listened to the gospel proclamation with your parents in a gospel-centered church. Do not waste your life on things that are nothing compared to the value of the Eternal One!
Do not squander the message of the gospel! To delay your response in repentance and faith until tomorrow is to squander the good news! The invitation is still open, come all of you who are weary and heavily burdened. Come! Be washed by the blood of Divine Savior!
Notes: This blog post is based on our Pastor’s expository series in the book of Romans. You can watch the entire sermon from our morning message on Facebook or Youtube.
Cover photo by geralt from Pixabay.com
1 Nathan Busenitz gave 11 Reasons to Affirm the Deity of Christ
2 You can also see here the recommended readings on the Person of Christ.
3 thoughts on “The Deity of Christ”
He is God!
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Love Romans. Thanks for the insight.
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