Viewing The Image Of God

Men and women, all people are made in the image of God. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and towards the end of His creation process, we are told He finally made us humans. We are also told that we humans are made in His image.

[Genesis 1:26] Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

Indeed, this is a glorious thing about mankind in which we can thank God infinitely for, however with every great teaching of the Bible comes along Satan to attempt to confuse the heathen about. Very recently, I’ve come across some rather hilarious objection to the Bible that seems to seriously lack consideration and thought pertaining to the teaching that humans are made in the image of God. In fact, there are two of them which basically touch up on the same issue. This is how the heathen will invoke them;

  1. If God is spaceless, how can He have an image?
  2. If we are made in the image of God, how come humans all look differently?

Almost instantly, it can be realized that the objections are based on a false premise, and that is that God’s image is a physical depiction of God alike a drawing of Abraham Lincoln.

Of course, this interpretation pertaining to what the Bible means by the ‘image of God’ is flat out wrong and it should be very obvious that it is so. This false interpretation of what the Bible means regarding the phrase ‘image of God’ can be resolved by simply getting to the fifth chapter of Genesis.

[Genesis 5:1-2] These are the family records of the descendants of Adam. On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and female. When they were created, He blessed them and called them man.

In Genesis 1:26, the Bible says we are made in God’s image, and in Genesis 5:1-2 we are told that we are made in God’s likeness. The phrase ‘we are made in God’s image’ means exactly what ‘we are made in God’s likeness’ means. So, what does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God? That does not mean that God made billions of copies of Himself, rather it means that humans bear qualities of the likeness of God. God can become angry, and humans can become angry. God can love, and humans can love. This has nothing to do with the flesh or how someone looks like. This phrase, ‘image of God’ is a symbolic phrase used to show that God made humans to bear qualities that He Himself bears. Therefore, it does not mean or invoke a physical portrait of God, that exists in the dimension of space. This objection to the Bible has been shown to be errorful. The Bible is the true perfect Word of God, so what exactly could we have expected? Hallelujah and amen! Unfortunately however — there is no end to these ridiculous objections to the Bible. Hopefully we can, in time, address all of them and end all these misconceptions.

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King David’s Enormous Kingdom

There are many great men throughout the records of the Bible, men such as Moses, Paul, Joshua, Job. But of course, one of them that we will never forget is David, the second king of Israel. David inherited the kingdom from Saul who had went berserk after David several times towards the end of his reign, but was repeatedly unable to defeat David. David became king after Saul, and had in all his life followed the ways of the LORD but once, where we are told that David had murdered a man to acquire his wife. God sent one of His prophets to confront him, and David was forced to bear his sins against God and paid dearly for it with one of his sons. Aside from this one action, David was favored by God and was guided by God since an early age, and God gave David kingship over Israel for forty years, and proceeded to greatly bless Solomon, David’s son with a powerful kingship over Israel that also lasted forty years. Archaeologists have already figured out that the historical reign of Solomon lasted between 970 – 930 BC, meaning David’s reign took place between 1010 – 970 BC (further meaning Saul who was king before David ruled from 1052 BC – 1010 BC).

But did King David even exist? The so-called minimalists answered no, and even if King David did exist, David did not have anything near the enormous kingdom ascribed to him in the Bible. Before the year 1990, there was no record of David outside the Bible, and so minimalist historians viewed David as a fictional figure made up centuries later. This all changed when the Tel Dan Inscription was found. The Tel Dan Stela bore an inscription that dated to the 9th century BC and was found in northern Israel, with about thirteen lines of preserved text that reads the following;

  1. […] and cut […]
  2. […] my father went up [against him when] he fought at […]
  3. And my father lay down, he went to his [ancestors] and the king of I[s-]
  4. rael entered previously in my father’s land. [And] Hadad made me king.
  5. And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven […-]
  6. s of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
  7. riots and thousands of horsemen. [I killed Jo]ram son of [Ahab]
  8. king of Israel, and [I] killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin-]
  9. g of the House of David. And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
  10. their land into [desolation …]
  11. other [… and Jehu ru-]
  12. led over Is[rael … and I laid]
  13. siege upon […]

Take a look at the  9th line. It references the “House of David”, or in other words, the Davidic dynasty. The Tel Dan Inscription was discovered in the 1990’s, in other words making it a relatively recent archaeological finding, and established attestation of David in the records of Israel, even outside the Bible.

The minimalists still had many ways to attack the historicity of the Bible, though. After King David had been found in the Tel Dan Inscription, David had been proven to exist. If the accusers could not claim David did not exist, they would claim that his power was small and that he did not maintain the enormous kingdom ascribed to him in the Bible. A scholar named Israel Finkelstein tried to date David into an era where he would be considered a regional chieftain, with authority over a small tribe of people in a relatively tiny and poor area at best. According to Finkelstein’s theory, David would hardly control the land just outside of Jerusalem, event though the Bible said he ruled a large and powerful kingdom. This would be insane to a Bible-believer. At the time though, there were no excavations that had found anything dating to David’s time that would show he ruled over a great empire, allowing these accusers to maintain their views for the moment.

Several years ago, archaeological excavations begun at a site that had not undergone much digging before, and this city was named Khirbet Qeiyafa. Now, Khirbet Qeiyafa turned out not to be just any regular city in the region of Israel in the time of David, it ended up being found to be part of the ancient Israelite kingdom. It was also probably the Biblical city of Sharaaim. Shaaraim has a few mentions throughout the Bible, including Joshua 15:361 Samuel 17:52, and 1 Chronicles 4:31. Even if it wasn’t Shaaraim in specific, it had been proven to be a Judahite city, in other words, part of the Davidic empire.

Carbon dating tests found Khirbet Qeiyafa dated to the reign of David (1010 – 970 BC). Findings in this Biblical city would give us knowledge regarding the extent of David’s kingdom, and whether or not he was just the chieftain of an agrarian society or a mighty king who ruled across an empire as the Bible records. Seven seasons of excavations in Khirbet Qeiyafa revealed two enormous finds in specific. One, a second gate was found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, whereas all previous sites in the entire world in David’s time and before only had one gate, which would be enormously significant to any archaeologist. The second major finding was an extensive centralized administration that stretched over 10,000 square feet requiring an overwhelming 200,000 tons of stone to construct. The archaeological evidence in Khirbet Qeiyafa showed that David ruled over nothing less than a kingdom, and a kingdom required a king to lead it. In a report titled Qeiyafa’s Unlikely Second Gat, Yosef Garfinkel, Sa’ar Ganor, and Joseph Baruch Silver concluded the following;

“Some scholars view King David’s kingdom as a simple agrarian society, sparsely inhabited, with no fortified cities, no administration and no writing… These scholars find it very hard to accept the new discoveries at Qeiyafa, which have completely dismantled these hypotheses.” (41)

A potentially Hebrew ostracon was found in Khirbet Qeiyafa, which also showed that literacy did exist in the time of David in his enormous kingdom.

A truly unprecedented discovery was made just in 2016, which found foreign linen fabrics that date to the reign of King Solomon, perhaps David, in southern Israel. This is one of those fabrics:

Foreign fabrics dating to the time of Solomon were found in the form of bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords. According to Vanessa Workman from the Tel Aviv University regarding this discovery, this reveals that Israel at the time had various complex trade network systems. Workman says the following;

“We found linen, which was not produced locally. It was most likely from the Jordan Valley or Northern Israel. The majority of the fabrics were made of sheep’s wool, a cloth that is seldom found in this ancient period… This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been.”

Foreign fabrics found in all these forms in Israel reveal that Israel had a complex trade network system at the time, which shows David’s kingdom was indeed quite advanced, and it maintained complex trading systems with other civilizations at the time, literacy, a great land hold and very powerful cities. Perhaps one of David’s own Psalms can educate us on how we should face attacks against the LORD  and His Word.

[Psalm 3]  Lord, how my foes increase! There are many who attack me. Many say about me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah.  But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. Selah.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of the thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side. Rise up, Lord! Save me, my God! You strike all my enemies on the cheek; You break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; may Your blessing be on Your people. Selah.

James, the Lord’s brother and Mythicism

Jesus is the worlds most influential man to ever live. Indeed, His message and teachings have become greatly widespread and have won over billions of followers, and in fact, the religion Jesus brought forth now comprises the largest religious worldview on Earth, He is beloved of His followers and even those who don’t believe respect Him. Historians are also interested in Him, and many through their analysis and study of His life have come to the belief that He is God and the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament (such as Rodney Stark, a world renowned Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington who went on to produce the most comprehensive account of the rise of Christianity in the early centuries of the Roman Empire). Thousands of scholarly works have been published on Jesus, and the historicity of early Christianity and the New Testament. But of course, the mythicists won’t be having any of this.

Mythicists are people who don’t believe Jesus ever existed. To no ones surprise (except for, apparently, mythicists themselves), mythicism being universally rejected by historians on historical grounds. One of the biggest problems for mythicists is the fact that we have people who knew the family of Jesus, which is inexplicable if He didn’t exist — namely, Paul. He says to us in Galatians;

Galatians 1:19: but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.

Paul, as an early Church leader (who was later killed for the faith) knew quite a lot of acquaintances of Jesus, and he tells us a verse earlier that he had first met Cephas (Peter) before seeing James (watch this hilarious clip where Bart Ehrman slaps around some mythicist radio show host on exactly this point). So, what’s the point of all this about mythicism being false because people like Paul knew the very family of Jesus like His brother James?

Well, in order to get around reality, some mythicists like to completely re-interpret entire passages in order to explain away facts and information that entirely invalidates their position, such as the aforementioned passage in Paul’s epistle Galatians. So, they will say here that when Paul calls James the “brother of the Lord”, he means brother in a spiritual sense, not a brotherly sense. On its face, this response may sound actually coherent, but someone who starts to dig just a little bit realizes why this claim is atrociously false in perhaps every potential manner. So, for this post, we’re going to go over several reasons why we know James was the actual brother of Jesus. When we say brother, that is to say that Mary had not only Jesus, but several other kids — and James was one of them. Mary would have had these children with Joseph, whom the Bible tells us was the husband of Mary. Indeed, the Bible tells us Mary had many children (Jesus was the first).

One thing to point out is that the context of the Galatians quote above allows us to understand that a spiritual brother interpretation of this passage is not valid at all. We shall now take a look at the context.

Galatians 1:18-19: Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.

Paul is clarifying to us the distinctive position and title that James held (the “Lord’s brother) by contrasting him with Peter, and thus Paul’s statement that James was the “brother of the Lord” cannot bear an interpretation that this was meant in some spiritual brotherly sense, because Peter in this passage was also a spiritual brother, yet was contrasted with James who was an actual brother. When confronted with this, mythicists claim that Paul was actually distinguishing Cephas, an apostle, from James, a mere “brother of the Lord”. In other words, they claim that the title “brother of the Lord” signified a simple rank-and-file Christian, and Paul used this title to contrast with Cephas, who was an apostle, just as we would distinguish between the Pope and a “Christian”. Richard Carrier (a mythicist) claims he’s distinguishing apostolic from non-apostolic Christians. However, a closer reading of Galatians rules out this hypothesis. Doesn’t Paul, right there in Galatians 1:19, call James an apostle?

Galatians 1:19: but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.

Carrier never addresses this translation, which is preferred by the majority of Greek experts (which is easily demonstrated by a reference to all the alternate translations of this verse compiled on BibleHub). Why doesn’t he demonstrate this is an invalid translation? He doesn’t, he simply assumes his translation. Which is dishonest. It’s clear that Carrier’s entire thesis, literally all of mythicism hinges on this one, slightly particular translation of a single verse in all of Paul’s letters. Historicity doesn’t. And if all that wasn’t troubling enough, John P. Meier in pp. 639-642 of his paper The Circle of the Twelve: Did it Exist During Jesus’ Public Ministry? (JBL 1997) has demonstrated the great ambiguity of the use of the word ‘apostle’ in the New Testament as well as in the letters of Paul. Paul constantly refers to himself as an apostle (Gal 1:1; 1 Cor 9:1-2; 2 Cor 1:1; Romans 1:1, etc). In Romans 16:7, Paul mentions two obscure (that is to say we know almost nothing about them) Christians named Andronicus and Junia/Julia (a woman), and he says they are both apostles. In some of these verses in Paul, being an apostle equivocally means a Christian who goes out to preach to unbelievers (Gal 2:8, Rom 1:5, etc), rather than Carrier’s contrived unstated definition that only applies to the most powerful Christians in the church (in order so that it can’t apply to a “rank-and-file” Christian like James), which he never explains nor defends. At all. Meier states “What is beyond doubt is that in the first Christian decades “apostle” had a range of meanings that extended far beyond the twelve” (pg. 640). This throws Carrier’s entire thesis of Galatians 1:18-19 distinguishing between “apostolic and non-apostolic Christians” into a sprawling chaos, and there is not a single instance in Paul’s letters where the word ‘apostle’ means what Carrier apparently thinks it means. The horse is dead. But there is one thing I love doing — and that is beating the dead horse (not literally! I promise.. I mean spiritually!)

Mark 6:3: Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

The Gospel of Mark (also see Matthew 13:55-56, likely dependent on Mark here, and Acts 1:14) gives us an understanding of the family of Jesus, which included four sons apart from Jesus and several sisters. That means that Jesus did, in fact, have actual brothers and sisters that existed within a physical sense. So the Bible makes it very clear that James was the brother of the Lord in a biological manner. There is more evidence as well, though. One 1st-century historian of Palestine named Josephus tells us something very interesting — a confirmation that is very important that simply cannot be ignored. Josephus’ wrote a work called the Antiquities of the Jews, and in it, he writes this:

…Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent… [Emphasis added.]

To read the full Josephan passage, click here. Carrier has tried to argue that the phrase “who was called Christ” in Josephus part is an interpolation, but this ridiculous claim has been refuted at length by Tim O’Neill and is not taken seriously by real historians of Josephus anyways, it’s obviously one of Carrier’s confections to explain away a rather awkward detail in the historical record. It’s obvious that Carrier confected this contrived thesis to try to do away with an otherwise uncontroversial mention of Jesus by a first century historian. Anyways, what is made apparent is that the early historian Josephus tells us that Jesus had a brother who was named James. What Josephus tells us makes it incontestable that the spiritual interpretation of James in Galatians 1:19 is a crashing attempt at history. The James Ossuary should also receive mention.

It dates to 70 AD at the very latest and contains an Aramaic inscription that says “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. This inscription was authenticated by two world-class paleographers named André Lemaire from the Paris-Sorbonne University and Ada Yardeni of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Norman Geisler summed up the data on this inscription very nicely for us all. This is likely a genuine artifact. Only 1.71 people at the time would have been named James with a father named Joseph and a brother named Jesus, as well as the fact that ossuaries almost never mention the person’s brother unless that figure were prominent — making it almost doubtless that this is referring to the biblical James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. This inscription tells us that James was an actual brother of Jesus, and we know this because we are also told in the inscription that his father is Joseph, so this is talking about family. This shows James was the brother of Jesus, not a regular follower and Paul knew him.

All of this evidence collectively demonstrates (even without reference to the James Ossuary) that during the 1st century, the Christian community widely recognized James as a kinsmen of Jesus, and so one must posit a complete discontinuity between Paul’s letters (all written throughout the period of 45-65 AD) and Mark’s Gospel (which was written in 70 AD, only a few years after Paul’s last epistle, and it can be added that Mark was definitely alive when Paul was writing his letters) regarding the matter of James’ identity to maintain that they were not working from the same, widespread 1st century belief of Jesus having a brother named James. Positing such a discontinuity is already strained, but it gets worst.

More importantly, is highly difficult to explain the prominence of James in the early church if he was anything but the brother of Jesus. As Daniel Gullotta, a scholar from Stanford writes, “More problematic for Carrier’s reading is James’ ongoing influence within the early church and the legacy of James’ authority within the developing early Christian tradition” (pp. 335-6, On Richard Carrier’s Doubts JSHJ 15.2-3). According to Paul, James was powerful enough to have people representing him all the way in Antioch (Galatians 2:12) and he was considered one of the three “pillars” of the early church, alongside Peter and John (Galatians 2:9), two disciples of Jesus, and he was even given distinction across “the 500” who saw Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-7). How could he have been recognized so much if he was anything but Jesus’ brother? We know that his Christophany was rather late from the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 and he was never among or reputed to be among the disciples of Jesus. How could an otherwise irrelevant, common “brother of the Lord” be so distinguished in the early church? Clearly, this fact about the early church is best explained by the thesis that James was the Lord’s brother as Paul says, something that is attested to in all our evidence. Carrier explains James’ prominence by positing that “James the brother of the Lord” in Galatians 1 is distinct from the pillar James in Galatians 2 (as well as in his weak response to Gullotta), and that the James of Galatians 2 is actually James the brother of John who is mentioned in the Gospels, and thus the pillar trio in Galatians 2 matches the trio of disciples in the Gospels! An impossibility once we realize that Paul mentions two people named “Cephas” and “James” alongside each other in Galatians 1:18-19, and then also names two people named Cephas and James alongside each other in Galatians 2:9 while discussing the same topic. The fact that the same two figures are mentioned alongisde each other in both times on the same topic is incredible evidence that the natural reading of the text is correct, the fact that the ‘James’ never changes. As Craig Evans also pointed out to Carrier in their debate that, James the brother of John was already dead at this point anyways according to Acts. Nevermind! says Carrier, Acts is unreliable. But isn’t it a coincidence that what Acts mentions perfectly fits the natural reading of the text, where James is actually the brother of Jesus? This is clearly the best evidenced, most natural reading of the text, ruling out Carrier’s wishful alternative taken seriously by no more than a few others, and it explains everything. Gullotta summarizes:

Additionally, Carrier’s argument fails to justify why early and widely circulated Christian tradition maintained that Jesus had siblings, one of whom was named James. When the evidence for James is considered all together—Paul’s reference to James as ‘the brother of the Lord’, the level of authority he commanded within the Jerusalem church, his distinction from the twelve, the apostles, and the other brethren to whom Christ appeared, as well as the well established tradition that James was Jesus’ brother—it renders Carrier’s interpretation inadequate. Given the sources, the most logical explanation is that James was the brother of Jesus and that this familial connection permitted him great status and influence within the early church. (pg. 336)

A great thanks to the historian Ehrman for first bringing me to the knowledge of what Paul has to say about this. I also got to go over two very early historical records talking about the life of Jesus, being the first-century Jewish historian Josephus and a remarkably early inscription on an old box, so we truly can have no doubts or issues regarding the historicity of Jesus. Even Carrier admits that this passage is better explained on the fact that Jesus existed, and so he assigns only a 2:1 probability of it favoring historicity. In my reckoning, since every mythicist explanation here is hopelessly riddled with problems, interpretation and translation peculiarities, a better rendering of the probability would be 20:1 (of course Carrier can’t have that since it would throw his Bayesian mess into oblivion). I will go into greater lengths regarding the documentation of the historicity of Jesus in future posts — but this should be good for now! Blessings to all readers.

UPDATE: Carrier’s (and other mythicists) convoluted arguments and beliefs regarding James, the brother of Jesus, has now received another blazing blow by Tim O’Neill in an article that clearly surpasses even this one. This response is so powerful that I have not seen a better disassembly of a thesis as contrived as Carrier’s.


 

personal notes: refutations: Larry Hurtado 1, Hurtado 2, Hurtado 3, Hurtado 4, Hurtado 5, Hurtado 6Ehrman 1, Ehrman 2, Ehrman 3, Petterson (academic review), O’Neill 1, O’Neill 2, Ehrman-Price debateRÖnnblom 1, McGrath 1, McGrath 2 (academic quote)Tucker 1, Gullotta 1, Carrier’s bibliography, Carrier’s flawed interpretation of Philo, Carrier addresses O’Neill, O’Neill once again destroys Carrier

Jesus Claimed To Be God… Again

Since some time ago, one of my first posts on this blog was titled Jesus Claimed To Be God — where I provided a very lengthy post to show that Jesus did in fact put the claim of God upon Himself. However, upon further research, I realized that the debate on this issue was a lot deeper, and a lot further than my initial blog on this topic had entailed to discuss.  For example, I read Tim O’Neill’s objections to this idea (Tim is an atheist historian) as well as watched the debate between Bart Ehrman and Justin Bass (both have a PhD). I’ve already posted a full rebuttal to Tim’s post (and it can be found by scrolling under Tim’s answer), however it’s time for me to fully update this on my blog. This new post will serve as a further defending the claim that Jesus claimed to be God. We will respond to both the arguments of those who deny that Jesus claimed to be God.

Jesus as God in Paul’s epistles?

Believe it or not, some people actually believe Paul did not view Jesus as God. Scholars and textual critics only view seven of Paul’s letters as definitely authentic and were certainly written by Paul — the book of Romans, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon and Phillipians. Although the other six contain obvious references of Jesus as being divine (Titus 2:13, Colossians 2:9), they are argued to be pseudonymous by the majority of Scholars and thus not authentic to Paul’s name and thereby do not reflect Paul’s views. Although I disagree that they are pseudonymous, I will not reference them in discussion of Paul’s views. Here, we will see that Paul obviously viewed Jesus as God.

Let us see that Paul’s texts that clearly establish Jesus as God, and how those who deny this wish to respond are able to respond.

Phillipians 2:5–7: Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

A very obvious reference to Jesus as God, correct? The dissidents argue otherwise. Here, they say that the Greek word for the word ‘nature’ is μορφῇ (which is correct) — but they also claim that this Greek term does not mean ‘nature’, it merely means ‘shape’. Thus, Paul says the following:

Phillipians 2:5-7: Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, being in the very shape of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Then, the claim is put forth that this does not mean Jesus is God, it really (somehow) means that Jesus is taking on human likeness in some pre-existing celestial form. Unfortunately for these people, although they wish to pertain to this rather fanciful interpretation of this obvious verse, they are wrong. The Greek word μορφῇ does not only mean shape, μορφῇ can mean both shape and form. 3444. μορφή (morphé) — form, shape — in other words, translations like the HCSB are correct when they translate Phillipians 2:5-7 to say the following:

Phillipians 2:5–7 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form,

Saying that the phrase “Jesus existed in the form of God” doesn’t actually mean “Jesus existed in the form of God” will always be a rather simple attempt to explain away this clear-cut phrase from Paul here. Paul here very clearly places Jesus as God. It only gets worse from here though. These people that attempt to completely re-interpret these straight forward statements will not like the fact that the Greek word μορφῇ is exercised elsewhere in the Biblical Greek literature, such as Mark 16:12.

Mark 16:12: After this, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them as they walked along in the country.

The Greek word μορφῇ here is used very obviously, and we can see that this Greek word means taking on a physical form, so when Paul says “Jesus exists in the form of God”, he means that “Jesus literally exists in the physical form of God”. So it seems to me there is no possible way to put forth a plausible view where the text in Phillipians 2:5-7 does not amazingly clearly interpret Jesus as God. This itself can drive the position of these dissidents into the ground, but there is more.

[Romans 9:5] The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.

Another very clear verse, right? It says the Christ (Jesus) is “God over all”, right? Not to the deniers. The deniers rightfully point out that there is great debate over how this verse is to be translated and where the punctuation goes, as punctuation didn’t exist in the first century when Paul wrote Romans. Thus, it is up the modern Greek scholars to determine where the puncutation in Biblical verses are to be placed in light of the verses context. So these are the contending translations of the verse:

” … from their race… is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever”

” … from their race… is the Christ, who is over all. God forever be blessed!”

” … from their race… is the Christ. God who is over all be forever blessed!”

The deniers will tell you that only the first one views Jesus as God, but this is again false. As you can see, the second translation says “Christ, who is over all”. If Paul views Jesus as being over all things, or as being the highest being, then Paul views Jesus as God. So, two translations put Jesus as God and one doesn’t. But is the third translation really plausible? Notice, the translation has the unbearably long phrase “God who is over all be forever blessed!” — is this an accurate translation? No where else in Paul’s literature is such phraseology used, giving us good reason to believe that such a translation is false, it is in error. Therefore, all viable translations clearly put forth that Jesus is God.

Now, we will see other Pauline verses that make it extraordinarily obvious that Jesus is God. Firstly, we see Paul recording that people pray to Jesus.

[1 Corinthians 1:2] To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.

I didn’t know Paul thought people could pray to someone other then God? Now, take a look at this verse which is an elephant in the room to anyone claiming Jesus isn’t viewed as God by Paul:

[Phillipians 2:10–11] so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul tells us that at the return of Jesus, ALL PEOPLES IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH AND UNDER THE Earth will BOW down to Jesus, and will CONFESS that Jesus is Lord. It gets amazingly worse for these people when the word translated as ‘Lord’ is κύριος, which means one who exercises absolute ownership. 2962. κύριος (kurios) — lord, master — if Jesus wasn’t God, then why does the entire world bow down on the mark of His name? This becomes increasingly more troublesome when we see this phrase in Phillipians 2:10-11 correlate with the following Old Testament text.

[Isaiah 45:23-25] By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance. It will be said to Me: Righteousness and strength is only in the Lord.” All who are enraged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. All the descendants of Israel
will be justified and find glory through the Lord.

We now see that what Paul is actually doing in Phillipians 2 is literally correlating an Old Testament text on the almighty Yahweh where Yahweh receives divine homage DIRECTLY with Jesus. This is a type of evidence in the Pauline epistles for the defenders of the idea that Paul portrays Jesus as God fascinates even myself. Seriously. But the problems get much more enormous for anyone continuously denying this. Paul views Jesus and God as the same person. For example, did Paul preach the Gospel of God?

[Romans 15:16] “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Or did Paul preach the gospel of Christ?

[Galatians 1:6–7] I am astonished how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is not even a gospel. Evidently some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ.

I can give many more examples, such as when Paul first says the churches belong to God (1 Corinthians 11:16) and then says the churches belong to Christ (Romans 16:16), or when Paul says the Spirit is of God in Romans 8:9 but then says the Spirit is of Christ in the exact same verse Romans 8:9. Paul even tells us the only way to be saved is to call on Jesus name (Romans 10:13) and to say that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) ! The Greek word used for ‘Lord’ is κύριος which is used multiple times to reference God the Father. The evidence shows it is amazingly obvious that Paul viewed Jesus is God. There is more to go through, but this should be pretty clear by now. The Pauline epistles do in fact portray Jesus as God, as this is what Paul believed as well as Jesus and the early Christians. Because Paul is the earliest author of any Christian writings we have, his view that Jesus is God says quite an enormous amount regarding the earliest belief of Christians and the earliest theology of Christianity.

Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, divine phrase or Messianic phrase?

Some of these people like Tim O’Neill argue that the phrases Christ, Son of God, and Son of Man being titles of Jesus does not make Jesus as God in any way. Tim says this in his answer:

“Christ”, “Son of God” and “Son of Man” are all titles of the Jewish Messiah and the Messiah was not considered to be God.

Though he is right about ‘Christ’, which simply means the ‘Messiah’ in Hebrew or ‘the anointed one’ in English, he is dead wrong about the other two. There is no evidence found in the Old Testament that the phrase Son of God or Son of Man are mere terms used upon the Messiah that do not invoke divinity or being God in any way. Both terms are used on Jesus, such as Jesus being called the Son of God in Mark 1:1 or being called the Son of Man in Matthew 20:28. Although there is no evidence these terms only refer to a being aside from God, there is undeniable evidence that the phrase Son of Man in the Old Testament refers to God.

[Daniel 7:13-14] I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

The Son of Man is a figure authority over all peoples of all nations of all languages, whom is forever served by all the world, and possesses an everlasting kingdom in His dominion that will never cease. This figure is obviously God. I have a feeling Tim might go wild about the verses saying that He is given this authority, but this is because God is the Father and Jesus is the Son, and thus authority belongs to the Father by nature. Since when does a regular human control absolute authority over all humanity for eternity? I can find no place in the Old Testament where this is said to be due to anyone but God Himself — but I did find Zechariah 14:9, which tells us that it is Yahweh that is king over all the Earth — so it seems that the Son of Man is… Yahweh? Jesus proclaimed to be the Son of Man, therefore Jesus proclaimed to be Yahweh?

The funny thing that I’ve come to notice is that Tim O’Neill is one of the very only people who seriously believe that the phrase Son of Man does not refer to God. Others like Bart Ehrman fully accept it — but now you may be asking yourself, if Bart Ehrman himself viewed Jesus as not claiming to be God, what does Bart Ehrman do with Jesus’ claims to be the Son of Man if he views it is a term for God? Well, easy! He simply says that the Gospel authors made up every single phrase in the New Testament of Jesus (more than 80) where Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man. More on this later. In fact, if anyone is still denying that Jesus clearly claimed to be God such as in the Synoptic Gospels, perhaps they can take a look at the following few verses:

[Mark 14:60–64] Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent and did not answer anything. Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What is your decision?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Jesus affirms He is the Messiah, Son of the Blessed One and the Son of Man all at once, and in response the High Priest rips off his robes and declares that Jesus must be put to death because He committed blasphemy. In Jewish Law, you can only commit blasphemy in this context by claiming to be God.

Let’s go back to the term Christ — Jesus claimed to be the Christ, or the Messiah. These people will sometimes say that the Messiah was never to be a God figure according to the Old Testament… But the Old Testament will now challenge them on this.

[Isaiah 9:6–7] 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. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.

The Old Testament tells us that the figure who reigns on the throne of David, a son that will be persecuted and will establish an eternal kingdom (this sounds frighteningly like the Messiah) will also be called Mighty God and Eternal Father. So Jesus claiming to be the Messiah is Jesus claiming to be the one who is called Mighty God and Eternal Father, correct? It seems so. Thus, all three terms — Christ, Son of God and Son of Man establish that Jesus claimed to be God.

Jesus as God in the Synoptic Gospels of Luke, Mark, and Matthew

Remember, in the view of those who claim Jesus did not claim to be God, John’s Gospel when saying Jesus is God doesn’t count because it was written too late! Let’s ignore the fact that John the Elder wrote the Gospel of John, a man who directly knew Jesus. Let’s also ignore all the times Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man in the Synoptic Gospels as well, as well as Mark 14:60-64 in which we’ve already made note of. Let’s also put aside Paul’s letters for now. Even aside from all this, Jesus is still clearly shown as God and declares to be God in all the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus says He will literally judge the world on His throne.

[Matthew 25:31–32] “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Who, aside from God alone, is going to sit on their throne and judge the world? We also see the very nice term ‘Son of Man’ appear again. Needless to say, the Old Testament obviously says God judges the world (Amos 5:18–20, Psalm 9:7–8). Anyways, Jesus calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath.

[Mark 2:27–28] Then Jesus told them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Needless to say, the Old Testament proclaims that the Sabbath belongs to God only (Ezekiel 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12). Jesus says that He is the Lord of David.

[Matthew 22:41–45] While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose Son is He?” “David’s,” they told Him. He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Him ‘Lord’: The Lord declared to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet’? “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be his Son?”

Jesus tells us only the Father knows Him, and only He knows the Father and to whom anyone Jesus wishes to reveal the Father to.

Matthew 11:27: All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.

Jesus tells us He is wherever His followers gather, basically saying He can exist anywhere He pleases.

[Matthew 18:20] For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

Peter tells Jesus He is literally God’s Son, and Jesus blessed him for it.

[Matthew 16:13-17] When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.

Jesus is declared to be the “Holy One”, that is called Son of God.

[Luke 1:35] The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.

We can go forwards — Jesus further declares the Father hands Him authority over earth and heaven and so forth. The Gospels contain tens of references to Jesus as the Son of Man in all the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Jesus is obviously portrayed as God. All this and all these verses together make an overwhelmingly compelling case to Jesus being God as portrayed in the Synoptics. These are not the claims of a mere human being, a human Messiah, or even the mightiest prophet. These are the claims to be put forth onto God and God alone.

Book of Hebrews says Jesus is God?

In discussion on Jesus claim to be God, the Book of Hebrews always seems to be ignored. The Book of Hebrews is an amazingly early text of the New Testament (written 64 AD). This is a very great document in order to understand the earliest interpretation of Jesus amongst the Christians, and lo’ and behold, it says Jesus is God.

[Hebrews 1:7-8] And about the angels He says: He makes His angels winds, and His servants a fiery flame but to the Son: Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.

Finally.. Let’s discuss the Son of Man again.

You’ll recall I said earlier that some people who deny Jesus claimed to be God simply think that Jesus proclaiming Himself to be the Son of Man was ‘made up’ by the Gospel authors. Not only is this the obvious dying breath of someone whom has a failing argument and has to come to terms with the facts that all the Gospels, Pauline letters and earliest Christian texts like the Book of Hebrews and the writings of Ignatius portray Jesus is God — also has absolutely no evidence in support of it. In fact, all the evidence seems to support that Jesus did claim to be the Son of Man based on these sayings. The idea that Jesus historically claimed this passes many historical criterions. For example, it passes the criterion of multiple attestation (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John say Jesus said Himself as the Son of Man), it passes the criterion of early attestation, and it also passes the criterion of dissimilarity. You’ll realize the term ‘Son of Man’ appears almost absolutely nowhere in the New testament apart from the sayings of Jesus — perhaps twice at best. This shows that it is not being made up, as the criterion of dissimilarity shows that this saying of Jesus is unique to Jesus’ quotations, and thus Jesus’ quotations are more likely to be His own (as a fictional quote from John would sound a lot like John’s own writing). All the historical evidence seems to clearly favor the authenticity of this saying, and thus we can have no doubt that Jesus claimed to be God.