Two weeks ago, I posted my tribute to Larry Hurtado upon his death from a long bout with cancer. Since, others have offered tributes as well, including those by Chris Keith, Greg Lanier, Tommy Wasserman, John Stackhouse, Helen Bond, Michael Bird, as well as by Larry’s own Doktorvater, Eldon Epp.
In addition, I have received a number of inquiries about how to get a quick introduction to Larry’s work, especially his contributions on early Christology. After all, his Lord Jesus Christ is a bit lengthy for a quick overview of his arguments. So, let me recommend his briefer volume, How on Earth Did Jesus Become God? (Eerdmans, 2005).
To give a little background, we need to rewind the tape and remember his groundbreaking work One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (Fortress Press, 1988; third edition, T&T Clark, 2015), Hurtado laid forth the argument that worship of Jesus amongst early Christians was much earlier than previously thought—a monumental fact given that such devotion arose within circles of Second-Temple devout Jews.
How On Earth Did Jesus Become a God? is a more compact presentation of this prior research and pulls together a number of other previous publications on the subject (mainly journal articles) as well as material from the Deichmann Annual Lecture Series at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.
All the chapters in the volume are helpful, but the first two are the most foundational. In chapter one, Hurtado gives us the lay of the land by surveying the variety of other approaches to Jesus devotion within early Christianity, offering a brief critical review of each of them, so that his own approach can be seen in contrast to its scholarly competitors.
In particular, he sets his sites on the “evolutionary” approach most aptly represented by William Bousset’s Kyrios Christos (1913), which argued that worship of Jesus arose with Gentile Christian circles heavily influenced by the pagan Greco-Roman cult.
It is here that the key historical issue at hand is crystallized. The challenge, argues Hurtado, is not simply explaining how Jesus was seen as divine by early Christians, but rather the challenge is explaining the manner in which he was seen as divine. Early Christians drew a sharp line between their worship of Jesus and all the other pagan gods of the Greco-Roman world. Jesus was not simply a new addition to a pantheon of gods they already believed in, but was considered to be the only God rightly deserving of worship.
The exclusive nature of such worship is monotheistic at the core and suggests a Jewish origin, not a pagan-Gentile one. It is such remarkable devotion to Jesus, within a monotheistic context, that demands some sort of serious historical explanation. Hurtado declares, “But it was a major and unprecedented move for people influenced by the exclusive monotheistic stance of Second-Temple Judaism to include another figure singularly alongside God as the recipient of cultic devotion in their worship gatherings” (25).
In chapter two, Hurtado continues his response to the evolutionary model by developing a larger argument for why devotion to Jesus originated from within a monotheistic Jewish context. Hurtado bases his argument on two primary pillars: (a) He argues that such devotion to Jesus can be traced so far back into the first century (even to the 40’s) that an evolutionary model simply does not have time to work; and (b) the demographic origin of such devotion in the earliest followers of Jesus is decidedly Jewish (particularly in the crucial first few decades).
Even though diaspora communities were influenced broadly by pagan culture, there are no reasons to think that such influence would have caused Jewish believers to question the uniqueness of the one true God of Israel; indeed, the opposite seems to be the case.
Hurtado concludes, therefore, that the earliest devotion to Jesus was in some sense “binitarian.” Christians worshiped Jesus not a second god, but worshiped him alongside the one true God of the Jews. Such a radical and astounding “mutation” within early monotheistic Judaism cannot be accounted for, argues Hurtado, by the evolutionary model (or, for that matter, most other current models).
Overall, this volume expands his already compelling argument that worship of Jesus was a remarkably early innovation that demands rigorous historical investigation. Perhaps more than any other scholar in recent years, Hurtado has doggedly pursued this one issue and has thankfully caused the scholarly community to engage in deeper and more thorough historical reflections on the subject.
Thus, his lasting legacy is that he has succeeded in shifting the terms of the debate over the origins of Christianity and the nature of the historical Jesus. Instead of getting drawn into endless discussions about historical sources, redaction criticism, and the like, Hurtado has refreshingly streamlined the discussion by asking simple questions about the origins of the beliefs and practices of early Christians.
Such beliefs and practices cannot simply be observed by the modern scholar but they demand historical explanations for their existence. It is at this point that the biblical explanation (early Christians experienced the resurrection of Jesus) shows itself to be the most compelling.
But that is the subject of another post.
As a non-scholar, I’m both fascinated and confused by scholarly debates over early Christian devotion.
For starters, if I understand it correctly, Prof. James Dunn argued that early Christian did not worship Jesus, strictly speaking, because they never offered animal sacrifice to Jesus, which sacrifice is described and prescribed in detail in the Mosaic Law as the only acceptable form of worship to God. Prof. Hurtado seemed to concede this point, but argued that, nevertheless, early Christians did worship Jesus with reference to and alongside God, because the constellation of their corporate-devotion practices amount to worship, such as invoking Jesus’ name in prayer and baptism, singing hymns to Jesus and God, etc.
It makes me wonder: Why didn’t the early Jewish believes offer animal sacrifice to Jesus when they offered sacrifice to God in the temple (as related in Acts)? Doesn’t this difference in devotion practices distinguish Jesus from God in a significant way?
Loren J Golden says
From your comments, I gather that you have no clue what the Old Testament sacrifices were supposed to signify, and still less what the author of Hebrews has to say about them.
The Old Testament sacrifices involved the substitution of a certain animal (bull, cow, sheep, goat, turtledove, or pigeon) without blemish (e.g., no bruises or physical deformities) being offered on the altar before God (at the Tabernacle or Temple) to bear the penalty for the sins or guilt of the offerer(s). However, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb. 10.4) In reality, the Old Testament sacrifices “serve (as) a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” (Heb. 8.5) Thus, “Christ…offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins.” (Heb. 10.12) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (I Pet. 2.24) “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53.4-6) “For by a single offering (the Lord Jesus) has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. … Where there is forgiveness of (sins and lawless deeds), there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Heb. 10.14,18)
To offer animal sacrifices to the Lord Jesus, as the Old Testament believers offered animal sacrifices to God first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, would be extremely offensive to Him. His sacrificial offering of Himself was “once for all” (Heb. 10.10), and His work of atonement was finished on the Cross—He said so Himself (Jn. 19.30). Christ’s work of atonement on the Cross is the reality to which the shadow and symbol of the Old Testament sacrificial system pointed. For “early Jewish believers” to have “offered animal sacrifices to Jesus” would be tantamount to them telling Him to His face, that His atoning work was NOT finished, that it was NOT sufficient to save them or anyone else.
God required the Old Testament sacrifices because of the ultimate reality to which they pointed—the atoning work of the crucified Savior. However, He took no pleasure in them. As David wrote, “Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” (Ps. 40.6-8; quoted in Heb. 10.5-7) And again, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps. 51.16-17)
So then, when the reality of the crucified Savior came to pass, the need of the Old Testament sacrifices was brought to an end, and inasmuch as the Lord finds no intrinsic value in animal sacrifices, and indeed finds them offensive because of what they suggest about the sufficiency of the crucified Savior’s work, your question regarding why Jewish believers did not continue the practice comes across as extremely absurd.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my “extremely absurd” question. I appreciate that you’re acting with good will, though upon bad inference. 🙂
I’m not sure how to make my question clearer, but I’ll give it another try:
The early Jewish believers (including Peter, John and Paul) participated in temple sacrifice (Acts 2:46, Acts 3:1, Acts 24:11-12), and it was also recommended in the Jerusalem Council that the Jewish believers “live in observance of the law” (Acts 21:17-26), which included offering sacrifice to God in the temple.
If Jesus must be worshipped alongside God, then when the early Jewish believers worshipped God in the temple, they would have to worship Jesus in the same manner at the same time, which means offering sacrifice to Him.
As you say, it was “extremely absurd”, given what is written in Hebrews. I have to admit If I were an early Jewish believer, especially a Pharisee like Paul, who did everything by the book, I would have been extremely confused as to how to engage in worship.
Erickson Lewis says
Nemo: For what it’s worth, I thought your question was a good question, one I had not thought about before until you asked it. Thanks.
For those interested, the 3rd edition of One God, One Lord has a long epilogue, which isn’t in the previous edition, but Prof. Hurtado generously shared it at his blog (here)
“The unavoidable question then is Why did early Jewish Christians continue to make Temple-sacrifices to God at all?”
The answers to that question can be multi-layered.
One answer is that the early Jewish believers continued offering sacrifices to God according to the Law because it was what it meant to be a Jew. Their faith in Jesus didn’t change their ethnic identity and their religious way of life. As it is written “in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Corinthians 7:17-24). If I understand him correctly, this is how Prof. Hurtado explained it as well.
Another answer, which is also a partial answer to my own question, is that there is no intrinsic contradiction between offering animal sacrifices to God and worshipping Jesus, if one considers the former as a a copy, shadow or pattern of the latter (Hebrews 8:4-5). For example, the saints in the Old Testament both had faith and kept the Law. What is offensive, from the New Testament point of view, is keeping the Law without faith, i.e., if one thinks that one’s own works merit salvation as a reward. But a Jewish believer could offer thanks to God while offering animal sacrifices, knowing that what is foreshadowed in the sacrifices has been fulfilled, and God has kept His promise to the Jewish people.
“Nemo: For what it’s worth, I thought your question was a good question, one I had not thought about before until you asked it. Thanks.”
Thank you for your kind words. I wouldn’t have thought about it (and many other questions) if I hadn’t read Prof. Hurtado writings. 🙂
I agree with you that Jesus changed and still changes the lives of believers, and their understanding of worship. I also think that how the earliest believers worshipped Jesus is highly relevant to believers today, and therefore is a subject worthy of serious study.
The unavoidable question then is Why did early Jewish Christians continue to make Temple-sacrifices to God at all? (Acts 21:23-26, 24:18, Luke 24:53)
Lewis Robert Erickson says
I am not a scholar either. I would suggest that during the times that the gospels refer to Jesus explaining how the Messiah had to die in order to fulfill the scriptures (i.e., on the road to Emmaus and others), that they understood that HE was the sacrifice of all sacrifices. See the book of Hebrews for more thought on this. Therefore, I believe that their concept of worship had changed as a result (didn’t require an animal sacrifice). Note that they worshipped Jesus when He calmed the waters when they were about to sink and drown. They worshipped Him other times too and Jesus never told them to stop. Their 3 years with Jesus changed them tremendously. Therefore, I don’t think they thought of Jesus when/if they were offering sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean that they thought He was less than God. They heard Him say, “I and my Father are one.” and other such statements. They were there when the Jews took up stones to stone Jesus for blasphemy for equating Himself with God. (John’s gospel) Again, their time with Jesus changed them dramatically. Acts 4:13.
“but [Jesus] was considered to be the only God rightly deserving of worship.”
I was’t aware Hurtado argued this. He seems to draw a sharp distinction between God and Jesus—i.e. Jesus is worshiped not because he is the one God, but because the one God demands he be worshiped.
Lewis Erickson says
Jesus was worshipped even before He was crucified because its mentioned in the gospels as happening numerous times. Just the fact that He was called “Lord” by His disciples means they thought He was God. See Is 42:8, 43:11, 44:6.
I can believe an evolutionary process for the disciples to believe that Jesus was Divine, but I don’t agree with that happening any later than Jesus ascending to heaven.
Reading through the above comments, questions, and rebuttals I have a couple of questions of my own: Is animal sacrifice the only method of worship to God or Jesus for the early Christians as some of the above comments seem to suggest? Would not animal sacrifice have stopped one way or another after the Temple was destroyed?
Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that God was looking for true worshippers: those who would worship him in Spirit and in Truth. That the time was now that Temple worship was being done away with. Seems to me that prohibits any thought of animal sacrifice to God or Jesus.
“Is animal sacrifice the only method of worship to God or Jesus for the early Christians as some of the above comments seem to suggest? ”
My use of the word “only” in my first comment might have confused people, so I’ll try to clarify the point. I hope fellow readers will correct/question me if anything I say is amiss or unclear.
It is evident in the Scripture that people worship God in many different ways that are acceptable to Him, but animal sacrifice is the only legitimate form of worship, both because it is prescribed by the Law, and because it represents the covenant between God and Israel. When I read the Old Testament, I cannot help but be impressed how central the Tabernacle/Temple was to Israel. First, the Israelites were delivered from hard-labor in Egypt for the express purpose of offering sacrifices to God and serving Him. Second, when Solomon became King, the first thing he did was to fulfill the life-long wish of his father King David: build a Temple to the Lord. Third, after the 70-year Babylonian captivity, when the Israelites returned from exile to their homeland, the first thing they did was to rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed.
“Would not animal sacrifice have stopped one way or another after the Temple was destroyed?”
Yes, but the question is: What must come in its stead? To put it differently, what is the legitimate form of worship that both is acceptable to God and represents the New Covenant between God and man? What is the form of worship that must become the centre of an authentic Christian life?
I wish the Samaritan woman had asked Jesus, “What must I do to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth?”
I would contend that what Jesus accomplished on the cross satisfied the requirements of the sacrificial system — albeit for atonement or worship. God’s satisfaction comes in obedience to his word — Samuel’s response to Saul, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”(NASB) Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (NASB). True worship today is in our obedience to His Word. Actual, physical worship (physical displays of worth toward God — i.e. falling down before Him will take place in Heaven as it is currently. We see a great picture of this in Revelation. Until that great day, let us gird up our loins and busy ourselves with the work of Christ.
BTW thank you for the response to Chuck. You beat me to the punch.
“True worship today is in our obedience to His Word. “
Yes, without obedience, there is no worship, but there is more to worship than obedience.
I tend to think that worship reflects the character of the one who institutes the worship. Just as the Temple distinctly reflects the character of the God of Israel, and pagan religious rituals reflect the characters of pagan gods, the devotional practices of the earliest Christians should provide important clues as to the identity of the one they worship, that is, whether Jesus is an exalted man, a pagan deity, or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If I understand it correctly, in the ancient world, only gods had the authority to demand the terms of worship and communicate such demands through their priests. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Israelites through Moses and gave them the law detailing how they were to worship Him; In the New Testament, Jesus makes a new covenant with his own blood, and teaches with authority how to worship, how to pray, and how to call upon His Name. It is Jesus, not God the Father, who dictates the terms of worship, which gives evidence of His divinity.
As Abraham said to Isaac, God will provide for himself the sacrifice. God, who is self-sufficient, has indeed provided for himself the ultimate Sacrifice: all believers in Jesus are living sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ.
Chuck LaMattina says
Jesus never was God and is not now God. The Lord was strictly monotheistic. First many have misread John 1:1-3 thinking that Logos means Jesus before his birth. It does not. It represents all that the Hebrew word dabar represents as well as the Greek understanding of the mind of God. Secondly, we should take Jesus at his word! In John 17:3 he states that his Father alone is the only true God. And in John 20;17 he unequivocally states that he has a God, the same God that we do! Have you never read in the epistles “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?
First many have misread John 1:1-3 thinking that Logos means Jesus before his birth. It does not.
If the Word is not Jesus, how do you explain John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”?
Secondly, we should take Jesus at his word! In John 17:3 he states that his Father alone is the only true God.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Jesus also says He alone knows God. Can someone who is not God, and less than God, know God?
n John 20:17 he unequivocally states that he has a God, the same God that we do
‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
Note that Jesus doesn’t say “I am ascending to our Father and our God”, but he puts Himself before us and distinguishes Himself from us. Why does He do that?
Just to add one question to Nemo’s response, if Jesus is not God, then how can he be the atonement for man’s sin.?
The sacrifice To God for sins had to be perfect. Only God is perfect. If Jesus is not God then he was not perfect. If Jesus was not perfect then he could not atone for our sins.
We would of all people be most pitiful!
Nicholas Perella says
Perfection is not strictly due to Jesus being God. His human nature was and remains perfect. His perfect human nature was a necessary atonement for the sin and guilt of man. Blood had to be spilled.
He had to not only be human in order to properly provide satisfaction to God’s justice on the cross, but also, He had to be God, for only God possesses the eternal value to satisfy the eternal punishment that had to take place and which did – on the cross. The Messiah had to be both human in nature, and also, God in nature, in order to satisfy God’s holiness and justice. Jesus of Nazareth is the only Person who satisfied, and continues to do so in heaven now, all the requirements to fulfill a salvific accomplishment, for He is the one and only unique God-man.
Nicholas Perella wrote,
He had to be God, for only God possesses the eternal value to satisfy the eternal punishment that had to take place and which did – on the cross.
I’m not familiar with this teaching. Could you elaborate? Is it also in the Scripture and the Church Fathers’ writings? I’d like to study it a little more.
Nicholas Perella says
Sin is against the Infinite God, so sin is an infinite transgression. Therefore, sin deserves an infinite punishment – an eye for an eye.
Anselm in “Why the God-man?” wonderfully covers how the eternal value of God satisfies an eternal punishment, and man’s blood must be shed. Only Jesus Christ possesses the necessary atonement, because He is the Theanthropos. The eternal wrath of God against Jesus Christ on the cross was the cup only Jesus Christ could take. So a person either accepts Christ took the eternal punishment in their place on the cross alongside the necessary blood shed, or the person continues under the curse and takes the punishment eternally. Christ did it for them, or they reject the offer of the gospel and take the punishment eternally on their own.
Pastor Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646), “Whoever comes to stand between God and us must be one infinite, just like the Person is infinite whom we have offended, and that is Christ the Mediator, the mighty God, God and man. O know that the Mediator by which you must be saved must be very God, and the reason is because sin has done such infinite wrong to God.” (Jeremiah Burroughs, Evil of Evils, or Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin ed. Don Kistler (1654; repr., Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), 65.
Lewis Erickson says
This is similar to what Nicholas touched on, but from a different angle.
Jesus created the universe and everything in it. (Hebrews 1:2, John 1:10). If Jesus were a sinless MAN (but not God), he could “step into the shoes” and give up his life for only one other man who was a sinner. However, He would not be able to give up his life for all sinful mankind? That’s quite different, exchanging just one sinless MAN for all the billions who have lived on this earth and have sinned. That’s not a just swap. Satan and all of his angels condemned to hell would argue that God is not just by allowing a swap of one sinless man for billions of sinful men.
However, if Jesus, in addition to being a sinless man, is also the Creator of the Universe (Jesus is God the Son) and the person responsible for giving life to all sinful men everywhere, then the death of the sinless Creator in exchange (or to redeem) all of created but sinful mankind serves justice. Justice is not being twisted or taken advantage of. Just like all the children of Israel are viewed by scripture as being “in Abraham”, so all of creation is viewed as coming from the Creator, so He could be given in exchange for all mankind and justice satisfied.
That’s why Jesus has to be both fully man and fully God. In this situation, if Jesus is not fully God by being the Creator of all things, then through His death He cannot redeem all things. But He is God the Son, through whom God the Father created all things, so only He and He alone can be given in exchange, (redeem) all of creation by giving up His life as the ransom of the world.
Let me know if this doesn’t make sense and I can try to explain more. I also touch on this in my book, God the Father Revealed. It was not written to be a seminary level theological dissertation though, but written to be easily understood by even the homeless men and abused/exploited women that I know and serve.
Nicholas and Lewis
Thank you both for the thoughtful replies.
I downloaded Anselm’s book, Cur Deus Homo (“Why the God-Man”) from CCEL, and will read it carefully. As you’re probably aware, David Bentley Hart recently published a book attacking the doctrine of eternal punishment. In it, he dismissed Anselm’s argument without actually engaging with it. The popularity of his sentiment is a reflection on how poorly we (myself included) understand the traditional doctrine.
Lewis, if it is not justice to punish parents for the wrongs their children have done, I don’t see how it is justice to punish the Crestor for the wrongs done by the creatures; The Creator is also greater than all the beings He creates, so I don’t think it is a just swap in that sense either.
Lewis Erickson says
You are right! It is not just to the Creator that He be punished for the wrong done by His creation. Also, you are right that the Creator is greater than all the beings He creates. I agree with you. However, that is where the love of God is manifested. He didn’t have to die for us. He could have destroyed us all and started all over again with mankind 2.0. He would have been just in doing so. No, instead, He choose to redeem us from the death and destruction we deserved by offering the only one who could die in our place and satisfy justice . . . Himself, through His Son Jesus. I didn’t mean to imply that it was an even trade. No, He is worth more than all of us combined infinitely. However, there was no one else who could die in our place and satisfy justice.
He didn’t have to die for us. He could have destroyed us all and started all over again with mankind 2.0.
He could have, but it wouldn’t reflect well on his omnipotence. An adversary could argue that only a third-rate creator needs multiple changes to make things right.
Yes, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. But I still don’t think it is necessary for divinity to “die in our place to satisfy justice”. Romans 5 teaches that Jesus died for us as man, not as God. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
I’ll need to read Anselm before commenting further on this topic.
Nicholas Perella says
Another angle to consider, though all these angles tie together in Jesus Christ.
The Messiah had to be a man, as I mentioned above, and Romans 5 makes clear. Yet, if the Messiah is only is a human nature, then God is not the Savior, but we know He is (Psalm 18:2; Isaiah 43:11; 45:21-22; Hosea 13:4; Luke 3:4-6; Romans 1:16; Titus 2:13). God is not just using His salvific power through a vassal, e.g. human nature, but God revealed He is the very Savior; in other words, not just by His work but His very Being is the Savior.
Also, God’s omnipotence holds not only for creating, but He is the only all-powerful who is able to conquer the power of sin. His righteous life, on the cross, resurrection, plus, His bestowing through the Holy Spirit the only powerful enough blessings able to conquer the sin in our lives. Thus, His omnipotence holds for redemption, too.
Thanks for taking your time and considering Anselm’s writing. Even during Anselm’s time, there were opponents to his understanding of Scripture. Only the Holy Spirit can bear witness to us as to what is the truth of Scripture.
Thanks to Nicholas for recommending Anselm’s book. It is a fitting and edifying Christmas read.
If I understand it correctly, Anselm’s satisfaction theory is an alternative or complement to substitutionary atonement: Jesus wasn’t punished, nor did he die, in our place, but by his death, Jesus offered God a voluntary “gift” that more than compensates for the debt owed (and/or damage done) by Adam, because of his sin. To use an analogy: if a man is punished for murder, there is no perfect satisfaction, because his punishment cannot bring the murdered person back to life, with the satisfaction theory, if the murdered person is restored to life in a better state than before, the murderer can be justly pardoned, provided he accepts the gift.
Lewis Erickson says
I’ve read over your comments numerous times. I agree with the earlier replies to your position that Jesus is not God. My heart goes out to you if you truly think that Jesus was not divine, a/k/a not God. As I understand scripture in II Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians, it is a huge issue who we believe Jesus to be.
I can understand how you can conclude that Jesus is not God because there is only one Lord. I agree, there is only one Lord. However, to say that Jesus is not God is to overlook a lot of scripture that points otherwise. I just had a book published, “God the Father Revealed” and I included a chapter titled, “One God” on this one point of how I can believe in One Lord but also believe that Jesus is God. I will mention just a few quick points here:
1. Isaiah 42:8, God says through the prophet, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” The God of the Old Testament was called the Lord. To call Jesus Lord is blasphemy unless He is also God. I Cor. 12:3 says “that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” Paul said this and he would be wrong in saying this unless he believed Jesus was God.
2. Isaiah 43:, God says through the prophet, “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.” There is no savior besides God, yet almost all of the New Testament Epistles start out with calling Jesus by the term “Savior”.
3. Isaiah 44:6, God says through the prophet, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Yet Jesus told the Apostle John in Revelation 1:17,18 that He was “the first and the last”. How could Jesus say this to the Apostle John unless He was indeed God?
Your question in your posting above essentially asked the question, “How could Jesus call God His God unless Jesus wasn’t God?” Did I get your point correctly? Please correct me if I did not. The reason I believe Jesus can call God the Father His God and yet also be God is because Jesus wasn’t just part human and part divine. Instead, he was fully human and fully divine. So out of his full humanity, He could refer to God the Father as His God, yet still be fully God the Son at the same time that He said it.
I hope you will reply with who you think Jesus is so we can have a dialogue. If you don’t believe Jesus was and is God, who was/is he? Do you believe he is 100% man, an angel, man/angel, or something else? How is He different from us?
Again, this is a critical issue. If you are right and I am wrong, then I am accursed according to Paul in Galatians 1:8. And vice versa. If you’d like to move the dialogue to another forum where it would be just and me conversing, you can email me at [email protected]. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
So out of his full humanity, He could refer to God the Father as His God, yet still be fully God the Son at the same time that He said it.
Just to put two more copper coins in the offering box, I tend to think that Jesus refers to the Father as the only true God, out of both His divinity and His humanity.
First, Jesus cannot say from knowledge that the Father is the only true God, unless He Himself is God and therefore knows the things of God (1 Cor. 2:11); On other hand, he cannot reveal the Father to the believers, unless He is fully human, knows the things of man and speaks the language of man. As God-man, he joins and reconciles man to God in Himself, being the Way, the Ladder that bridges Heaven and Earth.
Second, Christ is the Image of God. If I may use an analogy — all analogies of God are inadequate, but hopefully they help to illustrate the concept: We see our own image in the mirror, and refer to ourselves in the mirror as “you”, as if we were talking to another person, but the person in the mirror is the same as ourselves, although distinct from us in such a way that we can relate and talk to as to another.
I understood, and im happy to be corrected, that Hurtado rejected the traditional understanding of the Trinity, and that it is wrong to view Jesus as the God of Israel?
Timothy J Walker says
That the God of the Bible exists eternally, better worded lives eternally in His own life, light and love as the holy Trinty, is clearly manifested in Genesis 1 : 26 where God said ” Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …” . The beauty and glory of the Jesus of the Bible is that He manifested this very same Trinity at so many points of His life on earth as a perfect, sinless, impeccable, holy man who revealed Himself as the eternal Son of God. His singular, unduplicable conception; His water baptism by John; His words and teachings; His miracles and wonders and signs; His sacrifice at Calvary; His resurrection from the dead; His future return all clearly proclaim and demonstrate the Triune eternal God. He, the Son of the Father, has made God known.
John the apostlle ends his 1st letter with these words. “He is the true God and eternal life”