The Deity of Jesus: A Defense. Part 4/6

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Jesus Shares the Names of God

In this series of 6 blog posts, I show that, using only historical data that critical/skeptical scholars grant, it is possible to build a cumulative case demonstrating that Jesus not only was considered God by his followers and the early church, but that he claimed to be divine and acted consistently with such claim.

In the previous post, we argued that Jesus is God because he shares the Attributes of God.

Now we follow along the same line, arguing that Jesus is God because he Shares the Names of God:

Part 4. Jesus Shares the Names of God

In the nativity narratives (another “Q” passage) Jesus is named as such because he will “save his people from their sins” since Jesus means “Yahweh Saves.” Again, in the Jewish context, only God has the prerogative to save. The early church always baptized into the name of Jesus as an identification with the early gospel message (See argument for the early creed of 1 Cor. 15:3-7 in the next post) with Jesus’ death and resurrection. All this comes from sources that critics grant such as 1 Cor. 1:13-15; cf. Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27.1 Early pre-Pauline sermons in Acts confirm that Jesus Christ is “the name” under which people receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), can be saved and that Jesus is the cornerstone rejected by men but approved by God (see acts 4:11-12 as a direct reference to Psalms 118:22). This predates Paul but coincides with the Pauline message (Rom 10:13).

The use of Lord to refer to Jesus as deity is well known but usually dismissed by critical scholars; however, there is a key “Q” passage in which Jesus refers to himself as “Lord, Lord” (κύριε κύριε) saying,

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”2

 

But, is the double repetition of the word “Lord” a rhetorical resource or does it have special significance? As it turns out, “this double form of address occurs repeatedly in the Septuagint in place of the Hebrew ‘Lord YHWH’ [יהוה אדני] (Deut. 3:24; 9:26; 1 Kings 8:53; Ps. 69:6; Ezek. 20:49; Amos 7:2,5) or ‘YHWH Lord’ [אדני יהוה] (Ps. 109:21; 140:7; 141:8), but never in reference to anyone but YHWH.”3 We already argued that Rom. 10:9 is quoting the name of the “Lord” Jesus as a direct reference to “YHWH” in Joel 2:32. The same reference to Joel happens in the early and pre-Pauline Acts sermon in 2:21:

 

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 4

Paul uses the term “kurios” (Lord) extensively as a reference to “Yahweh” in Old Testament texts.5 One prominent example already mentioned is Philippians 2:10. This passage affirms that in the name of Jesus “every knee should bend and every tongue confess,” and belongs prominently to Isaiah 45:23. The Septuagint uses similar language to leave no doubt that Paul is equating Jesus to God’s name:

“To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance” [κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ καὶ ἐξομολογήσεται πᾶσα γλῶσσα].

Compare with Philippians 2:10:

“every knee should bend” [πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ] and “every tongue shall swear allegiance” [καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται].

Even without Greek knowledge, the reader may appreciate the same word usage in the text of the NT and the Septuagint.

The conclusion is simple: in the oldest and most historical passages from from the New Testament,  the first followers of Jesus equate his name with the name of YHWH unequivocally. They considered him to be divine.

In the next post we will see that Jesus is God because he shares the deeds of God.

To be Continued…

  1. Ibid., 1371. Kindle.
  2. This Q source comes from Matt. 7:21-22; Luke 6:46. See also Matt 25:11
  3. Bowman, 1738. Kindle.
  4. In fact this is the first recorded sermon of Peter..
  5. For en extensive review of all Pauline texts see Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Theological Study (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007).

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