When Yeshua came to Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples the most important question of all, "Who do you say I am?" Mormons answer this question by saying that Yeshua is the spirit brother of Lucifer; Jehovah's Witnesses answer by saying that Yeshua is the archangel Michael; New Agers say Yeshua is an avatar or enlightened messenger. Yeshua, however, answered by claiming that He was God:
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Yeshua said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:16-17 NASB
Peter said that Yeshua was the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Yeshua agreed with him saying that His Father had revealed that to Peter. So Yeshua claimed to be the unique Son of God. And because of this claim the Jewish leaders tried to kill Him:
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. John 5:18 NASB
The Jews understood that Yeshua was claiming to be God. Seven times in the Fourth Gospel Yeshua claims to be "I AM," the very name by which Yahweh had revealed Himself to Moses from the burning bush. To the Jews this was the epitome of blasphemy, for they knew that in doing so Yeshua was clearly claiming to be God. On yet another occasion, Yeshua explicitly told the Jews:
"I and the Father are one." John 10:30 NASB
And the Jewish response was:
The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. John 10:31 NASB
To which Yeshua responds:
Yeshua answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" John 10:32 NASB
Again the Jewish response was:
The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." John 10:33 NASB
So His Jewish contemporaries clearly understood that Yeshua claimed to be God. And we understand that Yeshua is Yahweh, the second member of the Trinity. But there are some who deny this and say that Yeshua is only a man, that He had no existence before Bethlehem and that the Trinity is an invention of man.
There is a Preterist site that has some of my messages on it that denies the Trinity and deity of Christ. (http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/trinity.html) The author of this site says, "Jesus was called 'God,' but does that mean Jesus was equal to the Creator Himself?" In an attempt to prove this, he quotes:
"Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Yo, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? Exodus 15:11 NASB
We have been saying that Yeshua is Yahweh, so this verse doesn't say that Yahweh is greater than Yeshua. All three members of the Trinity are called Yahweh.
He goes on to say, "The first scriptural principle to be considered, when approaching the matter from a scriptural point of view, is the oneness of God. God is constantly, repeatedly, and emphatically stated to be ONE, never three."
That is correct, there is only ONE God. I don't know of anyone who says there are three Gods. There is one God who exists in three persons.
He says, "If we regard Jesus Christ as personally existing and possessing all power and wisdom, before his scripturally recorded birth as a baby, then we simply deny the actual reality of his birth and his 'increasing in wisdom.' We are asked to believe that God changed Himself into a powerless and ignorant, helpless creature."
He lists several human attributes of Christ attempting to prove that He was only human. The problem is that this author doesn't understand the Hypostatic union.
At the incarnation, God the Son, the Second person of the one triune God, was forever joined to true humanity. This joining together has been designated as the hypostatic union. Hypostatic is from the Greek word hupostasis, which means: "substance or essence." In theological language, it means: "person." So the doctrine of the hypostatic union is the doctrine of the personal union of the two natures, the divine and the human, of the Lord Yeshua the Christ.
Yeshua is 100% God and 100% man. This is where we get the theological term "theanthropic" which comes from theos, which means: "God and anthropos," which means: "man." Yeshua is the God-Man. He is One person with two natures.
Early in church history, theological controversies resulted so the Church got together at councils and at these councils they hammered out the doctrines of the Church. Out of these councils, they formulated creeds.
In AD 325, the Church held the Council of Nicea. The purpose of the council of Nicea was because the deity of the Lord Yeshua was being attacked. There were people saying, "Yeshua was not really God, he wasn't God's Son." So, this council came together at Nicea and the result of the Council was "Hommousious"—of one essence, meaning that Yeshua was of the same essence as the Father. They declared the deity of Yeshua the Christ.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV
The NKJV here says, "God was manifested in the flesh." Other translations read, "He who was manifested in the flesh." There is a lot of controversy here about whether the original Greek word was Theos, "God," or whether it was hos, "who," or ho, "which." They have examined the manuscripts with microscopes to try to determine the correct meaning. For many the jury is still out. They are not sure what the text says. Well there is no controversy over this text in John:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NASB
The Second person of the Trinity took on a human nature forever. This union is proved by the personal propositions, that is, the passages in which with reference to the incarnate Christ, it is said that God is man and man is God.
During His incarnation, Christ was both omniscient and ignorant; omnipotent and weak; omnipresent and localized; sovereign and submissive.
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28 NASB
Here the attributes of one nature, "blood," are predicated of the person while the person is designated by a title derived from the other nature. The person is designated as God—"which He,"—God; purchased with blood. Blood is something that pertains to the human nature. God does not have blood. God is a spirit:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14 NASB
The Second person of the trinity took on flesh and blood, He became a man.
Why was it a necessity for Yeshua to have two natures in one person?
Bancroft writes, "The union of two natures in one person is necessary to constitute Jesus Christ a proper mediator between man and God. His twofold nature gives Him fellowship with both parties, since it involves an equal dignity with God and at the same time perfect sympathy with man":
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB
This twofold nature, moreover, enables Him to present to both God and man proper terms of reconciliation. Being man, He can make atonement for man; being God, His atonement has infinite value.
Our anti-trinitarian author writes, "Jesus was not a co-eternal part of an omnipotent Godhead, but a prophet raised up by God." And then he says, "You see, Jesus did not claim that he was equal with the Father, he did not say that he himself was 'God.'"
So he says that Yeshua is not God, but Yeshua said He was God. So who do you believe? Yeshua said He came from heaven:
"This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." John 6:50-51 NASB
Yeshua, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, John 13:3 NASB
Yeshua said to the paralytic man:
Seeing their faith, He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." Luke 5:20 NASB
In doing so, He claimed a prerogative reserved for God alone:
The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Luke 5:21 NASB
In addition, when Thomas worshiped Yeshua saying "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28), Yeshua responded with commendation rather than condemnation.
The writer of Hebrews says:
But of the Son He says, "YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. Hebrews 1:8 NASB
Here the Son is called God. This is what the Tanakh taught:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NASB
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." Micah 5:2 NASB
Yeshua, the Son is called "Eternal Fathe,r" and He is from eternity. He is Yahweh! Paul calls Yeshua, "Our great God":
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, Titus 2:13 NASB
Yeshua is always the visible member of the trinity. Whether it be the shekinah glory cloud, or burning bush, or angel of Yahweh, the Word of Yahweh or Wisdom—it is always the pre-incarnate Christ.
In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." Isaiah 6:1-10 NASB
Who was it that Isaiah saw? It was Yahweh of hosts! Which member of the trinity was this? Can we know with certainty? Yes, we can, the New Testament tells us:
"While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light." These things Yeshua spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. John 12:36-41 NASB
John tells us that Isaiah saw Yeshua the Light. And he calls Him, "Yahweh of hosts." Yeshua is the brightness of God's essence manifested to men.
In the book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this argument. "Since Jesus claimed to be God, you can't wave him off as a good teacher and nothing else." Lewis said, "You can call him a fool, you can call him a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord." He goes on to say, "But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He didn't intend to." (Mere Christianity, p. 40)
When a person decides what they will believe about Yeshua, they have to choose from one of three possibilities. Either He was a liar, and He intentionally deceived people into following Him; or He was a lunatic, a paranoid schizophrenic with visions of grandeur; or He was, in fact, the Son of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Yahweh the Son. It's one of those three; those are the only options we have.
Now, you know which one I believe. I believe that Yeshua is who He claimed to be. He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord of all. Someone who is "no more than an apostle" does not predict and then perform their own resurrection.
We saw last week in a verse that John wrote, "And the Word was God"—this statement could not be much clearer! In fact, these four Greek words may be the clearest declaration of the deity of Yeshua in all the Scripture. The Greek verb eimi, (was) means: "to be" or "to exist," and suggests continued existence. So the Word always existed as Yahweh.
Arthur Pink wrote, "A more emphatic and unequivocal affirmation of the absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is impossible to conceive."
In verse one Eleazar made one of the great Trinitarian statements in the Bible. Yeshua is equal with the Father, but He exists as a separate person within the Godhead. Yeshua, the Word, was with Yahweh and was Yahweh. And in the next verse we see that He was the Creator of all things:
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3 NASB
We saw in verses 1-2 that our Lord Yeshua existed in eternity past. He was with the Father before the world was created. Now, we see in verse 3 that not only was He present from the beginning, but He is the Creator of everything that exists. Yeshua was not created, He is the Creator!
It was the Second Person of the Trinity who created the universe and "all" it contains. However, John described the Word as God's agent. The Word did not act independently from the Father. Thus John presented Yeshua as under God the Father's authority, but over every created thing in authority.
To the mind steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures John's statement here is just as confrontational and disturbing as His previous statements affirming the eternal existence of the Word. The Tanakh teaches clearly that God is the creator of all things, yet here is John stating boldly, and in such a way that he cannot be misunderstood, that the Word, whom he will soon identify as Yeshua the Christ, gave existence to every single thing that exists. This is similar to the role wisdom plays in Psalms 104:24 and Proverbs 3:19; 8:12-23
Some of the cult groups teach that Yeshua was the first thing that God created, the Muslims teach this: Surah 3 states:
59. The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be." And he was.
The Quran says that God created Yeshua, but that fallacy is clearly contradicted by John's careful wording, "and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Christ was not created, He is the Creator of ALL things.
Is John alone in this perception that the Word, Yeshua, is the Creator of all things, upon whom all things depend for their existence? The answer is clearly, "No." John is not alone in this perception of Yeshua. Paul taught that Yeshua was the Creator:
yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Yeshua the Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6 NASB
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 NASB
He created all things; all creation is designed for Him, in Him, and creation is preserved by Him. In the phrase, "All things have been created 'through' Him", He is the instrument of creation. Yeshua is the agent whereby the universe was created. He is the Creator. Finally, creation is designed "for Him." This is a term of purpose. Creation is designed for the glory of Christ. He is the goal of creation. Christ is glorified in creation. Christ not only created all things, but all things continue to subsist because of Him:
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17 NASB
"In Him all things hold together"—not only do all things come into being by Him, but He holds them together. The word "hold together" means: "stand together" "to be compacted together," "to cohere," "to be constituted with." The Greek tense means that they were held together at one point in the past, and they remain held together. The thought, "In Him all things hold together" is paralleled in Hebrews:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:1-3 NASB
Here again Yeshua is spoken of as, "Upholds all things by the word of His power." The word "upholds" is the Greek word phero, which means: "supporting or maintaining." Phero is used in the LXX where Moses says, "I am not able to bear [phero] all this people alone." Here phero has in it the idea of the responsibility of the government and guidance of Israel.
It is used in this text in Hebrews in the present tense, implying continuous action. What is in view is Divine providence. Everything in the universe is sustained at this moment by Yeshua.
Can you imagine what would happen if Yeshua relinquished His sustaining power to the laws of the earth and the universe? We would go out of existence. Even if He simply stopped maintaining the law that holds the atom together, we would all die.
We are all utterly dependant upon Yeshua for our existence. As God said to Belshazzar, "The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all the ways"; or Paul to the Athenians, "In Him we live and move and have our being, and He himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." Every living thing is sustained in being by the Lord Yeshua the Christ:
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. John 1:4 NASB
Throughout these introductory verses, John was clearly hinting at parallels between what Yeshua did physically in the creation, and what He did spiritually through the Incarnation. Life (zoe) is one of John's characteristic concepts: he uses the word zoe 36 times.
The big debate here is what does he mean by life? Is he referring to physical life or spiritual life? We just saw from verse 3 that Yeshua is the creator of all thing, and we saw from Colossians that, "In Him all things hold together." So there is no question that our physical life derives from Christ.
If Yeshua did not exist, neither would, neither could, anything else exist. Life does not exist apart from Him. That I have physical life at this moment is completely dependent on this fact: that life exists in Yeshua. The relationship between my existence and Yeshua is one of absolute dependence, irrespective of whether I am aware of or acknowledge that dependence. This is that same truth that Paul taught in Athens when he said, in reference to God: "In Him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17:28, and in reference to what Paul writes in Colossians, "In Him all things hold together."
Peter called Yeshua, "The Prince of life":
but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. Acts 3:15 NASB
The word "prince" means: "the leader or the author or originator." It is used in this sense in Hebrews 2:10, where Yeshua is called "the author of [our] salvation," and in Hebrews 12:2, where He is called "the author and perfecter of faith." He originates our salvation and our faith, and He brings it to completion. As the Prince, or Author of life, He originates life, both physical and spiritual. Notice what Yeshua says about Himself:
Yeshua said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. John 14:6 NASB
Peter says, "You killed the author of life." Now that is a shocking indictment. To every Jew, only God was the author of life. You know what Peter is claiming here for Yeshua? He's claiming that Yeshua is God, and the Jews have, in effect, executed their God.
So there is no doubt that Yeshua is the author of physical and spiritual life, but how is John using "life" here? Well in the remaining 34 occurrences of zoe outside the Prologue it is always used of "eternal life." So if the two uses of zoe in verse 4 do not refer to "eternal life," they are the only exceptions in this book. In 1 John zoe is used thirteen times, and always of "eternal life." When Eleazar wants to talk about physical life he uses the Greek word bios:
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16 NASB
Life here is bios. John never uses this word in the Gospel. So I think that when John says that, "In Him was life" he is talking about spiritual life.
Verse 4 goes on to say, "And the life was the Light of men"—look at Psalm 36:
For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. Psalms 36:9 NASB
The word "fountain" here is the Hebrew word maqor, which means: "source." How does this verse confirm the deity of Christ? In the Psalm it is talking about Yahweh, and in John it is talking about Christ, because Christ is Yahweh.
Matthew 4:16 says that when Yeshua began His ministry, Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled:
"THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED." Matthew 4:16 NASB
Again here we have life and light. Those who were sitting in death saw light:
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5 NASB
Here we are introduced to what will become a major theme of John's Gospel: the opposition of light and darkness. The antithesis is a natural one, widespread in antiquity. Genesis 1 gives considerable emphasis to it in the account of the creation, and so do the writings of Qumran. It is the major theme of one of the most important extra-biblical documents found at Qumran, the so-called War Scroll, properly titled, The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness. Connections between John and Qumran are still an area of scholarly debate and a consensus has not yet emerged. [See T. A. Hoffman, "1 John and the Qumran Scrolls," Biblical Theology Bulletin 8 (1978): 177-21.]
As light "shines" in the darkness, so Yeshua brought the revelation and salvation of God to humanity in its fallen and lost condition. He did this in the Incarnation. As the Word of God brought light to the chaos before creation, so Yeshua brought light to fallen humankind when He became a man.
John anticipates a highly important truth: that 'light'—that is: "revelation, knowledge of God, knowledge of absolute, objective, spiritual truth,—is 'in him,' in the Word." We do not get "light"—real spiritual truth—from any other source; we cannot get "light"—real spiritual truth—from any other source, because it has one source only: the Word, Yeshua.
John uses the present tense of the verb "shines." "The light," John says, "shines in the darkness." (Present, continuous tense). God's life-giving light, God's truth, shines at this moment, and will continue to shine. God is, by His very nature, a self-revealing God. He is the light that shines.
"The darkness did not comprehend it"—the Greek word here for comprehend is katalambano. The NIV, NASB, and KJV all translate katalambano as: "comprehend" or "understand." But the ESV translates it as: "overcome":
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 ESV
Now there is certainty a difference between comprehend and overcome. Katalambano is similar to our English word "grasp," which can have two meanings. The darkness did not grasp the light, that is, snatch it and remove it. And the darkness did not grasp the light, that is, understand it. John may well have meant both.
A lot of scholars think John is saying that darkness didn't grasp, understand, accept the light, in order to benefit from it. But an equal number of good scholars believe katalambano means: "the darkness didn't overcome or defeat the light." I would line up with this second group, because that is consistent with how this word is used throughout the rest of John.
W. Hall Harris III writes, "In John's usage, darkness is not normally used of men or a group of men. Rather it usually signifies the evil environment or 'sphere' in which men find themselves. They loved darkness rather than light (3:19). Those who follow Jesus do not walk in darkness (8:12). They are to walk while they have light, lest the darkness 'overtake/overcome' them" (12:35, same verb as here). For John, with his set of symbols and imagery, darkness is not something which seeks to "understand/comprehend" the light, but the forces of evil which seek to "overcome/conquer" it. But they did not succeed."
Eleazar did not view the world as a stage on which two equal and opposing forces battle; he was not a philosophical dualist. He viewed Yeshua as superior to the forces of darkness that sought to overcome Him, but could not.
Peter put it this way:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NASB
In these first five verses, Eleazar has taught us that the Word, Yeshua. existed from the beginning, He was with Yahweh, and He was Yahweh. He is the Creator of all things that exist, and He alone is Life and Light.
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