More Evidence for the Absolute Deity of Christ
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the true God has certain characteristics and performs specific functions which completely distinguish him from his creation, especially the angels, such as being the sole Creator of and Sovereign over all things. As such, he alone deserves to be worshiped in the absolute sense. Moreover, any attempt to raise any other being to Yahwehs heavenly throne, or to ascribe any of these unique functions and characteristics to some other entity, would be viewed as either a challenge to Yahwehs complete uniqueness or a severe compromise to biblical monotheism.
To help illustrate our point note that, according to the inspired Scriptures, Yahweh rules and lives forever:
"But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice," Psalm 9:7
"At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, What have you done?" Daniel 4:34-35
The Hebrew Bible further teaches that Yahweh sits enthroned in the heavens above:
"And Micaiah said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on HIS throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;" 1 Kings 22:19
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory! And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Isaiah 6:1-5
"He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision." Psalm 2:4
"The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test, the children of man." Psalm 11:4
"The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all." Psalm 103:19
Even heaven itself is said to be his throne:
"Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." Isaiah 66:1-2
The NT is in full agreement with the OT at this point:
"But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King." Matthew 5:34-35
This explains why believers are to turn to God in heaven alone for their needs and salvation, since he alone sits enthroned in the heavens above:
"To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!" Psalm 123:1
In fact, one specific Psalm goes so far as to highlight Yahweh's enthronement on high as being one of the key characteristics which makes him utterly unique, completely unlike anyone or anything else:
"Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?" Psalm 113:5-6
Since Yahweh alone is the Creator, Sustainer and Sovereign ruler over all things to therefore elevate or ascribe such functions to someone other than true Deity would be idolatrous to say the least.
Yet, astonishingly, the Hebrew writings speak of One who sits enthroned forever at Gods right hand and who even receives worship from all the nations:
"The LORD says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head." Psalm 110:1-5
"As I looked, THRONES were placed, and the Ancient of days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one LIKE A SON OF MAN, and he came TO the Ancient of Days and was presented BEFORE HIM. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Pay careful to attention to what the prophet Daniel saw: he didnt see one throne, but thrones, one of which the Ancient of Days, a title for God, occupies. Later on, Daniel sees a human figure who comes with the clouds to receive an everlasting kingdom, implying that he is the occupant of the other throne that the prophet saw.
As we noted earlier, to ascribe such authority to someone other than God would be blasphemous and idolatrous. The only way the Psalter and the prophet Daniel could say such things is if they believed that the Person they were describing wasnt a mere human being but also fully Divine.
Additional support that this individual is a Divine Being comes from the fact that Daniel sees him riding on the clouds, a function which the OT ascribes to Yahweh:
"An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them." Isaiah 19:1
"He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind;" Psalm 104:3
As if this werent all, Daniels Son of Man is even given the service and worship which belongs to God alone! (Cf. Daniel 3:12, 14, 17-18, 28; 6:16, 20; 7:27; Ezra 7:24.)
All of these factors make it abundantly clear that the Psalter and Daniel werent seeing someone who was only human, but a man who was both fully Divine and, at the same time, distinct from Yahweh/the Ancient of Days.
And, according to the NT, Jesus is both the Lord who is at Gods right hand as well as that very Son of Man who rules over all the nations and judges them:
"But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:61-62
"Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:28
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on HIS glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?" Then he will answer them, saying, "Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46
"The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, JUST AS they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man." John 5:22-23, 27
"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Acts 7:55-56
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11
In this last passage, Paul alludes to Isaiah 45:23 which says:
"By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance."
Paul is making the assertion that Isaiah 45:23 is fulfilled when every knee bends to Jesus in acknowledgement of his universal Sovereignty, that he is the Sovereign Lord of all creation. In other words, Paul is saying that to confess Jesus as Lord is to confess him as Yahweh, the One who holds supreme authority over the entire created realm!
The phrase "sitting at Gods right hand" makes essentially the same point, that Christ has been exalted to the highest level of authority, sharing the very rule of God himself. It conveys the idea of Christ partaking in Gods sovereign control over all creation, that he is supreme over everything that exists (with the exception of his Father of course):
"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." Colossians 2:9-10
"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him." 1 Peter 3:21-22
"She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God." Revelation 12:5, 10
This, perhaps, accounts for the NT writers stating that the kingdom belongs to both Christ and God equally:
"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." Ephesians 5:5
"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son," Colossians 1:13
"Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." Revelation 11:15
The NT further identifies the Lord Jesus as the Living One, he who lives forever, as well as the First and the Last, which are all Divine epithets used for Yahweh:
"Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I DIED, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." Revelation 1:12-20; cf. 2:8, 21:6, 22:13; Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, 48:12
This explains how Christ is able to rule forever, since he forever lives!
"And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:30-33
"that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1:20-23
"This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:15-16, 23-25
And as the One enthroned in the heavens above Christ is the object of the prayers and invocations of all true believers everywhere:
"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." John 14:13-14
"To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:" 1 Corinthians 1:2
Thus, Christ in heaven occupies the very position of Yahweh God, since he is depicted as the One enthroned over both the spiritual and physical realms! Yet the only way for the NT writers to ascribe this uniquely Divine function of Sovereign authority to Christ is if they were fully convinced that Jesus wasnt simply a man but also God in the flesh.
Some Possible Objections Considered
There are specific texts which, at first glance, seem to cast doubt on our understanding of Yahwehs sole heavenly rulership and the implications this has on the Deity of the Lord Jesus. For instance, there are references where certain individuals are either said to be ruling on Yahwehs throne or have thrones alongside Yahweh in heaven. This would seem to imply that Jesus is not the only one who shares in the rule of God since there others besides him that also participate in Gods authority. This would either suggest that these individuals are also Divine Beings, or that ruling from/in heaven is not a unique characteristic of Yahweh since he graciously allows others to partake of his sovereign authority. It is to these passages that we turn our attention to see whether they have any impact on our understanding of NT Christology.
There are two places where the OT states that Solomon sat on Yahwehs throne:
"Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king in place of David his father. And he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him." 1 Chronicles 29:23
"Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the LORD your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness." 2 Chronicles 9:8
If Jesus sitting on Gods throne implies that he is God then wouldnt this logic apply to Solomon as well?
The problem with appealing to these verses is that neither one of them says that Solomon assumed Yahwehs throne in heaven. Rather, Solomon is ruling over Gods earthly throne which is located in Jerusalem. Jesus, however, is occupying Gods very own heavenly throne as the Sovereign of the spiritual and physical realms. Hence, these OT references are not at all analogous to what the NT says about Jesus post-resurrected glorified status in heaven.
There is one NT text, however, which does say that there are believers who sit on Gods throne:
"The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on MY throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." Revelation 3:21
Note how this works. Jesus sits on Gods throne which means that whoever sits on Jesus throne is, by extension, sitting on the throne of God. Again, no one takes this to mean that glorified believers are all divine solely because they happen to be sitting on Gods own throne, so why should this be any different in Jesus case?
This, too, fails to contest our point for the following reasons. First, what Jesus means here is that he will allow true believers to share in his sovereign rule much like he shares in his Fathers rule. Yet it is still Christs own rule that believers partake in and it is by his authority that they are granted the right to reign with him:
"The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star." Revelation 2:26-28
"You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at MY table in MY kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Luke 22:28-30
"and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Revelation 1:5-6
"And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and YOU HAVBE MADE THEM a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Revelation 5:9-10
Hence, what the Father has done for Christ the latter will do for his faithful, showing that Jesus performs the very functions of God!
Second, even though believers rule with the immortal and risen Lord he will still hold supremacy over them as their eternal King:
"They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." Revelation 17:14; cf. 19:16
Third, not only will Christ continue to reign supreme over the redeemed but he will also receive worship from them as an occupier of the one, single Divine throne:
"Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God AND OF CHRIST, and they will reign with him for a thousand years." Revelation 20:4-6
"When the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the THRONE of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the THRONE of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. Revelation 22:1-3
Notice that both God and Christ have priests that will serve them and that both of them occupy a single throne in the midst of those who will be worshiping them in the age to come. But the only way for Christ to have priests serving and worshiping him is if he is God; otherwise to worship anyone else besides God in this manner is a heinous sin, since it is idolatry:
"Then Jesus said to him, Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."" Matthew 4:10
The final text that one could use for the purpose of undermining our claim is Revelation 4:1-4 where in a vision the inspired author saw Gods throne encircled by twenty-four thrones occupied by twenty four elders. Wouldnt this indicate that there are others, besides Christ, also ruling in heaven alongside God without this making any of them divine?
There are at least a couple of points why this passage does nothing to undermine our exegesis. In the first place, the twenty-four elders are said to be encircling the throne of God, but they are not sitting on it, whereas Jesus, as we saw above, sits on the Divine throne and is in its very midst:
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen. Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come? I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:9-17
This shows that these elders are not just encircling God but also Christ who is in the midst of the Divine throne.
Second, according to Revelation 4 the twenty-four elders, as well as the entire host of heaven, are worshiping God:
"After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Revelation 4:1-11
What makes this truly astonishing is that in the very next chapter John sees all creation, not just these elders, giving Jesus the very exact same worship:
"Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals? And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! And I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, To him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! And the four living creatures said, Amen! and the elders fell down and worshiped." Revelation 5:1-8, 11-14
Johns reference to everything in heaven, on and underneath the earth, as well as in the sea is a deliberate allusion to the Decalogue which prohibits the faithful from worshiping anything located in these places:
"And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:1-6
What John sees literally astounds the mind since he says every created thing which the Decalogue forbids from being worshiped are themselves worshiping Jesus Christ! And to repeat what we said earlier, if Jesus were simply a creature than it would be a grave sin for all creation everywhere to worship him as they do God. In fact, this would be in clear violation of the Decalogue which forbids any creature from receiving such honor and praise.
In conclusion, a careful and accurate reading of the Holy Bible, Gods Word, demonstrates that the risen Lord Jesus occupies a position in heaven which the inspired Scriptures plainly state that God alone assumes. Christ, according to the inspired New Testament Scriptures, has assumed one of the unique roles which differentiate Yahweh from his creatures, namely, his reigning as the Sovereign Lord of all creation.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page