In the previous lesson, we discovered that Jesus was alive prior to his birth in Bethlehem. Information we found in our research established that Jesus actually had no point of origin or beginning! There does not seem to be a time when Jesus didn’t exist. In this lesson, we are going to expand our understanding of Jesus. We will search for details about his existence back in “the beginning”.
We begin our study by taking a closer look at a passage we looked at in our last lesson—John 1:1-3 and 14. You will recall that this passage brings out THREE very important details about Jesus’ existence. 1) Jesus was “with God in the beginning”; 2) Jesus “was GOD”; and, 3) Jesus “created everything”. In this lesson, we will focus our attention on the last two points.
If we understand John’s statement correctly, he seems to be saying that the man who was born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph was actually God and that he created us! During the time when this was written, this idea was, and still is today, a difficult thing for many people to understand and accept. But what about it? Is Jesus REALLY God? And did he really create everything?
There are other passages in the New Testament that contain information about this topic. One such passage is Colossians 1:15-19. (This book was written by the apostle, Paul, to a group of struggling Christians.)
“15 No person can see God. But Jesus is exactly like God. Jesus is ruler over all things that have been made. 16 Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and not seen, all spiritual powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ.”
The context of the passage clearly shows that this is speaking about Jesus. It also speaks about Jesus and the Creation. When we compare what is written here with what John wrote, we discover that Paul restated the same facts in almost the same words! The main summary points are that; 1) Jesus is God; and 2) Jesus created everything that was made.
There is another passage that we need to carefully consider. Please read Genesis 1:26. This passage speaks of how man was created on day #6 of the Creation. Look carefully at the wording. Notice how it tells how God said, “let US make man in OUR image”. There is definitely more than one person involved here because we see the PLURAL pronouns being used in the text. But WHO are they? How many are they? (Note that these same plural pronouns are found in Genesis 3:22 and 11:7) From what we have learned from John 1 and Colossians 1, we KNOW that the Father was there and we know that Jesus was also there.
Another passage which mentions Jesus and the Creation, is Hebrews 1:2.
“2 And now in these last days God has spoken to us again. God has spoken to us through his Son. God made the whole world through his Son. And God has chosen his Son to have all things.”
We have already studied this passage in Lesson 2. This was the passage where we discovered that the two testaments of our Bible actually contain two messages from God to the people of the world. It helped us to understand the difference between the Old and New Testaments in our Bible. However, there is a very interesting note at the end of verse 2, which speaks of Jesus and his role in the Creation. What does it say about Jesus, the Father, and the Creation? It seems to be saying that the Father DID TWO THINGS through Jesus; 1) God spoke the second message through Jesus; and 2) God created the world through Jesus. The Father created the world THROUGH the Son. It describes a situation in which the Father seems to fill the role of architect/designer and Jesus fills the role of contractor/builder. So this would explain why both John and Paul said that Jesus created all things. The Father issued the orders for the construction, but Jesus did the actual building! Isn’t that amazing?
This brings up an interesting subject for us to investigate further. If Jesus was pre-existent with God from a time before the beginning, and, if Jesus was the one who did the creating of all things, then what about the part that also says that Jesus is God? With this question in mind, we will look at a few passages that speak about this matter and see what we can learn!
Once again, we have provided you with a supplementary assignment sheet, “Worksheet For Lesson 6”. It includes list of verses that speak about the topic of Jesus being God. Take each verse and read it carefully. Put the verse into context—as we have learned to do from our past discussions—and use the space on the worksheet to record your findings. Remember that in this lesson, we are looking for specific information that speaks of Jesus being God. After you finish your own research then return here and we will go through the verses together and compare notes.
The first verse in the worksheet is Matthew 1:23. How does this passage apply to our subject? It may not be easy to see at first. If we put it into context, we discover that this verse is commenting on the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Reference is made to what Isaiah wrote back in the Old Testament (Read Isaiah 7:14) which predicts that the baby which will be born from a “virgin” mother will be called “EMMANUEL”. As it turns out, this is the key for understanding the significance of this passage in our study. In the Hebrew culture, the name given to a baby very often had a significant meaning in that it said something about the person. If we investigate the name, Emmanuel, we see that it means “God with us”. The point of emphasis here in Matthew seems to be Emmanuel being the name to be given to this special baby, and especially the meaning of that name. Notice that the translation of the name is even found in the verse! The point here seems to be that this baby would be “God with us”. The fact that this name was applied to Jesus would seem to indicate that Jesus was “God with us”!
The next passage in the list is John 20:28. This is an interesting passage because it contains a personal testimony of confession by the apostle Thomas. If you trace the context, you see that this event took place after Jesus was raised from the dead. After seeing the resurrected Jesus, Thomas calls Jesus both his Lord and his God! If Jesus were not God then Thomas would have been guilty of calling an ordinary human being “God”. But notice how Jesus did not correct Thomas. This has to be significant.
The next passage we have is Titus 2:13. This book is actually a letter the apostle Paul wrote to a young missionary, named Titus. Even though Paul is not specifically writing about the topic of Jesus being God, as he goes along in his writing he makes a remark about waiting for “the return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. From this, it seems pretty clear that Paul, like Thomas, was convinced that Jesus is God!
Another important passage is found in Hebrews 1:3. The writer describes Jesus to his readers by saying that Jesus “is the perfect copy of God’s nature.” In the original language, the word for “copy” is actually the word “character”, which is a term used in the printing business. It is like the image on a rubber stamp. A rubber stamp is used to make an exact duplicate of something. The point here is that Jesus is an exact copy of what the Father is and so if the Father is God, then Jesus is God as well.
The next passage is Hebrews 1:8-10. This passage is perhaps the most important of all. The context shows that the speaker here is the Father himself. He speaks about his son—Jesus. In this passage, we find two of the three points of John chapter 1 mentioned in specific detail, and the third point being mentioned by implication. In verse 8 we see the Father referring to the Son as “God”. How much clearer evidence can we find? Then, in verse 10, the Father states that the Son made everything. The implication is that if the Son is God and if he did create the heavens, then the Son had to be with the Father in the beginning.
The last two passages in the worksheet are found in the book of Revelation. They must be considered together because they fit together to provide more evidence. Revelation 1:8 contains a statement from “the Lord God”. In the statement he declares that he is “the Alpha and the Omega”. The final passage is Revelation 22:12-16. It is the closing thoughts of the letter. From looking at the context of what is said, we can see from verse 16 that Jesus is the one speaking the message. If we examine what he is saying, we discover that he refers to himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” in verse 13. If Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega” of 22:14, and “the Alpha and the Omega” of 1:8 is “the Lord God”, then Jesus has to be “the Lord God”. (If A = B, and B = C, then A = C.)
Even though the evidence is so great in support of the fact that Jesus is God, some people still claim that he is just a man and NOT God! Some say that Jesus is NOT God because they believe that he was the first thing God created and so if Jesus was “CREATED” then he COULD NOT possibly be God because God was NOT created!
Please consider the following points very carefully.
One very popular passage that is often used TODAY by those who believe the idea that Jesus was the “first creation of God” is Proverbs 8:22-31. The book of Proverbs contains list after list of “wise sayings” that came from Solomon. Much of the book is written in poetry and so there is much figurative writing contained inside.
Figurative writing is often difficult to understand and MUST be considered carefully. The text of the Proverbs passage is as follows;
“22 I was the first thing made long ago in the beginning. 23 I was made in the beginning. I was made before the world began. 24 I was born before the oceans; I was made before there was water. 25 I was born before the mountains. I was born before the hills. 26 I was born before the Lord made the earth. I was born before the fields. I was born before God made the first dust of the world. 27 I was there when the Lord made the skies. I was there when the Lord drew the circle around the land and set the limits of the ocean. 28 I was born before the Lord put clouds in the sky. And I was there when the Lord put water in the seas. 29 I was there when the Lord set the limits for water in the seas. The water can’t rise higher than the Lord allows. I was there when the Lord made the foundations of the earth. 30 I was beside him like a skilled worker. The Lord was happy every day because of me. I made him laugh and be happy all the time. 31 The Lord was excited about the world he made. He was happy about the people he made there.”
If you take a look at the passage you can easily see that someone is speaking here. You can also see that this someone is speaking about his or her origin. Many people will say that this passage is actually Jesus Christ speaking to us about his own origin. Then they will point specifically at verse 22, where it says that the Lord, “created me at the beginning of his works”. These people will say that the “me” in this statement is Jesus Christ and that this statement is, therefore, a direct statement from him explaining his origin and how he came into existence. If this assertion is correct then the idea that Jesus was God’s “first creation” would easily be proven because the speaker makes several specific statements which prove that he/she was in fact “created” by God. However, is this assumption that Jesus is the speaker correct? This is the real issue here.
All we need to do to resolve the matter is place the passage into its “near” context. If you look carefully, you will see that verse 22 IS NOT the beginning of the “speech” that is being made. The speech itself has an introduction that begins back in verse 1 of chapter 8! To put the passage into context we need to go back to the start of the chapter and begin reading there and continue to the end of the speech. Let us do this now and see what we find.
(Please read Proverbs 8:1-31 before proceeding any further.)
The most important question we need to answer is, “Who is the one speaking in this passage?” Verses 1 and 12 provide us with the answer. Verse 1 says, “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” Verse 12 says, “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.” Careful analysis reveals that the speaker here is WISDOM, and not Jesus. Proverbs 8 is an example of a writer using PERSONIFICATION. This is where a writer gives human powers or senses to an animal, an object, or, as in this case, a character attribute. The writer is PERSONIFYING wisdom and allowing HER to speak for herself. Notice how the passage here even contains a reference to GENDER—“her”. Is Jesus a her? When we place this passage in proper context, we can easily see that it is not speaking about Jesus. The writer simply gave wisdom a voice and let “her” make a speech. Therefore, any teaching on the origin of Jesus that uses this passage as evidence to say that Jesus was “the first creation of God” is incorrect. We must never support religious teachings by using passages from the Bible out of context.
Remember that Bible study is a two-phase process. First, we determine the original meaning of the passage and then, second, we see how it applies to us in our time today. This example shows how people can take a passage out of context and make it say something that is not true. As a thought for you today, “Is there anything in your faith which is based on Bible passages taken out of context?” Do you believe the things you do as a direct result of careful Bible study or did you receive them by simply listening to and accepting the ideas and teachings of others? We hope that, from this illustration, you can see how easy it can be to be tricked into believing something by not using the Bible in the right way. We also hope that you will make a personal commitment to research everything you have been taught in order to make certain that what you believe is true. Do you remember what we learned about the importance of following Jesus from Matthew 7:21-23 back in Lesson 1?
In summary, we found, from our investigation, that Jesus not only had a pre-existence, but that he also is God. The significance of this can be seen when you consider that Jesus, our Creator, loved us enough to come here and become one of us—so that he could die to save us. Looking back to our previous lesson, we can now easily understand the comments made by Jesus in John 8:57-58. Jesus’ earthly trade was that of being a carpenter—a very applicable one since he had been making things longer than anyone could remember!
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