Matthew 22:37-40 NIV Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Galatians 6:2 NIV Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
There is much debate among Christians about our requirements for obeying the Law as presented in the Old Testament. The Law they are talking about is really all of the rules and regulations that God gave Moses (including the Ten Commandments) during the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites.
The key to understanding the relationship betweening the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-17,). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system Numbers 15). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules Leviticus 11, 13, 19, ). The Old Testament law is not binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law.
Romans 10:4 NIV Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Galatians 3:23-25 NIV Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Ephesians 2:14-15 NIV For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
Christians are under the Law of Christ, not the Old Testament Law
Galatians 6:2 NIV Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ a summary of Jesus’ response to a question about the greatest Commandment.
Matthew 22:34-40 NIV Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This doesn’t mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor.
The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). If we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior.
Romans 7:7-12 NIV What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Galatians 3:23-24 NIV Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
While we will never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts, Christ did. It is His sacrificial death on the cross that causes our sins to be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to us.
Romans 3:21-22a NIV But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Here's the problem;
Romans 7:14-20, 25 NIV We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Here's the solution;
Romans 10:9-13 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Salvation is not by the Law
The gospel message is that we can receive forgiveness of sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ. It was Jesus who kept of the law perfectly and never sinned sacrificed His life and died for our salvation.
1 Peter 2:21-22 NIV To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
Christians have "died with Christ"
Romans 6:4 NIV We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
That means that they have also died to the law
Romans 7:4-6 NIV So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Therefore, Christians are not obligated to keep the law in order to be saved. But, when we love God, love our neighbor, and love one another, it's love that fulfills the law.
Hold on, don't get to excited. Yes I know that without the cross and Jesus’ death,His sacrifice, on it, that our sins would not have been forgiven. I know that by His stripes we are healed. I know that He was bruised for our transgressions. I know all that. But what if He was never resurrected. His death would have been just like the sacrifice of the goat on The Day of Atonement. The other goat used that day symbolically carried the sins of the people away from God into the wilderness. This had to take place over and over every year.
Leviticus 16:6-10, 34 NIV “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses.
I have often said that Jesus’ resurrection was the proof that the Father had accepted His sacrifice as the last one needed to cover mankind’s sin. Jesus was the last sin offering and the last scapegoat. Although the Holy Spirit had made this crystal clear to me I had never been able to explain it to others in a way that was clear and concise.
I know that Resurrection Day (Easter), is long past, this year but I need to share what I read in my quiet time.
No Salvation Without The Resurrection
Excerpts from "Death Is Dead, Christ Has Conquered" by Sam Allberry
Too many of us view the resurrection of Jesus similarly—as little more than a nice, happy conclusion to the gospel story. As if after all the darkness of the betrayal, denial, and death, Spielberg was brought in to do the ending. Somewhere in the background a lavish sunset blazes away.
But the Easter story isn’t just “what happens next” to Jesus after his death. It doesn’t just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. In fact, there really is no story without it. It’s not just a matter of chronology but theology—vital, glorious theology. Without it we have nothing, and are nothing. The resurrection saves us. Good Friday is no good at all without Easter Sunday.
The resurrection doesn’t just wrap up the story; it fulfills it. Good Friday is no good at all without Easter Sunday.
No Resurrection, No Salvation
Paul reveals the necessity of Easter in a striking way: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
He connects the resurrection to our justification. He’s not saying we’re half-saved by the cross and half-saved by the resurrection. But he is saying without the resurrection, we are lost. No resurrection means no justification: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
If Jesus is dead, our sin debt remains unpaid, and we remain under sin’s dominion. If there was no Easter life for Jesus, there is no new life for us. The blood of Jesus saves us because he is now alive.
But why exactly do we need the resurrection for these things to be certain? The wider story of the Bible shows us. The raising of Jesus from death is significant because death is significant. Only when we understand what death means will we be able to grasp what Easter means.
Sin Births Death
Death is the consequence of sin. Adam was told this as far back as Genesis 2—eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and “you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17). God is life, so turning from him is fatal. Sin both earns death (Rom. 6:23) and births death (James 1:15). Death is what sin chooses, what sin receives, and what sin deserves.
This accounts for why we have such a strange perception of death. Death is, when we think about it, one of the most normal things about life in this world, as sure as our birth. Yet we can’t reconcile ourselves to this reality. Death never really feels natural. It feels wrong. So we put huge effort into living as though death is not going to happen.
Our unease with death indicates we know perhaps more than we realize. Death (like sin) does not belong here. It’s something we were’t meant to experience. But sin leads to death, and so the existence of death proves the reality of sin.
As we grasp the significance of death, we can start to see the significance of resurrection. Raising Jesus from the dead was not an arbitrary stunt by God the Father. It wasn’t just a mega-miracle to prove he’s still there and still bigger—though that is true. No, the resurrection has meaning. The resurrection is the outworking and proof of our salvation because death is the outworking and proof of our sin. Jesus’s new life shows us the cycle of sin and death has finally been broken. There is new life to be had. Sin has been conquered.
It is therefore the resurrection of Jesus—and can only be the resurrection of Jesus—that assures us of salvation. Only the resurrection proves that our sins have been fully dealt with, that death is no longer our destination but a gateway to perfect, endless life.
The cross is not a starter pack. God doesn’t drum up most of what we need only to leave us fishing around in our pockets to provide the rest.
By dying and rising for us, the Son has closed the deal. In raising him from the dead, the Father has signed for it.
This article originally appeared on TheGospelCoalition.org. Used with permission.
John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
I’m publishing this post in light of the conversation and debate surrounding the Christian belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation. That conversation and debate have become more active and visible with the release of the Netflix movie “Come Sunday”. The movie, based on actual events, is the story of Pastor Carlton Pearson change from the belief the Jesus Christ is the way to salvation, to the belief that all humans are saved and nobody goes to hell. Carlton is the former pastor of one of Tulsa's biggest churches. He controversially denounced the existence of Hell, which caused his peers and other faith leaders to brand him as a heretic. It also led to the foreclosure of the Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center after his congregants abandoned his church.
Bruce Ware in an article Christianity.com answers the question; to “Is Jesus Christ really the only way to escape hell?”
Only One Way? The Exclusivity of Jesus Christ and the Gospel
By Bruce Ware
Editor’s Notes: Scriptures added by the publisher of this blog.
Two Questions, Three Positions
Three positions abound today on the question of whether Christ is the only way to salvation. All three can be detected by how each answers these two fundamental questions: First, Is Jesus the only Savior? More fully: Is the sinless life of Christ and his atoning death and resurrection the only means by which the penalty of sin is paid and the power of sin defeated? Second, Is faith in Christ necessary to be saved? More fully: Is conscious knowledge of Christ's death and resurrection for sin and explicit faith in Christ necessary for anyone to become a recipient of the benefits of Christ's atoning work and so be saved?
Pluralism answers both questions, ‘No.' The pluralist (e.g., John Hick) believes that there are many paths to God, Jesus being only one of them. Since salvation can come through other religions and religious leaders, it surely follows that people do not have to believe in Christ to be saved.
Inclusivism answers the first question, ‘Yes,' and the second question, ‘No.' To the inclusivist (e.g., Clark Pinnock), although Jesus has accomplished the work necessary to bring us back to God, nonetheless, people can be saved by responding positively to God's revelation in creation and perhaps in aspects of their own religions. So, even though Christ is the only Savior, people do not have to know about or believe in Christ to be saved.
Exclusivism answers both questions, ‘Yes.' The exclusivist (e.g., Ron Nash, John Piper, Bruce Ware) believes that Scripture affirms both truths, first, that Jesus alone has accomplished the atoning work necessary to save sinners, and second, that knowledge of and faith in Christ is necessary for anyone to be saved. The remainder of this article offers a brief summary of some of the main support for these two claims.
Jesus is the Only Savior
Why think that Jesus is the only Savior? Of all the people who have lived and ever will live, Jesus alone qualifies, in his person and work, as the only one capable of accomplishing atonement for the sin of the world. Consider the following ways in which Jesus alone qualifies as the exclusive Savior.
1. Christ alone was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin , and as such, he alone qualifies to be Savior.
Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV) Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Matthew 1:18 (NKJV) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:26-31 (NKJV)26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
Why does this matter? Only as the Holy Spirit takes the place of the human father in Jesus' conception can it be true that the one conceived is both fully God and fully man. Christ must be both God and man to atone for sin (see below), but for this to occur, he must be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a human virgin. No one else in the history of the world is conceived by the Spirit and born of a virgin mother. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.
2. Christ alone is God incarnate , and as such, he alone qualifies to be Savior.
John 1:1 (NKJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Hebrews 1:1-3 (NKJV)1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV)5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV) For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
As Anselm argued in the 11th century, our Savior must be fully man in order to take the place of men and die in their stead, and he must be fully God in order for the value of his sacrificial payment to satisfy the demands of our infinitely holy God. Man he must be, but a mere man simply could not make this infinite payment for sin. But no one else in the history of the world is both fully God and fully man. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.
3. Christ alone lived a sinless life, and as such, he alone qualifies to be Savior. As Leviticus makes clear, animals offered as sacrifices for sin must be without blemish.
Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 9:13-14 (NKJV)13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
1 Peter 2:21-22 (NKJV)21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:22 "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth";
This prefigured the sacrifice of Christ who, as sinless, was able to die for the sins of others and not for himself. But no one else in the history of the world has lived a totally sinless life. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.
4. Christ alone died a penal, substitutionary death, and as such, he alone qualifies to be Savior.
Isaiah 53:4 (NKJV) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
Romans 3:21-26 (NKJV)21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Galatians 3:13-14 (NKJV) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The wages of sin is death.
Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And because Christ lived a sinless life, he did not deserve to die. Rather, the cause of his death was owing to the fact that the Father imputed to him our sin. The death that he died was in our place. No one else in the history of the world has died because he bore the sin of others and not as the judgment for his own sin. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.
5. Christ alone rose from the dead triumphant over sin, and as such, he alone qualifies to be Savior.
Acts 2:22-24 (NKJV)22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
Romans 4:23-25 (NKJV)23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
The Bible indicates that a few people, other than Christ, have been raised from the dead, but only Christ has been raised from the dead never to die again, having triumphed over sin. The wages of sin is death, and the greatest power of sin is death. So, Christ's resurrection from the dead demonstrates that his atoning death for sin accomplished both the full payment of sin's penalty and full victory over sin's greatest power. No one else in the history of the world has been raised from the dead triumphant over sin. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.
Christ alone qualifies as Savior, and Christ alone is Savior. Jesus' own words could not be clearer: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). And the Apostle Peter confirms, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). These claims are true of no one else in the history of the world. Indeed, Jesus alone is Savior.
Faith in Christ is Necessary to be Saved
Why think that faith in Christ is necessary to be saved? The teaching of the apostles is clear, that the content of the gospel now (since the coming of Christ) focuses directly upon the atoning death and resurrection of Christ, and that by faith in Christ one is forgiven of his sin and granted eternal life. Consider the following passages that support the conviction that people are saved only as they know and trust in Christ as their Savior.
1. Jesus' own teaching shows that the nations need to hear and repent to be saved.
Luke 24:44-47 (NKJV)44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
The people Jesus here describes are currently both unrepentant and unforgiven. To be forgiven they must repent. But to repent they must hear the proclamation of Christ's work in his name. And this is true for all the nations, including Jews who haven't trusted Christ. Jesus does not envision the "nations" as already having saving revelation available to them. Rather, believers must proclaim the message of Christ to all the nations for people in those nations to be saved.
2. Paul teaches that even pious Jews, and everyone else, must hear and believe in Christ to be saved.
Romans 10:1-4 (NKJV)1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Paul's heart's desire and prayer is for the salvation of his fellow Jews. Even though they have a zeal for God, they do not know that God's righteousness comes only through faith in Christ. So these Jews, even though pious, are not saved. Whoever will call upon the name of Christ will be saved.
Romans 10:9-10, 13 (NKJV)9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
But this requires that someone tell them. And this requires that those are sent. Missions, then, is necessary, since people must hear the gospel of Christ to be saved.
3. Cornelius's story demonstrates that even pious Gentiles must hear and believe in Christ to be saved .
Acts 10:1-2, 34-38 (NKJV)1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ--He is Lord of all--37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Far from being saved before Peter came to him, as some think, Cornelius was a pious (Acts Gentile who needed to hear of Christ, and believe in Christ, to be saved. When Peter reports about the conversion of the Gentiles, he declares that only when he preached did Cornelius hear the message he needed to hear by which he would "be saved"
Acts 15:7-9 (NKJV)7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.8 So God, who know the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Despite his piety, Cornelius needed to hear the proclamation of the gospel of Christ to be saved.
Conclusion: Jesus is the only Savior, and people must know and believe in Christ to be saved. May we honor Christ and the gospel, and manifest our faithfulness to God's word, by upholding these twin truths and living in a manner that demonstrates our commitment to them.
Dr. Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at the southern baptist theological seminary, is a highly esteemed theologian and author in the evangelical world. Dr. Ware has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews and, along with Thomas Schreiner, has co-edited The Grace of God and the Bondage of the Will and Still Sovereign. Ware is the author of God's Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism; God's Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance.
Originally published April 09, 2009.
Philippians 2:5-8 (ASV)5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.
After publishing the post When Jesus Emptied Himself” He Was Still Fully God I decided to ask: “Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus emptied himself. When he did, was he less than God making him not God at all?” on Quora the mega social networking Q&A site where anyone can ask a question and get answers.
Before I give you the answers that I got let me tell you a little about Quora. Anyone can ask a question and people answer. Quora gets around 100 million monthly visitors. It is different from the other major players in the reference space, with its focus on cultivating an environment dominated by subject matter and topic experts, such as doctors, economists, Ph.Ds. and other industry and professional insiders. Through a “credits”-based Q&A ranking system the answers that are delivered generally have more depth and expert opinion than the straight fact based delivery of information one would find on Wikipedia and other sites.
Because a very large number of Quora users consider themselves experts in their fields many of the answers are written to impress others resulting in many answers with much to much theory, intellectualism, and bravado. It doesn’t mean that you should disregard the answers just be aware that you may have to wade through the fluff to find the the “jewel”
Four years ago I asked “Which side are you on in the religion versus science debate?” As I expected most people answered that they were on the side of science. I was a little surprised at the answers to my most recent question because most of those answering did acknowledge believe Jesus did walk the earth, and that He was crucified. The answers are all over the map but most question or deny that Jesus is God. The other thing that his exercise did for me was to really understand the warnings throughout scripture against false prophets and teachers.
Jeremiah 23:16 (NKJV)16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD.
Matthew 24:24 (NKJV)24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV)3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV)1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
The people answering this question as you will see consider themselves experts. I’m reminded by what Paul said;
1 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
I know the names and some background of the people who gave the following answers however I will not identify them in this post. I will do more of this from time to time and will share the answers with you.
Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus emptied himself. When he did, was he less than God making him not God at all?
* NO! This willingness not to stand on his own dignity, resulted in Jesus making “himself nothing” (2:7). The King James Version translates this as “he emptied himself” and this rendering has long been used in support of a view which treated Jesus as only human (eg-Jehovah’s Witnesses). He was regarded as having emptied himself of his own deity by virtue of becoming incarnate. But that is not how the KJV translation should have been understood. To conceive of the possibility that one who was God should cease to be God should have been a thing unthinkable.
How then, should the KJV expression ‘he emptied himself’ have been understood ? At the outset it should be said that the beguiling question “what did he empty himself of?” should not be asked, if only because the passage does not provide an answer to that. Instead, we should ask “what did it mean for him to empty himself?” Two answers are provided to that question in the New Testament.
This is what can justly be termed a “making of himself as nothing” because of the immeasurable distance between deity and Humanity, sovereignty and servanthood. God became the God—man.
*You need to read it from verse 3 to get the full context of the verse. Paul was talking about cultivating humility, and he proceeded to use Jesus as a model to imitate.
Verses 5 and 6 shed more light on what is referred to in verse 7:
Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God So while Jesus was in heaven, he didn’t become presumptuous and try to be equal to God.
Verse 7 proceeds to show the extent of Jesus’ humility:
No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and became human. i.e. he was so humble that not only did he avoid reaching out to try to be like God, he was willing to be “degraded” even further to the state of a human, a lower form of life.
Verse 8 concludes with how far he went to humbly fulfill God’s will:
More than that, when he came as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, yes, death on a torture stake
He was “degraded” further by being executed like a common criminal.
Verses 9 and 10 again show that Jesus has always been and continues to be under the authority of God:
For this very reason, God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend—of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground— and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Notice that GOD is the one who exalts Jesus, not Jesus himself; and acknowledging Jesus meant glory to the one higher than him, God the Father.
*THE MAN-GOD OF NAZARETH
The “soul” for the Middle Eastern cultures at the time of Christ was not a separate concept from the body and the soul of a person was thought to be essentially interdependent with the body. The Christian understanding of “soul”, as a separable entity, was originally developed by the ancient greeks and only later adopted by the Christians.
Nowadays, we are much more familiar with the concept of an immaterial, independent, interactive and all-performing soul, that can be literally independent from the body; if such is the case, we would not need the awkward body ascension to heaven. But Judaism had not developed that concept. So if Christ resurrected and went up to Heaven, the first Christians had to insist that he “went up” with his body too. Hence the Ascension story.
We reject the “fully man-fully god, at the same time” dogma about Christ. We think it more adequate to say that Christ was god and man, not at the same time, but sequentially. We understand that He began to exist before the beginning of time as the first created being, the Son of God. To incarnate, he surrendered his godly powers, began to live as a man, with very little memory of his former being, but of course keeping some of his powers.
After the Ascension, he returns to his full powers and keeps the memories of his life as a human. He ceases to have any development of his former human character, and keeps only his human soul. This is an important point because if someone pretends to have found the bones of Christ, Christianity will then be able to just shrug it off. If you are God, you don’t need a human body after your life on earth. In that sense, his body was no longer necessary.
Come to think about it, it would absolutely be cumbersome, and therefore his body may afterwards have been left behind, to be buried, while He returned to Heaven. Or just disappeared in a flash, no remnants. No need for the Ascension of the body which, by the way, is a very odd act. We, unlike the ancients, do not believe that heaven is “up”. Gods may have their places, another dimension perhaps, but definitely not “up”. But the Gospels report that Christ went up, until he disappeared into the clouds. How very embarrassing, this story!
The concept of an active independent soul, as we understand it today, was not a common knowledge. The common thought at the time was that the dead had their souls in a semi comatose state, waiting for the bodily resurrection to become active again. So it was essential for the first Christians to believe that Christ, body and soul, went up to heaven.
So now Christ’s time sequence reads: “god-human-god again”. An updating of Christianity, incorporating this scheme, would make it far more resilient to attacks than it is now. It would make easier to incorporate the new archaeological findings that will surely come up. It would make even possible to accommodate that perhaps he was married. We are not here actually supporting that idea but we are pointing that if it came to that, we could handle it, following the principles we exposed here.
*This is an important question because it strikes at the heart of the statement by Jesus- “the works that I do you shall do also and greater works than these shall you do.” John 14:12
How can we do greater works if Jesus is God?
The problem with the church is that they have trouble separating the Jesus of now, as he is, Jesus is Lord, with the Jesus born in a manger, growing in wisdom, favour and stature with God and with man.
Can God grow in wisdom?
Philippians can be interpreted with a little help from John 17:4-5 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane just before the arrest. He acknowledged that he had laid aside glory which he had before he came to earth. This means he removed something which made him God.
How can a man who is God sweat blood due to stress of the pending crucifixion? Was Jesus so compartmentalised he separated humanity and God within himself? That is an extraordinary deception to play on humanity.
I believe that Jesus was divine while on the planet because God was his father but he was not Lord, he was not God. Jesus did nothing on the planet in his godhead power. He consistently said he only does what he sees his Father do.
“Of myself I can do nothing” John 5:30
When he was resurrected he did nothing in his new divine power and position except teach and instruct his disciples.
The Amplified bible has a fuller translation of Philippians 2:6-7 6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
The works Jesus did he was able to do because he was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18)
I Co 15 calls Jesus the second Adam. Jesus was as human as Adam was when he was created, and Adam was as much God as Jesus was. The other thing they shared was they were both righteous (before the fall).
What Jesus had was his humanity and the dominion given to all men, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit to fulfill his calling. He was not God on this earth.
*First, let’s make sure just how confused you were by verses 5 and 6, because verse 6 is the go-to verse for the KJV-only crowd, to prove that Jesus is God, but verse 5 tells the reader to have the same mind as Christ has, in them:
“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” - Philippians 2 (KJV)
In other words, we are to think like Christ did, that it wouldn’t be robbery for us to be God. That’s right, “you had one job to do”. (Oh wait, did the translators in 1611 say that they’re time-traveling Mormons?)
The Catholic contemporaries of the Protestant KJV translation team should have had the biggest laugh of the 17th century at them, and probably would have, if only they hadn’t been so busy making exactly the same mistake in the Douay-Rheims Bible.
That’s what both translation teams get for repurposing verbiage from another eisegetic Bible translation; this one from the 16th century, the Bishops Bible.
To make it comprehensible, let’s read all this from a Bible that doesn’t play that game:
“5 Yes, keep this attitude in you that the Anointed Jesus had. 6 For though he once existed in the same form as God, he didn’t consider trying to make himself equal to God. 7 Rather, he emptied himself into the shape of a slave and became a human.” Philippians 2 (2001 Translation)
By letting verse 6 show us what verse 5 is really telling us to do, we may understand that though Jesus was in the same form as God, that didn’t make him equal with God to begin with, let alone make Jesus God himself.
Therefore, what Jesus was, that he emptied, was being in the same form as God.
*Yes. That is exactly true.
However, what is more, he was already less than God before emptying himself. Notice just before the verse you asked about, in verse 6 it says who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God (New World Translation)
who, when he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as a prize, (Byington Bible)
who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, (American Standard Version)
It is clear from verse 6 that, while in heaven, Jesus did not consider himself equal to god. In fact the New World Translation, quoted first, says it would’ve been a “seizure”. That is the translation of the Greek word ἁρπαγμὸν (harpagmon) which means to seize, plunder, or rob something. So according to hat verse Jesus considered the thought of equality with God to be seizing authority that did not belong to him.
Instead, as we learn in verse 7, he humbly emptied himself and became human, lower even than the angels as Hebrews 2:9 says.
(Of course that begs the question, why then does it say that Jesus existed in God’s form? Well, when we compare that to Colossians 1:15 which says
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; (New World Translation)
Who is image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation, (Byington Bible)
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; (American Standard Version)
and Hebrews 1:3 which says
He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power. And after he had made a purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (New World Translation)
being beam of his glory and imprint of his essence, and actuating all things by his word of power, took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high when he had made purgation of sins, (Byington Bible)
who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (American Standard Version)
It becomes clear that this does not mean he was God. Rather, like the scriptures says, he existed in his form. He was a spirit creature, just like God. He was the firstborn, the “spitting image” of his Father as the saying goes. He perfectly reflect his Father’s glory and yet, he never thought of being equal to him. Instead he humbled himself and became even lower, a human. And then lowered himself even further to be put to death as a criminal. And all of that for his Father’s name and for our salvation.
That is what that scripture is saying. And it’s a really beautiful lesson about Jesus.
*Phil 2:6 …who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The commonly accepted interpretation is absurd, seeing that firstly they tell us that God was in the form of God(??) and did not seek equality with himself(?) (because this is supposed to be what took place in heaven preceding the incarnation) then they tell us that God divested himself of Godliness to make himself human. The problem is you can’t identify Jesus as being in heavenbecause that name is given to Mary’s son. The verse actually says that Jesus—the man, born of a woman—lived as an example of true humility and emptied himself of kingly aspirations, not that God emptied himself of the attributes of God to become a man.
These are the problems caused by trying to teach doctrine in a circular manner; the teaching you want to prove only exists in the verse you are using to prove it. They patently mislead the reader, having a preconceived notion by which they deliberately make the verse say what it isn’t saying.
What it really means:
Paul is speaking about humility and saying that Jesus, son of a carpenter, did not use his power as Messiah to make himself king but subjected himself to God’s will. This is described in his wilderness experience where he rejected the temptation to show some Messianic signs to convince the multitudes or to take the kingdoms of the world by force, Rome in particular.
The interpretation of Philippians 2 is difficult due to Greek idiom. Misguided trinitarian scholars see in it an opportunity to make out as if Paul believed in the pre-existence of Jesus but that assumption would have us believe that Paul suddenly decided to include an unprecedented doctrinal point in a letter to an ecclesia that was miles off topic and would have put a millstone around his neck.
His lesson was about the humility of Christ, the son of a carpenter who lived among the poor and gave his life on the cross, not seeking the majesty of his role as Messiah which he could have taken by force.
Here is my unofficial translation:
6 Who, though he was in the image of God, did not try to grasp equality with God but emptied himself of all aspirations to privilege, taking the role of a servant, having been born as a common man. And living as that ordinary man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
*He was made lower than the angels - but he was still God.
Here is a very poor analogy. You have a cake factory, and you supply the whole world with cake. If you take a piece of cake home from the factory, what is it? it is still cake.
Jesus is the same “stuff” Just as the Father is YHWH - So Jesus is still YHWH. But by entering his creation by being born, Jesus is also 100% human as well.
I think St. Augustine’s version may be a little better than mine.
That the Son is Very God, of the Same Substance with the Father. Not Only the Father, but the Trinity, is Affirmed to be Immortal. All
*God creates the universe in stages. I believe that Jesus had a particular beginning in time as Creator Son. God exists outside of Time and Space, then God creates Time and Space and God creates Time and Space inside Himself - so things are both complicated and also difficult to explain. If Jesus emptied Himself as Paul said, then it occurred in God’s universe, actually inside God since everything is in God. Without God, none of this could take place.
As far as the details of your question, that is something we don’t have access to. Paul said what he said about it and he doesn’t go into any more detail about it. We can speculate about such things but I don’t know if there is any place to get more information. Jesus emptied Himself and God held onto Jesus soul and kept His Son safe. I’m not sure why you would ask for further details except out of curiousity.
God sets the universe up to be a certain way. To have God’s power, you have be loving and humble and walk by faith. These rules also applied to Jesus who was also the very Son of God.
*That was not quite the point of these verses. The NIV reads:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;7 rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very nature[b] of a servant,being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross!
The notion that he made himself nothing is the very act of not-only placing others before himself, but he took on the human form for the soul purpose of enduring all the hardships that we as humans face so that his “sacrifice” would be real. It was also done as an example for others to follow. It’s much in line with his teaching that we treat others better than ourselves. It’s also well in line with “he that is last shall be first”. Jesus took the role of the servant a few times in the gospels. Notably when he washed the feet of his disciples (again, he was leading by example).
3. Just then,... (during his change back to the son of man),... there appeared before them Moses and Elijah,... (having left the body of Jesus),... talking with Jesus.
Fri *“Emptying himself out” refers to the metamorphosis called the Transfiguration in English. He emptied the spirit of Elijah, out his psyche.
*Yes. Jesus didn’t tell he is Jehovah God. He always said he is the Son of God.
*He made himself into flesh…a lowly being but it didn’t diminish his godliness whatsoever. Hebrews 2:17 if a king dressed himself with a commoner’s clothing, would he really be a commoner or would he still be king?
**BTW, God and the Lord Jesus Christ are two different persons 1 Corinthians 8:6
*Which version of the Holy Bible did you read that he made himself empty? When he took on the lowly part of the servant, he was being totally obedient to God. Know ye not that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh…. Read John chapter 1: 1–14
*Yes, while on Earth, he was not God at all. He ate, drank, presumably defecated, urinated, sweated, and cried. He bled, he was not God. He was a powerful healer, but he made it clear that anyone who followed him would connect with the Father as he did and heal people.
*Not at all it’s an idiomatic expression, in that he temporarily vacated the position, of being God, i.e. he emptied himself of being in the position with all the trappings of angelic forces and servants at his every whim, while being God and king, of heaven and earth, does that make any sense to you? After all being God without anyone recognizing you as God would be a real step down would it not? It’s like saying he condescended to become flesh, and again because he did big time, I hope that isn’t to difficult, but he was still very much God.
*The Christian God is Trinity – Father, Son & Holy Spirit. All three of these “persons” of the Trinity are fully God. So Jesus, the Son of God is God. Period.
Philippians 2:5-8 (ASV)5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. (emphasis mine)
This is one of the scriptures that those who say that Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not God. I’ve written several posts that I believe provide proof of Jesus’ divinity (see my blog category Who Is Jesus ), but have not addressed the questions raised by this scripture in Philippians. Those who question Jesus’ divinity say how can God empty himself, become a man, and still be God? As I said in my previous posts Jesus, while taking on human flesh and nature, minus sin, still retained the attributes of God, making Him fully human and still fully God. The following is from Jesus Has Attributes That Are Attributes Of God Alone.
Jesus was not created; He existed eternally.
John 1:1-3 (NKJV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
The Word did not become; he was. “With God” suggests equality as well as association. “The Word was God” (deity) without confusion of the persons. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Jesus is everywhere-present (Omnipresent)
Man is limited by a physical body, and can be only in one place at any one time. God, however, is spirit and can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This attribute, is also related to His unlimited power to act and to know. God is present everywhere in the sense that everything everywhere is in His presence. He can see, know, and act in all places at once.
Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them no matter where they were.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NKJV)19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Jesus is all-powerful (Omnipotent)
Man and other created beings have limited power over other created things. Only God has unlimited power over all creation. Absolutely nothing is impossible for Him.
Job 42:1-2 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
While on earth, as a human, Jesus exercised power over;
Luke 8:24-25 (NKJV)24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.25 But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
Matthew 8:2-4 (NKJV)2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Mark 1:32-34 (NKJV)32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door.34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
John 11:14-15, 41-44 (NKJV)14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me."43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!"44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
Jesus is all-knowing (Omniscient)
Colossians 2:1-3 (NKJV)1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Peter and his friends were experienced fishermen and after working all night in a place that they knew well they didn’t caught any fish. Jesus however, a carpenter’s son and no fisherman, knew exactly where to go to catch the fish.
Luke 5:4-9 (NKJV)4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; John 16:30; 21:17 - Jesus' disciples claimed that He knew all things. He never contradicted this claim nor rebuked them for it.
Peter needed money for the taxes and Jesus knew where to get it.
Matthew 17:24-27 (NKJV)24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"25 He said, "Yes." And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?"26 Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you."
Jesus Is Worshiped
Scripture is emphatic that only God can be worshiped.
Exodus 20:3 (NKJV) You shall have no other gods before Me.
Yet there are many examples of people worshiping Jesus. There is no account in scripture where He stopped the worshiper.
Matthew 8:2-4 (NKJV)2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Matthew 28:17-20 (NKJV)17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
John 20:28 (NKJV) And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
As you see Jesus did not lose any of these of God when He took on humanity. Let's look at the Greek word kenosis which is translated “emptied himself”. The word means “to empty”.
This appears to mean when Jesus put on humanity He accepted limitations, constraints. The problem then is that if Jesus gave up, or emptied Himself of any of the attributes of God He became less than God and therefore not God at all. For example when asked when the end would come here’s how He answered;
Mark 13:32 (NKJV) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
If Jesus knew all things, as is implied in His divine nature, then why did He not know the day or hour of His own return. The answer is that Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience. He still was divine but was moving and living completely as a man. If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world.
Jesus is both fully God and fully man and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.
Colossians 2:9 (NKJV) For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
How Did Jesus 'Empty Himself'?
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -- Philippians 2:5–8 (emphasis mine).
This passage is so rich; we only have space to examine one jewel. It’s the phrase, He “made himself nothing” (v.7a). Notice, Jesus “made Himself.” He didn’t get a memo. He wasn’t pushed out of heaven. He was fully engaged in God’s whole plan!
That phrase there, “made himself nothing,” is actually the basis for a lot of false teaching. Some translations rightly put it, “He emptied Himself.” Then the question becomes, emptied Himself of what? Some falsely suggest that Jesus emptied Himself of Deity and that He literally became a first-century Jewish man; that there was no God, just Jesus, the man. But the Bible teaches the Incarnation of Jesus, 100 percent God; 100 percent man, undiminished Deity dwelling in humanity.
You ask, “Well, what did He empty Himself of then?”
Answer, at least five things:
Taken from “Jesus’ Selflessness” (used by permission).
John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Acts 4:8-12 (NLT)8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people,9 are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed?10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Jesus said that no one could come to God except through Him. After Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension back to heaven Peter emphasized the fact that salvation comes only through Jesus. Based on these statements it’s absolutely clear that Jesus is the only way that a person can become saved. Let me add here that salvation is a gift and the giver always sets the rules.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Having said this we know that there are some references in the Old Testament, before Jesus took on human form and came to the earth, of people who appear to have been saved, or are in the presence of God.
2 Corinthians 5:8 (NLT) Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT)23 Enoch lived 365 years,24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.
2 Kings 2:11 (NLT) As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.
We can also assume from what was written about their lives that others who we know died were righteous in God’s sight and were saved. They include but certainly are not limited by; Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David,Rahab, Ruth, all the prophets, John the Baptist, and those named and unnamed in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith”.
My question is how were all the people saved because Jesus the sacrifice of Jesus had not happened? In a post that I will publish in a few days I point out that Nowhere in the bible is there any statement that an unsaved person gets a lost soul who has died can have a second chance. So a decision for salvation must take place before a person dies. That was as true before Jesus’ crucifixion as after it.
The People Who Died Before Christ Was Crucified Were Saved The Same Way That We Are, By Faith
We get a glimpse of how salvation was possible before Jesus’ time on earth from what Paul said about Abraham.
Romans 4:1-3, 9-2 (NLT)1 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God?2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way.3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 9 Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith.10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith.12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Here’s what I have learned through the review of others who have addressed this subject.
The basis of salvation has always been the death of Christ. Without that event no one would ever be saved. Christ’s death paid the penalty of all sins, past, present, and future including those sins that people committed before His crucifixion.
The people of the Old Testament time looked forward to the coming Messiah. They trusted God according to the knowledge that they had. In other words, even though they didn't know about Jesus, they still trusted in God and were also justified by faith.
The requirement for salvation has always been faith. The object of one's faith for salvation has always been God.
Genesis 15:6 (NLT)6 And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Psalm 2:12 (NLT)12 Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!
he Old Testament sacrificial system did not take away sin, but it did point to a day when Jesus would shed His blood for the human race.
Hebrews 10:8-10 (NLT)8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses).9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
What changed over time is the content of a believer's faith. God's requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time. This is called progressive revelation. Adam believed the promise God gave in Genesis.
Genesis 3:15, 20-21 (NLT)15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” 20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.21 And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
I already showed that Abraham believed God according to the promises he gave him. Although there was no scripture, as for as we know prior to Moses, mankind was responsible for what God had revealed.
What about the people alive in Christ’s day who died before the cross and resurrection?
Near the end of His ministry;
Matthew 16:21-23 (NLT)21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Peter and the other disciples did not know the full truth, yet they were saved because they believed that God would take care of their sin problem. They didn't exactly know how He would accomplish that, any more than Adam, Abraham, Moses, or David knew how, but they believed God.
Today, we have more revelation than the people living before the resurrection of Christ; we know the full picture.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (NLT)1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
Our salvation is still based on the death of Christ, our faith is still the requirement for salvation, and the object of our faith is still God. Today, for us, the content of our faith is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose the third day.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
That’s true for us today after Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and it was true before those events.
If you haven’t made the decision that will insure that you will you will spend eternity with God you can do it today. Here’s the formula;
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Here’s how you do that;
Pray this prayer in all sincerity (only you and God know if you’re really sincere);
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
If you have just prayed this prayer, in all sincerity, call, text, email, Tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody, leave me a comment here or send me an email with this Link. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God.
Matthew 28:2 (NLT) 2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.
This is one of those questions that make you go Hmmmmm. Read this adaptation from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. I read it today and it makes perfect sense to me, and gives me a very logical response for the skeptic.
Why Did an Angel Roll Away the Stone?
The angels frequently attended our Lord Jesus: at His birth, in His temptation, in His agony. But upon the cross we find no angel attending him. When His Father forsook Him, the angels withdrew from Him, but now that He is resuming the glory he had before the foundation of the world, the angels of God worship him.
The angel came, rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone Himself by His own power, but He chose to have it done by an angel to signify that having undertaken to make satisfaction for our sin, He did not break prison, but had a fair and legal discharge, obtained from heaven. He did not break prison, but an officer was sent on purpose to roll away the stone and open the prison door, which would never have been done if He had not made a full satisfaction.
But being delivered for our offences, He was raised again for our justification. He died to pay our debt, and rose again to gain our acquittal. The stone of our sins was rolled to the door of the grave of our Lord Jesus (and we find the rolling of a great stone to signify the contracting of guilt - 1 Samuel 14:33), but to demonstrate that divine justice was satisfied, an angel was commissioned to roll back the stone. The angel did not raise Him from the dead, any more than those that took away the stone from Lazarus's grave raised him, but by this he intimated the consent of Heaven to Christ's release, and the joy of Heaven in it.
The enemies of Christ had sealed the stone, since this was their hour, but all the powers of death and darkness are under the control of the God of light and life. An angel from heaven has power to break the seal and roll away the stone, though ever so great. Thus, the captives of the mighty are taken away.
The angel's sitting upon the stone, after he had rolled it away, is very observable and shows a secure triumph over all the obstructions of Christ's resurrection. There he sat, defying all the powers of hell to roll the stone to the grave again. The angel sat as a guard to the grave, having frightened away the enemies' guard; he sat, expecting the women, and ready to give them an account of Jesus's resurrection.
Adapted from Matthew 1:1 Henry's commentary on the Whole Bible.
This beautiful poem really blessed me in my quiet time this morning. It is from my YouVersion Lenten Reading Plan, 2018 Lent Daily Devotional provided by Tearfund*
Luke 23:44-46 NIV It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
On Friday my hope died.
The sky wept itself dark
the ground broke apart
and all creation cried
for the bloodied innocence
hammered into a tree.
There were whispers
of a torn curtain
but they didn’t reach my ears
or mend my mangled heart
or stem the bitter tears
as we took
On Saturday we grieved,
hiding from the troops
whom we’d once believed
would be overthrown
by the carpenter’s boy,
who had preached
and fed and healed
and was now dead.
But then on Sunday –
the devastating beauty
of that Sunday –
when time and space
were blown out of shape
and angels wrapped in electric grace
rolled the impossible away.
He is not here
for glory had risen
our failings were forgiven
and the rules of time and space
as an empty tomb declared:
Love is alive.
Gideon Heugh, Tearfund
*The following is from the Tearfund website:
Tearfund is a Christian charity called to follow Jesus wherever the need is greatest.
In 2006, we set an ambitious target: we launched a ten-year vision to see 50 million people lifted out of material and spiritual poverty through a worldwide network of 100,000 local churches.
A decade on, the statistics are striking. In ten years, we have touched the lives of more than 45 million people – the equivalent of almost the population of Spain. We reached more than 32 million people through our community development work and more than 13 million through our response to disasters.
Contributing hugely to this success is the fact that we have envisioned and mobilised more than 154,000 local churches, inspiring our Christian family to be catalysts for change.
We have spoken up with many poor communities, and acted on their behalf, and seen more than 300 policies influenced and changed as a result. We pray that our joint advocacy will bring a rich harvest in reducing poverty further over the next decade.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND HOW YOU CAN HELP VISIT THE TEARFUND WEBSITE https://www.tearfund.org
Who Is Jesus is an entire category of posts on this blog. Those posts, to this point, have been my and others thoughts of who Jesus is based on the truth of scriptures. The following is from the first post that I published in the Who Is Jesus blog category.
The Bible attributes many different names and titles to Jesus. All of the 200 or so names and titles give us insight into His character and Who He really is. I’m not going to attempt to list them all here but I do want you give you those that I believe are some of the more important ones related to His work on earth on our behalf.
Author and Perfecter of our Faith
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Bread of Life
John 6:35, 48 (NKJV) And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 48 I am the bread of life.
John 15:15 (HCSB) I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
John 10:11, 14-15 (HCSB)11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me,15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.
Hebrews 2:17 (HCSB) Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
1 Timothy 2:5 (HCSB) For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human,
Hebrews 8:6 (HCSB) But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (HCSB)1 Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea,2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.3 They all ate the same spiritual food,4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.
John 15:1-5 (HCSB)1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
The Faithful Witness
Jesus came reveal the character and ways of His Father . The miracles He performed proved that He is the Son of God.
John 14:9 (HCSB) Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
First Born From the Dead
Colossians 1:18 (HCSB) He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
Jesus raises men to power and He is the one who removes them. This is what Jesus told Pilate who was the representative of Rome the most powerful empire in the world at that time.
John 19:11 (HCSB) “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”
John 1:1 (HCSB) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All these names and titles describe the person who also claimed that he was the only way to heaven and eternal life.
John 14:6 (HCSB) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Did Jesus Claim to be the Only Way to Heaven?
Charles Stanley (Scripture references mine)
One of the best ways to understand someone is to find out what he thinks about himself. Jesus said many, many things about who He was -- He said that He is the Son of god,, that He and the Father are one,, and that the Father is the One who sent Him.
Matthew 16:16-17 (HCSB)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.
John 10:30 (HCSB) The Father and I are one.”
John 5:37 (HCSB) The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form.
He also announced that He did not come to be served, but to serve and that He came to give His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28 (HCSB) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many.”
He came as a substitute payment in behalf of humanity. He agreed with His accusers when they called Him "King of the Jews." His "I am" statements from the book of John reveal that He claimed to be the Good Shepherd who loves the sheep, the Bread of Life who can prevent hunger, and the True Vine who abides in us as we abide in Him.
(John 10:11 HCSB) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 6:48 (*HCSB)I am the bread of life.
“John 15:1 (HCSB)I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.
Jesus also said He was the Door to Heaven
John 10:9 (HCSB) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.
In John 14:6, He expanded on that thought: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." That statement has caused many people to back away, thinking, What a bigoted, egotistical statement! How narrow-minded to think that the only way to Heaven is through the person of Jesus Christ. And yet, this man called Jesus is exactly who He says He is. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the Bread of Life. He's the way, the truth, and the very life itself. Because, you see, in order for us to have eternal life, we must receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
Now, if you believe all the other things Jesus said, but decide He can't be the only way to Heaven, then you are saying He told partial truths or lies. You can't have it both ways. Either Jesus is who He says He is, or He is not. So you cannot say, "Jesus is a good man, a wonderful teacher, an effective preacher, a great healer, philosopher, and humanitarian, BUT..." Whenever your belief in Christ's validity has caveats, you make Him a liar. When it comes to all that He said about Himself, either He is a counterfeit and a fraud, or He is exactly who He says He is--the eternal Son of the living God, the Savior of the world, and the One who will someday judge each one of us.
Excerpted from "What Difference Does It Make Who Jesus is?" by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).
Last year I published the post “Jesus Is God”. In it I wrote that there are 200 or so names and titles that give us insight into Jesus’ character. I said that we Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised by God. The Old Testament tells us that the Messiah is God.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (ASV)5 Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness.
Isaiah 9:6 (ASV)6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus Said That He Is God
I know that many people say that Jesus never claimed to be God. It’s true that scripture never records Jesus as saying the specific words “I Am God”, but that doesn’t mean the He didn’t proclaim Himself to be God.
John 10:25-30 (HCSB)25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me.26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep.27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.” (Bold mine)
When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. (the word one is not masculine—one person—but neuter, oneness of being).- The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
The Jewish leaders knew exactly what He was saying. He was saying that He is equal to God. Matter of fact, He was saying that He IS God. They knew that’s what He was claiming to be and they intended to kill Him for it.
John 10:31-33 (HCSB)31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him.32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?”33 “We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You—being a man—make Yourself God.”
The Apostle John said that nothing came into being apart from “the Word of God” (Jesus) which means that Jesus was not created and if He was not created He must be the Creator.
Was Jesus Created?
In John 1:1 the writer states plainly that “the Word was God.” In verse three he provides backup support for this claim. John writes, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
John says the same thing in two different ways for emphasis and clarity: Everything that ever came into being owes its existence to the Word, Who caused it all to happen. If the Word caused all created things to come into existence, then He must have existed before all created things came into existence. Therefore, the Word could not have been created. Jesus is the uncreated Creator, God.
Those who deny the deity of Christ offer this rebuttal, though. "Wait a minute, Greg. You didn’t read the verse carefully. You missed something in the text. Notice the phrase ‘apart from Him.’ The apostle excludes Jesus from the count. If you said, ‘Apart from Billy, the whole family is going to Disneyland’ you wouldn’t mean that Billy wasn’t part of the family, just that he wasn’t included in the count. Every member of the family is going to Disneyland with the exception of Billy. In the same way, every created thing was created by Jesus with the exception of Jesus Himself. Jehovah created Jesus first, then Jesus created everything else. Jesus is not God.”
Note that this rebuttal turns on the ability to replace “apart from Him” with the phrase “with the exception of Jesus.” Allegedly they’re synonymous. Okay, let’s try the replacement and see what happens. The verse then looks like this: “With the exception of Jesus, nothing came into being that has come into being.”
If your brow is furrowed trying to figure this out, I’m not surprised. The reconstructed phrase is nearly nonsense. Strictly speaking, it means that Jesus is the only created thing that exists. Read it again and see for yourself. Obviously, the phrase “apart from Jesus” can’t mean “with the exception of Jesus.” These phrases are not synonymous.
“Apart from Him” means something entirely different. It means “apart from His agency.” It’s the same as saying, “Apart from me you’ll never get to Disneyland. I’ve got the car.” Apart from Jesus’ agency nothing came into being that has come into being. Why? Because Jesus is the Creator. He is God. That makes perfect sense in the context.
Taken from “Never Read a Bible Verse” by Greg Koukl (used by permission).
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.