In our last study, we looked at Monotheism and the Trinity. I said that technically the Jews were not monotheistic. "Monotheism" is the belief that there is only one God. The Jews believed in other gods. The first commandment implies that there are other gods: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Most mainstream, Old Testament scholars believe that the religion of the early Israelites was neither monotheistic nor polytheistic but was, rather, "monolatrous." Monolatry is the belief in the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The Jews were monolatrous and not monotheistic. They believed in many gods, but they worshiped ONE God who exists in three persons.
In that study, I attempted to show that the Trinity was not a New Testament invention but was an idea taught throughout the Tanakh. In Isaiah 63 we see Yahweh, the Angel of Yahweh, who is the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, in that text we have all three members of the Godhead.
The trinity was not an invention of Christians; it was well-known in middle Judaism. The Israelites believed that "The second power" is Yahweh's essence manifested in a different form. This is the basis of Binitarianism in Jewish thought. And later the Spirit of God is spoken of in the same way in Isaiah 63.
We mentioned in our last study that to deny the Trinity is to deny the deity of Christ. And we talked briefly about the deity of Christ. For our time this morning, I want us to further look at the subject of the deity of Christ or Christology. Christology is the part of theology that is concerned with the nature and work of Christ, including such matters as the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and his human and divine natures and their relationship. Today we are going to focus on His deity. I said last week that in my opinion, anyone who denies the deity of Yeshua, or the Trinity, is not very familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures.
What book of the Bible was written specifically to bring men to faith in Christ?
Now Yeshua did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31 ESV
John clearly states his two-fold purpose for writing: (1) that you may believe Yeshua is the Messiah, and (2) that in believing, you might have life.
In Matthew's Gospel we find the most important question you will ever face. It is the question that Yeshua asked His disciples:
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Matthew 16:15 ESV
Your eternal destiny depends on how you answer that question. A correct belief in Yeshua is what separates the saved from the damned. And John writes his gospel so that people will believe that "Yeshua is the Messiah." What does he mean by that? He told us earlier in this gospel. Look at John 9.
Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. John 9:6-7 ESV
This man, who was blind from birth, now sees. There are more miracles of the giving of sight to the blind recorded of Yeshua than healings in any other category. What does this miracle tell us? One of the signs of the coming of the Messiah would be that He would open the eyes of blind.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Isaiah 35:5 ESV
Isaiah chapter 42 says that as the servant of Yahweh, Isaiah was to open the eyes of the blind. It is in fulfillment of these prophecies that Yeshua gives sight to the blind. As the Light of the World, He has defeated the darkness (cf. 1:5). Thus, the miracle recorded here has significance for John as one of the seven "sign-miracles" which he employs to point to Yeshua's identity and messiahship.
But something else that is significant about it is that in the Tanakh, the opening of men's eyes is connected with the ministry of Yahweh.
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. Psalms 146:8 ESV
We find two things, then, in this sign: (1) evidence of the fact that He is the Messiah, and (2) confirmation of the fact that the Messiah is Himself Yahweh. This is a very important miracle identifying Him as the one for whom Israel was waiting. If you don't see in this Gospel the deity of Christ, and if you don't see that Yeshua is Yahweh, something is wrong with your eyes.
Notice what Yeshua says about himself in chapter 8.
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
Sin is to refuse to believe in Yeshua and therefore to refuse life itself. The pronoun "He" is not in the text; it is added by the translators. The text says, "Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." What are they to believe? What is He saying that people have to believe so that they don't die in their sins? The conditional clause provides the proper object of faith: "If you do not believe that ego eimi." This phrase ego eimi was also used in John 6:35 and 8:12 with a predicate (object)—"I am the bread of life," and "I am the light of the world." We also see it used in other predicate constructions in future-tense verses in John. It was used without a predicate in John 6:20 when Yeshua appeared to the disciples in the storm on the sea and said, "I AM; fear not."
Yeshua, in claiming to be "I Am," was asserting equality with Yahweh Himself, who was revealed as the "I Am That I Am"—the self-existent, eternal God.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14 ESV
"I AM WHO I AM" is "Ehyeh; asher ehyeh" and means "I am that which exist." The root of Ehyeh is hiya, which means "to be" or "I exist." So here Elohim tells Moses that His name is Ehyeh. But look at the next verse.
God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Exodus 3:15 ESV
Elohim again gives His name to Moses, but this time it is Yahweh. The two names, Yahweh and Ehyeh, are related. Yahweh is, and Ehyeh is. Ehyeh means "I exist, I will exist, I am." And Yahweh means "He exists, He will exist, He is." Both of these names are related to each other. They are both conveying the idea that Yahweh is the existing One.
The prophets, guided by the Holy Spirit, picked up that phrase and used it. In particular, Isaiah several times speaks about the God who has called him to minister as "I am."
Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. Isaiah 41:4 ESV
In the Hebrew original, Yahweh discloses Himself in the repeated declaration, "I am He." It is this expression that the LXX consistently renders by ego eimi, (formally "I am"). Isaiah 43:10 is especially close to what Scholars call Johannine language,
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. Isaiah 43:10 ESV
The Greek Old Testament contains this purpose clause, "In order that you know and believe and understand that I AM [ego eimi]." It is the combination of the verb "believe" and the use of I AM [ego eimi] in Isaiah 43:10 that causes scholars to believe that it was on Yeshua's mind at this point.
The last part of Isaiah 43:10 seems to be based on Exodus 3:14. The unique (and here important) part of Isaiah 43 comes in verse 11 where the speaker says
"I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior." Isaiah 43:11 ESV
Here we see there is no savior besides Yahweh. And yet Yeshua says, "Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." What is Yeshua saying? He is saying "I am Yahweh, and there is no savior besides me. Verse 12 goes on:
I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and I am God. Isaiah 43:12 ESV
The point of Isaiah 43:10-12 is that I AM is a God of salvation. This appears to be Yeshua's point in John 8:24. As long as the Jews refused to come to faith in I AM—the one who saves His people—they would die in their sins.
In Isaiah, the contexts demand that "I am He" means "I am the same," "I am forever the same," and even "I am Yahweh," with a direct allusion to Exodus 3:14. For others to apply this title to themselves was blasphemous and an invitation to face the wrath of God.
Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children": Isaiah 47:8 ESV
Verse 11 tells us what happens to the one who claims to be "I am."
But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing. Isaiah 47:11 ESV
For Yeshua to apply such words to Himself is to say, "I am Yahweh, the only savior." When Yeshua says to the Pharisees, who knew Isaiah well, used the same phrase that the Lord repeatedly uses in Isaiah ("I am"), He was claiming to be the eternal God.
Please get this: Yeshua is Yahweh. To deny the deity of Christ, to deny that He is in fact Yahweh in the flesh, is to die in your sins. Is that too strong? This is what Yeshua is saying, "Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." This truth that Yeshua is Yahweh is taught from the very first verse of this Gospel.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV
"In the beginning was the Word"—in other words, the Word was already in existence when God created the heavens and the earth. He doesn't say "In the beginning the Word became" or came into existence or came to be. In fact, he uses the Greek verb eimi, which, as we have already determined, means "to be" or "to exist." Later on in this very section, he will use the verb ginomai, which means "to come to be," "to enter into existence." It should be noted that he does not use that verb in connection with the Word. He uses a form of the verb "eimi" which suggests continued existence. At the beginning of this eternity, when there was nothing else, "the Word" existed.
"The Word" is used as a title for Yeshua. The Greek word used for "Word" here is logos (from which we get the words logic, logo, and other related words). But a Greek Dictionary would not have even touched on what John means to say about Yeshua when he called Him the logos.
What does John mean by the term "Word" used in these opening verses? Obviously, the Word is someone or something significant! Outside of the biblical use, it means "a unit of language" (e.g., something necessary to communicate verbally and in print). In biblical use, we think of the Bible as being the Word.
But those of John's day thought differently. When a Greek heard the term "Word" or "Logos," he thought of the philosophical discussions common in his day that explained the order in the world.
Leon Morris writes, "In Greek thought the Logos was perceived to be the always-existent, rational, stabilizing principle of the universe; creative energy; the ultimate reality; the eternal Reason; the 'supreme principle of the universe'; 'the force that originated and permeated and directed all things.'" (Leon Morris: The Gospel According to John, p116)
A Hebrew would have seen "the Word" quite differently. Intertestamental Judaism and especially the Targums (paraphrases of the Tanakh from the Hebrew language into the Aramaic language) used the expression "Word of God" as a circumlocution for the name of God.
Because of their extreme reverence for the name of God, they avoided pronouncing it and would use substitutions instead such as "heaven" or "the Word of God." This meant that the phrase, "Word of God," did not mean Scripture for the Jews of Yeshua's time as it does for us. Rather, it was a reference to God Himself.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. Psalms 33:6 ESV
Here the "Word of Yahweh" is said to be the creator of the heavens. This is what John says of "the Word."
All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:3 ESV
With these opening words of the prologue, John traces the origin of "The Word" backward into eternity to where God the Son was present with God the Father before time as we know it began. It is what Yeshua expressed in His High Priestly prayer in.
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:5 ESV
Before the world existed, the Word was with the Father. Something I find very interesting is the use of "the Word" in The First Book of Adam and Eve. Many say the main story was created/written down around 2 to 3 hundred years before Christ, though additions continued into the 3rd century A.D. Of the numerous apocryphal works written, this one seems to have been most influential on early theologians, and was widely popular from the 3rd to the 13th century A.D.
This book is a written history of what happened in the days of Adam and Eve after they were cast out of the garden. Although considered to be pseudepigraphal by some, it carries significant meaning and insight into events of that time.
In it, there seem to be basically three heavenly beings that interact with Adam and Eve: God, His angels, and the Word of God. God is usually the one speaking, but when action is taken, He sends angels or the Word of God to do it. Plus. at times God says the plan with Adam is to eventually send His "Word" in the flesh to save them. The "Word of Yahweh" as used in the Tanakh was the visual manifestation of Yahweh. As I said in our last study, the Hebrew Scriptures taught a second Yahweh. The First Book of Adam and Eve corroborates this idea.
3:15-16 And the Word of the Lord came to Adam and Eve, and raised them up. And the Lord said to Adam, "I told you that at the end of the five and a half days I will send my Word and save you.
Here we see that Word is capitalized, He comes to Adam and Eve and then it says, "The Lord said…" This is what we saw in the Tanakh in our last study.
26:2-3 When we were on the mountains, we were comforted by the Word of God that talked to us and the light that came from the east shown over us. But now the Word of God is hidden from us and the light that shined…
Notice here that the "Word of God" is associated with light. That is what we see in the text in John 1.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:4 ESV
When John says, "In the beginning was the Word," he is not talking about Greek philosophy; he is talking about the second Yahweh who is seen throughout the Tanakh. His readers would have realized that the second power was Yeshua, and Yeshua was Yahweh in human flesh.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV
"And the Word was with God"—the English here does not pick up a significant implication of the Greek text. It might be better translated: "The Word was face to face with God." The relationship of Yeshua the Word and God was more than side-by-side; it was a face-to-face relationship, indicating far more intimacy than that of simply being co-workers. This paints the picture that the Father and the Son enjoyed intimate fellowship with each other throughout eternity. They were continually "face-to-face"!
"And the Word was with God"—the theological importance of these words is that they distinguish God the Word from God the Father. In other words, John is telling us that although the Godhead is One Holy and Eternal God, God the Word and God the Father are not the same Person.
O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. John 17:25 ESV
Here the Son prays to the Father, both of whom are Yahweh.
The words "was with God" prohibits us from seeing no distinction between the Father and the Word. This "with" infers a relationship, an interface, an interaction, between two distinct persons. There is a distinction. The Son, the Word, is distinct from the Father.
This first verse in John destroys Modalism, which denies the distinction of Persons in the Trinity and contends that God sometimes manifested Himself as the Father, sometimes as the Son, and sometimes as the Spirit. This view sees the Father, Son, and Spirit as all the same Person, who appear and operate in different modes at different times.
The truth is that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all three of the same essence, but they are three separate and distinct Beings. The Trinity is not three Gods but is, rather, the three persons of the one true God.
John goes on in the last phrase of verse 1 to say: "And the Word was God." This statement could not be any clearer! In fact, these four Greek words may be the clearest declaration of the deity of Yeshua in all of Scripture. The Greek verb eimi, (was) means "to be" or "to exist," and suggests continued existence. So, the Word always existed as Yahweh.
John does not say, "and the Word was divine" or "the Word was like God." He makes the bold statement, "the Word was God." He here leaves no room for anyone to see Yeshua as less than God in some way or to some degree.
John Phillips writes, "That is, in His essence, in what He actually is, in His nature, person, and personality, in His attributes and character, Jesus is all that God is. All the essential characteristics of deity are His." (Exploring the Gospel of John)
Herbert Lockyer says "What a tremendous phrase this is—The Word was God! Language has no meaning if these four words do not clearly teach that Christ is 'Very God of Very God.'"
The Word literally was Yahweh. Yeshua is God in a body. Nothing less. He is God in a body, the full mysterious deity of Christ exemplified in humility and unbelievable condescension. And so, at the very beginning John lays it down that Yeshua is the living Word, and He alone is the perfect revelation of Yahweh.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV
Yeshua is God in a body, the full mysterious deity of Christ exemplified in humility and unbelievable condescension. And so, at the very beginning Lazarus lays it down that Yeshua is the living Word, and He alone is the perfect revelation of Yahweh.
Let's look at several other instances where Yeshua clearly claimed to be God. In chapter 5 Yeshua heals the man who was by the pool of Bethesda and had been there for thirty-eight years. Our Lord commands him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." And immediately the man is healed and takes up his bed and walks. It is this healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda which draws considerable attention to our Lord. This miracle, which was done on the Sabbath, prompts the Jewish leaders to view Yeshua as a Law breaker. The healing of this lame man and the following Sabbath controversy have brought the nature and identity of Yeshua to a climax:
But Yeshua answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." John 5:17 ESV
Yeshua justified His Sabbath healing by reminding the Jews that they admitted Yahweh worked on the Sabbath. They knew the sun came up, they knew the wind blew, they knew the rain fell, they knew the grass grew, they knew Yahweh continued to do His work of judgment and His work of redemption. They knew Yahweh was working on the Sabbath. This explains the violence of their reaction in verse 18. The Sabbath privilege was peculiar to Yahweh, and no one was equal to Yahweh.
In claiming the right to work even as His Father worked, Yeshua was claiming to be Yahweh, the I Am! Now the Jews knew exactly what He was saying. He was saying that as the eternal God does His work all the time, so He was doing the same thing. He was working the same pattern that Yahweh works. This shocked and angered the Jewish leaders, but it shouldn't surprise us after just looking at John 1:1.
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18 ESV
Yeshua's contemporaries clearly saw Him as claiming to be equal with God. There was never any question in the Jews minds that He said He was God. They got it. That's what they said was His ultimate blasphemy. They said that He made Himself equal with God.
Notice something very important that is NOT in this text. Yeshua doesn't respond by saying, "No, no, no you guys have me all wrong, I'm not claiming to be God, that would be blasphemy." Instead of disagreeing with them, however, Yeshua this defended His deity and claimed to actually be Yahweh and not just another God equal to Yahweh.
that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. John 5:23 ESV
Subordination usually results in less honor. The Father has guaranteed that the Son will receive equal honor with Himself by committing the role of judging entirely to Him. Therefore, failure to honor the Son reflects failure to honor the Father, and honoring the Son honors the Father. How can Yeshua say this is light of Isaiah 42?
I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:8 ESV
Yahweh will not share His honor with another. So, for Him to share His honor with the Son must mean that the Son and the Father are one in essence. What man or what created being could say that we should honor Him just as we honor the Father? Clearly, Yeshua is claiming to be Yahweh!
When you hear someone say, "Well, Yeshua never claimed to be God." Anyone who says that doesn't know the Bible. Over and over Yeshua claims to be Yahweh. He does it all through this text. He insists that He is to be worshiped in the same way Yahweh is. He is to be honored, praised, adored, respected, trusted, obeyed in the same way as God the Father.
When someone says, "Yeshua is not God of very God," he's not only not honoring the Son, but he's dishonoring the Father. Now that's a serious thing. And when a man says, "God is God. But Yeshua is ONLY the Son of God," he is denying Yeshua the honor that is due the Father and, thereby, not only dishonors Christ, the Son, but also God the Father.
Paul understood that Yeshua was Yahweh.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Yeshua, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, Philippians 2:5-6 ESV
The words "was in" are the Greek word huparcho. The most commonly used word for "being" in the Greek is the verb "eimi," which stresses the unalterable and unchangeable essence of a person's nature, the continued state of a thing. Paul said, "Yeshua unalterably and unchangeably exists in the form of God." This speaks of His pre-existence.
The word for "form" is morphe. It has nothing to do with shape or size. Moulton and Milligan (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament) say that "morphe" is a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it. It refers to the essence or essential being. Yeshua pre-existed in the essence of God.
When Paul uses hupareco (was in) along with morphe (form), he is portraying something very specific. In other words, he is proclaiming that Yeshua the Christ has always existed in the unchangeable essence of the being of God. Yeshua the Christ is God and always was. This is the heart and soul of the Christian faith—Yeshua is Yahweh.
Yeshua the Christ is eternal God, and as part of the Trinity, He always existed and is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit:
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, Colossians 2:9 ESV
The word "dwells" comes from the Greek word katoikeo, which means "to settle down and be at home." The present tense indicates that the essence of Deity continually abides at home in Christ. He is fully God forever.
What is it, then, that permanently indwells Christ—"the whole fullness of Deity." The Greek word translated "Deity" is theotetos, an ontological word. "It has the idea of essential nature or essential being." The essential ontological nature of Yeshua Christ is what? Deity. He is Yahweh.
Another clear example of Yeshua's claiming to be God that we often miss is found in the story of Zaccheus. Yeshua comes along and says to Zaccheus:
"Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:9-10 ESV
Do you see the deity of Christ in that verse? You would if you were familiar with Ezekiel. The background to this statement is probably Ezekiel 34. God, angry with the leaders of Israel for scattering and harming His flock (the people of Israel), states that He Himself will become the Shepherd and will seek the lost ones and deliver (save) them.
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. Ezekiel 34:15-16 ESV
What did everyone who knew the Scriptures hear Yeshua say? "I will seek the lost…" Who is Yeshua? He's Yahweh!
David Flusser, a devout Orthodox Jew and a professor of Early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple Period at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, "You poor Christians, you wonder why the Bible doesn't say Jesus is God more often. It says it all the time, you just don't understand Jewish thought."
Let me give you one more.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8 ESV
Here Yeshua is saying, "I am from eternity to eternity." The Jews would express the whole compass of things by א (aleph) and ת (tau), the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. If we go back to Isaiah, we read:
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Isaiah 44:6 ESV
In light of Isaiah, Yeshua was clearly claiming to be Yahweh of hosts, the only living and true God! Notice what the writer of Hebrews says,
But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." Hebrews 1:8-9 ESV
This quote comes from Psalm 45.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; Psalms 45:6-7 ESV
The chief point of the citation is to contrast sharply the Deity and eternal dominion of the Son with the subservience and mutability of the angels. They serve; He reigns.
I believe that verse 8 supplies us with one of the most powerful, clear, emphatic, and irrefutable proofs of the deity of Christ in the Bible.
Those who would deny the deity of Christ would misuse this verse.
You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. John 14:28 ESV
I would hope that in light of all that we have seen thus far in this Gospel that we would realize that when Yeshua said, "for the Father is greater than I," He did not mean He was less than God or an inferior god. This phrase has caused much Christological and trinitarian debate throughout church history. And it is this phrase that was used as a proof text for those who held to Arianism.
To understand this phrase, "For the Father is greater than I," we have to begin with the primary rule of hermeneutics—The Analogy of Faith (i.e., Scripture interprets Scripture). No part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. So, let me ask you. In our study this morning, have we seen any teaching that tells us that Yeshua is equal to Yahweh? Yes, over and over. Therefore, we can't throw everything out over a statement that we don't understand.
Yeshua is speaking of Himself in His humanity, in His limited capacity as a human being. He is not speaking ontologically (dealing with His essential being, His nature), since He had stated repeatedly that He and the Father were one ontologically. He is speaking of the Father's relative glory compared to His glory. Yeshua had laid His heavenly glory aside in the Incarnation and so the Father had greater glory than the Son during Yeshua's earthly ministry. Let's go back to Philippians 2.
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7 ESV
The word "but" here is a contrastive—"not this, but this." The word "emptied" is the Greek word kenoo. It means "to make empty." Figuratively, it means "to abase, naturalize, to make of none effect, of no reputation."
What did Yeshua empty Himself of? If He had emptied Himself of His deity, He would have ceased to exist. He didn't exchange His deity for humanity. "The Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union" teaches us that Yeshua had two natures in one person—human and divine. Yeshua was the Theanthropic person, the God-man. And He didn't empty Himself of the attributes of deity because it is impossible to surrender an attribute without changing the character of the essence to which it belongs. God cannot change. He is immutable! So, what did Yeshua empty Himself of?
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:5 ESV
In His incarnation, Yeshua temporarily laid aside the glory that He shared with the Father from all eternity. He is asking to have His glory restored because His glory was put aside when He became man.
Here is one more (believe me we could go on for quite a while).
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:2-4 ESV
The word "spiritual" refers to the origin of this food and drink. At the beginning and end of their journey, they drank from water out of the rock. Paul says, "the rock was Christ." Behind that supernatural supply of water was Christ.
Paul here transfers to Christ a title that is commonly used in the Tanakh commonly of Yahweh, the God of Israel. The Tanakh often speaks of the Rock of Israel, referring to both his protection and provision (Deut. 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31; Ps. 78:20-35). Paul calls Yeshua "The Rock," thus recognizing the deity of Christ. The same Christ who supplies all of our physical and spiritual needs accompanied Israel, and His provision for them never failed.
Wayne Grudem writes, "Although our finite minds cannot comprehend the mystery of the Trinity, Scripture is clear that God is one God who exists in three distinct persons. Each person is fully God and yet He is not three Gods, but one God" [see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology [Zondervan, 1994], pp. 226-258].
To deny the Trinity is to deny the deity of Christ. And if Christ is not God, we are dead in our sins.